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do red eared sliders bite

Do Red Eared Sliders Bite? What Experts Say

I have owned a red-eared slider for the past three years. As an experienced turtle owner, many people ask me several questions about the turtle. One such problem that I face almost daily is that red-eared sliders bite.

Also, I wanted to know the exact answer, although I haven’t experienced any biting from my red-eared slider yet. So, I dug deep into the question and found a shocking answer.

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Yes, red-eared sliders will bite their owner if they feel irritated. What’s more, the turtles are often engaged in brutal fights where they would bite each other to establish dominancy.

Also, I found many people asking whether or not the red-eared slider bite is poisonous. So, let’s examine all these facts and what experts say about them here in this article.

Do Red Eared Sliders Bite?

Yes, red eared sliders will bite their owners.

But don’t fear it. The biting of the red eared slider isn’t a regular occurrence. It will bite the owner once in a blue moon. Also, their bite can be painful and often hurting.

However, if you keep too many turtles in a crowded place, they will engage in territorial fights. During the battle, they will bite each other.

Why Do Red Eared Sliders Bite and How Does it Feel?

A red eared slider might bite its owner or home members for many reasons. It will not bite you for unnecessary reasons. The leading causes of red eared slider bites include-

  1. If you mishandle the turtle roughly.
  2. If the turtle is anxious and feels stressed.
  3. If you somehow hurt the turtle while touching or cleaning it.
  4. Sometimes it might bite you accidentally while catching food from your hands.

The red eared slider bites are no flowery bed. It will hurt you severely. If you are an adult, you might not face skin damage. But for kids, it can be excruciating and might even break their soft fingers and peel off the skin.

So, when you handle the red eared slider, make sure you stay away from its grasp.

We have discussed why a red eared slider bites its owner and other humans. But why do they attack and bite each other?

The answers are-

  1. Males will bite each other to establish dominance in their territory and female during the mating season.
  2. Females might bite the males to reject any mating if they aren’t interested.
  3. In the rarest moments, a starving turtle will try to bite and eat the smaller ones. But it is less likely to happen in captivation.
  4. Territorial turtles protect their space by biting others. But it is not a regular phenomenon for the red eared sliders.

Are The Red Eared Sliders Bites Infectious?

Although many people believe that red eared sliders are poisonous, in reality, they are not. So, the red eared slider bites aren’t infectious. Nonetheless, like all turtles, red eared slider carries salmonella, mostly in its skin.

Salmonella is a type of bacteria responsible for fever and diarrhea in humans. At the worst, the salmonella-affected person will experience severe stomach pain and may even need to be admitted to the hospital. The kids are the worst sufferer of the bacteria. 

The turtle won’t show any signs of sickness due to salmonella. But if you touch it accidentally, there’s every chance that you might get a salmonella infection. That’s why most turtle owners complain that they have been infected with salmonella while cleaning or handling their red eared sliders.

You might even get a salmonella infection even while cleaning your food bowl, a basking spot, or the tank. Thereby, it is highly suggested that you remain cautious while handling the turtle ad cleaning the turtle tank and its accessories.

Thereby, it is recommended that you test the red eared slider with a vet to know whether or not it carries salmonella. If it has salmonella, you need to wash its skin with the vets’ suggestion. Also, you might wear gloves while cleaning the turtle habitat and accessories.

Do Red Eared Sliders Bites Carry Disease?

The bites of turtles are powerful, and the red eared slider isn’t any exception to it. Their powerful bite might peel off the skin, especially for kids. Hence, if not treated timely, the skin might get affected later, which isn’t desirable.

Also, red eared sliders carry and shed salmonella; likewise, the human body sheds dead cells. Hence, it is likely that turtle bites will also have salmonella bacteria. If you take your hands near your mouth after the bite, the bacteria might get carried to the stomach.

In such cases, you will face diarrhea or stomach pain. The Center for Food Security and Public Health, in a 2013 report, said that due to salmonella infection in humans worldwide, 90 million people faced diarrhea and stomach ache.

A large portion of such salmonella attacks was attributed to pet cats and turtles. Hence, we want you to treat the red eared slider bite ASAP.

How to Treat Red Eared Sliders Bite?

Luckily, you won’t have to go to a vet or doctor immediately to vaccinate if the turtle bites you. Nevertheless, you must wash the biting spot ASAP.

You might use antiseptic soap or liquid to wash your hands to prevent the salmonella contamination from biting.  Even if you don’t have the antibacterial soap at hand, wash your hands properly with the soap a couple of times.

Also, keep your hands away from the red-eared sliders moth as much as possible. I have also seen many owners kissing their turtles. It is highly discouraged since it yields a high risk of salmonella contamination directly into your mouth.


You should now have clear ideas on the topic, “Do red eared sliders bite?” Although the chances of the turtle biting you are less, you should never place your fingers inside its mouth or kiss it. Otherwise, you might get infected with salmonella.

Whenever you experience a red eared slider bite or touch it, always wash your hands with antiseptic or antibacterial soaps or liquids for protection. It is crucial since salmonella contamination is a major issue of stomach ache for turtle owners.

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