How Many Eggs Does a Red-Eared Slider Turtle Lay?

Red-eared sliders are one of the most widespread turtle species in the world. As one of the largest turtles available in the trade market, red-eared turtles are the most popular type of pet turtle. And one reason for that is the high rate at which they lay eggs.

The eggs in the nest are called “clutches”. A female red-eared slider turtle can lay 4 or 5 clutches in a single year. The number of eggs in a clutch varies depending on the size of a female turtle. A single red-eared slider can lay anywhere between 2 to 30 eggs in a single clutch.

When doing the math, on average, a female turtle will lay 100 eggs in a year. Very often, pet owners might be anxious about this process. Below, I will discuss how to take care of a gravid female turtle, how to create a proper nesting site, and keep eggs safe.

When Do Red-Eared Turtles Mate and How to Understand that a Female is Gravid?

In the wild, mating normally occurs during March and June. Pet turtles, which spend their lives in a more consistently controlled environment, may try to mate year-round. Although experts do not recommend the casual breeding of red-eared turtles, it is important to provide proper nesting conditions for egg-laying females. Captive turtles will become gravid any time of the year.

Just like many other reptiles, female turtles will lay eggs even when they have not mated with a male turtle. However, these eggs are not fertile, and you don’t have to worry about the incubation process.

Some owners do not know whether they have a male or a female turtle. Sometimes, owners understand that they have a female, only when she becomes gravid or starts laying eggs. If you are wondering whether your turtle is gravid, consider showing her to a veterinarian or experienced turtle owner. They will feel for eggs near her rear legs. Do not do this on your own. Eggs are extremely soft and there is a good chance of breaking them.

What Do I Do If My Red-Eared Turtle is Gravid?

If a female turtle is gravid, she will instantly try to build a nest and lay a clutch of eggs. It is relatively easy to grasp that a turtle wants to nest. If gravid, a female in an aquarium would display signs of wanting to nest by rapid behavioral changes. She will become very anxious, showing a lot of digging motions with her legs. She may try to leave the aquarium.

Gravid female turtles need more warmth and light. She may often lie exposed to light. If she does that, consider providing more UVB rays and additional vitamins, such as calcium. Most gravid females will eat considerably less or even stop eating because they obsessively focus on finding a nesting site.

A proper nest area is very important to help her lay eggs naturally. If you do not provide such space, she may lay her eggs in the water or keep them, which leads to a serious health problem called egg binding.

Look carefully for the eggs. If you find any eggs, whether in water or the nest, throw them away if they are unfertilized. If a turtle has laid only several eggs in the water, it means that you still need to provide a nesting area. She has likely kept eggs, or she has not laid an entire clutch.

What Is Egg-Binding?

Egg-binding, also known as ‘egg retention’ or ‘dystocia’ is common in many reptiles, including red-eared slider turtles. Egg-binding occurs when a female can not pass eggs from her reproductive system. Several reasons can cause egg-binding. The lack of a proper nesting site is the most widespread reason behind this condition.

Identifying the signs of egg-binding early on is key to your pet’s survival. The eggs that are abnormally held within a body can cause bacterial infection, internal injury, or peritonitis. Possible symptoms of egg retention may be depression, lack of energy, breathing difficulties, and increased swelling. Your turtle may also produce a foul liquid, which is a sign that she cannot pass the eggs.

If a female attempts to lay eggs but cannot, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. The vet can properly diagnose your pet’s condition and begin the right treatment, essential for its fast recovery.

How Long Does It Take for a Red-Eared Slider Turtle to Lay Eggs?

The normal incubation time for red-eared slider turtle’s eggs varies from two to nearly four months. The time depends on many vectors, including weather and temperature. The youngsters can remain in the nest over the winter if they are not mature enough before cold weather. Cold weather is a big problem for fledgling turtles, as it can cause the youngsters to die before hatching.

When the female turtle prepares to lay eggs, she digs a deep nest in the sand. Depending on the turtle’s size, It may take one to three hours for turtles to dig the nest and lay eggs. After the nest is done, a female turtle will start laying eggs.

Taking Care of Red-Eared Slider Turtle Eggs

Female turtles are often very selective about where they choose to lay their eggs. In their natural habitat, a nesting area will consist mostly of dry soil. If you are creating a nest in an aquarium, use a mixture of sand and organic compost. Make sure the soil you use doesn’t contain any fertilizers or pesticides. For the sand, you can go with regular aquarium sand.

A female turtle may refuse to continue laying eggs if she feels any obstacles or if the depth is not enough. To avoid complications, remove any stones or roots from the nesting site.

Temperature determines the sex of a newborn turtle. If a female incubates eggs at temperatures below 80 degrees, only males will be born. If she incubates eggs at temperatures above 80 degrees, it will deliver females.

When a female lays her eggs, you should not turn them over. The eggs must always stay in the same position from the time they were laid. If it is impossible to leave them where they are, prepare an incubator to place the eggs.
Eggs, provided with proper conditions, temperature, and safety, will hatch in 60 to 80 days.

A hatchling happens when the shell is sliced with its egg tooth. The hatchling may still absorb nutrients of the yolk sac, which should not be removed or disturbed. After hatching, a fledgling turtle may not show immediate interest in eating.


Do Red Eared Slider Turtles Take Care of Their Eggs After They Are Laid?

As most reptiles, red-eared slider turtles do not take care of their eggs or newborn babies. As a rule, turtles, like other reptiles do not stay around their eggs after they are laid. We don’t really know why females do not fully develop a maternal instinct, but this is not the subject of this article.

It is true that female turtles do not raise or take care of their young, however, turtles do their best to protect their eggs. In wild habitats, turtles survive by hiding and making themselves difficult to notice. This is the best survival technique in a turtle’s arsenal. That is why a female snapping turtles hide their eggs by covering them with sand or dirt. This is the only thing she can do for her eggs to provide as much safety as possible.