Painted Turtle Vs Red Eared Slider

Painted Turtle Vs Red Eared Slider

The painted turtle and red-eared slider are popular choices for pet turtles. However, if you’re choosing a pet turtle for the first time, you may get easily confused as to which one to choose. But worry not; this guide will help you choose the right turtle for you.

Painted turtle vs red-eared slider look pretty similar and are often confused with each other due to their almost similar appearance. However, the red-eared slider has a distinct red patch behind its eye that distinguishes it from painted turtles. Sliders are bigger and cost less than pained sliders.

The following article discusses everything you need to know about painted turtles and red-eared sliders, including their key differences and similarities, to help you decide which one matches your preferences.

Painted turtle vs red eared slider comparison table:


 Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)
Size3.5 to 7 inches (males), 5.5 to 10 inches (females)7 to 9 inches (males), 10 to 12 inches (females)
Care LevelBeginnerBeginner
Cost$15 to $60$10 to $25
Lifespan20 to 25 years20 to 30 years
Red Eared Slider

Painted turtle vs red eared slider comparison side by side:

Below, we look at how the two turtle species compare in terms of housing requirements, diet, lifespan, temperament, and so on.

Painted Turtle Vs Red Eared Slider Comparison Side By Side

Physical attributes

The most distinguishing feature of a red-eared slider is the bright red color sitting behind its eyes. Its carapace coloration varies from dark brown to olive and the sides of its head have red to maroon stripes. The carapace looks leafy green in young sliders but darkens with age. The slider plastron is usually yellow with paired, irregular dark markings.

Painted turtle is characterized by yellow markings around its eyes, though it may also feature a yellow streak behind its eyes.

Painted Turtle Physical attributes

It has a smoother shell whose coloration ranges from red and yellow markings on brown to a greenish-brown or black background. And the plastron can be crimson or brownish-yellow with markings at the center.

Red-eared sliders usually grow bigger than painted turtles. Female sliders can get big as 12 inches while female southern painted turtles can go up to 7 inches.

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The red-eared sliders are bigger than painted turtles, meaning they require a bigger enclosure. And the bigger the enclosure, the most expensive it is.

Larger enclosures also take longer to clean, require more powerful filters, and consume more space in your home.

Painted Turtle Vs Red Eared Slider

If you go with a female slider, you’ll need up to a 100-gallons tank while a 70-gallon tank will do for a female southern painted turtle. If you choose to house a red-eared slider and painted turtle together, then you’ll be looking at a 150-gallon tank.

Other than tank size, these two turtle pets will require the same tank setups, including a basking platform, basking lamp, UV light, water heater, water filtration system, and substrate (optional).

Behaver and temperament

Both turtles are friendly as long as you keep their handling to a minimum. Painted turtles, in particular, are docile and fun creatures, which makes them an ideal choice for beginner pet owners. Red-eared sliders are also friendly and not aggressive toward people.

Painted Turtle

Note that both turtles will appreciate it if you don’t handle them too much. They can get easily stressed or scared due to overhanding or rough handling and may scratch or bite you as a result.


The two species of turtles also share the same omnivore diet and will require both plant and animal matter for a healthy, balanced diet.

However, the painted turtle tends to be more carnivorous and enjoys eating crickets, mealworms, etc. But you should also feed them dark leafy greens and fruits once in a while to ensure a well-balanced diet.

Painted Turtle Diet

The baby turtles of both species are more carnivorous and will prefer more animal material to support their growth and development.

Common health concerns

Painted turtles and red-eared sliders share common health issues, just like many other captive turtles. These health problems include intestinal parasites, skin/shell/ear infections, vitamin A deficiency, and metabolic bone disease.

Painted turtle vs red eared slider comparison side by side

The painted turtle and slider are generally easy to care for and with proper housing setup and diet, you can keep them healthy and shield them against these common health issues.

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The painted turtle in captivity has a life expectancy spanning from 20 to 25 years while a captive red-eared slider’s lifespan is 20 to 30 years.

Painted Turtle Lifespan

Though there are slight differences in their life expectancy, it’s crystal-clear that these two turtle pets will stay with you for a long time with proper care.

Can a painted turtle live with a red-eared slider?

You can put painted turtles and red-eared sliders in the same enclosure since they have pretty similar housing, lifestyle, and diet requirements. However, you need to keep a few things in mind.

Firstly, you should ensure you only keep turtle species of the same sizes. This will help prevent the bigger turtles from dominating the smaller tank makes.

Can a painted turtle live with a red-eared slider

You should also provide your turtles with a bigger tank space. For every new turtle you add, you should add a 50-gallon tank space.

Avoid mixing males and females in your turtle tank since males tend to be more aggressive around females.

Above all, make sure you constantly observe your aquarium setup to see if your turtles are fighting each other.

Is a painted turtle and red-eared slider hybrid possible?

Yes, painted turtle and a red-eared slider can mate as they both belong to the family Emydidae. The two species of turtles have their natural habitats overlapping in the wild and are often seen basking together on rocks or logs.

Painted Turtle

Though they can mate, there’s no guarantee that they’ll produce viable offspring. The resulting offspring is most likely to be sterile. Plus, the offspring is likely to become more susceptible to various health problems.

Final Verdict

Both red-eared sliders and painted turtles are ideal for beginner turtle owners. But each turtle species has its unique personality and traits that makes it better for some folks over others. We recommend going with the smaller painted turtle if you’re a beginner turtle owner as it doesn’t demand a lot in terms of housing. However, if you’ve got some experience with the smaller turtle and are ready to graduate to a bigger turtle, then the red-eared slider will be a great choice for you.

Painted Turtle Vs Red Eared Slider

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