Yellow-Bellied Slider Turtle: Complete Guide to Care, Diet, Breeding, Tank Mates, And More

This is a very attractive turtle that is usually kept as a pet animal and if you decide to take it to your home aquarium will really make a great addition. The Yellow Bellied Slider spends most of its time in the water but needs to occasionally get out of water to breathe and dry off. The care requirement of this turtle is almost similar to that of the red-eared slider turtle. The turtle is very popular amongst turtle enthusiasts because it is easy to care for. Those with previous turtle care experience will find caring for this turtle much easier. Still there are other aquarists who prefer keeping the turtle due its characteristic markings.

Yellow Bellied Slider Overview

Basically the turtle is known to be very active during the day and a little dormant during night time. In the wild, the yellow bellied turtle is known to spend much of the day basking in the sun. Based on this fact, it is important to provide proper UVA and UVB rays to the turtle. This can be done by ensuring they are either exposed to sunlight or a special kind of lamp designed to emit such rays in captivity. It is best not to disturb the turtle by unnecessary handling as this is something that is known to cause undue stress.

Information ChartYellow Bellied Slider
Scientific Name: Trachemys scripta
Family: Emydidae
Care Level: Easy/ beginner level
Temperament: Curious and friendly
Color: Brown or black with yellow stripes, a yellow body
Lifespan: 30 to 40 years
Size: 5 to 8 inches
Diet: Omnivorous, high protein
Minimum Tank Size: 100 gallons
Temperature: 75–80-degree Fahrenheit (water)
Water Conditions: Clean, un-chlorinated water, no tap water
Tank Mate Compatibility High fishes that are small and fast

Appearance of Yellow Bellied Slider

Yellow Bellied Slider

They are some of the most attractive fresh water turtles available in the hobby hat will readily add oomph in your aquarium. The males of these turtles are usually smaller in size compared to the females. Adult males are known to grow to between five and nine inches long. The females on their part will grow to between eight and thirteen inches long.

The adult Yellow-Bellied Slider has olive green colored shells that have beautiful yellow markings that make them different from other species of turtles. Moreover, Yellow-Bellied Sliders have a yellow underbelly with black spots. The skin of the turtle grows darker as it becomes older. The young ones have yellow golden lines on their shells that fade as they age.

The turtle also has an S-shaped marking on its face, also yellow. The markings on the bellies of the Yellow-Bellied Sliders are question-mark shaped. The appearance of the yellow-Bellied slider is quite similar to that of Eastern River Cooters. However, they are not the same turtles. The Yellow-Bellied Slider is closest to the Red-Eared sliders that inhabit ponds. The turtles have impressive shells that may appear brown or even black with yellow stripes. They have yellow lower shells that exhibit black spots reason for their naming (yellow bellied).

Lifespan of Yellow-Bellied Slider 

The typical lifespan of the Yellow-Bellied Slider is 30 to 40 years. The long lifespan of the Yellow-Bellied Slider makes it an ideal pet for people—the lifespan of the turtle increases in captivity.

Yellow Bellied-Slider Size 

The typical Yellow-Bellied Slider grows up to 5 inches on the lower end and 13 inches for larger specimens. The females of this species are larger than their male counterparts. The young at birth measure up to 1 inch long and grow up to 4 inches in one year. However, after the initial spurt of growth, their growth cycle slows down, and they only grow 1 inch every year after it. The growth rate for the turtle continues, but it slows down a lot after they reach adulthood.

Native habitat/Geographic distribution in the wild

The turtle spends much of its time in water although it occasionally goes out of water to bask in the sun. As for the geographic distribution, the turtle is a native of North America and is usually found in areas such as Virginia and Alabama.

The turtles are usually well distributed in fresh water bodies including marshes, lakes, ponds, slow moving rivers, flood plain swamps, as well as wetlands that are seasonal. They usually inhabit shallow waters with plentiful of aquatic vegetation and bottoms that are soft.

Yellow-Bellied Slider Tank Care and Setup

Yellow-Bellied Slider Tank Size and Specifications

Yellow-Bellied Slider Basic care and tank requirements

A turtle tank that is at least 100 gallons is best suited for a single turtle and should hold very clean water that replicates the waters they inhabit in the wild. Usually, it is better to keep a single turtle in the tank because these small creatures can become very territorial of their space.

Yellow-Bellied Slider Tank Care and Setup

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Optimum Tank Size 

The Optimum tank size for a yellow bellied slider is 100 gallons. The tank should be 48 inches in length and 12 inches in height at least to accommodate a yellow bellied slider comfortably.

To find out more tips for the best condition to keep the turtle keep reading below:

Filter system

The yellow bellied slider turtle only does best when housed in water that is of very high quality and clean. This therefore calls on you to set up good quality filtration system that will ensure that water will be kept clean and pure at all times. Without a clean water system, the turtle catches many infections and suffers from shell rot. Standard filter types are compatible with yellow-bellied slider tanks. 

Moreover, you can safely go with canister filters for clean water. While choosing the filter, ensure that the filter’s capacity is twice or thrice of the tank chosen for the turtle. The slider produces a lot more waste than fish. Therefore, you need periodic filtration and a deep clean of the tank once in a while. Deep cleaning is not an issue since the yellow-bellied slider is a semi aquatic species comfortable on land. 

Canister filters use mechanical filtration, biofiltration, and chemical filtration. The tap water has to be neutralized with chemical compounds before being put into the tank. Tap water and its composition are not safe for yellow-bellied sliders. Regular tap water will irritate the eyes and nostrils of your turtle, causing a lot of stress. Some filters also add water conditioners that neutralize ammonia and nitrites in the water. 

Mechanical filters use a sponge to trap large waste and food particles from the tank. The mechanical filter medium needs to be washed with aquarium water to remove the large, trapped particles permanently. On the other hand, biological filtration removes harmful bacteria and fosters the growth of beneficial microfauna in the turtle tank. In this way, the turtle tank is nutrient-rich and safe for the turtle to live in. The biological filter can also be washed with aquarium water. Tap water is a strict prohibition for the aquarium environment. 

Chemical filtration systems use activated carbon to filter out harmful compounds and water pollutants from the water. These carbon filter cartridges have a lifespan of 14 to 30 days. The cartridges have to be replaced at least after a month. Along with filters to keep the enclosure water safe, you can also release around 25 percent of used aquarium water every week. You can replace this water with un-chlorinated water.

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Basking area

These turtles enjoy basking a lot when they are in the wild and this need to be replicated for them when in captivity. Ensure that the basking area that you provide for your turtle is large enough for it to be comfortable. The material used on the basking area ought to be non-abrasive allowing the turtle to able to dry off completely. A heat lamp can be used to help warm up the basking area with the recommended heat there to be in the ranges of 80 and 90°F.

Yellow-Belly Slider Basking area

It is also best to hang a UVB light bulb over the enclosed space for your turtle. The UVB lighting has to be kept on for at least 12 hours a day and 12 hours off to support the diurnal pattern of turtle habits. The UVB lighting allows the turtle to synthesize vitamin D naturally, which helps in calcium assimilation. The calcium helps them stay strong and avoid metabolic bone disease. Basking is also very important because fungal diseases are at bay for the yellow-bellied slider.


This is not important is usually a matter personal choice amongst turtle hobbyists but the truth of the matter is that having a substrate in a turtle’s tank is a recipe for untidy tank. If you choose to have a substrate installed in your turtle’s tank please be sure to install high quality water filtration system to help keep the water clean at all times. Tanks that have substrates must also have the water changes done on a regular basis to help keep things clean. For the substrate material it is advisable to use larger gravel that will not be easy for the turtle to consume orally.

Water Parameters for Yellow-Bellied Slider

The water temperature

It is advised that you keep the water temperature to recommended dimensions which can be anything from 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. For you to achieve this, you will need to have a submersible water heater installed. It is also advised that the depth of thank water is set to such a way that the turtle can easily get totally submerged.

Water Parameters for Yellow-Bellied Slider

The tank also needs to be wide enough to allow the turtle to easily swim around in a comfortable manner. Some experienced turtle experts that have kept the yellow bellied turtle even recommend a depth of eighteen inches.

Feeding Yellow-Bellied Slider

The yellow bellied slider turtle is an omnivorous animal that feeds on both plants and animals. They are easy to feed and the following diet should be able to keep your turtle going:

  • Insects
  • Fish
  • Aquatic plants that should not be toxic
  • Wax worms
  • Vegetables that are chopped
  • Mealworms
  • Commercial turtle foods that can be bought from the reptile pet shops

Commercial Turtle Foods for Reptile Pets

The hatchlings of the Yellow-bellied Slider are more carnivorous. The adult one is omnivorous with more herbivorous tendencies. The yellow-bellied slider eats first thing in the morning, and the rest of the day is spent digesting the food. This difference in the diet comes with a difference in growth rate.

As the juvenile slider grows faster, it needs a carnivorous and high-protein diet. The turtle feeding pattern has to follow a portion equal to the size of its head. However, you have to feed the hatchling daily while the adult Yellow-bellied slider needs to eat every other day. You can add shrimp, earthworms, cooked fish, and meat to the diet. Yellow-bellied sliders are opportunistic eaters, which is why you need to be very careful with the feed.

Yellow-Slider Behavior and Temperament

The Yellow Bellied Slider is social and will easily mingle with community mates that small and well behaved like it. If you prefer to have your turtle live with other peaceful species of turtles just ensure that the space that you provide is big enough. It is one kind of fresh water turtle that likes to occasionally come out of the water to bask in the sun. Even though it is not an aggressive turtle that will not bite when held, it is best to avoid carrying it up all the time to avoid causing it undue stress.

Yellow-Slider Behavior and Temperament

The Yellow-bellied Slider does not like to be handled. It can get used to handling in captivity, but its natural temperament is against handling. It runs away from touch and handling by instinct. To make them accustomed to handling, you have to start the process very early. They are very curious and pleasant when they are not threatened. The slider has strong jaws and can bite you if they feel threatened.

Therefore, you should make them feel at home. These pets are different from your usual pets, like dogs and cats. However, they have unique personalities and behavior patterns that make them interesting. The yellow-bellied slider is diurnal and is more active during the day. It loves to bask during the day. They are adaptable, which makes them great pets.

Yellow-Bellied Sliders Common Diseases and Their Treatment 

Usually, the Yellow-Bellied Slider is a resilient species that thrives in your aquarium tank with minimal care. Still, they can get infected with diseases if their basic requirements are not met. They can survive in suboptimal conditions for some time. However, if you want your turtle to thrive, you have to take care of it.

Healthy Yellow Bellied Slider Turtle

Improper lighting, hygiene, and a bad diet can lead to multiple diseases in a yellow-bellied slider. The most common deficiency in the turtle can be vitamin A deficiency. Some common diseases the turtle suffers from are Shell pyramiding or metabolic bone disease. Other diseases include shell rot and respiratory diseases. 

Metabolic bone disease- metabolic disease happens when the turtle goes through malnutrition or lack of UV lighting in the tank. The symptoms in the turtle can be weakness, softshells, broken bones, and bowed legs. The treatment of this disease lies in treating the malnutrition cause. 

The best way to go through with it is to provide the turtle with feeder insects and meat supplemented with calcium powder. Feed the turtle a commercial diet only designed exclusively for turtles. You can also change the lighting system to set up a proper UV lighting system for the tank. In severe metabolic bone diseases, you need to give calcium injections until the deficiency is resolved. 

Facts About Yellow Bellied Sliders 

  • The Yellow-Bellied Slider is the most conspicuous in turtles because it has yellow markings and unique black spots. 
  • The scientific name for the Yellow-Bellied Slider is Trachemys scripta
  • The shell of the Yellow-bellied Slider is around 5 to 8 inches 
  • There is a yellow blotch marking behind the eyes for young ones and females
  • The Yellow-Bellied Sliders are a semi aquatic species. 
  • The Yellow-Bellied Sliders move to land for laying eggs in terrestrial nests. 
  • In the wintertime, the Yellow-Bellied Slider becomes dormant, and there is a change in behavior
  • Yellow-Bellied Sliders prefer a high protein diet. 
  • The Yellow-bellied Slider is compatible with small fishes in captivity 

Are Yellow Bellied Sliders Right For you?

The Yellow-Bellied Slider is a very popular pet for many aquatic enthusiasts. The turtle is a favorite because of its markings and distinct structure. The pet is very interesting and different from the usual turtles that might come off as plain and boring. If you want to keep a turtle but do not want to go for the regular ones, the yellow-bellied sliders are the right choice. This species is also very hardy and can live with a medium level of care, making it a perfect choice for adoption. If you want a conversation starter in your living room or dining room, this turtle is the right one to go with. 


What Is the Natural Habitat of The Yellow-Bellied Slider?

The habitat of the yellow-bellied slider is ponds and streams. The yellow-bellied slider also lives in sinkholes, sloughs, lakes, and swamps. They also inhabit the land for short periods. The turtles prefer staying submerged in shallow water amid floating aquatic fauna. However, they move on to land for hibernation purposes. These turtles also move on land during migration phases from unsuitable aquatic habitats. 

What Are the Few Behavioral Patterns of The Yellow-Bellied Slider? 

The few behavioral tendencies of the yellow-bellied slider are its activity. The turtle becomes more active on sunny winter days than darker days. Summer is when these turtles do not bask a lot. Their basking activity is more during spring and fall—the Yellow-Bellied slider mates during spring and winter. The male of this species exhibits courtship behavior in these seasons. The females make nests for their eggs by digging with the help of their rear feet. 

Which Are the Few Areas Where the Yellow-Bellied Slider Is Spotted Naturally? 

The few areas where the yellow-bellied slider occurs naturally are Southeast Virginia, Northern Florida, Texas, and Central America. 

What Goes into The Diet of a Slider? 

The slider usually eats insects, tadpoles, small fishes, and invertebrates. They are carnivorous and usually eat meat. Their diet needs to be high protein in nature. However, their omnivorous tendency also helps them eat plants like algae, leaves, stems, roots, and certain fruits. However, the diet is meat dominant, with the species sometimes eating water, insects, and frogs. 

Are Yellow Bellied Sliders Endangered? 

No, the yellow-bellied slider is not endangered. The turtle is classified under IUCN 2.3, the least concern category. The beautiful turtle species will be available in any good pet shop. They are good as pets and have been bred in captivity successfully. However, the slider is seen as an invasive species in some natural habitats. This usually happens with a captive pet yellow-bellied slider released in the wild. 


The yellow-bellied slider is a beautiful turtle that is great as a pet. The yellow-bellied slider makes a great choice if you doubt which turtle to adopt. An omnivore, the yellow-bellied slider is a very easy pet to keep for a long time. The species feels comfortable in captivity as long as the water conditions and other parameters like lighting are maintained. 

You can keep one turtle as a pet, and that would be enough, we promise. The yellow-bellied slider with all its unique markings can be the star of your house. They can be your lifelong companions because of their long lifespan. These turtles are better suited for captivity with an increased lifespan. 

Moreover, the species is not endangered. Thus, you can take one as a pet without any guilt. However, always go to a good and trusted pet shop to purchase your next pet turtle. When choosing your new yellow-bellied slider, make sure the turtle does not have any signs of illnesses like puffy or closed eyes or running nose. 

Take a healthy slider with a good quality, good color shell. Moreover, you should also opt for captive-bred turtles over wild turtles. Captive-bred turtles have fewer chances of being infected with parasites. Choose the yellow-bellied slider carefully to get a lifelong companion for yourself.

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