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Why Is My Red-Eared Slider Not Eating?

Nicole Cosgrove

The red-eared slider turtle is a great pet that is relatively easy to take care of and has a lengthy lifespan of up to 30 years. It’s also quite healthy and will rarely need to go to the vet. However, it can occasionally stop eating regular meals, which can be extremely concerning to any pet owner. It’s not always easy to tell what’s wrong with an animal that can’t communicate, and since it is not as popular as a dog or a cat, it can be challenging to find someone that knows how to help. We’ve created a list of several different reasons that could be behind your pet’s starvation, and we are going to list them here so you can see if any of them fits with your turtle’s behavior.divider-turtle

Reasons My Red-Eared Slider Is Not Eating

Temperature

red-eared slider turtle
Image Credit: matos11, Pixabay

Your red-eared slider turtle is a cold-blooded animal, so temperature affects its metabolism. As the temperature drops, its metabolism drops, and it no longer feels hungry or desires food. You will also notice the turtle slowing down and becoming less active. As the temperature goes back up, the turtle’s appetite will return, and it will become more active.

No matter where you keep your turtles, it’s important to maintain a close eye on the temperature in their habitat. Even indoors, the tank can be in the path of a draft that puts cold air in the tank and slows your red-eared slider’s metabolism. Checking the temperature frequently or purchasing one with an alarm is the best way to make sure temperatures never drop below 50 degrees.

Clean Water

You will need to keep the water in the tank clean at all times, and if the red-eared slider turtle feels it’s too dirty, it can stop eating. We recommend avoiding water sources that have chlorine or too many minerals. Distilled water is the best choice and can be found at many grocery stores.

red-eared slider in the aquarium
Image Credit: Pixabay

Diet

Your red-eared slider turtle can be a picky eater. It may not like the food you are trying to provide, or it might be tired of eating the same thing every day. If you have recently introduced a new food, it may be rejecting your offer. If you haven’t changed anything, it might be looking for a change.

Brightly colored fruits and vegetables like bananas, strawberries, mango, and tomato can entice your turtle to start eating again. Live foods like crickets, waxworms, and snails will be tough for a turtle to pass up and will almost certainly cause your pet to eat if it is looking for a change.

Overfeeding

red eared slider in rock_PublicDomainPictures_Pixabay
Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

Many people, especially new pet owners, tend to feed their pets a little more than they should. You might even do it without realizing it, but a full turtle is unlikely to eat again for a while. Most turtles, including the red-eared slider, tend to eat less during the summer months and eat more as it gets closer to winter. Your turtle should only be eating once per day.

Brumation

While your red-eared slider turtle is less likely to brumate in a temperature-controlled environment, it can happen. Many turtles have a built-in mechanism to sleep through the winter, which they will do. One of the first signs of a turtle going into brumation (similar to hibernation) is a lack of eating, and if you think this could be the case with your pet, we recommend carefully taking it to the vet to have it looked over. The doctor should tell you if it is starting to brumate and what to expect during this period.

Medical Problem

red eared slider turtle on a rock
Image Credit: MrLebies, Pixabay

If nothing else seems to fit, your pet could be suffering from a medical condition. Several issues can cause your pet to stop eating, and the most important thing to do is have it looked over as soon as possible to rule out illness or get your pet the attention it needs. Procrastination can often make matters worse.divider-turtle

Summary

In our experience, the most common reason that a turtle stops eating is that the temperature is too cold or it’s beginning to brumate. Many people don’t realize how susceptible turtles are to temperature change and how a small draft or even a ceiling fan can slow their metabolism. As the metabolism slows, the turtle will eat significantly less. Once you fix the temperature problem, the turtle will usually go back to eating within 24 hours. If the turtle doesn’t eat for several days despite temperature control, we recommend taking it to the vet.

We hope you have enjoyed reading and have learned a little more about your pet. If we helped you get your turtle eating again, please share this guide on why my red-eared slider is not eating on Facebook and Twitter.


Featuerd Image Credit: Piqsels

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.