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FAQs About Yellow Bellied Slider Turtles Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related Articles: Turtles, Shell Rot in Turtles, Amphibians, Red Eared Slider Care,

FAQs on: Yellow Bellied Sliders/YBS/Cooters 1, YBS 2, YBS 3, YBS 4,
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Yellow Bellied Slider turtles       5/10/17
I need some advice on my two yellow bellied slider turtles.
<Sure! Seems like this message has been "maturing" awhile in somebody's inbox, but let's see if I can help...>
I purchased these two almost 3 yrs ago as a birthday gift for my daughter.
<Hmm... the usual reminder to other folks: pets make poor presents unless the recipient has specifically asked for them, and is able/willing to provide the necessary long-term care, which in the case of Sliders is something around 20+ years.>
She has decided to not keep them any longer at her father's house and I have moved them back to my place today.
<Thank you for taking them back. Shelters are overwhelmed with unwanted Sliders and other freshwater turtles.>
I noticed that the smaller of the two seems to be favoring the back right leg and the tail.
<May be injured, but "metabolic bone disease" (MBD) is more likely. Lack of UV-B lighting and insufficient calcium in their diet is a MAJOR cause of such problems in pet reptiles. Can be improved through better diet and
calcium supplements, though the actual damage might never heal 100%. So do review their (previous) behaviour and diet, and look to see if there are signs of physical trauma (a bite or bruise, for example) or else if everything looks okay from the outside, but the limbs aren't working properly. If the latter, then MBD is fairly likely. A vet can help, as can some reading, here:
Check the UV-B lamp is working/no more than 12 months old (they wear out within 6-12 months, after which point they might be "on" but not pushing out enough invisible UV-B to be useful. Revise diet as needed, adding a
calcium source to their usual feed.>
I have observed the larger of the two attacking the smaller one. I have tried to look for details as to whether the smaller one is a male and the larger one is a female, as I had requested two females when I purchased them as babies.
<Males smaller, but have longer claws on their 'hands'.>
However, I am concerned about why the one is tucking his/her leg and tail inside it's body. I see some scales hanging onto the leg. I am going to separate them for tonight by putting the smaller one in a plastic bin and
keeping it inside the main tank. However, I need to know if I should 1.
seek vet care for the smaller one or if this will repair itself
<Visiting a vet is always a good idea, funds allowing. Some animal rescue charities can help too, providing low-cost or free vet services.>
and 2. should I remove the turtle from the tank so that it can heal?
<If there's no obvious wound, then no need to remove from the water. If they're fighting, then separation will be useful, but if they're not fighting, then no need to separate them. Do bear in mind turtles aren't social, and they both need access to the UV-B lamp for some of the time each day. Sometimes creating two separate basking spots helps. Perhaps one under the heat lamp, one under the UV-B lamp. Even better to use two combo heat-UV-B lamps, but whatever works best for you.>
I read an article where if a turtle is injured that water only keeps it infected due to the bacteria in the water.
<If there's an open wound, then yes, "docking" is a good idea. But if there isn't a wound, there's no particular advantage to this.>
However, I am concerned about whether an aquatic turtle can survive outside of water.
<Yes, indefinitely, if bathed in water for 30-60 minutes a day for feeding and drinking (they can't do either on land, really) but will otherwise be fine kept dry.>
Please give me advice, otherwise, if my boyfriend has his way, he'll turn them into turtle soup (just kidding).
<Sorry if this is late, but hope of use! Have cc'ed our turtle expert just in case I've missed something. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Yellow Bellied Slider turtles       5/10/17

Thank you for your response.
Since emailing you, things have gotten better between the two. Bigger one has longer claws than smaller one.
<Likely the male.>
Smaller one is NOW fighting back whenever bigger one is aggressive. It will push it's claws into other's face and shove it away. Or it will tuck its back legs/tail and swim away. It will put its back away from the bigger one.
Leg looks better, no scales flaking off. So it seems that they are getting along better. I have a 75 gallon tank, so plenty of room to swim for both.
I have two docks under lights for both to rest on.
<Good. Just be careful with the UV-B; it's crucial, but often overlooked, and saves a lot of money in the long run.>
Their diet is 65% plant matter and 35% protein (consisting of crickets, super worms). Plant matter is organic kale, romaine, shredded carrots. As the greens come into season, I will add them to the mix.
<All sounds ideal. But again, do think about calcium. While there's some in leafy plants, there's not a lot, and very little in insects. What you really want to do is dust small bits of meaty food, like earthworms or tiny bits of fish, with calcium powder (easily found in reptile stores, or simply grind up some cuttlebone). This will dump lots of calcium into the turtle, and if you do this once or twice a week, you'll be fine. Some turtles will actually eat cuttlebone directly, so try putting a small bit in their tank and letting them have a nibble. I've seen terrestrial turtles
(tortoises) go for cooked bones from the barbecue, but this probably isn't as healthy.>
As for asking for turtles, my daughter had asked for them. I had consulted with the ex-husband to ensure that he would assist in the care of them.
However, they both decided to half-ass the care. So, they are back with me and doing well.
<Thank you for doing this. They're nice pets, but like reptiles generally, you have to do a fair amount up front to keep them healthy. Compared to cats and dogs, they're a lot less hassle over their lifespan, but it's the up front expense that often causes problems for less than perfect pet-owners.>
As for social, I had researched and asked the company that I bought them from about whether I should have two or just one. They said that two would be fine, so that is why I requested both females.
<Hmm... kind of sort of. The flip side to females is egg-binding; do read on WWM re: this topic. It's not common, but not unheard of either, even when females are kept singly. A single male is actually probably the easiest way to keep turtles.>
I realize that at the size they were when babies, you can't tell, so it is possible that they are 1. both males or 2. one male/one female.
Again, thanks for the response.
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Yellow bellied slider       10/30/15
Hi there,
I have a yellow bellied slider, he is approx. 1.5 years old. He has not eaten in 2MONTHS!!!
<Scary but not lethal. Is the turtle otherwise active? Swimming? Basking?
If he is, then we can probably fix this. But if he's lethargic, doesn't move about much, that's much less promising. Reptiles have a slow metabolism and die slowly. You can literally be killing them for weeks, even months, without realising it.>
The turtle is set up in a 20 gallon tank, with a 40 gallon filtration system. He has river rock on the bottom. Two different rocks to pick from out of the water. One is a basking area with a UVB bulb and a heating bulb.
The other rock does not have any bulbs over it. Clean tank every 3-4 weeks.
Temperature in water ranges from 74-80F.
<No need to warm the water, so I'd take the heater out, if there is one.
These turtles warm up on the riverbank, then dip into the cold water to feed. So room temperature water is absolutely fine, so long as they've got a nice warm basking spot.>
For the past 2 months my turtle will not eat. He does not want to move around either.
<Not good.>
I took him to the vet about a month ago and vet suggested to change up his habitat, take him out side for some unfiltered Vit D, and in till he eats Gatorade/Pedi lite-water ratio bath.
<Not sure Gatorade would help unless he was a 'gator, which he's not!>
I have tried all suggestions and nothing has worked. I don't know have the money to take turtle back to vet. Is their any suggestion? home remedies?
<Let's start with the basics. What foods are you offering him? Any fresh greens? Bunches of plain vanilla goldfish pond weed is a good start.
Trivial cost, but readily eaten by most turtles. Also try things like earthworms as meaty treats. They don't need many of these, but as occasional treats they're easy to find (but obviously avoid anywhere recently sprayed with pesticides) and very nutritious. I'd also review the environment. For example, when was the last time you changed the UV-B and heating lamps? Most of these have 6-12 month lifespans, and beyond these points UV-B lamps especially won't produce enough "good" light to keep your pet healthy. Review, and act accordingly. I've cc'ed our turtle guru Darrel in case I've missed something, and would also encourage to do some reading:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Yellow bellied slider       10/30/15

He is not really active. Some days he will be, but over all no. He stays on his rock and does not move.
<Very bad sign.>
There is no heater in the actual water, but I do have a heat bulb on the top angling into the water. The vet I took him to stated he need to have a hot side and a cold side. So I have the heat bulb shining on one side to heat of one side of the tank/water.
<Fair enough.>
I have never heard of the Gatorade or Pedi lite either but was another vet suggestion. She stated that mixing half water/ half Gatorade or Pedi lite in a shallow bowl for 30min to a 1 hr would help get nutrients/vitamins into his system.
<Not really how this works. Turtles may well drink water they're sitting in, but hardly enough to compensate for lack of nutrition, surely?>
I have tried feeding him everything from dried shrimp, dried mealworms, dried anchovies, to turtle pellets ( different kinds, shapes and brands).
But no plants or living things. What is the best place to get some of these items you have listed at?
<I get earthworms out of my garden. I'd buy pond weed from a garden centre.
Nothing terribly complicated in either, I'd assume.>
I changed over the UVB a month ago, right after seeing the vet. She stated that all bulbs expire and should try to change every 6 months. So I went out and changed all bulbs.
<Wise move. Let's wait until Darrel chimes in. I'm at a loss to explain specifically what's wrong, except the very general advice that reptiles in the right conditions eat well, but in the wrong conditions will go on hunger strike. Unlike mammals, which run out of energy very quickly, a few days with small mammals, reptiles can "fast" for weeks or months at a time,
which can make a serious problem look like something trivial because nothing seems to be happening. Force feeding is possible with reptiles, but you do need help from an expert reptile-keeper or vet. Don't try it unless you have appropriate advice close to hand. If you dislocate the jaw, then the animal WILL starve to death, end of story. My guess would be that the turtle is either too cold or chronically short of vitamins, and that's why it's inactive and consequently not feeding. Get the animal active and its appetite should return (note the order in which these happen, you aren't feeding him to get him active). Consulting with a reptile-friendly vet could be a major step in the right direction, not least of all through a vitamin shot (which often helps with reptiles, jump starting everything else). Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Yellow bellied slider       10/30/15

Thank you for all your help.
Not sure exactly to what extent this would help, just trying out every suggestion I have gotten to see if anything works.
Is earthworms from somewhere like PetCo ok?
<I suppose so. Not mealworms. Earthworms; terrestrial Oligochaetes.
Sometimes called "nightcrawlers" in the Colonies.>
But just plain ol goldfish will be fine in the tank and ok for him to eat?
<Not Goldfish! NOT a safe food for turtles.>
Is there a specific type or any fine? What exactly Is pond weed? I looked up on Google and was confused on what is considered pond weed.
<Pondweed is things like Elodea and Egeria species. Dark green stems with short, curly leaves.>
That the main problem I am running into is I am short on the money and can not afford to take to the vet. I can afford the smaller changes, but the vet bill and all test I can not afford. So any suggestions you have I will try, otherwise we will wait and see.
<Sadly animals (and illness) do not respect financial situations. This animal needs a proper medical check-up. If finances prohibit, there are animal welfare charities out there that can help. In the UK, the PDSA for example; in your part of the world, may be others. DO find a national or local reptile/exotic pet club or forum, DO ask questions from those folks
as to who might offer veterinarian assistance. DO NOT expect things to magically get better by themselves. If he's not eaten for two months, then seriously, he's very, VERY stressed and/or sick indeed, and needs prompt attention. At minimum, a vitamin shot and antibiotics, I'd have thought.>
I forgot to also mention that I think he is shedding. The vet said that was possible do to the light pink color on his belly.
<Light pink is not a good colour on turtle shells. Can be a sign of bacterial or fungal infection. Sniff, and check for bad smells or suspiciously soft/friable material.>
With that being said on the outer rim of his shell, top, and belly there are almost clear like pieces that are wanting to come off. This is my first turtle so im not sure if that exactly what that is.
<Probably moulting. Normal.>
Could that keep him from not eating. Thanks again for all your help. I have also read all the info in the links you provided.
<Let's see what Darrel has to say. Cheers, Neale.>
Yellow bellied slider         <Darrel's input>       10/31/15

Hi there,
I have a yellow bellied slider, he is approx. 1.5 years old. He has not eaten in 2MONTHS!!!
<<While they can go on huger strikes, this is unusual and as stated, not a good sign>>
The turtle is set up in a 20 gallon tank, with a 40 gallon filtration
system. He has river rock on the bottom. Two different rocks to pick from out of the water. One is a basking area with a UVB bulb and a heating bulb. The other rock does not have any bulbs over it. Clean tank every 3-4 weeks. Temperature in water ranges from 74-80F.
<<That water is a bit warm, but if that is the room temperature there isn’t much you can do about that. Ideally we want the water cool and the air warm and let the little guy decide which is right for him at any moment>>
For the past 2 months my turtle will not eat. He does not want to move
around either. I took him to the vet about a month ago and vet suggested to change up his habitat, take him out side for some unfiltered Vit D, and in till he eats Gatorade/Pedi lite-water ratio bath.
<<That’s an interesting idea, but it doesn’t really work like that. If the little guy is not eating he’s probably not drinking and even if he was drinking, the amount of Pedialite he’d get from the water is minimal. That said, it can’t hurt!>>
I have tried all suggestions and nothing has worked. I don't know have the money to take turtle back to vet. Is their any suggestion? home remedies?
<<I understand. What I would have suggested is that the vet give him a general purpose multi-vitamin injection and a Calcium Gluconate injection>>
He is not really active. Some days he will be, but over all no. He stays on his rock and does not move.
<Very bad sign.>
<<Not a GOOD sign certainly, but if there are days he’s active, that works in our favor>>
There is no heater in the actual water, but I do have a heat bulb on the top angling into the water. The vet I took him to stated he need to have a hot side and a cold side. So I have the heat bulb shining on one side to heat of one side of the tank/water.
<Fair enough.>
<<Again, that’s not going to help you here, so read on>>
I have never heard of the Gatorade or Pedi lite either but was another vet suggestion. She stated that mixing half water/ half Gatorade or Pedi lite in a shallow bowl for 30min to a 1 hr would help get nutrients/vitamins into his system.
<Not really how this works. Turtles may well drink water they're sitting in, but hardly enough to compensate for lack of nutrition, surely?>
I have tried feeding him everything from dried shrimp, dried mealworms,
dried anchovies, to turtle pellets ( different kinds, shapes and brands). But no plants or living things. What is the best place to get some of these items you have listed at?
<I get earthworms out of my garden. I'd buy pond weed from a garden centre. Nothing terribly complicated in either, I'd assume.>
I changed over the UVB a month ago, right after seeing the vet. She stated that all bulbs expire and should try to change every 6 months. So I went out and changed all bulbs.
<<Assuming we’re dealing with a sick turtle, let’s treat him that way. First step is to dry-dock him. Take him out of his normal environment and give one that is warm and dry. This will ease, if only a tiny bit, his metabolism and perhaps help him fight off whatever is causing his malaise. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm  I would treat him as if he had a respiratory infection and follow those rules>>
<<Now when it comes time to bathe him (if you read, he gets a daily bath) try offering him a tiny piece of beef or chicken liver. Start with his bath, and just when it’s time to put him back in dry dock, put a piece no bigger than the size of your pinky finger nail in the water. Not in front of him, but near his front half. The liver will immediately fill the water with it’s oil and if he’s connected at all to his senses he’ll smell & taste it. If he doesn’t eat in 5 minutes, put him back in dry dock, toss out the liver and the water and repeat again the next day.>>
<<When you catch him on an active day the liver is the best thing to spur his appetite and it has the advantage of having more essential nutrients in each bite that just about any other food he could have>>

YBS not eating        1/5/15
I have a pair of yellow belly sliders. I've had them for about 6 years now, since they were about 1.5" in length. The female is now 8" long and the male is about 6". They're in a 40g breeder tank (I'm building the stand for a 75g right now, ) with an Odyssea CFS-700 filter and a large basking dock which also includes a sand box for laying eggs (see attached picture.)
<That's a clever setup you have there!>
This year we haven't had a very cold winter here in Florida and the tank temp has stayed at 78 degrees as usual.
<That's actually a little warm. When you think about it, you won't find many lakes or streams in their natural habitat that are almost 78 degrees>
My problem is, neither of the turtles have eaten anything in about 5 or 6 weeks. Usually both of them stop eating when the female is going to lay eggs, but she only laid one clutch of eggs this year and this is not her normal time to lay. They both still get in the water and on the dock on their own. I don't do water changes as often as I probably should, but the
water tests for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and ph are normal and I add 4-5 gallons of water every week from evaporation.
<Turtles don't require the water quality that fish require. Just about any water quality that wouldn't offend your nose as you approached - is good enough for them>
<My guess is that the day/night cycle has triggered the natural slowing of their appetite as they prepare for winter -- even though the winter never actually comes.>
<You could set light for a few more hours a day and see if that changes their behavior, but if it was me, I'm wait another month before I'd worry about it. My Sliders are here in Southern California and they've had nothing to eat since Thanksgiving and won't until the end of March>
Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Yellow Bellied Slider Won't Eat     11/11/14
We have had a six year old, male red eared slider and a five year old female yellow bellied slider together for five years. They got along great. I normally take them out for regular sunlight but this time the RES wandered off and we still haven't found him.
<They are VERY fast when no one is looking. Look for him buried at the base of bushes, under rocks, etc. For reasons I've never understood they frequently go to a dark place and burrow into the ground>
We tried a store bought res, but is was obviously from a pond and didn't want to be in a tank so we set him free in a friend pond. (He looked and acted very healthy.)
<As a general rule, please don't release animals into the wild - or even into a friend's pond unless you know they'll be taken care of.>
Since my YBS has been alone, she has slowly stopped eating and will only sit on her basking pad. She hardly opens her eyes and won't even east hand fed snacks. We even added a Pleco and goldfish to keep her company as she has already been very easy going. We allow her free roam time in the house every other day for about 45 minutes to an hour but nothing seems to work. We are doing a 50% water change, vacuuming the rocks (we have medium sized river rocks) and are cleaning the filter. Other than that, and I assume she is depressed, can you make any suggestions?
<I wouldn't suspect that she's depressed - not in the human sense. But change is sometimes something that upsets their routine.>
<The first thing to note is that if she's otherwise healthy she can go months without eating and have no ill effects, so if this is just in the last week, leave her alone - giver her three weeks before worrying. In fact - stop trying to feed her for a week. No food, no commotion in her tank, no disturbances, just let her be.>
< If she hasn’t eaten in three weeks, take her out of her tank and place her somewhere warm and dry (I use a cardboard box with high sides and a heating pad in the bottom) and leaver here there under a UV-B lamp for 3 or 4 days. Then place her in shallow tub of luke-warm water. After she's been in that for 5 or 10 minutes, offer her an earthworm or a very small piece of chicken or beef liver. If she doesn't eat, put her back in the warm box for 3 more days and try again. When she's hungry enough, she'll eat>

Constipated Yellow Bellied Sliders    9/27/14
I have 2 yellow bellied sliders and I haven't seen ANY poop in their tank for a week. This has not happened before. They are very active though and have a great appetite so I don't know what to think. I left them with my mom for 3 days (I haven't seen poop since) and she may have fed them more than I do, but other than that, nothing changed in their routine. What is happening and what should I do? Please answer asap. Thank you!
<How much and what sort of fresh green foods do you offer them? Turtle pellets aren't a good staple, despite the advertising. Stop feeding them entirely, if used, and only offer your turtles fresh greens. Pond weed sold for Goldfish tanks works great. Dump it in their tank, and when they're hungry (which may take many days if they've been spoiled with high protein foods) they'll eat them. More fibre means more faeces, and that's what you're after. Once things back to normal, bias their diet with green foods, using pellets sparingly. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Constipated Yellow Bellied Sliders     9/28/14

Thank you! But it turns out that they do poop, but one of them eats it..which is very strange. I am not sure what that means, but I don't think it is healthy.
<Indeed not.>
But thank you for the diet tips, I did not know that pellets are not enough. I will make sure to include greens in their diet. Do you know what I could do about him eating the poop?
<Nothing directly, but if given enough bulky green foods, as well as unshelled krill and similar crunchy morsels, they should feel less "hungry". Much like humans; the more fibre we eat, the less crap/junk we
snack on!>
Thank you again :)
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Yellow Bellied Slider Snaps at food when eating      4/11/13
Hi, there. :)
<Hi there back! Sue here with you.>
My name is Rachael, I live in Ireland and I have a female yellow bellied slider, who I have had for 2-3 years. She is in a 120L tank that is half-full of water with a 4 month old Repti Glo 2.0 UV light.
<I’m not as familiar with the Repti Glo.  Reptisun 5.0 bulbs have gotten very good reviews for the quality of their UVB.>
<Also – do you have a heat lamp as well above the basking area? If not, you should have this also.>
She has a floating basking area affixed to the wall of the tank by suckers. She also has a small but powerful filter, and a cuttlefish bone. There's no heater.
<Nice set-up! Sounds great so far.>
I'm currently away at university, so my mother is minding her. She is fed every other day, and we give her enough food to fill her head (minus her neck).
<That’s a good measure. Another way you can do it is to feed her all she can eat in 5 minutes.>
Half of it would be vegetables (sometimes fruit as a treat about once a week), a quarter would be dried shrimp (mum refuses to touch the dried mealworms for the time being, but if they're necessary, I'm sure she'll man up XD), and the other quarter would be Koi pellets.
<Hmm, if you’re saying Koi pellets you must have read our website!  The only thing I’d change (which may make your mom even less happy!) is that I’d substitute a real live earthworm or two for the dried shrimp and mealworms (these are the turtle version of junk food!), and only give the earthworms as a treat once every few weeks or so, not as part of her regular meal.>
We feed her in a separate basin half full of water, but put her back in before she has a chance to poop. Should we leave her until after? I think the basin is a little colder than her tank. She can walk around in it.
<The small temperature drop for that period of time is not a problem. It’s really up to you. I find with mine that they poop shortly after they eat so I’ll usually give them a few extra minutes. However, when I do this I scoop out any uneaten food so they don’t overeat.>
My mother tells me that recently when feeding the turtle, she puts her head out of the water and opens her mouth in anticipation of being fed and snaps at the food more aggressively than before. She only does these things when being fed. Is this normal? Is she just excited about feeding and more confident now that she's so familiar with us now?
<That but also likely that he's just going through a hungry spell! I sometimes find with my turtles that their appetite seems to perk up a bit in the springtime, even though they're indoor turtles. The important thing is not to give in to them and overfeed them!>
Also, the last time I went to visit (February), her poo was slightly runny, and a lightish brown. Is this normal? Do I need to change her diet, or is there a parasite problem?
<How has it been since February? If it’s been fine since then, I wouldn’t worry about it.>
When I got her, her shell was already almost four inches long, but I'm not sure how old she is, because the pet store was taking brutal care of the turtles (their tank was far too small and the water was filthy and full of old, mouldy food.)
<Unfortunately this is too often the rule rather than the exception.>
She hasn't grown much in the two years that I got her. She's only about 4-4.5 inches long. Am I doing something wrong?
<Not from what you’ve written here! Her growth rate is typical; turtles tend to have a growth spurt up until they reach 4-5” at which point their growth rate tends to slow down. So she seems to be right on target!>
Her bulb is about six inches away from her basking area, and she has a cuttlefish bone for calcium that she chews on occasionally.
<All sounds great!>
Any help would be much appreciated. :) Thank you!
<No problem! It sounds like you’ve been a very good turtle mom to her so far! The only thing I’d add is to give a read through our care guide just to make sure you have everything covered!
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<Good luck with her Rachael, and feel free to write us again if any more questions or concerns pop up! ~ Sue >
Re: Yellow Bellied Slider Snaps at food when eating      4/15/13

Thank you very much for all your help. I really appreciate it. It's great to know that I'm doing okay. :)
<You’re very welcome! It’s nice when we receive questions from people who have taken the time to research how to properly care for their pets as you have!>
I'll fix her up with a heat lamp as soon as possible.
<Yes, she definitely needs to have that with the UVB. It’s the combination of the two that help with their digestion of food and maintaining a health shell and bones. You want to aim for a basking temperature of around 88-90 degrees F (or 31-31 degrees C).>
I'm not sure how I'm going to go about doing that. (It's actually a fish tank.) The long, UV light bulb screws straight into the lid, and the only flat area on the lid is straight over the bulb. Would it be okay if we cut a hole in the lid and put the heat lamp was over the UV bulb? It wouldn't overheat and start a fire, would it? If so, I could use two screw in bulbs instead and leave the lid off, right?
<The ideal set-up if you can do it would be to have a screen top over the top of the aquarium (where the holes in the screen are at least ¼” wide and preferably even more).  Then just rest either a combo heat lamp and UVB fixture or the two separate fixtures on top of that – but directly over where your basking area is. The screen offers protection against the fixtures accidentally dropping in the water which you definitely don’t want to happen!>
I'm a little confused about what you said about the earthworms, though. Are the earthworms junk food, or am I to give her earthworms instead of shrimp as a regular part of her diet?
<No, the earthworms are much healthier than dried shrimp! Dried shrimp doesn’t really offer much in the way of nutrition at all so would replace the shrimp with a couple of earthworms instead every few weeks.>
Where could I get them? (My backyard has very rocky soil, so we don't get many worms there.)
<You may be able to find them at a pet store. If not try anyplace that carries fishing supplies or the fishing section of a sports store.  Just check to make sure the earthworms haven’t been exposed to any pesticides.>
I'm not sure if it's runny or not. I haven't been home since February, and my mother always forgets to check. I'll be home for the first weekend in May. If it is runny, what should I do?
<If you find her poop is still runny, I’d take her to see a vet (along with a stool sample) and ask the vet to test it for parasites and determine whether or not she needs any sort of medication to treat it.>
Re: Yellow Bellied Slider Snaps at food when eating     3/18/13

Excellent. :D
How would every two weeks be for giving the earthworms? :) Or should it be three?
<Every 3 is fine, but no hard and fast rules about it! The idea is just to give them as an occasional healthy treat.>
My Mother's into gardening, so she might be willing to make a wormery.
<Many swear by vermiculture as a superior approach to composting. You’d then have the best of both worlds – a healthy nutrient source for your garden and also for your turtle! >
She already grows vegetables organically in a polytunnel. :D
<Good for her!  I haven’t made that leap yet, but also do organic gardening!>
I'll be sure to bring her to the vet if it is. :) How could I bring her so that she would be comfortable? It's about a 20-30 minute journey to the vet. Would a shoebox with holes in the lid be suitable?
<That’s definitely fine.  You might just want to put an old dishtowel on the bottom to prevent her from sliding around or to absorb any pee.  And if you want to get fancy, you can also buy a small soft-sided pet carrier to tote her around!>

3 baby turtles, ID, sys./fdg., hlth.      4/3/13
Dear Crew
<Hiya Taylor - Darrel here>
I was given 3 baby turtles this past Christmas and was told that they are red eared sliders but they do not have their red ears yet.
<That's not entirely accurate.  They are born with the red patch on each side, so they are most likely not Red Eared Sliders.>
<The genus' Pseudemys & Trachemys comprise a wide variety of turtles including the painted turtles, the sliders, the Cooters, and others - and for our intents and purposes as pet keepers, they are all the same - they have the same requirements.>
<So, assuming that they look in every other respect just like a Red Eared Slider, then they are probably Trachemys scripta scripta - the yellow bellied turtle.>
I put the three small turtles in a 10 gallon tank and they have almost quadrupled in size. I will soon be getting them a much larger tank. What I was wondering though is how am I suppose to regulate the amount of food that each of them receive?
<Feed them all they can eat in 5 minutes about 5 times a week.   Reduce that to 3 times a week once they are about the size of your fist>
I feel as though two of them are bullying the other one so that one is not getting as much food as it needs.
<That happens all the time.  Take the little guy out, put him in a shallow bowl of water (enough that he can stand it and put his head out.  Give him perhaps 10 minutes to calm down from the change - and then feed him separately.    If you do this at least twice a week, you'll know for certain that he is getting nutrition>
Also they "beg" for food every time I walk by and I am never sure when they are actually hungry and I do not want to over feed my turtles.
<Taylor - overfeeding is the single biggest health problem in our pets.  Because WE feel good when we eat and because we want our pets to feel good - we feed them.  Too much and too often.>
One more thing, how do I tell when they get stressed out?
<The first thing you'll notice (unless you see a physical injury) is a change in behavior.  A turtle that swims like crazy against the glass when you walk into the room - now sits on his rock and just watches.  Or a turtle that swims when you ever the room now swims ALL the time … like he can't stop.  Changes in their normal behavior.   Now, a change doesn't always mean a problem, so once in a while it's OK.  Like ONE day he just doesn't jump in the water to see you … should make you notice and wonder.  TWO days and now it's time to see if anything is wrong.>
<Here is the best guide on the planet.  Read, learn, understand and DO everything it says - and your little guys will be fine!  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

Yellow-bellied Slider; post-surgery, not feeding     11/27/12
My 1 1/2 year old ybs  had surgery one week ago.  My dog got a hold of it while I was cleaning out the pond :(  .  I can't submerge it in water until another week.  My concern is he is not eating.  The vet said to try to open mouth and give a veggie based baby food.  I can't get it to open his mouth.  He seems fine, is walking around in just enough water to cover his feet,
and is pooping.  I have tried romaine, meal worms, and pellets.... all his favorites, but no luck.  I am concerned he will live another week before I can put him back under water.  Any help would be greatly appreciated!!
<Reptiles can go weeks without food, so don't worry at all if he's been off his food since the surgery. For now, concentrate on getting him to heal. The vet presumably gave you instructions on how best to care for him during this important stage in his recovery. He shouldn't go back into the water until his scars are healed over. If he isn't eating, say, 3-4 weeks after
surgery, that's a whole other thing, and we can talk some more if needs be.
But he should start feeding once he's settled back into his regular aquarium with water for swimming and such (do remember aquatic turtles rarely feed on land, and they rely on the water to soften their food while they're chewing). Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Yellow-bellied Slider; post-surgery, not feeding
thank you so very much! I am relieved to hear he won't starve!
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Yellow belly slider; eating concern and care questions   6/28/12
<Hi Ekaterina, Sue here with you.>
I just got what seems to be a female yellow belly slider she's about 3-4 inches in length. I'm a first time turtle owner and a huge animal lover and whenever I notice a new behavior I get concerned.
<That’s good of you to be observant!  The better you get to know her normal behaviors on a day to day basis, the more likely you’ll notice when she’s not feeling well or acting right.>
After I fed her ( mainly turtle pellets And 2 shrimps)
<Wouldn’t do the shrimp; just the pellets only as the staple.  Then just offer her an earthworm or two every few weeks as a healthy treat instead of the shrimp.>
she was looking and us and opening her mouth I read about water in lungs just concerned if its normal she stopped after about 5 - 10 min.s?
<Did she eat the food?  Have you tried to feed her again since? How has her breathing been out of the water (i.e. is she doing open mouth breathing or making sounds while she’s breathing)?>
And also I have a day 40 watt UVB lamp for the day hours
<UVB lamp is great; just make sure it’s emitting enough heat. Turtles need both to properly digest their food. The temperature above her basking area should be in the 88-90 degree range.>
and a red heating lamp for the night hours,
<No heat lamp needed at all at night; better for her to cool down at night as she’d normally do in nature.>
the water level is just enough for her to swim and be able to flip over I read that I have to gradually increase it so she doesn't go into shock
<Where did you hear/read this? Turtles are able to swim in deep water from the time they hatch!>
should I buy a water heater or is the lamp enough?
<The lamp above the basking area is all you need - no water heater at all. Cooler water is what you want (in the 68-70 degrees F range; what is typically room temperature).>
I'm purchasing a filter this Friday once the water level gets higher
<You can fill the water as high as you want now; no need to wait.>
I've been changing the water every day while I feed her in a separate tank I only use bottled Poland spring.
<No need at all for bottled water.  Assuming your tap water is safe enough for you to drink, it’s fine for her as well!>
Is there anything else I can provide for her to make her more comfortable?
Thank you for your time,
<You’re welcome Katie! Let us know if you notice any more unusual behavior with her eating/breathing. I’m also going to give you a link to our care guide that covers all the basics in greater detail-
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
Sincerely Katie :)
Re Yellow belly slider baby, hlth.      7/1/12

Hi Katie here, thanks so much Sue for your help!
<You’re welcome!>
As per Charlie's breathing concern I am pretty sure she's fine. She's been eating plentifully even fruits, she's breathing fine out of water no noises and no open mouth breathing.
<Glad to hear she’s OK!>
Thanks for informing about no water heater that will save me some money.  Besides a basking rock ( I have a long floating platform rock from Petco) should I add more stones to the bottom of the tank that elevate the ground for her to sleep easier? Don't want her to drown, with the way I have the water now she hold on the artificial plant while sleeping is this normal?
<Perfectly normal.  I don’t know how big your plant is, but if you like you could try clustering 2-3 plants together in one spot so she has more to hang onto; then just attach them to one side of the aquarium using a suction cup.>
Thanks so much
<Happy to help! Any more questions or concerns, let us know.> 

Aquatic Turtle refusing food   3/17/12
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have 2 aquatic turtles - yellow bellies.  I've had them for about 4 years - one is about 6 inches long, the other is about 7 inches long.  They are in a 40 gallon tank, have heating lamp, place for basking, etc.  I fed them turtle food for years until around December of 2011 when they both stopped eating.
<Could have been a change in the formula of the food>
After trying to feed them every day for a couple of weeks, I got some ham and hand fed them that - they were very excited about that.
<That's like candy to you and me>
Since then, I have been feeding them ham.
<Bad idea>

I tried to switch back to turtle food several times and they wouldn't eat it.
<Turtles can fixate on foods.  They can also cycle in their fixations>
The day before yesterday, the smaller guy stopped eating.  He is still splashing like crazy when he sees me as if he is starving, but he won't eat when I drop the food in for him or when I try to hand feed it.  I tried to feed him turkey, chicken, and again... turtle food.  He won't eat anything but every time I go near the tank he splashes like crazy like he wants something to eat.
<Quite a bit of that is learned behavior - like getting excited when you hear the Ice Cream truck even when you're not going to get Ice Cream … it triggers a response>
Also, their tank has required twice a week changing for about a month now.  I scoop out all of the food that isn't eaten right after they are done, but the tank gets tremendously foggy really quick.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.
<OK - here goes.>
<Stop feeding them.  Period.   Don't even try for 7 whole days.  Nothing.  Clean their tank like usual, check that the water is clean and cool and their basking area is warm, but NO FOOD.  Be heartless about it, too.  THEY are hoping you'll give in and feed them.  DON'T GIVE IN>
<On the 8th day, take them out of their tank one-at-a-time and put them in a shallow container of luke-warm water.  Based on their size, I'd guess a plastic storage container or bucket will do.  After giving them 4 or 5 minutes to steel down, drop in 4 Koi pellets or Repto-Min floating food sticks.  Then leave him alone for 5 minutes>
<At the end of 5 minutes, whether he's eaten or not, take him out, put him back in his tank, CHANGE THE WATER IN THE BUCKET and start over with the next turtle.>
<If one eats, repeat the process with that turtle in 3 days.  If one does not eat, repeat the process in another 7 days.   No cheating, no cutting corners>
<After a month of this, they should be conditioned to eat what is offered.  If not, try another month.  They WILL give in.  Eventually.  If they don't break your will first.>
<After they've started eating, they get all the Koi pellets or Repto-Min floating food sticks they can eat in 5 minutes … every 3 days.  No more.  Then, once a month or so, an earthworm or two.>
<No Ham, cheese, hot dogs, steak, burgers, bean burritos, Ice Cream, turkey, Coke, Diet Coke, M&M's, peanut butter cups or …  hmmm … gotta go eat.  See ya later!!>
Thanks so much,

Yellow Belly Slider Feeding Amount? 11/19/11
Hi, my name is Rachael
<Hi Rachael, this is Sue here with you!>
and I have a female yellow-belly slider who's about 4-4.5 inches long. Her name is Erica.
I've had her for about five months, but I'm worried I'm not feeding her enough.
<Don't worry about not feeding enough. The bigger and more common concern with turtles is that people tend to over-feed them, which can eventually lead to a whole host of health issues. *Less is more* when it comes to turtles, if you know what I mean!>
I usually feed her shrimp every second day, giving green-leaf lettuce torn into bite-size bits every second feeding. Enough to fill up about half her head (minus neck).
<Instead of shrimp, you should be feeding her a good quality turtle or Koi pellet which will give her the correct balance of vitamins she needs.>
<Keep to the pellets every other day. In between the every other day feedings, if she appears to be exceptionally hungry, if you'd like, you can offer her some red or green leaf lettuce leaves to give her some added fiber to satisfy her hunger.>
<As far as how often, every other day is fine as you've been doing.>
<As far as how much, I've seen where some sites base the amount of food to feed them on head size. What we recommend is feeding them as much as they can eat in 5 minutes or thereabouts. Either way probably amounts to the same depending on how fast they eat!>
I'm also worried she may end up getting bored. Should I vary her diet more?
<Besides the pellets, you can also give her an earthworm or two every few weeks as an added nutritional treat. If she's basked for several hours and you see her just hanging out in the water and appearing to look *bored* (though not sure we'll ever truly know for sure what's going on in their tiny minds!), you could also break up a couple of small chunks of turtle/calcium bone and throw them in. Mine, at least, seem to enjoy chasing them around the tank!>
All else is well; tank size (130cm long, 50cm wide, 60cm high), water level (7-8 inches deep), big, flat rock to climb onto and sunbathe under her UV bulb (which I will change in January to keep the UV supply up), filter and whatnot. I bring her outside to walk around the lawn when weather's good (I live in Ireland, so it's fairly mild, usually).
<Wish I could say that about where I live! All sounds good, Rachael. Just check to make sure the UV is specifically UVB and that the temperature under the heat source above her basking area is between around 88-90 degrees F (which, if my calculations are correct, is approximately 31-33 C), so that it's warm enough for her to properly digest her food. It sounds like you have all the important things covered, but here is a link to our basic care guide if you'd like to check everything over to be sure:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
If you could help me out, I'd be very thankful, and I'm sure she would as well. :)
Thank you.
<You're welcome, Rachael! Hope this information was helpful to you (and to Erica!) Please feel free to write us again if you have any more questions.>
Re: Yellow Belly Slider Feeding Amount? 11/21/11

Thank you! :D
<You're welcome!>
I bought Koi pellets for her today by pure chance out of curiosity. Good to know they're the right thing to use! :)
<That was good timing! They basically offer the same type and quality of nutrients as ReptoMin pellets which we also recommend, only they're less expensive.>
Are Tetra Pond Variety Sticks okay?
<Sorry, I'm not familiar with these. I'd stick with either the Koi or ReptoMin. These are the ones that in our experience, are good to feed.>
And, actually, I do have another couple of questions. I also have a cuttlefish bone in there with her, and she chews that occasionally. Should I break it up smaller and only throw in a bit at a time, or is the whole thing in there okay?
<Either is OK, and it's not even something that's required at all unless her appetite is down and you're concerned that she's not getting enough calcium through her diet alone. The only reason I mentioned the cuttlebone, and throwing in small chunks rather than hanging the whole thing in there stationary, is because it offers a form of activity - turtles seem to enjoy the game of chasing the chunks around the tank, and it gives them some exercise!>
I live in a very rocky area, so there aren't many earthworms around here. Any suggestions as to where I could get ones okay for eating or a suitable substitute?
<Actually we don't recommend people digging up earthworms from their yard unless they don't use any type of chemicals for their lawn. Any place that sells bait for fishing should have earthworms (in fishing season of course!) Sometimes larger chains of home stores (such as Wal-Mart which we have in the U.S.) or stores that sell outdoor gear will sometimes have a fishing section where they sell small containers of them.>
<If you can't find them in these types of stores near where you live, you can also offer her tiny pieces of cooked beef liver every few weeks which is a good source of Vitamin A. Just buy the smallest piece you can find in the grocery store, cut it into tiny pieces, put them in a freezer bag, and just pull a few out of the bag every few weeks.>
<Also, I'd suggest feeding either the earthworms or the liver in a separate container as it can get quite messy!>
Also, the rocks I have in her tank are beginning to leech iron a bit from bands in the rock. Since the earth and stones around where I live are also full of iron, it was hard to find anything else. Could this harm her? Even if not, what could I replace them with?
<I actually don't use any stones at all because they tend to trap debris, affect the water quality, and add to my overall maintenance time and effort! Instead, to create a more natural looking habitat, I place a couple of fake plants in (the most natural looking fake ones you can find!). I have a couple that float and a couple that sit on the bottom. I simply take them out to clean when I do the bigger weekly cleaning.>
<If you still want to add a couple of rocks, I'd suggest larger (and rounded, not sharp) rocks, rather than stones as they'll be easier to maintain. You can try looking for them in either aquarium shops or your local home store if you have one. If you do use them, just rinse them very well before adding them to your aquarium.>
<Just keep in mind that the main consideration is water quality over attractiveness. If you find that the water quality is suffering and it's becoming a maintenance nightmare for you, it's far better to go bare and have a healthy turtle, than it is to have an attractive aquarium and a sick turtle. I think Erica would feel the same way, too! :) Hope this helps! Sue>

Help with our 5 year old Yellow Bellied Turtles not eating 10/13/11
Dear Wet Web Media crew,
<Hiya! - Darrel here>
Sorry to bother you but I am very concerned about one of our Yellow Bellied Turtles,
<It's not a bother at all. It's what we do!>
-- we have two turtles, one male, one female. the problem is the last couple of weeks we have been feeding them as usual (commonly with king British turtle & terrapin complete food & sometimes we give them fresh prawns too, which the female in particular would usually devour) she has always been the more demanding of the two when he comes to food (he is far more shy).
<Sounds a lot like my ex-wife. I could hardly get to the table during one of her feeding frenzies>
But lately (the last two weeks give or take) she has been very off form, she has not been eating, spends all her time up on their dock basking even when the light isn't on. Both turtles are coming up to their fifth birthday's in the next couple of months & although she has stopped eating before it would never be for this long or with the excessive basking, even when we put her in the water she just crawls her way back out again. Both turtles are currently living in a kiddies swimming pool converted into an indoor pond (my other half constructed it with pond liner etc...), it is plenty large enough for just the two of them, he also turned a kitty litter tray attached some legs to the bottom of it (which they can swim under) & has it filled with sand above the water level with a ramp leading up to it from the water about 7 inches deep.
<Very clever setup. Your other half sounds like what fishermen call 'a keeper'!>
We have a heater submerged in it & also have our filter going all the time, as well as the UVB light over the basking area (which is left on for 12-13 hours a day). She has laid eggs in the past (twice to our knowledge) on the base of their tank but before we have noticed them he had torn into them & all we would find is bits of shell when cleaning it out. We also regularly put ZooMed Rept Turtle Eye Drops on their eyes if we feel anything at all is starting. Twice my other half caught the male bite her (but this was a little while ago), he seems to be always following her around in the water pestering her for sexy times... would this be part of the reason she is now avoiding the water a lot of the time, although it still doesn't answer why she has not ate!?
<It's very possible. If your other half were pestering you for sexy times as often as a male turtle does, you'd probably climb up somewhere high as well. And maybe even buy a gun!>
He is acting normal, which leads me to think the temp, & water quality is ok. We would really appreciated some help/advice as living here in Ireland advice seems to be very scarce on Yellow Bellied Turtles, Just to get to a vet qualified to deal with her is a couple of hours in the car to get there as well as the journey back, plus it is far more expensive than the regular vets. So I don't want to go unless necessary but we are getting very concerned.
<I'm not concerned>
Hope to hear from you very soon,
Thanks so so much,
<Danielle, Yellow Bellied Turtles (Pseudemys scripta scripta) are for all intents and purposes identical to the Red Eared Slider (Trachemys {nee Pseudemys} scripta elegans) for which there is MUCH information available '¦ not all, sad to say, accurate.>
<They only think about your setup is the heated water, but you don't say if this is an indoor or outdoor setup. Basically the water should NOT be warmer than room temperature (68-72f that's 20-23c for those of you that live in the civilized world) so that the turtles have a choice - between cool water and warm basking>
<By the time they are 5 years old, I'd have them on a basic diet of ordinary Koi pellets. It's a full and complete diet for them, inexpensive and easy to feed. For a monthly or weekly treat, an earthworm or two - or a VERY tiny piece of beef liver. Special treats are often best given in a separate container so as not to contaminate your tank water. Now, that's what you "should" do, but if you decide to try it, remember that the turtles will probably have fixated on the food they currently get '¦ so what you do is change the feeding schedule. 5yrs to adults should only be fed all they can eat in 10 minutes, 3 times a week. Feed them their usual food then skip FOUR days, and offer the pellets. If they eat, you can slowly substitute. If they don't, skip TWO days and offer their regular. Then skip FOUR and repeat the pellets, etc.>
<Now, as far as the female is concerned. It could be sexually related, but it may also be time of year and/or temperature. This is the time of year that they would start to slow down in the wild.>
<I'm making a few assumptions here: That she is OTHERWISE normal: bright, clear eyes, etc. If you take her out of the environment and put her on the ground or floor, does she eventually walk around? Does her walking seem labored? Assuming she is otherwise normal and healthy, she can go a month or two with no food, so don't let THAT be the factor.>
<My suggestion is to change some things. Take her out and let her sit on the living room floor for a few hours and/or put her in the bathtub (no water) for a day, then give her a fairly warm (88f/31c) bath for 10 minutes. Or maybe turn the filter off for a few hours, lower the water temperature and raise the basking temp (put the bulb a bit closer).>
<As strained as this sounds, the thing to do is to do a variety of different things until she starts responding to the change.>
<If she's not back to being regularly active in 10 or 12 days, write back>

Yellow Bellied Slider, sys., fdg... 6/8/11
Dear WWM crew;
<Hi Carla, Sue here with you.>
Two months ago a small Yellow Bellied Slider was walking on my drive way and I took her in. She is about the size of a silver dollar.
<They're pretty hard to resist, aren't they? That's exactly the same way I first became a 'turtle mom'!>
I fully believe that I have provided all the needed requirements including: UV light, a Heat lamp, basking stone, a plastic plant and a live plant, Turtle calcium bone, moss ball, and filter system, and she seems to be otherwise healthy.
<The most critical of what you mentioned are UV (though has to be UVB specifically, double check to make sure), heat lamp, basking area and good filtration system. The latter becomes increasingly important the bigger she gets, and no matter what type of filter you get, you'll always need to do frequent water changes!>
I think she is shedding her shell plates because of lighter spaces that seem to be growing in between them, however, I recently noticed that the top of the shell seems to be growing upwards in a pyramid style, am I feeding her too much?
<If you've already seen this much of a noticeable difference in her appearance after only 2 months, it's likely you are. How much and how often are you feeding her?>
<Over-feeding is one of the most common mistakes people make with turtles, and it can lead to a whole host of medical problems including, but not limited to, shell deformities. Turtles (like people!) often don't know when to stop eating, but unlike people they have the added disadvantage of not being able to expand their bodies to accommodate the excess food because of their shell. >
When I originally found her the only thing she would eat were trout worms and a small amount of organic carrots. I fully cleaned her tank this morning and fed her another worm at noon like I do everyday. I'm worried about her because she has not yet eaten her worm except for biting it a few times, she usually gets very excited about her worms and will play with it and eat the entire worm in about an hour. She has eaten about five floating turtle pellets. I'm wondering if she tired of eating worms, and should I start feeding her mostly pellets?
<The pellets, not the worms, should be her staple, so it's good she's starting to become more interested in them. Also, I'd feed her earthworms instead of trout worms, and ONLY as a treat; just one or two a month.>
<I think the problem is that you're over-feeding her. 5 floating pellets (without worms!) every 2-3 days is more than plenty for her! You should be feeding her only as many pellets as she can eat in 5 minutes, 3 times a week.>
<Besides the health benefit to her of feeding her less, a side benefit for you is that you hopefully won't have so much clean-up to do! I'd also suggest waiting until AFTER she's done eating and pooping to clean her tank, rather than cleaning it beforehand like you're doing now. It will make your life easier, and will be much healthier for her. Any uneaten food (and poop!) should be removed right away, filter or no filter. Don't let it sit and break apart in the water.>
The pellets are a mix of vegetable pellets and shrimp pellets, but she seems to hate the shrimp ones.
<I'd leave out the shrimp pellets. She will get all the protein she needs in a good quality pellet like ReptoMin. Koi pellets are also fine. They have the same nutritional value and are much less expensive.>
<Also, if there are days she seems ravenous and you're feeling guilty about not feeding her pellets, you can try offering her some greens like red or green leaf lettuce or dandelion leaves (some grocery stores do sell this). If she truly is hungry enough, she'll nibble at some greens. The fiber they contain will help her feel full and you won't have the worry about overfeeding as you would with pellets and worms.>
I have also been worried that she might be bored or lonely; is there anything that I can provide for her to keep her busy or to have fun?
<Though turtles should be getting all the calcium they need from their normal diet, for my turtles (purely for their entertainment and also for a little exercise!), I'll occasionally cut off a couple of small chunks of the turtle calcium bone (that you have), and toss them in the water. They love to chase the blocks all around the tank and peck at them! However, the fun only lasts for them while they're floating; once they eventually sink, the game is over!>
She is also spending a great deal of time on her basking stone but she seems to be tired as her head keeps drooping, she is usually very active and will follow my finger along the glass.
<If in fact she has been eating too much, she might be feeling like all of us do when we are over-stuffed from a meal - tired! One of the main reasons turtles need to bask is to get enough heat and UVB to digest their food. They typically bask for several hours each day, so that's normal behavior (and they often do fall asleep!) However, the one important thing to check is her basking temperature. Get a suction thermometer from the pet store and place it above the basking area. It should be at least 88-90 degrees F in order for her to digest her food properly; otherwise it will sit and eventually rot in her stomach. Particularly if you're concerned that you've been over-feeding her, this is one thing I'd check first. It's possible she's got a lot of food stored up in her stomach. Also -- don't forget to make sure your UV bulb specifically SAYS it's UVB; UVB is also essential for digestion!>
Thank you.
<Carla, I'd suggest you check out the link below. It was written by a crew member who has kept all kinds of turtles his whole life. It covers feeding and all the important aspects of general care:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<Good luck with her! Keep us posted on how she's doing, and don't hesitate to write us back if you have any more concerns. Sue>

Re: Yellow Bellied Slider 6/9/11
Hello Sue thank you for helping me so much.
<You're welcome, Carla (and Lil!); glad I was able to help.>
I fully know now that I was in fact feeding her way too much. Today I broke up her calcium bone and didn't feed her anything. She will finish 5 pellets in about two minutes, should I feed her more until the 5 minute mark?
<Sure, that's fine; just toss in a few pellets and remove whatever she hasn't eaten after 5 minutes.>
She also relaxed under her basking light most of the morning and was much move lively the entire afternoon.
<That's great to hear that her energy level is back!>
I left her alone for a few hours and she tore apart her plant though. I don't believe she ate any of it, most of it was floating in the tank but, she did pull it out of the gravel.
<It's possible she took a few pecks at it. She'll become more and more of a 'vegetarian' as time goes on! It's fine to start exposing her to some plants now, though.>
I did find out that both of her lights are UVA and the basking light is extremely too hot. I will be buying a new one tomorrow.
<That's good you discovered her light was not UVB. Not having UVB would have definitely caused her to become ill.>
<No need to get a 'specialty' basking light as the heat bulb. Your basic light bulb will work just fine. Just experiment with different wattages until you get the basking temperature in range.>
<Also, on the topic of temperature -- you want to keep her water temperature on the cool side; around 68-70 degrees F. If the water is too warm, that will also make her hungrier, speed up her growth and metabolism, increase shedding, etc. The cooler water temperature is also what will encourage her to get out of the water to bask.>
Thank you again for all your help, we will use the worms to go fishing instead.
<Actually, an earthworm or two every month or so is a nutritious treat, and she'll appreciate it; just toss whatever are left into your garden!>
Thank you,
Carla and Lil

YBS question, fdg. mostly 4/12/11
Hello Crew!
<Salve, Ronda!>
I have written to you before and always been so pleased with your great advice, counsel, and quips (!), so here I am again! I have a yellow bellied slider 8" long, 6" wide approx, who lives in my outdoor pond in Charleston SC. She overwinters in it also.
<Fair enough. Since they're likely native to this area, your local climate should suit your turtle well.>
About 3 weeks ago she "woke up" and has been out daily, basking, swimming and because our temps now (last 10 days or so) are in the 80's day and 50-60's overnight mostly, she is now active all the time.
What I am not sure about is how much to feed her. She literally begs for food all the time.
<As is their wont.>
I have been feeding her ReptoMin sticks, "Mins" as we call them for her, to the tune of 1/2-3/4 tablespoon 2x day--and I know that is too much, but have been afraid that she may need to build up or consume more calories....is that possible or true?
<These are high-protein, low-fibre food -- in other words much like us eating steak rather than salad. Net result, yes, your turtle may well be getting the calories it needs, but doesn't feel full, just as we don't feel full if we don't eat fibre-rich plants and whole grains.>
I don't remember her being like this last spring, but the winter was particularly cold this past year. Also, she is not eating her carrots, kale, lettuce, etc--just the mins. Do I have a tricky turtle on my hands who is trying to retrain her owner to feed her only what she wants??
<Well, yes, animals can/do learn to train humans. We often congratulate ourselves for "training" our cats and dogs to do certain things, without realising those animals have also "trained" us to reciprocate. So yes, your turtle likely knows if it holds out, you'll hand over the protein-rich yummies it likes so much.>
Or does she need extra calories right now?
<Yes, immediately after winter turtles need to put right the fat they used up over winter; that's standard for most any animal that overwinters outdoors.>
I gave her some calcium supplement the other day, but I am not sure she did anything with it other than sink it.
<Try some unshelled shrimp and even better, whole fish (frozen lancefish are sold in aquarium shops, but whitebait sold for humans will do, too).
The shells and bones are a good calcium source. Use these as treats though.
If you have a few bunches of Elodea or whatever in the pool, your turtle will get all the calories he/she needs.>
She does not have "fat bulges" at her legs and arms and otherwise looks quite healthy. What do you recommend I do?
<Do switch to Koi Pellets -- they're more fibre-rich, but just as palatable, so should make an excellent staple.
Many thanks in advance for your advice!
<Do read Darrel's article, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/RESCareBarton.htm
Cheers, Neale>

Re: Turtle "buddies", unimaginable, but not impossible? Was Cooter comp., now nutr. 8/1/10
Thanks so much for answering my last question, :D
Although it did stir up another.. I understand the whole not feeding them krill and shrimp situation, so what would you recommend?
<I feed mine from hatchlings to breeders purely on Kay-Tee bran Koi food pellet available at pet stores -- with an occasional (0nce a month or so) treat of an earthworm or two. Diet, it turns out, is the easiest part>

Turtle only eating Chicken! 7/24/10
Hi there,
I have female yellow bellied slider (? Missippi mud Cooter) that's ~ 5 yrs old. I keep her inside during the winter months and move her outside during the summer. She's in a 40 gallon tank with all the required accessories and seems to be doing very well overall. Enjoys basking and has a good appetite.
The problem - I was trying to vary her diet a bit about a year ago and cooked some chicken to give to her. Now, that's all she will eat. That's it!
<Made a rod for your own back there'¦>
She refuses all pellets.
<Let her starve then.>
I've even tried not feeding her to see if eventually she would go back to pellets. I've tried sticking pellets inside the chicken. I've tried soaking the pellets in chicken broth and also tried feeding her pellets with a dropper. Nothing works. I know her diet is unbalanced and that they move more toward a vegetarian diet as they get older, so am very concerned'¦
<As you should be.>
She doesn't seem sick, and her shell is growing as normal, but she is strictly on a protein diet which cannot be good!
<Indeed not.>
She will eat sulfa blocks too, so further evidence she needs something else.
The past week, she has been violently thrashing about the tank like she is trying to tell me something. She normally thrashes when she is hungry and she moves her mouth a bit. She is doing this, but is now refusing chicken. This has happened in the past she'll stop eating for a few days and then will start again, only wanting chicken.
<She has you very well trained.>
So, a few questions:
1) Right now, do you think its possible she could be constipated and that's why she is not eating, but appears hungry? I tried to give her a bit of mineral oil last night to help with this, as suggested by the vet. She is otherwise acting ok, and is right now basking in the sun. She doesn't seem to be basking longer than usual either.
<I doubt constipation is the thing, though it might be. I'd be more worried about vitamin deficiency. Plus, mammal meat contains fats that congeal in the bodies of cold-blooded animals. In warm-blooded animals they melt into oils. In reptiles not adapted to eating much mammal meat -- i.e., turtles as opposed to snakes -- there's some possibility of those fats causing health problems.>
2) How can I wean her off chicken without starving her? Is there hope?
<Yes. Let her sit in her tank with a clump of Canadian Pondweed. Feed her nothing else. She'll eat. If you must give her something meaty, go for earthworms as these have plenty of plant matter in their guts.>
Thank you - Fantastic website!
<Glad to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Turtle only eating Chicken!
Thanks! Enjoy your sense of humor.
Although I must admit, after reading more on your website, I am also wondering about the possibility that her thrashing behavior & trying to get out of the tank is independent of food and related to the fact that she is gravid!
<It can be. One thing about high-protein diets is they "condition" animals quickly, i.e., bring them into breeding condition sooner than otherwise.>
I saw something a few weeks ago in the tank that looked like an egg - but honestly I didn't realize they would lay eggs in the absence of a male until I just read it!
<Oh yes.>
I take back my comment about the basking - she does seem to be doing it a little bit more, and sometimes at night, which is odd.
<Depends on the air temperature.>
I am going to prep a nesting area today and we'll see.
<Good idea.>
Will take your advice about the Canadian pondweed. Is this available normally at pet stores in the aquarium section?
<Yes, or the pond section. It's the el-cheapo goldfish weed. Actually, it's more often Lagarosiphon major, what is commonly called Elodea densa, rather than Egeria canadensis. But they all taste the same.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Turtle only eating Chicken! 7/24/10
Good point about air temp. I'm in Virginia. Its almost 100 here, and her tank is getting up there, but not quite in the unsafe zone. Should I be bringing her inside during these hot months, or is she ok to bask as she is?
Thanks for your time!
<Carolyn, the water shouldn't be much above 25C/77F; the idea is that the turtle warms up under the sun lamp and cools down in the water. That's how these animals thermoregulate. If the water is much hotter than this, make
sure there's enough shade, and if there isn't, use something like a pergola to make a shady portion the turtle can use for cover. If you're in the same part of the world that these turtles come from, the real risk isn't very great, but you should always bear in mind the mortality rate tolerable for a population of wild turtles is much higher than we accept for pets. So just because the species survives in your area it doesn't mean all turtles have a 100% chance of surviving the vagaries of your local climate every year. Some of them surely die each year from heat or cold. In other words, try and buffer against the extremes of your local climate so that there's minimal stress on the turtle. Cheers, Neale.>

My Yellow Bellied Slider Turtles 7/24/10
Hi <Hiya - Darrel here>
We have had our turtles (Terri and Torres) since March last year, we got them for our daughter for her birthday. As I have never known anything about them we went to a Pet shop to enquire about them before we would take one on. The man in the shop told us it is pretty straight forward and with a tank, a few stones and a heat lamp we were good to go. So she ended up picking two!!
<So far, so good. You need a bit more, but I'll cover that later>
We took them home and set up the tank like the man in the shop said, stones along the bottom and a basking area under the heat lamp. He sold us frozen fish and said to feed them that once a day.
<No. and No.>
To start with they seemed shy and didn't eat but we thought they just needed to settle in but after nearly two weeks of them still eating very little I got worried so had a nosy online to look for tips on how to help them settle......to my horror I realized we needed to be doing a lot more for them (the pet shop had a tiny tank with about 30 small turtles in with no uvb or filter!!!!!) so after an evening of research we headed off the next day to get what we needed. By that evening they had a filter set up in the water and uvb lighting beside their heat bulb, we also added a few fake plants for them to hide around as I had read they like this. We stopped feeding them just the fish and started giving them dried food and fruit too. They did start to eat more and seemed to be happy and were getting more and more used to us and their new home. So at this point we were all happy that everything was as it should be!!
<I'm liking this better now. Good work on reading and adapting!>
Until about 6 months ago I noticed on FB a friend posted pics of her turtle Yoda which is around the same age as our two (she got hers a few months after us) and it was sooooo much bigger. By this stage ours had barely grown from when we got them (ours were about 1 and 1/2 inch long and hers was about 2 and 1/2 inch long) and until I saw that pic I did not realize they should have been growing more. I spoke to her and she said she has no lighting or filter and just feeds it dried food twice a day!?!?!?!?! At this point I thought I should visit a vet for advice but the vets in my area just have no clue and could not advise me so I did some more online research. I ended up even more confused with so much conflicting advise out there. We came to the conclusion that they needed to be eating more/better!! For about a month we tried a few different things recommended by people/websites and nothing we offered them seemed to tempt them to eat any more so we tried a few things to change their tank to see if that helped their 'mood' to see if that would encourage them to eat more. We tried cuttlefish in the tank for them to nibble(they never went near it), live plants (they never ate them and they just got in the way of them swimming about), I can't think of anything else off the top of my head that we tried but basically we tried anything we read might help!!! In the end we read about ReptoMin and we changed them to getting only that, I give them it every evening and they get the odd piece of fruit or fish about once a fortnight for a treat. They started to grow and each week we could see them getting that wee bit bigger so again we were happy that we had finally everything sorted for them.
<Good work>
BUT recently I again saw a pic of Yoda and it is bigger than your hand and Terri and Torres are only about 2 and 1/2 inch long now!!!! So this has me worried again!!!
<Stop worrying!! That right there will help everyone involved>
I would like to ask you what I can do or what I am doing wrong. Why have my turtles not grown this much and why is hers thriving when she has no lighting etc for it?
<You're not really doing anything "wrong" at this point. Terri and Tores are possibly a bit behind the curve, but they can live over 50 years '¦ they is plenty of time for them to grow. You signs are
(1) are they active
(2) Do they alternate between swimming and basking
(3) Are they eating
(4) Are their eyes, nose and skin clear
If you answered yes to all these, Sit back, relax and enjoy them>
Here is a rundown on how we keep/care for them:
-They live in a plastic 'tank' (it is actually an indoor rabbit bed/hutch with a solid bottom/sides and a cage like top with a door to let you reach in, it is hard to explain but it works well), it is about 3 feet long and 1 and 1/2 feet wide and the water is about 7 inch deep. We do not have a water heater as when we tried one they stopped swimming and I think because we keep our house warm the water stays at a nice temp for them anyway.
<Turtles don't need nor should they ever have a water heater unless you live north of the Arctic Circle. They get cool water and a warm basing area and then they get to choose what they need at the moment>
They have a terracotta plant plate turned upside down for their basking area, which is held up by a plant pot turned upside down again maybe not the norm but it is nice and steady and it works well and because the plate is a few inch wider than the pot holding it up there is an area below they can 'hide' in when they want to.
<Visual privacy is a plus '¦ just make ABSOLUTELY sure there's no place they could get into and get stuck!>
There is a uv bulb and a heat bulb that we have on a timer to be on 12 hours a day. They have a few smooth pebbles built up as steps to the basking area and we also gave them a few pebbles in a corner of the tank which are just below the water level as they seem to like to be half in and half out of the water sometimes.
<Very nice touch>
There is also a fake rock with fake plants on that they like to climb/cling to. There are no places they can get stuck the basking area is in the middle of the tank and has plenty of room all round for them to get on and off etc. All pebbles are smooth and sturdy so won't move or hurt them.
<So far, so good>
- there is a filter and we top up the water level about once a week (tap water) and change the water and clean the tank out about once every 3 weeks, we used to do this less but it needs it more now as it gets dirty quicker now they are eating a bit more.
<Also good>
-they get fed in the tank as although it causes more mess than a separate feeding area they seem to prefer this and although they eat most of the pellets straight away the odd one left over they will nibble on later...I assume they are getting enough as if they weren't full they would not be leaving some ( there are always one or two pellets left when I go to feed them the next evening)
<Constantly taking them out of their tank to be fed separately is something I've always thought of as stressful, so I don't do it either. I feed mine all the Koi pellets they can eat in 5 minutes around 3 times a week or every 3rd day.>
- we lift them out about once a week to 'pet' them, they like to get their chins rubbed and always put their head up waiting for us to do it
<Yes they do>
-they swim about often and bask with their feet curled up, their eyes are clean and there shells are hard, we sometimes clean their shell with a cotton bud if they get a little green
-they do like to hide away sometimes under the basking plate but we just leave them in peace assuming they just want peace and quiet. They come to the side of the tank when they hear us and put their head out of the water as if to say hi :) They seem to like activity and noise around them as once we moved them to a quiet room thinking they might prefer quiet and they stopped swimming etc, when we moved them back to the hallway where there is always noise etc they went back to normal!!!
<I agree they seem to like interaction with their environment>
I think this is everything, one of them is definitely more shy and hides away more and if their routine changes any (like we go on holiday and someone else is caring for them or we are out a lot for a few days) it seems to be affected more i.e. it will not be so active for a few days and will hide away more!! They both seem to get 'down' with any change but once things go back to normal within a few days they are back to normal too. This sounds silly but they seem to miss us and then not feel like swimming etc!!! Like I say one is more shy and takes longer to get over change than the other but I think this is just it's personality. I think they are both happy and healthy but why aren't they growing more?? Could it be something to do with bad care when they were in the pet shop? I read without uv they can go blind and their shell soften so I have always worried that with them being in the pet shop without uv it could have done some damage, but their shell is hard and they can def see. I do not know how many weeks old they were when we got them as we never thought to ask at the time so I am not exactly sure of their age but we have had them 1 year and 4 months.
<Doesn't really matter, does it?>
Sorry for the epic e mail and thanks in advance for any advice you can give.
<No problem - happy to read a HAPPY story, Emma - we don't get as many of those as you think>
<I think you're being a great Turtle Mom. I understand you're a bit confused by it all -- that's a cycle we all go through. When my son and I were starting out in the Marine Tropical Fish hobby, we sought out so much advice that our heads were spinning like Linda Blair in The Exorcist '¦ and this is the really weird part '¦ our success with the hobby started about the time we STOPPED taking advice from everyone and their brother!! There are often a dozen ways to accomplish any task, but that doesn't mean that attempting all 12 ways will accomplish the task. So we decided on "our" regimen for Quarantine and "our" regimen for feeding and "our" regimen for water changes, etc. and almost as if by magic, the problems started to subside. This isn't to say that we just made stuff up '¦ but we decided that Sara knows best how to start out on a budget, Steven Pro knows more about Ick and quarantine than we ever need to know '¦ Bob Fenner knows more about systems and filtration (and just about everything else, too) than we could ever learn '¦ so we follow their advice and life gets real simple!>
<For turtles, I wrote the following care sheet
It covers just the basics from a starting out point of view, covers everything you need to know and in every case it offers what is known in the industry as the "right" or "correct" way to do things.>
<Read it, measure your standards of care against what is written, adjust anything that is sub-standard (but my guess is you won't find anything sub-standard in your care!!) and then '¦.

questions re-my yellow bellied slider. Fdg., sys. 5/6/10
I came about upon your page and found the information quite helpful but I still have a few questions:
<Fire away.>
First, about my yellow bellied: - Jude (not sure if male or female) is still a baby,
<Males have longer claws and longer tails, relative to body size.
Furthermore, the vent, or "cloaca", will be about one-third the distance along the tail from the base in the case of females, whereas on males the vent will be about two-thirds of the way from the base of the tail.>
got her about 2 weeks ago so my guess is that she is about 6 or 8 weeks old. - She is 1-3/4" shell length - For what I can tell; healthy and happy, for now she is in a small tank (about 6 gallons) with basking area, a plant friend she hangs around often, a mother of all filters and UV light.
<Good. Do read though to make sure you've covered all the bases:
Questions: - First of all re-feeding, we have been giving her the Repto-min floating baby food (smaller than the adult version) we started the first week with about 5 pellets, but she seems hungrier each day, today I gave her 9 in the morning and she gobbled them in less than 5 minutes.
<Do augment this with much plant material, or else something for herbivorous fish; Koi pellets appear to work well. The fibre will make the turtle feel more "full". Pellets alone tend to be nutritional in terms of
vitamins and minerals, but lacking fibre, and do seem related to constipation and other problems. Feeding these turtles isn't really difficult, and needn't be expensive either, since much greenery in your salad bowl is good for them. Cheap aquarium plants such as Elodea are also good.
Fed this way, leave pellets for use a couple times a week.>
In the late afternoon we give her a second feeding but much smaller, perhaps 3 pellets. Is this too much food?
<See above, and linked article/s.>
she seems hungry, the first week she would shy away from our fingers but now she stares at them and even yesterday bit our fingers a couple of times. - Second, I read in your page to not give yellow bellied sliders chicken,
<Correct. Never, ever give a pet reptile meat from "warm blooded" animals unless you know such food forms part of its natural diet. Pythons for example can, do eat mice, and have evolved the enzymes to deal with the fats in warm blooded animals. Your terrapin naturally eats mostly plant
material and small invertebrates, and cannot digest fats from warm blooded animals. End result is the fats that are oils when warm inside a chicken or whatever become congealed in the colder bodies of your pet terrapin. Obviously, that's bad.>
I have a couple of days given her instead of pellets in the afternoon, 2 or 3 tiny pieces of kielbasa sausage about the same size of the pellets, is this not good for her either?
<Very, very bad. I'm sure he/she will eat all sorts of stuff, but mammal/bird meat is bad to begin with, and the spices, additives and who-knows-what they add to processed foods will make things even worse.
Want to give your turtle a treat? Add a clump of Elodea/Canadian Pond Weed.
Don't feed him for a few days, and let him graze away healthily at that.
Alternatively, small morsels of seafood or white fish fillet would be good, since these don't contain the sorts of fats that would set solid inside a reptile. Humans eat all sorts of garbage, which is why we in Europe and the US tend to be fat and suffering from diabetes and all kinds of other problems caused by bad diet. Pet animals can't make sensible choices, they eat what's in front of them, so you have to be much more disciplined about feeding them than you might be with yourself.>
I did it more as a treat than as actual food, in the morning I give her nothing but the pellets and she has not refused to receive those. - At the pet shop they sold us a calcium stone that is meant to dissolve slowly into the water, but reading your site I found that it is not good to add those, does that apply to yellow bellied sliders as well?
<Correct; calcium isn't taken up through the water, and needs to be part of the turtle's diet. Something called metabolic bone disease (MBD) is very common when these reptiles don't get enough calcium in their diet. If you give them a balanced diet, including a good quality calcium-enriched turtle pellets such as ReptoMin, this shouldn't be a problem. By all means break off a bite size piece of calcium-rich cuttlebone and let it float about the tank: the turtles will crunch on this if they feel the need.>
or was that specific to that other turtle? should I remove the calcium stone?
<It is pointless, doing no harm or good, so do what you want.>
- Is my tank the appropriate size? it is about 16" long x 8" deep x 10" high, my guess is about 6 gallons or so, she is small and has swimming room but when should I get a new tank? or do I have to do that immediately?
<Will need a bigger tank within a year, most likely; do read above linked articles.>
- Lastly, she was quite bitey yesterday, snapped 2 or 3 times at our fingers even stared and chased them as if they were preys, I thought maybe because I had added the kielbasa sausage to the diet? :( will their behavior change upon a diet change? what "meat" food other than the processed stuff is safe to feed her?
<All terrapins can become "snappy", but there is some variation between them. Regular, gentle handling can minimise this, but this needs to be done carefully so the turtle feels secure. If it's flailing its arms and legs about, it's not feeling secure! Handle for short periods initially. Reward the turtle afterwards with food. Understand that stressed turtles common defecate when handled, and all turtles -- indeed, all reptiles -- can carry Salmonella so appropriate washing/hygiene is essential.>
Thank you very much in advance LaVRA
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Question About Yellow Bellied Slider Turtles. Fdg. + 7/14/2009
Hello.! I'm Nadine.
<Hiya right back! Darrel here>
I have 2 Yellow Bellied Slider Turtles which I bought at xmas 2007 when they were babies. I have several questions and I hope you can help because no one else seems to know.
<I hope I can answer them too!>
First things first - Feeding - At the moment I'm feeding them once in the morning and once in the evening, I know as they get older your only supposed to feed them once every 2 days but how do you know when you start doing that?
<You can start doing that right now. After a year they will do just fine feeding once a day during the summer and once every three days during the winter>
Also I am feeding them chicken and prawns at the moment because they are refusing to eat they're pellets or anything else. I heard your supposed to feed them fruit and veg as well?
<Not 'as well'. Try "Instead of." None of the Emydid turtles (Sliders, cooters, map turtles and even - irony here - the Chicken turtles) eat chicken OR prawns. Neither are part of their natural diet and neither are
good for them. So STOP! Right now.>
But they wont... how can I get them to eat different things?
I've tried cooking veg with the chicken but its not worked.
<here's what do: First. Stop feeding them for a week. Seven days. NO food. Then, each day, put them in a shallow bowl of luke warm water with just two or three Repto-min food sticks or 6 or 7 standard Koi Pellets. If they ignore the food or don't eat after 15 minutes, take them out and put them back in their regular tank. Each day, new fresh water in the shallow bowl with a very few pieces of food. Eventually .. somewhere between 3 days and two months .. they'll eat.>
<Are you listening?>
<Pay attention to this:>
<DO NOT GIVE IN. Don't feel sorry for them, don't feel like they're starving, don't feel like 'just a tiny bit' of chicken won't hurt ..... DO NOT GIVE IN OR GIVE UP!!!!!!!!!>
<The one who hold out the longest is the one in charge of this relationship -- and that's supposed to be YOU, OK?>
Also I always believed they were male and female due the fact 'she' is larger and longer claws, they also shake each others claws in each others faces (which I've heard is the mating ritual) and many times I've seen them mating with his penis out. Tonight though I looked over and he was chasing and biting what looked like 'her' penis?!! I know it was definitely her because they both do look different. I am so confused?!
<Well if one of the females has a penis .. you're not the ONLY one confused .. think how confused SHE is!!!>
<The males have long claws and the females do not. Males also have much thicker tails at the base where it connects to the shell, while the females' tails are much more slender. Sliders reach sexual maturity with
size, not age but males become mature, generally, around 4 years and females at 6 years (assuming normal growth)>
Last thing is how do you know they are happy?
<Turtles have much simpler lives than people do, Nadine. They show their happiness by being healthy and active. By thriving. If they're active and eating, basking and swimming, growing and maturing, if their environment is clean and big enough, if their shells are hard and their eyes are clear ... then it's a sure bet that they're happy!>
Sorry for the long winded email just wanted to make sure im doing everything right.
<Long winded??? Not even close!! It was a nice letter and I hope I helped!>
Thanks x

Yellow Bellied slider not eating 11/28/08 Dear Wet Web Media, We are writing to you to ask for some advice. We have previously written to you and you were fantastic in your response. We have now had our yellow bellied slider turtles for almost a year. One has grown significantly larger than the other but from what I can gather this could be due to gender difference which we can not yet judge. However this is not the concern. The smaller of the two turtles (approx 8cm long shell) has in the last 5 days or so completely stopped eating. We feed them daily on a dried pellet and shrimp turtle mix once a day. In order to feed them we remove them to a feeding tank (their living tank is 11 gallon tank (14 US gallons) with 15w UVB lamp, basking dock and filter, the water is kept at room temperature with no heater). When the feeding tank is presented to them both of the turtles become excited and swim frantically at the glass of the tank in anticipation of feeding. The smaller one has stopped this behaviour and instead is hiding himself away in the far corner of the tank and digging into the gravel and hardly ever coming out of the water to the dock to bask. To summarise, he's not eating, digging and has reduced his movement. We have considered that these may be traits of hibernation but are finding it hard to find information on this. It is winter here and our house; therefore their tank is colder. We are planning on buying a water heater in order to maintain a constant temperature for them. However, we are seriously concerned by his lack of eating. Please can you advise what may be inducing this behaviour and what we can do to help him -- if he needs it. Awaiting your response, many thanks Emma <Emma, when reptiles go "off" their good, there's usually one of four things going on. Firstly, and most commonly, they're too cold. Reptiles need warm conditions, and in the U.K for example, while summers are warm enough for freshwater turtles, the winters are not. While Sliders do come from a warm temperate to subtropical environment, they should not be exposed to prolonged cold spells. Minimum water temperature should be about 18 degrees C. Yes, feral Sliders have become established in the UK, implying a certain degree of tolerance of cold, but what reptile keepers should understand is that for every turtle that survives the winter, another one (at least) doesn't. That's a level of mortality we just can't accept with a pet. So it's time to warm up the tank, I suspect. Use an external heater, otherwise these clumsy reptiles will destroy it! I like the heaters that you install into a break cut into the outgoing pipe from the external canister filter. Sliders do not hibernate as such; in the wild they may become torpid for short periods but that is quite a different thing to hibernation. In any case, "resting" freshwater turtles through the winter is widely recommended against by vets and experienced reptile keepers. Most folks who try to hibernate their Sliders end up with dead Sliders. One common problem is the rotting of undigested food in the gut, leading to bacterial infections. (It's the same reason you don't feed pond fish during the weeks prior to the first frost.) The other reasons reptiles go off their food are boredom (being offered the same foods over and over); disease (loss of appetite is a key symptom); and stress (bullied or egg-bound females are likely to stop eating). Hope this helps, Neale.>

Yellow Bellied Slider, sys, fdg. 10/6/08
Hi Crew,
<Hiya Cherie, Darrel here this afternoon>
I have a young (5 months) yellow bellied slider that I house indoors, in a 15 gal. tank. Recently he has been acting very restless. He has always been an active little guy, he loves to climb anything as high as he can, and because of this I made him a long ladder/hill with a basking site on top, so that he can see out the window that his tank sits next too. I have been searching online for possible reasons for his sudden restless behavior (scratching at the tank, pacing back and forth), and have found that if turtles are not getting enough UV light, they sometimes try to go looking for it. I don't have a lot of money, (although I am willing to spend whatever I can to make sure my turtle is healthy), and when I was buying supplies for him I was told by the pet store owner that a plant light from home depot would provide the right amount of UV light, and is a lot cheaper than the expensive lights sold at places like Petco. So, I bought the plant light, and have been using it for 3 months, do turtles require more intense UV light as they are growing?
<Not higher intensity as they grow. Remember UV A & B comes naturally from the sun and (hopefully) the sun doesn't get more intense as they grow. What's important is that they need the right kind of UV and most Plant-Gro bulbs don't have the right spectrum. While I appreciate the Pet Store guy's logic .. and yes I'm going to say this -- It's better than NO UV light, it's not optimum for him and I urge you to save up if you have to and buy a more specific light for him. Normally I don't endorse products by brand in this column because there are many good products out there, Google is your friend, and I want people to do their research and learn. That said I'll tell you that back when I started, I used Vita-Lite by Duro Test because they were the only UV Bulb supplier that actually published their scientific research rather than just "trust me it's a reptile bulb." I did a quick search online and found an 18" Vita-lite fluorescent for around $15 that fit's in a $9 fixture from Home Depot or Lowes.>
I have been feeding him Gammarus (aquatic shrimp), along with water plants, and lettuce, and he has been eating more, but I assume that is because he is growing. I try feeding him when he is restless, but it only calms him down about 1/2 the time. I also tried giving him toys, but he doesn't show much interest in them. Is he sick, bored, or other? Does a plant light really supply enough UVB light?
<If he's eating and active ... swims and basks, we'll assume he's not sick. Please read the attached link and check your care against the article.>
<The next thing is diet. The pet store will have Repto-Min sticks. They're good but a bit expensive. HOWEVER ... on the same shelf at the bottom will be commercial Koi pellets that contain the exact same food for mush less money. Plants are good, lettuce & shrimp ... no. Actually ... NO! Switch him to the Koi pellets as the staple and a weekly or every other week treat of an night crawler earthworm (also available at the pet store.)>
Thanks so much for your help!
<Make these changes over the next month and then please write back, OK?>

Hey... turtle... fdg... 12/31/07 Hi, I got a Yellow Belly turtle yesterday. I got him and I set up his tank and put him in the tank at about 1:25 - 1:30. At maybe 4:45 - 5:00 o clock in the afternoon I feed him some of the food I got him at the store. On the turtle food container it says it is called floating turtle Gammarus pellets. <Hmm... inadequate diet. These turtles are basically similar to Red-ears, so have a read of this article and expand its diet: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm Dried foods cause problems in the long term, and these turtles need to have substantial (50%+) amounts of greens.> But when I feed him at 4:45 - 5:00 o clock in the afternoon he took a nibble of the food. when I came back in my room the food was dissolved so at 7:30 at night I feed him he took a nibble of that food this morning I got up and that food was goon so I feed him agene. <Take care not to overfeed.> But I know that I did not feed him to much because when I first I feed him I only feed him one peace of food and then a night I gave him two peaces and this morning I feed him tow peaces agiene. But when I feed him this morning he did not eat at all well I don't know if he dose not like his food or what? <Indeed, likely bored with this food. Not good for him anyway, so don't use more than once or twice per week unless you want a sick, dead turtle. Do also remember turtles will only be hungry if they are healthy: this means they MUST HAVE good water quality, swimming space (30 gallon tank, at least), Ultraviolet-B light for basking, and warmth. Sadly, too many people buy turtles without giving any thought to their needs, and end up condemning their turtles to a slow, painful death. It's really very depressing, as these are fun animals when cared for properly.> hope you can help -Madison <Cheers, Neale.>

Turtle won't eat -- 7/3/07 Dear Crew, <Good morning - Darrel here> I just got two yellow bellied slider hatchlings and they are about a month and about the size of a half dollar. The bigger of the two seems to eat every once in awhile although not as much as some of the sites say it should, it only eats a couple of blood worms and only eats maybe once a day. <Nothing wrong with that -- I don't even feed my hatchlings every day, usually every other day. I don't think blood worms is the best diet for them, however. Small Koi pellets or Repto-min (by Tetra) make very good basic diets> With the other smaller turtle, we have never seen it eat and we have had them for about 5 days. All the smaller one does is sit on the rock under the heat lamp for long periods of time and doesn't seem to have any energy. I am really concerned that it is sick and I don't know what else to do. <Maybe not SICK exactly ... smaller turtles from a group hatch often exhibit what I call "runt syndrome" where they simply don't thrive as well as the others. Mostly it just takes them time to get started, but once in a while they go downhill and simply don't make it. But let's not jump off that bridge just yet> Would it be a good idea to put it in a separate tank to eat, maybe a smaller tank? <Not really, not unless he's was REALLY sick. You say he's basking most of the time and that implies that he does swim on his own as well? Try a change in the diet first and see if he's just more interested in other foods. Also, I'm enclosing a link at the end of the response that has information and suggestions. Please read it and match the environment you've given them against the suggestions in the article. Heat/light/water quality are all issues you should look at carefully.> Another question I have is, there are snails at the bottom of the tank and there are some empty snail shells that the bigger turtle like to try and eat, do you think getting some dried snails would be a good idea for the bigger turtle or is that something they can't have? <They certainly CAN have them, although most dried foods you can get in pets stores are very low in any real nutrients. I raise my hatchlings to adulthood and parenthood almost exclusively on Koi pellets and occasional night crawlers (earthworms). Making yourself crazy trying to find just the right exotic foods doesn't seem like the best use of your time -- if you HAVE extra time, use it to check, double check and triple check their environment. They'll be glad you did> Thanks so much for your time, hope to hear from you soon! Stephanie <Yer most welcome!> <Try this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

Our yellow-belly slider keeps eating his poo :-( Feeding a Turtle 5/11/07 Hello, We have a yellow belly slider that's one year old who is eating his poo, right after he poos and after finding it in the gravel. We fee him once a day in the evening around 7pm of 35 pellets of Raffy food, 30 of mixed content and 5 of mineral content. When we got him as a baby the guy in the shop said 5 pellets and as he grow we increased it. But now we're not sure if 35 is enough, then how much is, so that he wont have to eat his poo any more :-( I read online fed for 5-10 min.s as much as he can consume is this right? How would we know when he is satisfied? Thank you in advance Oliver < I would recommend feeding him until his appetite slows down. At first they always act starved and then as they fill up they slow down. Try adding vegetables like kale and spinach to the diet and switch pellet foods. The manufacturers have added flavor enhancers that pass through the turtle's guts undigested. So his fecal matter still is attractive to him as a food item.-Chuck.

Baby Turtle not Eating 3/17/07 Hi, <Hi Emily, Pufferpunk here> I just got a baby yellow bellied slider turtle. I've had him for about 4 days now and he still won't eat anything. I've been feeding him ZOO MED'S AQUATIC HATCHLING TURTLE FOOD and a little ZOO MED'S TURTLE TREATS. What should I feed him to get him to eat? And how long does it usually take for a baby turtle to start eating? I was wondering if I could feed him raw meat, since he won't eat anything else. What do you think? <Baby animals need to eat a lot of food. Try small pieces of fish, worms, freeze-dried plankton. Make sure his water is very clean & keep the temp around 78-80 degrees. ~PP> Thanks, Emily, CT
Baby Turtle Won't Eat - 03/20/07
Hi, My turtle still won't eat, I've tried feeding hatchling aquatic turtle food, and some Jurassic-pet meal worms. It might be because his water is too cold. We've gone to every pet store and none of them had heaters that worked. Since the water is too cold, we put him in a big bowl filled with enough warm water that it covers his shell, but all he does is swim around. All the websites that I've been on said to try meal worms. I put them in the bowl and the turtle just lays there. How long can he go without eating? He's only a hatchling. Please HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!Emily, CT <Your little turtle will eat when he is hungry. Offer the food when he is active and starts to move around. Don't offer any food for a couple of days. offer one mealworm or washed earthworm. If he starts to eat, then only offer enough food until his feeding slows down. He is getting full. Little turtles that eat too much food at one time can die. The food displaces internal organs and cuts down on the turtle's internal circulation. They have little room to expand in their shell. Check the temp. of the basking site. It should be at least 85 F.-Chuck>

Treats For Turtles 11/27/06 I have a juvenile yellow-bellied slider turtle and I would like to know what kinds of snacks I could feed him......would apples be okay?......carrots? I have been feeding him 1-2 flakes of goldfish food once a week for added protein because I mainly just feed him turtle pellets. I just want to create more of a selection for him. Any added advice would be greatly appreciated. :) <Small turtles are largely carnivorous. As they grow older they become more vegetarian. Offer leafy greens like spinach and kale. Young turtles like chopped up earthworms and insects too.-Chuck>

Yellow Bellied Turtle Questions 9/11/06 Hello! Just discovered your site and have to say it's brill! We have a yellow bellied slider called Tiny (not appropriate any more!) He is about 14 months old and his shell is about 5.5 inches long. His diet is varied frozen fish, bloodworm etc from the pet shop but I wondered if there is anything else we could give him. He is always begging for food and seems healthy enough. < As these turtles get older their diet changes from a meaty to a more veggie diet. Offer some green spinach and kale. The fiber in the veggies will keep them full longer.> Also, should we clip his claws as they seem to have grown a lot even though there are rocks for him to use in his tank? < You probably have a male turtle. Their front claws are very long compared to the female's claws. I would recommend that you leave them alone.> And also, one last question, could we add a baby slider to the same tank or would he see it as an "invasion" of his space? < The new turtle would be looked at as competition and would be constantly harassed by the bigger turtle.> The kids are begging us for another but the tank set up was expensive so I really don't want to get a second tank! Keep up the excellent work! Joanna, UK < Thanks for your kind words.-Chuck>

Keeping Yellow Bellied Sliders 4/6/06 Hi Bob, < Chuck, this time.> Recently I bought 2 yellow belly sliders and at the moment they are approx. 1 1/4 in long, I have them in a 27 litre tank with a floating island and they seem to be happy enough. My only fear is that I am feeding them dry shrimp and I'm afraid to give them any fruits or small vegetables because am not too sure whether or not they are too young for this type of food. Also do I need to give them any additional nutritional pellets or vitamins? If you could tell me what age is ok to be feeding them different types of food I would greatly appreciate it. I'm not too sure of the sex yet because they are still quite young but just in case will I need to prepare for breeding or incubation? Thanking you Tommy < Young turtles are more meat eaters. When they get three or four inches then they start to eat more vegetable matter. Veggies can be offered at any time and won't hurt them. Try spinach and kale. Zoo Med makes a commercial aquatic turtle food that can be supplemented with insects and worms. Proper lighting with UVA and UVB, will provide the turtles with the means to produce their own vitamins. females get bigger than males and males have longer tails.-Chuck>

Turtle Problems 8/14/05 Hi, I'm W. Pentony, owner of SHeZ inc.. I'm thirteen and I have two yellow belly turtles, Norbert and Scuttles. Scuttles, who is a bit bigger than Norbert, has been sleeping 24-7 for the past couple of weeks. I haven't been able to feed him since. He is still alive though, but when I wake him he won't open his eye's to let me feed him. Norbert on the other hand is the complete opposite of Scuttles, so I don't worry about him. What's wrong with Scuttles, and what could I do? < Separate the turtles into different containers. The sick one may spread a disease to the healthy one. Make sure both have full spectrum basking light over each one. The basking spot should be able to get up to 100 F. If it is not then move the source closer or get a bigger wattage light. When turtles or most herps get sick they need heat to raise their body temp like when you get sick and get a fever. Turtles cannot raise their own body temp so they rely on an external source like the sun. When turtles lack vitamin A in their diet they are prone to eye problems. Get some ZooMed Turtle Eye Drops and use as directed. If not any better after a few days then you should consult a vet. -Chuck>

Turtle Food 1/11/04 WWM Crew. <Hi, Pufferpunk here> Please can you tell me the best food for my turtles I have 1 painted (2 months) old and 2 yellow bellies (3 months). I live in the UK and food seems to be frozen bloodworms, frozen daphnia and frozen turtle food. I would like to give them a good diet. <I have an African Sideneck, Asian map & soft-shell turtle (in addition to 6 box turtles). They eat cut-up pieces of fish, squid, shrimp, turtle & cichlid pellets, earthworms & crickets. Make sure to use reptile vitamins w/calcium on their food, at least 1x/week.> Thank you for your time. Damon <You're welcome--Pufferpunk>

Turtle Hunger Strike My public library children's area recently received a pair of yellow-bellied slider turtles. They're about three years old. The family that donated them kept them in a ten gallon tank with only about two inches of water and some gravel -- no light, no space to swim, nothing. Their diet -- apparently the only thing that worked for them -- consisted of Tetrafauna ReptoMin pellet food. According to the family, they ate well and always got excited about their food. We immediately filled the tank more than half full, set up a heat lamp, provided them with a dry perch, etc. The turtles seem to love their new space and take periodic laps around the tank. They did lots of exploring the first day, and now have picked their favorite spot on a partially submerged rock. But after a week here, they still have not touched their food. We're planning to introduce meat, earthworms, etc., into the their diet, and hope that will help. But if it doesn't, what's up? are they just traumatized by their recent move? Again, they reportedly ate very well before. Please advise. Thanks! Catherine E. Threadgill Children's Services Charleston County Public Library 68 Calhoun Street Charleston, SC 29401 >>>Hello Catherine, It's likely that you're just witnessing the effects of acclimation. Give them a few more days, and I'm sure they'll begin eating. Try to avoid disturbing them during this time if possible, as the added anxiety will prolong the fast. Good luck Jim<<<

Turtle Feeding Hi, It's Ben again. I hope you got my last e-mail. I forgot to ask you one of the most important questions of all. As I have said I have two 5 month old yellow bellied turtles and I feed them about 100 1/4inch sticks between the two of them once every second night. Is this enough because I have my doubts. Yours sincerely Ben Thanks for your time < I would rather see you feed them 50 pellets every day instead. Little turtles always act hungry so their behavior is not that unusual. Mix in some fresh food every one in a while like crickets, mealworms and earthworms too.-Chuck>

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