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Can You Keep a Red-Eared Slider and a Yellow-Bellied Turtle Together?

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If you're putting together a turtle habitat, you may be interested to know which types of turtle can happily live together. Red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) and yellow-bellied sliders (T. s. scripta), are subspecies of the turtle known as the slider. As such, they can cohabit, provided they're kept in the correct environment. Another yellow-bellied turtle species exists, the yellowbelly mud turtle (Pelusios castanoides), but due to the turtle's different size and care requirements it's not compatible with either type of slider.

About the Red-Eared Slider

Females red-eared sliders are the larger of the sexes, generally measuring 10 to 12 inches, whereas males measure 7 to 9 inches. Both sexes have the same coloration, with adults usually sporting shells -- or carapaces -- that can range from dull yellow to black and dark green skin with yellow markings. Their name comes from the bright red markings on the sides of their heads.

About the Yellow-Bellied Slider

Male yellow-bellied sliders generally measure between 5 and 8 inches long. Females are larger, measuring between 8 and 13 inches in length. Their carapaces are olive green to brown in color, usually with yellow bars or stripes on them. Plastrons, or undersides, are yellow -- hence the name. Their skin is green with yellow lines and yellow stripes behind each eye. Their striking markings make them popular pets.

About the Yellowbelly Mud Turtle

Yellowbelly mud turtles originate from eastern parts of Africa and Madagascar. Largest specimens can reach up to 9 inches in length, although many are smaller. These turtles have dark skin and carapaces, usually ranging from olive green to black. While they're not commonly kept as pets, it's not unheard of. One of their subspecies, P. c. intergularis -- a type endemic to the Seychelles -- is critically endangered, according to the IUCN, and is protected by law. It's illegal to keep a wild-caught specimen.

Compatibility Issues

While it's safe to keep yellow-bellied sliders and red-eared sliders in the same enclosure, consider a few points. Turtles kept together should be of a comparable size -- preferably with one no more than a few inches bigger than the other -- to avoid the larger one injuring the smaller. Males are liable to sexually harass females, so it's best to keep turtles of the same sex together. If you're housing a new turtle with one you already have, you should quarantine the newbie for 90 days to be sure he's not harboring any diseases.

Home, Sweet Home

One of the main causes of aggression between turtles housed together is not being given enough space. Red-eared sliders require slightly more room than yellow-bellied sliders, so make sure you cater to the space requirements of the former -- their yellow-bellied cousins won't mind having a larger enclosure. Two males could live together in a 75-gallon tank, but two females will need a 125-gallon tank as a minimum. Each additional male will need an extra 35 to 40 gallons and each additional female will need an extra 60 to 65 gallons.