Red Eared Slider vs Painted Turtle: What are the Differences?

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Published: July 21, 2022
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The red-eared slider and the painted turtle are both members of the class Reptilia and the Emudydae family. Given this fact, it might be difficult for the layman to tell these animals apart, which is exactly why this article features a detailed comparison of both animals with their differences, peculiarities, and some other things you probably didn’t know before. Let’s get into it! 

Comparing Red-Eared Slider vs Painted Turtle

Red-eared sliders and painted turtles differ majorly in their location and size.
Red Eared SliderPainted Turtle
Size Length: 5-8 inches
Weight- 8.5 ounces
Length: Up to 8 inches for males and 12 inches for females. 
Weight: 11-18 ounces
AppearanceRed streak behind the eye; shell divided into upper parts(carapace) and lower parts(plastron)
Green heads, legs, and tails; webbed feet with claws
Olive/black skin, orange, yellow or red stripes on legs, necks, and tails
Round shells
Location and HabitatLocation: Asia, Africa, Central America,  Europe, North America, and Oceania

Habitat: non-turbulent rivers, ponds, creeks, lagoons, streams, and swamps. 
Location: North America

Habitat: ponds, marshes, streams, and other slow-moving water sources
DietOmnivorous; duckweed, algae, flowers, seeds and stems from complex plants, animals, including mollusks, insects, small amphibians, etc. Omnivorous; insects, small fish, plants, water algae, etc. 
PredatorsHumans, snakes, coyotes, armadillos, foxes, mustelids, skunks, etcFoxes, otters, raccoons, and birds of prey amongst others. 

Key Differences Between the Red-Eared Slider and Painted Turtle

The key differences between red-eared sliders and painted turtles can be found in their location as well as size. While red-eared sliders are located on several continents including North America, the painted turtle is only located in North America.

Also, red-eared sliders only weigh about 8.5 ounces on average while painted turtles weigh between 11-18 ounces. Let’s look into a detailed breakdown of their differences below. 

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Red Eared Slider vs Painted Turtles: Size

Red-eared Slider
Red-eared sliders weigh an average of 8.5 ounces while measuring between 5 to 8 inches in length.

©effective stock photos/

According to the numbers, painted turtles are larger than red-eared sliders on average. Male painted turtles measure up to 8 inches long, while females can be as long as 12 inches. Not to mention the weight of painted turtles which ranges from 11-18 ounces. Red-eared sliders, on the other hand, weigh an average of 8.5 ounces while measuring between 5 to 8 inches in length. 

Red Eared Slider vs Painted Turtles: Appearance

Painted Turtle sitting on a stump next to the water.
Painted turtles have a round-shaped shell, which can either be jet-black or other colors.


Red-eared sliders and painted turtles also differ in physical appearance. For the red-eared sliders, distinguishing physical features include a red streak behind the eye and a shell divided into the upper part (carapace) and lower parts (plastron). The upper parts are covered in green-colored scutes and the lower parts(plastrons) are light yellow with green and wavy markings. 

Painted turtles also come with their fair share of unique physical characteristics including a round-shaped shell, which can either be jet-black or other colors including dark green with bright-colored bottoms (western turtles), fully yellow plastrons (southern and eastern painted turtles), and orange with a black spot in the middle (midland painted turtles). 

Red Eared Slider vs Painted Turtles: Location and Habitat

Red-eared sliders and painted turtles also differ in terms of the variety of their locations. While red-eared sliders are native to the areas around the Mississippi Gulf of Mexico, they can be found in other continents across the world including North America, Central America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania

However, painted turtles reside strictly across North America, and subspecies are determined by regions and geographical locations. For instance, eastern painted turtles reside in the east while southern painted turtles dwell in the south. 

As far as habitats are concerned, red-eared sliders and painted turtles have very similar preferences. Their habitats include slow rivers, streams, creeks, ponds, and marshes. They basically want to be in a controlled aquatic environment where they are less likely to be swept away by rushing water currents. 

Red Eared Slider vs Painted Turtles: Behavior

Red-Eared Slider Price: Turtles Under Heat Lamp
Red-eared sliders are highly congenial, and groups often gather on logs or rocks to regulate their body temperature.

© Vedernikova

Red-eared sliders are highly congenial and groups would often gather on logs or rocks to sunbathe as a way of regulating their body temperature, especially since they spend a great deal of time inside water. When they perceive a threat, they would slide together into the water – which is where the name “slider” came from. They do not mark territories and are not by any means aggressive, which is why many consider them good pets. 

Much like the sliders, painted turtles are also known to congregate for joint sunbathing sessions and they also live together in shallow ponds and streams. They are very nice animals and would often pop out of their habitats to engage humans in a friendly manner. 

Basically, red-eared sliders and painted turtles have similar behaviors and they both get along well with humans. 

Red Eared Slider vs Painted Turtle: Diet

Red-eared sliders and painted turtles are both omnivorous animals. Red-eared sliders are aptly called “opportunistic omnivores” because of their proclivity to eat anything they find appetizing. Baby sliders are predominantly carnivorous and they consume a lot of meat given their need for protein. Their diet includes beetles, spiders, snails, slugs, and small aquatic animals. The adults eat animals like mollusks, insects, small amphibians, and plants like duckweed, algae and flowers, seeds, and stems from plants. 

Painted turtles have a similar diet comprising small fish, insects, water algae, normal plants, and any aquatic animal they can handle. 

Red Eared Slider vs Painted Turtle: Predators and Threats

Animal Facts: Turtles
Painted turtle predators include raccoons, otters, foxes, and other such carnivores.

©Jonathan Novack/

The red-eared slider and painted turtle both have shells that protect them from predators to some extent. However, they all still suffer attacks from predators across the animal kingdom. Common predators of red-eared sliders include alligators, snakescoyotes, armadillos, foxes, skunks, and white-tail deers (who feed on their eggs). They are also frequently targeted by humans. 

For painted turtles, their predators include raccoons, otters, foxes, and other such carnivores. Experts, however, believe adult painted turtles do not suffer as many predatory attacks. They mostly suffer loss of their eggs in their vulnerable nests, with some losing up to 90% of eggs during the breeding season. 

The Featured Image

red-eared slider turtle on log
The most distinctive characteristic of the red-eared slider is the bright, red stripe behind the eyes.

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