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Pink Belly Sideneck Turtle (Red Belly Sideneck Turtle)

Pink-belled side-necked turtles are a beautiful species of aquatic turtle that is becoming more available on the market thanks to captive breeding efforts. These turtles can be very active yet docile, making them enjoyable pets for an intermediate turtle keeper.

To help you decide whether a Pink-belled side-necked turtle is a good choice for your collection, this guide will take you through the ins and outs of Pink-belled side-necked turtle care. We’ll cover tank size, diet, temperatures, and water parameters.

Pink-bellied Side-necked Turtle

Pink belly sideneck
  • Experience level: Intermediate
  • Family: Chelidae
  • Scientific name: Emydura subglobosa
  • Other names: Red-bellied short-necked turtle, Jardine River turtle
  • Adult Male Size: 5 to 7 inches
  • Adult Female Size: 10 to 16 inches
  • Average Lifespan: 30 to 50 years
  • Average Price Range: $60 to $230

Interesting facts about Pink-bellied side-necked turtles

Pink-belled side-necked turtles can be happily housed with some other turtle species to create a community pond or tank. Avoid housing them with Snapping turtles and larger Musk turtles as the Pink-belled side-necked turtle may be seen as prey by these species.

Pink-belled turtles react well to captive breeding, which has allowed them to become a popular option on the pet owner’s market outside of their native Australia.

Like other side-necked turtles, the Pink-belled turtle pulls its head to one side to hide in its shell, rather than straight back like most other turtle species.

What does a Pink-bellied side-necked turtle look like?

Pink-belled side-necked turtles are named for their distinctive pinkish or reddish plastrons. Their shells are relatively flat and are usually green or brown. They have two bright yellow strips running along their cheeks.

How big do Pink-bellied side-necked turtles get?

The average male Pink-belled side-necked turtle size is around 5 to 7 inches long. Females will grow considerably larger; between 10 and 16 inches in some extreme cases. Males will have longer and thicker tails than females.

Where do Pink-bellied side-necked turtles live?

Pink Belly Sideneck Turtle with head and front legs out
Pink Belly Sideneck Turtle with head and front legs out

Pink-belled side-necked turtles are native to tropical regions of Australia and Papua New Guinea. Australia now refuses to export native specimens, but populations have successfully been bred in captivity in the United States.

What kind of habitat do Pink-bellied side-necked turtles need?

Pink-belled side-necked turtles are an aquatic species that can tolerate a range of environments. Their native habitat includes warm tropical waters in Australia or Papua New Guinea. These turtles rarely venture out of the water and like some dense aquatic vegetation to hide in.

How long do Pink-bellied side-necked turtles live in captivity?

Pink-belled turtles are a hardy species that can survive between 30 and 50 years in captivity on average, although many specimens may live even longer.

What do Pink-bellied side-necked turtles eat?

Pink-belled side-necked turtles are mainly carnivorous. In the wild, they will eat small amphibians and fish, insects, and mollusks, and worms.

In captivity, you can also feed them commercial turtle pellets and some occasional leafy green vegetation to keep their diet healthy and varied.

How do Pink-bellied side-necked turtles breed?

Originally a rare species, the Pink-belled side-necked turtle has been successfully bred in captivity, hence the strong supply of the species in the market. Like all other turtles, this species digs holes in sand or mud to bury their eggs inside.

Breeders can let the eggs hatch naturally or use an incubator for safety and to speed up the process.

What predators do Pink-bellied side-necked turtles face?

Pink-belled side-necked turtles can be caught and eaten by large species of Musk and Snapping turtles. In their native environments, they may be prey for large fish, snakes, and other reptiles.

Pink Belly Sideneck Turtle Care

Front view of Pink Belly Sideneck Turtle
Front view of Pink Belly Sideneck Turtle

Enclosure

The best Pink-belled side-necked turtle tank size for a male is 75-gallons, while the larger females will need around 100-gallons. These adaptable turtles can also be housed in outdoor ponds as long as their temperature needs are met.

Hatchlings and juveniles can be housed in 20-gallon aquariums. As your specimen grows, add an extra 10-gallons of tank space per inch of growth. If you’re keeping more than one individual in a tank, add on an extra 10% to 15% tank space per 10-gallons to give them enough room.

Pink-belled side-necked turtles can be housed at different water depths. You may prefer a shallow or a deep water level. Deeper tanks will be easier to keep clean. These turtles are great swimmers and like a lot of space.

These turtles will not usually come out of the water to bask, so provide a shallow water area near the basking spot so that your turtle can soak up heat and UVB light while still being underwater. Some flat rocks under the surface work well for this.

Decorate the enclosure with some aquatic plants to give your turtle places to hide. You can also use aquarium ornaments or caves made from rocks.

Recommended basic products

When keeping any turtle, there are a few basic products that you’ll need. We’ve provided a list of some basic equipment for your Pink-belled side-necked turtle enclosure:

Cleaning

A good filtration system is the best way to help keep your Pink-belled side-necked turtle’s tank clean. The water doesn’t need to be very fast-moving as long as the filter is effective.

Remember, always get a filter that can cycle through at least three times the water capacity of your tank. Partial water changes will also be needed to help keep the tank and water clean.

Pink-belled side-necked turtles are a hardy species that can actually tolerate slightly chlorinated tap water. Any water that a human can drink safely is also safe for one of these turtles.

Substrate

A substrate of aquatic or river sand and rocks works well for Pink-belled side-necked turtles. To avoid issues with impaction, make sure that any rocks used are larger than your turtle’s head. This eliminates the risk of it accidentally swallowing the substrate.

Temperature

Pink Belly Sideneck Turtle on white background
Pink Belly Sideneck Turtle on white background

Being an adaptable species, Pink-belled side-necked turtles aren’t especially fussy about the water temperature in their tanks. The general ballpark is between 66°F and 80°F. Use a thermometer to keep track of the water temperature.

As for the basking spot, a temperature range between 90°F and 95°F is ideal for Pink-belled side-necked turtles.

Humidity

As an adaptable, fully aquatic species, Pink-belled turtles don’t require any specific humidity levels as long as their tank is kept within the relevant temperature range.

Lighting

Like all turtles, Pink-belled turtles need access to UV light to absorb nutrients and promote healthy growth. A two-in-one mercury vapor bulb is a good choice as it provides both heat and UVB in one bulb.

Your basking spot should always provide heat and UV light on a 12-hour day/night cycle. If your Pink-belled turtle lives in an outdoor pond, their UV requirements will be taken care of by natural sunlight.

Accessories

Pink-belled turtles like a lot of cover in their habitats, so providing some aquatic or artificial plants is a good option. You can also provide cave-like spaces in the form of aquarium ornaments or rock formations. Make sure that none of these decorations can come loose and crush your turtle.

Feeding

Pink-belled turtles are largely carnivorous in the wild, and to replicate this diet in captivity they should have a staple diet of crustaceans (except shrimp), insects, fish strips, mollusks, and worms such as bloodworms. You can also use commercial turtle pellets.

It is also a good idea to offer your Pink-belled turtle some dark leafy greens and a few vegetables at mealtime to provide some variety to its diet.

Let food float in the water of the tank to replicate the natural feeding behavior for these turtles. Feeding can be performed three to four times per week for adults.

Signs of good health

Side view of Pink Belly Sideneck Turtle
Side view of Pink Belly Sideneck Turtle

Like many turtles, Pink-belled turtles can suffer from poor health. It is important to regularly examine your turtle for unwanted symptoms. These checks should also be used when choosing a Pink-belled turtle for the first time.

Look for smooth shells without any signs of pyramiding or flaking, as these can be symptoms of Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) or shell rot. The turtle’s eyes should be clear and bright. There should be no reluctance to take food.

In addition, if a turtle looks lethargic and inactive, this can be a sign of health problems.

Health concerns

One of the biggest health concerns for most turtles is MBD. This is usually caused by vitamin deficiencies or a lack of UV exposure. The main sign of MBD is pyramiding on the shell.

Shell rot is also a common issue among aquatic turtles and is caused by infections of bacteria or fungus. Symptoms include cracks and breaks in the turtle’s shell.

Breathing problems can also affect Pink-belled turtles. If water isn’t kept sufficiently clean, harmful bacteria can build up and cause respiratory problems. If your turtle appears to be lethargic, wheezing or having mucus on its snout, there may be a respiratory issue.

Do Pink-bellied side-necked turtles hibernate?

Pink-belled turtles do not hibernate in the traditional sense. Instead, they may enter a process called brumation. This usually occurs when the temperature around them drops below 50°F.

By correctly maintaining their usual temperature range of 66°F to 80°F, you can avoid brumation. This will not harm your turtle and is perfectly acceptable to avoid in captivity.

If your turtle is becoming less active in colder months at around 50°F, brumation may be setting in.

An interesting video about the Pink-bellied side-necked turtle

Pink-bellied side-necked turtle Hatchling Care

Pink-belled turtle hatchlings will need relatively similar care to adults, but some parameters will need to be approached differently.

Hatchlings can be housed happily in a smaller 20-gallon tank until they are about 4 inches long. Then it will be time to scale up their tank size. In terms of water temperature, hatchlings need a warmer range of between 70°F and 80°F to promote healthy growth.

In terms of feeding, hatchlings will need a more protein-based diet centered around commercial turtle pellets. Feed your hatchlings once per day.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pink-bellied side-necked turtles

Pink Belly Sideneck Turtle
Pink Belly Sideneck Turtle

Are Pink-bellied side-necked turtles good pets?

Pink-belled turtles are active, curious, and friendly turtles. They will swim around a lot in their tanks but may retreat into a hiding spot if startled. Regardless, they are incredibly fascinating and fun to watch.

As these turtles are perfectly at home in the water, they do not enjoy being handled. Therefore, it’s best to avoid handling them unless absolutely necessary. That said, they may eventually become comfortable enough to eat right out of your hand.

Pink-belled turtles can be quite social and can be housed in mixed or same-species groups in larger tanks. Avoid housing them with Snapping turtles or big Musk turtles as these species will try to prey on the Pink-belled turtles.

How much is a Pink-bellied side-neck turtle?

Shell close up of Pink Belly Sideneck Turtle
Shell close up of Pink Belly Sideneck Turtle

The average Pink-belled turtle for sale will usually cost between $60 and $120. However, some morphs will typically be more expensive to purchase. For example, an Albino Pink-belled side-necked turtle will likely set you back between $750 and $1000!

Do Pink-bellied side-neck turtles bite?

Like any turtle, Pink-belled side-necked turtles can bite if they feel threatened. This is a standard response to a predator attack if they can’t escape initially. In captivity, a Pink-belled turtle may confuse handling with being attacked by a predator, leading them to try and bite you. Take care to only handle your turtle when necessary.

How quickly do Pink-bellied side-neck turtles grow?

In most cases, the natural growth rate for a Pink-belled turtle is around 1 inch per year. However, with more stable living conditions and a more enriching diet, captive specimens may grow a bit faster. Remember to keep scaling up the tank size as your turtle grows. Every inch of growth should equate to an extra 10-gallons of tank space.

Wrapping up

So that’s all you need to know about Pink-belled side-necked turtle care. This guide should have helped you decide whether a Pink-belled turtle is right for you. These stunning turtles can be active and inquisitive captives and are a great choice for intermediate keepers who have had some experience with water parameters.

These adaptable turtles don’t require complicated care parameters, and can even cohabitate with other Pink-belled turtles or a group of mixed species. Just avoid keeping them with larger Musk turtles or Snapping turtles.

If you liked this care guide and are thinking about getting a Pink-belled turtle for your collection, please comment down below! We’d love to hear about your experiences with these fascinating turtles.

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Nida

Wednesday 23rd of September 2020

Hi all!

I rescued my pink bellied side neck a couple months ago and have her in a 75 gallon tank with a large platform, basking light, and uvb light. We bought the tank secondhand (originally housing plants and a school of barbs) and so it came with a rena xp3 filter, heater, and aqualight t5 dual led light. We kept the heater and are keeping the water about 80 degrees F as well as the LED light. Her heater is stuck on the tank horizontally and she occasionally touches it, is that ok? Or is she burning herself? We took one of the 2 led lights out and put in a reptisun 5.0 uvb bulb and took off the plastic covering because I heard that blocks the uva and uvb lights from reaching the turtle. It’s approximately 12inches away from the top of the water so I’m hoping thats ok. Rosie, our turtle seems to be doing well but I had a couple questions. We’ve been feeding her zoo med growth formula pellets every other day and we feed her the amount that would fit in her head if empty but she seems really hungry all the time and so I’m wondering if that’s enough? She’s around 1 year old (we think) and approximately 5-6 inches. We tried giving her veggies but she doesn’t like them! We test her water and change it every month and last month we noticed her nitrates to be really high and she has a lot of algae growth in the tank. Yesterday we got a 5-6 inch pleco to help with the growth because the algae grows back quickly every time I clean the rocks and platform in her tank (I use plain tap water to clean). Is the pleco safe in the tank with her with the water temperature at 80 and the uv lighting? Also, should we change something in the filter to help with the nitrates? We kept the canisters the same way we got it so the top canister has a carbon filter and a fine filter pad, the second has bio material and coral, and the last has coarse pads. Lastly, she doesn’t bask at all and I’m worried it’s not good for her shell if she doesn’t bask. She never grew up with a basking light or uv light so I thought maybe she’s not used to it but is there something we can do to help her go on the platform? Would she prefer sand instead? Sorry this post is super long! Any advice is appreciated!

Turtle girl 7

Tuesday 16th of February 2021

@Nida, Definitely keep the light on during the day with the big platform she will eventually go on it but it is very important .I have vines by my log to entice mine to go on the log she loves vines as well. I got a suction cup vine so when she’s hanging out at the vine she can climb up right to the log. she’s eventually should go up on the log

sue

Thursday 2nd of July 2020

found a baby turtle . We think he maybe blind.He has somthing over his eyes like dry skin .He doesn't move alot or eat.

Karen

Saturday 4th of January 2020

Hi I rescued my pink belly side neck several years ago. She is full grown and shares a tank with a hypo pastel red eared slider (6 inches) and a painted turtle ( 5 inches). There's not really a problem but she's just started bumping the RES and squirting water out of her nose. Just wondering if this is normal behavior or something I should be concerned about?

Tatiana M Ayala

Sunday 15th of December 2019

Hi all!

I've had my Pink Bellied baby for over a year now. He's super energetic and loves to hear my family and I sit down next to his tank and talk to him. He is alone with my pleco fish on a 55 gallon tank(they live in harmony, my turtle always plays with my pleco and lived together for about 7 months now). I noticed that my turtle's shell in shedding. However, how do I know if it's healthy shedding or not? He has abrasive white areas on his shell from the hard water (I now know better and put water conditioner) so I'm pretty sure his shell is getting rid of that. Any suggestions would be awesome!

Thank you!

Turtle girl

Tuesday 1st of December 2020

@Tatiana M Ayala, as long as you have good uvb bulb and basking bulb . Need to change bulbs every 6 months even if it still works because it loses the sunlight and 80 degree water . I buy distilled water and fill tank also . That way no worries

Kelsie

Tuesday 29th of October 2019

I have a pink belly that doesn't ever bask and hes starting to get white spots on his back. I dont know if its shell rot or not. I hope not. He is in a 55 gall with a peacock slider and peninsula cooter. They have 3 different basking areas and the uv light of course. The pink belly only hides. I tried putting him in his own tank but still not basking. How can i help the spots on his shell?

Dana

Monday 6th of January 2020

I have pulled out my adult several times to bask. In my limited experience the white spots have been where the shell is beginning to shed but the scutes have not come off yet. Once the shell has dried off I gently scrub it with a soft tooth brush and iodine. After a few good dry out sessions the turtle will rub on rocks and wood to loosen the scutes more.