Red-Ear Terrapin care sheet


Red-eared terrapin require a glass turtle tank as their enclosure. This is because they will need fully submerged sections without risk of warping or leaking. The red-eared terrapin can grow to 200mm (8'') long and needs a proportional amount of space to live happily. For this reason we suggest a tank with at least 900-1200mm in width.

The tank should also be tall enough to provide areas for the turtle to swim so we suggest a minimum height of around 300mm. A ramp and dock should be used to ensure the turtle has a space to get out of the water and bask.

As juveniles the red-eared terrapin can be kept in a 900mm enclosure but this will have to be upgraded as they grow. There are no detremental effects for having them in the enclosure for life straight away so we usually suggest you start with the full set up.


During the day the turtle will periodically move on to the basking area. This allows the turtle to dry off, warm up, absorb UVB and rest. A good basking spot should be around 80oF and provide sufficient UV. All Turtles require additional UVB lighting. Red-eared terrapins require UVB light in order to synthesise vitamin D. Without vitamin D (in particular D3) the turtle will not be able to metabolise calcium properly causing problems with bone growth.

A spot light and UV tube can be used over the basking area of the turtle. Either a 60w or 100w basking bulb should be sufficient depending on temperatures achieved. A 12% intense UV tube (either T5 or T8) can be used to provide the intense UV. Alternatively a sigle mercury vapour bulb can be used to provide both heat and UV. This bulb should be placed 30cm or closer and will need a porcelain or ceramic lamp holder.

Water Care

Red-eared terrapins spend most of their time in the water so keeping it warm and clean is a priority. These turtles can be quite messy due to their high protein diet so require quite a strong filter to keep them clean. If you have a powerful filter you should only need to check it once a fortnight and clean the entire enclosure once every 3 months or so.

Water should always be treated before being introduced to the turtles enclosure to remove the chlorine. If you do not do this trace elements in the tap water can disturb the biological pads in your filter and even effect your pet.

A contant temperature of 25oC (75-80oF) should be maintained day and night. A water heater can be used to keep the water warm. A general guide to go by is 1W will warm 1L of water. In large enclosure (over 3ft wide) it is worth considering getting 2 half strength water heaters and placing one at each end to ensure an even temperature.