If you’re considering adopting a yellow-bellied slider, you will need to know some key information so that you’re well prepared to take the best care of your turtle.
Below is the ultimate guide on yellow-bellied sliders, keep reading to find out more!
Male vs Female
The easiest way to determine if your yellow-bellied slider is male or female is to look at the size and the color of the turtle.
Male yellow-bellied sliders tend to usually be smaller and less colored than their female counterparts.
In addition to this, females usually have shorter claws than the males, and have the cloaca positioned closer to the base of the tail.
To identify the yellow-bellied slider turtle from other types of turtles, there are a few characteristics that you can look out for.
These popular pets are distinguished by their shells which are brown or olive green, usually with a prominent patch of yellow on the side of the head. Their underbelly or lower shell is yellow with black spots, which is why their name is yellow-bellied sliders.
The yellow blotch behind the eye is the most conspicuous marking and is most prominent in juveniles and females.
As a Pet
Yellow-bellied sliders are often kept as pets. However, they aren’t a cuddly or affectionate pet by nature. They do not like being handled and will always prefer to be left alone in their habitat, no matter how long you’ve had them.
It’s best to keep handling your turtle to a minimum. In addition, it’s important to know that these turtles can increase in size significantly, often causing them to outgrow their tanks. This has caused an increase in dumping turtles into rivers, so always make sure you have the appropriate space for them.
Yellow-bellied sliders live for a very long time! The average yellow-bellied slider lifespan in the wild is up to a maximum of 30 years, whereas the lifespan of a captive species is more than 40 years.
However, it’s worth mentioning that these are only averages and there’s no way to guarantee that your turtle will live for this long. That being said, with proper care, you can expect your yellow-bellied turtle to be around for at least a couple of decades!
Alongside the fact that yellow-bellied sliders have adapted to have harder shells, they have also adapted to inflate their throats to keep themselves floating in the water.
The brown and olive coloration, alongside the bright pattern on the carapace of the turtle, works to help camouflage them in different habitats and grass, as well as other land and floating vegetation.
Yellow-bellied turtles will typically mate from March through to July, although courtship rituals can sometimes last until fall and carry on through to the winter months.
The courtship ritual takes place under water, and can take up to 45 minutes, whereas mating only takes around 10 to 15 minutes. Generally speaking, the male will swim toward the female and flutter his long claws on and around her face, creating water currents that may entice her to mate with him.
If the female is receptive, she will sink to the bottom of the water where the male will mount her to mate. If not, her response will be aggressive.
Mating occurs in spring. Several weeks after mating, the female will bask more than usual to keep her eggs warm. She’ll dig a nest with her hind legs and deposit her eggs into it. Normally the female will lay 6 to 10 eggs on land that is near a body of water.
The yellow-bellied slider’s young hatch in about three months. The hatchlings remain in the nest for the fall and winter. The next spring, the hatchlings will then emerge from the nest and enter the water to begin feeding.
Hatchlings emerge from their eggs at 1 inch long and reach around 4 inches in their first year of life. Following this, they only tend to grow about 1 inch per year until they get to their adult size.
Adult male yellow-bellied sliders tend to measure 5 to 9 inches long, while females measure from 8 to 13 inches long.
Male turtles tend to reach maturity between 3 to 5 years of age. On the other hand, females that are typically larger than males, mature at 5 to 7 years of age.
Yellow-bellied sliders attain the age of sexual maturity when they are around 4 to 5½ inches in length.
Yellow-bellied sliders are incredibly popular, and can even be found as feral populations in a variety of different European countries.
The exact population of yellow-bellied sliders is not known. However, it is fair to say that yellow-bellied sliders are not thought to be an endangered species.
They are not threatened in the wild due to common numbers and a high success rate in terms of breeding and hatching.
In the wild, yellow-bellied sliders are omnivores. Hatchlings are carnivorous, and in the wild enjoy spiders, fish, and tadpoles to name a few foods.
However, as they age, they will become more dependent on plants and less upon fresh meat.
It’s best to provide your turtle with a diet of plant-based foods when it grows into adulthood. A balanced plant-based diet that’s rich in vitamins and nutrients will play a fundamental role in keeping your turtle as healthy as possible.
You should feed your turtle a diet of high-quality commercial turtle pellets and provide some leafy greens.
In the wild, the primary predators of the yellow-bellied sliders tend to be animals such as raccoons, skunks, Virginia opossums, and red foxes.
Yellow-bellied sliders get their name ‘slider’ from its habit of ‘sliding’ or retreating quickly from the land into the water the moment they feel threatened by a predator.
However, thanks to their hard shells and their ability to retract inside their shells, they don’t typically need to worry about predators too much.
Yellow-bellied sliders are native to the southeastern United States but are mainly found in Florida to southeastern Virginia. It is the most common turtle seen in this range.
Sometimes they will travel over land between bodies of water. The yellow-bellied slider turtle is found in a wide variety of habitats, including sloughs, sinkholes, swamps, rivers, lakes, and ponds.
Respiratory infections in yellow-bellied sliders are common, often causing wheezing, drooling, and puffiness in the eyes. It’s usually caused by bacteria, so stay on top of habitat maintenance.
Your turtle can develop metabolic bone disease, which can stunt the growth of their shell, making it more brittle and prone to damage.
Fungal spores can also develop on your turtle’s back, causing shell rot. This is a potentially dangerous condition that will soften the shell until it eventually breaks.
Yellow-bellied sliders have stunning eyes. They tend to have green eyes with a black line running through, and a green circle surrounding their pupil.
It’s easy to get lost in the captivating eyes of these beautiful creatures!
Like the red-eared slider, the yellow-bellied slider. They are most comfortable at constant temperatures, somewhere between 20°C and 30°C.
However, semi-aquatic turtles do tend to brumate. Brumation is similar to hibernation, and refers to a state or condition of inactivity during winter or extended periods of low temperatures.
In the winter, slider turtles become dormant, but these animals sometimes are active on sunny winter days. This difference in activity is the difference between hibernation and brumation!
Can they swim?
Yes – yellow-bellied sliders can swim as they are semi-aquatic turtles! While yellow-bellied sliders will spend most of their time in the water, unlike amphibians, they need to be able to get out of the water to dry off and rest. They use land to regulate their temperature and bask in the sun.
Caring for a yellow-bellied slider can be more challenging than caring for a strictly aquatic or land-dwelling reptile.
In general, aquatic turtles require a lot of tank maintenance. Closely related to red-eared sliders, these turtles will also need a giant tank as adults.
The ideal tank size for an adult slider is 75 to 100 gallons. You will also need to provide them with a basking dock and clean water for your turtle housed indoors.
When first getting a yellow-bellied slider, the cost of your turtle isn’t necessarily what you need to worry about. Yellow Bellied Slider turtles usually cost around $10 and $15, and juveniles will usually cost about $25.
However, you will need to consider the cost of their tank, other equipment such as a heat lamp, and the ongoing costs of maintaining and caring for your turtle.
With age, the adult yellow-bellied slider tends to become more ‘vegetarian’, consuming less and less meat. Eventually, up to 95% of their intake turns to plant matters.
Similarly to the majority of turtles, yellow-bellied sliders do not like being handled. This can cause undue stress for them. If they feel threatened, they will bite.