Ponds: Lighting Outdoors
Proper lighting for red eared sliders is one of the most important things about keeping these pets. Turtles and other reptiles (and other animals, to a lesser extent) need ultraviolet light just as much as they need proper food and climate. One way that many slider keepers that live in warmer climates have gotten around spending a lot of money on UV bulbs is by keeping their sliders outside. The sun, after all, is the largest UV bulb around!
If you live in a climate that is conducive to keeping your sliders in a backyard pond all year round, you can really do no better than the sun. The sun beats down like clockwork at exactly the right time every day and this is the closest thing a captive slider can ever get to living in the wild. Your slider will get to experience seasons like the countless sliders living in lakes and rivers across the country.
This option, as stated before, works best if you live in the southern United States and have muted seasonal change that won’t overly affect your turtles. If you live too far north, your sliders may be going for long periods of time without exposure to the sun. This is unhealthy, and ultimately your turtles will want to hibernate and wait out the winter. Hibernating captive sliders brings problems. First, hibernation is stressful on turtles and many simply won’t make it. Second, proper hibernation requires a sandy or muddy spot for the turtle to dig into and rest. You will have to supply something like this for your turtle, or it may rip up your pond liner looking for a place to dig in and hibernate. So if you live in a region with extreme shifts during seasonal change, bring your sliders inside when it gets cold and dark during the fall and winter.
Outdoor lighting for red eared sliders really is that simple. You have the sun, which has gotten these turtles and all life on this earth this far, so you can’t go wrong with that. Despite this, you may want to have an outdoor UV spotlight with a stand on hand in case of emergency. You never know when you might have several overcast days in a row, even if you live in a warm environment conducive to keeping sliders outdoors. If this happens, you can always erect your light during the day and ensure that your turtles are getting the proper light.
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