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FAQs About Turtle Disease: Environmental
(Habitat, Water Quality, Poisoning...)

Related Articles: Treating Common Illnesses of the Red Ear Slider (& other Emydid Turtles) by Darrel Barton, Turtle eye diseases; Recognising and treating eye diseases in pet turtles by Neale Monks, So your turtle has the Flu? Recognizing 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,  Shell Rot in Turtles, Turtles, AmphibiansRed Eared Slider Care

FAQs on: Turtle Disease 1, Turtle Disease 2, Turtle Disease 3,
FAQs on Turtle Health by Type: Diagnosis, Traumas, Social, Nutritional, Growths/Tumors, Infectious, Parasitic, References,
FAQs on:
Shell Rot, RES Disease, Turtle Respiratory Disease, Turtle Eye Disease,


Is my turtle sick?       12/16/17
<Hiya Darrel here>
Lately a lot of things have been changing for both me and my turtle, and though he appears generally happy and healthy there are some things that cause me to be a bit concerned for his health.
Most importantly, the tank has been moved from a rather warm place in our home (the kitchen) to my bedroom. Though by no means cold, it isn't kept the comfortable temperature the kitchen is kept at. Furthermore, a water softener was installed (my parents are redecorating on a large scale) which causes my water to turn a horrid shade of yellow almost immediately. Then his UV light broke, so he's gotten a new one there as well. For me, I moved back fulltime with my parents (I have been around only during weekends for years due to my study). In short, I see a lot more of my turtle than I did before, perhaps causing me to notice behaviour I did not before and freaking me out. So, one way or another, I'd like to know if I have cause to be concerned or if I'm simply paranoid.
<Even paranoids have real enemies>
As for the little guy himself, he appears to be happy and healthy, splashing fanatically when I'm around, swimming and basking (apparently, he's also on land a lot more than I realized after lights out, not the best bunk mate). Still there's also a reason I'm a bit concerned. He has gotten a rather white mouth (see pic) and is rather nibbling his food instead of gulping it down like a glutton, or even ignoring it altogether. When posting on another forum someone mentioned the pink skin could also be cause for concern. I've read the section on RTI, and
I don't recognize any of the symptoms, other than him sometimes breathing loudly when surfacing (wouldn't call it wheezing). Generally only noticed in the dead quiet of night.
<no real red flags so far>
I'm in a small town with generally sub-par exotic pet knowledge, and am on a (very) tight budget. I'd like to be fairly sure something is wrong before hauling him in the car and driving him to a specialty vet, but I've had the bugger for years and I would be very sad to have him suffer. I'm working on getting access to 'regular' water again, and have turned on the heating in my room, but is there cause for additional action?
Many thanks in advance,
<Your turtle is 'at home' in almost all kinds of water conditions, so don't obsess over your water -- if you'd drink it or bathe in it or do your laundry in it then it's fine for her as well>
<The pinkness is normally a concern but that concern comes with lethargy and a total lack of appetite, so not now>
<From what little I see, I say the change in climate has put her off her game for a while. As long as she basks sometimes and swims sometimes and eats sometimes ... let's just keep an eye on her. When she stops being
alert, stops reacting to your presence, then we'll change some things around -- we'll warm her basking area first and see how that changes things. So write back when you know more>

"Found" turtle; not eating, wheezing?      5/23/17
hi I found at turtle on the side of the road and it was not moving scared that it was going to be hit I took it home where I found out that it was a midland painted turtle but now it isn't eating and it is making a weird grunt noise what does this mean.
<The best thing to do with wild reptiles is to leave them where they are.
This has to be close to a safe, turtle-friendly body of water already inhabit by the species in question. Just dumping a turtle in "the woods" or a backyard isn't acceptable because there's no knowing if the turtle will
find the food and shelter it needs. Your local herpetology club or natural history society may be able to help here. The next best option is to contact your local animal rescue charity or agency. Wild animals can be acclimated to captive life, but there may be legal issues here (many reptiles are protected at city, state or national level) and on top of that wild animals can come with parasites and other issues that need to be taken into account. If you want to keep this animal as a pet, then please write back and we'll offer up some help. Cheers, Neale.>

Turtle question; hatchling cond.s     7/25/16
Dear Crew,
<Hiya, Darrel here>
My turtle is a hatchling he is very small and I recently got him about 1 month ago. I have UVB light a heat lamp and a basking area I also have the water at 80 degrees.
<That water is too hot. Water should be room temperature and no warmer and the basking area around 88. The goal here is to offer him a choice of warm or cool and let him decide what he needs. Right now you’re giving him a choice between warm and warmer>
I recently noticed near his tail the edge of his shell seems soft well it bends sort of.
That is the only place effected.
<That’s normal for a turtle his size>
The turtle is active and eating he has no other problems and I recently got him a cuttlebone for calcium.
<I’m not a big fan of supplements, Mercedes. If the diet is correct then you don’t need supplements and if the diet is not correct, then we should correct the diet. That said, a calcium bone that they might chew on doesn’t hurt. The idea of putting calcium in the water (those calcium blocks that dissolve) is a waste of your money. Calcium dissolved in the water doesn’t get into the turtle’s body in any effective quantities>
<read here about everything you need to do – don’t skip anything http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

Turtle info         5/16/15
I just cleaned my turtles tank and it started splashing around as if he wants to get out of the tank. Swimming back and forth trying to escape.

Should I be worried about him?
<Did you use dechlorinator in the water? While turtles aren't as sensitive as fish to untreated water, their eyes can still be irritated by the chlorine and Chloramine used to sterilise drinking water.>
Is that normal?
<Turtles are "prey" in the wild, and don't like being moved about or having their surroundings suddenly changed. So yes, it's normal for them to be a bit skittish at times. But if this always happens when you clean the vivarium, do think about things you could do to reduce stress.>
Thank you,
<Welcome. Neale.>

Re: TURTLE HELP!!!     8/13/14
I have a lot of questions, but I promise I'm a good mother to my turtle.
However, my heater and UV light broke because the PowerPoint went haywire.
If the water gets too cold for him. Is that dangerous for his health?
<Assuming the turtle is indoors and assuming you live south of the Arctic Circle, then no heater is needed. The water should be room temperature (68-73 degrees) and the basking area 88 to 93 degrees - so that he has a choice to warm up or cool down. Water hotter than 75 degrees begins to become unhealthy for him. So -- good news - No Heater needed. Read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

Urgent help regarding my pets.    7/22/12
Dear Sir,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
We have 3 turtles. Out of these 2 are of the same breed and 1 of a different breed. My issues are :
1. The 2 green turtles I brought home 2 days back. 1 is very active and swims around actively and eats food. But the other one always secures its position on the top of the basking dock, away from water, with eyes closed and head inside its shell. Can u tell me what could be the issue. If it's a disease symptom how to cure it.
<He's likely sick from environmental issues>
2. Now the bigger turtle which had small white spots when I got it 1 month back, has now bigger white spots. Could it be a disease or just normal shell shedding.
<Not shedding - it could be fungus, or it could be water spots from minerals in the water>
The photos of all the turtles are attached herewith.
My aquarium has normal 60W bulb and I give commercial turtle food available in the market to feed them.
<Well, a normal 60w bulb is not sufficient for turtles.  They're not getting UV light, so they can't produce vitamin D or keep their skin and shells from growing fungus>
Thanks in advance
Vinod Menon
<First things first:  Read here about the sick turtle and the possible fungal infection.
my suggestion is that you treat them as a group.>
<Second, read HERE about that they need and how to provide it: 
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<Everything you describe is treatable **BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY** was preventable>

Water turtle, hlth., env.      3/4/12
Hi! I have had my NC water turtle for 10 years now. He lives in a ten gallon tank half full of water
<Too small for an adult turtle.>

with a big rock he can climb up on to get out. The past few days I have noticed he is very lethargic, limp, and is puffy between his arms and head.
<Very bad.>
There is nothing different with his eyes ears or nose.
He was shedding so I removed majority of the top layer last night on the bottom and top of shell. On the belly of his shell he has pink lines lining the separate sections. There is no pink on the front half of his body but his legs near the shell have pink dots the same color as the pink on the belly of his shell. I didn't know if the puffiness was a result of him being septic? <Could easily be.>
Or shell rot?
Or what health issues could cause him to be so limp and lifeless and What to do considering they're no vets for him here.
<Does need a vet.>
More calcium? Food switch up?
<Neither. Likely needs a vitamin injection plus an overall health check-up. Get to your nearest small animal vet and have this chap looked over.>
They're little shrimpies in his new food
<Shrimps are fine occasionally, but lack some vitamins; most turtles are more or less herbivorous as adults, and their diet should reflect that. If you haven't been feeding fresh greens or some plant-based equivalent (such as Koi pellets) then a chronic vitamin deficiency is likely.>
and I know those can spread bacterias and the new food has a dark red pellet that he doesn't eat so at first when the shell started turning on his belly I thought it was the dye in that pellet lol. He's not eating and is avoiding the water and progressively gotten worse.
<Hurry up and get him to a vet. He is probably sliding towards the point where death is inevitable.>
I found him dying in the woods when I was 14 and other then that day I have never seen him so unhappy or still. He has no other colors then yellow and black no red and not painted.
Thanks for your time
Sarah V
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.> 

HELP! Yellow Bellied Slider Turtle 7/3/2011
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a full grown male yellow bellied slider turtle in a 55 gallon fish tank with a couple of med. sized goldfish.
<Did the goldfish start out as feeders that the turtle never ate? And now they're additional pets to worry about & care for?>
I put some driftwood I bought from the fish section at Petco into the tank about a week ago. Ever since then I've been having to do small water changes every couple days cause the water would turn a light caramel color. Well I noticed both today and yesterday my turtle wasn't eating and had red streaks in the bottom of his shell. He has also been basking out of the water a lot. At the times he IS in the water, he sometimes has his legs spread out and acts as if he's going to throw up. I ended up taking the wood out this morning, and it smelled bad and had white moldy spots on it (the wood not the turtle). I threw it away, cleaned out the filter, did a big water change, like 40%.. and put the turtle out to bask in the sun for a good 45 minutes. He's acting a bit better but still not good. What's wrong with him and how can I help??
<He may simply improve with time. At the very least do another water change, but what I'd REALLY recommend doing is to sterilize the entire setup. Put the goldfish in a temporary tank, take the turtle out and put him somewhere warm and dry for the. Fill the water to the regular "full" level and maybe even an inch more. Add 1 cup of chlorine bleach per approximate gallon of water. Even a bit more is OK as long as you can ventilate the room so no one breathes the fumes. It's important that you leave the filters on and running during this process. What we want to do is kill the mold & fungus everywhere -- inside the tubes, down in the impeller -- all the places youd never reach with even the most thorough cleaning. After 2 or 3 hours, you can drain the water, break the system down and clean everything. Rinse, use soap and water, rinse again & then set it back up.>

pet turtle trauma   4/13/11
Dear Crew
<Hi, Darrel here>
I have a 3 yr old painted turtle that got his front leg caught in the suction end of our filtration system (Eheim water filter) <<Where is/was the intake screen? RMF>>. Not sure of how long he was caught in it, less than 8 hrs. His leg is swollen, water retention/stress and has a bubble on the paw area and his claws are almost turned upwards.
<Not good>
He's unresponsive and doesn't look to be breathing!
<If he was caught underwater for anything longer than 30 minutes it's unlikely he'd survive. While they CAN hold their breath for hours and sometimes even days under the right conditions, being caught in a filter is not one of those conditions>
Not sure if he's in shock or, God-forbid, deceased. I'm hoping he's in shock and has gone into hibernation mode.
<I'd doubt that>
I hope he isn't dead.
<That is the likely outcome, Robin. Sorry to have to say that.>
He's just a little guy, about 3 inches in diameter. And he was my Christmas gift...my little Urtle. We did turn off the filtration system and had removed his leg, placed him on a floating dock. He did move his head when placed on the floating dock and I swear I saw his left back leg move when I picked him up this morning. I'm hoping it was not rigor mortis but his body isn't stiff and his flesh is normal color. He's just limp.
I had gotten a slight response
Can you advise?
<I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Robin, but if he hasn't recovered overnight, there is nothing that really can be done. The only thing I've done in similar circumstances is to place them head-down on a steep incline. Since turtles have a fixed rib cage, they can't cough and the only way to expel water from their lungs is to let gravity drain them. Beyond that there is really no first aid for this kind of disaster. I have squeezed shells from time to time - in the hopes of helping to start a heart, but there's no science to that, just something to try ... but all of this would have to have been done within minutes of his being freed.>
<I'm so sorry, Robin. I wish I had better news>
<If, as I suspect, it is too late for Urtle I hope that he meant enough to you to encourage you to get another and continue to try. There are so many animals in pet stores - that can never hope to have the kind of caring home you have provided what I'm saying, I guess, is that if it's too late to save Urtle I know that there are many, MANY turtles in pet stores than can still be rescued.>
<On behalf of Bob Fenner and the entire crew, we wish you the best, Robin>

Turtle medical help   ~ 01/12/09 I have a small turtle (1/2 dollar size) and type unknown....you know a turtle !!! <Assuming Trachemys scripta elegans, the Red-eared Slider.> it is bleeding out of its shell, although it doesn't seem to be hurt in any way, it bothers my children. what could be the cause and what can be done to help this fella out? <This turtle needs a vet, now. It's in pain and suffering profoundly. The shell is essentially its ribcage, and if it is bleeding through the shell, that means a serious injury. Even if you're lucky and this is some sort of infection that looks like blood but isn't, for example Shell Rot, you still need a vet.> it is housed in a small plastic, hand held, aquarium with river rock and non-chlorinated water about half way up on the rocks. <Not an acceptable house for this animal. Please understand turtles are expensive to keep and incredibly bad pets for children. Since you own the thing now, it's your job to treat it humanely. Firstly, you need to find a vet to either treat or euthanise this animal as required (and no, you can't euthanise a reptile at home, at least not humanely or painlessly). Don't know of any vets in your area that handle reptiles? No problem: visit a relevant web site (such as Anapsid.org) in your area (in this case, the US): http://www.anapsid.org/vets/ Please realise that this turtle is in pain and suffering. You can't treat it at home, and it isn't going to get better by itself. You have two choices: take it to a vet, or let it painfully bleed to death or die from some drawn-out gangrene-type infection. Turtle shells are quite strong, and if they get broken, it's likely because of some extreme force used on them. Children shouldn't handle turtles unless they understand how to be gentle, and certainly turtles should be kept away from dogs, power tools and the like. Secondly, you need to review what these animals need in captivity. Among other things you will need a big aquarium (some tens of gallons), a heater, a UV-B light source, and a filter -- minimum. It's a shame people buy animals before they learn what they need. But I'm assuming you're willing to learn (and spend the money) so that this animal is kept properly. That being so, have a read of this excellent summary of their requirements. None of this stuff is difficult to obtain, and most any pet store should carry the basic things listed above. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm > we feed this turtle small pellets from the pet store. <Not adequate. Do review the diet of these turtles carefully. They're herbivores, so the bulk of their diet needs to be soft green plants. This aspect is cheap and easy to handle. They also need lots of calcium and vitamins, and the UV-B light mentioned earlier is essential if they are to process the vitamins they need to survive. Turtle pellets are, at best, a treat to be used for, maybe, 20% of their diet, tops.> thanks!! Michael <Hope this help, and good luck to your turtle. Cheers, Neale.>

Worried Turtle Not Growing  4/6/08 Okay, I am fourteen with a yellow bellied slider. He is my first turtle so I am very cautious about anything wrong with him/her. I will have had him for a year this summer and he has not grown. Unlike the rest of the problems I have read, he doesn't live and never has been in the same tank with another turtle. I first got him last summer when I found him trapped in my in ground pool and kept him. I decided to keep him because there is a pond in the back yard but it has an alligator in it, and vary large fish, other large turtles, etc. Do you think this is because he hasn't been with other turtles in so long? < The reason he hasn't grown is probably environmental. Wrong food, not enough heat or light and things like that.> He is still small enough to fit on the thumb muscle in the palm of my hand. Please help, You are very smart people from what I have read in your articles. Thank you. < Start off with the tank. He/she needs a place to come out of the water to bask. This basking site needs to be 85+ F. It should contain a good basking light to provide the proper amounts of UVA and UVB. This helps the turtle with proper vitamin development. Small turtles need a diet higher in protein than older turtles. Keep the water clean and don't let the water go below 65 F.-Chuck>

Turtle Twitching   12/1/06 Hi, turtle experts!  A while back I wrote to you because my newly rescued (from horrible owners) was throwing up.  I was told that she was probably overeating because of the fact that she had been malnourished and the temperature change when she jumped back in the pool after basking was making her food come back up.  She is currently in a kiddie pool with a heater and a filter, and change her water every morning while she eats in another bucket.  She has been throwing up again  at very weird times.  I broke her thermometer about a week ago and am waiting for one in the mail and I think that her heater has not been working well during that time.  I notice it only in the morning when her water feels colder than usual.  When I change her water I put warmer water in and then the pool is in the sun, so I couldn't tell if the heater was working.  I live in southern California and in the past couple of days  we have had a real drop in the temperature. That is why I noticed her water really wasn't warm enough, so I just set a long 20 gallon tank that I had and brought her inside.  Tonight I notice that  her head twitches to one side when her head is in the water!  I thought that she was just trying to swallow something, but it has now been going on for a few hours. Please help!  I already feel bad because I had to put her in that tank, I hope she is OK.  Thank you so much <Your turtle is not in good enough shape to survive a winter outdoors. Create a proper set up in doors with a good heat lamp that will get the basking spot up to 85 F. Get some vitamins too. The heat should control the parasites. The vitamins should take care of vitamin deficiencies. The neck thing is difficult to evaluate. Based on the history of the turtle, a trip to the vet may be needed to properly evaluate its condition.-Chuck>

Hibernating Turtles - 10/11/06 Dear Turtle Expert, I have a Yellow-bellied Slider that last year I hibernated in my unheated garage.  I was told that I was lucky she survived.  Should this species not be hibernated?  A heat lamp was applied during the very cold months so the water didn't freeze.  If it can be, what would be the optimal temperature. Thanks! Brian < Last year was a very difficult year for hibernating turtles. Early warm spring temperatures brought turtles out of hibernation early. Then cold spells left them out in the open with nothing to eat any many got sick and died. Make sure that your turtle is in good health and has good body fat to carry him over the winter. Place him in an aquarium with a heater set at 45 to 50 F. Don't feed him for awhile so the gut is empty and will not foul the water. When the nighttime lows are in this range you can bring him out of hibernation.-Chuck>

Painted Turtle In Need Of Some TLC   8/12/06 Hello, and thank you in advance for all of the useful information that is provided on your website. Just recently, yesterday in fact, I "adopted" a baby turtle from a family friend who found it somewhere. They did not think they were providing for the turtle adequately and so they gave it to my boyfriend and I. First, let me say I knew absolutely nothing about turtles and never had one. Immediately we began to learn about them online through your site and others like it. The turtle is a baby painted turtle and is about 3 and a half inches long. I suspect it is small for its age because of the environment they had it in and the food they gave it. The turtle lived in a 10-12 gallon tank filled about halfway with water and a minimal area to get out of the water. He only had a rock or two that stuck up out of the water. The lamp they had on him was a normal household bulb located quite above the top of the tank. They fed him on a diet of mealworms every three days, food sticks every day, and crickets every now and then. The lamp did not keep the tank warm at all. He is currently still located in the same tank with the lamp moved closer, which does not really help. We plan on getting a thirty gallon tank with a UVA/UVB lamp, filter, and water heater today. We also plan on introducing lettuce and other foods into his diet, any suggestions would be much appreciated. < Unless the area you plan on keeping him at gets very cold at night, I would skip the water heater unless the water gets down to the 50's.> My actual question though, is that when I brought him outside for about thirty minutes today I noticed that his left back leg drags behind him when he walks and he sometimes does not use his front legs. I'm almost positive that this is from his lack of vitamins, calcium, and exercise. His shell is also shedding scutes a lot. I find them in his tank and after I brought him in several more were beginning to peel off. His coloring is also very dull for a painted turtle and his shell looks dry. I think he has shell rot but I'm not sure. His previous owners did not keep his tank very clean and the water was not running at all. I don't know if this is a factor but he lives with two fish in the tank. We cleaned it out and put in fresh water as soon as we got him. Will his problems clear up and get better as he grows older and we take better care of him, or should we take him to see a vet who specializes in turtles? I've already become extremely attached to Tommy and don't want him to get any sicker than he already is. Any help you can give me will be much appreciated. Thank You, Jacquelyn < Check the temperature of the basking spot with a good thermometer. It should get up to at least 85 F. Move the light closer or get a larger wattage bulb to increase the temp. Adding vegetables like kale and spinach will help. If you see no improvement over a month then start to look for a turtle vet.-Chuck>
Re: Eastern Painted Sick??? Turtle Getting Better  8/28/06
Thanks for your help.  I did increase the heat for the smaller turtle and cleaned out the tank really well.  I also put one of those slow release sulfa locks in there just in case.  He is now eating and is very active again. < Sounds like he is getting better. Thanks for writing back. It is good to know how these things turn out sometimes.-Chuck>

Little Turtle With Big History  - 06/07/2006 Good Day to the Crew, I have a yellow bellied slider approximately 4 years old (by the vet's estimation). My question relates to an odd condition with his shell but I should give you a brief overview of his history so you have all the facts.... My children brought this turtle (I named Myrtle before I knew he was a boy) to me a year ago telling me that "a lady was putting him in the creek because she didn't want him anymore." I have never owned a turtle before so I immediately went to the local pet store and bought the necessary gear....ill advised by the PetSmart staff. We found out the hard way that every bit of advise they gave us was wrong. The tank was not being effectively filtered, the water not deep enough or changed often enough, no UVB was recommended, the pebble substrate held too much bacteria and fecal debris and the recommended diet was incomplete. Myrtle was never a great eater but stopped eating altogether later in December of 2005. He was also spending all of his time under his basking light, his shell was peeling and his plastron was reddish, and if it's possible, he looked skinny to me.  I finally located a veterinarian who would treat reptiles at the end of January. Her diagnosis was that Myrtle was septic because of the poor filtration in his tank and his general care was not up to par. Myrtle was put on a Baytril regimen and his living conditions were altered significantly.  He is still housed in a 20 gallon long aquarium but now it's 2/3 full, has a suspended basking bridge (instead of one supported with stones which hold debris) a heat lamp and separate UVA & B light (no additional heat). Basking area temp is 85 degrees and water temp is 76 degrees. Filtration is provided by a Fluval 104 canister filter plus an additional 20 gallon submersible filter. The substrate is large polished stones. I do a 75% water change at least once a week and treat his water with Stress Coat. To keep the amount of debris in the tank to a minimum, I feed Myrtle in a separate plastic tub and wait for him to defecate before I return him to his aquarium. I completely disassemble the tank and filters, scrub the basking bridge, climbing structure and substrate stones with hot, hot, hot water every other week. Myrtle's diet of floating Repto sticks has been supplemented with shrimp, rosy reds, guppies and calcium powder...he still does not like vegetation yet but I keep trying periodically.  To make a long story even longer, after 4 rounds of Baytril, 9 trips to the vet, and about $500 in money that I don't have to spare... he was doing really well. His weight went from 103 grams in January to 118 grams in April. I was very relieved because I have grown to love this little guy! Now, you have the old history. Let me tell you the current events.... Several weeks ago, I noticed that his skin was shedding. Shedding to the point that he looked almost furry! There were skin patches floating all over the tank and everything. I researched it on the internet and figured it could be all the Baytril or the amount of fish he was eating. I cut down on the amount of Rosies and guppies that he got per week and waited to see what would happen. His appetite was still ravenous and activity level was still high so I was not really worried yet. I asked the vet about it and told her that we had a water softener for our well water and she recommended that we add Stress Coat to the water because it might still be too hard for Myrtle to tolerate. That seemed to stop the profuse shedding after a while. However, I had also noticed that in our goldfish aquarium, guppy aquarium and Myrtle's aquarium, the algae was no longer green but had changed to kind of a reddish brown color. Couple this with the fact that my own skin and hair felt really dry. I called our water softener company with the question and they recommended that we change our softener salt to one that did not include the "Iron Out" because it may be too harsh. We did that a month ago and most of the algae has gone back to green except for the goldfish tank and my own hair and skin are softer. But I am wondering if that Iron Out could have damaged Myrtle's shell. This is where my real question begins.. After the bout of sepsis, Myrtle's shell peeling was slowing down but not before one of the marginal scutes had come off completely to the bone. The vet said to not worry too much about it because it would grow back with time. Then, within the last month or 6 weeks, it looks like there are air bubbles within or between the keratin of the scutes. I can't feel them, they don't peel off and they don't feel squishy. When he is under water, these bubbles look almost luminous. Like he has tiny lights in his shell. When he is out of the water and completely dry, they look dull and sort of obscure the patterns on the scutes underneath. I scrub his shell gently with a soft toothbrush and an iodine solution, remove really loose scutes and apply shell conditioner about once a week or so. More often if his shell is looking bad, less often if he is looking good. Have you ever heard of anything like this? I have a call in to his vet but she is out of town for a while and I just don't want to take any chances. I wish I had a digital camera so you could see what I am talking about. If I can find one, I'll send pics. I thank you so much for your time. I know I have been long winded with this explanation and I apologize for that. I hope you can help because I really want to provide the best care for my little buddy so I can have his company for many years to come. I look forward to hearing from you, Sincerely, Julie Parker < As the turtle sheds its skin the lose material is attacked by aquatic fungus and mold. It really does the turtle no harm. It just looks bad. Get your water for the turtle from the garden hose before it goes into your house and before the water softener has a chance to treat it. Water softeners replace much needed calcium with sodium and potassium. If your turtle does not get enough calcium then they develop shell problems. Add a Dr Turtle to the tank and do a Repti Turtle Sulpha Dip. Watch the areas closely. The gases under the shell are caused by bacteria. It may be shell rot. This is a bacterial infection in which each area needs to be surgically cleaned out and antibiotics applied.-Chuck>

Female Turtle Acting Weird   2/13/06 Hi guys , first let me say great web site, very informational. Unfortunately I couldn't find anything here or on the net that was in relation to my current problem. I have had 2 RES for about three years now. Someone left them behind in a little plastic Chinese soup container in a hotel that I was working in. There were originally 3 all about the size of a half dollar. I guess when  the parents found out that the turtles carried salmonella or that they were illegal they left them behind. I took them in as nobody else wanted them and nobody claimed them.   Little did I know what I was getting myself into. There were originally 3, 1 died shortly afterwards. Thanks to the WWW I figured out it was respiratory. The other two have thrived. We went from a 10 gallon tank to a 20 and now they are in a 55 gallon. We have one female who is now 4 times the size/weight of our small male. Both get along fantastically, no problems, the male has been "flirting" with her for about 2 years now, she on the other hand can't be bothered, with one swoop of her leg she sends him flying across the tank and he lets it drop. It really is quite comical. For some reason all of a sudden the big female is splashing at the back of the tank...constantly....like all night long and all day too. When she gets tired she does bask and that's when there is peace again. The male just goes with the flow, constantly following her or actually riding on top of her as she is so big and he is so small. No aggression towards him at all. We don't know why she is doing this, she is healthy, no running eyes, no running nose the shells are in good shape, no lumps and still passive when I hold her.  She is however, squeaking whenever her head is out of water. She squeaked when we first got her, but that was occasionally, now it's a constant when she surfaces. Have you any idea what is wrong? And how we can rectify this?  I seriously don't think its health related, she is disrupting the input/output tubes in the tank and moving the heater around. Since these tubes are suction cupped strongly to the tank it takes quite an effort to do this. So all night long it's the banging of her shell against the tank when she is dislodging these tubes and the heater and when that's done, she splashes.  One other notable thing is that she is getting on her basking dock in the middle of the night too. There are no lights on in the room or the tank when this occurs.  My tank is a 55 gallon, I have UV light, the temp is 76-78 degrees, basking temp approx 85 and a strong canister Fluval  404 filter. Her shell length is about 7" the little guy is about 4.5". Their diet consists of pellets mostly, some light veggies now and then, freeze dried shrimp for treats (1-2 times a week) and sometimes feeder fish (once every month or two).  I add a calcium block about once a month, they both usually eat that by the end of the week.  This same "splashing occurrence "happened last month, she even stopped eating for the week she did this, I tempted her with everything to no avail,  until I put the feeder fish in. I am still shuddering from that massacre scene) Then she settled down. The ph is normal or as close as normal and she is eating this time, but the splashing is non stop.  Since the tank is so big, I have it in my bedroom, there was no other place to fit it. So now I'm losing sleep, which makes me grumpier than my turtles. :) Another thing in case this is Winter/Spring related, I reside in New York and this has been an extremely mild winter for us. There has been no snow and the bulbs are already coming out of the ground as of last week and everything has buds on it, this doesn't occur until late March for us. Of course we are expecting our first blizzard today, so that pretty much takes care of the budding process. I'm sure you appreciate the weather report with all this info. ;) I apologize for the long letter, but I wanted to give you as much  information as I could. I  appreciate any kind of help or advice that you can offer.   Thank you in advance for all your help, Pat < Feed her three to four times a week as much food as she will eat in one sitting. Siphon out any remaining food. As turtles get older they require less animal matter and more plant matter in the diet. Try offering a diet with some kale and spinach in it. She could be pregnant and looking for a sandy place to lay her eggs. Get a square plastic tub at the hardware store and fill it will sand almost up to the top. Get some washed red bricks and support the tub in the water with the bricks so the water level is just below the edge of the tub and the female turtle can get in there if she wants too. You may have to provide a ramp too. Put the basking light on over the sand and she if she starts to dig a pit to lay her eggs.-Chuck>

Turtle Needs Heat And Lighting in Ireland  12/7/05 Chuck, Thanks for your help with my earlier e-mail. I should probably have explained that I live in Ireland and have not been able to locate a pet store which sells heat lamps. I have lowered the water temp. but am unable to heat the basking area. My slider hasn't eaten in six weeks and is starving to death. He won't open his mouth for me or the vet so we are unable to feed him. We have tried to physically open his mouth but its impossible. The most we have been able to get into his mouth are a few drops of Vitamin A. When we did manage to get a quick look inside his mouth it appeared that his tongue was all swollen and covered with a white/cream colour lumpy substance (from the internet info. I have been able to locate this appears to be mouth rot ). I am so desperate to help him but no-one here knows anything about turtles.  Do you or any of your friends know how I can open his mouth to feed him or have any suggestion as to what I can do to help him. He is so thin and wasted looking that I don't think he has much longer. Sorry for all the questions but you are my only hope.  Sincerely, Laura < Go to a nursery that sells indoor plants and get an indoor full spectrum light bulb. Place it close enough to the basking spot so it heats the area up to 85F. Go online to Drsfostersmith.com and see if they are able to ship to Ireland. Then order what you need.-Chuck> 

Keeping Yellow Bellied Turtle Alive  12/03/05 Hello, I own two yellow bellied sliders ( one of whom died in the past week ). They were purchased this May and were doing fine until 5/6 weeks ago when their eyes became swollen and covered with a grey mucous. They were both blind and stopped eating. I tried various eye creams ( I live in a very small town with no pet store or reptile vet. and thus have no contact with anyone who knows anything about turtles.) I have downloaded everything I can find but cannot solve the problem by myself. The local vet is helping where possible but my surviving slider is going into his fifth week of not eating. The eye problem seems to have improved and he is no longer blind. The vet has given him injections of antibiotics, has tried to get vitamin A drops into his mouth, is giving some sort of liquids in an injection form to stop him dehydrating but he still refuses to eat.  Will he starve to death ? He spends all day on the basking rock and rarely gets into the water - he has always been like this. He seems to be immobile for most of the day. I keep the temp. in the water at around 84 degrees. What am I doing wrong ? I can't get a heat lamp as they don't sell them here. Can someone please help me as I really don't know what to do anymore. < Turn the water temp down to 70 F. The air is very humid and contributing to the respiratory infection. Get a thermometer and check the basking spot. If it does not get at least up to 90 F then increase the wattage or move the source closer. Vitamins and antibiotics are very helpful but the change in temps should really help. Go to Drsfostersmith.com and order the thing you need. Go to ZooMed.com for direct info on their products.-Chuck> 

Blind Red Eared Sliders 10/9/05 About a month ago I adopted two sightless RES's. According to the rescue organization they became blind when someone other than themselves allowed them to hibernate without the proper experience and they developed eye infections that left them blind. When I originally got these two guys, the rescue organization had over-looked shell rot on one of their plastron's which I have been treating and have seen progress and healing. I feed then in their own separate containers and one has been eating very well (the one with the shell rot).  The other one I have yet to see eat. They have plenty of water plants in the tank so I don't think he'll starve to death but I would like to know if you can give me any tips on what to do, to encourage him to eat. I've tried turtle pellets, crickets, Koi pellets, cichlid pellets, pinkies, red worms I have in my kitchen composting my kitchen waste, pureed salmon I have mixed with egg and then cooked, feeder fish I have killed immediately before feeding and who knows what else I can't think of right now - but nothing entices him to eat.  The other one has a taste for anything and everything but pellets. The rescue organization told me they were totally self sufficient, living in a pond with sighted turtles and left to their own devices. I can't believe this is true. Just this last week I started feeding them three times a week from feeding them every day.  I'm hoping you can give me some pointers on feeding these two - I don't trust the rescue I got them from. They said I was babying them and had ruined all the hard work they had devoted to these two to make them self sufficient and wanted them back - I said no and cut off my correspondence with them.  HELP!!! These are my first turtles and I am already attached to them. Am I being selfish by keeping them? - should I return them to the rescue, as they suggest? Any thoughts? Please. Thanks in advance. - Thomas < Heat the tank to 70 F with an aquarium heater. Make sure the basking spot gets up to at least 90 F. They will be attracted to the heat and bake away. They need the excess heat to digest their food and fight diseases. After heating up for awhile their appetite should come around.-Chuck.> 
Turtle Kept too Warm - Have Them Take Off the Turtlenecks! (Blind RES Follow-up) 10/10/05
Thanks Chuck for your speedy response - They are in a 90 gallon tank and the water is heated between 78 and 82, the basking area is 18" x 18" with a 7" ramp in the water. The dock is about 96 at it's hottest spot. I dry-dock them every day for most of the day. Am I keeping the water too warm? < Turn down the heater to 70 F> Should I leave them alone for a week or so and see what happens? < Turtle know when they need to bask and when they don't. I would leave them alone for awhile.> The reason I started to dry-dock them was because of the shell rot. If you could comment on my water readings which show 0 nitrItes with a 40 ppm nitrAte reading. Somehow that doesn't seem right to me. < You have a bacteria bed established that are converting the ammonia and nitrites to nitrates like they are suppose to. The high nitrate readings are contributing to the shell rot problem. Keeping the tank clean will help cure the rot.> I have also read that the water should be slightly acidic. Is that true or can I leave it where it is - neutral to slightly alkaline. < Bacteria don't do as well is an acidic environment. Use a Dr Turtle Sulfa Block by ZooMed to help acidify the water and help cure the shell rot.> Thanks - you all are always sooooo helpful. I have a few fish tanks and although I have been a tropical fish enthusiast for 30 something years whenever something comes up I haven't come across before - y'all seem to always have the answers or at the very least send me in the right direction - thanks for being there. - Thomas < Thank for your kind words.-Chuck> 

Turtle Troubles  9/20/05 Dear Experts, My Son has had a RES since May 21st (my Birthday!!) The RES is about a 4" shell. He "looked healthy" when we got him, BUT he has always been very picky about eating, and recently --for about a month now-- he appears to be NOT eating at all. We have a long 20 tank, with a heating/UV lamp, with a bio-wheel filter, which is cleaned frequently; a basking (plastic) rock (also provides hiding underneath), a REAL biggie rock (for quieting the filter splash flow) and little more in he tank. His tank temp is always between 75-80 degrees. His water is almost ALWAYS clear enough to see right through, and is fed from softened water, (so doesn't need chlorine treatment) HERE are my primary concerns: 1. shell rot area on top of his shell now beginning to s-l-o-w-l-y spread outward, with peeling shell. 2. not eating, despite food sticks, fresh feeder fish galore, real meat, veggies and lots of variety... 3. poops (I think they're poops) which look like long white stringy muscle shreds, or fat thread. What's going on? Thanks so much!!!!Paul < Use a thermometer and place it on the basking site. It should get up to 95 F plus. This is where the turtle goes to increase his body temp to fight off diseases, help digest his food and utilize minerals. I suspect that this area is not hot enough and has lead to all these problems. Get a bigger wattage lamp or move the source closer. Get a second florescent light that provides UVA and UVB lighting. The shell rot will require exposing the affected areas, cleaning them out and applying and antibiotic ointment. The dietary problems of not eating and white stringy feces are probably related to food rotting in his stomach because his metabolism has not been adequately warm enough to activate the enzymes and digestive fluids to dissolve and absorb the food. Find a vet that treats turtles for adequate treatment for both problems.-Chuck>

Turtle with Spot Problem 7/17/05 Hi!  I hope someone can help with our problem.  Our turtle recently visited grandma's house.  He  had the same diet , lights etc. the only thing different was the water.  He is over one year old and has been very healthy with a beautiful shell.  When we got home from our vacation we noticed a couple of gold spots or patches that seem to glow or reflect light when he's in the water.  They are not really noticeable when he is basking on his rock. They also seem to be spreading.  The spots are not soft nor have any different texture or anything unusual other than the gold color and sheen.  We have spent hours looking on line for a diagnosis, but cannot find anything that describes this unusual problem.  We will take him to a vet, but I have a feeling that the vet may not know what it is either and will just tell us to treat it like shell rot or something.  Please help us with our beloved pet.   Thank you!  Mom and Daughter < Take your turtle out of the water and gently scrub his shell to see if the gold patches go away. It may be some goldfish scales stuck to the algae on the shell. After scrubbing the shell the spots may still remain. Look at them closely with a magnifying glass to see if there are any true holes in the shell. If there is then you turtle may have some shell rot. Get some Repti Turtle Sulfa Dip and a Dr Turtle Sulfa Block and follow the directions on the package.-Chuck>
Turtle with Spots II    7/18/05
> Chuck- Thanks for the quick reply.  We have scrubbed the spots.  Nothing  happens.  He is kept in an aquarium alone, not in a pond.  There are no  holes in his shell.  The spots appear brownish when he's out of the water. > Could this have something to do with the minerals in grandma's water?  Her  water is very "hard" with a lot of mineral content.  He did bang around a  lot and fall off his rock at grandma's house.  He was in a ten gallon tank > instead of his usual twenty gallon long tank.  Can a shell get bruised  from falling, tumbling and hitting the side of the tank?  Thanks!  M & D < Turtle shells are pretty tough.  I doubt these spots are from any physical trauma. Shell rot has been associated with hard water but it is not certain why. If the spots are symmetric al then I would think it is a color pattern and not a disease. If the spots get bigger then take a very close look at one of them and see if there is a bacterial infection growing under the scutes. This would require cutting a small hole into the shell to get to the brown material under the shell. I would not attempt this unless I was very sure that there was a problem.-Chuck>
Turtle With Spots being Treated 7/20/05
Hi again!  We talked to a vet on the phone yesterday.  She suggested that it probably is a mineral imbalance caused by water with a high mineral content. She said that turtles are pretty sensitive to environmental changes.  She also said left untreated he would probably be ok once we got him back in his water for a period of time.  Just incase he's got a fungus, she thought it would be a good idea to treat the spots with an iodine solution at least once or twice a day.  One cup of water with 2 teaspoons of iodine.  She said it could take a month or more to see any results.  The iodine won't hurt him in any way and is just a precaution incase it s fungus which could lead to shell rot.  The vet also said that any unusual spots on a shell could be treated this way.  If we treat him and it gets worse or we don't see any improvement in a month, we should take him in to the vet.  I hope this helps anyone who has a similar problem with a turtle.  Thank you for your help! We'll let you know if the treatment works!    M & D < Thanks for the follow up. Hope this will help others with the same problem-Chuck>

Green Turtle Turning Yellow?  12/13/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> My Red Eared Slider's shell is starting to turn yellow and has very little green left.  He is fed properly and has the correct tank set up. He doesn't act sick and he still eats well. We have had to deal with soft shell before and it looks similar but I'm much more educated now on lighting and diet so I don't think that's what's causing his shell to turn yellow. Is there another disorder that could cause this? I have been to every web-site I can find but can't find anything describing this. Please let me know. <I would be interested to see a detailed description of habitat set-up, lighting types (right down to wattages, brands, bulb ages, height of fixtures above basking area), diet, temperatures....and photos of the 'ailing' terrapin in question. The herp expert I am collaborating with on this question usually works with all the data he can collect, then go with a process of elimination. There are a couple of possibilities that could be linked to diet and/or lighting on this one.   ~PP> Amy

Turtle Shedding Too Much <Hi, MikeD here> I have a Two and a half year old female red ear slider that is shedding a lot lately.  I have made sure the temps of the water and basking area are adequate, being 78 degrees and 88-90 degrees respectively. <88-90 degrees F for basking...I assume this is under a full spectrum daylight bulb? I ask as they need some UV to keep fungal infections down>   I feed her every other day with turtle pellets, some carrots or apples. Occasionally I'll give her mill worms and have some gold fish in her tank.  Am I feeding her too much?  Not enough variety? <It doesn't sound like too much, but I think I'd suggest leaning toward more meat/protein in the diet as these are primarily carnivorous>  
Her skin comes off in larger pieces than before, although they are still thin.  Could it be too much chlorine and if so how do I solve that problem?
<Any chlorine is too much chlorine, easily remedied by adding any one of several different dechlorination products to the water, available in the fish section of almost any pet shop. Is the water changed, filtered or otherwise cleaned? Use care as turtles were banned for sale as pets long ago due to the propensity to spread salmonella infections through their waste in the water.>  
Thanks for your help. David

Help I don't want my RES to die To who ever can answer my questions, I got a red eared slider a few months ago and it was doing fine, eating out of my hand and swimming freely. Then about 2 months later, I got another red eared slider and everything was still fine. They got along fine and it was great. Then, about a month later, I noticed the first turtle was staying on the rock for longer than usual. After about a week of her being on the rock, I thought she would need some water so I put her in the tank and instead of swimming (or going underwater, for that matter), she floated, the shell was not fully submerged (air pocket maybe?). I pushed the top of her shell down to get the rest wet and it was then that she started to swim. As she swam, I noticed one of her legs wasnt moving. I took her out of the tank and put her on a table. She started to walk but without using the one leg, like it was broken. I read somewhere that a UVB light was necessary for proper calcium intake (assuming the bones were low in calcium). I bought one for the tank, as well as a night. After a week, instead of recovering, the turtle could no longer move about, and was using her head like a leg. Both turtles shells were starting to get soft. I recently found out that I was using a neutralizer block instead of a calcium and sulfa block, so I have remedied that. It has only been a few days since I got the new blocks, and the turtle seems to actually be dead, only occasionally twitching one of its legs. Anything information on whats going on now, and if theres hope of any recovery would be awesome. Thank you, Josh < The turtles should have clean water and an area to get out of the water to bask in the sun. The light should provide heat as well as light. At this point I suggest you take you poor turtle to a vet for immediate attention. I know they are expensive but a quick vet visit at this point may save your turtles life. If the cost makes this option out of the question I would give him an area out of the water where the turtle can bask under a plant light bulb. These bulbs provide almost the same wavelengths of light as the sun. Leave it on all the time! Provide some reptile vitamin drops at your local pet shop as per the directions on the bottle. If the turtle cannot move then I would place him on the basking spot under the light and let him get good and warm. Once he is warm then he should be able to move to a cooler spot if he gets too hot. If he still cannot move then you will have to physically move him to a cooler spot but still under the light . I would occasionally dip him in the water to so he doesn't get dehydrated. If your poor turtle survives then I would recommend that you get a book on turtles and read it carefully so your turtle can live a long healthy life.-Chuck>

Sick Baby Red Ear Turtle We have a red slider about the size of a 50 cent piece. We purchased him about 12 weeks ago. He is set up in a small aquarium with water 1/2 full with a floating perch. We keep him under a desk lamp when there is poor sunlight.  Within the past 2 days he has stopped eating. He stays on his perch most of the day. I think I have noticed "sneezing"?  What can we do to help our turtle get back to his old self? < Your turtle probably has a respiratory infection. You need to get a lamp that provides both heat and the proper wavelength of light. Keep the desk lamp on him 12 hours per day over the basking spot. Use a incandescent plant light bulb of about 60 to 80 watts. Use an electrical timer to keep the photoperiod the same. Heat and antibiotics are the only two things that will help. If he is not better in a few days then your turtle should be taken to a vet.-Chuck>

Aquatic Turtles I wanted to know if Accu-clear is safe to use with aquatic turtles such as red ear sliders. thanks <I'm not sure, I have never used the product, are there any warnings on the label such as "may cause aquatic turtles to explode"?  Is there a contact number or address on the label?  What are the listed ingredients.  Let us know, maybe we could get to the bottom of the water clarity problems as well.  -Gage>

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