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Advice Column: Can a red eared slider survive winter in a pond in NY

Question from Colleen:

My mother has a red eared slider who is about 8 months – 1 yr old. She recently has become ill which makes it difficult for her to care for her turtle. My sister has a beautiful pond in her backyard. We live in Utica NY. Can Red Eared Sliders stay outside in our climate?

Colleen,

Red-Ear Slicer 2 by Kyle Petersen on Flickr
Photo Courtesy of Kyle Petersen

Red eared sliders can be kept outside. However, for the winter months that needs to be reconsidered carefully.

I’m not familiar with the seasonal climate of Utica, NY, but I suspect that a backyard pond would fully freeze, from top to bottom, during the winter months. Since red eared sliders that do hibernate (because it is actually not a requirement for a captive red eared slider to hibernate, nor is it recommended) would need a pond that has a thick, leafy and muddy bottom and is several feet deep in order to do so. I don’t believe your sisters pond would provide this, making it an uninhabitable place for the red eared slider. In general, you’ll find that most people bring their red eared sliders indoors during winter months.

My recommendation to you? Contact the New York Turtle and Tortoise Society to see if they have a program where they can take in captive turtles that can no longer be cared for by their owners. If they can’t help you, I’m sure they can at least point you in the right direction.

Good luck!

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