yellow bellied slider not eating

It can be stressful when your yellow belly turtle (yellow bellied slider) refuses to eat. You are probably wondering if it could be the sign of an illness or other serious problem. In today’s article, I will explain the main reasons why your yellow belly turtle is not eating, and how to get them to eat again.

Why is My Yellow Belly Turtle Not Eating?

The main reason a yellow belly turtle stops eating is because of a new environment, lack of variety in their diet, poor tank conditions, and illness.

If you are a visual learner, you can watch my video below to learn more about why turtles stop eating and what you can do to stimulate their appetite.

Now let’s go more in depth on the main reasons why your yellow bellied slider isn’t eating.

New environment

If you just brought your turtle home, it is very common for them to not eat for a day or two. This is completely normal, and it usually just takes your turtle some time to get used to the new environment and feel comfortable.

As long as you have the proper water conditions and basking area for your yellow belly turtle, they should begin eating soon. You should also try putting food in the tank and then walking away. There is a chance that your turtle is a little scared of you, and feels nervous coming to the surface with you nearby.

If you don’t have a new turtle, then the issue might be with what food you’re giving them.

Lack of variety

There is also a chance that your yellow belly turtle isn’t eating because you are not feeding it enough variety. Yellow bellied sliders are omnivores, but their diet requirements change as they get older. Younger yellow belly turtles will require more protein in their diet (insects, pellets, etc.) whereas older yellow belly turtles will eat mostly plants.

You can check out my guide on the best yellow belly turtle food if you want to learn more about their diet.

Regardless of your turtle’s age, you should always feed them at least two to three different types of food on a weekly basis. You should feed them some type of vegetables, pellets, and insects as a treat. Older turtles might also stop eating as much once they stop growing, which can occur between the ages of 4 and 8.

You should also not feed your turtle more than once/twice a day. If you overfeed your turtle, it could cause them to experience digestion problems. You can learn more in my article on how much to feed a turtle.

Another mistake I commonly see is that people will feed their yellow bellied slider outside of the water. It is important that you always feed your turtle in the water, as it makes it much easier for them to break down the food and swallow it. Since turtles don’t have teeth, eating food out of the water can be hard to breakdown.

You can try to stimulate their appetite by feeding them feeder fish.

Related Article: Why is my turtle not eating pellets?

Poor tank conditions

Your yellow bellied slider might also not be eating because the tank conditions are not healthy. You should make sure that your water temperature is between 75 and 85 degrees fahrenheight. You should also make sure that you have a UVA and UVB light for their basking platform.

Basking helps speed up your turtle’s metabolism, so inadequate basking conditions might cause them to stop eating.

Your turtle might also stop eating if your water is dirty. This is usually the case if your turtle starts spending less time in the water. If you suspect this is the case, make sure you have a strong turtle filter, and do at least a 25% water change.


The worst case scenario is that your yellow belly turtle is sick because it has an illness. The most common illness among aquatic turtles is respiratory infection. This can cause your turtle to get white discharge on their face, and it can also lead to swollen and puffy eyes. Along with not eating, your yellow belly turtle will likely stop moving as much.

If you catch a respiratory infection early, you can usually treat it with some antibiotics that you can buy online. However, if the infection is advanced and your turtle’s condition continues to worsen, you should take them to the vet. There is a chance that your turtle’s illness can only be fixed by a professional.

You can watch my video below to learn more about respiratory infections.

You can learn about more types of illness in my article on pet turtle diseases.

How to get yellow bellied slider to eat?

The best way to get your yellow bellied slider to eat is to feed them a variety of vegetables, pellets, and insects. Just like humans, turtle’s have taste buds, and there is a chance you have to try a bunch of different stuff to see what your turtle likes.

You should also make sure that your turtle has a proper basking platform and clean water. It is also important to ensure that the water is between 75 and 85 degrees fahrenheight, and that their basking platform is about 10 degrees warmer than the water.

If you follow these instructions, your yellow belly turtle should start eating in no time. Make sure to give them some space in case they are afraid of eating in front of you. If your are looking for more ideas of how to get them to eat, you should check out my guide on how to get your turtle to eat.