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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11424
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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I have gotten into a snag once again. My yellow belly slider

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I have gotten into a snag once again. My yellow belly slider had stopped eating for several weeks but looks extremely healthy, is still growing noticeably, is very active and just started eating again. He climbs, swims, eats, walks, etc...
I fed him reptimin two weeks ago, green romaine lettace one week ago and additional reptimin two days ago. I have been so sparing with food because he is not defecating 'at all' and shows no signs of eating it either.
He pees regularly - that is not a problem
I have tried warm water soaks and placement in direct warm sunlight
Nothing seems to help - do you have any advice?

Hello again, Robert. I'm sorry to hear you are having another problem with your turtle. The first thing to do is check your temperatures to make sure your heating equipment is functioning properly. It's easy for something to go wrong without us knowing it. The basking area should be 85*F to 90*F, and the water 78*F to 82*F, as we've discussed before. Next, wait three or four days since he last ate,mother try some different foods. Earthworms are especially tempting to most turtles, but you can also try cooked chicken, cooked beef heart, or high-quality canned dog or cat food. Just be sure to provide variety. It's easy to end up with a spoiled turtle who will only eat one food if you aren't careful. At age five, it would be fine to feed Yertle only twice a week. If you can get him to eat some kind of meaty food, that may be enough to produce a bowel movement. You can also see if he might eat a little piece of a prune. As always, if you have more questions let me know. I hope one of the suggestions above will work.


Customer: replied 5 months ago.

Hello Anna,

Happily enough I haven't had any problems with my turtle for a long time.

My yellow belly (a 6 year old male named Yurtle) is sitting on his rock gaping over and over again, making an acking sound.

His eyes have been leaking water lately.

I also need to use a light to heat up his basking area - it is 70 degrees and needs to be controlled at about 80 - 90.

I want to make sure I don't melt the plastic or overheat.

Also - every year he brumates himself until February.

He is ready to eat again but I don't want to feed him much because he is not processing the food he already ate last time.

Hope all is well - thanks for your advice.

Hello again. I'm glad to hear your turtles have done well for some time. Unfortunately, Yurtle now has a serious problem.

There are several possible causes for such respiratory symptoms, ranging from an irritation to heart trouble to cancer. However, the most likely cause is a respiratory infection. While that seems similar to the common cold in humans, respiratory infections in turtles are dangerous. Without treatment, they typically progress to pneumonia, which is often fatal.

Respiratory infections respond well to prescription antibiotics, such as Baytril. I recommend that you make an appointment with a reptile vet as soon as possible. This site has a directory which will help you find one near you: Link

When a turtle is ill, warmer temperatures can give the immune system a boost. It is really important to get the basking area up to 85*F to 90*F. That is really the only supportive measure you can take at home until you can see the vet.

I’m also including a care sheet I’ve written for slider turtles. It takes months to years before incorrect conditions result in health problems, so even a turtle that has seemed to do well, will eventually become ill. I'm sure you are familiar with much of the information in it, but you can use the care sheet as a checklist to make sure everything is right. If you have more questions, let me know. I hope Yurtle will be fine.


My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Please remember to rate my service after you have all the information you need. I will greatly appreciate a positive rating as that is the only way I am compensated. Thank you!


Well-cared for sliders can live 30 years or more.

The Tank

It's recommended that a baby slider have at least a 15 gallon tank. By the time the turtle is 3-4 years old, it will need a 60 gallon tank, so it's best to get the biggest you can in the beginning. You can also use a large RubberMaid tote. That's not as pretty as a tank, but costs a lot less. Set up the tank so there's a land area and a water area. Put the basking light at one end so the whole tank doesn’t get too hot. You want the water to be about twice as deep as the turtle is long. If the turtle is two inches long, you'll want four inches of water.

Temperatures and Basking Area

Turtles need certain types of lighting and need to be warm. Air and water that are not warm enough can lead to fungal and respiratory infections and unhealthy shells. Turtles must have a basking area where they can get out of the water, dry off, and bask in very warm light. The ambient air temperature in the tank should be around 75 *F (24*C) , with the basking area warmer still. Over the basking area there should be some sort of lamp that will take a 40-60 watt incandescent bulb (or you can buy a ceramic light fixture made just for reptiles). If you live in an area that has farm stores, you can buy a metal light fixture made to keep baby chicks warm for just a few dollars. Don't buy the accompanying bulb, however. You need an ordinary incandescent bulb in the basking light. Hardware stores sell similar fixtures as work lights. The basking area should be kept at 85-90*F (29 to 32*C). Use a digital probe thermometer to be sure. You can adjust the temperature by raising or lowering the light fixture.The lights that come with the covers on aquariums are not suitable for turtles. You'll also need a submersible aquarium heater that will keep the water 78-82*F (26 to 28*C).

UVB Light

It's extremely important that you buy an additional light that produces UVB rays. A Reptisun 10.0 is a good brand that does. If you choose another brand be absolutely certain it provides UVB rays. Don't take the word of pet store personnel, but read it for yourself. Full-spectrum, DayGlo, SunGlo, UV, or UVA are not the same thing. I'm putting a lot of emphasis on this because it's crucial to your turtle's health. Without this light, Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) will develop because your turtle won't be able to produce vitamin D. Vitamin supplements are not a good replacement for the proper lighting. MBD causes a very slow and painful death.UVB bulbs must be replaced every six months as they lose their effectiveness after that, even though they may still look fine. Light that comes through a window isn't sufficient because the glass filters out most of the rays turtles need to stay healthy. To prevent MBD, turtles also need calcium. The easiest way to provide it is to place a cuttlebone in the tank. Cuttlebones are sold in bird departments of pet stores.


Turtles are very sensitive to water quality. Even if you change the water every day, it can still contain harmful chemicals. A good filtration system is essential. Water changes are also needed even with a filter. If the tank is too small, no filter can keep up with the amount of waste that turtles produce.


Feeding is an area where pet stores often give out bad information. Commercial food should make up only 1/4 of the diet. Animal products (cooked meat, earthworms, canned cat food) should make up another 1/4. The remaining half should be plant foods (dark lettuce like romaine, bits of strawberry or melon, etc.). Hatchlings should be fed every day. Older turtles should be fed 3 times per week. Overfeeding can lead to gout and kidney failure.

For Further Reading

This is among the most reputable sites on turtles.


Do you need any additional information? How is Yurtle doing?


Customer: replied 4 months ago.

Hi Anna,

Yertle is in a little bit of a tangle. I bought him a 50 watt basking lamp/bulb combination. The bulb only warmed the tank to 82 degrees. I bought a 75 watt bulb that was so hot I thought it might melt the tank edges.

My tank is plastic with a plastic rim around its circumference. (It turns out my tank is not a standardized size so I can't replace the top with a metal one). I will need the 75 if I need to raise temperatures to 90.

Yertle is very happy with warmer temperatures and is very hungry. He begs a lot and has eaten very well and I no longer see him gaping. In particular, I fed him because he was hunting constantly all over tank and its floor.

Now, even though he is so energetic and hungry, he has not been pooping at all. (I am hoping that maybe he eats it when I am not looking)

What do you think?

Hi Robert,The basking area temp does need to be 85*F to 90*F. Perhaps you can find a way to suspend the light so it doesn't get so hot on the edges.As for not pooping, a turtle that is constipated usually will not eat. Since he is eating, your suspicion that he's eating the poop may be right. His poop may also be of a moister quality, causing it to disintegrate quickly and be taken up by the filter. As long as he is active and hungry, I think we need to assume he isn't constipated. The only way to be absolutely certain would be to have a vet take an X-ray. For now, I would just keep an eye on the situation.I would greatly appreciate it if you would take a moment to rate my service. I am not paid by JustAnswer until you do. Even after you do that, you can still come back to this question at no additional fee with follow-up questions. Thank you very much!
Anna and 2 other Reptile Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 months ago.

No problem - I Always appreciate your help


You're welcome. I'm always glad to help. I especially love turtles.