Red-eared sliders are known to hibernate in the winter. Many pet owners get concerned if they do not know about this process and worry their pet is suffering some illness. This article will discuss if red-eared sliders hibernate and why it occurs.
Yes, red-eared sliders do hibernate in the winter. When the temperature drops a certain amount, red-eared sliders will go into hibernation. If the temperature is not cold enough, they will go into brumation. Usually, a pet slider will not brumate as the temperature inside the house is warm enough.
What Is Brumation in Red-Eared Sliders?
Like any other turtles, red-eared sliders go through a brumation process each year. Brumation is a period of inactivity and is similar to hibernation. A red-eared slider will through a natural process every winter or when the temperature drops a certain degree.
Brumation allows your pet slider to conserve its energy. In a natural habitat, red-eared sliders will not have food in the colder months. Thus, conserving energy or brumation becomes an essential key towards survival.
A red-eared slider will slow down its metabolic rate and decrease body temperature. Brumation will start if the temperature reaches below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Your pet slider will automatically stop to brumate if the temperature reaches 60 degrees Fahrenheit. A red-eared slider can continue to brumate for over a few weeks to a month. Although, this number heavily depends on their age, size, and health.
You should also know that brumation is a natural and harmless process and is nothing to be concerned about. Obstructing this process can be harmful to your pet’s health, as it causes them stress and disrupts their natural cycle. If your pet slider is going through brumation, you should provide them with a quiet and peaceful resting spot.
Red-eared sliders might also go into hiding during the brumation process. They will hide under a rock or substrate to rest peacefully, till it is time to wake up from their slumber again.
Hibernation vs Brumation in Red-Eared Sliders
Red-eared sliders are a subspecies of slider turtles. And like any other turtle, they will go into hibernation or brumation in the winter seasons. This is done to protect them from cold weather by reducing body activity and metabolism.
Hibernation and brumation are two different processes that slow down the metabolic activity in a turtle’s body when the temperature drops down a certain degree. Hibernation is usually used to describe this process in mammals, while brumation is used with reptiles or amphibians.
When a red-eared slider starts to brumate, it will slow down its metabolic rate, heartbeat, and breathing rate. Your pet slider will become inactive or lethargic and eat less to no food. Brumation is triggered by cold temperatures and shorter sunlight hours.
Hibernation in red-eared sliders is a similar process to brumation with a few differences. In hibernation, the red-eared slider body will match the temperature of its environment. Hibernation allows turtles to live in cold temperatures when food is scarce.
The main difference between brumation and hibernation is that during hibernation, the red-eared slider enters a state of torpor, where all metabolic activity is slowed down. During brumation, the turtles still show signs of activity and eat less food.
Most of the red-eared sliders will not hibernate or brumate as the temperature inside the house provides them with a warm environment.
Why Does a Red-Eared Slider Brumate?
Brumation is a natural process that occurs in the winter months. A red-eared slider will slow down its metabolic activity and eat less to survive the colder months of the year. Brumation also allows red-eared sliders to conserve their energy as food is scarce.
The primary reason red-eared sliders brumate is to survive environmental stress and food loss. Your pet turtle will decrease its metabolic level and heart rate, so it does not need to consume as much food and water. This natural process allows the turtle to survive the colder months till a more favorable environment arrives.
The brumation process also plays a significant role in the reproduction cycle. Female red-eared sliders need brumation to prepare their bodies to lay eggs in the spring season. During brumation, female turtles will stop producing hormones and can rest well till the spring season has arrived.
Red-eared sliders are also able to regulate their immune system through this process. Much research shows that the turtles who went under brumation have stronger immunity. Brumation allows your pet to redirect its energy toward its immune system and heal any damage done in the active months.
What Happens When Red-eared Sliders Brumate?
Red-eared sliders go through a process of brumation similar to that of hibernation in mammals. Brumation is a process where your pet turtle can relax and recover its body. It begins with a reduction in metabolic activity and heart rate. This helps the red-eared slider not feel hungry or thirsty. Brumation is essential for survival in the cold months, as food and water are scarce in the wild.
During the brumation process, the red-eared slider will refuse food and become lazy. They will also find a hiding spot under a rock or log, this helps them feel safe and calm throughout the process. Due to brumation, the turtles will also require less food and water. Your pet turtle might also stop defecating and urinating at this time, as passing out body waste can be very energy intensive.
Your pet turtle might also get more susceptible to various illnesses as the immune system is less active. You should take additional care of your pet during the brumation process and ensure they get a safe and comfortable environment. When the temperature reaches 60 degrees Fahrenheit, your pet turtle will wake up from its slumber and become active again.
When & How Long Do Red-Eared Sliders Brumate For?
The brumation process is a period of dormancy in red-eared sliders. The timing of brumation occurring depends on various factors, such as the age and size of your red-eared slider. The environment also plays a significant role in deciding when your pet turtle will brumate.
Generally, a red-eared slider will begin its brumation process during the late fall or early winter. If the temperature hits below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it will trigger a response in your pet. This is done to survive the winter months when food and water are scarce.
Young turtles might not brumate at all during the winter months. Whereas old red-eared sliders will start their brumation process earlier than the young sliders. The length of brumation also varies in red-eared sliders. Typically, the brumation period lasts for 2-3 months, although it can also range from 1-4 months. Your pet will stop the brumation process as soon the environment temperature reaches 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
During the brumation period, your pet turtle will rest comfortably and might also go into hiding. They will also face a loss in appetite and become lethargic. You should provide them with a safe resting spot and monitor their health closely.
Signs of a brumating red-eared slider
Brumation is a common factor if the temperature drops down a certain degree. Many pet owners have also seen their turtles brumating in captivity. You should know about the various signs that red-eared sliders show while brumating.
During the brumation process, turtles might show a sign of lethargic behavior. A reduction in activity is a common sign you should look out for. Your pet will rest comfortably in one spot and will not move around much.
Lack in Appetite
Your red-eared slider might eat less or no food during the brumation process. Turtles will slow down their metabolic and heart rate during the brumation process. They will also not defecate themselves as it would require a lot of energy. Make sure your pet turtle is not losing too much weight, and take them to the vet if they do so.
Red-eared sliders might go into hiding during the brumation process. They will bury themselves in the substrate or hide under a log. Your pet turtle will do this to find a cozy and comfortable spot to rest in till the brumation is over. You should provide them with peace and check their general behavior.
How long does a red-eared slider hibernate?
Red-eared slider’s period for brumation depends on various factors such as size and age. Young sliders can brumate for over ten weeks and may go into brumation late. Whereas adult turtles will go into brumation early and end it after fourteen weeks.
Should you hibernate your red-eared slider?
Red-eared sliders in captivity do not need to go into hibernation. Hibernation or brumation does not offer any health advantages. Red-eared sliders need to hibernate in the wild in the winter when food and water are scarce.
So yes, red-eared sliders hibernate or brumate if the temperature drops a certain degree. Brumation is a naturally occurring process and nothing to be worried about. Just provide your pet with a safe and comfortable resting spot, and do not disturb them.
Keep a check on their weight as they might lose their appetite. And do not worry if your pet is not going through brumation as the temperature inside the house is warm enough for them to go into slumber.