Taking Care of Yellow-Belied Sliders as Pets: A Guide

Yellow bellied slider close-up

Yellow-bellied sliders, one of the most popular pet turtles, are with extended lifespans; some can live up to 40 years in captivity. Despite spending the most of their time in the water, these turtles require the ability to exit the water in order to rest and dry off, unlike amphibians.

This kind of turtle is generally easy to care for. Aquatic turtles often require a lot of tank upkeep. These turtles, which are related to red-eared sliders, will likewise require a sizable aquarium as adults. These well-liked pets may be identified by their brown or black shells with yellow striations. The name comes from the color of their lower shell, which is yellow with black markings. The southeastern United States, from Florida to Virginia, is where this turtle formerly lived.

Species Overview

Common Name: Yellow-bellied slider, yellow-bellied terrapin

Scientific Name: Trachemys scripta scripta

Adult Size: Males can grow up to 9 inches long; females can grow up to 13 inches long

Life Expectancy: 30 to 40 years

Yellow-Bellied Slider Behavior and Temperament

The slider is a diurnal turtle, which means that daytime hours are when it is most active. They often feed first thing in the morning and spend the most of the day basking in the sun in the wild. The daytime is also when captive yellow-bellied sliders are most active.

Yellow-bellied sliders dislike handling, like the majority of turtles, and this might put them under too much stress. They could become acclimated to handling with time, but they will bite if they feel threatened.

If properly cared for, these inquisitive, friendly make interesting pets. Despite the fact that they will never be affectionate pets like a dog or cat, yellow-bellied sliders often have distinct personalities that make them popular with their owners.

Housing the Yellow-Bellied Slider

Aquariums are ideal for raising juvenile slider turtles, but as they become bigger, sheltering them becomes a little more difficult. For an adult slider, a tank should have 75 to 100 gallons in capacity. Give your indoor turtle a basking platform and fresh water.

These turtles consume food and excrete waste in their watery habitat. Install a tank filter that can handle two to three times as much water as your tank now holds. Submersible biological filters or canister filters are both options. Without a filter, you will have to do time-consuming and untidy weekly partial water changes and water quality checks. Your turtle may have a number of health problems if the water is consistently unclean.

Before used, treat the water using a water conditioner. Chlorine and other harsh water additives that might harm your biological filter and your pet's quality of life will be eliminated by the water conditioner.

If you have an outdoor pond and a securely fenced yard to keep your turtle in and predators out, you might consider putting it outdoors for at least part of the year.

Enterprising owners also make roomy habitats for sliders by using pre-formed plastic pond liners to make indoor ponds. All turtles kept indoors will need special lighting.


Turtles require sufficient UVA and UVB radiation. Normally, they absorb these UV rays from direct sunshine or a dedicated bulb. These UV lamps are required all year round for roughly 12 hours a day by aquatic turtles. Every six months, change the UV light bulbs. The sun's rays will be plenty if your yellow-bellied slider lives outside; it won't require additional UV lamps.


Turtles must self-regulate their body temperature since they are cold-blooded animals. Turtles seek for basking areas to absorb the sun's warm rays in order to regulate their body temperature. You must simulate a sunny basking location with a temperature of around 88 degrees Fahrenheit if you have an indoor tank. A 60-watt or 100-watt basking lamp ought to be adequate. You may get a hybrid mercury vapor bulb that gives both heat and UV because turtles also require the sun's UV rays for healthy development.

Their water also needs to be at a constant temperature of 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. A water heater will be required to keep the water warm. It should be maintained day and night.

Food and Water

All-vegetarian yellow-bellied sliders exist. All turtles, regardless of their age, should consume a wide range of both animal and plant-based foods. Hatchlings and juveniles should consume primarily carnivorous foods twice daily. When a turtle reaches adulthood (between the ages of 2 and 5), its diet should mostly consist of vegetables.

Commercial turtle pellets are a proper base diet when supplemented with a variety of other items. Offer only what your turtle can consume in about 15 minutes and remove uneaten food.

Dark, leafy greens like romaine, dandelion greens, and fresh parsley should be a regular part of your yellow-bellied slider's diet. Offer chopped apple pieces and freeze-dried shrimp occasionally.

Most aquatic turtles eat the occasional insect or fish, but avoid giving them fatty fish, and never give them high-protein meats. An aquatic turtle's diet should be mainly plant-based.

Feeding your turtle outside of its home is a bit more work at feeding time, but it will make keeping the tank clean a lot easier in the long run.

Common Health Problems

It should be possible for sliders to dive into their water. A turtle that constantly floats can have a health issue, such pneumonia. Closed or swollen eyelids in turtles might be a sign of a respiratory illness or another problem. Respiratory conditions can also be identified by wheezing and drooling.

Shells that are soft, not smooth, or covered in algae might have shell rot, which is a painful condition caused by fungus.

Due to improper meals and lighting, aquatic turtles kept in captivity frequently suffer from metabolic bone disease and vitamin shortages. To keep your turtle healthy, be sure to change your UVB and heat bulbs frequently. For turtles, metabolic bone disease is very painful and, if left untreated, can be fatal.

If you notice any signs of illness, consult with an exotics veterinarian who specializes in reptile care. Most of these conditions are treatable if caught early.


Choosing Your Yellow-Bellied Slider

There are a few things to watch out for to make sure your yellow-bellied slider is healthy before you bring it home. The turtle's eyes shouldn't be discharged or puffy, and they shouldn't be tightly shut.

Another warning indicator is if there are any soft or rough areas on its shell; this might be a symptom of shell rot. When you try to pick it up, see if it retracts its head and legs inside its shell or attempts to swim away to gauge its responsiveness. It is common and anticipated for turtles and tortoises to dislike handling.

A reliable breeder who has verified the slider's health and history is your best bet for finding one. The ideal choice is a captive-bred slider rather than a wild one. A hatchling costs $10 to $20 on average. Adult specimens can go from $60 to $100 or more. The care taken to raise the turtle to adulthood is reflected in the higher costs.

Different Species of Aquatic Turtles

If you are interested in pet turtles, check out:

Otherwise, check out other types of reptiles and amphibians that can be your new pet.


"Jacobson ER, Brown MB, Wendland LD, Brown DR, Klein PA, Christopher MM, Berry KH. Mycoplasmosis and upper respiratory tract disease of tortoises: a review and update. Vet J. 2014 Sep;201(3):257-64. doi:10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.05.039", "Common Diseases of Aquatic Turtles. VCA Hospitals.", "Metabolic and Endocrine Diseases of Reptiles. Merck Veterinary Manual." ;