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Turtles/Yellow bellied turtle that never basks


The other half and I have had this YBT since july last year (we got him as a present and he was still a baby) it took us a couple months to save up and get him everything he needs (basking lamp, basking ledge, filter, uv light and water heater) but he has had everything now since september time. In that whole time he has not basked once, he just stays in the water at all times. He is really active but he is now getting algae on his shell and his belly looks like it has pink stains on it. He has grown quite a bit, he is active always digging in his pebbles at the bottom of the tank and he eats a lot but he still refuses to bask.
Do you have any idea what is wrong with him and what we should do to help him?

Hope to hear from you soon.



You should check your temperatures.  If the water temperature is too warm in relation to the basking temperature, the turtle will spend too much time in the water.  It's very important for a turtle to bask at least several hours a day.  The basking temperature should be 88-90 degrees, and the water temperature should be about 76-78 degrees (a little cooler for an adult)--there should be at least a 10-15 degree difference.  If the tank is too small (less than 30 gallons), you may have trouble keeping the temperature difference.  YBS need quite a bit of room as they grow, so if the tank is smaller, you might want to upgrade to something larger.


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Questions regarding husbandry of Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean species, sulcata, and redfoot tortoises; general tortoise and turtle care; box turtle care. If I can't answer a specific question, I can provide sources for further research. Disclaimer: My advice is not a substitute for vet care. If I think your tortoise/turtle has a specific medical condition or injury that warrants a vet visit, I'll tell you so, and if possible I'll help you locate a vet. It is neither legal nor ethical for me to provide veterinary advice.


I have kept and bred Russian tortoises for over ten years and have other Mediterranean species plus redfoots and box turtles. I've worked with other tortoise and turtle species while doing volunteer rescue work; mostly sulcata but some leopards, California desert tortoises, yellowfoots, all box turtle species, red-eared sliders, etc. I don't personally keep aquatic species, but have access to a wealth of information and research to help you with any questions you might have.

My knowledge is based on hands-on experience keeping, breeding, and working with tortoises and turtles.

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