Newly observed Red-eared Slider courting behavior

15 Apr

It’s common knowledge among turtle owners that when Red-eared Sliders go a-courting, the male will swim face-to-face with the female and vibrate his long front claws.  It never fails to impress people who see it for the first time. The male I have is probably an average guy.  He chases his mate constantly, not just in the Spring but it seems almost year-round.

Today, I noticed something different.   My male Slider, named Fred, was wiggling his claws at his girlfriend, named Banana, and just before he surfaced I saw him shoot 3 quick streams of water out of his nose.  As I continued to watch I could see these little underwater pulses of water hit the female in the chin. I came to the realization that the male, Fred, was doing this as part of the courtship.

I grabbed my camera and took a video that is not spectacular in any way, but if you look closely you will see these little pulses.  The behavior is most clear at the 45-55 second point of the video, and right before he surfaces.

There is no reason for him to be pulsing water from his nose when he is underwater, he should be simply holding his breath, but yet you can see that he is sending a little jet of water under Banana’s chin.

Turtle keepers who handle their turtle’s often gently scratch under the turtle’s chin.  Could this possibly  feel good based on their evolutionary method of courtship and breeding?

This has got to have been documented before, it seems so obvious to me, but if not I hope that Banana and Fred become famous in the annals of Slider history.

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6 Responses to “Newly observed Red-eared Slider courting behavior”

  1. Rach April 15, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    Maybe contact your nearest uni that does vet science? Someone there should be able to help you out.

    • fishtanx2011 April 15, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

      I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek about making a discovery. Surely with the millions of Red-ears that are raised this is common knowledge but I never saw or heard it before. The toads are singing in the background, it’s music to my ears and I hope my neighbors don’t mind too much!

  2. hippodaddy April 16, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    This was a GREAT article. Fascinating. Submit your link to reptile/turtle sites and expect someone to respond. What I found to be very interesting was the VOLUME of water that was being moved. Based on how long he was under water and the quantity of the water he shot, I tend to think he was inhaling small amounts of water in between the puffs and not simply exhaling what was in his lungs.

    • fishtanx2011 April 16, 2012 at 7:18 am #

      Agreed, I think he draws water into his nasal passage and then shoots it back out. The first time I saw him do this he was just barely under the surface and I watched three streams of water shoot above the water and toward the female. I can see how the final “clearing” of the nose needs to occur but when it happened three times in quick succession I started to watch more closely.

  3. hippodaddy April 16, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    I watched six or seven videos on YouTube where the male is fluttering near the surface with a female and I did not see this behavior repeated.
    I need a life….

    • fishtanx2011 April 16, 2012 at 9:26 am #

      I’ve watched my Red-ears for many years and never noticed it either. I hope to get better video sometime. For those who may think I am talking about the final nose-clearing squirt, I am not.

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