I’ve been considering getting a yellow-bellied slider recently, and so I was wondering:
How long do they live? And what can I do to help them live longer lives?
Let’s start with the first question.
How long do yellow-bellied sliders live? In the wild, yellow-bellied sliders can live 30 years. Properly cared for, yellow bellied sliders in captivity can live 40+ years. The oldest one on record was 58 years old in 2007 (and may still be alive).
In this article, I’m going to cover what I’ve learned about what can increase or decrease their lifespan. Most of these are easy adjustments you can make to their care that don’t take much time or money.
Let’s get started.
Like all other animals, wild yellow-bellied sliders are susceptible to the unpredicatable forces of nature and the dangers of being in the wild.
For this reason, yellow-bellied sliders that live in the wild can usually live up to at least thirty years old if they have managed to escape predators. Because we’re providing them a safe environment, yellow-bellied sliders that are pets can live for over forty years when they are cared for properly.
It’s not all smooth sailing, however.
There are quite a few things that can decrease the lifespan of yellow bellied sliders.
Yellow-bellied sliders that are pets may have a shortened lifespan for the following reasons:
- Suffering from an illness,
- Not having the proper living conditions
- Lacking a varied diet.
Yellow-bellied sliders in the wild may have a shortened lifespan for the following reasons:
- They have a higher probability of encountering predators.
- They may suffer an illness and lack access to care.
- They must hunt for their own food.
- And they must find a dwelling in an area that provides them the ability to swim and bask on the shore.
Yellow bellied sliders that are pets tend to be housed in aquariums that are protected from predators.
This protection from predators increases the lifespan of pet yellow-bellied sliders by at least ten years. There is more you can do, however.
This includes regularly cleaning their tanks, and providing a basking area with a UVB light. This helps them produce D3 and metabolize calcium, preventing a wide range of shell and bone problems.
You also want to make sure you’re feeding them a nutritionally complete diet. Luckily, a lot of the commercially available pellet foods can be used here (and veggies + fish added in on top).
In the event that the yellow bellied slider does not receive proper care or nutrition, it can undergo common health issues that can decrease their lifespan.
The following illnesses are common health issues of yellow-bellied sliders.
Yellow bellied sliders suffer shell infections when they have not had proper access to basking areas, or when they have remained in too much of a humid environment.
This causes shell rot which is a dangerous condition for the yellow-bellied slider – since the shell is the method for the yellow-bellied slider’s protection.
You will notice shell rot if the shell is very soft to the touch, if there is pitting in the shell, or if there is a discharge or a foul smell coming from the shell. Shell rot can be caused by a scratch or a cut, so take care to observe your yellow-bellied slider’s shell.
Yellow-bellied sliders suffer respiratory infections when they are deficient in Vitamin A, when they are malnourished, or if they live in unsanitary conditions. One of the main respiratory infections that yellow-bellied sliders experience is Pneumonia.
One can recognize pneumonia in their yellow-bellied slider in a number of symptoms. The first of these being the yellow-bellied slider may float due to his body’s condition. Additionally, the yellow-bellied slider may show difficulty breathing, and he may have discharge in his eyes, or if it has dry, flaky skin.
Metabolic bone disease is a common ailment of captive yellow-bellied sliders. It is due to yellow-bellied sliders not having a proper diet and not having a proper environment. The lack of access to UVB rays can increase the chances for a yellow-bellied slider to develop this condition.
Pet yellow-bellied sliders tend to live at least one decade longer than yellow-bellied sliders that live in the wild. There are a few things one can do to increase a yellow-bellied slider’s lifespan. Taking care of the yellow-bellied slider is a fairly easy task if they are pets.
When a yellow bellied slider gets sick or suffers a wound, it is important to treat their illness before it gets worse.
To treat shell rot, apply an antibiotic ointment then wait at least ten minutes before returning the yellow-bellied slider to the water. If it does not improve after a few days, take the slider to the vet.
To treat respiratory infections and metabolic bone disease, take the yellow-bellied slider to the veterinarian right away. The yellow-bellied slider could die if it does not promptly receive the proper treatment.
Change the yellow-bellied slider’s tank water at least every other week, so the water does not get contaminated.
Also, make sure there is enough water for him to swim in, and a rock or some foliage within the tank for the yellow-bellied slider to fully emerge from the water and if it wants to.
Remember the importance of UVB rays to the yellow-bellied slider’s ability to metabolize calcium. If possible, place a UVB lamp above the yellow-bellied slider’s tank.
When feeding the yellow-bellied slider, provide a nutritionally balanced diet. You can start with a commercial turtle food, and add in other vegetables to provide phytonutrients not available in pellet based feed.
Occasionally place feeder fish in the water. This will provide your turtle with exercise and mental stimulation.
Let’s cover the best diet for your turtle in more detail.
First things first:
As I’ve mentioned, pellets can be a cheap and nutritious part of your slider’s diet. However, pellets should not make up more than 25% of its diet.
Captive yellow-bellied sliders need a varied diet similar to what they might have in the wild. This diet should include leafy greens, fruit, vegetables, insects, and fish.
Yellow-bellied sliders can eat many leafy greens such as collard greens, mustard greens, or kale in addition to pond plants. Leftovers from human-consumed vegetables like greens and kale need to be removed from the slider’s tank after feeding.
Pond plants, including elodea and calomba, can be left in the yellow-bellied slider’s tank.
Fruit such as strawberries and blueberries, and vegetables like squash and okra can also be fed to yellow-bellied sliders once per week.
In addition to providing them with fruits and vegetables, yellow-bellied sliders need insects. Since insects are an essential part of their diet in the wild, providing them with feeder insects helps them stay healthy. Crickets, roaches, and mealworms are some good options.
You can also provide your pet slider with feeder fish. You should be able to pick them up from the pet store for under a quarter. Just drop them in the tank. Your turtle will take care of the rest.
If you are wondering how much to feed your yellow-bellied slider, there are a few general rules.
Baby yellow-bellied sliders need to be fed at least twice a day. Once it gets to be at least 4 inches in shell size, move to feeding only once per day.
Yellow-bellied sliders stop eating when they are full, so you do not need to worry about them over-eating. Generally, they are quick eaters and will finish their meal in about five minutes.
It is essential to remove leftover foods from the yellow-bellied slider’s tank post-feeding. Leaving leftover food in the yellow-bellied slider’s tank can lead to contamination of the tank water, and will negatively impact the health of the yellow-bellied slider.
If you are considering getting a yellow-bellied slider, it is important to note the things that can affect their lifespan.
If they are neglected, they die pretty quickly. Take good care of them, however, and they will be with you nearly for the rest of your life.