(Trachemys scripta scripta)
The yellow-bellied slider is a land and water turtle belonging to the family Emydidae. This subspecies of
pond slider is native to the southeastern United States, specifically from Florida to southeastern Virginia,
and is the most common turtle species in its range. It is found in a wide variety of habitats, including
slow-moving rivers, floodplain swamps, marshes, seasonal wetlands, and permanent ponds. Yellow-bellied
sliders are popular as pets.
Trachemys scripta scripta
Adult male yellow-bellied sliders typically reach 5-9 inches (13-23 cm) in length; females range from 8-13
inches (20–33 cm. The carapace (upper shell) is typically brown and black, often with yellow stripes. The
skin is olive green with prominent patches of yellow down the neck and legs. As the name implies, the
plastron (bottom shell) is mostly yellow with black spots along the edges. Adults tend to grow darker as
they age. Yellow-bellied sliders are often confused with eastern river cooters, who also have yellow stripes
on the neck and yellow undersides, but the latter lack the green spots characteristic of this species. The
yellow belly often has an "s"-shaped yellow stripe on its face. They also have markings shaped like question
marks on their bellies.
Mating can occur in spring, summer, and autumn. Yellow-bellied sliders are capable of interbreeding with
other T. scripta subspecies, such as red-eared sliders, which are commonly sold as pets. The release of
non-native red-eared sliders into local environments caused the state of Florida to ban the sale of
red-eared sliders in order to protect the native population of yellow-bellied sliders.
Mating takes place in the water. Suitable terrestrial area is required for egg-laying by nesting females,
who will normally lay 6-10 eggs at a time, with larger females capable of bearing more. The eggs incubate
for 2-3 months and the hatchlings will usually stay with the nest through winter. Hatchlings are almost
entirely carnivorous, feeding on insects, spiders, crustaceans, tadpoles, fish, and carrion. As they age,
adults eat less and less meat, and up to 95% of their nutritional intake eventually comes from plants.
The slider is considered a diurnal turtle; it feeds mainly in the morning and frequently basks on shore, on
logs, or while floating, during the rest of the day. At night, it sleeps on the bottom or on the surface
near brush piles. Highest densities of sliders occur where algae blooms and aquatic macrophytes are abundant
and are of the type that form dense mats at the surface, such as Myriophyllum spicatum and lily pads
(Nymphaeaceae). Dense surface vegetation provides cover from predators and supports high densities of
aquatic invertebrates and small vertebrates, which offer better foraging than open water.
The lifespan of yellow-bellied sliders is over 30 years in the wild, and over 40 years in captivity.
Pond plants such as elodea (anacharisan) and cabomba can also be left in the water, while human-consumed
vegetables such as romaine lettuce, escarole and collard greens must be changed daily. As sliders are
omnivores, insects and freshly killed fish may also be provided for protein. Commercially processed
animal-based reptile food may be given too, but any leftovers should be immediately removed to prevent
fouling the water.
Zoológico de Vallarta A. C.
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