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Red-Eared Slider Eggs: What They Look Like and What to Do With Them

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Red-eared sliders lay their eggs between May and July. They are small, leathery, and white or creamy. They incubate for 60-65 days, whereafter they hatch into small hatchlings. 

When you think of eggs, you might think of chicken eggs, or maybe duck eggs. But what about turtle eggs? 

Believe it or not, red-eared sliders lay eggs too, and they look quite different from the eggs we plate up for breakfast.

If you have a female red-eared slider, the chances are you will come across eggs in her tank. If you also have a male, you may even produce offspring. 

Let’s take a closer look at red-eared slider eggs and discuss what to do if you find them in your pet turtles tank.

Breeding turtles is only ethical if you have vast knowledge of how to care for them, enough space to keep them, and a safe place to go as they grow.

Red-Eared Slider Eggs

Red-eared slider eggs are small and leathery, about the size of a raisin. They are white or cream-colored with a soft, smooth texture. Each clutches contains 3–12 eggs and is laid in June or July. 

What Do Red-Eared Slider Eggs Look Like?

What Do Red-Eared Slider Eggs Look Like
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Red-eared slider eggs are small and white, with a soft, leathery texture. They are often oblong, though they can be slightly round. Each egg is approximately 1–1.5 inches long and 0.75 inches wide.[1]

Turtle eggs do not have a hard shell like a chicken egg. Instead, the shell is soft with a leather-like feel, and the consistency feels somewhat like a hardboiled egg. 

The shell protects the growing embryo, and the yolk nourishes it as it develops.

Red-Eared Slider Egg Size

A red-eared slider egg is small, only about 1–1.5 inches long (2.5–3.8 cm) and 0.75 inches wide (1.9–2.5 cm).

How Many Eggs Does a Red-Eared Slider Lay?

How Many Eggs Does a Red-Eared Slider Lay
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A female red-eared slider can lay anywhere from 2 to 30 eggs per clutch (a group of eggs laid at one time), though the average is between 8 and 12. 

There is a correlation between plastron length and clutch size, meaning larger females typically lay larger clutches.[2]

Red-Eared Slider Egg Incubation

Incubation is the process of keeping the eggs warm to make them hatch. Red-eared sliders incubate for 60-65 days at temperatures between 79 and 86°F. Incubation temperature determines the gender of the offspring.

It is important to keep the eggs in a humid environment during incubation. Too much humidity causes the eggs to become moldy, while a lack of humidity causes them to dry out and die.

A good way to measure humidity is by using a hygrometer. Aim for 80–90% humidity.

Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination (TSD)

One of the most interesting things about turtle eggs is that the temperature during incubation determines the sex of the offspring.

Incubation between 79–86°F causes the sex ratio to be equal (50% male and 50% female).

Incubation below or above this range, then the sex ratio will be biased. For example, if the temperature is below 79°F[3], then more males hatch, while temperatures above 86°F result in more females. 

This is because of temperature-dependent sex determination, or TSD. Scientists are still not sure why this happens.

TemperatureGender
79–86°FGender mixture
72°F–79°FMale
>86°FFemale
<72°FDeath of the embryo

How Long for Red-Eared Slider Eggs to Hatch?

The incubation period for slider turtle eggs is 60-65 days. 

Baby turtles communicate through their shells to ensure they hatch within 24 hours of each other. Turtles that are ready to hatch will send signals to the others, stimulating their development to catch up to their clutch mates.[4]

How Long for Red-Eared Slider Eggs to Hatch
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Red-Eared Slider Turtle Eggs Hatching

As the turtles approach hatching, you will see them start to “pip”, breaking through the shell with their egg tooth. After making a small hole in the shell, they rest for 24-48 hours before continuing to pip the rest of the way out.

Once they emerge from their shells, they are wet and exhausted. It is important not to handle them during this time, as their skin is very delicate.

Allow them to dry off and rest for a few hours before moving them to their new tank.

Can Red-Eared Slider Eggs Hatch in Water?

No, red-eared slider eggs cannot hatch in water. If incubation is in water, they will not develop properly and will not hatch. The ideal incubation temperatures and humidity levels can only be achieved on land.

Hatchlings stay on land while they absorb their yolk sac and the slit heals – this can take up to 3 weeks.

Red-Eared Slider Nesting Behavior

Female red-eared sliders become gravid (carrying eggs) regularly and look for a place to lay them. She digs a hole with her hind legs in soft substrate on land. She deposits her eggs, buries them, then leaves them to incubate.

If you have more than one turtle in your tank, you may notice the female chasing the male around. This is because she is looking to mate.

Once she has found a mate, you might observe her nesting behavior:

  • Before parturition (egg-laying) she can lose appetite.
  • She becomes restless and paces around the tank, searching for a suitable spot to dig a nest.
  • She starts to dig a nest. She uses her hind legs to scoop out a small hole in the ground, often near the water’s edge.
  • Once the nest is complete, she lays her eggs inside and covers them with dirt and leaves.
  • She then returns to the water and leaves the eggs to incubate independently.[5]

Avoid handling the eggs if you can. Handling the eggs can disturb the development of the embryo and kill them.

Do Red-Eared Sliders Stay With Their Eggs?

No, red-eared sliders do not stay with their eggs. Once the eggs are laid, the female will return to the water and leave them to incubate on their own.

Red-eared sliders show no parental care, and if left with their eggs or young, they may attempt to eat them. Hatchlings are precocial, meaning they instinctually begin to care for themselves from the hatch.

Do Red-Eared Sliders Stay With Their Eggs
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Can Red-Eared Sliders Lay Eggs Without Mating?

Yes, red-eared sliders can lay eggs without mating. These eggs will not be fertile and will not hatch. Female red-eared sliders can retain viable sperm for up to a year. Egg fertilization occurs near the cloaca during laying, not during mating.

Because of this unique adaptation, a female red-eared slider can lay fertile eggs if she was previously housed with a male.

How to Tell if Red-Eared Slider Eggs Are Fertile

The best way to tell if your slider turtle’s eggs are fertile is to have a professional vet or reptile specialist candling the eggs.

Candling is the process of using a bright light to look through the eggshell to see the development of the embryo inside.

It is a good sign that the egg is fertile and developing properly if you can see a dark shadow with red veins. It is likely not fertile if you cannot see anything inside the egg.

What to Do With Unfertilized Red-Eared Slider Eggs?

If you find that your slider turtle has laid infertile eggs, you can do a few things with them:

  • Incubate the eggs anyway. This can be a fun and educational experience, even if they don’t hatch.
  • Throw them away. Be certain they are unfertilized first.
  • Give the eggs to a reptile rescue or sanctuary.

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

It takes a female red-eared slider around two weeks to lay her eggs after mating. From start to finish, the entire process takes around 3-4 months. This includes the time it takes for the eggs to hatch and the turtles to reach sexual maturity.

How Often Do Red-Eared Slider Turtles Lay Eggs?

Female red-eared sliders lay eggs once a year in the wild. In captivity, they can lay eggs multiple times a year. This is because they do not have to worry about predators or food availability.[6]

Where Do Red-Eared Slider Turtles Lay Their Eggs?

Where Do Red-Eared Slider Turtles Lay Their Eggs
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Red-eared slider turtles lay their eggs on land, often near the water’s edge. The female will dig a hole with her hind legs and deposit her eggs inside. She will then cover them with dirt and leaves before returning to the water.[7]

What Time of Year Do Red-Eared Sliders Lay Eggs?

Red-eared sliders generally lay their eggs in the spring and summer. The environment’s temperature plays a role in when they will lay their eggs. For turtles living in the wild, the warmer weather signals the start of the breeding season. 

My Red-Eared Slider Turtle Laid Eggs What Do I Do?

If you find red-eared slider eggs in your pet’s tank, you can either remove them and throw them away, incubate them yourself, or leave them until they start to go bad.

You can also move them to a different location if you want to incubate the eggs. Make sure to put them in an incubator designed for reptile eggs.

How to Take Care of Red-Eared Slider Eggs

You need to incubate the eggs without adding any water to the incubation chamber. The embryos need to stay dry to develop properly[8]. The ideal incubation temperature for red-eared slider eggs is 82–86°F with a 70–80% humidity level.

You also need to turn the eggs regularly, about 2–3 times per day. Turning the eggs helps to prevent the embryos from sticking to the shell and dying.

Turn the eggs by gently rolling them over with your hands or using a plastic egg carton. Do not use metal tongs or anything else that could puncture the eggshell.

Related: How To Care For Baby Red-Eared Sliders

Final Thoughts

Red-eared slider turtles are popular pets that can live for over 20 years with proper care. If you find yourself with red-eared slider eggs, you now know what to do with them.

If you have any questions about taking care of your turtle or its eggs, ask a vet or reptile specialist. They can give you the best advice for your specific situation.

About Sophie Herlihy (Zoologist)

Sophie Herlihy, a trained zoologist, is a lover of true misfit animals. With a specialty in insects, birds, and rodents, she helps the Misfit Animals craft factual and valuable informational pieces on various animals.

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