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FAQs About Red Ear Slider Turtle Disease/Health: Nutritional

Related Articles: Treating Common Illnesses of the Red Ear Slider (& other Emydid Turtles) by Darrel Barton, The Care and Keeping of the Red Eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans by Darrel Barton, Turtle eye diseases; Recognising and treating eye diseases in pet turtles by Neale Monks, So your turtle has the Flu? Recognising and treating respiratory infections in pet turtles by Neale Monks, The Care and Keeping of the Red Eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans by Darrel Barton,  Red Ear Sliders, Turtles, AmphibiansRed Eared Slider CareShell Rot in Turtles,

Related FAQs: RES Disease/Health 1, RES Disease/Health 2, RES Disease 3, RES Health 4, RES Health 5, RES Health 6, RES Health 8, RES Health 9, RES Health 10, & Shell Rot, Turtle Disease 1, Turtle Disease 3, Shell Rot, Turtle Respiratory Disease, Turtle Eye Disease, FAQs on RES Health by Type: Diagnosis, Environmental, Traumas, Social, Growths/Tumors, Infectious, Parasitic, References,

& Sliders 1, Sliders 2, Red Eared Slider Identification, RES Behavior, RES Compatibility, RES Selection, RES Systems, RES Feeding, RES Reproduction,


Constipated turtle      12/1/18
Hey folks! I was hoping I could get your opinion on something.
<Sure thing!>
My red eared slider has/had a bit of shell rot, which I treated with iodine and an anti-fungal creme.
I took her to a vet, even though there are no herp vets here, I just took her in because they have a lab, and I wanted her poop tested. Which they did, and they told me she apparently has too much fiber and starch in her poop. They told me nothing else useful, didn't give any kind of diagnoses, just told me that's bad and that I should only feed her animal matter, no plants.
<This is, well, wrong. Red-Ear Sliders are omnivores in the wild, with adults predominantly feeding on aquatic plants. They should indeed be producing lots of faeces, which would indeed look quite fibrous. Of course starchy foods, such as cereals, probably shouldn't be given too often, as these aren't a natural part of their diet. Better to focus on cheap aquarium plants (such as Elodea) as sold for Goldfish system, alongside pellets and small bits of seafood. ReptoMin isn't bad at all, especially for hatchlings, though it is a bit protein rich, so as the turtle gets older, it should be given less often. Koi pellets are a good, cheap staple.
They're plant-based and readily taken by hungry turtles.>
I tried doing that, and now she's constipated.
Probably this just layered over the fact that I was dry-docking her because of the fungus and only put her in water for about an hour every day.
She hasn't pooped in over a week, and now she WON'T eat any plant matter.
I'm not sure what to do now.
<Turtles often can't defecate unless placed in room temperature to slightly warm (i.e., not cold!) water, so that might be one factor. A protein-rich, fibre-poor diet will cause problems too.>
Even if taking her to the vet again was in any way useful, which it probably wouldn't be, it is now very cold, so taking her anywhere is very risky, especially since I don't have a car.
Anything I can do?
<Placing the turtle in slightly warm (18-22 C) water should raise its metabolic rate a bit, and with everything ticking over nicely, its gut muscles can push the faeces out better. In cold conditions this doesn't happen because the muscles become inactive. I would check the tank has no gravel in it -- very occasionally turtles swallow gravel, and once inside them, it can cause serious blockages. An x-ray is the only way to check for this, but "prevention is better than cure", so don't combine turtles with gravel. Beyond these, simply increasing the fibre content of the food, and scaling back anything likely to cause constipation, such as dried shrimps, should be avoided.>
I've been keeping her in water mostly warmer than her usual temperature in hopes that it'll relax her insides and she'll rehydrate, and I tried putting a bit of olive oil on her food, though I'm not sure if she actually ingested any.
<Worth a shot, though!>
So far, no poop. Would human laxatives make a difference?
<Possibly, if you stuffed something like bran fibre into some small piece of seafood the turtle would swallow whole.>
Though I'd be scared of trying to force-feed anything because of the risk of it going in her lungs instead.
<Quite so. Force feeding animals is extremely risky, and shouldn't be attempted unless you've been shown what to do by an expert. With cold blooded animals, which have much lower food requirements than mammals, starvation will take many weeks, even months, to become a life-threatening danger.>
Any help would be appreciated.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>


<Hello Gail,>
My six year old grandson's turtles are in my care as his parents won't allow the turtle at their house and I desperately need your advice and help. I don't know what I am doing although I am trying.
Attached are pictures of the turtle in question.
<I see them.>
Two turtles were purchased as hatchlings in January, 2018. One grew normally and is a 4 to 5 inches and the other is only two inches and has developed a growth on the side of its face.
<I see this. My gut feeling is goiter -- or goiter in American English -- which is usually caused by poor diet; specifically, a lack of iodine. Is this common in turtles? No. But it does happen, especially if the turtles are fed exclusively on a monotonous diet. Iodine is most abundant in sea algae, such as the Nori sheets sold in Asian food markets for making sushi rolls, and for many pet animals, this is by far the cheapest green food to give them if you want a safe amount of iodine in their diet. Meaty seafood will contain some iodine too, particularly filter-feeding mollusks such as clams, mussels and cockles. Good quality dried turtle foods (such as ReptoMin) and good quality herbivorous fish foods (such as Koi pellets) should contain enough iodine for pet turtles, so if you've been using these, a goiter isn't very likely. Can I stress though that once the goiter is apparent, simply fixing the diet is unlikely to help by itself. At the very least, an iodine supplement should be provided as per the manufacturer's instructions; ideally, and most effectively, a vet will prescribe appropriate medications and/or provide injections of the right amount of iodine needed.>
I read that because they are the same species that one is dominant and the reason for the one with the growth not growing at the same speed as the other.
<While this is (sometimes) true when you have two sexually mature adult males, juveniles shouldn't really be causing any real problems.>
I followed the instructions and separated them immediately, new tank (one 50 gal and one 20 gal) heat lamp on 24/7 and UVB lamp on 10 to 12 hrs a day plus basking pad, etc. in each tank.
<This is, of course, the other obvious possibility, a metabolic bone disorder. Provided turtles are getting a good diet (specifically, something with calcium in it) as well as a UV-B source, then such problems are
normally rare. Calcium should be present in good quality staple foods (ReptoMin, Koi Pellets, etc.) but may also be supplemented with a calcium-rich powder that's dusted on fresh foods. You can even offer small bits of cuttlebone for them to chew on. UV-B tubes are excellent, but they do have a life span, most 'wearing out' in 6-12 months. So that's worth bearing in mind when trying to figure out what's happened here.>
Any advice and help you can provide me would be greatly appreciated.
<Realistically, it's hard to be sure if goiter, metabolic bone disorder, even bad genes are to blame here. If the turtle is otherwise happy and healthy, and there are no other signs of infection (such as smell shell,
puffy eyes, wheezy breathing, etc.) I'd perhaps focus on the iodine, calcium, and UV-B angles first, and if there's a shortcoming in that direction, see if the turtle improves once you fix the problem. But if the
turtle has other health problems or symptoms, I'd definitely go visit a vet as soon as practical.>
<Good luck, Neale.>

Neale, Thank you very much for your prompt reply.
<Most welcome.>
I found it most helpful and will definitely follow your advice.
I do have ReptoMin but the little turtle prefers Aquatic Turtle food with added vitamins and minerals - the hatchling formula.
<Sounds a fine staple, but I would also add some fresh greens periodically -- starving the pellets for days if not weeks if such are ignored. Goldfish weed, sold cheaply by the bunch, is a good choice. Some cuttlebone, or even unshelled shrimp, now and again provides useful calcium.>
It is also a fussy eater contrary to the other turtle that was obtained at the same time. Also, the other turtle is a normal size for its age, is a good eater, etc. Thank you again for the great service you provide.
<Good luck! Neale.>

Red eared sliders with bumpy shells; plus nutr. f'      6/26/16
Dear WWM crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have two red eared sliders both two and a half years old. They are in a 50 gallon tank about three quarters full, they have access to basking area, water heater, canister filter, uva and uvb lamps. Sometimes I take them out for direct sunlight.
<so far, so good>
I am feeding them every day with 3 - 4 pellets (either ReptoMin or zoo med growth formula) and red leaf lettuce or romaine lettuce in the size of half their shells. Occasionally also carrots, fruits like blueberry, strawberry, banana, papaya and grapes, and dried shrimps.
<almost none of which would be anything they'd ever run into in the wild.
And only the ReptoMin & Zoo Med pellets have any nutritional value>

However, they are not growing very fast, they are still a bit under 3 inches SCL. They also have retained scutes and quite bumpy shells (one is worse than the other), slightly curling upwards.
<Well, the damage is done, to a certain extent. A lot of what has happened can't be completely undone. That said, we can fix their diet and the shell problem will start to sort itself out>
So I am in a dilemma, I want to feed them more food to make them grow, but I am afraid that this will make their shells worse. I am also worried that if I am not feeding enough, their growth will be stunted.
<Feed them all the ReptoMin pellets they'll eat in 5 minutes ... 6 days a week in summer. 3 days in winter. No dried shrimp, berries or pork chops.
Once a month, for a treat, put in an earthworm (found as "nightcrawlers" at your local bait shop) or a small piece of beef or chicken liver. If you choose liver, place them in a small bowl or pan of shallow water, give them a few minutes to settle down and then place the liver. It gives off oils that will foul the tank really fast. No one who feeds liver makes the mistake of feeding them in their normal tank ... more that once.>
I have friends also with sliders and they are feeding heaps of protein but their sliders are bigger than dinner plates with beautiful smooth shells.
<Shell envy. Fix the diet and the problem will solve itself>
I would appreciate it if you could give me some advice as to how to help my turtles.
Thank you and best regards,
<Back atcha!>
Re: Red eared sliders with bumpy shells      7/10/16

Thanks Darrel for your reply. About the beef/chicken liver, should it be raw or cooked?
<Raw. But remember, liver releases oils into the water that foul that water in very short order, so ALWAYS feed liver in a separate container>

Dark greenish floating sack. Nutrition/RES     5/8/16
Dear Crew
<Hiya Darrel here>
I noticed a bean sized floating object in my turtles tank. It was dark greenish. When I retrieved it, I pushed it too hard against the bathing rock and it popped. The fluid inside was maroon colored and mucous like. It didn't mix into the water so I was able to get it out. I'm just wondering what it was and if I should be worried. She is a 8 month old red eared slider. She eats dried mealworms, shrimp, and protein pelts. She is very active and seems well.
<She won't BE well for long, eating mealworms and shrimp. Neither of those have much nutrition and neither would be part of her natural diet, Read here for complete instructions on keeping her. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<As far as the object is concerned, that is certainly unusual. My guess is that it was something organic inside the package of food that absorbed water and swelled when it was released. As long as she is active, alert, eating, basking and bathing don’t worry about it. Correct her diet and care and move forward>
Please help ease my mind!


Res swollen eye      1/6/15
Dear Crew
<Hiya – Darrel here>
My res named turty has got swollen eye from last few days. He does not open his one eye. its gone white in colour. It seems as if he has gone blind by his one eye.hn sometimes scratches his eyes and mostly turns his face towards his good eye. his other eye seems fine. please tell some remedies as I cannot take him to a vet as there is no reptile vet
in goa.help me. he still eats fine. please help.
<Turty is suffering from Vitamin A deficiency. This is easy to cure IF he is still eating. Read here to see how to treat: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >
<The thing is this was very easy to prevent. Turty has not been getting a proper diet and/or is not living in healthy conditions. Do keep in mind this problem took months to become noticeable and will take a long time to heal. Also know that if a turtle is suffering from one vitamin deficiency he’s likely suffering from many. Read this article and measure ALL your care, environment and diet … correct everything that is not right: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>


Red Eared Slider Green Diarrhea     2/14/15
I have two 3 month old red eared sliders at 1.5 inch. About 1 week ago, one of the sliders started to have green diarrhea. The feces is bright green in color and has tendency attach to objects or aquarium walls. After closer inspection with magnifier, the feces looks fibrous; it consists of a web of small green fibers.
<Could be undigested cellulose from the green foods you're hopefully offering them. Not a problem if that's the case. But if you haven't been offering fresh greens, then something else was eaten. Possibly organic (for example houseplant leaves that someone/something put in the tank). But could also be inorganic (filter wool, for example, or pieces of fake plants). Review, and act accordingly.>
At one point the slider behaved sluggish for couple days. But since then it has been acting normally and eating normally.
I feed them Zoo Med baby turtle pellets once a day. UVA/B and basking light is offered close to 12 hour per day and they basking normally. Water is at 81F constantly.
<Bit warm by modern standards. When I was keeping turtles in the 80s, it was normal in the UK to heat the water. But nowadays the recommended approach is to leave the water at room temperature, while offering heat via
a heat lamp only. This is closer to the normal situation in the wild, and does indeed seem to work well, without the risk of the turtle smashing the glass heater (which happens, sooner or later, with larger turtles).>
Water is filtered 24/7 and partial changed daily. I have been feeding them recommended leafy greens but since I first observed the green diarrhea about 7 days ago, I have stopped providing other food choices besides the pellet.
<Ah, there's the answer. Simply cellulose. Turtles can't digest cellulose any more than we can, so it comes out much the same way it went in. We call it "fibre", and recognise its importance to a healthy digestive tract.
Likewise it's not a problem at all for turtles, and probably a sign everything is working as it should.>
I have been searched your site and other forum for days and couldn't find anything similar. Please help any input is appreciated. thanks,
<Most welcome. Neale.>


Hi I need help with my res turtle       9/17/14
Dear Crew,
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I have three baby RES turtles I bought online over a year ago.
They eat once a day but recently one of them got swollen eyes and bobs it's head back and forth constantly? Is he ok?
<NO! He's got a Vitamin A deficiency>
What do I do?
Also at night it makes a squeaking sound
<and possibly a respiratory condition>
The other turtle, without my noticing, got fat and now the crease In the bottom of its shell looks like it's splitting open. Is this normal?
<No. That sounds like obesity and just like a Vitamin deficiency is a sign of poor nutrition>
<Read here about how to treat them:
both their conditions sound advanced, so this may be a long road to recovery>
<After that, read here about proper conditions and proper diet:


Yellow Bellied Slider Fungus or Shedding?    6/1/14
.after this third time he has been strange. Firstly, he started not opening his left eye. I looked it up on the internet and found that it may be caused by lack of vitamin A, which makes sense, because I hadn't been feeding him properly (I've been using Gammarus, made by Tetra). I found that I could use drops as a supplement, and also as medicine for the eye. Therefore, I applied Vita-Plus, the only drops I found in the pet stores here in Romania(on the bottle it says it contains vitamin A, D3 and E). He started opening his eye, but it still seems a bit swollen to me.
<What you DO have in Romania is liver. Beef liver or Chicken liver. Some meat cutters consider it waste, since not so many people eat it.>
<Put her in a shallow bowl or pan with water just to the top of her shoulders. Give her a few minutes to calm down, and then put a small piece of liver in front of her. Giver her a few minutes to notice it and then she'll probably eat it all up. You can feed her more as soon as she's done and continue until she doesn't want any more. Do this once a day for a week and her vitamin A deficiency will be cleared up and her eyes will start to recover>
<Also - after the first time you see what the liver does to the water, you'll see why you never put liver into her actual environment>
Secondly, he had been shedding skin (I am certain it was shedding then), and I thought it was normal. Then he stopped, he looked well, clean, but then he started again. And now it looks slimy and his belly looks constantly dirty from some green stuff. I try to clean him daily with a q-tip, and the stuff that comes out is dark green.
<Sounds like the environment needs a good scrubbing>
Third of all, he hasn't been basking for a while, at least not that I've seen it. I must admit that I don't have a UV light, which I will get as soon as possible, because I now realize how important it is.
<yes, it very much is. Fortunately the new CFL Repti-sun bulbs from Zoo Med are not very expensive and require no special fixtures>
Fourth of all, a few days ago I brought home another YBS, the same size (and same age, I think). When I put them together, I realized that there is something wrong with my old one (his name is Barrack), because, compared to the new one, who was curious and energic and who looks very clean, I might add, he seemed lazy and sleepy and unhealthy and dirty. I am very concerned. I tried to do as much research as I could, and I asked some vets but they did not know what to tell me(turtles are not so common here). And the more I read on the Internet, the more concerned I am, because with every article comes a new possible diagnosis. I want to add that I tried to feed him ReptoMin made by Tetra, but he didn't seem to like it. Also, I used to feed him 2-3 times a day, until I realised that it is not okay. Now I feed him once a day. If you have suggestions please tell me, I want to give him the best care possible.
Please contact me ASAP.
Thank you!
<Cristina - here is all the basic care information you need for Barrack and Bingo: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm note that a basic diet for them can be found in plain, old, inexpensive Koi Pellets. Sometimes they fixate on one food or another and won't try something new. In your case, because Barrack may be fighting infection and is being fed liver… feed them both liver for a week and then when you return to a normal diet you can start the Koi Pellets or the ReptoMin. They may not accept the new food at first, but that's OK. When you have fed them beef or chicken liver for a week, you know they're well fed and can go a week being picky. Then, after a while, when they get hungry, they'll eat the koi pellets or ReptoMin.>


Re: Please help-Sick RES     8/4/13
Hi Darrel!!
Thank u for yr mail above...but here I come again with another concern...
<That's why we're open 24 hours and freeway close!>
It's been more than 3 weeks that he is refusing to eat...
<If he's otherwise healthy, he can go months without food.  I'm not concerned about the nutrition, but the behavior is puzzling and troubling>
His regular diet used to be chicken or fresh water fish and he would relish it but suddenly he has stopped eating ( i feed him with a spoon once a day)...i tried and changed his diet giving him prawns, shrimps, dry shrimps...but he just refuses to even look at it but just wants to get out of the water and demands to be picked up...its been raining the past few weeks and the sun hasn't been out so he hasn't been able to bask...so I leave him out for a while just so he is out of the water .. And also I keep him in warm water which he loves...but he still refuses to eat.
<If you can do this safely, set him down in one room in the house and just let him wander.   There are any number of reasons why he's restless and we can't determine all of them, but perhaps if we let him do what he wants to do, he'll settle down.  Just look around the room and make sure it's safe - no small things to eat, no vents to fall into, etc.
He is extremely active though. Last few days I've been dropping a tablet of calcium which he is either nibbling or it dissolves in water and he has it.... Calcium mixed in the water doesn't help him - they don't absorb calcium -but the fact that he nibbles on it is an interesting sign.  That tells me he's interested in other foods.  Try a piece of melon or maybe a small piece of chicken liver.>
pls advise what to do...am really worried...
<No worries yet.   Stop trying to feeding him - let him wander in an enclosed room.  If he finds a spot and snuggles in, leave him there for a day or so if you can (keep the door closed, etc.) and let him try to find what he's looking for.  Then, after few days - then try to feed him again>
thanks n regards,

res strange behavior, feeders...   6/19/2013
I recently feed my six year old female res feeder fish. After I put them in the tank I left for an hour. When I came back my res was swimming in circles, not moving its head up or down. It was dragging it along the ground. I placed on the basking dock and it just sits there lethargic with its head laid out and eyes closed when I touch its legs it flinches, but when I touch its head it does not  move. Any thoughts? Thanks
<Thoughts? Yes, along the lines of "why on Earth were you feeding your turtle feeder fish"?! Let's be clear, feeder fish are parasite time bombs, and furthermore, since your turtle species is more or less a herbivore as an adult, you should be paying more attention to green foods if you want to offer it something different to dried turtle food-sticks. In any case, assuming it's not behaving normally now, you need to rush this turtle to your nearest vet for a check-up. The sorts of diseases that come from feeder fish aren't ones that get better by themselves. There's also the risk of a bone stuck in its throat, which again, isn't something you could fix. Regards, Neale.>

I'm screwed! Lol
RES... eye troubles vis a deficiency  11/29/11

Hi Darrel (I'm assuming you're the guy that deals with turtle questions)
<Hiya - one of them, anyway>
I've trawled the net and can't find anything that deals with my problem,
<Well let's how we do>
sooo I came to Iran to teach English and I go to a fellow teachers house and he has what I would call a terrapin.
<So would Neale Monks.  Sue & I call them TURTLES>
It has red marks on its necks so from my research I think it's a red-eared terrapin.
<A Red Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)>
He had been keeping it in a tub of water for weeks and weeks. No basking area no sun light no this nor that just a tub of water, like an ice-cream tub.
<I believe you>
It can't open its eyes and it's absolutely tiny.
<I'm surprised it's still alive>
Any way obviously I took the poor thing off him (his name is now timothy) (the turtle not the guy) but now I don't know what to do!
<Well, I do!>
I have a huge bowl (HUGE) that I've put timothy in with water, and I've put some cups as kind of land areas, which he can easily swim onto. But you need to understand that Iran has no fancy tanks or tank filters or anything. So how would you suggest I deal with this? Do you have any DIY tips? AGH!
<First, get him out of the water!!   He only needs water to drink, eat & poop - and he's probably not doing much of any of that right now>
<He can't open his eyes due to a dietary deficiency (vitamins A & D) and is probably VERY sick.  What he needs right now is to be warm and dry>
  -- and with the sunlight thing, its winter now and there is very little sunlight, what do I do?
<Whatever sunlight you can give him - DIRECT sunlight, not filtered through glass - will help>
On the bright side the guy I got timothy from had lots of shrimp, so I can give him that. and Timothy seemed to enjoy his new huge swimming pool. Oh and also should I ban him from water for a while? He was literally living in a tub of water with no land area or 'basking' whatever, surely that's not good for him?
Please help me :( I really want Timothy to have a nice life) lol
<So do I - so here's some reading for you:>
<First - emergency treatment: Get him warm and dry and feed him beef or chicken liver of Koi pellets soaked in cod liver oil - get some vitamin A onboard ASAP.   Read all about treating him here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >
<While he's recovering, read here on how simple it can be to care for a slider if you know what to do:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<The biggest challenge will be finding a consistent source of UV-B light.  For heat, you can use a plain old ordinary incandescent bulb (that's what I normally use) but the UV-B will have to come from either the sun - or a bulb specifically for that purpose.   If you don't have access to consumer-grade reptile bulbs or sources, investigate lighting for people with seasonal affective disorder.   Many of those people spend hours under special lights, such as a Vita-Lite by Duro-Test Corp.   I've raised many a turtle, lizard and alligator under those bulbs.>
Thank you
<Yer welcome.  Hope we're in time>
<By the way . You're NOT screwed!>
<Timothy is screwed!!  Hope you get a chance to help!>


red eared slider swallowed paper   11/28/11
Dear WWC:
<Hiya - actually WWC is off today - we're his cousin, WWM.   I'm Darrel>
I have a red-eared slider that I rescued from the road a few years ago.  It is about the size of an average woman's hand.
<Closed fist like she's punching me?  Or open palm like she's slapping me?>
Yesterday while cleaning his tank I dropped a very small piece of paper towel in the tank, which he swallowed.  I am worried that it will cause him difficulty in breathing or digesting/processing through.  Can you please tell me what, if anything, I should do?
<No worries.  It will be just fine>
Veterinary care is unavailable in my rural area.  Thank you for any advice you can provide.
<The advice is not to worry.  Paper towels are highly degradable and break down very easily - even in water, so in a turtle's digestive system they break down to basic fibers in no time.>
I am most grateful for your kind consideration and assistance.
<Yer welcome!>


RES question   8/9/11
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a seven year old Red Eared Slider. He started vomiting one day, several times.
I noticed that he was also starting to not swallow completely. I took him to the vet and had an x-ray done. There were some little spots in his stomach. The vet said to give him mineral oil and Metamucil. I did that for about a week.
<That's long enough>
I am suppose to take him back to the vet for more x-rays, but don't really have the money.
<I hear you. So let's hang on for a while>
I haven't seen him defecate and the filters aren't getting dirty. I am afraid that I am just packing him full, with nothing coming out.
<That's possible. If he's impacted that may be the symptom>
Any other suggestions?
<Well, Cher, that's a tough one. First, stop feeding him. If he's seven years old and been healthy and eating all along, he can go MONTHS without food. So lets' just stop that.>
<Second, give him a warm water bath every day say 90 degrees or so about an inch deep (no more that to cover the upper part of his tail) in a pan. Let him soak for 10 minutes while the water cools.>
<Third, exercise. Place him on the floor and let him walk. Take him in the sun, grass, garden, etc. [ALWAYS SUPERVISED!!] and let him walk around. Everything that warms him up and makes him move his muscles works in your favor.>
<As far as the x-rays are concerned, this is a tough one. Over the years I've spent more money on a few on my exotic animals than I have on my car but not everyone has that luxury and not all of us have it all the time, either. The problem that crops up in my mind is this: let's say you DID find the money to take him to he vet for X-rays. We find one of three things:
1) He's no longer impacted, via natural causes and returns eventually to normal
2) He is impacted and requires surgery
3) He has some other form of obstruction that requires surgery.
If Outcomes 2 & 3 are beyond the reach of the normal person and Outcome #1 happens regardless of the X-rays what is the possible UP side of more X-rays?>
Thank you, CMD
<Turtles are remarkable and durable animals. Give him warm water baths, no food until be defecates for you and lets see if it's a phase he's going through (or a phase that goes through him!)>


RES urgent help!!  4/15/11 <Am jumping in here... to urge you to read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm
and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm
immediately. Bob Fenner>
hi, we got two RES about a week back... supposed to be male and female but I really cant tell!.... they're a little over an inch long... from the first day one of them would just sit in the basking area hardly moving, I
haven't seen him eat even once! the other one was initially fine... would swim around and eat the minute I'd give it food. but for the last two three days she also now mainly sits in the basking area with her eyes shut tight... even when she's in the water she swims for maybe 5 min.s a day... otherwise just floats with her eyes closed, when does open her eyes only one is open and the other one she seems to keep scratching as if its bothering her... and she hasn't eaten either... the other one for the last two days has just been sitting out of the water in the basking area, with his eyes closed... if I even put him in the water he quickly gets out... I do have a water filter for them and they don't have a UVA OR UVB light they have a normal 100v bulb.... is that okay?? I really don't want them to die... p.s where I live there isn't any proper reptile care place.. .as in medicines and stuff!...so what can I do to make them better? do I need to separate them?
the one who was doing okay at first always sleeps on the other one in the basking area... ?
would really appreciate any help!
Re: RES urgent help!!  4/15/11
hey thanks for the really quick responses, I read both the link and will try keeping them in a dry warm enclosure and taking them out in the sun tom...(
its night here right now!) will also try the cod liver oil... thanks I hope it helps them
<I as well Najia. And another here will respond to you w/in a day. Cheers, BobF>
Re: RES urgent help!!  4/16/11
I took them to the vet and she said that they have a vitamin A deficiency, so she gave them a shot for that... and then one she said had a respiratory infection so she gave him a shot for that... after which the
leg was bleeding and they cleaned it up with a tissue ... the turtle went completely into its shell as if in shock and he hasn't come out... looks kind of swollen... if I touch his tail he moves it otherwise not at all...
what do I do???? and is this vet a quack!!!!??
<Hi Najia, Sue here with you. Sorry to hear youre having so much trouble with your new turtles. From where we are, and the limited information we have to go on, its really impossible for me to comment on your vets advice. Here is what Id suggest:>
<RE: the turtle your vet says has a respiratory infection:
1) Read over this link:
2) Has this turtle been showing any of these symptoms?
3) Call your vet, explain the symptoms your turtle has displayed since she gave him the shots, and ask her the following:
What specific antibiotic did she administered to him for the respiratory infection?
What dosage did she give him of that medication?
How many grams does he weigh?
4) Get a 2nd vet opinion if you have any concerns about her advice (preferably a vet who specializes in turtles/reptiles - even a vet who cares for birds can be knowledgeable about questions concerning turtles). Provide the 2nd vet with the above information regarding current symptoms, the specific medication and dosage he was given, and how much he weighed.
5) If you have trouble locating another vet who specializes in turtles/reptiles, try the following links (or if no luck with these, write back and let us know what area youre in and well see if we can come up with something we often have when people said they couldnt find anyone):
6) You can also try locating/contacting a local aquarium, zoo or nature center for their help, or for a vet recommendation. Also check to see if there is a turtle or tortoise club or society in your area to see if you can speak to an experienced hobbyist who might be willing to look at your turtles.
7) If you write us back with the additional information above (such as more exact symptoms listed in the article above, the medication information, etc. we can offer you our thoughts. But really given how sick your turtles appear to be, there really is no substitution for an expert on site who can physically examine your turtles.>
<Re: the Vitamin A deficiency: I suggest you read the following link:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/turteyedisart.htm >
<From the symptoms youve described, I agree with your vet that they both likely have Vitamin A deficiencies. Its also likely they have Vitamin D deficiencies as well from lack of UVB light. A Vitamin A injection offers the quickest relief, but even with this you may not notice a turn around right away. Id still continue trying to get some cod liver oil into them if you can, especially if you see no improvement with their eyes after a couple of days. Assuming theyre eating anything you can also try shredding up some sweet potato and some of the plants referenced in the link above (though given how young they are, they may not go for plants/vegetables yet). Again, it may take several days before you see any improvement with their eyes.>
<RE: Other Vitamin D deficiencies and related health/care items. While youre looking into fixing the immediate health problems, I agree with both the links Bob shared with you, in particular the following recommendations in those links:
1) Keep them both warm and dry (follow guidelines in article for this), except for 20 minutes or so each day in shallow water to drink, poop and eat (if they can).
2) You MUST get a UVB light right away for their long term care, unless you plan to have them outdoors most of the time all year long. I personally use the ReptiSun 10.0 fluorescent tube bulb for my turtles; the UVB quality is better than most. Here is a link to one source that sells them if you are able to order it online:
3) Even if you take them outside now, given how debilitated they seem to be, Id still suggest you supplement the sun with the artificial UVB light, while continuing to give them as much sunlight as you can. There is no substitution for the sun, but UVB supplementation is still essential if they are indoors most of the time.
4) Assuming you can get them to eat, Id also get a good quality calcium with Vitamin D powder, sprinkle a bit on a good quality pellet (like Koi pellets or ReptoMin) and let it soak into the pellets for 20 minutes or so before feeding them.
5) When you do put them back in the water again once they are feeling better, they need to be offered a clear choice between warm/dry and cool/wet. The water temp should be kept cool, around 68-72 degrees F. A regular light bulb is OK for their heat source, but what wattage you use depends on how effectively the bulb warms the basking area. You want to aim for around 88-92 degrees F, so you may need to play around with wattages, depending on the distance their basking area is from the bulb/heat source. Put a suction thermometer right above the basking area to make sure the temperature is within correct range.>
<Ill forward this along to another crew member as well to see if has any other suggestions to offer you.>
<Try the above things and write us back to let us know how its going. I wish you and them the best.>
Re: RES urgent help!!    4/17/11

<Hi Najia>
first I just want to thank you for your quick and detailed responses its really helpful and I really appreciate it... its Saturday night here so I wont be able to speak to the vet till Monday unfortunately, but before any of that... I think one is dead... im attaching two images of the same turtle... he's been in this positions from the vets... which was over 8 hours ago.... I don't want to busy him alive... but he's been in that position since.. his body feels stiff... and he's is completely unresponsive... no matter what you do there isn't even a slight twitch..... if you put him in the water he just floats in the exact same position btw... im in Karachi, Pakistan.... if you have any information on centers here that would be great....
PS I realize it'll be hard for you guys to see a pic and tell me if he's alive or not... but anything that you can give... as I said I don't want to bury him alive
<Im so very sorry to hear about your turtle. Youre right, I cannot tell from your photos, but from your description of his body being stiff, it appears your turtle died. If he is dead, his eyes would also appear sunken into his eye sockets, and of course you'll also start to notice a decaying smell. However, Ive passed your email along to another one of our crew members so he can further advise you about that and any other recommendations about your other turtle besides the ones Ive already sent you.>
<I also sent you (below) some additional links for vets that I found for your specific area. You may want to call the Karachi Zoo and ask to speak to one of their exotics experts to see if they can either assist you, or recommend any of the vets on the links I sent you as far as someone who has special expertise with turtles.
http://www.pkdogs.com/page/pages/Animal-Care-Center-Veterinary-Doctors-in-Karachi-Pakistan.html  >
<If your remaining turtle is the one who just had the problem with his eyes closing, you should start to see some improvement in a couple of days if the problem was in fact due to a Vitamin A deficiency. But I'd also assume he has a Vitamin D deficiency as well if hes been without UVB. Definitely purchase a UVB bulb especially if he will be kept indoors most of the time.>
<Again, I'm so sorry about your turtle. Best wishes, and please let us know how things go with your other turtle. Sue>
thanks again
Re: RES urgent help!!
Dear Najia,
Below is some additional input from another one of our crew members about your turtles. Hope this is of help to you also. Let us know how things go with your remaining turtle. Best wishes. Sue
Subject: Re: RES urgent help!!
> hi,
> first I just want to thank you for your quick and detailed responses its
> really helpful and I really appreciate it...
> its Saturday night here so I wont be able to speak to the vet till Monday
> unfortunately, but before any of that... I think one is dead... im attaching
> two images of the same turtle... he's been in this positions from the vets...
> which was over 8 hours ago.... I don't want to bury him alive... but he's
> been in that position since.. his body feels stiff... and he's is completely
> unresponsive... no matter what you do there isn't even a slight twitch.....
> if you put him in the water he just floats in the exact same position
> btw... im in Karachi, Pakistan.... if you have any information on centers
> here that would be great....
<We're all sorry for your loss, Najia. The problem with turtles (actually with all reptiles, fish & amphibians) is that they do not quickly show signs of illness -- by the time we notice that a turtle is
sick, he's already VERY sick -- and he's already been sick for a LONG time. What I'm saying is that there is little you OR the vet could have done for him at this late stage>
> PS I realize it'll be hard for you guys to see a pic and tell me if he's
> alive or not... but anything that you can give... as I said I don't want to
> bury him alive
<By the time you receive this letter, if the turtle hasn't moved at all, you can be certain that he has passed. Again please accept our condolences>
> thanks again
<Now, Najia, it's time to turn our attention to the remaining turtle.
Keep him warm and dry for the next two weeks. See that he gets plenty of UV-B (preferably sunshine - and sunshine can't be filtered through glass or window screen). Put him in water once a day for about 15
minutes - a shallow bowl, just up to - but not over- his nose, so that he can drink, poop and perhaps eat. 15 minutes once a day, then back into a warm dry place. If you have proper lighting in your normal
turtle tank, move the basking lamp and the UV lamp and run then 24 hours in his new warm dry place. Read here:
Re: RES urgent help!!   4/19/11
hi Sue and your team!
sadly the other turtle passed away this morning too, I'm guessing he didn't just have a vitamin A deficiency and there was more to his illness that the vet or I didn't pick up on. I had just put him in the sun, and when I cam back after 10 min.s he looked like he had gone... by the night I was sure...
the poor little guys.... really wish I had been able to help them....
but your whole team has been so great and sooo helpful I really couldn't thank you enough! sitting half way across the world you guys have managed to help me out as much as possible and I really really appreciate the effort!
you guys are really doing an amazing job and I am honestly amazed and happy to know that people like you guys exist and do what you do!!!
thanks again with for everything
<Hi Najia, Thank you so much for your kinds words! Ill pass your comments along to Darrel also. Im sure he will be as sad as I am to hear that your other turtle also passed.>
<Darrel's right that your turtles were sick before you got them; they would not have become this sick in only a weeks time. Signs of a Vitamin A deficiency are often just one telltale sign of more significant, underlying malnutrition problems. If left uncorrected over time and/or when other poor care conditions are also present, turtles eventually become debilitated and succumb to infections and other diseases. The kinds of conditions most of these poor turtles have to live in before they are sold are absolutely deplorable.>
<So please dont blame yourself! You did all the right things by seeking out immediate care for them and writing us for additional advice. Again, were all very sorry for your loss, Najia, and thank you again for your nice note. Sue>
Thank YOU Sue. BobF
Re: RES urgent help!!   4/19/11

Actually, you too, Bob. I forgot you were the one who initially led the chain of responses! One of the things I enjoy the most about helping out with WWM is the reach that it has to people around the globe. Sue
<Mmm, well... when I saw the title, scanned the call for help, thought the best for us/WWM to do w/o you, Neale or Darrel about was to refer him to the latter's excellent written pieces on gen. care and disease. I AM so glad that we have/provide help to others in such desperate need. Cheers, B>
Re: RES urgent help!!   4/19/11
Yes, it's nice we have articles already written on the most common topics/problems. And with the most recent query, once the problems become more involved, really the only option left at that point is to
see a vet, which unfortunately even in this case still wasn't enough.
It's too bad there aren't more stringent controls placed on the people who sell turtles, fish, etc. I just hope in my next lifetime I don't come back as a "pet shop" pet!
<Ah yes, I mean NO! B>
Sue, would you be interested in writing two articles (for pay, publication in our online 'zine, CA, and posted, linked on WWM) on RES Systems, RES Foods/Feeding/Nutrition? B

red ear slider help 11/14/10
To whom this concerns:
<Hiya- Darrel here>
I am the owner of 4 red eared slider, all of whom are over 20 years old and have been in my care, save one, the whole time. I feed my turtles both "meat" and greens and have never had any trouble, not even a slightly soft shell. About a month ago I noticed my oldest turtle looked like he was losing weight. He is in a large tank with direct sunlight, a thermometer on the tank and all the other turtles are just fine. I've been watching him carefully since I noticed his weight loss. He seemed to eat with the other turtles but was slower about getting the food. I realized that the other turtles had taken to sitting on him when the water was lower and so I've kept an eye on that too and have chased them off of him. This last week he hasn't eaten at all and I picked him up to find he has what looks like bruising in many spots on his body. He is listless and his limbs hang when you pick him up.
<Well, as you are already aware, this is not a good sign>
I made numerous phone calls before resorting to this email out of sheer desperation. I am not close to a vet that treats red ear sliders and the after hours clinic that will take him this weekend I simply do not have the money for.
<I understand that, too>
I have isolated him and have a lamp over his enclosure. I'm trying to figure out how to put a bowl of water in with him or whether I should just eye drop water into him every hour. I am also going to get cod liver oil within the hour to start administering that to him. I will get him to a vet on Monday (it's Saturday afternoon right now). Do you have any idea of what is going on and is there anything I can do for him between now and Monday?
<My guess is a long term debilitation from a dietary deficiency. I understand the idea of "meat" and greens, but I'd need to know many more specifics on the subject of diet>
<For now, keep him warm and DRY. Warm means around 80 degrees. If you have an old fashioned heating pad (the kind that does not turn off after a few hours) I'd wrap the pad in a towel, set it on medium and put that in the bottom of his enclosure rather than a lamp above. The lamps better than nothing, but direct heat is better and doesn't dehydrate them as much.>
<If you can get him to open his mouth, the cod liver oil isn't bad - just remember to hold him level (or almost level) when giving it - don't hold him vertically because the fluid is more likely to fill his lungs than stomach>
<Don't worry about water. If you feel the need to hydrate him, place him in a shallow bowl of water that is less that 1/8 inch deep for no more than 5 minutes>
<When you see the vet, the vet will look for signs of bacterial or fungal infection because those are things that can be treated separately. Failing that we will assume that it's dietary and the reason for this is as follows: If it's not fungal or bacterial or dietary, then it's internal and we can face it - we're not going to operate, we're not going to treat for renal failure or anything that will cost thousands of dollars so we treat for what we can afford to treat for: Fungal, bacterial or supplemental.>
<I'd like to see the doctor give your turtle multi-vitamin and calcium injections and ask him about the ability to send you home with 2 days worth of injections rather than oral meds. GIVING the shots is tricky and the vet will have to show you, but the problem with oral meds at this stage is that his digestion is likely to be shut down and it's an inefficient way to deliver the meds. Three or four days of being warm and dry with the proper supplements and your turtle will start to show signs of improvement *IF* the ailment is something that can be treated.>
Thanking you in advance,
<You're welcome - and we'll hold hopeful thoughts for you>
Isabella Daley

Turtle Eyes - Vitamin A DIY??  11/14/10
Hi from Hanoi, Vietnam!
<Hiya from WetWebMedia - Darrel here>
I have two red eared sliders, have had them for nearly two years. Their names are Percy and Shelley. They live in a tank in my lounge room which does not have a UVA/UVB light (You cannot buy them in Vietnam for love or money), but now I have moved house I put them outside on my balcony every day so they can bask in the sunlight to get healthier.
<That/s very good, Katie. Just two separate things: First, If the sunlight is filtered through the glass or even small mesh screen, the healthful properties are substantially filtered out, so as long as the sunlight can reach them directly, this is fine. Now, quite the opposite, directly sunlight in a confined tank or area can be brutal on them. Make sure they have shade to crawl into to remain cool>
However, Shelley has developed swollen eye problem in both eyes, which seems to be quite common among these little ones! He looks exactly like several of the photos on this site. My questions relate to treating this problem in a third world country, which, as you can imagine, presents problems.
<Yes, I can>
Firstly, most Vietnamese don't keep turtles as pets - they eat them.
<I know. ICK!!!!>
Consequently there is no decent vet here who can treat a turtle. The only one who I have seen knows very little about them, and upon seeing the problem just said it was Vitamin D and sent me home to get some drops from the chemist.
<He was close. Vitamin A deficiency is usually what causes eye problems. Lack of Vitamin D causes bone problems. Unless it's a bacterial infection, we can correct this with vitamins and diet.>
Which presents my second problem. How can I treat my little one when the vets don't stock the necessary supplies to treat them? Is there a generic people-medicine I can use to help treat his eyes? If so, what dosage should I give him? He has stopped eating, and though still has some energy, I am very concerned that he is slowly suffering. I have followed advice and put him out of the tank, but I fear it's gone to far and that's not enough.
<If he was eating, you could give him small pieces of beef liver, which is high in Vitamin A, but if he's not eating that presents a problem.>
As you can imagine, it is incredibly frustrating here to find some assistance. Please please, do you have any ideas? I am returning home to Australia over Christmas, but I am terrified that this will be too late and he will die before I can make it back in time.
<I hope we can help. You can get vitamin A drops at a pharmacy here in the USA and should be able to do so there. Take Shelly out of the water and let her dry. Put one drop per eye and let that dry in place (5 minutes or so) and then back in the water>
Finally, what about diet? I have turtle pellets, but they come from China, and I am not convinced they are good for the turtles, though they have been eating them for the past two years and never had any issues until now.
<I use regular Koi carp pellets for all my sliders, Katie. A good quality Koi pellet is a fully balanced diet for them - I raise them on Koi pellets and an occasional (once a month) earth worm from hatchlings to breeders.>
Unfortunately I can get no other "turtle food" for them, so I need to make something myself. Suggestions on what is good to make and store would be appreciated!
<Two concerns here - one is that a vitamin A deficiency is always part of an overall dietary problem, so as soon as we can get Shelly to eat, we want to add some beef liver and some earth worms (the kind found in the garden or used for fishing - NOT meal worms from the pet store). Meanwhile, find a source of Koi pellets and read the label, look for at least 90% vegetable and/or plant matter>
Please, any assistance you can give me would be appreciated. I am totally at my wits end!!!
<I've been at my wit's end for about 20 years now it's fine once you learn your way around>
Thanks so much!
PS - I will add that Percy, the other turtle, seems to be completely fine.
Mmmm, not so much. Reptiles and fish are stoic animals, Katie. They do very good jobs of concealing any outward signs of disease or debilitation until the conditions fairly are advanced. Unless it is a bacterial infection, Percy will have the same deficiencies as Shelly -- he's just able to cope better. For now.>
<Find some vitamin A drops. Sometimes, with sliders, when you pick them up and try sticking an eye dropper near their face, you can 'annoy' them into opening their mouth, gaping at you. If that's the case, you can hold her level (the way she'd normally lay - NOT up & down) and squirt a shot of the vitamin A into her mouth.>
<Good luck>

swollen skin? 11/03/10
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I'm Cristy. I have a female red eared slider which I rescued from a flood about a year ago.
<Thank you!>
I'm worried about her condition regarding the skin in her legs. I noticed this skin when she got fat because of the fishes we gave her. It looks like it was swollen. But when I put her in a diet, which consists of turtle pellets and vegetables, this skin became loose. It shrunk but it never did go back in its normal size.
What do you think this is? I have attached a picture of her..
<From the pictures, it does look very much like loose skin. There are a number of diseases that could cause this -- HOWVER if you know for a fact that she was obese and as you corrected her diet, you saw the fat recede, then we can rule out just about everything except what it looks like: Baggy skin. Make sure you keep up the diet and make sure she gets a good source of UV-B, even natural sunlight if she can get it - because those things will help her skin regain some of it's tone.>
Thank you so much for the help. God bless you
<Yer welcome!>

Help with our Red Eared Slider   6/16/10
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I'm really hoping you can help me out!!
<Lets see what we can do>
We have an adult, female Red Eared Slider (she is about 10 inches long). She lives in our outdoor pond which is 20 foot by 30 foot and 5 feet deep. We have Koi, goldfish and Shubunkin that live in the pond with her. We just got back 2 days ago from 3 weeks of vacation and found that the waterfalls had apparently stopped working early on our trip and our friend just left the pond and threw food in. The water was pretty stagnant and gross when we got back. The RES was out of the water when we first saw her and she jumped in right away and swam at the surface and then the second we walked back in the house she got out. About an hour later we went out again but she just sat there and didn't move. We went to pick her up and she was very lethargic and her eyes were puffy and swollen.
<Indicating a vitamin deficiency>
We immediately isolated her and she's now in the house in a full size bathtub. We have a heater in the room and the temperature is 87 where we have her. We've got a little water (about an inch deep) at one end and then no water at the other end. She's poking her head out and we were just putting ReptoMin in with her but she wasn't eating it (in the pond we give her Koi pellets and the ReptoMin). So, we went out today and got her an earthworm and fed her the earthworm and the ReptoMin with a dropper. We were able to get her to eat that by basically force feeding her.
<Force Feeding he is probably stressful for her, so make sure you're using the feeding as a method to deliver the vitamins (read below and that will make more sense) -- don't feed her "just to feed her">
She's always been an outside turtle (we got her about 2 years ago from someone who also always had her in their outdoor pond). Because she eats with the Koi I don't really know how much she's getting all the time. I want to make sure that we're feeding her adequately while we work to try to get her better. Can you confirm how much we should feed her exactly?
<I feed mine Koi pellets as well. Never any more than they can eat in 5 minutes.>
She doesn't seem to have a runny nose and the only other issue she had was a small amount of scute shedding but we haven't noticed that problem since we brought her inside. Her shell does appear nice and hard and normal. We obviously won't put her back in the pond until she's completely healthy and we have the water back to 100%. Is there any treatment that would be good for her eyes that we can do?
<Yes, I'll include a link>
I also would like to confirm that, in your opinion, we're caring for her as we should while she recovers.
<You're doing MUCH better than most people. Keeping her warm and dry is the #1 thing you did right. When a turtle is sick and/or debilitated, having to swim & haul out to bask, etc all their normal activities become overwhelming for them. When she's warm & dry, she may no be healing yet but she's at least resting.>
If you have any other advice I would greatly appreciate it. We are trying to see if we can get her better on our own but will take her to the vet if necessary.
<What I'd like to for her to have a set of vitamin and calcium injections. Failing that, earthworms and pieces of beef liver (small pieces) are good. Vitamin 'A' drops like they sell in the pet stores are a waste of time and money .. but like my grandmother said about Chicken Soup 'what can it hurt?'>
Thank you for any assistance you can provide. If I can provide you additional information to help you respond, please let me know.
<Debbie - this is a link about general care. You'll already done the single most critical part (isolation) but read about swollen & puffy eyes. As she dries out, relaxes and gains strength, her appetite may come back, making it easier to slip her the vitamins>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm>
Re: Help with our Red Eared Slider   6/30/10

Hello again,
<Hiya right back>
I wanted to thank you for your feedback and give you an update.
<You are most welcome>
Our RES is doing great. She's been eating, has lots of energy and is back to 100% - her eyes are clear and everything. I think the earthworms and cod liver oil really did the trick. I found that getting the cod liver oil into a straw and then dripping it into her mouth worked great. She's been doing so well that we released her back into our pond last night and have been keeping a close eye on her. She's swimming around, was eating the Koi pellets we put out there and seems very happy once again.
Again, thank you for your advice and quick response.
<We're amazing, aren't we?>
<Glad we could help!>

Red Eared Sliders, hlth., nutr.  5/11/10
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I love your site but was unable to find my answer so here I sit writing to you ... I have 2 Red Eared Sliders - both we got as quarter sized turtles. Randolf is about 15 1/2 yrs old and doing great. Squirt will be 3 this summer. They are in separate aquariums .. my concern is Squirt. The last few days, he seems to flip himself over ... he has plenty of clean swimming area and also a rock to get up on and sun. Today I noticed him holding his head out and back .. as if someone pulled it out and bent it backwards ..
It doesn't matter if I put him in the water or on his rock, he will not retract his head. His eating has dwindled to nothing also. What's wrong????? :(
<That's a strange symptom, Sherry. It sounds vaguely like a vitamin & calcium deficiency has led to MDB (Metabolic Bone Disease) and possibly a degeneration or a slippage of a disc in his neck. This is one of those times where a visit to a qualified vet and an X-ray are absolutely in order. My guess is that he can't move his head or mouth as necessary to eat or drink.>
Sherry & Alex

Red ear turtle nose rot 8/9/09
Dear Crew
<Hiya -- Darrel here>
I have had three red ears for many years.
<That must make it hard to wear glasses, but I'll bet you hear everything people say about you .....>
<Oh wait. Maybe you meant you have three different Red Eared Sliders.
THAT makes more sense!>
They have always been healthy and on a diet of mostly fish and shrimp.
<Well, right here we can start by saying BAD DIET!! Turtles rarely catch fish in the wild and the only time turtles eat shrimp is when they go on vacation to expensive, all-inclusive resorts.>
I noticed last week that they were not eating and this week I see that the noses are rotted away. On two of them it seems to be only the noses. The third, has its upper eyelids and inside its mouth also affected. There is no pus or abscess on the nose. The eyelids are red and sore. The mouth also looks red and sore. They are eating in small amounts. The shells are hard and do not show signs of damage. There are no visible signs of skin issues on the neck or legs. Breathing is slightly labored on the turtle with the nose/eye/mouth problems but not for the other two. There is no sign of mucus or nasal discharge from any of them.
<this is not good ....>
I cannot find any info about this condition or how to treat it.
<Rhea, this is indeed unusual. I've only run into this once or twice myself and almost always in a deceased animal that hadn't been noticed for some time. For this reason I'm going to make some guesses AND pass this letter along to a colleague that's smarter and better looking than I am>
<The bad diet is an obvious place to start, Rhea and a bad diet leads to vitamin deficiencies which can lead to all sorts of problems including eye and skin infections. The first thing to do is get them out of their normal environment and get them somewhere warm and dry. All the conditions they have are made worse by them being warm and moist most of the time. Read the enclosed article on treatment and follow the 'isolation treatment' protocol. Keeping them warm and dry will slow the progression of any ailment that thrives on moisture and it eases the turtle's burdens on basking/cooling at the same time.>
<Either via sunlight or lamp, get them as much UV lighting as possible. If you have a UV lamp (even if you take one from the tank they currently inhabit) leave it on 18 hours a day. Treat for both fungus and bacteria as described in the article>
<When you feed them, feed them a proper diet. Either regular Koi pellets from a local fish store or Repto-min food sticks by Tetra, which are exactly the same diet, just shaped differently and more expensive>
<While you're treating them in isolation, read the second link about general care. Compare what is recommended against what they have -- and find out what went wrong>
<General care: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you.
Re: Help? fw: re: red ear turtle nose rot 08/11/09

> Hi Neale -- I answered, but forwarded it to you as well -- I'd like a second opinion
> D
Hi Darrel,
If this turtle has been feeding primarily on goldfish and shrimps, it is VERY likely to be suffering from a Vitamin B1 deficiency. Both goldfish and shrimps contain a lot of thiaminase, and over time, this causes all sorts of problems for reptiles. It's a fairly well recognised syndrome in reptile care, certainly when compared to fishkeeping.
As you correctly state, red-ear sliders should be fed a largely plant- based diet. Whether this is live plants or pellet foods based on plant foods (such as Koi pellets) probably doesn't matter too much, though as always, variety helps.
Vitamin B1 deficiency will of course reduce the effectiveness of the immune system, so secondary infections of the eyes and respiratory tract will be more common. It sounds as if these turtles are suffering from these problems. A vet will be able to prescribe the appropriate medications, and will also give vitamin injections to provide a quick boost. These turtles must see a vet, and soon, if further suffering is to be avoided.
Cheers, Neale

I have a very sick red eared slider with swollen eye   7/27/2009
<Hiya> my name's Adam from Malaysia.
<Darrel from Los Angeles here>
I have a very sick red eared slider with swollen eye for about 1 week, have been using turtle eyes drop but without the vitamin A in it (cant get the zoo medic brand). How do I get it to eat if it won't open it's eye?
<It's very important that you get him to eat, Adam. You need vitamin A and vitamin D into his system, not just around his eye, of the problem will get worse.>
How long can it survive without eating?
<Assuming he's otherwise healthy -- and that is not very sure at this point, he could go even a month or so without eating. BUT .. and this is the really problem ... if he's developed a vitamin deficiency it means that his diet has been wrong for quite a long time.>
What is the duration of treatment with the eye drops? Currently it's quarantined all day, I only it let in distilled water for 15 min.s a day max. As for a vet, cant find one who knows the stuff here.
<Here are two links. One will tell you how to treat a eye problems and the second will cover all the basic care needs that you have to meet to prevent this from happening again>
<care: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm> plenty of UV light, even if that means you take him outside in the sunshine. Sunshine is a great way to get his body to start manufacturing Vitamin D, just make sure you watch him and don't let him overheat. 10 minutes 5 times a day is far better than 25 minutes twice a day due to the danger of him heating too much.>
<One way to stimulate eating is to warm that daily bath. Give him 20 minutes swimming time in warm water (but only up to his shoulders, no higher) and often that will help stimulate his appetite.>
<Offer earth worms or very small pieces of liver, both are high in Vitamin A>

My RES Turtle, hlth., feeding    2/2/09 PLEASE HELP, Can my 2 year old RES Turtle get sick and/or die from eating a feeder fish infected with Ick and/or with any other kind of sickness? <Yes. Though Ick itself isn't something reptiles can contract, any fish that is sick is likely one kept under poor conditions, and other illnesses can certainly affect your reptile. More specifically, you MUST NOT feed feeder fish (e.g., goldfish or minnows) to pet reptiles. This is extremely bad for them. Firstly, such feeder fish contain a lot of thiaminase, which breaks down thiamin, and over time when used the reptile will gradually develop a Vitamin B1 deficiency. Secondly, feeder fish contain a lot of fat, and the fat accumulates around the internal organs, causing health problems. Red-ear Sliders are essentially herbivores, and around 75% of their diet MUST be green foods. If it isn't, all you're doing is making him sick.> If so how do I treat him? <Depends on the disease. If all else fails, contact a vet.> I got some feeder fish about 2 years ago and picked 3 of them to keep for pet's. I never had a Ick problem until now. 2 of the 3 died from the Ick. I have 1 left and he is getting better (slowly). <Ick is easy to treat and shouldn't kill fish. See WWM re: Ick for more.> So I did some research to learn Ick comes from stressed out fish being moved in and out of their environment. <Not really stress as such, but yes, if you move fish between tanks, you can expose them to the disease.> So what I need to know is how long does it take for Ick to go away and now that he has had Ick once will it be easier to get it next time around? <Once you have treated with an appropriate medication (or with salt/heat) then Ick is gone for good. However, if you add new fish, or potentially move anything into the tank that can carry the free-living parasites, such as aquarium plants, then Ick can come back.> Also should I keep feeder fish in a separate bowl? <Goldfish should not be kept in a bowl. Doing so kills them. Forget everything you have seen on the TV. They need big, well filtered tanks. 30 gallons is about right for beginners. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/goldfish101art.htm> Thank You, Donna <Cheers, Neale.>

Sick Sliders  11/29/08 Dear Crew, <Hiya Chris - Darrel here> I have two Red Eared Sliders that were both in one 20 gal. tank plenty of heat and light. After a few weeks one turtle started to just lay on the basking rock all day eyes closed and not eating. So I researched the problem and it led me to your web site. I have now separated the 2 RES in two 20 gal tanks and started with the eye drops. <It sounds like your research concluded that it was a vitamin A deficiency so you're using eye drops?> It has been a few days and the smaller less active RES is still just lying around not doing much and still not eating. Also, every 30 seconds or so his throat swells up, like it wants to throw up, but doesn't. <This is occasionally seen in healthy turtles, Chris, but it's also seen in turtles with respiratory problems (he's trying harder to breathe) which is a likely and frequent companion of the Vitamin deficiency> What may be wrong and what can be done to make him better? <Chris - Almost all health problems with Sliders and their cousins come down to Diet, Water Quality, Light and Heat, so my guess is that you have one or more of these problems in need of correction.> <DIET- The most common is diet and the most common culprit is a cheap, prepared turtle food followed closely by home-diets of the wrong kind of fruits, vegetables and meats. Repto-Min is an excellent 100% diet as are any of the quality Koi pellets that you find in better fish stores. I raised hatchling sliders all the way to full grown breeders on nothing but Koi Pellets and the occasional (once a month) earthworm> <Water Quality - some aquarists try to use the same filtering concepts we use on our fish, but it's next to impossible to have a filter-bed big enough to have a bio-cycle when turtles are involved. Turtles need strong filters, LOTS of charcoal and frequent, MASSIVE water changes.> <LIGHT -- also often misunderstood. Proper amounts of UV-A and UV-B are needed to metabolize the foods and extract and synthesize the vitamins. Most people are unaware that glass windows, even screens in windows, filter out substantial amounts of UV from natural sunlight and even fewer are aware of how close the UV bulbs must be to the basking rock -- with some bulbs, 6 tiny inches further away cuts the UV IN HALF.> <HEAT - a single 60watt regular incandescent light bulb 10 inches above the basking rock from 7am to 7pm is more than enough heat (never heat the water itself) and make sure that there is ENOUGH water that it stays fairly constant temperature during the day -- this way the turtles have the choice or warm or cool> <My suggestion is that you take them out of their normal habitat and keep them warm and dry during the treatment phase. Put them in water for just a few minutes every day to hydrate, poop and eat, but in a nice, safe, warm & dry place with UV light during treatment. Continue the eye drops for two weeks and meanwhile, correct the environmental problems in their normal home.> CK <DB - here's some reading for you: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm > <<Outstanding. RMF>>

My Red Eared Sliders!!!! Shell concerns, nutrition    8/11/08Hey!! <HIYA!!!!!!!> I'm Priscilla from NY and I have some concerns about my Red Eared Sliders. I have 2 and they were bought at the same time. They were pretty much the same size. However, after I started taking care of them, I found out that one of my turtles, grew a LOT bigger in a short period of time, while the other, grew slowly. I realize that on the website, the bigger turtle may be a female, but I'm not sure yet. <Probably not that reason, Pricilla. Some people claim that females grow a tiny bit faster than males while juveniles, females mainly get bigger because they keep growing. It's too early to tell their sexes.> One of the concerns is that I think my turtles are fighting to get food, and usually, the bigger one gets all the food. <that's more likely. In any group, even a group of only two, there is some competition for food and other resources and one animal will become more successful. Even in situations where there is plenty of basking areas, food and other resources, the dominant animal will simply thrive better than the other, if only by a little bit. Slightly brighter, slightly bigger ... just .... better.> <Sometimes it's tricky to solve the feeding problem. If you simply add so much food that the big one gets full and swims off, there's usually so much food that the water fouls. After you start feeding and the big one is eating, use a net handle or a pencil and nudge the little guy over to a different corner where you have just dropped a few pellets of food. Sometimes I've even removed a smaller animal to a shallow bowl of water for a private feeding once every week or so. If you see that he gets a really good meal every once in a while he's usually equipped to compete well enough on his own the rest of the time.> The bigger turtle has a more vibrant-colored shell than the smaller turtle. It has a dull shell. My biggest concern is that I find that my turtles' shells look like they're shedding, but they're not they're basically bits of the shell that look clearish-whitish. It doesn't smell any way it shouldn't smell. I understand that the bigger turtle's shell looks like that because its growing, and shedding a lot of skin, so it's only natural. But the little turtle... I don't understand. Is it shell rot? <From here it looks like normal shedding. The SKIN comes off as very small gray bits and usually the pieces are too small to notice. When shreds of skin are visibly hanging off of a turtle it's usually a sign of water quality and fungal problems. The shell scutes (pronounced skoots) come off as thin, transparent to translucent chips -- sometimes the full size of each scute and sometimes smaller. This is normal growth. Just before the scute comes off, it turns dull and starts to wrinkle, which is exactly what your picture shows.> Or is it not getting enough food? Does it need vitamins? <If they're getting good basking temperatures (about 90f+), unfiltered UV A & B lighting, clean water and high quality Koi Pellets or Repto-Min food sticks then no, you don't need to supplement their diet. As far as getting enough food, with just a little extra effort on your part you can see to it that the little guy is doing well enough to hold his own. I'll toss in a link below> Thank you so much!!! <You are so welcome> Priscilla <Darrel> < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm > <******************************************************************> <************** SOAP BOX ALERT **********************************> <**** This is America where everyone is entitled to my opinion!!! ************> <I get asked my opinion on food supplements all the time and my answer is always NO!. And then yes. Let me explain.> <When a diet is deficient in vitamins the first thought and often the choice -- is to supplement with vitamins. The problem with that is ... that the diet is STILL deficient in vitamins! If the animal is not getting enough natural sunlight or concentrated enough UVA & UVB to synthesize Vitamin D, you can certainly give the D ... but after giving all the D in the world ... the environment is STILL DEFICIENT in UVA and UVB. You end up compensating for a problem instead of CORRECTING the problem. So what's the difference you ask? Easy to answer: If your diet is deficient in vitamins or nutrients then I guarantee you that it's too high in fat (or too low in fat) or too high in protein or too low in whatever else ... to be good for them in the first place. PLUS ... you're spending money on a diet that's improper and then spending MORE on supplements. > <On the other hand ... when you solve the problems .. when you're giving a balanced diet in an environment with high water quality of the correct parameters, light & temperatures of the right types, degrees and variances .... then the supplements are no longer necessary!!!!> <But then .. every once in a while, I add a few drops of supplements anyway> <<Extremely valuable input/reminders for humans and their own nutrition as well. RMF>>

Little Turtles Overfed  1/9/07 Hello Crew, My name is Samantha and I am a complete turtle freak! I have raised box turtles since I was a kid. I just bought two baby RES's about a week or so ago and for the first couple days they seemed fine and dandy, Swimming all around eating pellets, and kelp like crazy. As I have mentioned I have had them for about a week now and am a little worried. I have a dry basking area with a UVA Incandescent lamp for them to bask in at about 90 degrees, two filters, a water heater set to about 75 degrees and a thermometer for the water. The thermometer shows that it is constantly around 75 degrees and it does not fluctuate much. The turtles no longer eat any more and they are almost dead like. They don't hardly move at all! I got them some bait fish and they ate 2 of them and there are still two left yet they just sit under the lamp with their mouths closed sprawled out. They never want to get in the water and when they do its only for about 2 minutes until they are back under the lamp. One of the turtles doesn't open his eyes. If you pick him up with his eyes closed he will open one and it takes about a minute for the other one to open. About 2 days ago he couldn't open any of them for about 5 minutes after you pick him up. They do not have any lesions or shell deficiencies except their shells on their bellies are soft. The top is hard but the bottom is a little flexible. I let them outside in a bowl with damp cloth and they just lay around soaking up rays. I keep their water clean and I just don't know what to do anymore. I have researched and researched on the internet on different problems. They just won't eat and they do not move. If there is any advice you could give me that would be great! Thank you, Samantha < The little guys have so much food in their stomach that they can't move. These full stomachs are putting pressure on the rest of the internal organs. They are trying to heat up enough to digest the huge meal. Turtles die from being over fed. Hopefully it is not too late for yours.-Chuck>
Re: Sick Baby Turtles (Red Ear Slider). Overfed Turtles II  1/9/07
Thank you so much I had no idea that I was over feeding them because I had never seen them eat! Thank you soo much for your help. I hope that I have received this info in time so that they won't die on me. Should I just feed them once a day maybe and thanks again! Sincerely, Samantha < If they are eating, then they are on the road to recovery and out of the danger zone. If they are not eating and still lethargic I would leave them alone until they start to show some movement. In your first question you indicated that they were eating pellets and kelp like crazy, so I assumed that you had watched them eat. Dumping food in the tank and taking off is not a good idea. Do not feed them until they are actively seeking food. Then feed them 3 to 4 times a week. Watch them eat until they slow down, then stop. They are full and do not need to be feed any more until the next time.-Chuck>


Turtle With Lumps On His Jaws  - 06/07/2006 I got a RES about two years ago when it was just a baby. He was only a little bigger than a quarter. He is now about four inches long, maybe a little smaller. We believe its a boy but he is still young. His name is Beanie. I read a lot about them and got the proper lighting and caging. Beanie is in a 40g Breeder until he gets bigger. The temp is at about 78 degrees. I was told at the pet store the 40g will be great for him for about 6 to 10 years depending on how fast he grows. For the first year I fed him once a day and then when he started looking a little chubby I cut it down to every other day. He has plenty of fish to chase around and basks frequently. Then about 8 months ago he started to develop lumps on each side of his head. We assumed he was growing in his adult jaws. This still might be the case however, the lumps grew bigger as the months went on and they each stick out about a centimeter on each side. I know I should take him to the vet and I will. I just was wondering if this is something that is normal with growing turtles, he is the first one I have gotten. I have read books and many internet sites but nothing I can find has told me anything about the lumps. A friend of my brothers who has had many turtles said I might be feeding to much. I feed him about 6-10 Freeze Dried Jumbo krill however a large African clawed frog eats a few and I have a Koi and two big gold fish that will snatch at them. Then about 5 regular size gold fishes. He eats the fish food that floats around. I've tried giving him lettuce and carrots but he doesn't touch them. I give him a few ReptoMin sticks, and Nutrafin turtle Gammarus pellets. when I go to the pet store about every other week I will get tiny guppy's for the frog and Beanie to Catch. I will get crickets when I have time. I don't know if that is too much He is done eating in about 5 to 10 minutes. Thanks, Mary < Growing turtles that are properly fed do not develop the jaw structures that you have described. It could be a vitamin or mineral imbalance. A vet will take x-rays and find out for sure.-Chuck>


Little Turtle Staying Little   2/6/06 Hi, I have 1 RES and he is only 2". I have read that they grow like 2 or 3 inches in a year. But anyway I've had my RES for 2 yrs now and I was wondering if at 2" long that's the right length for being 2 to 3 yrs old? I have 2 baby YBS coming in 3 or 4 days so I want at least get a good start with these 2 little 1s (I had my RES in a 10 gallon tank and then just recently upgraded to a 20 gal with filter heater etc. . I am going to put the 2 babies in with her). Does tank size matter to how big they get or is it in how u feed them??     Please help me I really need. Thank you! < Typically a turtle that old should be bigger.  Get some ZooMed Aquatic Turtle Food and feed him three to four times a week as much as he will eat at one sitting. Siphon out any uneaten food so it will not pollute the tank. In between the big feedings you can give him some washed earthworms, mealworms, crickets and king worms. Older turtles require less protein and want more vegetable matter in their diet. As they grow you can increase the tanks size to accommodate them. I would not recommend mixing turtles of different sizes.-Chuck>

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