Caring for yellow bellied sliders requires more than just a shallow bowl with a little water and a rock. Aquatic turtles need more in the way of housing and lighting than is often thought. Take a look at what is required to care for a yellow bellied slider properly before acquiring one and you and your new reptile will both be happier.
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Yellow bellied sliders, also known as yellow-bellied sliders, sliders, and Trachemys scripta scripta. are aquatic turtles. This means they spend most of their time in the water but unlike amphibians, they need to be able to get out of the water to dry off and breath. Yellow bellied sliders do not have gills, grow to be almost a foot long, are excellent swimmers, and live well over 20 years. They are cousins to the red eared slider and have almost identical care requirements.
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Before you bring home your yellow bellied slider there are a few things to check to increase the odds that you are bringing home a healthy turtle. Check the turtle's eyes for excessive puffiness, discharge, or eyelids that are sealed shut. Look over the turtle's shell (both the plastron and carapace) for any soft spots and make sure it is smooth. Test the responsiveness of the turtle you are considering by making sure they pull their head and legs into their shell or try to swim away... when you attempt to pick them up.
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Aquariums are good for young sliders but as yellow bellied sliders mature their size makes housing them a bit more challenging. The ideal tank size for an adult slider would be about 75 gallons. Enterprising owners use all sorts of novel housing ideas to meet the roomy requirements of sliders by using things like pre-formed plastic pond liners to make homes more like indoor ponds. If you have an outdoor pond, and a securely fenced yard to keep your turtle in and predators out, you might consider... putting them outdoors for at least part of the year. Make sure you provide a basking dock, appropriate lighting for reptiles (both UVB and heat lights) and clean water for your turtle housed indoors.
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Though yellow bellied slider tastes tend to change as they mature, shifting to an omnivorous diet as they get older, turtles of all ages should be offered a wide variety of both animal and plant based items. Commercial turtle pellets can make up a good base for the diet, supplemented with a variety of other items. Offer only what your turtle can consume in about 15 minutes and remove uneaten food. Feeding your turtle outside of their home is a bit more work at feeding time, but it will make... keeping the tank clean a lot easier in the long run.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Yellow Bellied Slider Behavior and Health
Whether it is making sure your yellow bellied sliders are free to perform behaviors that are necessary for their well-being (e.g. basking) or you are just trying to figure out what your turtle is doing or if they are healthy, understanding normal slider behavior can help you provide optimal care for your turtle.
Sliders should be able to dive into their water. A turtle that is always floating is a sign of a problem such as pneumonia. Shells that are soft, not smooth, or are covered in algae might... be infected and eyes that are closed or puffy may indicate a problem as well.
Metabolic bone disease and vitamin deficiencies are also common issues that affect aquatic turtles in captivity due to inappropriate diets and lighting. Make sure your UVB and heat lights are not burned out to help keep your turtle healthy.
Turtles will get out of the water to bask under their heat light but eat in the water so if these normal behaviors aren't occurring your turtle may have something wrong with them.