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Help with Unwanted Red Ear Sliders

I’m sorry, but I don’t know of anywhere that has an opening for red eared sliders. Unfortunately it’s a more complex issue than you may realize. I don’t have an easy solution, but we’ve organized some information that may help you understand the issue better. If you’re willing to invest some time and effort, there are options for your own sliders. I hope this helps!

Root of the problem

Millions of sliders are bred for the pet trade. These turtles are often sold on a whim at fairs, boardwalks, and dollar stores, and many become impulse pets to uninformed consumers. When impulsive owners discover their inexpensive quarter-size hatchlings become dinner-plate-sized giants, capable of living many decades and requiring hundreds or thousands of dollars in care, the turtles quickly outgrow their welcome. They are the turtle species most often turned in to rescues, and the species LEAST adopted from rescue. This leaves reptile rescues with a major problem. It can take months or years to find a suitable home for a large water turtle such as a red eared slider! This is not acceptable, as we receive several weekly or daily calls from folks needing to place them. Our first priority is to care for the animals already at the rescue, and we simply cannot take in more animals than we can care for.

Possible Solutions

Your best bet is to find the time and space for your turtle. This may not be easy, and I understand that for some folks, it may not be possible at all. RES turtles ultimately need an outdoor setup, which can be made with a little time and money. (It doesn’t have to be expensive, but can be as elaborate as you like.) A pond that has been appropriately fenced in is a great idea, and can make for a lovely backyard addition. Turtle gardening is a growing hobby, and there are many places online to find more info about it. The benefits of keeping your turtle outdoors are many: more natural environment for the turtle, natural sunshine (UVB from the sun is vital to their health), and less maintenance care for you. You can stock your pond with feeder minnows or goldfish as one source of food, and grow various edible plants, as well as feeding commercially available turtle food. The initial labor of installing a turtle pond is well worth the end result, and may add value to your home.

Some pointers to help you with both supplies, labor, and money issues:

  1. Go to www.freecycle.org and sign up for your local freecycling group. There you can give and receive items at no cost. I’ve seen many folks give away pond accessories they no longer need!
  2. If the hassle of weekly aquarium cleanings is the main issue, consider getting a “Python” brand siphon. It’s available at most pet stores, or online. It will make changing the dirty water MUCH easier, and with less risk to you of salmonella transmission.
  3. Remember that you may well be over-feeding your turtle. Turtles in the wild do not eat nearly as much as we give them. If you’re feeding more than 2-3 times per week, you may wish to cut back on the feeding. This will save you time and money in feeding, and keep your tank clean longer.

The alternatives to keeping your turtle are:

  1. Post your sliders for adoption on our Facebook page, or place a newspaper or craigslist ad. This gives you a chance to screen prospective adopters so you know where your turtle is going. You are welcome to use our own adoption application as a screening guide (www.forgottenfriend.org/apply). Click here to learn how to post on our Facebook page.
  2. Give it to a friend/family member.
  3. Put flyers up at your local vets/pet stores. Many of these places allow adoptable pet fliers, and That Fish Place in Lancaster, PA occasionally will take in sliders to resell if they have room.
  4. Humane euthanasia (done by a vet, not at home.)

Realize that simply letting your turtle “loose” in the wild is illegal, unethical, and may cause serious damage to wildlife in your area. Most released sliders will die in the wild, and the survivors may choke out native turtles for food and habitat. Option 4 is never pleasant, but could certainly end up being a better alternative than the above.

We wish we could do more to help, but the problem is much bigger than we are.

Good luck,

Forgotten Friend Reptile Sanctuary

Thanks to Bonnie Keller and VA Reptile Rescue for developing much of this page.

Red eared slider turtle
Chomps originally belonged to a young boy who loved him very much. Over 20 years later, that young boy was in his 30s and married with kids. He still loved Chomps, but his life was changing. Meanwhile, Chomps could live many more decades. Turtles are one of the only pets that may outlive several owners! Back when Forgotten Friend had a slider pond, we were able to slowly help Chomps and many other sliders. However, our turtle ponds are now used for native species which cannot cohabitate with sliders and we no longer have space to keep sliders.