Can Two Red-Eared Sliders Live Together?

Red-eared sliders are hardy turtles with a great temperament which makes them perfect for novice turtle owners. But you might be wondering, “Can two red-eared sliders live together?” The answer is yes, however, there are certain things you should know before housing two red-eared sliders together.


Can Two Red-Eared Sliders Live Together?


Determine the Gender First


It’s very important for you to first determine the gender of your red-eared sliders. It is often difficult to tell the gender of your turtle until they are at least 2 to 5 years old. You’ll need to be able to see the length of their claws and the distance of their cloaca from their bodies.

  • Males tend to have their cloaca further from their body and longer claws on their front legs.
  • Females will have their cloaca closer to their body and shorter claws on their front legs.

This is important to determine, as two male red-eared sliders will become very territorial toward each other. When a male is housed with a female, they will likely harass the female during mating season by nipping at her and stressing her out. At times, the female will have had enough and get aggressive with the male. 

However, there seems to be hardly an issue at all between two female red-eared sliders.


You’ll Need a Large Habitat


Red-eared sliders can grow upwards of 10 inches long, which means if you plan on housing more than one in the same enclosure, you’ll need to make sure it is big enough to do so. With turtles, these large, smaller habitats will stress them out immensely, and you’ll notice grumpier demeanors and perhaps issues eating or sleeping. You’ll definitely want to give your turtles space enough to bask and not be bothered by the other if they wish to have their quiet time on the other side of the enclosure.

  • Males with males will need a spacious habitat due to their aggressive nature toward each other. They will need several places to bask as well as a cave or two to hide. Imagine your turtles as little old men who don’t want the other on their lawn.
  • Males with females will also need a large enclosure. It’s likely your male won’t leave your female alone, so it is sometimes wise to have more than one female present with your male to keep him from harassing one female in particular. Let him spread the love a little bit.
  • Females with females will also need a cave and someplace to bask, but they are not overly aggressive toward one another. But based on their size alone, your habitat will still have to be fairly large.

As a rule, you’ll want your enclosure to be at least 4 to 5 times the length of your red-eared slider, which, for a 10-inch turtle, would be about 5 feet long. The width, ideally, should be 2 to 3 times the length of your turtle, so likely 2 to 3 feet wide. You’ll need to have enough depth in your enclosure to make sure the water you provide for your turtles is at least 1.5 to 2 times their length. 

A small red-eared slider, about 5 inches long, can get by with a 30-gallon to 50-gallon aquarium, as long as it has both water and land available to enjoy. However, a large adult should have an aquarium of at least 75 gallons, and even more than that for multiples! Therefore, if you have multiple turtles, it is best to offer them a large outdoor pond for them to have enough room to wander and avoid each other if they so wish.


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Consider the Size of Your Red-Eared Sliders


It is best to house turtles of the same size together. While you might think it best to put a baby with an adult, what often ends up happening is a spot of bullying by the older, larger slider. Sometimes marks of biting and nipping will be present on the smaller turtle, or the larger turtle will eat all the food before the little one can get a bite.

It is also quite common for the smaller slider not to have a mark on him, but he fails to thrive by growing and gaining strength. Even though the larger turtle might not physically harm him, the younger turtle could still become depressed and his health may decline. It is always best to house two turtles of the same size together.


Should You put Two Red-Eared Sliders Together in the Same Habitat?


Some people would say no, it is not wise. Due to the sliders’ large size, it is nearly impossible to put two or more together unless you have an outdoor enclosure. Turtles this large, even in a 75-gallon aquarium is a tight squeeze, as they’ll each need their own territory within the enclosure.

If you cannot provide this for your turtles, it is best to keep them separate to cut back on any bullying or nipping that might happen due to their close proximity. If your turtles aren’t the same size, definitely do not house them together, and watch out if you decide to put two males in the same habitat!


The Bottom Line


In a nutshell, the best combination of turtles to house together are females. Always house two turtles of the same size together, and make sure your enclosures are large enough to accommodate them. For multiple red-eared sliders, due to their size, it is best to try and find a way to house them outside in a large outdoor environment such as a pond or water feature.

If you cannot provide these basic needs for your turtles, it is best not to place more than one turtle in an aquarium at a time. Unless you have plenty of room for them to roam, bask, hide, and have their own territories, you will be dealing with stressed and bullied turtles. Be sure to love your turtles by giving them plenty of space.


Mike Grover

Mike Grover is the owner of this website (Reptiles and Amphibians), a website dedicated to providing expert care and information for these animals. Mike has been keeping reptiles and amphibians as pets for over 20 years and has extensive knowledge of their care. He currently resides in the United Kindom with his wife and two children. Reptiles and amphibians can make excellent pets, but they require special care to stay healthy and happy. Mike's website provides detailed information on how to care for these animals, including what to feed them, what type of housing they need, and how to maintain their health. Mike's website is a valuable resource for keeping your pet healthy and happy, whether you’re considering adding a reptile or amphibian to your family or you’re already a pet parent.

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