How Long Can a Red eared Slider Go Without Food? (Starving for Survival)

Red-eared sliders are calm turtles and do not require a lot of care and supervision. Many pet owners wonder how long can their red-eared slider go without food. Turtles are known for their ability to survive without food for a long duration, but you should know the extent of their limits.

Red-eared sliders can survive for about three months or 90 days without food. Although, this number can differ according to their age, size, environment, and their diet.

How Long Can Red-Eared Sliders Go Without Food?

how long can a red eared slider go without food

Red-eared sliders can go on for weeks without food. The number also varies depending on the age, size, and health of your pet turtle. Your pet’s temperature also directly impacts the time they can spend without food. On average, your pet turtle can go on for about three months without food.

Young red-eared sliders have more food reserves than older turtles. Young sliders have more food reserves and can last without food for even months. Although, starving your red-eared sliders can result in various health problems such as malnourishment, MBD, and gestational issues.

You should feed them a well-balanced diet to keep them healthy and stress-free. You should also provide them access to clean drinking water so they do not face any health issues.

Factors That Affect How Long a Red-eared Slider Can Go Without Food

We have all forgotten our pets at home from time to time. It is important to know how long your red-eared slider can go without food without causing them any health risks. The duration for which your pet turtle can stay without food depends on various things. Here are a few factors that affect how long your red-eared slider can go without food.

Availability of Clean Water

red-eared sliders on clean water

The availability of clean drinking water is one of the most important factors that affect how long your pet can go without food. Red-eared slider depends on water to stay hydrated and eliminate waste from their body. If your pet turtle does not have access to clean water, it can suffer from severe dehydration, leading to various health issues and even death.

Your pet turtle can go on for many weeks without food but can only survive a few days without water. You should always make sure that your pet has access to clean drinking water and is never dehydrated. This will help keep your red-eared slider healthy and safe.

Editor’s Note
You should also change your pet’s water as it can easily get infested with harmful bacteria. This can make them prone to illness and prove to be fatal for your pet.

Access to a Basking Area

red-eared sliders basking

Basking areas are crucial for your pet’s health and can easily affect how long they can survive without food. Red-eared sliders need basking areas to dry off their bodies and warm up after spending time in the water.

Your pet turtle needs basking areas to regulate the temperature in their body, which also aids them in digestion. If you do not provide your pet turtle with any basking areas, they might get lethargic and face trouble digesting food. This can eventually lead to starvation and health issues for your red-eared slider.

Age and Overall Health

old red-earned slider

It is no shocker that the age and overall health of a red-eared slider can affect the amount of time they can go without food. Young turtles require more food in their growing up stage. Old red-eared sliders can go on longer without food, which can cause various health issues.

Long periods of starvation can lead to malnourishment in old turtles. You should organize a proper feeding schedule for your pet to keep them healthy and comfortable.

Environmental Temperature

Red-eared sliders highly depend on their surroundings for temperature regulation. This is because they are cold-blooded animals and can not regulate temperature on their own. If the environmental temperature is too cold, it will slow your pet’s metabolism. 

A slow metabolism means your pet turtle will not eat as frequently. Loss of appetite is also common if the temperature is too high. A red-eared slider needs a consistent temperature to have a healthy eating schedule.

What Happens if Your Red-Eared Slider Doesn’t Eat for a Week or a Month?

Red-eared sliders can starve themselves for many weeks as they also go into hibernation in winter. Loss of appetite can be caused due to various reasons you should find out the root of the problem and try to solve it immediately. If a red-eared slider stops eating, it means that it is not getting the right environment or has some health issues. Here are the possible consequences of starving for extended periods for your red-eared sliders.

Possible Consequences of Not Eating

dehydrated red-eared slider

If your red-eared slider does not eat for a week or a month, it can have several consequences on their health and its poop cycle. Extended periods of starvation can lead to dehydration in your pet. Red-eared sliders obtain most of their water from the food they consume. 

Dehydration can lead to several health issues and can be fatal for your pet. Starving for an extended period can lead to organ failure, lethargy, and even death. If your pet turtle does not eat for a week or two, it will lose weight, have a weakened immune system, and be more susceptible to illnesses.

Reasons Why Red-Eared Sliders May Stop Eating

stressed red-eared slider

There are many reasons why red-eared sliders stop eating. If your pet turtle is under a lot of stress or discomfort, it will face a loss in appetite. Red-eared sliders can get stressed due to various reasons, such as a change in environment, unclean water, or an imbalanced diet.

Health issues can also cause a loss in appetite in your pets. Parasite infestation, infections, and digestive problems can cause a red-eared slider to lose its appetite. Turtles might also stop eating because it is too mundane or they do not like the food being offered.

Editor’s Note
You should offer your pet turtle a healthy environment and a well-balanced diet to avoid loss in appetite. You should also provide them access to clean drinking water to help them regulate their body temperature.

Tips if You Are Leaving Your Red-Eared Slider Alone at Home

Many pet owners are concerned about leaving their pets at home. Ideally, you should hire a caretaker, but that is not always possible on short notice. Here are five tips if you are leaving your red-eared slider at home for a long period.

Tip #1 – Provide Adequate Food and Water

Provide your red-eared dragon with enough food and water for the time you are away from home. Make sure they have access to clean drinking water or they will suffer from dehydration. You can also buy an automatic feeder for food and a water dispenser so your pet can access clean drinking water.

Tip #2 – Maintain Proper Temperature

Red-eared turtles are cold-blooded creatures and need a basking area for temperature regulation. Make sure your turtle’s enclosure is away from direct sunlight and it does not get too hot for your pet. You can even get a thermostat to prevent temperature fluctuation and regulate the temperature inside the enclosure.

Tip #3 – Keep the Tank Clean

Make sure that you clean the tank before you leave your red-eared slider alone at home. If your pet’s tank is unclean, it can build up bacteria and debris when you are away. This can lead to various health issues with your pet. You can also add some water conditioner to the tank to ensure the water is free of chemicals or harmful bacteria.

Tip #4 – Provide Entertainment

Red-eared sliders can get easily bored and are active creatures. You should provide objects inside the enclosure for the period you are away. You can also provide them with various toys and a basking platform. Some pet owners also leave the TV or radio running to provide background noise for their pets. Background noise will help stimulate your pet and will help them fight boredom.

Tip #5 – Find a Reliable Pet Sitter

If you leave your pet alone for an extended period, you should consider hiring a pet sitter. You should find a person who has experience taking care of turtles and is familiar with their day-to-day needs. You should also provide them with clear instructions on the feeding schedule, temperature, and any health concerns your pet has.


How often does a red-eared slider eat?

The frequency of feeding directly depends on your pet’s age, size, and health. Young and juvenile sliders will eat a wholesome diet every day. Adult turtles consume less food and should be fed every two to three days.

How long can a red-eared slider survive without drinking water?

Red dragon sliders can only survive for a few days without drinking water. You should always provide your pet turtle with clean drinking water. Turtles need water for hydration and can not regulate their temperature without it.

Final Thoughts

A red-eared slider can go on for weeks without eating food. This number varies depending on their age, size, and health. A loss in appetite or starvation in a turtle for an extended period can cause various health concerns for your pet. 

You should always provide your red-eared slider with a safe and comfortable environment and make sure they have access to clean drinking water. Doing so will help keep them happy and prevent any illnesses.

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