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How to Know When Yellow-Bellied Slider Turtles Mate

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The yellow-bellied slider turtle is an attractive turtle with its distinctive yellow lines and plastron (lower part of shell) decorated with dark splotches. It’s also a gentle turtle that’s easy to care for, so it’s not surprising that you would want to produce baby yellow-bellied sliders. The first step, after confirming that you have a male and female, is to understand when your turtles will mate.

They Reach Maturity

Turtles only mate once they reach maturity. According to the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, male turtles reach maturity between 3 to 5 years of age. Females, who are larger than males, are mature at 5 to 7 years old.

Spring Has Sprung

Yellow-bellied turtles usually mate from March through July, although mating can extend into fall and even warm winter months. According to Nabonis.org, the reproductive timing of each sex is fully synchronized from April to June. The male and female have alternative reproductive strategies, so mating in the fall likely requires the female to store sperm.

He Courts Her

While under the water, the male will swim toward the female and flutter his long claws on and around her face, creating water currents that may entice her to mate with him. If the female is receptive, she will sink to the bottom of the water where the male will mount her to mate. If she is not interested, she may act aggressively toward him.

They Take Time

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums states that the courtship ritual for yellow-bellied sliders can take up to 45 minutes, while mating takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Suffice it to say, the male has to do a bit of work to get the female to comply with his wishes.

She Shows Signs

Even if you don’t witness your turtles mating, there will be signs that it occurred. Several weeks after mating, the new mom-to-be will bask more than usual to keep her eggs warm. Like pregnant humans, she may be picky about what she eats or eat less than usual. She’ll dig a jug-shaped nest with her hind legs and deposit her eggs into it.

The Hatchlings Arrive

Of course, you’ll know for sure that your turtles have mated when tiny hatchlings arrive. Babies emerge from their shells about two to three months after mating occurred. They usually remain in their nest until the weather warms up in the spring.