Yellow Bellied Sliders

Are Yellow-Bellied Slider Turtles Good Pets?

If you’re considering a pet, but you don’t want a common one like a cat or dog, a turtle might be a good fit for you. All you have to do is plonk them into a tank and you’re set — or are you? Given your relative unfamiliarity with them, do yellow-bellied slider turtles make good pets? 

Yellow-bellied slider turtles can make good pets. They have a friendly temperament and are relatively easy to care for. For one, they don’t require walks and are unlikely to get fur all over your bed. They’re also entertaining because of how active and adorable they are. 

In this article, I’ll talk about everything you need to know about yellow-bellied sliders. I’ll cover (among other things) what makes them good pets, how you can tell them apart from other turtles, what their personalities are like, and how to choose one. 

Are Yellow-Bellied Slider Turtles Good Pets?

Yellow-bellied slider turtles are good pets because they’re energetic and interesting. They have distinct personalities hiding in their tiny, scaly green bodies. Also, they love to stay active, and they’re easy to care for compared to cats and dogs.

Here are other reasons yellow-bellied slider turtles make great pets.

  • They’re great pets for beginners. Turtles can be a great starter pet for children. For one, they’re not likely to make a mess in the house.
  • They’re self-sufficient. Besides the need for food and cleaning the tank, turtles are very independent and don’t need as much attention as a dog or cat. These make a turtle the perfect pet for someone who works long hours or doesn’t want extra responsibilities like walking the pet, etc. 
  • They’re quiet. Yellow-bellied sliders don’t make any sort of noise. That makes them excellent companions for those who live in an apartment complex and don’t want their neighbors complaining about barking or yowling. 
  • They’re relaxing. You can enjoy watching them swim and play around in their tanks which is very therapeutic. 
  • They’re easy to deal with. These turtles are diurnal — meaning they’re active during the day and sleep at night. They love to swim, bask, and eat food. They’re also nice and rarely get aggressive towards their owner. The only time they will bite you is if they mistake your hand for food if you’re hand-feeding them (which, to be fair, is something you should be mindful of in the first place). 

What Do They Look Like?

Yellow-bellied slider turtles have distinctive black and yellow markings. According to the Reptile Guide, the sides and bottom of the shell are a bright yellow with three to four black spots on each side of the shell. The top of their shell is a dark brown or green with black and orange wavy lines.

As these turtles age, their shells get darker, and the male turtles can have a shell that’s almost all black. Their shells are flat and smooth, which helps them swim and is perfect for getting more sun when basking. Yellow-bellied sliders have webbed toes to help them swim and long sharp claws to build nests and climb on things like logs and rocks. 

Are They Rare?

Yellow-bellied slider turtles are not rare. They are classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (version 2.3) as “least concern,” meaning they are one of the most common species and are not likely to be endangered. Also, these turtles are a very popular house pet. 

If anything, the turtles are an invasive species in some areas across the United States. Their large population is mainly due to irresponsible pet owners releasing them into the wild. These sliders also do well in captivity, so they won’t become endangered any time soon. 

How Big Do Yellow Belly Slider Turtles Get?

Yellow-bellied sliders can get 5 to 13 inches (13 to 33 cm) big, depending on the turtle’s gender. Female yellow-bellied sliders are slightly larger than males, growing to 8 to 13 inches (21 to 33 cm) to the male’s 5 to 9 inches (13 to 23 cm). 

During a slider’s first few years, it can live in a 40-gallon (0.15 cu. m.) tank. After that, it will need a 75-100 gallon (0.28-0.38 cu. m.) tank. As your turtle grows, so will its need for space to swim and bask since yellow-bellied sliders are pretty active.

How Fast Do They Grow?

Yellow-bellied sliders grow rapidly from the time they hatch until their adult years.

They’re 1 inch (2.5 cm) long upon hatching and reach about 4 inches (10 cm) by the time they turn a year old. After that, they grow about 1 inch per year (2.5 cm per year) until they get to their adult size.

Once yellow-bellied sliders reach adulthood, their growth rate significantly slows down. 

How Long Do Yellow Belly Slider Turtles Live?

Healthy yellow-bellied slider turtles can live for about 40 years. However, other turtles can live up to 100 years. It’s possible your turtle will live long enough to get passed down to your descendants. Make sure you’re ready for this long-term commitment before getting a turtle as a pet. 

How Intelligent Are Yellow Belly Slider Turtles?

Yellow-bellied sliders are relatively intelligent. Although they aren’t the smartest turtle, they can recognize their owner and associate food with that person. Some owners claim they can teach their sliders tricks by using treats.

Do They Have a Good Temperament?

Yellow-bellied slider turtles have a good temperament. In fact, they’re great when it comes to their owners. These turtles are active and love food. Once they get comfortable with their owner, they move about their tank to follow their owner as they walk around the room.

However, these turtles don’t get along with other turtles and are very territorial. It’s recommended that you don’t house them with other turtles. 

Also, yellow-bellied sliders aren’t fans of cuddling. It’s best if you don’t pick them up to hold. Handling causes them stress, and they will hide in their shell. 

How Much Do They Cost?

Yellow-bellied sliders can cost anywhere from $20 to $100. Juvenile turtles are usually around $20-$40, and adult turtles can be $60-$100. The cost can vary depending on the seller, whether they come with things like food, tank, etc. 

How Much Will the Tank and Accessories Cost?

The tank and accessories will cost about 0-0 for a yellow-bellied slider. To have a proper habitat for your turtle, you’ll need a tank, filter, pump, basking rock, heater, and fake plants. You can find these items at local pet stores or online.

Where To Buy One

Yellow-bellied sliders are found in various pet stores across the United States. You can buy them from the physical stores of big chains like Petco and Petsmart, or get them shipped straight to your home. If you’re looking for adult turtles, you can check Facebook groups and similar sites to see if any are for sale.

Be careful when you buy yellow-bellied sliders online, though. It’s possible the seller may be a scammer, or if they do have a turtle, the animal may not be adequately cared for. If you need to have one shipped to your home (as opposed to buying from a pet store), I recommend doing it through a reputable pet store’s official site. 

Choosing a Happy and Healthy Yellow-Bellied Slider Explained

When choosing a slider, you want to make sure the one you get is healthy. Make sure you get your slider from a legitimate company or pet store, as both of these are likely to have well-cared for animals. To choose the best yellow-bellied slider for you, you’ll want to find out what age you want and look for the signs of a clean bill of health.

What Age Should They Be?

Yellow-bellied sliders don’t have a specific age they “should” be when you buy them as a pet. Most turtles are purchased when they’re juveniles, although you can buy them as adults. That said, you’ll hardly see turtles less than 4 inches (10 cm) long on the market due to their salmonella risk.

According to the Humane Society, the sale of turtles with a shell less than 4 inches (10 cm) long was banned in 1975 because small turtles were known to carry salmonella. So, make sure you’re buying a turtle at the appropriate size to avoid salmonella and breaking the law.

How To Know if They Are Healthy

Animals can’t speak for themselves to let you know whether they’re healthy or sick. As I said earlier, yellow-bellied sliders don’t make noise at all — which is great for keeping the peace with your neighbors, but not-so-great when deciding whether your turtle is in pain or not. 

A healthy yellow-bellied slider turtle will show these signs:

  • An even-colored shell that has no abrasions on it
  • Eating the right amount of food
  • Strong and active swimming

If the turtle isn’t healthy, it will show signs such as: 

  • Red and white patches on its shell
  • Floating on the water instead of swimming 
  • Swollen or closed eyes

Final Thoughts

Yellow-bellied sliders are an excellent pet for all ages, which makes them popular. They have great personalities, are relatively easy to care for, recognize their owners, and don’t make much of a mess or noise.

However, make sure you’re ready for a lifelong commitment because these turtles can live up to 40 years. The average cost to get everything you need for the turtle is $300 to $400. When choosing a turtle, make sure you get one that’s bigger than 4 inches (10 cm) long and is showing all the signs of health.


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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