Can Red Eared Slider Turtles Lay Eggs In Water?

Can Red Eared Slider Turtles Lay Eggs In Water?

Having cared for Red-Eared Sliders, I’ve learned the importance of understanding their needs, particularly when it comes to nesting and egg-laying habits. These turtles can make delightful pets, but their happiness hinges on our knowledge and ability to cater to their natural behaviors.

Having cared for Red-Eared Sliders, I’ve learned the importance of understanding their needs, particularly when it comes to nesting and egg-laying habits. These turtles can make delightful pets, but their happiness hinges on our knowledge and ability to cater to their natural behaviors.

Can Red-Eared Sliders lay eggs in water? While they technically have the ability to do so, it’s not their preference or a healthy practice. A Red-Eared Slider attempting to lay eggs in water is often a sign of distress or a lack of proper nesting options. This behavior can lead to complications, both for the eggs and the turtle’s health.

To delve deeper into this subject and understand why water isn’t the ideal place for a Red-Eared Slider to lay eggs, continue reading. We’ll explore the nuances of their egg-laying habits and how you can create a nurturing environment for your shelled companion.

Can Red Eared Slider Turtles Lay Eggs In Water?

Yes, Red Eared Slider Turtles can technically lay eggs in water, but it’s important to understand that this is not ideal or natural for them. I’ve learned that egg-laying in water usually indicates that the turtle lacks a proper nesting area.

In their natural habitat, Red Eared Sliders prefer to lay eggs on land, where they dig nests in soft, moist soil to ensure the safety and proper development of the eggs. When a female slider lays eggs in water, it’s often because she couldn’t access a suitable nesting site. This can lead to the eggs being non-viable and can also cause health issues for the turtle, such as egg retention or dystocia.

Creating a conducive environment for egg-laying is crucial for the health and well-being of female Red Eared Sliders. Providing an appropriate land area within their enclosure for nesting can prevent the occurrence of such unnatural and risky behaviors.

How And When Do Red Eared Sliders Lay Eggs?

Red-eared sliders, a species of turtles known for their distinctive red markings, follow a fascinating and observable cycle when it comes to laying eggs.

As someone who has personally cared for these creatures, I’ve had the unique opportunity to observe their egg-laying process closely.

Mating Time: My red-eared sliders typically start mating in the spring, around March to April, just after their hibernation period. During this time, I often observe increased activity and interaction between the male and female turtles in their aquatic environment.

Pre-Nesting Behavior: A few weeks after mating, I notice the female becoming more restless. She often tries to climb out of her aquatic habitat, which is a sign that she is searching for a suitable nesting site.

Choosing the Nesting Site:The female prefers sandy or soft soil for nesting. I provide a secluded, safe area with the appropriate substrate in her enclosure to mimic a natural environment.

Digging the Nest: The female uses her hind legs to dig a nest. This process can take several hours, and she usually does this at night or during cooler times of the day to avoid overheating and stress.

Laying Eggs: The female lays her eggs in the nest, usually ranging from 4 to 10 eggs. The eggs are soft-shelled and leathery. After laying, she covers the eggs with soil and leaves them to incubate.

Incubation Period: The incubation period lasts about 60 to 90 days. I monitor the temperature closely, as it significantly affects the incubation time and the sex of the hatchlings.

Hatching: The hatchlings emerge from the eggs and instinctively head towards water. In a captive environment, I ensure they have immediate access to a safe aquatic habitat.

It’s important to provide a stress-free environment for egg-laying and to monitor both the mother and hatchlings’ health throughout this process. As a pet owner, it’s a remarkable experience to observe and support this natural cycle.

What To Do If You Find Turtle Eggs In Water?

Finding turtle eggs in the water can be a surprising and concerning situation, especially if you’re not familiar with the proper steps to handle it. Here’s a step-by-step approach based on what I’ve learned and practiced:

  1. Immediate Action: Turtle eggs are not meant to be submerged in water, and their survival is at risk if they remain there. Acting swiftly is crucial. However, it’s equally important to be gentle to avoid damaging the delicate eggs.
  2. Gentle Retrieval: I use either my bare hands or a soft cloth to carefully lift the eggs from the water. This needs to be done with great care to prevent any jarring or shaking.
  3. Maintaining Orientation: From my observations, the orientation of turtle eggs is vital. Turning them can be harmful to the embryo. I usually mark the top of the egg with a non-toxic marker as soon as I retrieve them, to keep track of their original position.
  4. Creating a Suitable Environment: In the past, I’ve had to create makeshift incubators using a container with moist sand or vermiculite. I gently press the eggs into this substrate, ensuring they stay in the same orientation as when found.
  5. Temperature and Humidity Control: Maintaining a temperature of about 80-85°F (27-29°C) and a humidity level of 70-80% is crucial. I achieve this using a heat source and regularly misting the substrate with water.
  6. Regular Monitoring: I check the eggs frequently for signs of mold or decay, which indicate a non-viable egg. Keeping a close eye on the temperature and humidity is also vital for the development of the eggs.
  7. Patient Waiting: Depending on the species and environmental conditions, the incubation can take anywhere from 45 to 90 days. Patience is key during this period, and I avoid disturbing the eggs as much as possible.
  8. Seeking Expert Advice: In cases where I was uncertain, especially with eggs that might belong to a protected species, I’ve sought advice from wildlife experts or local reptile rescue organizations.

Handling turtle eggs found in water is a delicate task that requires prompt yet careful actions and a patient, attentive approach to ensure their best chance of survival.

How To Make The Turtle Lay Eggs In The Laying Box?

You might note some behavioral changes like trying too hard to escape or a constant lack of appetite. If you notice your turtle behaving like this, try to get her back to the nesting box. But remember to wash her clean with fresh dechlorinated water.

If you put the turtle in an egg laying box without washing her clean, you will have soil clog the filters. Cleaning is a mess after that. The nesting box needs to adhere to the enclosure. It makes sense because in that case, you will not have to keep picking the turtle up. She can do it on her own when she wants.

Check the egg laying box more frequently than you try to check her belly for lumps. The idea is to make her comfortable and leave her alone.

Create The Right Place  To Lay Eggs

You can create the right place for the slider to lay eggs by focusing on the soil, temperature, heat, and space. Here’s how can do it:

Soil Composition

The ideal nesting mix for red-eared sliders includes soil with a bit of sand or coconut fiber. Through trial and error, I’ve found that testing the mix with spoons can be very helpful.

I dig a small hole and observe if the walls hold up without soil collapsing. A stable mix indicates that it’s suitable for the turtles to dig and lay their eggs.

Temperature and Heat

Red-eared sliders need a warm environment for egg-laying. I use a light source to simulate sunlight, creating a warm, inviting spot for nesting. If you have multiple turtles, it’s crucial to provide individual sunny spots for each, as they can be quite territorial about their nesting area.

Additionally, I incorporate heat mats at the end of the nesting area. This allows the turtles to choose their preferred proximity to the heat source. It’s important to ensure that the heat mat is safe and meets the specific needs of the turtles.


The nesting area should be spacious enough for the turtle to move around and find a comfortable spot. For a red-eared slider, an area measuring at least 19.5×19.5 inches (50×50 cm) has worked well in my setup.

It’s important to remember that these turtles are intelligent and will seek a nesting site above the water level to prevent the eggs from flooding. While you can optimize the space for egg-laying, ultimately, the turtle decides where she feels comfortable to lay her eggs.

Creating the right place for red-eared sliders to lay eggs is about understanding their natural instincts and providing an environment that meets their needs. It’s a process that requires observation, adaptation, and a commitment to creating a safe and comfortable space for these fascinating creatures.

What Happens When A Red Eared Slider Has Egg Retention?

A red eared slider turtle tends to retain eggs when they are unable to find a suitable place to lay eggs. This condition is known as dystocia. It is a medical condition that can cause major complications if it is not addressed in time. So, if you see that your turtle is straining excessively or has stopped laying eggs suddenly, you need to contact the vet right away.

Some of the common symptoms of egg retention are:

  • Irritability
  • Personality changes
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Straining after passing one or two eggs

Recovery for egg retention is pretty good if the condition is addressed on time. Not every case needs surgery, and even if it does, your turtle will still recover well. Expect the turtle to recover in time and face no complications in the next nesting season.

Keep a close eye on your red eared slider turtle to note any change in behavior. Contact your vet right away if you doubt there is anything suspicious about your turtle’s behavior and get checked.

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