Nicaraguan Slider: Ultimate Guide

As you might expect, the Nicaraguan Slider is a turtle found mostly in Nicaragua, but you can also find them in Costa Rica.

They are a beautiful breed with sharp and distinctive patterns on their shells. These patterns are so pretty, they have earned the Nicaraguan Slider a second name, “Peacock Slider.”

Whatever you call them, these delightful turtles are a medium-sized, water-loving, treasure.

Male vs Female

Like most of the turtle population, the Nicaraguan females are larger than the males. You can expect the average adult male to have a shell of around 10 inches long (which is 25 cm), whereas the average adult female’s shell is 15 inches long (38 cm). This is a third bigger than the males, making the size difference staggering obvious. 


The carapace (or the upper shell) is oval-shaped. It has some of the most iconic turtle shell designs marked on to this exterior, with many circular shapes with dark pots in the middle.

The colors can vary, but you can expect them to be between an olive green and a dark brown. On the other hand, the supratemporal markings can be yellow, orange, or even a little pink. 

As a Pet

Because of these beautiful markings, they have become a large part of the turtle pet industry. They are okay with being held, but you shouldn’t test this out too often, and they love swimming in the water, making them fascinating to watch.

Nicaraguan Sliders are not the easiest to look after, but they are not tremendously difficult either. If you already have a turtle or have cared for a turtle in the past, then you will find the Nicaraguan Slider to be a breeze.


In the wild, you can expect a Nicaraguan Slider to live between the ages of 20 and 30 years. They have even sometimes been known to stretch to 40 years old. However, if they are kept in captivity, then this age range can shorten.

The lifespan of a turtle is dramatically affected by their diet, the water quality, their UVB light quality, and their access to enriching activities.


The Nicaraguan Slider has what is known as a “pharyngeal” or “gape and suck” feeding technique, which is used to capture fast swimming prey. This adaptation has been noticed among many turtles, including snapping turtles and side-necked turtles despite them coming from different families.

This physical difference is what allows the Nicaraguan Slider to conserve energy and still catch its speedy prey by staying in its location as the prey swims in front of it.  

Breeding Season

Nicaraguan Sliders will start their nesting season between December and May. This is a long time for them to fertilize their eggs, create a nest and lay their eggs as well. 

The males and females both reach maturity when they are around 5 or 6 years old. At this point, their mating rituals will begin,  and you can expect this to start between March and June. 

The courtship takes around 45 minutes, where the male will dance to impress the females. You may notice the males dancing before they hit the 5 year mark, but that does not mean they are able to reproduce yet.


A singular female Nicaraguan Slider can lay around 6 clutches of eggs a year, and each clutch will appear between 15 and 30 days. This is why the nesting and breeding season is so long.

Growth Rate

The Nicaraguan Slider doesn’t tend to grow past the 16 inches mark, and you can expect your turtle to reach this length after a couple of years. They will have stopped growing and stay at their adult length after around 5 years. 

Life Cycle

Nicaraguan Sliders are not considered to be monogamous and will mate with a number of males during the mating season. She will decide which male can fertilize her eggs and may go back to the same male each time.


The Nicaraguan Slider population is not in any danger currently and is considered to be in the “Not At Risk” category, meaning that there are no signs of endangerment towards the species at large.

There is no real figure for how big the population is; however you can expect to find Nicaraguan Sliders in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and specifically in locations like Lake Nicaragua, Lake Managua, and the smaller lakes and streams which connect them.


As soon as they hatch, you will notice that the Nicaraguan Slider is a meat eater. Technically they are omnivores, eating both vegetables and greenery as well as meats and insects, but in realistic terms, they are way more interested in meat than their veggies.

Here is a list of favorite foods: tadpoles, snails, crayfish, shrimp, fish chunks, insects (living or frozen), insect larvae.

The list does go on, but those are the top favorites that we have found. They will also eat their greens, but they are a lot pickier when it comes to what type. A safe choice is red leaf lettuce.

If you want to give your turtle branded food aimed at their species, then your Nicaraguan Slider will likely enjoy that too.


Of course, the Nicaraguan Slider’s most prominent predator is the greedy human. The invasive agriculture industry has cut into the slider’s territory and habitat, and the pet industry has hunted the Nicaraguan Slider for their precious eggs.

There have been attempts to protect the slider’s natural habitat and stop hunters from poaching the turtles, but so far, no laws have been made.

Other wild predators include birds, frogs, fish, otters, snakes, and raccoons.

Roaming Range

Ideally, your tank should have a 55 gallon size, so there is a lot of room for your Nicaraguan Slider to roam around and enjoy its space.


Like most turtles, the Nicaraguan Slider needs to have a UVB light to bask in. Without this light, the turtle will have difficulties taking in the calcium that it needs. If your light isn’t hot enough, your new friend will begin to develop brittle bones and delicate shells, paving the way for bacterial infections and viruses.

To combat this, you need to make sure that the UVB temperature is between 80 degrees Fahrenheit and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you are worried about your Nicaraguan Slider’s shell, take it to a veterinarian to gain appropriate treatment.

Eye color

Nicaraguan Sliders have black pupils and yellow outlines around the iris. 


Nicaraguan Sliders will hibernate if the temperature is cold enough. You will notice that they have become less active and will sink to the bottom of the water tank. During this time, they will not need to breathe as often, nor will they need to eat, gaining all of their nutrients from the water.

They may come back up for food and air on the odd occasion, though, so we suggest that you leave dry food available for your Nicaraguan Slider in case they need a quick snack.

Can they swim?

Nicaraguan Sliders love the water, which is why they would spend most of their time in a steam or lake when they are in their natural habitat.  They prefer to chase and catch their own prey and can do so with surprising speed due to their webbed feet. 


Ideally, you should have a 55 gallon tank set up for your Nicaraguan Slider along with a basking platform which they can easily swim to and climb onto. 

You should have a filter in the tank to keep the water quality high, but also remove and replace ⅓ of the water every month.

The water itself should be around 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but the basking temperature should be around 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. We recommend having a water and a tank thermometer so you can have a quick look into these temperatures throughout the day.


Nicaraguan Sliders are not that expensive, and you can expect to pay between $30 and $100 for a hatchling or young juvenile.

Fun Facts

Did you know that the scientific name for the Nicaraguan Slider is Trachemys Emolli? The term Emolli is to honor the American herpetologist Edward Moll.

Did you know that Nicaraguan Sliders are said to be delicious by the local Nicaraguan people? Their shells are also sold to tourists after they have been painted by the local farmers. 

Did you know that Nicaraguan Sliders mostly live in isolation, but the males will migrate between their feeding patch and their mating places? However, as most of the population is now raised on farms, most do not get to experience this natural migration.