Yellow-bellied sliders are some of the most popular turtle species in the world. They’re hardy, low maintenance, and thrive on a variety of foods.
But these turtles do require specialized care to stay healthy, so it’s important for owners to know how to best provide for them.
We’ll go through a few things you should be aware of if you’re considering adding one of these animals to your family.
As they can be a lot of fun, many people have added them to their households, which is fantastic.
About Yellow-Bellied Sliders
|Common Name:||Yellow-bellied slider, yellow-bellied terrapin|
|Scientific Name:||Trachemys scripta scripta|
|Care Difficulty:||Beginner Level|
|Lifespan:||Around 30 to 40 years if proper care is given|
|Adult Size:||Yellow-bellied males can grow up to 9 inches long while females can grow up to 13 inches long|
The yellow-bellied slider is one of the most abundant freshwater turtles in the United States, ranging throughout northern Florida and into the Midwest.
They can live up to 30 years in the wild but typically can reach 30-40 years in captivity.
This species is omnivorous as adults and mostly carnivorous as juveniles, and they can obtain all of their dietary requirements in the wild. They live in ponds, marshes, sluggish streams, and other wetlands and are omnivores; as a result, they may discover whatever sort of food they require here when they’re in the wild.
They usually eat leaves, tulip tree seeds, muscadine grapes, freshwater mollusk catenaria, and beetles. Other foods include algae, seeds, and stems of numerous vascular plants, gastropods, insects, other arthropods, crayfish, crustaceans.
The turtles prefer a habitat with an organic substrate, aquatic vegetation, and basking sites. They are most active from April to October. During winter, they stay in the water with a soft organic substrate, in muskrat burrows, or by simply sitting on the bottom.
These turtles are easily identified by their greenish-brown carapace (upper shell) and yellow underbelly.
Yellow-bellied sliders have a distinct difference in size between males and females. Adult males are about 5-8 inches long, while adult females can grow up to 8-13 inches long.
Males have elongated foreclaws and an extended tail with the anal opening posterior to the carapace edge, whereas females have higher domed shells, shorter foreclaws, and shorter tails.
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What Does a Yellow-Bellied Slider Look Like?
- The carapace is oval-shaped and weakly keeled in the middle.
- The marginal scutes on the back of the carapace are indented, causing two blunt projections.
- The carapace is rough in adults.
- The plastron is hingeless and 85-95% of the length of the carapace and is usually yellow with black spots in 2 or more scutes-the spots can be either solid black or hollow.
- The carapace is olive to brown with yellow markings.
- Usually, there is a single, vertical yellow line on each pleural scute.
- There may also be short yellow bars on the marginals that outline a dark blotch.
- The ventral side of each marginal has a black spot.
- Older turtles may be completely black. The yellow bridge is usually unpatterned except for a black spot in the inguinal scute.
- The skin on this animal is greenish to olive-brown with yellow stripes.
- There are two stripes behind the eyes on the head, one wide and one thin.
- There are also thin stripes on the neck and limbs.
- The back legs have vertical, alternating yellow and brown to black stripes.
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Where Can I Get A Yellow-Bellied Slider Turtle?
Even if you think you want a yellow-bellied slider as a pet, do not buy it.
We should not promote the farming of this lovely prehistoric animal that only wants to live.
Instead, we should seek to adopt an abandoned yellow-bellied slider as a means of demonstrating our care and making a difference. That’s wonderful if you already have one or more yellow-bellied sliders as pets!
It’s now your chance to learn how to look after them.
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Yellow-Bellied Sliders as Pets
Most people buy these turtles when they are small just because they are cute but what most don’t realize is that they can grow up to 13 inches long!
When they get too big for a home aquarium, they become neglected and eventually abandoned.
So, if you’re thinking of getting a yellow-bellied slider, be prepared to have it for the turtle’s entire lifespan!
Are Yellow-Bellied Sliders Good Pets?
Yes, they are adorable, charming, and energetic pets. Sliders are a wonderful option for individuals who are not afraid of committing to a long-term relationship and don’t expect your pet to be cuddly.
These turtles aren’t the best choice for keepers who want to handle their pets. If handled, they become quickly nervous and may carry salmonella.
Fortunately, they’re just as enjoyable when left in their tank, and they’re typically bold and inquisitive.
Sliders, like all reptiles, have a lot of personalities and make excellent pets for novices! They are known to dive, swim, sunbathe, and dig. They are quite active throughout the day and are frequently seen diving, swimming, basking, and digging.
Turtles are generally sociable, although those that are shy tend to lose their fearfulness rather quickly.
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How To Take Care of Yellow Belly Turtles
These turtles thrive in a variety of freshwater habitats including lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers, so your job is to replicate their enclosure as much as you can with their natural habitat.
For a hatchling, use an aquarium no larger than 15 gallons. Adult yellow-bellied sliders should be kept in a 60-gallon tank and up. Per turtle, add another 20 gallons.
The turtle tank should be long and have a warm side and a cool side.
A basking spot is necessary and can be created with a rock or a piece of driftwood.
The water should be deep enough that the turtle can swim but also have areas that are shallow enough for them to walk in and out of easily.
Here are some helpful tank cleaning instructions:
- Every two to three weeks, do a 20-30% water replacement. I vacuum the gravel substrate at this time.
- Make sure to turn off any electrical equipment before cleaning your tank, such as your filtration and lighting systems.
- If you have the time, try feeding in a separate tank to prevent messes.
- When cleaning the tank, be sure your turtle is in a safe location.
- Use rubber gloves while cleaning your aquarium.
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2. Lighting and Heating
Turtles require a specific quantity of light each day for various bodily functions to operate properly. This is primarily the conversion of Vitamin D3 into Vitamin D, which helps to process calcium.
UVB radiation is needed for turtles to communicate via molecules in their skin. The bones of the turtle will not develop correctly without it, and they become ill and deformed.
Sliders require both UVA and UVB light to process calcium. A 10% UVB bulb, also, is perfect for sliders. Just be sure where you place the UVB light since it can be filtered by the glass or acrylic sheeting.
When it comes to heating what you need to know is that turtles are cold-blooded, so they cannot control their own body temperature so you’ll be responsible for keeping your pet’s habitat within a healthy range.
The heating of the basking area can be achieved by using heat lamps that you may buy at a pet store or online, just make sure the heating light is set at the correct distance.
The basking temperatures should be between high 80 and low 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the water temperature in the mid-70s, and the air temperature low to mid-80s.
If your turtle moves away from underneath the basking platform after a few minutes, it is an indication that the temperature there is too high.
Sliders thrive in a wet environment. The greatest substrate for sliders in the water is no substrate or fine sand. Turtles can inadvertently eat gravel or pebbles, which might block their digestion.
Some land should also be provided for basking. A plastic or wooden platform on the side of the tank is recommended. It should allow your slider to sit comfortably with plenty of room to move about.
Change the water in the tank every 1-2 days to allow turtles to swim in clean water. To assist keep the water clean, use a filter system.
It’s crucial to eliminate the chlorine before bringing water inside the turtles’ habitat. If you don’t, contaminants in the tap water might harm your filter’s biological pads and even your pet.
To top off the aquarium, use spring water, distilled water, or rainwater rather than tap water that is not at the proper pH levels.
For aquatic turtles, the pH of the water in your turtle tank should be approximately 6.2-6.5. If your water’s pH isn’t within this range, you can add a pH adjuster to help it get there.
Common water problems that can occur in turtle tanks are:
- Too high of a pH level
- Too low of a pH level
- Chlorine and chloramines in the water
- High levels of nitrates and ammonia
- Hard water levels
Sliders are omnivores that eat aquatic plants, fish, insects, and carrion. Adult female sliders, on the other hand, are primarily herbivorous while young and adult males are more carnivorous.
A well-balanced yellow-bellied turtle diet consists of:
- Turtle pellets are a wonderful source of protein and calcium. Up to 25% of their diet may be made up of these pellets.
- There are a variety of snacks that you can offer your turtle as a treat. Live crickets, earthworms, bloodworms, and rosy reds are all excellent choices.
- Vitamin A is abundant in spinach, chard, and turnip greens. Spinach has a lot of iron (needed for red blood cells) and potassium (required for muscle function), as well as lutein and zeaxanthin (antioxidants that protect the eyes). Collard, mustard, dandelion leaves, kale, bok choy, deep green lettuce, or parsley leaves all have plenty of vitamin C.
- Fruit snacks (like apples and berries) are fine as occasional treats, but not too frequently since they’re high in sugar.
Every day, you can feed your turtle two small meals. Gradually increase the number of vegetables in your turtle’s diet, as well as adult food pellets.
Adult turtles should be fed mostly pellets and leafy greens, with some aquatic plants like duckweed mixed in.
Sliders should be able to dive into the water. A turtle that is always floating might be a symptom of something wrong, such as pneumonia.
Turtles with eyes closed or puffier than normal may have a respiratory infection or another type of problem. Wheezing and drooling are indicators of respiratory issues. Shell rot, which is an uncomfortable disease caused by a fungus, can occur in shells that are soft, rough, or covered in algae.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, as well as metabolic bone disease and vitamin malabsorption, are typical problems that aquatic turtles in captivity suffer from owing to improper diets and lighting.
To assist keep your turtle healthy, make sure your UVB lights and heat lights are replaced on a regular basis. Metabolic bone disease is extremely distressing for turtles and can be fatal if not treated promptly.
If you detect any symptoms of illness, contact an exotics veterinarian who specializes in reptile care. If detected early, the majority of these problems are curable.
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Sliders are not the most loving companion. Holding them might be stressful, and a stressed turtle will immediately bite any hands it can reach.
Their long, flexible necks give them an unexpectedly long reach. If yellow-bellied sliders are held, they will generally retract their heads and arms into their shells.
Sliders can be trained to distinguish between humans and turtles, but they do best if left alone. If you must pick up your turtle, grasp it securely with two hands as if it were a burger.
Small children should not be allowed to handle turtles, as they can easily get sick. Turtles are a major source of salmonella infections in the United States, which can be deadly for small children and those with weakened immune systems.
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If you’re thinking of adding a yellow-bellied slider to your family, be sure to do your research and understand what it takes to care for one of these turtles.
They require a well-balanced diet with plenty of protein and calcium, as well as UVB lighting and a heated environment.
It’s also important to keep an eye out for any signs of illness and treat them promptly if necessary.
Turtles can be stressful to handle, so it’s best not to force interaction if they don’t seem interested. With a little bit of knowledge and some effort, though, you can provide a healthy home for your new pet turtle!