FAQs About Side Neck Turtles
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What is wrong with my yellow spotted Sideneck turtle
I was trying to understand what is the issue that is happening with my
turtle. He is a Yellow Spotted Sideneck turtle.
The skin on his neck has been peeling for the past few days and i think
something is wrong with it.
<Usually a sign of stress, change in water quality or general
environmental changes can cause this.
He's been eating fine, the tank temperature is about 30.6
<There's your problem. The water is far too warm. Hatchlings
should be in water that is 26º C or 78-80º F. Adults should be in water
that is 24º C or 74-76º F. The only spot in the tank that should be over
those temperatures is the basking area.>
But he looks really tired and sleeps more often than usual.
<Again, stressed from overheating> I couldn't find any information
online about it, thus I am emailing to ask about it.
<Thanks for writing. I would lower your temperature to the numbers
above, and keep an eye on the turtle for a while. The shedding should go
away. Whatever you do, do NOT peel the skin off. It will do so itself.
Best wishes, Gabe.>
care for Eastern Snake Neck turtle 4/9/16
This is Stanley, a turtle I have just begun to care for.
<I like them -- they always look so happy!>
He is an Eastern Snake Neck turtle, and I'm having trouble finding definite
care information for him, especially in the area of water temperature. Pet
shops seem to advise 26-28deg (This is Celsius, I'm from New Zealand),
however I'm worried that this is more general information for more common
turtles such as RES, Reeves, and Painted. Information for Snake neck seems
to range a lot with some places recommending 26, others 20-24, and some
places as low as 16! (again, all Celsius :p ) One website warned that the
often recommended tropical setup will eventually kill them. Do you guys have
much familiarity with Eastern Snake Necks? Currently my water is at about
24deg as I hoped that was a good balance until I got this sorted, I hope I
haven't distressed him by having it higher than that earlier.
Thanks very much, I've been enjoying reading your site to learn about health
warning signs and information in general!
<Richard, in taking to account Stanley's natural habitat you'll see a fairly
wide variation in temperature and this tells us that they are tolerant to a
<Now, all the turtles from these environments can be lumped together in the
general sense: Water temperature is ROOM temperature ... meaning any
temperature at which us humans are comfortable (21 to 23c) and the basking
area is 31 to 33c>
<What you have to take into account is that while you are a hobbyist just
learning about turtles -- Stanley is an EXPERT at being a turtle. He knows
what he wants at any given time and if you offer him a choice he'll choose.>
African Sideneck can't dive! 3/7/16
<Hey there, Ho there & Hiya!>
I've had my Pelusios castaneus for a little over a year now.
<For those of you following along, that’s not a disease … that’s the $5
word for African Mud Turtle>
Her name is Sally Monella and she is something else!
<That’s a clever name!>
When I first bought her she was sick (shell rot and RI), but after
several trips to the vet and treatment, she was as good as new in a
month's time! At first I noticed she could not submerge, as if she would
swim down but her bottom would float. I didn't think anything of it,
since I figure it was probably due to the RI at the time, or even a
little gas. However, a year later, I have acquired another Pelusios
castaneus (separate tank), and he swims everywhere, up and down. I then
realized that during the entire year or so that I have had my Sally, I
have never seen her swimming to the bottom! Before me, she was kept in
very shallow water (just enough to cover her), but I have her in about
10 inches and she does fine, but she only swims at the top of the water
and never submerges. She hasn't had any health issues since the time I
got her, and she is very active, eats well, and basks regularly. Could
this just be personal preference, or should I be worried?
<You should not be worried>
She has never been a great swimmer, but I have several plants that she
uses to rest. Thank you in advance! I love this website and everything
you guys do to help our little shelled friends!:)
<There are many reasons and causes. Typically when a turtle has a gas
bubble or an intestinal issue they will swim downward and then float
back up, tail first – the visual is very clear – the back end won’t
submerge. I’ve seen turtles with this condition that live for years with
no other ill effect. Then there are turtles that just hang out at the
surface … almost like they’re afraid of deep water. Also no problem>
<The general rule is this: Is Sally active? Alert? Aware of you and her
surroundings? Does she eat? Poop? Grow? Swim sometimes and bask other
times? IF all these are true, stop worrying and enjoy her and her pal
Sue Damoanis (see – two can play at that game!)>
African Sideneck turtle acting weird
<Hiya - Darrel here>
About a month ago, I purchased an African Sideneck turtle (Pelomedusa subrufa)
from PetSmart (my mistake). I took my little buddy to the vet for a wellness
exam when I got her and she had shell rot. Even though under warranty, I was
already attached to her and I didn't believe they took well care of her at
PetSmart, so I kept her and we started the treatment. Prior
to this, it took her about two days to start eating (only ate superworms) and
she ate A LOT. The vet told me to reduce the worms and introduce pellets.
This was going on at the same time of the treatment. Three days into treatment
and food switch, she starts refusing her worms and pellets. She starts basking
all day (which she never did with me in room), and in the afternoon she started
her frantic swimming. With no other symptoms, I automatically thought of eggs.
Well, I took her for an x-ray and she does
not have any eggs. Nothing seems to be wrong with her besides not eating,
frantic swimming and a lot of basking (she goes on the platform when lights cut
off at 8pm, and doesn't get off until about 3pm; she sleeps a lot on there but
she often comes to the edge and puts her head in the water to drink). The vet
told me to giver her a couple of weeks, maybe is just stress.
<probably a big part of it>
But I am seriously concerned about her. I checked water levels, temperature, and
everything checks out. I offer pellets daily, worms, goldfish, and she has
Anacharis in the tank. She won't touch anything but her cuttle bone once in a
while. When in the water, she always looks like she is looking for food, but
pays no attention to what I give her. Prior to this she was a sweet turtle, let
me hand feed her and shy sometimes. Now my presence doesn't bother her, but she
is either lethargic or over active and won't eat. Please help me!!!! I don't
know what else to do. Thank you in advance!
<The first thing to do is get her warm and dry. Read here on the treatment for
<The next thing is make SURE she has UV-B or direct unfiltered sunshine - it's
critical for this turtle to get her shell exposed on a regular basis.>
<Now, I don't care if she doesn't eat or eat very much for the next two weeks.
If she was eating before you started treatment and the Vet didn't notice signs
of emaciation, then she's not going to die from LACK of nutrition. Keep her warm
and dry, giver her a daily bath (in the treatment plan above) and let her kick
whatever bug she has. When you DO start introducing food into her daily bath
regimen offer her very small pieces of beef liver. Beef liver is chocked full of
vitamins and iron and everything good - all things that will boost her
metabolism and immune system. After a minimum of two weeks in dry-dock and at
least a week AFTER she started to eat the liver, you can re-introduce her to her
tank - but keep FEEDING HER in her bath (If you ever make the mistake of feeding
liver in her main tank, I guarantee you won't make that mistake again)>
<Lastly, regarding her tank -- if there is a power filter, turn if off for a day
or two and see if that helps calm her down>
TURTLE HELP!!! 7/21/14
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I got a turtle and I have no idea what species it is.
<Looks to me like you have yourself a Pelomedusidae which is a fancy way
of saying an African Sidenecked Turtle.>
I looked at all the websites and I couldn't find one. I need help
because he does this thing where he gets on the log at the bottom of the
tank and he circles it. He keeps circling it. He never did it before.
Should I be worried?
<Nope - he's just active>
I attached to pictures, if you can help me please email back. I don't
know if I should be worried. He's the only one in the tank. I have a
heater, basking dock, filter and decorations in the tank. And if you
could tell me what species he is as well, that would be appreciated.
<The side necked turtles are more aquatic than most, so they appreciate
clean, deep water, but they also need a basking site that provides both
heat and UV-B lighting. Enclosed is the basic care instructions for the
Red Eared Slider -- ALL of which is relevant to the Side Necked
turtle as well:
<Yer welcome. I can't say for SURE … but I think his name is Smiley>
Re: TURTLE HELP!!! 8/6/14
Hey, It's me again.
<That's funny - it's me TOO! (we got to stop meeting like this)>
Serious question though don't laugh but can turtles get aroused?
<Yep - that's where baby turtles come from>
I know it's weird but I swear my turtle has started almost it looks like his
humping the log.
<That's not usually how it looks. You might check to make sure he's not got
lose skin on his limbs>
I just need to know if I should be worried?
<Not really. Not unless he gets to your computer late at night and starts
surfing the web for turtle pictures and then trying to explain it as
Thanks for not judging.
Pelusios sp.; care, disease, env./thermal
I have an African Sideneck Turtle. He's housed in a 29
gallon tank, with various docks, a basking light, a filter, and a basic
heater that is supposed to keep the water at 78 degrees (the thermometer
never goes past 65)
<Here's one problem. Your turtle has been too cold for too long, and
with reptiles -- being cold-blooded animals -- that's the kiss of death.
Or at least, it's the kiss of getting a disease because their immune
system won't work! Cold air is just as risky as cold water, especially
with these tropical turtles, so their environment needs not only a
robust heater to warm the water but also good humid air above the tank
with just enough ventilation to prevent mould.>
I actually bought him a new heater tonight that I can manually control
the heat of.
<Good; 27 C/80 F is the absolute minimum water temperature for this
species, and ideally, aim for around 28-30 C/82-86 F.>
Anyway, his nose is slightly pink and he appears to be blowing snot
bubbles. Is there a way I can fix this before having to take him to the
<Probably not. The fact the nose is pink suggests some degree of
respiratory tract infection and/or inflammation, and if you want this
fixed quickly and cheaply, you want to get him to the vet ASAP before
the problem spreads to his lungs.>
<Most welcome. Cheers, Neale.>
Turtle help 11/17/11
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have two snake neck turtles and one of them has laid her
second egg, the first egg was hollow except for some yolk but
this second egg feels quite heavy. It was on its side underwater and
when picked up it was upside down until I flipped it around to right
side up, because the egg was found in water I presume that it is
What should I do next time I find an egg? Should I make a nest in its
basking area, if so how should I come about doing this?
There isn't a whole lot of information on snake necks and it would
be very helpful, thanks :)
<The good news is that this is still in the realm of basics. Prior
to laying eggs, your female turtle's behavior will change.
She'll seem restless and over active or lethargic and under active.
She'll eat too much or not enough, etc. You should notice
<In a perfect world you'd add a nesting box to her existing
enclosure or add a deep tub of nesting mix (I'll get to that later)
into that enclosure. But if they're in a glass tank, what you have
to do is remove her to a separate nesting box. Unfortunately this is an
attempt to get her to lay eggs on OUR schedule and not let her
naturally lay them on hers. Many times a keeper will place the turtle
in the nesting box, leaving her there for DAYS '¦ and in the
15 minutes that she's back in her home tank for drinking and
eating, she plops the egg right in the water. An external nesting box
is an imperfect solution, but it's what we have to work
< I suggest that you get a dark sided plastic tub, approximately 24
inches by 16 inches by 30 inches tall (all these are VERY approximate).
If you find a container the right length and width, you can fabricate
higher sides even by using cardboard taped in place around the edges.
Add a basking/heat light of some sort. Make a mixture of Vermiculite,
play sand (sandbox sand) and potting soil in equal parts to cover the
bottom 6 to 8 inches deep, more if you can. Turn on the basking lamp
and point it toward one corner of the nesting box, so that part of the
substrate is HOT, areas around it are warm, and places further away are
<Place her in the box and for most of each day, returning her to the
regular tank in the evening. With any luck -- and a lot of patience on
your part (this can take weeks) she'll figure out what she's
supposed to do.>
<The hard part is that you have to notice when she has finally laid
the eggs. Usually you can see a change in her demeanor -- she's
calm again. Either she laid the eggs -or- if she hadn't found the
right spot and the eggs hadn't shelled yet (the hard outer shell
forms last) she may reabsorb them.>
<If you get the eggs, here's what to do next: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/TurtleReproArtDarrel.htm