Yellow-bellied turtles

Also known as the yellow-bellied terrapin or slider, these aquatic freshwater species of turtle have their origins in East and South America. Yellow-bellied turtles are sociable turtles and easy to keep but remember that keeping these animals as pets is a commitment -  they can live for up to 25 years and grow to approx 8-10” long, so you’ll need a large tank. Their striking colouration makes them a popular choice to keep. One extra tip for you - males have a thicker tail than females.

Housing

Their enclosure should contain a heater/ filter/ lighting system with a 5.0uvb terrarium bulb. A good quality filtration system will help prolong the time between water changes but you should always change their water regularly. Make note that these turtles are messy. They create a lot of waste which can pollute their water very quickly.

The aquarium should have an open swimming area, out of water basking area and a shaded area. There should be enough room for the turtles to come out of the water and dry out when they want to.

Substrate and furnishings

Gravel / sand substrate with a mixture of rocks, wood and plants. Silver or play sand is ideal.

Heating

Use a thermostatically controlled aquarium heater to keep a constant temperature of 22-26ºC (72-78ºF).

Lighting

Use a 5.0 UVB terrarium bulb, which must be positioned within 45cm of the basking area. Keep this on for 8 - 10 hours per day.

Diet and Feeding

These turtles can be fed on bloodworm, mealworms, insects, aquatic vegetation and dry or frozen turtle food. The use of a calcium additive is recommended.

Maintenance

Every 2–3 weeks clean glass and filter. Don’t do this under tap water. A 25% water change, using syphon cleaner is advised and use a water conditioner to make the tap water safe.

Salmonella

Like all living things reptiles can carry salmonella which can be acquired by ingestion (via the mouth) Good hygiene is important when you keep any animal. You are more likely to acquire salmonella from raw chicken, a stale cream cake or a dog so don’t assume your reptile is the only suspect.

Wash your hands after handling all animals.