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Yellow Belly Turtle: How To Care For A Yellow-Bellied Slider

If you have been thinking about getting a pet turtle, but you are unsure which type to get, then perhaps the yellow-bellied slider is for you. We’ve collected everything you need to know to figure out if a yellow-bellied slider is the right turtle for you!

Remember, if you do decide to get one, be sure to talk to a reputable pet retailer or veterinarian about specifics before your purchase.

What You Need To Know

There are a few things you need to consider before heading out to find a yellow-bellied slider to take home. How big are they? How long do they live? Where do they live? What do they eat? How do I care for them? Fear not, we’ve got you covered.

If you’re still unsure about any bit of this, you can always ask in the comments or a reputable retailer about your specific situation.

Yellow-Bellied Slider Summary

The yellow-bellied slider is a species of aquatic turtle that is fond of spending time on both lands and in the water. The species is one of the most popular ones on the market, in large part due to its bright colors and active lifestyle.

In the wild, yellow-bellied slider turtles are found within the southern regions of the USA in a wide variety of habitats, being very adaptive to lots of different environments. This makes them highly suited to life in captivity, as long as their needs for food, heat, and space are met.

All in all, yellow-bellied slider turtles can make an excellent house pet if you have the time and resources to care for them properly!


For yellow-bellied slider turtles, the males of the species tend to be a fair bit smaller than the females. From nose to tail tip, the males tend to reach about 9 inches (23 cm) at their longest, whereas the females tend to reach about 13 inches (33 cm) at their longest. They will typically weigh somewhere between 4 and 8 pounds (1.8- 3.6 kg.).

Expert Tip: Their size can also vary quite a bit based on the diet they eat the amount of UV light they get access to and the habitat they live in.

A more detailed breakdown of how these can affect your yellow-bellied slider turtle’s size can be found here.


While it is sad to think about, it is important to be aware of how long your pet will be with you before you commit to it. Yellow-bellied slider turtles have a strong advantage here as they have quite long lives as far as pets go often living as many as 40 years when properly cared for with an average lifespan of about 25 years.

Although with such long lives, it is important to be sure you can commit to them, as you will need to care for them for a long time.


In the wild, yellow-bellied slider turtles will eat a wide variety of foods depending on what is readily available and will also do so in captivity. It is, however, important to make sure you are giving them the best diet you can to keep them healthy for decades. It is best to give them a diet centered around plant-based foods that are high in vitamins.

You may wish to use turtle food pellets as the main base as high-quality ones will provide much of what your yellow-bellied slider turtle will need. Although it is best to supplement these with a variety of leafy greens such as Romaine lettuce, fresh parsley, dandelion greens.

They will also occasionally enjoy apples or some live foods like gut-loaded brown crickets and shrimp, but be sure to avoid anything too high in protein and fat. If you have any other foods you want to try. Feel free to comment asking if it is safe, or ask a local expert at a reputable pet retailer or veterinarian.

Yellow-Bellied Slider Behavior
Yellow-Bellied Slider Behavior


Yellow-bellied slider turtles are fairly easy-going animals that love to explore, and will often wander around their habitat. This means it will not be hard for you to spot your pet being active all throughout the day.

Often choose to spend much of their time splashing around in the water area of their habitat, playing in the plants, and generally looking around for something new. And when they get tired, they will retire to the land area and bask under a heat lamp.

They are most active in the morning, but they will continue to move around throughout the day to help them regulate their body temperature to keep themselves healthy. As you might expect for such an active animal, they do not like to be handled, and would much prefer to be left alone in their tank.

Expert Tip: They can become more comfortable with being handled, but it will always cause them stress and they will never like it. If overhandled, they may well bite, so be careful to keep handling to a minimum.

When you must handle them (such as for cleaning their tank or vet trips) try to place them immediately into another container to prevent stress and biting.

Yellow-Bellied Slider Care

Yellow-bellied slider care can be quite difficult at first, but it becomes very rewarding once you get used to doing it. While they are very adaptive animals, they have many needs you must keep on top of to be sure they stay healthy, all while juggling 2 very different environments.

Tank Setup and Requirements

When setting up your yellow-bellied slider tank there are a few factors you will need to consider:

  • Size: Your local pet retailer may have turtle-specific tanks that should be a perfect size. However, if they don’t, you can also use a standard aquarium that should be at least 100 gallons, although bigger is better if you have the space and money, and the base should be at least 40×48 inches (102×122 cm) and the tank should be at least 12 inches (30.5 cm) tall.

    This allows for you to make adequate land and water space for your yellow-bellied slider turtle to roam. If you can it is wise to get a taller tank as yellow-bellied sliders enjoy deeper waters and the larger specimens may need something a little deeper.
  • Placement: You will want to make sure you place the tank somewhere you will see it regularly so you can enjoy the presence of your pet. It is also important to place it somewhere that it can receive electricity and water as this will be needed for a heat lamp. UV lamp and water filter as well as for cleaning and filling.

    Yellow-bellied slider turtles won’t really mind too much where their tank is within your home, they are even ok outside if you live in a temperate region.
  • Land: While yellow-bellied slider turtles will spend most of their time in the water, they need a piece of land on which to rest and regulate their temperature by basking in either the sun or a heat lamp. You can make this naturally using your chosen substrate material, or you can use a floating perch, which will take up less water space and be easier to implement.

    The land space above the water should be enough for your yellow-bellied slider turtle to lay on and have room to turn around, anything that is three times the surface area of your turtle or bigger should be fine.

    You will also need to make sure that your yellow-bellied slider turtle can easily access the land section, even when tired, which will be easy if you are using a floating perch, or will require a shallow slope at the top if you are making it.
  • Water: At the base of the tank, you will need to make a substrate of coated gravel or riverbed sand, and be sure to clean both the tank and the material before adding it. You will also want to add a good selection of both floating and submerged plants (fake ones are also ok) so that your yellow-bellied slider feels safe and at home.

    You will also need to add a powerful filter, one that is designed for a tank about 3 times the size of the one you have in order to keep your yellow-bellied slider healthy. The filter can be a submerged biological one or a standard hang-on back one whichever you’d prefer the power level is what matters as yellow-bellied slider turtles produce a lot of waste.

    Water quality is very important, and as such, you should use a water conditioner before introducing your yellow-bellied slider turtle to the environment to remove substances like chlorine that can harm your pet.

    In addition to this, you should check your filter every 2 weeks and replace its medium as needed. As well as using a brush to keep the level of algae down and perform a partial water change every few weeks to keep the levels of ammonia and nitrates low.

Expert Tip: Water temperature is also crucial and so you should keep a close eye on it with a thermometer. Make sure it stays between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (24-26.5 degrees Celsius) at all times. If it does not, add some submersible heaters to the bottom of the tank to keep the water more stable.

  • Heat and lighting: As yellow-bellied slider turtles are diurnal, they like to experience a lot of light during the daytime when they are most active. You will also need 2 specialist lights, a heat lamp, and a UV lamp.

    The heat lamp (sometimes called a basking lamp) will produce a focused heat at a point, which should be focused on the land segment, heating the air around it to between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit (32.5 -37.5 degrees Celsius) so that your yellow-bellied slider can properly keep warm.

    The UV lamp will replicate natural sunlight providing the UVA and UVB rays that your yellow-bellied slider needs and should shine over the entire tank for at least 12 hours a day and you should replace its bulb every 6 months to keep it running smoothly.
  • Humidity: If you do everything else right, you shouldn’t have to worry about humidity as the large body of warm water should provide all that is needed, and if the yellow-bellied slider turtle gets too dry on land. it can just hop in the water and be ok.

Yellow-Bellied Slider Health Risks
Yellow-Bellied Slider Health Risks

Health Risks

As long as you take proper care of your yellow-bellied slider turtle they should have very few if any health problems throughout their life as most of their health issues come in the form of infections from an unclean environment. As such if your pet shows some symptoms of any health issues. They are usually fixable by fixing the issue in the habitat.

Here are the main few to keep an eye out for:

  • Respiratory infection: This shows up in the form of wheezing, drooling, and puffy eyes. They are commonly caused by bacteria, so can be treated by anti-bacterial. Consult your vet to obtain the right ones. They can be prevented by keeping the tank clean. So, be sure to keep on top of this.
  • Fungal infection: Also known as shell rot, spores can build up on the yellow-bellied slider turtles’ backs. Causing the shell to become weak. They can be easily treated by adding some anti-bacterial and antifungal treatment to the water. As prescribed by your vet, it can be prevented by keeping the tank clean.
  • Metabolic bone disease: This will make their shell brittle and unable to grow. It is caused by not receiving enough UV light and can be prevented by properly maintaining your UV light and keeping it on for at least 12 hours a day, ideally, all of your waking hours.

Expert Tip: If you have any concerns about their health, be sure to consult with your vet as soon as possible so they can assess your pet’s needs better.

How fast do yellow-bellied sliders grow?

A baby turtle is a great pet for a younger child. The turtle can be kept in an aquarium for each day. That makes care a lot easier in real-time as well. How fast do yellow-bellied sliders grow? The newborn turtle will be about the size of a half-dollar. But it could grow about 4 to 5 inches in the first year.

That is a rapid growth rate for a reptile species. Be sure to properly feed the turtle as it is possible. The turtle is a nice pet and will keep the whole family entertained. Proper care tips are a must as the first year goes by for them. The turtle can feed and thrive in the right aquarium. Introduce aquatic plants that add life to the water tank.

Play with the turtle and keep it occupied as well. That is a fun experience for owners.

Are Yellow-Bellied Sliders Good Pet? Let’s Go Closer!

A pet turtle is generally a serious commitment that we have to realize. It takes a lot of effort and considerations if we would like to keep such. There will always be pros and cons of whatever pet we decide to keep. And yellow-bellied sliders are no exemption.

But are they really for keeps? Are yellow-bellied sliders good pets? Let us go closer and deeper, indeed. And certainly yes, the yellow-bellied slider is a good pet as well. And as a keeper of one, I can definitely attest.

An active pet especially during the daytime, their eye-catching and aesthetic yellow stripes marking is on the point that truly makes them stand out. Its visual appeal is just a jest of cuteness without a doubt.

But that is only cherry on top because the yellow-bellied slider is a domesticated pet that is friendly, docile, mild-mannered, and with manageable maintenance required. If you have prior aquatic experience, then you’ll never go wrong with this slider turtle.

But always remember that just like any turtles, they are not fond of being held most of the time because if they feel threatened, they might bite. But still generally as compared to others, they are still safer and less harmful somehow.

So, are yellow-bellied sliders good pets? The above justify the many positive reasons why. But we have to bear in mind that it’s our relationship with our yellow-bellied slider that will make a big difference and the way we treat this unique turtle that will unleash the goodness or the bad in them.

I don’t just see my yellow-bellied slider as a pet to care for and keep but as an unapologetic buddy and a living creature that just like anybody else deserves respect.

You will enjoy your yellow-bellied slider for a long time.
You will enjoy your yellow-bellied slider for a long time.


Caring for a yellow-bellied slider can seem very difficult at first, but you will quickly get used to it and make it a part of your regular schedule. As long as you keep on top of everything, you will enjoy your yellow-bellied slider for a long time as they happily roam the nice environment you built for them.

If you have any further questions about these magnificent animals. feel free to ask in the comments!

About Grace Hocker

Hi, my name is Grace and I am a pet lover. Ever since 5 years old, I've owned some sort of pet from Bearded Dragons to Rabbits. I have dedicated my life to helping pets, and am here to help you get the best for your pet!