Red-Eared Slider Lifespan: How Long Do They Live & What Affects It?

Tanja is a qualified postgraduate scientist with a great passion for nature and how different ecosystems interact. Her education included coursework and practical experience to advance in biological sciences, farming, aquarium research and fisheries management. She has experience in constructing ponds, aqua- and hydroponics, productive gardens with a small worm farm and compost heap, and larger scale mariculture facility setups.

Reptile animals tend to have relatively long lifespans, and red-eared slider turtles do not shy away from that lifespan expectancy. However, the number of years your turtle pet lives will depend on numerous factors and, ultimately, on the excellent care you provide.

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The importance of knowing the lifespan of your pet turtles

When you decide to invest in getting a new pet, you obviously need to know the years you will have to commit to caring for the animal based on the lifespan of the individual species. If cared for properly, red-eared sliders should have an average lifespan expectancy of approximately 15 to 20 years and an average maximum lifespan of 50 years. So, you can almost be sure to make a lifetime commitment when you invest in getting a red-eared slider(s).

Additionally, knowing your pet turtle’s lifespan will give you a better idea of where the turtle is in their life stage. You will be more aware of their ages and know when red-eared sliders require specific habitat and dietary changes according to their life stage.

Furthermore, as with any animal that grows older, red-eared sliders are more prone to health conditions such as bone degeneration, infections, loss of appetite, and eyesight. As the owner of any pets, you should be willing to carry the costs of owning a red eared slider and responsibilities involved in caring for your turtle(s) that may or may not live for quite a few years.

Subsequently, you will have to plan your life around these unique turtles, as they will occupy quite a large space and need constant maintenance and feeding. However, as an animal lover, it will be highly rewarding to watch these red-eared sliders’ behavioral and growth changes.

Captive bred versus wild caught

There are theories about captive-bred red-eared sliders having shorter lifespans compared to the wild-caught red-eared sliders. However, when the living conditions and care are optimal for your pets in captivity, they will also live as long as individuals in the wild.

Red-eared sliders in the wild have been reported to live up to the age of 40 years, though the average age is mostly around 20-30 years. When considering the red-eared sliders in captivity, they also have a long lifespan of anything between 20 and 30 years. However, the most reported average age they live to in captivity is 20-30 years.

If your red-eared slider(s) got rescued from the wild, be aware of diseases and parasites to which the animal could have been exposed. The origin of your red-eared slider(s) will most definitely have some effect on the lifespan of your pet turtle.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Always ask for a complete history assessment and/or record on the animal before you purchase an individual.

Further, do not forget about predators. While captive-bred red-eared sliders are unlikely to encounter dangerous predator attacks, wild red-eared sliders are entirely exposed to what nature has in store. Without explanation, this will shorten the attacked individual’s lifespan or, worst-case scenario, result in the red-eared slider dying. Sadly, in the wild it is inevitable and part of the beautiful ecological cycle of nature, but it is without a doubt, to some extent controllable in captivity.

So, please look after your adorable red-eared turtle friends very well and ensure their tanks or ponds are secured against predators.

Factors that affect red-eared sliders’ lifespan

Much like the importance of choosing the correct diet & best food for red-eared sliders, considering their size, and keeping their water source at the optimal temperature, so is knowing the lifespan of your red-eared sliders and the factors that affect it.

Overall, as the turtle owner, you have the most control over how long your red-eared slider friends will live based on the environment and diet you provide. These are the most important factors to consider that will affect the lifespan of sliders:

  • Exercise: Yes, you read that right! As with any animal, enough space to move freely is required to keep your pet fit and healthy, as well as prevent unnecessary health conditions like obesity from becoming prominent.
  • Habitat: As red-eared sliders can grow fairly large , they require quite a bit of space to grow healthily, thrive in their environment, and live a long and happy life. Accordingly, for each adult-sized red-eared slider of around eight to 12 inches, you will need to install a minimum-sized tank or pond of 50 gallons. Then, to make it habitable, the water should be clean, filled to a depth of at least twice the shell length, and be between 75- and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.please read more on this in my red eared slider water condition post.

    Along with water, red-eared sliders require sufficient basking and land space that encourages healthy skin and shell, as well as proper exercise and digestion. A good amount of either artificial or natural light is also crucial for optimal metabolic processes and calcium absorption, which in turn prevents unnecessary health ailments.


  • Nutrition: It is recommended by veterinarians that a well-rounded diet consisting of a combination of healthy, nutritious foods should be fed to your red-eared slider pets. These can include a large percentage of vegetables, a small percentage of protein, added commercial feed with the necessary supplements, and the occasional fruit and freeze-dried snacks. Please read this more on my red eared sliders’ dietary requirement article.
  • Veterinary Checks: We all know that regular or routine veterinary checks are essential for your pet’s longevity if you are a pet owner. As red-eared sliders are prone to several health issues like bone degeneration, infections, respiratory diseases, shell rot, and other things, routine veterinary visits can help tremendously prevent such ailments from occurring or minimize the damage. The saying remains so true, “prevention is better than cure.”

The best way to prolong the lifespan of red-eared sliders

Although red-eared sliders in captivity do not live as long as their wild counterparts, an average of 20 to 30 years is still a reasonable number of years for you to be committed.

The research conducted on “Lifespan Extension in Long-Lived Vertebrates Rooted in Ecological Adaptation found that the longevity in turtles included more adapting mechanisms against harsh environmental conditions than for any other terrestrial vertebrate. Hence, the importance of being aware of factors affecting your pet turtle’s lifespan.

While knowing and addressing all the factors that can affect the lifespan of your red-eared slider(s), continuous maintenance and monitoring are still essential to guarantee a healthy environment and living space for your pet turtles. As a result, you and your red-eared sliders will have definite longevity and happy lives.

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