Yellow Bellied Sliders

Why Is My Yellow-Bellied Slider Not Basking? Causes & What to Do

When you’re raising a turtle, you get to know their behavior and how they tend to spend their days, so it can be a bit worrying when your slider isn’t doing what you expect. If your yellow-bellied slider is not basking, you will want to know why and what you should do about it.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about how your yellow belly should be basking, what might explain a change in basking behavior, and what you should do to get your turtle back to its normal self.

What is Normal Basking Behavior for Yellow-Bellied Sliders?

Like most turtles, yellow-bellied sliders will normally spend a lot of their time basking under UV light. They are diurnal animals, meaning they are most active during the day, but that doesn’t mean they are always on the go.

Your yellow-bellied slider should be visiting its basking spot periodically to dry off and get some rest. During this time, they are also absorbing UV rays and gaining some of the energy that they need to be active and healthy.

Although yellow bellies spend most of their time in the water, you should be able to see them taking some time to bask regularly. Most turtles bask at least once a day for around three hours, though some can spend up to nine hours basking.

Why Isn’t He Basking?

There are a few reasons why your turtle might not be basking the way that you expect. Most often, a yellow-bellied slider is not basking normally because:

  • They are not used to a new environment.
  • Their basking area doesn’t meet their needs.
  • The temperature of their water or basking area is too low.
  • They are finding it hard to reach their basking area.
  • They are stressed.
  • They are overly lethargic.

The other possibility is that your turtle is basking – they are just doing it when you are not around. Many turtles need to feel safe before they are willing to come out of the water and rest in the heat, and having anybody else around can discourage them. Try setting up a webcam for a day to see if your turtle basks when you aren’t around.

How Long Can They Go Without Basking?

Turtles can go for some time without basking, but it will become a problem after a day or two. Usually, turtles will start to run low on Vitamin D and become sluggish if they don’t bask for over 24 hours.

Yellow-bellied sliders need UV light to form healthy shells and strong bones, and they rely on basking in order to feel energetic. For their health, your turtle should be basking every single day.

Should You Force Them to Bask?

It can be very worrying when you think your turtle is not basking, but you should not force it. Moving your yellow-bellied slider against their will and forcing them under a heat light can be very stressful for them, which may contribute to the reason they are not basking in the first place.

Instead of forcing your turtle to bask, you should make sure that the conditions are right so that they will start basking on their own.

What Can I Do to Make Them Bask?

To get your slider basking normally again, you should first make sure that their basking area is suitable for their needs. What you are trying to do is replicate a nice sunny spot that they would choose to visit in the wild.

To set up a basking area:

  • Make it easily accessible, with a ramp
  • Heat it to between 90 and 95-degrees Fahrenheit
  • Use a 60-watt or 100-watt basking bulb
  • Do not have the bulb too close, or in a position where it can be splashed
  • Keep the heating light on for 10-12 hours a day

If your basking area is perfect for your turtle, but they are still not basking normally, you should focus on other aspects of their overall health and wellbeing.

Make sure that their water is clean and at the right temperature (75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit for adult turtles, a bit warmer for hatchlings). Ensure that they are well fed and are not being stressed out by outside influences, like other pets. If your yellow-bellied slider is showing any signs of ill health, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Why Is He Always in the Water?

Yellow-bellied sliders love being in the water and will naturally spend most of their time swimming. Some sliders will even find a shallow area in which to bask, rather than exiting the water completely every time.

Don’t be too worried if your turtle is not getting out of the water very often, but they should still be basking every day. Setting up a webcam can help you to see exactly how much time your turtle is spending drying out under the heating lamps.

Is Your Yellow-Bellied Slider Not Basking? The Conclusion

If your yellow-bellied slider is not basking it is likely because their basking area is not suitable, or they are otherwise a little uncomfortable in their habitat. These turtles should be basking every day in order to stay healthy and happy, so you need to make sure that they have the right space in which to do so.

It is also possible that your slider is basking, just not when you’re around.

If you have everything set up perfectly for your turtle but you are still worried about their behavior, you should get in touch with your veterinarian to see if there is anything medical that may be going on.


Chris is a reptile enthusiast, breeder, and blogger from the Milwaukee, WI area. After breeding hundreds of bearded dragons to supply local pet stores and owning many other types of reptiles, he is now focused on sharing knowledge to help owners properly care for their little reptiles friends.

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