Breeding yellow-bellied sliders is not a complicated task. Many people think that you’re left with a tadpole or empty shells after the eggs are laid, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Yellow-Bellied Sliders breed in spring when they reach sexual maturity. The mature age for the female is 5 years and 3 years for the male. The female lays eggs three to six weeks after mating, and the eggs hatch 60 to 90 days after being laid.
This article discusses everything you need to know about breeding yellow-bellied sliders, recognizing when your female turtle is pregnant, and the requirements for the turtle to lay eggs.
How Do Yellow-Bellied Sliders Reproduce?
Yellow-bellied sliders reproduce when the male mounts the female and grasps her carapace from behind with his front feet. He then uses his tail to line up his cloaca with that of the female. Releasing his sperm into her cloaca, it will travel to meet her eggs within her body.
When it comes to reproduction, males have a special claw on their feet to help them mate with the females.
At What Age Can Yellow-Bellied Sliders Start Mating?
Male yellow-bellied sliders can start mating at the age of 3, whereas females might not mature enough until the ages of 5 or 7. In captivity, males can often reach sexual maturity as early as age 3, while females can mature a year later than they do in the wild.
Yellow-bellied sliders that live in cooler climates have slower metabolisms and therefore tend to mature more slowly than those living in warmer temperatures.
When To Breed Yellow-Bellied Sliders?
You can start breeding yellow-bellied sliders when they reach sexual maturity. The age at which females reach sexual maturity is between 5 and 7 years, with 8-13 inches (20-33cm) in length. The male reaches sexual maturity at 3 years or older, with 5-9 inches (13-23cm) in length.
Breeding yellow-bellied slider turtles is not a difficult task. They tend to be seasonal breeders, preferring to breed in spring and early summer.
If you want to breed your turtles, you should know that the temperature plays a vital role in incubating their eggs. The lower the temperature is, the longer it takes for the eggs to hatch and vice versa.
When Is the Right Time To Introduce Them to Each Other?
The right time to introduce yellow-bellied sliders for breeding is before they reach sexual maturity. This gives the male and females time to get acquainted with one another, especially since the males sometimes show aggression.
Keepers must be aware of some crucial things when introducing turtles for mating:
- The male turtle may be aggressive toward the female. So you need to keep an eye on them and separate them if necessary. The male may bite the female’s face, neck, or legs, resulting in wounds that can become infected.
- They may mate underwater. That means they need a large tank with plenty of water depth or may mate on land, so they should also have a large land area.
Here’s how to safely introduce yellow-bellied sliders to each other:
- Introduce the turtles when they are young (before sexual maturity). This way, the male turtle will get used to the presence of a female and will mate with her once she reaches sexual maturity.
- Ensure the water temperature is between 50 and 70°F (22 to 27°C). Warm temperatures provide a comfortable environment for the turtles to mate. A temperature over 80 °F (27 °C) could stress out or kill your turtles.
How To Know if Yellow-Bellied Sliders Are Mating?
Mating happens in the water.
You’ll know if yellow-bellied sliders are mating if the male approaches the female slowly and circles her to get her attention. He will begin biting at her front legs and neck. If accepted, she will pull up on the back of his carapace with her front legs to bring them close enough together to mate.
The tickling and biting may seem rough, but it isn’t painful for either turtle, and it just shows his interest in pursuing mating with her. If she doesn’t want him to continue, she will swim away from him or roll onto her back.
How Do Yellow-Bellied Sliders Mate?
The mating season for yellow-bellied sliders is from March to October. A male will be very aggressive during the breeding season. They will swim after the female and try to bite her face, limbs, and neck.
The male mounts the female from behind, grasps the back of her shell with his front feet, and holds on with his claws. He then bends forward and gets her near the hind legs with his jaws.
If there are no females in the group of turtles, the male will become very aggressive toward other males.
How To Know if the Yellow-Bellied Slider Is Pregnant
A yellow-bellied slider is pregnant when there is a mass of developing eggs on the female’s underside. You can often see this visually or feel it gently pressing it on the belly.
However, this sign is not always reliable. The female might have a false pregnancy, and the presence of a mass doesn’t necessarily mean it’s full of eggs. If you want to be sure, your best bet is to take it to a veterinarian who can do an ultrasound or X-ray.
Other signs of pregnancy include:
- Restlessness and frantic attempts of wanting to get out of the tank.
- Basking in the sun more than usual.
Do Yellow-Belly Sliders Get Fat?
The female yellow-belly slider can get fat during the breeding season, but whether she gets fat after mating is related to whether she is gravid or not. The most common reason for yellow bellies to get fat is their diet.
If your slider gained weight and is not pregnant, you should adjust their diet by feeding it fruit, vegetables, and insects in moderation. If their tank is too small and the turtles don’t have enough room to swim, they will become inactive and develop various health problems.
A turtle that doesn’t have enough space will be less interested in moving around and more interested in eating. It will probably also gain weight due to a lack of exercise.
How Long Are They Pregnant For?
Yellow-bellied sliders are pregnant for about three to six weeks after mating, after which they lay eggs between April and July. However, the female turtle can store sperm for long periods, resulting in the turtle laying eggs even if it has not been around a male turtle.
How Many Eggs Do Yellow-Bellied Sliders Lay?
Once fertilized, a female yellow-bellied slider will lay between 3 and 24 eggs in a burrow she has dug herself. Depending on the turtle’s health, it can lay two to three clutches of up to 24 eggs.
After laying her eggs in the nest, she covers it with dirt using her hind limbs and then leaves the nest and returns to the water. It takes about three months for the eggs to hatch. Hatchlings emerge from their nests between July and September.
How Often Do They Lay Eggs?
Females only lay eggs once per year, each clutch containing between five and ten eggs. The average female will produce 10 to 24 eggs during her reproductive cycle, ending at around 15 years old. It takes two months for the eggs to hatch after a female lays them, usually in May or June.
Female turtles typically lay one to two clutches of 24 eggs each year when kept as pets. In the wild, however, the frequency of egg-laying can vary widely from turtle to turtle based on several factors, which include:
- The turtle’s age. Younger turtles tend to lay more eggs than older ones.
- How much food the turtle eats. Turtles that eat more tend to lay more eggs.
- How healthy the turtle is. Healthy turtles tend to lay more eggs.
Where Do Yellow-Bellied Sliders Lay Their Eggs?
Yellow-bellied sliders lay their eggs in small holes in the soil that they’ve dug with their hind legs. Once she has found a suitable place for her nest, she will lay several eggs. She will then cover up the hole to hide her eggs from predators.
Sometimes it can seem like the female has not laid any eggs because they can be so well covered up.
The mother will not remain in the nest once it is dug, so she does not help care for the eggs or keep them warm until they hatch. Instead, it is up to the temperature of their environment to determine how quickly the eggs develop and hatch.
Warmer temperatures cause eggs to grow more rapidly than cooler ones. The average hatching time is around 60 days from egg-laying, but some hatchlings may take as long as 90 days to emerge from their shells.
What Do Yellow-Bellied Slider Eggs Look Like?
Yellow-bellied slider eggs look like small ping pong balls. They’re cylindrical, white to pale greenish-white, and are about 1 inch to 1 ½ inch (2.54 to 3.81 cm) long. The shells feel hard and leathery but have a rubbery texture.
How Long Does It Take for the Eggs To Hatch?
The eggs hatch after 60 to 90 days. However, the incubation period varies depending on the weather and temperature. Once they have hatched, the young turtles will break out of their eggshells and search for food and water.
The hatchlings from one clutch will vary in size and coloration, even though they are from the same parents.
How To Sex Yellow-Bellied Sliders?
Yellow-Bellied Sliders are very difficult to sex when they are young. Once they have reached ages 2-4, sexing them is more straightforward.
You can sex the turtles by looking at their size, identifying the difference in the plastron, tails, claws, and front feet. Males tend to have longer tails and claws than the females, but females themselves sometimes have larger bodies.
Here’s a detailed explanation of what to look for when sexing your slider.
- Size of the turtle. Females are larger than males. A male turtle generally reaches 7 to 8 inches (17 to 20 cm), while a female typically grows 9 to 11 inches (22 to 27 cm). However, if you have two turtles that are both very young, their sizes might be similar.
- Identify the difference in the plastron. The plastron is the bottom part of the shell that covers its belly. The plastron on a female will be flat or convex (slightly curved) while it will be concave (curved inward) on a male. The difference in the plastron allows for easier mounting during mating.
- Look at their tails. Males have long tails that extend well past the edge of their top shell. In contrast, females have short tails that end at or before the edge of the shell.
- Check for long foreclaws and overlapping scales on the bottom of the front feet. Male yellow-bellied sliders have longer foreclaws than females, and overlapping scales on the bottom of their front feet look like fringes or fringe-like toes called gular scales.
Should You Breed Them at All?
It is not recommended to breed yellow-bellied sliders because they lay numerous eggs. Once these eggs hatch, the baby turtles are released into the wild, where they become invasive.
However, if you want to breed them, you must follow these guidelines:
- Pick suitable males and females. The appropriate age is five years old for females and three years for males.
- Adhere to specific temperatures and humidity to breed successfully. Artificial lighting that mimics natural sunlight is necessary for them to reproduce.
- Create space for turtles to move freely. When moving them to a tank for breeding purposes, ensure enough space to move around so that they are comfortable enough to breed.
- Feed them well. A balanced diet for turtles consists of good fruit, vegetables, worms, and snails.
Can Yellow-Bellied Sliders Lay Eggs Without Mating?
Domesticated yellow-bellied sliders do not need to be fertilized by a male because of the phenomenon known as parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis occurs when an unfertilized egg develops into an embryo without being fertilized by a male’s sperm.
Most yellow-bellied slider turtles can lay eggs without mating with a male, but these eggs will be infertile and not hatch. For fertile, hatchable eggs, the turtles must mate with each other.
According to Science Direct, turtles usually mate once a year and store sperm for several years, which means they could make eggs even if they haven’t been near a male in some time.
Do Yellow-Bellied Sliders Make Noise When Mating?
Yellow-bellied sliders make noise while mating. This is particularly true for the males, and it is believed that they make sounds to attract females during the breeding season.
The male turtle makes a humming sound by pressing his body against the ground and then shaking his head from side to side.
Usually, male turtles will make a lot of noise when mating. You will hear sounds similar to that of a squeaky toy. This is especially true for yellow-bellied sliders as they are very vocal when it comes to mating, and they may even start fighting, but this is their way of showing how much they love each other.
What Happens if a Turtle Lays Eggs in Water?
When a turtle lays eggs in water, there is a possibility that the eggs will be stillborn, or they could get infected/infested with parasites. The temperature of the water can also affect the eggs. The eggs need to be moved to a dry area at around 80°F (27°C).
The female will probably do this herself, but you can gently move the eggs if it doesn’t. Keep the eggs in a dark, moist place until they hatch.
How Do I Hatch Yellow-Bellied Slider Eggs at Home?
You can hatch yellow-bellied slider eggs at home by mimicking a nest or by using an incubator. The most important thing is to keep the eggs at a constant temperature and moisture level, mimicking the conditions found in the wild.
You can hatch the eggs at home using one of the following methods:
- Once the eggs are removed, they should be placed in a container filled with a 50/50 mix of vermiculite and perlite. You should then cover the eggs with another layer of the mixture of vermiculite and perlite.
- You will want to make sure that you do not disturb the eggs at this point. Keeping the temperature at 82°F (28°C) and the humidity level at around 75% would be best. After 40-60 days, the eggs should begin to hatch.
- Place your slider eggs in an incubator at 82°F (28°C) or higher but below 86°F (30°C). The temperature should not fluctuate more than 1.8°F (1°C) during their incubation period. Hatching will take approximately two months.
To keep the temperature stable, set up several thermometers around the incubator and check them regularly to make sure they are reading correctly.
Once you understand the process behind breeding sliders, it is easier to accomplish and less intimidating. The key to breeding yellow bellies is to provide a healthy environment that caters to the required temperatures of not less than 50 °F.
As soon as you know how to differentiate males from females and understand the sexual maturity requirements for the two, you will be well on your way to introducing them to each other for successful mating.