Why Is My Red Eared Slider Turtle Not Growing?

Every turtle owner wonders at some point, why isn’t my turtle growing? While your turtle may be perfectly healthy, it may also suffer from nutritional deficiencies or an illness that you can’t spot from the outside.

However, taking some simple steps to ensure your turtle is getting all the nutrients it needs will make it easier to determine if there’s something wrong with your pet turtle and help you decide if it’s time to seek out medical care for your reptile friend.

This guide explains why turtles don’t grow, what you can do about it, and why you shouldn’t be too worried about small amounts of slowing down in growth rates as your turtle gets older.

5 Reasons Why Your Red Eared Slider Turtle Is Not Growing


Many people don’t realize that turtles, and Red Eared Sliders specifically grow extremely slowly. While some turtle species may live to be 100 years old, that doesn’t mean your pet turtle will make it to its first birthday! Each turtle grows at a different rate, depending on many factors like genetics and species.

Some also grow faster than others, while others might not grow at all. However, it is important to remember that just because your turtle is small now does not mean it won’t get bigger in time.

Turtles can stop growing for short periods due to environmental stressors, but they should start growing again once these are removed.


One of the first things you need to know when it comes to your turtle’s health is whether or not they are eating. Turtles are very voracious eaters, and if they don’t eat, something could be wrong.

Like humans, illness can often prevent a pet from eating and drinking. So when you notice your turtle hasn’t eaten for longer than three days (two days for younger turtles), it’s time to contact a vet immediately!

Poor Diet

One of the leading causes of stunted growth in turtles is a poor diet. Typically, they eat large quantities of protein-rich foods such as fish and worms will help, but their bodies need more than just protein for health and wellness. They also need lots of calcium and vitamin D to develop properly.

Give your turtle red and green leafy vegetables to add fiber and vitamins to her diet and a small calcium supplement once or twice a week (depending on age). Also, try supplementing with Vitamin D3.

This can be found at most pet stores in liquid form. Add a few drops to your turtle’s water bowl daily for proper bone development.

They need plenty of greens like dark, leafy lettuce and a small amount of fruit once or twice per week, and calcium-rich foods like hard-boiled eggs every other day.

Live bugs are also good for their diet but only feed them about five once per week. If you’re unsure whether they’re getting enough food, check their feces: If it looks too runny or doesn’t smell right, they may not be eating enough.

Related: How long can a red eared slider go without eating?

As far as care goes, keep in mind that tortoises aren’t very active—you should handle them for no more than 10 minutes so they don’t get tired out.

Improper Care

Make sure your turtle has the appropriate habitat, food, and water. If your turtle does not have an appropriate environment for its species, it won’t grow as fast and may be prone to sickness. If you do not know what food and water are best for your turtle, check with a pet store or wildlife specialist.

Related: How long can a red eared slider go without water?

The growth rate of turtles will vary based on species and activity level, but they are typically slow-growing animals. For example, some tortoises can take up to 25 years to reach maturity. Turtles are also susceptible to illness, so they eat well and don’t seem lethargic or uncomfortable.

Activity Level

Does your turtle move around a lot, or is it slow and sluggish? Healthy turtles will generally be active and swim frequently. However, if your turtle remains in one spot for long periods, there could be an underlying health problem. Shell rot or other infections are often to blame for diminished activity levels in a turtle.

Other causes could include injury or environmental stress. Your veterinarian can conduct tests to determine what’s keeping your turtle from thriving and make recommendations on treatment options.

Once you have determined that your turtle is not healthy, you should start to look at dietary needs and see if you can meet them by adding more calcium to their diet. The easiest way to do so is by adding cuttlebone or a mineral block into their habitat.

turtle not growing

How Can I Help My Red Eared Slider Grow?

If you’re raising a turtle from an egg, it may not grow very fast in its first few years. This is normal, and most species of turtles are slow growers during their earliest developmental stage.

If your turtle isn’t growing as quickly as you would like, try incorporating more nutritious foods into it’s diet. For example, dark leafy greens like kale or collard greens provide more calories for your pet to build muscles and grow larger. You can also feed it high-calorie foods like worms, crickets, mealworms, and grubs.

As long as you’re giving your turtle a healthy diet with plenty of protein, it should be able to build muscle mass on its schedule. Also, as long as your turtle has enough space to move around freely (so that it doesn’t get too fat), it should continue to grow at its pace until it reaches maturity at about eight years old.

Frequently Asked Questions

How You Can Tell If Your Turtle Is Growing?

Look for any changes in your turtle’s size. First, measure its shell from head to tail to find out its carapace length. Then, measure it again after a month or two has passed. Finally, compare those measurements with a ruler or tape measure—you want your turtle to be 10%-15% larger than before.

Consider bringing your turtle to a vet specializing in reptiles and amphibians if you don’t see any change. In addition to doing regular checkups on your pet, they can recommend specific foods to help it grow faster.

How Long Does It Take a Turtle to Grow?

Most turtles are fairly slow for growth, taking anywhere from two to five years before they reach full size. The growth rate depends on how big your turtle is, to begin with, but some species of turtle grow slower than others.

Do Turtles Grow Slow?

As your turtle grows older, their growth becomes more retard; between ages 0-5, a common box turtle can grow at 1cm(10mm) a year. And within the space of 5 -10 years, expect a growth rate of 0.8cm (8mm)

Some turtles do grow slower than others, but something could be wrong if your turtle is under three years old and hasn’t grown much in that time. So the first thing to check is whether or not your turtle is eating well.

How Do I Know If My Turtle Is Growing?

Do you have a red-eared slider turtle and are curious about how fast it’s growing? Unfortunately, it can be tough to determine whether your turtle is truly healthy. Some great signs indicate your turtle is developing well, but try looking at its shell if you’re still unsure.

A healthy turtle should grow one or two inches every year until maturity. On the other hand, if your pet seems to be growing slowly, there could be an underlying issue causing the delay.

How Can I Tell If My Turtle Is Healthy?

There are several ways to tell if your turtle is happy and healthy and signs to look for that indicate something may be wrong. When assessing your turtle’s health, consider many factors, including its diet and exercise regimen, sleeping habits, body temperature (you can use a thermometer), and weight.

However, one of the most important indicators of your turtle’s overall health is how quickly it grows. While some turtles grow quickly, others take their time growing—and both types are perfectly normal. It all depends on what kind of species you have and how old it was when you bought or adopted it.

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