I recently adopted a yellow-bellied slider, and the people who had her said that they had been keeping her for about 10 years, when they adopted her from a rescue house. I don't know how old she was when they adopted her, and I don't hold any hope of finding any information on the rescue house.

Assuming I don't have any outside information beyond the "around 10 years ago", is there any way that I can determine the age of my turtle? I've read conflicting answers on the reliability of using shell scales (like tree rings), but I can't find any other information on how to estimate her age.

  • 1
    I don't think you can. Once they reach maturity, it's guess work. For domesticated turtles it's even harder since they don't hibernate and they eat better, so size is even tricky to use.
    – Joanne C
    Oct 25, 2013 at 12:16
  • Did you ask Mr owl? For those not old enough to immediately get the reference: youtube.com/watch?v=LZ0epRjfGLw
    – user9
    Oct 25, 2013 at 14:42
  • CAn you add some more details about her physically, perhaps include one or two photos? Size etc
    – user6796
    Oct 26, 2013 at 0:09
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    @Skippy Of course! I just checked and don't have any good size reference shots, but I'll take some more soon.
    – Coronus
    Oct 28, 2013 at 16:52
  • @Coronus the problem is, once they reach a certain age, they don't continue to grow, but their color changes gradually..
    – user6796
    Oct 29, 2013 at 2:48

1 Answer 1


From the information I could find, there is no definitive way of determining the age of an adult yellow-bellied slider, unless you've owned it from a baby. Counting rings on the shell is not significant in determining years of age.

For young females the yellow mark behind the eye is more striking, as is the underside of the belly. These feature tend to fade with age. The males tend to grow darker.

So without asking the previous owners if they know how old she was when they took her, it's hard to guess. It is understandable that you would want to know. They can live for many years, but it would be good to know where on her lifeline she is.

They are brown or olive green, usually with a prominent patch of yellow on the side of the head. The lower jaw is rounded. The shells of yellow-bellied slider turtles average in size from 5 to 8 inches; the record is about one foot. The yellow blotch behind the eye is the most conspicuous marking and is most prominent in juveniles and females. The yellow underside of the turtle's shell sometimes is marked with round dusky smudges; these markings may be reduced in older turtles. Also, adult males may become very dark.

Yellow-Bellied Slider Turtle Fact Sheet Factsheet produced by the Outreach Program of the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, The University of Georgia

Yellow-bellied sliders are omnivorous, however, juveniles tend to be more carnivorous than adults.

Yellow-Bellied Slider Species Profile ReptileChannel.com

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