The Yellow-bellied Slider (Trachemys scripta scripta) is a land and water turtle. This species of pond slider is native to the southeastern United States, specifically from Florida to southeastern Virginia. 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. This has led to escaped specimens becoming established in the wild in Great Britian.
Adult male yellow-bellied sliders typically reach 5–8 inches (13–20 cm) in length; females are anywhere 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 green spots along the edges. Adult males tend to grow darker as they age.
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 also commonly sold as pets.Mating takes place in the water, but some 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 such that up to 95% of their nutritional intake 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 lying on the bottom or resting on the surface near brush piles, but in all cases it prefers to stay in the water. 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 offers better foraging than open water.
The lifespan of yellow-bellied sliders is over 30 years in the wild, and over 40 years in captivity.