How to keep yellow belly sliders

Updated February 21, 2017

Yellow belly or yellow bellied sliders are a type of turtle, closely related to the common red bellied turtle, that are often found as pets. These turtles, which are native to North America, are considered to be relatively easy to care for, making them a good choice for the beginner turtle enthusiast. However, like all turtles, yellow belly sliders grow quickly and can lead very long lives, up to 40 years. It's important to plan accordingly for your turtle, and to research the care of the turtle in order to keep it comfortable and healthy throughout its life.

Provide an aquarium for the slider. Although several very young yellow belly sliders can be kept in a small aquarium, an adult turtle will grow to between 20 and 32.5 cm (8 and 13 inches) in length, and will therefore need an aquarium that is 340 litres (75 gallons) or larger. Yellow belly sliders are peaceful and get along well with other peaceful turtles, so they can be kept in a community aquarium. However, a larger aquarium will need to be provided for every additional turtle that lives in it.

Fill the aquarium with water. The water needs to be at least slightly deeper than the turtle's shell is wide. However, the water can be even deeper than that, with a depth of about 45 cm (18 inches) being ideal.

Create a basking area for the slider. Basking areas are flat, easily accessible areas where the turtle can climb out of the water and dry off. A basking area can be created by securely stacking rocks.

Install a strong filtration system, designed for whatever size aquarium you have. Turtles are messy and quickly dirty water. A filtration system helps keep the water clean. Performing partial water changes, where some of the aquarium's dirty water is replaced with fresh water, can also be performed every two weeks or so.

Install a UVB heat lamp over the basking area in the aquarium. This lamp will provide warmth as well as vitamin D, which yellow belly sliders require in order to maintain their shells and bones. The temperature over the basking area should be between 26.7 degrees C and 32.2 degrees Celsius (80 degrees and 90 degrees Fahrenheit). The water temperature in the aquarium should be in the low to mid 20s Celcius (70s Fahrenheit), while the air temperature just over the aquarium should be in the upper 20a Celsius (mid 80s Fahrenheit).

Feed the yellow belly slider according to its age. Very young turtles should be fed every day. Yearling sliders can be fed every other day, while adult turtles can be fed twice a week. Only feed the turtle as much as it can eat in about 20 minutes. Because yellow belly sliders are omnivorous, feed a mix of meaty and herbaceous foods. Commercial turtle foods, small fish and insects, and fresh vegetables create a balanced diet. Vegetation, such as pond plants, can be left in the aquarium at all times for the slider to munch on. Turtle minerals and calcium supplements can also be given once every two weeks.

Things You'll Need

  • Aquarium
  • Water
  • Basking area rocks
  • Filtration system
  • UVB lamp
  • Various turtle foods
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Ann LaPan travels exuberantly in body and mind via planes, trains, automobiles and superb literature. A webmaster, website designer, graphic artist, accountant and musician (Jill of all trades, master of a few), she writes Today’s Horoscope for Shooting Star