My son found a baby slider(we think) in our backyard. We live on a creek. So he begged me to let him raise it so we went

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Customer: My son found a baby slider(we think) in our backyard. We live on a creek. So he begged me to let him raise it so we went and got a tank and some reptile bark and all the right lights including a uvb bulb. he has a little pool and weve been misting the tank to give him humidity. We also give him kale and strawberries and squash and sprinkle the calcium on the food. Hes been here a week and just stays buried in the mulch. We also have a heating pad under tank. We are pretty sure hes not eating.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. What is the reptile's name and age?
Customer: Cosmo is the size of a silver dollar
JA: How old is Cosmo?
Customer: i dont know
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Cosmo?
Customer: no
Answered by Anna in 27 mins 5 years ago
30+ years of experience

17,020 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Reptile Veterinary, Herp Veterinary, Exotic Animal Medicine, Amphibian Veterinary

Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I'm a biologist with a special interest in reptiles. Before I can help you figure out what might be wrong, we need to know for sure what kind of turtle this is. different species have different requirements. Can you post a picture? If so,

at the top of the area where you would type is a tool bar with icons. Click on the little paper clip icon. Instructions will pop up. On some browsers, this doesn't work. if that happens, you can put your photo on one of the free photo sharing websites, such as Then come back here and paste the link to your picture.

If you aren't able to post a photo, let me know and we'll figure out another way. Thank you.

Did pics come through?

Pic just got here. Will look now.

Thank you

Yes, that is a slider. He needs more than a pool to swim in. sliders are mainly aquatic turtles. They only eat while in the water. They also need specific kinds of light and certain temperatures. I'm going to start you out with a care sheet I've written for slider turtles. You can read it and let me know if you have additional questions. We'll proceed from there.


Well-cared for sliders can live 30 years or more.

The Tank

It's recommended that a baby slider have at least a 15 gallon tank. By the time the turtle is 3-4 years old, it will need a 60 gallon tank, so it's best to get the biggest you can in the beginning. You can also use a large RubberMaid tote. That's not as pretty as a tank, but costs a lot less. Set up the tank so there's a land area and a water area. Put the basking light at one end so the whole tank doesn’t get too hot. You want the water to be about twice as deep as the turtle is long. If the turtle is two inches long, you'll want four inches of water.

Temperatures and Basking Area

Turtles need certain types of lighting and need to be warm. Air and water that are not warm enough can lead to fungal and respiratory infections and unhealthy shells. Turtles must have a basking area where they can get out of the water, dry off, and bask in very warm light. The ambient air temperature in the tank should be around 75 *F (24*C) , with the basking area warmer still. Over the basking area there should be some sort of lamp that will take a 40-60 watt incandescent bulb (or you can buy a ceramic light fixture made just for reptiles). If you live in an area that has farm stores, you can buy a metal light fixture made to keep baby chicks warm for just a few dollars. Don't buy the accompanying bulb, however. You need an ordinary incandescent bulb in the basking light. Hardware stores sell similar fixtures as work lights. The basking area should be kept at 85-90*F (29 to 32*C). Use a digital probe thermometer to be sure. You can adjust the temperature by raising or lowering the light fixture.The lights that come with the covers on aquariums are not suitable for turtles. You'll also need a submersible aquarium heater that will keep the water 78-82*F (26 to 28*C).

UVB Light

It's extremely important that you buy an additional light that produces UVB rays. A Reptisun 10.0 is a good brand that does. If you choose another brand be absolutely certain it provides UVB rays. Don't take the word of pet store personnel, but read it for yourself. Full-spectrum, DayGlo, SunGlo, UV, or UVA are not the same thing. I'm putting a lot of emphasis on this because it's crucial to your turtle's health. Without this light, Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) will develop because your turtle won't be able to produce vitamin D. Vitamin supplements are not a good replacement for the proper lighting. MBD causes a very slow and painful death.UVB bulbs must be replaced every six months as they lose their effectiveness after that, even though they may still look fine. Light that comes through a window isn't sufficient because the glass filters out most of the rays turtles need to stay healthy. To prevent MBD, turtles also need calcium. The easiest way to provide it is to place a cuttlebone in the tank. Cuttlebones are sold in bird departments of pet stores.


Turtles are very sensitive to water quality. Even if you change the water every day, it can still contain harmful chemicals. A good filtration system is essential. Water changes are also needed even with a filter. If the tank is too small, no filter can keep up with the amount of waste that turtles produce.


Feeding is an area where pet stores often give out bad information. Commercial food should make up only 1/4 of the diet. Animal products (cooked meat, earthworms, canned cat food) should make up another 1/4. The remaining half should be plant foods (dark lettuce like romaine, bits of strawberry or melon, etc.). Hatchlings should be fed every day. Older turtles should be fed 3 times per week. Overfeeding can lead to gout and kidney failure.

For Further Reading

This is among the most reputable sites on turtles.

You're welcome. I am guessing you may have some questions after reading the care sheet. I'll keep an eye out in case you do.

I've read that sheet Thank you for confirming it's a slider. I will get a deeper pool. He is still burying under mulch most of the time. Is is the wrong thing to have in his tank? And you said they eat in water so put the veggies in the pool?

The most likely reason he is burrowing under the mulch is that he is not warm enough. He doesn't need the bark. He needs to be in a tank that is mostly water. The water needs to be 1 1/2 to 2 times as deep as his shell is long. If his shell is 2 inches long, the water should be 3 to 4 inches deep. Food does go in the water, but if he is chilly, he will not eat. His basking area needs to be 85*F to 90*F, and the water 78*F to 82*F. Without adequate warmth, he will not heat and will hide. The most important thing to do now is provide a proper habitat. I'm going to attach pictures of what that should look like. I'll be right back with those.

Turtles are more difficult and expensive to care for properly than most of us realize. If all this sounds like more than you are able to do, give me your state, and I'll look for rescues that may be willing to take the turtle.

If you need anything else, just let me know.

I have been notified that you have requested a phone call. sometimes the JustAnswer system does that automatically. If you really did request one, let me know, and I'll refer you to my colleague who is set up for phone calls. Thank you.

Thank you for everything. Phone call is not necessary now.

You're very welcome. I wish you success with cosmo.


My goal is to provide you with excellent 5 star service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Please remember to rate my service after you have all the information you need. I will greatly appreciate a positive rating as that is the only way I am compensated. Thank you!

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