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FAQs About Turtle Disease: Infectious (bacteria, fungi...)

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, Environmental, Traumas, Social, Nutritional, Growths/Tumors, Parasitic, References,
FAQs on:
Shell Rot, RES Disease, Turtle Respiratory Disease, Turtle Eye Disease,


Sick Indian roof turtle       9/25/15
I have an Indian roof turtle (*Kachuga tecta*) named Begum who is 15 years 6 months old now. She has been sick and off her diet for more than a month now. I took her to the vet and he said its a respiratory infection. She is wheezing and gasping a lot.
We are giving her Enroflaxin antibiotic injections (3 doses are done) and putting her on nebuliser (every day). I recently read about dry docking. So she has been dry docking for the past 3 days and I'm keeping her warm with a 40W bulb (since room temperature is 22-29 deg C). We are now force feeding her with cod liver oil and the vet also gave her a vit A injection.
She has been extremely restless - and has to gasp to take air in. She was up all night one day, but seems to sleep a bit now near the 40W bulb while dry docking. The problem is - I do not know if she is recovering or just tired after all the gasping. We can also see some red spots on her front legs (the vet suggests its haemorrhage) and red spots on the inside of her
mouth. Her shell is also deformed, lately. Please help so that Begum may get some relief soon.
<Turtles take a long time - sometimes months -- to recover from infections.
Patience is a must. Also, regarding the Cod Liver Oil and things of that nature ... once you've got her started, don't force feed her every day - three times a week is enough. Remember that the Cod Liver Oil is GOOD - but the force feeding is stressful. We want to find a balance.>
<one last thing, I'd try to get the temperature to 32C. 88-92 degrees(f) is a better temperature for Begum -- the bacteria multiply faster at higher temperatures, so the antibiotics also work faster>
Warm regards,

Re: Sick Indian roof turtle      10/4/15
Firstly, thank you for the prompt reply.
<You’re welcome, I’ve been traveling much lately and don’t have access to the internet.>
The vet shifted from 3 doses of Enroflaxin to 7 doses of cephalosporin, plus nebuliser. After that and continuation of dry docking, we can see that there is quite a lot of improvement in Begum's health now. The swelling of the soft parts between the legs has gone now and the gasping has stopped.
<That’s good to hear>
However, she is still not eating. We are continuing giving her cod liver oil once in three days - as you suggested.
<Appetite goes away when you’re sick PLUS these treatments, while necessary and obviously working – are an assault on Begum’s system. Let’s wait a little longer before we worry about appetite. Next visit to the vet, ask for a Vitamin A, D & Calcium injection. Just one.>
She had her eyes closed for a day. The vet recommended applying Moxifloxacin ointment on the eyes. She has now half-opened them, but still sleeps a lot.
<she’s weak, that is not surprising or unexpected>
Plus, we can see some mucusy and bloody mixture at the corners of Begum's mouth, which she releases into the water whenever we let her in her tank (only for 5-10 minutes, twice a day). I have attached an image of the same.
<that’s fine, don’t worry about it>
Also, her shell is deformed and I suspect it is metabolic bone disease (after going through some forums and websites). I have also attached an image showing the shell deformation. What treatment do you recommend for that?
<Calcium (note the injection above) – but worry about that AFTER she beats this illness>
Also, we noticed that her nails have grown very long in a very short span (of two days!). Is it a cause of concern? (Image attached)
The stools that she passes are very hard and rubbery. Initially, we panicked as we thought it looked like some organ. But it later disintegrated in the water. Is this because she is only having the cod liver oil? (Image attached)
Earlier, we did not put a UV light above her basking area. She used to be in direct sunlight for two hours, basking for about 4-5 hours and otherwise in water. Also, her diet was only lettuce leaves - she refused to have turtle / fish food. Now, we have got a UVB lamp (Hagen exo terra reptile UVB 100 13W). However, the website does not guide us regarding how long should the UV light be kept on. Could you advise on that?
<For healthy turtle care, I match the UVB light to the daily cycle in my area. For Dry docking and treatment, you could leave it on for 24 hours if you want – 18 hours at least>
<Lettuce is a really bad diet!! It contains no nutrients at all and is likely to be what led us here in the first place.>
<Some turtles are known to ‘fixate’ and accept one kind of food and refuse all others. Box Turtles (Terrapene Carolina) are notorious for this. I had one that would only eat strawberries. We fought for over a YEAR. For a solid year she would turn away from the food I offered and every day I wondered if she would die … and for almost 400 days she ate nothing AT ALL… until one day, like it had never happened, she start to eat the earthworm I’d offered. During that time she had several injections of glucose, Vitamins A, D and E and Calcium … but no solid food for over a year.>
<Let’s get Begum health first then worry about diet>
There is very little information available on care if Indian roof turtle (Pangshura / Kachuga tecta). Is there any specific I should think of while caring for Begum?
<Yes, I agree. We know much more about their skeletal arrangement than how to keep one alive. My suggestion is the basics: Clean Cool Water, Warm Dry Basking, Low-Fat, High Protein Diet and UVB>
<one thing, several biologists had reported them as poor swimmers. If this is the case then any aquatic environment I would make would have a least one sloped side so Begum could just “walk” up the slope to breathe. At least, when Begum heals and it’s tie to return her to a normal cycle, I’d START with that to make it easy on her>
Also, when I put Begum in water for some time, she starts floating. Im really worried.
<She shouldn’t be in water deep enough to float!! Just enough to cover her cloaca and enough to let her drink.>
Warm regards,
<Dhruvang – you and Begum still have a long road ahead to full recovery. Be patient and consistent>


Re: Sick Indian roof turtle      10/4/15
Just got your reply, but I have sad news. Begum passed away on 30th September. She was really slow and not responding since morning. By afternoon, her eyes were looking sunken in and there was no movement except breathing. I suspected she was dehydrated and kept her feet immersed in shallow water, but either it didn't help or it was too late. She breathed her last at around 3pm, exactly 15 years and 6.5 months after we got her.
And the house doesn't seem the same without her.
I want to thank you for putting up such a great website forum that help people like me who do not have access to vets specialising in reptiles and amphibians. Also, for your replies in trying to assist Begum's recovery.
Thanks a lot!
<On behalf of Bob Fenner, Neale, Sue and the entire crew, we're sorry for your deep loss. This is the problem with reptiles and fish ... by the time an illness is noted it is usually so far progressed that recovery is extremely difficult. I will say that with a caring person like you, Begum most likely had a longer and easier life than she would have had in the wild, so should another turtle come into your keeping, that turtle would be very, very lucky.>
<Again, sorry for your loss>

injured Indian flap shell turtle please help     1/19/15
can you please help me my 8 year old(or could be 9 year im not so sure) on my Indian flap shell turtle i noticed small brownish lumps on both his legs the previous week i applied diluted antiseptic to both the wounds and forgot about it i now noted one leg is healed but the other become what seems to be a brown wound on the underside of his back leg the area has
become swollen and turned pinkish, he also walks in a way trying not to touch it to the ground im really worried none of the vets in my state take turtles please help me ill do anything to get him well and happy !!!!!
<Sounds like a secondary infection has set in. A vet will provide an appropriate, injectable antibiotic which is what's needed to get into the blood system of your turtle. Without a vet, treating this sort of thing is very difficult. "Dry docking" a turtle can help though. Do have a read here:
What you need is to provide him with somewhere clean, dry, with suitable heat and UV-B, but not so hot he'll overheat. He'll also need to be placed in room temperature water for 5-10 minutes a day so he can "freshen up" a bit. Dry skin heals faster than wet skin, and bacteria don't like dry air. This is why dry docking is so useful. You can also use some medications on the skin, Povidone-iodine (often simply called "iodine") of the sort used on human skin is very useful for this. Cheap, widely available, stings like heck, but kills pretty much everything it touches. It won't treat septicaemia (that's why antibiotics are useful with this turtle) but it will clean up the surface wound nicely. Try dry docking the turtle for a few days and see if it gets any better. But if the wound smells, that's a very sure sign septicaemia and/or gangrene have set in, and you really do
need a vet for that. If the wound doesn't smell of anything apart from wet turtle, you may be lucky, and dry docking alone will help.>
i really love him his like a member of our family !!! please help him ..... if anything happens to him ill never forgive myself !!!!!! so please help!!!!
thank you!
<Cheers, Neale.>
P.S. please excuse my grammar/ spellings as im mildly dyslexic!! Thanx again!

Spiny Softshell with shell fungus      1/14/15
Dear Crew
<Hiya Darrel here>
I have a 9 year old male spiny Softshell who has never been seen to take advantage of his basking dock. He has always lived in a 20 gal tank with a fine sand substrate for burrowing, a basic filter and a regular light in an elementary classroom 10 out of the year. Eats ReptoMin voraciously, and feeder fish maybe 1-2 times a year. No heater. Has always been very healthy & VERY active under these conditions. Students NEVER touch him. The basking site was removed this summer because we thought he never used it…. possible big problem. But I really thought over 9 years we would have seen him slide off it SOMETIME if he were using it. Janitors never have seen it used in evening(light off then anyway) and I have never seen it used during summer months when he was home in a quiet room!
<Softshells can be very skittish in strange ways. The same turtle that appears to be willing to climb out of the tank and follow you down the street IF FOOD IS INVOLVED - may be shy about just being out of water and being observed. Perhaps it's because he's in his skin and humans are judgmental … ?>
He now appears to have a fungus on his carapace and food consumption has dropped…not stopped. I love this turtle….please advise. I am reading mixed info about iodine, betadine, salt in the water, vinegar, dry docking… etc. Cleaned tank as a start, but obviously need to take further steps. Thank you for any help you may give.
<Yes, I understand the mixed advice. Some comes from people not knowing, but some comes simply from mixed experiences. So let me try to make sense of it for you>
<First, water is a fungi's friend, so dry docking is absolutely indicated. Now Shelbourne (if that's her name) won’t like it, but it's in her best interest. Warm and dry works against the fungus. The write up here covering fungus in the hard shelled turtles describes the basic treatment … http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >
<The difference with a Softshell is that it's easier for a bacterial infection to start so we try to prevent that with the addition of betadine after she dries off from her bath. Then wait an hour and apply the antifungal and described.>

Re: Identify turtle type and am I doing this right?   6/21/11
Dear Crew,
<Hiya- Darrel here>
I might have really screwed up!
On Sunday morning I noticed some filmy white stuff around Rocko the yellow bellied slider's head, arms and feet. I was really worried that it was fungal or something, but then after reading more on your site decided it was probably just shedding. It looked like a peeling sunburn would.
I decided to do a 100% water change because I noticed some algae growing in the corner of the tank 20g tank he's in as well as on the side of his basking rock.
<A nice thing about turtles is that you can take them out and scrub their world with soap & water if you want... then a quick rinse and they're back: No biological eco-system to rebalance>
I put Rocko in a plastic shoe box (no lid) on the front porch in the shade with no water as I figured if I was wrong and it was fungal, at least he'd have an hour or so to dry off.
<Good idea>
When I finished cleaning the tank (scrubbed with just water and a scrubby pad thing) I changed the carbon cartridge in the filter, added water and water conditioner and let it sit for about 30 min or so.
<The conditioner wasn't necessary. Unlike fish, it's not critical to turtles. I'm not saying it's a BAD thing, of course, just that on balance, there are other ways to spend that same money>
This all took about 1 hour. When I went to get Rocko inside, he was scrabbling to get up the side of the shoe box as he normally would. However, I noticed that he seemed very warm (he wasn't in direct sun but it was about 95+ degrees outside).
<I probably wouldn't have left him out there THAT long maybe a half hour max BUT if he was in the shade it shouldn't have been a problem>
When I put him on his rock, he immediately got in the water and just sort of floated there, immobile, with his eyes shut. The peeling skin stuff was still all over, but now it looked like his eyes had a thick film over them.
<The film just dried>
I was worried he had heat stroke but didn't know what to do so I just let him float about, and every once in a while he'd swim down to the bottom then float back up to the top. He started scratching at the film on his eye and one eye ended up with a little dot of blood. His other eye seems fine.
He is eating now with the same gusto as usual, but seems to be having a harder time than normal finding the food. I have Vit A drops and put them in no more than once/week.
<A vitamin A deficiency should be treated with daily drops and adding beef or chicken liver to Rocko's daily diet for a week or so. VERY small pieces - the trick with feeding liver or raw meat is to be sure to feed him in a separate bowl - that stuff fouls the water quickly>
I have added today a "fungus treatment fizz tab" that was recommended to me for my pond Koi by a reputable vet here in Houston. The tabs say they contain Allantoin, Nitrofurazone, Furazolidone, potassium dichromate, Methylene blue and Acriflavine. They claim to "treat a variety of fungus and bacteria related conditions and protects against secondary infections."
<I have used those same chemicals on my Koi pond, just never had them in a fizz tab before>
The turtle's eyes are clear today, but seem a bit swollen still and there's still the drop of blood in one eye. The "peeling skin" seems to have disappeared.
<Seems to be healing>
Should I be doing something different?
<Have you thought of being a choreographer?>
<Oh, Wait. You meant something different about Rocko, didn't you?>
<Sounds like all the right things, at least generally. Glad you searched the site and decided it was likely shedding rather than fungal. Fungal usually starts out as a localized patch - or in one of two places.>
<On the other hand, a normal shedding produces small pieces of skin, usually not even big enough to be visible. A large shedding indicates something not quite right in the environmental aspect. Cleaning the tank was a good choice. Now let's monitor what goes into the tank for a while. Vitamin drops go in his eyes BEFORE placing him in the shoebox to dry for 15 minutes (but keep the box inside the house). Then fill the box with an inch of water (maybe from his tank) and place the bits of liver (or Koi pellets that had been dipped in Cod Liver Oil) in the water and let Rocko eat all he can eat in 5 minutes. Then a quick rinse (just drizzle a bit more tank water over him) then back in his regular tank. -- THEN --- replace the water you dipped from his tank with plain-old tap water>
<This not only stops Contaminating Rocko's tank but actually gives a partial daily water change>
<After he's fully healed - about 4 more weeks, you can go back to feeding him (sparingly) in his tank again>
Thanks for any info you can give!
<Yer welcome>

Sick Diamondback Terrapin   1/23/11
<Hiya - Darrel here>
We have had Scooter, our Diamond Back Terrapin for 7+ years.
<A very pretty animal>
Got him as a hatchling. He's been in a 75 gallon, fresh water (well), w/Emperor 400 filter tank for the past 6. Shares the tank with a goldfish that is 5 inches long, that was a feeder that he never ate.
<Ah the long history of feeder fish that became pets. I had a feeder fish that was in my main turtle pond for 11 years. We finally named him Bruce. We eventually removed him from the turtles and put him in a Koi pond where he became the undisputed ruler of the entire pond. 24 inch monsters come to eat AFTER Bruce as eaten. So we have a rule now - no feeder fish>
Have had basking platforms off and on, but he never uses them. Has always preferred to swim, and has been very active.
<Although they are very aquatic, they should always have a warm basking spot available.>
Two weeks before Christmas, we bought another DBT (thought he'd like a friend), but foolishly didn't quarantine it first, ----
<I rarely quarantine aquatic turtles either. Generally, all turtles carry all of the susceptible bacteria all the time anyway. Salmonella, E-Coli, pseudomonas, etc. are all detectible in health turtles. It's only when a debilitating condition exists does the native bacteria have the ability to multiply out of control>
---- and it had some sort of fungus. Four days after adding it to our tank, Scooter had white spots on his legs.
The other turtle went back, --
<I wouldn't have done that. After all it's not his fault and even if it was, he certainly didn't mean it. Moreover, the effort to treat two is not much more than treating one and then there would be TWO healthy terrapins. As it is now, Mary is still out there sick>
-- and Scooter went into a brackish bucket. The tank was cleaned and disinfected (bleach 1:100).--
<I use 1 cup per 5 gallons (that's about 1:80) then a dash more. I'm very aggressive. Make sure you run the filters while you do this - the filter basin, the lines, pumps and cords that hang into the tank all should be immersed. And, of course, the filter media trashed>
-- And fish and Scooter put back in. Several days later, more white spots.
<The fish?? The plot thickens>
Started Nolvasan soaks (1:10) 30 min./day, and then put Betadine or Neosporin on the spots, and dry docked Scooter for 20 hours/day. After 5 days, didn't see improvement (and he was very agitated at being handled so much and being out of the water), so we went to the vet.
<I get agitated too, when I'm out of my element and handled too much.>
She gave took a scraping of the spots, and saw bacteria and fungus under the microscope. Also took an x-ray, but lungs were clear. Gave him a Vit. A shot to "boost his immune system".
<Good move>
Gave me Panalog cream to 'slather' all over the turtle, put him under a UV light to dry for 15 min., then back in the tank (now a 5 gallon bucket, with filter, and daily water changes). Scooter didn't like this either, and did a lot of hissing/trying to bite me. Was still swimming actively in the bucket.
<I'd be doing more than hissing at you if you did that to me. So far, so good>
(note: during this time, the fish developed red streaks in the fins, so he was put into a 20 gal tank w/filter, w/ first Melafix, then Gentamycin; he improved after 5 days, so he's back in the big tank)
<So it may not have been Mary at all? What we know for sure is that we don't know.>
<What kind of fish?>
After two weeks of this treatment, the spots (now actually patches) were getting worse, so back to the vet. She suggested stopping the cream, and treating the water with Gentamycin for two days. If that worked, we were to do another two day treatment with gent. If it didn't work, we are to add Ketaconazole to the water instead. No more basking time, or cream.
<In my experience, I'd extend the basking time not lessen it. Here's the fundamental problem with bacteria: Bacteria and Fungi are ectothermic. That's a $5 word that means they take their internal temperature from the host environment. As you cool a bacteria by cooling the host that it lives on, the slower it grows and the slower it multiplies. That sounds good at first except this: Most antibiotics work by interfering with a bacteria's reproductive cycle, so the slower the bacteria grow and multiply -- the longer the cycle to kill them. The same bacteria that we can get under control in a human (98.7 degrees) in 7 days can take 4 MONTHS at 75 degrees. So when I'm treating a turtle or tortoise for a bacterial infection, I turn UP the heat to get things moving faster>
<Now, as far as fungi are concerned MOST fungi are happy to multiply in warm, moist spots and they don't do well in DRY spots -- so once again, a warm "dry-dock" is your friend when treating a sick turtle>
It's the third day now, and I've noticed Scooter's activity decreasing (actually over the past week), he now floats with head and legs pulled into his shell, and lets the filter current push him around the tank. He hasn't been eating for several days, and I haven't seen any poop either. The water is cool/RT, around 71 degrees. (He's now in the 20 gal tank, w/filter). The patches seem to be the same. The vet had told us to lay off any treatment for a few days, and leave him in the fresh water, that the gent. might have been too strong. After that, she said the Ketaconazole might not dissolve in the water properly, and suggested a fish medicine that has Metronidazole and Acriflavine in it (Hole in Head Guard by Jungle).
<A whole lot of treatment going on and not a whole lot of results>
My question is: does this treatment sound right? (aka, is the vet on the right track?); since he doesn't seem to be responding to any treatment, does he sound like he has something that he won't recover from, and thus is suffering and should be euthanized?
<Nowhere NEAR that point yet>
We are angry with ourselves for being stupid, and frustrated that nothing seems to be working. Any suggestions/comments would be greatly appreciated.
<John -- keep in mind that the veterinarian has two things going for her. ONE - she's seen a scraping under a microscope while I have not and TWO she went to 4 years of veterinary school followed for 2 years of residency learning about animal medicine while I spent the equivalent 6+ years immersed in fancy cars and fast women. Or possibly fast cars and fancy women I'm not sure which, maybe both - honestly, most of the late 60's and 70's are just a blur>
<That said, I think youre trying too may things too rapidly. Keep Scooter warm and dry. Put him in a box or pail with a regular old pharmacy-type heating pad set on low or medium, wrapped in a towel. The real trick is to find a heating pad that doesn't have that maddening 'auto-off' feature. The good news is that the cheaper ones usually don't have it. Arrange the box, tub or pail so that Scooter can't get COMPLETELY away from the heating pad. Make sure that the UV-B bulb is over the tub and on for at least 12 hours a day. Each day for the next 14, take Scooter out of the tub and place him in a shallow bowl of lukewarm water for about 15 minutes. Enough time to drink, poop and possibly eat. I'm not worried about the lack of appetite at this point, but the lethargy is mildly concerning. Continue the topical treatments and let's see what changes in the next 7-10 days>

Common Musk Turtle that got sick or I bought sick  `12/27/10
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I Have a question that I have been trying to find an answer for and had No luck. I have read this forum many times and I think it's the best forum in The web.
<Thank you! We think so too!>
Well basically I recently owned a 1 year old Common Musk Turtle that got sick or I bought sick I really don't know I only had her for a few months.
Her symptoms were floating sideways, sneezing and coughing, puffy eyes, she wasn't eating and it would bask almost 24/7. I did everything I could I quarantined her in a 10 gallon because she had a 1 year old RES for a tank mate and I raised the temperature of the water and everything. I took her to a local reptile vet and to be honest he wasn't that good he gave me some liquid antibiotics that he said should make her better and it didn't and she sadly died :(
<The Musk Turtle most likely had a respiratory infection. Keeping her warm was a good idea, antibiotics necessary and she also needed to be DRY. When I have a turtle with a respiratory infection I keep them warm & dry for 2 MONTHS putting them in shallow water for less than 5 minutes a day in order to poop, drink and eat>
I wanted to know if the RES could also be infected she is my cousins turtle and I added her to the tank when my Musky was already acting weird to be honest I thought having a tank mate would make her better.
<Turtles are not social animals, Manuel, they actually live a bit better singly. Red Eared Sliders can be kept in groups, so long as they are approximately equal size and there is adequate room for turtles that are acting snippy to get away from each other>
Right now I have the RES in a 10 gallon because I recently bought a 1 year old Razor Back Musk Turtle and I have him in my main 40 gallon after cleaning it because I didn't know if the tank could still have the disease in the water. I wanted to know how long do I have to wait to know if the RES wasn't infected by my Musky that died so I can put her back in my 40 gallon. So far the RES isn't showing any signs of sickness and its been in the 10 gallon tank for a week...
<A good cleaning of the tank will be good for all occupants, but what Musky died of was a common bacterium that is ALWAYS present. Musky just got weak, possibly from poor care before you got him, poor diet, etc. and as a result of BEING sick, the bacteria got a chance to catch hold and grow. The Slider is in no real danger as long as he gets UV-B light, basking light (88-93 degrees on the basking area), cool water (68-72 degrees) and good food (I use Koi Pellets because they're fully balanced and cheap)>
Thanks in advance
<You're welcome>

Health ?s about an Eastern Painted Turtle  10/22/09
Hi Crew,
<Hiya Denise - Darrel here>
An eastern painted turtle found my 11 yr old son in July.
<Cunning creatures, those turtles>
We're not sure where he came from since we don't live anywhere near water.
<They manage to walk a LONG way from water and can be on the road (figuratively and sometimes literally for months>
To get started we researched turtles on the internet. My concerns are:
1. His shell, towards his head, is turning white.
<I'd like to see pictures -- even from just a cell phone cam>
<When you take him out of the tank and dry him off, is the whiteness slimy?
or powdery? Can you rub or gently scrape it off or does it appear to be under the scutes (plates that make up the shell)?>
2. He's been eating meal worms every day, and then we discovered that he was getting too much protein. He won't eat zucchini or red leaf lettuce now that he's been eating the worms.
<Like a kid that gets fixated on candy ... a habit hard to break. Find a Koi store in your area and ask them for a sample of their favorite pellet food. Tell them you want to test it out on Bolt and then you'll be back to buy some if he'll eat it. Most of the better stores understand and are happy to oblige. The reason we want to do this is that breaking a bad habit is tough work. It takes determination and discipline and patience... and the first thing we try might not work -- no point in having a bag of food that he won't eat.>
<First, make sure he's warm enough. If he's not getting fully heated under the basking lamp, or if the basking lamp doesn't heat his basking area to about 90 degrees, then he's not getting hot enough to digest food properly and probably not hungry.>
<Once you're sure that part is OK, offer him 3 pellets in the water, right in front of him. If he doesn't eat them within 5 minutes, net them out, toss them away and try again the next day. And the next. And the next.
This is where the patience comes in. Bolt wants what he likes and is perfectly willing to out-wait you ... and your eventual guilt about Bolt not eating is his biggest friend. We run a risk here. There are cases where eating bad food is sometimes better than not eating AT ALL ... those cases being where the animal is debilitated from some on-going disease. It doesn't sound like Bolt HAS a disease, but then we don't really know about the white stuff and loss of appetite.>
We also put 6 feeder fish in his tank in September. He ate 2, but nothing since the 2nd wk of Sept. Now, he won't eat anything.
<This brings out another problem. Live fish aren't part of Bolt's natural diet and I'm sure you noticed how comical it was to see him try to catch them. So what happens now ... to all of us ... is you end up with feeder fish that are now unintentional pets. I had two feeder goldfish that grew so big the bullied the smaller turtles, so they ended up in the Koi pond with Koi literally 10 times their size ... believe me, none of the Koi dare get in their way at feeding time.>
3. He has a 75 gallon tank w/maybe 6 inches of water in it. Is that enough?
<That's fine. They seem to LIKE water a bit deeper, but they normally inhabit the shallows anyway. Given the complexity of raising the water level in a way that would be safe for him, I'd leave it alone right now. In the LONG term, we keepers like deeper water because deeper water tends to hold it's temperature better that shallow water, so it stays warmer at night and doesn't get as hot in daytime. But then we have to engineer higher basking areas and sometimes baffles so he can't climb out, etc. Let's not deal with any of that right now.>
<This would be a good time to ask about filtration though. It's often hard to filter water that shallow. Do you have an in-tank submersible filter?
External filter? Or just frequent water changes? All are acceptable as long as the water is crystal clear and odorless>
4. We're new at the turtle thing, and don't want Bolt to die.
Unfortunately, I'm a student 3 other kids and we can't afford a herp vet right now.
<Well, at the moment, you don't need one. We here at Bob's House of Wet Fun can give you all the guidance you need!>
5. He has a very large, flat rock to bask on. Also, the tank came w/the long florescent lamp, and we won a basking lamp on eBay for cheap.
<The florescent lamp is most likely an ordinary bulb or an aquarium/fish/plant bulb which isn't providing the proper UV lighting that Bolt needs. Look into a Repti-Sun 10.0 bulb from my friends at Zoo-Med.
You can probably find one that will fit in that fixture for a reasonable price, but if that's out of the picture at the moment, we have a standby:
Good old fashioned sunlight. Put bolt in a cardboard box with high enough sides that he can't climb out (minimum twice his length - 3 times is better) and big enough that when we set it outside that sunlight can reach straight in. Then drape a towel over one corner so that there is some shade area. Now you can set Bolt outside where he can drink up natural sunlight and have a place to get into the shade when he gets too warm. A couple hours a day would be good, but if that doesn't fit into your schedule, whatever you CAN do is still beneficial. Just as long as neighborhood dogs & kids can't get to him and he can't get out ... all you have to check on is as the sun changes, does he still have shade?>
6. Other than these things, he seems ok. No sores, swelling, or oozy pus, and he is still swimming around.
<We're ALWAYS happy to hear "no sores, swelling or pus" those are never good things>
Any help you can give is most appreciated!
<And we like doing it!>
<So here's where we are. I'm sending you two links. The first is on treatment of illnesses and I'd like you to treat for a fungal infection, mainly because it's easy, very inexpensive and getting Bolt out of the water for a few weeks will assist you in breaking his bad eating habits.
Plus it's a fun article to read.>
<Next link is on general care. It describes in more detail the sort of environment he needs and you can use it as a measuring stick against what you have and are doing.>
<Lastly, keep us posted on how this goes. Send pictures, too!>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

Cooter with unknown problem?  05/27/09
<Hiya Carl .. Darrel here>
I have a Cooter that is approx 4 years old and has developed a strange growth on her back. I have gone through so many websites, found many pictures of shell rot but my turtle problem looks nothing like any of the pictures that I have seen, it about 1 inch by 1 inch.
<Without more description, I'm not able to visualize much more. Perhaps a couple of snapshots from even a cellular phone camera? Anything more, even a more detailed description would help>
Generally the life of my turtle involves basking under UV light, swimming and eating. As far as I can see she is doing all the same things as she was before this thing started growing.
<That's an important indicator of health, Carl. But still we're going to need to treat her differently.>
Basically, her shell has risen and flaked off on the bit above the tail, there is no smell, no pus, and was a little soft. She wasn't bothered if you touched it as she just continues sitting there so I'm guessing there no pain.
<It sounds like a fungal infection managed to kill the scute itself and what you have is an underlying skin area that is hardened and calcified. Can you try to imagine if half your fingernail came off and you were looking at the underlying skin? Now assume that the skin hardened a bit and wasn't sensitive to the touch. Is this an apt description?>
We clean the water regularly and she has a varied diet including ReptoMin sticks, King British mix, mealworms and fish (not live).
<To simplify your life, delete the mealworms and fish ... change the ReptoMin to a high quality, yet far less expensive, Koi pellet ... and then add one or two earthworms per month as a treat. Mealworms are all fat and fish, while healthy, just isn't a substantial part of an Emydid turtle's diet.>
For the past 20 days we have kept her separate from her friends which are yellow bellied. Unfortunately when we bought them we were told they were the same breed.
<To be honest, the difference between Sliders, Cooters and the Red & Yellow bellies is something only important to themselves. They interbreed all the time and seem to get along in any combination.>
We took her to a bloke that runs a reptile shop/habitat and he was very impressed with how hard the rest of the shell was.
<That speaks well of your care!>
She has a bath each day for 15-20 min.s depending on how long it takes her to eat and go to toilet. She is dried and then applied Tamodine with a toothbrush as recommended by the gentlemen. It has got harder and the shell has reappeared right in the middle.
<Well, I WAS going to send you a copy of an article on turtle illnesses that describes how to isolate and treat a sick turtle, but now there is no
need. The treatment you describe here is EXACT and PERFECT for the condition you describe.>
<It also sounds like she's on the road back to health, Carl>
I was wondering if you have any suggestions of what it could be, as there is no vets in our area that deals with turtles, I live in Britain and turtles apparently aren't that common.
<Again, my guess is that a fungal infection lifted and damaged the scute. Sometimes the scute grows back, other times, if the tissue that feeds it is too damaged, it doesn't grow back and you get what is essentially a big, white scar where the scute was.>
I think it is healing but I'm concerned as she not just a turtle she our pet and we don't want it to spread any further.
<It SOUNDS like it's healing nicely under excellent care, Carl!! Give her another month of this treatment (or when you just sense that she's "well"
and then add three weeks). The only thing I'd do is take extra precautions with habitat and water quality for all of them.>
Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
Yours Sincerely,
<You've done all the hard work already ... and all the right things!>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

Yellow Bellied Sliders with fungus 1/23/08 Hi there, <Hiya right back! Darrel here tonight> We are new turtle owners. We bought two baby yellow bellied sliders 5 days ago. We bought them with a full starter kit, 11 gallon tank (14 US gallons), 15w UVB lamp, basking dock and filter, the water is kept at room temperature. They are about 2.5' long. They appear to have a good appetite, we have fed them on some carrot, a few blood worms and some dried complete food. <Hint #1 -- save yourself time & money -- feed them small Koi pellets or ReptoMin (basically the same thing, just more costly. Read a bit more in the link enclosed> On the second day of having them we noticed some spots of white on their feet, one more pronounced than the other. These seem white and fluffy when in water, like cotton wool. When on the basking dock it seems smooth and shiny. One also had some markings on the shell. These are around the edges of the shell segments. Please see attached photos. The marks on the shell seem rusty metallic in appearance when in the water. The markings have become more apparent in the last few days. From reading around I think this could be shell shedding but am unsure and worried. Is this likely to be the case, possibly due to growth? <That's what it appears from here. Great pics by the way -- the shells look nice and healthy as long as they are firm to the touch> From reading I also think that the white marks are a fungus due to the stress of change of conditions. I understand that this is quite common in younger turtles, especially when re-homed. We have since re-cleaned the whole tank and based on the advice we can find on the internet/in books we have been giving them a 20 minute a day warm salt bath with 1 teaspoon of salt per litre of water. Is this the appropriate course of action? Is there anything else we can do? We are anxious to do the right thing and that from reading are aware that this could lead on to septicemia. With information so hard to come by we are hoping you can help. <Yep .. you got yourself a first class case of fungus there! First, let me congratulate you on having done all the right things and investing the time, money and research in an attempt to be responsible pet keepers.> <Now as far as the fungus is concerned, here's what I'd do: Take them out of the water and keep them in a warm DRY place for the next three weeks. Put them in a shallow dish of room temperature water for 10-15 minutes a day in order to hydrate, poop and eat. Feed them sparingly. After they come out of the water and have dried off, coat all affected areas with a commercial athlete's foot treatment (like Lotrimin or Triconazole -- generics are fine). As long as you keep clear of the mouth, nose and eyes, you can coat the rest of the shell and skin if you wish. This is a more aggressive treatment than the salt water dip but faster and more certain. Keep in mind that the warm, wet world they like to live in and that you want to provide for them is also the perfect environment for fungus. By keeping them dry, you put the fungus at a disadvantage and the turtles themselves don't really mind.> <Once they've appeared "clean" for a week, you can put them back in their home. Room temperature water is great and make sure that their basking area is 88 to 95 degrees -- not being able to dry thoroughly is a prime cause for fungus growth.> Many thanks, we look forward to your response. <well, there is my response. Below is a link for more general purpose reference, too.> <Please write back and keep us posted as to their progress!> < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm

Re: Yellow Bellied Sliders with fungus  1/31/08 Darrel, thanks so much for your speedy and thoughtful response. <Glad I can help> There are just a couple of questions that I have from your response. You say to leave them out in dry warm conditions for 3 weeks. By this do you mean for 3 weeks solid without ever being by water (apart from the 10 min.s a day for feeding etc). Is this 10 min.s a day enough to keep them hydrated over this period? <Yes, it is. Not that you have to be a strict clock watcher -- 15 minutes is OK, too and yes, as long as they can drink (that will be the first thing they do) they could be away from a water-based tank for months!> As for the housing we were thinking of keeping them in a clear plastic storage box and placing the UVA/B lamp over the top. Do you think this will adequate for them or is there anything else we can give them for 3 weeks as this seems like a long time to be in such bleak conditions! <Perfect. Remember, it may be bleak to YOU ... but offer them a choice: stay in the box for three weeks or get out & go to school or work, earn a living, clean their room and do dishes -- heck I'll jump in that box myself for three weeks!!!!> In addition, if they are simply in a warm box how will they manage to regulate their body temperature? <Very good question. In this case you're regulating it for them. Remember, as long as they can't get too cold ... or too hot, then regulation isn't life threatening for them. Warm 76-82 degrees will suit them just fine while the fungus is being treated.> I assume the athletes foot treatment you refer to are the sort you can simply buy at a pharmacy? <Yep, any of the generics for Tinactin or Lotrimin will work just fine!> Once again, thank you for your reassurance and great advice. <You're welcome!! Every time you think of fungus, think of me!!>

Swollen back legs on my painted turtle  1/8/08 Hello, I'm Tanisha <Hiya Tanisha - Darrel here> My turtle is only like 2 years old and the other day his feet looked huge...they are so swollen.. <Is it the feet themselves or the entire back legs?> He still eats, walks, swims everything, but I cant afford to take him to the Vet.. <I understand> what could it be... How can I help him... <The first thing to do is take him out of the water, Tanisha. Even though the live in and near the water, the wetness and moisture also encourage the growth of fungus, bacteria and fungi.> <Put him in a small cardboard box, plastic container, anything where he can stay and be safe. Let's get him dry and around 88 degrees. Sometimes I put a heating pad set on "medium" inside the box. Place a shallow dish of water in there every day and place him in it for 10 minutes -- just enough time to drink and maybe eat, then remove the water entirely> <My guess is that he's got a vitamin or dietary deficiency that we can correct once we know more. Does he get direct sunlight (not through glass)? Or does he have a UV light? What are you feeding him?> My whole family loves him. We all really grew attached to him...he's part of the family. <Please write back wit answers to the questions above and we'll see if we can help. Also, read the linked article below and compare it to how you are keeping him, write back and tell us more, OK?> < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

Limp turtle  11/06/07 I have a turtle emergency! My daughter has had her little turtle for about 8 months now. He is a water turtle, not sure what kind, orange stripes on the bottom of his shell and white stripes on his neck, very pretty. He is a baby, about 2 and 1/2 inches across his shell. He's been staying outside all summer and throughout the early fall in a baby pool. He eats like a pig and is very active. We didn't want him to hibernate so we got him a tank and filter so he could stay in my daughter's room. He's been in the house for about 2 weeks now and all of a sudden, today, he just went limp, is gargling water through his nose, and hardly moves at all!!! What is wrong!?! My daughter is frantic, I have to at least know what is going on. Thanks so much! Kristin O. <The description you give is classically a respiratory infection and the treatment involves keeping him dry, warm AND ... a very quick trip to a veterinarian. If the vet isn't all that experienced in reptiles, suggest that the treatment of choice my be Baytril subq. Meanwhile keep him warm, dry and out of the water except for a few minutes every day to hydrate and perhaps eat. The key is how sick he is -- if he's constantly bubbling, limp and barely moving, then we're pretty much out of the mode of being able to treat at home.> <I hope this helps -- Darrel>

Re: limp turtle gets a bit better 11/16/07 We were not able to get "Squirt" to the vet that night, but for lack of any knowledge of what to do we prayed for the little guy, stuck him in the kitchen sink on a plate with a little bit of water and by morning he was up and around again. He has not eaten much this week. He stays out of the water and in the heat of the 100 watt bulb. Hopefully he will be back to eating like a pig again by the end of next week. Thank God the little guy made it! I wasn't so sure that my daughter would have been able to handle it if he didn't. Thanks so much! <I'm sure glad it's working out, Kristin. I'd still like to see you get him to a vet, perhaps an antibiotic injection to help him along, but above all -- warm and dry until he feels better. You can even place a saucer of cool water in his box and place him in that -- if you see him bend down to drink, add a bit more water. Whatever container you use, water level should be no higher than his shoulders (so that his head is comfortably out of the water) and just long enough for him to decide it he wants a drink.> <Best wishes to you - Darrel>

Questions about female turtle, hlth.   8/28/07 Hello, <Hello - Darrel here> I have a female floating turtle who is about 6 months old. She is in the same tank as a male floating turtle about the same age. <:::Laughing::: I've never heard of a "floating turtle" before. I'm going to guess that you mean a Red Eared Slider or similar water turtle -- but if I'm wrong, my advice might not make any sense.> We have 4 Pleco bottom feeders to help with the cleaning of the tank. Our tank is 20 gallons with a turtle log for them to bask, a heater, and a uv lamp. I've noticed that the last couple of days she hasn't been eating as much, tends to spend most of the day on the turtle log, and when she goes into the water she seems to be floating with her butt up in the air. As of yesterday, she will be on top of the log and open her mouth as if she was screaming. I've actually heard her screaming noise. I was just wondering if you could let me know what's going on with her... <That can be a sign of many things, Shannon. On the serious side, a fungal or bacterial infection in the belly or intestines can create gas pockets that will make turtles float at odd angles. On the other hand, it can simply be that she has gas (no, I'm not kidding - she could just have an upset tummy and if so, this will pass [PUN!]). The open mouth, sometimes called Gaping, can be a sign of distress, but also just an attempt to cool off. You mentioned a heater, probably needed for the Pleco's you have. What is the water temperature and the temperature of the basking log? Water should be around 72-74f and the basking area between 82-95f. If the water is warmer, then perhaps she just can't get cool.> <The most serious thing is your comment that you've heard her screaming noise ... because if she's a turtle, she has no vocal chords!!> <A few days based on the symptoms you describe isn't really enough to make any kind of determination -- my suggestion is that you check your environment (I'll give you a link, below), correct anything you see and wait a few more days, then write back. I'm also going to drop a copy of this in Neale's and Bob's boxes to see if they can float a few other ideas.> <HAHAHAHAHAA! Get it? "Floating Turtle"? "Float an idea"? LoLoL - Should be on the stage!> Thank you, Shannon <http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm> <Darrel... we should go to the pub. BobF; whose friends have encouraged him to "go on TV"... so they could turn him off.>

Turtle infection, maybe? 08/01/07 Hi Crew, <Hiya -- Darrel here> I have a female Eastern Painted turtle who is 5 years old. She seems to have an infection on the bottom of her shell. What should I do. <The first think is to let her get dry -- all fungal and bacterial infections are harder to control when they're wet all the time. Just remember that she can stay out of water for weeks without ill effects and what you should do is put her in the water for a few minutes each day so she can drink and eat, then take her back out again.> <Now for the infection, I'd like to have more information - is it black & slick feeling? Or white and feels just like the shell? Please write back with more. Meanwhile, keep her dry and wash and scrub the area with a little household vinegar -- it helps most infections and we're not going to send you off to the store (or the vet) until we know a little more about what you're up against. So write back with some more detail and in the mean time, search our site for "turtle" and "infection" and you'll get lots of reading material.> Thanks for any help.

Pink bellies on turtles  7/12/07 Hello, <Hi> I have a Mississippi map turtle, and a yellow bellied Cooter, both of which are about 2.5 to 3 inches in size. More recently they have both started to get pink bellies. I think they are not getting enough calcium in there diet. I have tried the turtle bone, and I am not sure what else to do. How can I get rid of the pink bellies? <Well, to be honest, this is an unusual one. My guess would be a microorganism in the water ... like a micro algae. How is your water quality and how often do you change it?> As well as get more minerals in the water? Not in the water -- too many minerals in the water will stain & coat their shells just like hard water deposits in your bathtub. (Minerals was my first reaction to the pink bellies, but I couldn't think of a mineral that would cause that on the turtles without making the water appear rose colored. Get them minerals via their diet (basic Koi Pellets or Repto-Min food sticks supplemented with the occasional night crawler)> I have noticed that their shells look like they have wrinkles? I not sure how else to explain it. <As their shells grow they shed a thin, semi transparent layer of the scute and sometimes that can look a bit wrinkled. Is that what you're talking about?> I don't think there is any shell rot, or fungal disease. <Doesn't sound like it -- at least not normal fungal problems> Is this considered soft shell? or can this be attributed to them growing? <Soft shell is just that -- you feel the shell and it's not like your fingernails, but softer.> I am sorry for all of the questions. <By all means. Questions lead to answers and we all like those!> Thanks, Concerned turtle owner <You're welcome. Darrel.> <please review this article against your keeping and conditions and write back if you can find anything else to report. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

White skin on baby turtle. 06/28/07 Hi <Hi right back!> I have two baby turtles. I recently bought them a 10 gallon aquarium. One of my turtles seems to be enjoying the time in there, she swims and goes up and down the ramp, but in the other hand my other little one has being hiding behind some fake plants that comes along with the tank. I'm worried that she might not like the place and die or something. Is that a sign that she doesn't like it? <Not a sign that she doesn't like it, but a sign that something is wrong> I have also noticed that they have something strange going on. I can see that something white is like hanging from their legs as if it was some kind of fungus or something, I've being searching online for an answer but I haven't find anything similar. <If it looks like grayish-white dead skin, then yes, you probably have a fungal infection and that would also explain why the one turtle is not very active.> I'm really worried about my turtles, if you could answer this question and tell me what is that white stuff please tell me. <Take your turtles out of the tank and put them some place warm where they can dry off. Remember, even babies can be out of water for a few days without problems. After they're dry, We can start treating the fungus. Start with the athlete's foot creams at your local drug store. Tinactin, Lotrimin, etc. or the generic equivalent -- look for the ingredient Tolnaftate or Clotrimazole (or any antifungal ending in "azole"). Apply it once a day to the effected areas and as always, keep them clean and dry and you should see a change for the better after about 5 days and completely gone after about 20 days. Keep treating for a minimum of 7 days after everything looks fine. During this time, place them in water once a day for a few minutes in order for them to bathe, eat and drink.> I can send you a picture if you'd like. <The number one cause of fungus problems is environment. Basking area not warm enough, not enough unfiltered UV light (like sunlight) or the water being too dirty. How are these conditions in your tank?> Thank you <You're welcome> Mariana <Darrel here -- hope this helps!>
Re: White skin on baby turtle. 6/29/07
hey :) <Hiya, Darrel here> thank you soooo much for your help! .. I hope this works for my turtles. <So do we> I went to the vet today and asked them because I really thought you weren't going to answer me and they said that it was like a fungus and I had to put them in a dry place due to the cause that I always have them on the water. <I hope you have a nice, dry basking area for them under a warm lamp of some sort. Turtles usually spend a good portion of their day sunning themselves. Drying off AND --- and this is very important -- the Ultra Violet (UV) light from the sun is what keeps the fungus from growing. Make sure they are getting plenty of unfiltered sunlight.> They never told me the athletes foot part but Ill try that ! anything that would help. <Just to be clear here, I'm not saying that your turtles have athlete's foot - just that the medications for THAT fungus also work for many reptile fungi. I'm surprised that the vet didn't give you a medication or a dip solution to treat them. Did the Vet just forget?> I always try to have their tank pretty clean so I don't see a problem with that. Something that I also want to ask you is why is it that my older turtle is bigger than the little turtle? <Well, there are any number of reasons. If one is quite a bit older, she SHOULD be bigger. If they're from different eggs (maybe different parents) there will be some differences in their growth. Lastly, the bigger one may simply be eating more, basking more and generally healthier. MAKE SURE that the little one isn't getting pushed away from the food or basking, OK?> Do you think they will die if I put them in separate places, since they have always been together? <No worries there -- turtles don't get "lonely" but on the other hand, anything that affects one turtle is probably affecting the other and you simply haven't seen it yet. I suggest that you dry & treat both of them.> thank you so much for your help .! <Yer Welcome>

New Turtle Creates New Problems  - 08/25/06 I have an Eastern Painted Turtle that is approximately a year old.  He was an inch or so big when we found it and now it is about three or so. We have never had any problems with it.  My husband brought home a larger one about a month ago.  All seemed well at first. The newer turtle seems like he has some kind of slimy stuff hanging from his skin when he is under water.  He lost a clear layer or membrane from the bottom of his shell and now there are 2 ulcers or holes that have developed there.  I have removed him from the tank.  The smaller turtle  has a little of that slimy stuff too.  He has not been eating for the past few days.  He is also spending  most of his time on the basking dock and not in the water. He used to swim all of the time. The sections of the top shell are lifted in areas, is that due to growth??? You can see where he has just gone through some growth on the shell.    Really his lack of appetite an change in behavior have me concerned. Thanks for your help < When you introduce a new animal to an established captive, the new animal should always be quarantined for at least a month. Painted turtles are found wild in the Midwest. Older turtles often carry parasites that can be transmitted to other turtles. The combination of stress and poor water quality has generated a bacterial infection of the shell of the one turtles and a possible respiratory infection on the other. Keep each turtle in his/her own container. Keep the water very clean and make sure each turtle has a basking site that gets at least to 85 F. The larger turtle should have a Dr. Turtle Sulpha Block added to the tank. This will inhibit the bacteria problems. The affected areas should be cleaned and some Repti Would Aid by Zoo Med applied to the affected areas. The smaller turtle needs heat and maybe antibiotics. If the appetite doesn't pick up within a week after applying the extra heat then start to look for a vet.-Chuck>

Turtle Questions   7/28/06 I have a couple of question? I have a turtle, I have had him for about 3 months. He is a aquatic turtle we found him in a lake. I have him in a aquarium with a really big rock in it, he always sit on it when he is ready to rest or just want to relax. He always jumps off of it. One time he jumped off it and he scraped his foot. At first his foot was just peeling now it has turned a white color. I am really worried about his foot. He seem to be fine, he is always swimming and still very hyper. Should I take him to the vet. and get it checked or what should I do? Please help me he is my little buddy. < If the wound has turned white and is fuzzy then it is starting to fungus. I would clean the foot off with a cotton ball. Then apply some Zoo Med Repti Wound Healing Aid. Keep the water clean and add a Dr. Turtle Sulpha Block to prevent infection.> Another thing I have little rocks at the bottom of the aquarium, I take him out and put him in a little carrying case for turtles lately when he has a bowel movement it looks like he has been eating the little rocks at the bottom of the aquarium, what should I do can that hurt him, if he is eating them? The rocks are the sides of pebbles. < If he is able to ingest the substrate then I would recommend changing it to prevent any potential choking problems.> How often should I feed him? Now I currently feed him 2 times a day, I give him 15 turtle sticks both times, is that enough? <I would recommend feeding three times a week. After each feeding there will probably be a bowel movement. I would then siphon out the waste and replace the water in the tank.> Also how can I find out if he is a he or a she! < Males usually have longer front claws and a longer tail.-Chuck> Thank you for your time!!!

Turtle Shell Getting Little Holes  - 06/22/2006 I have had a Peninsula or River Cooter for a year now. I have a 10 gallon tank, a heating light, a filter, rocks, and a big rock my turtle can climb on. I use shell cream for (his?) cracked shell, but have noticed that he has a bunch of little holes on his lower shell. At first I thought that maybe it was cracked shell, but they aren't going away. They aren't soft, but little hard holes. I don't know what it is, and I haven't seen any articles describing this type of problem. I need your help. Should I take him to a vet? Thanks-Jasmin <Any type of pitting on a turtle shell is not good. It could be a bacterial infection. Give him a Dr Turtle Sulpha Dip and then add a Dr Turtle Block to the water. If the spots continue to grow than a visit to a vet would be in order.-Chuck>

Turtle Questions ... dis.  6/20/06 Hi! I had a question about a my Mississippi map turtle.  About a month ago I noticed that on his right front foot there was a pinkish spot right under his claw.  I'm not sure how it happened, I thought maybe another of the turtles bit him.  I started putting Neosporin on it and it got a little more pink and swollen but then it got a lot better, and was almost totally healed.  Now I noticed that there are two other small spots on the same leg a little further up.  These ones are a deeper red and seem hard.  His hand is swollen but he swims fine, eats normally, and acts as he always has. < I would recommend that you isolate the turtle and add a Dr. Turtle Sulpha Block to the water. The other turtles can't bother him in another tank and the Sulpha block will inhibit bacteria and give his arm a chance to heal.> Also, I have a yellow belly slider who blows bubbles every time she grabs at the food.  Could that be a sign of a respiratory problem?? <No not really. The problems arise when they are sitting on their basking site and blowing bubbles.> Also, my red eared slider and yellow bellied slider dig in the rocks a lot.  I think they are looking for food.  Is this normal and ok?? < Older turtles  need more vegetable matter in their diet. Give them some kale or spinach leaves to gnaw on. ZooMed now has a new turtle bone for turtles to gnaw on and get some calcium. It may be worth checking out since you have so many turtles.-Chuck>  Thanks so much for your help!! - Megan

WOW! Turtle Knows How To Type   2/7/06 Hello, My name is Terra and I am a 4 year old female yellow bellied slider.  Recently some pink patches have appeared on my skin around my neck and shoulders.  Although I feel healthy I would like to know what this is and how to get rid of it.  My friend Tim, who lives in the same tank with me seems to be ok.  Any ideas? Best regards, Terra < You are suffering with a bacterial infection. Get your owner to clean the tank and the filter. Have them treat the affected areas with ZooMed's Repti Turtle Sulfa Dip and place a Dr. Turtle Sulfa Block in the water.-Chuck>

Sick/Blind Turtle   12/5/05 Hi, Guys! I read all the posts and this is different. I bought four baby RES two weeks ago. After I put them in the tank (new tank, floating dock, rocks, UVA/UVB  reptile light on side of tank, 2 10W incandescent on top) that one was blind. Or rather, where his eyes should be are two beige areas, with the same markings as his head. He basked a lot, and was reluctant to swim much.  He doesn't eat. I've tried krill, chicken, pellets, apple, worms, etc. Put it wet, right by his nose and he doesn't sniff. He wipes his head a lot, too, when feeling active. Every day I think he'll be dead, and every day he is on the floating dock, head tucked in, and not eating.  He started gaping a week ago. No discharge, just gaping, usually after swimming a bit. He never dives, just paddles a bit, and then finds the dock again. Then gapes a few minutes. This isn't good is it? I read some posts today and put him in a sulfa dip bowl, with a basking rock, and a 100 watt light 12 inches away. Can I pry his mouth open, and if I do, what should I try to feed him? Thanks, Kate < He won't eat until he can see. He has a respiratory infection. You can get some Turtle Eye Drops from Zoomed and some vitamins as well. The respiratory infection may require antibiotics from a vet. Check the basking spot with a thermometer. It should be around 85 to 90 F. When he can see and is going into the water on his own then he is ready to feed.-Chuck>

Possible Shell Rot  10/6/05 Hello! I have recently purchased two red eared sliders, they're very small, their shells are maybe 2.75-3 inches long at most. They might be illegal, but I bought them from a licensed pet store .One of them has a white spot on (her?) shell that has been there since I bought her. At first I thought it was shell rot but it's not soft or fuzzy and it hasn't changed in the few months I've had her. She's very active, eats well and enjoys basking on her island under her lamps. I keep the water very clean and she shares the tank with her brother and a handful of hearty zebra Danios. The tank is well ventilated and I have a very good completely submerged filter that agitates the surface of the water. She eats turtle pellets and I keep a calcium block and a medicated block in the tank with them. What could the white spot be and how could I get rid of it?  It has a sort of darkish ring around it and I'm afraid she might be sick. Thank you! Sarah < Keep an eye on the spot and measure it. If it gets bigger then it may be shell rot. This can happen underneath the outer layer of shell too.-Chuck>
Turtle With Shell Rot  10/3/05
I have one more question about this abandoned turtle I have found.  I was holding her yesterday because I check the shell every day.  Well on the bottom of her shell she seems to be losing parts of it.  There are red spots where it looks raw, and white spots where it just fell of recently.  I'm not sure what it is so I don't know how to treat it.  Please help me ASAP she needs to be taken care of properly and I want to be the one that does it.  Thanks much Jessi Rae < Shell rot is a bacterial infection. The area must be cleaned before antibiotics are applied. You should take your turtle to a vet.-Chuck>
Treating Sick Turtles  10/5/05
There is no vet in this area that knows about turtles.  I have checked already.  That's why I wanted to ask you about it.  Is there any way I can treat it without driving a long ways to a vet.  Please help. Jessi Rae < Treating shell rot can be done at home but it is very difficult. You need to get a sharp Exacto knife and cut away the infected areas down to undiseased shell. The cleaned areas should then be treated with a wound control antibiotic, like Repti Wound Healing Aid from ZooMed. The tank must be very clean. A Dr. Turtle Sulfa Block  by ZooMed needs to be in the water to help prevent infection. The basking spot needs to be at least 90 F.  Supplementing the food with vitamins would be a big help. Good Luck.-Chuck>

Turtles With Shell Rot  9/26/05 Hi, I'm Jennifer. I just got 2 baby red ear sliders from a little stand in Brooklyn. < Bad Idea> They don't treat them very well. < That's why it was a bad idea.> Anyway one of them has grey spots on it's shell, like 3 blotches. and the part of the shell between his tail and left leg are very soft. I have only had them for 3 days, but I have them in a tank with rocks and a filter and a heat lamp, when winter comes I will put a heater in the tank. I feed them turtle pellets and dried shrimp. Is he sick? < Yes. Shell problems are very serious.> Should I take him to the vet? < Yes, a good vet will be able to treat your sick turtle with antibiotics.> Will he get the other one sick? < Maybe. If the tank is not kept clean and the proper conditions are maintained then you other turtles can get sick too.> My last 2 turtles didn't have any spots on them. Please e-mail me back, I saw some stuff about a pinkish color and a cheesy looking bacteria, but this isn't like that and I am very worried. < The pinky-cheese stuff is the bacteria that is under the shell. Many times a vet needs to get into the shell to treat the bacteria that is living under and in the shell. Once the infected shell is cut away then antibiotics are applied. It is a shame that a stand is allowed to sell sick turtles like this.-Chuck>

Turtle problem  8/31/05 We have had our turtle for 12 years now. I don't know her species (or sex for that matter), but I *think* I remember her being a yellow belly slider. Anyway, that's not very relevant. Recently, she hasn't been moving off of her rock. She is a creek turtle (not a box like we thought we were buying) so we have her in a very large aquarium about 1/3 filled with water and 1/3 of it has rock piled up above the height of the water. The light we have shining on the water uses a regular light bulb. We feed her a finger full of turtle pellets everyday. All that said, she hasn't been moving much at hall for the past several days but this morning very earlier, she was violently scrubbing her nose against the side of the tank. Usually she's very timid with us and tucks her head back in her shell when we walk by. This morning I was able to actually reach down in front of her face and touch her before she even noticed. I know a lot more about horses than I do turtles and in horses that kind of behavior is called stall weaving and is considered a sign of boredom and/or neurosis. Is this something similar or a natural behavior? What can I do? Thanks! Brittany < Your turtle has developed a respiratory problem. The turtle is trying to clear the mucus from his/her nose and mouth and has probably got some in its eyes too. Swap out the regular light bulb for one that is made for turtles to bask under. It should get the basking site around 90 F. Get some Zoomed Turtle Eye drops to keep the eyes clear of the infection. Keep the tank clean and maybe throw in a heater to get and keep the water up to 70 F.-Chuck>
Turtle Saved by Vet  8/31/05
Thank you so much.  I took him to the vet and have some treatment.  The shell rot was more serious than it appeared.  You guys just saved the life of my turtle.  I only have one more question, when his shell regenerates, will it be scarred? < After he fully recovers their will be scarring that will be less noticeable with age. I am glad you did the right thing and got him to a qualified vet.-Chuck>
Re: Turtle Shell With Scarring  9/1/05 How scarred will it be? < The initial infected area will probably heal up as a black area. Every time he sheds the black or dark areas will become a little smaller.> He is only 4.5 inches long right now but the places cover a fairly large spot of his shell.  Is there anything I can do to reduce the amount of scarring? < No sorry not really. The area affected by the bacteria is gone, eaten away. Healthy tissue will eventually fill in the darkened areas but they may never fill in completely-Chuck>

Turtle with Shell problem 8/29/05 I just recently bought a Red Eared Slider Turtle and I have noticed that he has a fungus like thing growing on his shell.  He has 3 spots of it and more are developing. It is a while hair like growth growing where the scutes meet the lower shell on the right side and at the back near the tail.  I have also noticed that on both sides on his shell where the scutes and the lower shell meet he has a crack or a ridge horizontal on his shell. It is big enough to get a fingernail into and has a white cream like substance coming out of it.  This is on both sides and even where the growths are.  Is he sick?  Do I  need to take him to a vet or can I care for him myself?  Please let me know soon because I love my turtle and don't want him to die.  Thanks. <Your turtle has a serious shell problem that needs attention. The shell rot is a bacterial infection. Clean the tank and keep it that way. The infected areas need to be opened up and cleaned. Antibiotics should be applied topically and/or injected. Consult a vet that specializes in turtles. To prevent this the tank should be clean and the turtle should be provided with a nice hot basking spot. The heat elevates the turtle's immune system, dries out the shell so it will harden.-Chuck>

Turtle Handling 7.20.05 Hi, I was wondering if you got a young red ear slider if you hold it a lot if he would get used to it and if it can hurt you if you hold it. Please respond. Thank you. <With most reptiles the more you handle them the more they will tolerate you, however they will never really warm up to you like a cat or a dog.  If you dangle your finger in front of their face they may try to take a bite to see if it is something yummy, this would hurt.  They also get a little squirmy when being held and have toenails that can scratch, but nothing too serious.  The most important thing is to wash your hands with hot soapy water after handling them so that you do not get salmonella.  Salmonella will hurt you the following is the definition from dictionary.com "Any of various rod-shaped bacteria of the genus Salmonella, many of which are pathogenic, causing food poisoning, typhoid, and paratyphoid fever in humans and other infectious diseases in domestic animals." - Yuck.  Hope this helps, Gage>

Turtles With a Pain in the Neck 7/17/05 Gentlemen: < There are many ladies on the crew too.> Thank you for having a most informative website. I have two red eared sliders that are about 2 1/2 years old. They are growing rather well. However, about two weeks ago they both developed a rather horrendous puffy lesion on the nape of their necks where it meets the shell. The vet gave some antibiotic cream which has been no help. These lesions have now become somewhat bloody, larger and awful looking. They are swimming and eating, however. There are three other turtles in the group (not red eareds) that are doing fine and do not have this problem. The tank is always clean, good filters, etc. They bask every day in the sun. Any suggestions? Thanks for your assistance, we need some immediate help!! Sincerely, William <Aquatic turtles sometimes come down with a bacterial attack that is followed up with a white puffy skin fungus. I suspect that your turtles are probably a little too fat and the skin is rubbing on the shell and irritating the skin and causing the problem. Feel the shell where the problem is. If it is sharp then I would file it down with a fingernail file to just take the sharp edge off. If they are a little overweight then cut back on the calories not matter how hard they beg. If possible , use a cotton swap to wipe off the white cottony fungus down to the bare irritated skin. Paint the area with iodine or Merthiolate until it dries. Dip the turtles in Repti Turtle Sulfa Dip and then apply the Repti Wound Healing Aid. Place a Dr. turtle Sulfa Block in the water as a preventative. Make sure the water is clean by checking for ammonia. Is the main cause of infections among water turtles.-Chuck.>

Old Turtle Needs Help 7/16/05 Hello, we have a pond in our backyard about 12 feet by 7 feet and have several red ear sliders. The oldest turtle is sick! When she hisses it sounds like she's gurgling. Her shell is peeling on top. And she stays out of the water all day even when we go outside. We want to save her, what can we do? Teresa < I would recommend isolating this turtle so it doesn't make the others sick. I think your turtle has come down with pneumonia. It needs vitamins, heat and antibiotics. The turtle knows heat will help and that is why it stays out so long. Set up a basking spot so the temp gets up to 100 F. Give him vitamins orally though an eye dropper. Get him to a vet for some antibiotics. You should see some improvement in a week.-Chuck>

Turtle Bites 7/16/05 Hello, For the past couple of months my male 2 ½ year old has been nipping at his left arm (about midway up)  He eventually stopped and the sores started to heal but he has now started again to the point where it looked infected (an open wound) and I took him to the vet.  He gave him an antibiotic shot and now I have to give him 1 shot every 3 days.  I am really nervous about sticking my turtle with a needle and the vet had a hard enough time doing it himself.  Any tips?  He is in a 40 gallon tank with UVB, the Fluval 204, a ceramic heat lamp, and a spot lamp in the middle with some nice basking rocks.  His diet consists of ReptoMin sticks, Anacharis, and about a half dozen feeder fish once every 2 weeks.  (Sort of a treat for the 2 week period)  What would cause him to bite himself to the point of causing this wound?  Should I lower the water level because he only seems to bite himself while in the water?  Is there any chance this infection could have permanently damaged his potential for a long and healthy life?  It is not massive, but proportionally, if this injury was on a human, it would look like a 6" gash on our arm.  I do love the little guy...Please help. Jay   < The fact that he only bites his left arm makes me think that he has a bacterial infection on that arm and biting it is his only way of scratching the irritation. I would include vitamins, kingworms, crickets and earthworms to the diet. Increase the temperature of the basking spot to 100 F. Get a Dr Turtle Sulfa Block for the water and dip the turtle in Repti Turtle Sulfa Dip. Use the Repti Wound Healing Aid to quickly heal the wounds. I think this bacterial infection is brought on by waste products staying in the water too long. I would clean the tank more often especially if it smells. That is ammonia and it feeds disease causing bacteria.-Chuck>

Turtle with Shell Problem 7/16/05 Hi~ I have had my RES for over a year and he has a green spot on his back.  I have tried a Dr. Turtle, and I clean his tank about every other week.  I have put Vita shell on it a few times and I don't know what else to try. I didn't know if I needed to change his UV light or what to do. I use to have five gold fish in his tank but I just took them out to see if that would help. Thanks, Kristin < Shell rot is not completely understood as to the causes. If it is just a dark spot on the shell then it may be a scare or abnormal coloration. Shell rot is where the bone degenerates into a cheese like consistency. This can happen underneath the scutes. The area needs to be cleaned of the cheese like material down to the bone and then an antibiotic ointment needs to be applied to kill the remaining bacteria.  For a first defense I would put vitamins in this food. Then I would increase the heat on the basking spot to a higher wattage or put the light closer. Then I would give your turtle a Repti Turtle Sulfa Dip. If after all this the spot keeps getting bigger or deeper then a visit to a good reptile vet is in order.-Chuck>

Turtle With Bacterial Infection 7/9/05 Dear WWM, I have a male red eared slider that is about 2-3 years old and living in his own tank.  Recently I have noticed that some areas of his skin, particularly around the top of his legs where they fold under his shell, have developed a slightly pinkish tinge. He seems to swim and move quite freely. The skin is also quite puffy in that area. He tends to sleep/rest with eyes closed quite frequently (say 50-60% of the time) during the day compared to my other RES who is a continual bundle of energy.  He doesn't eat a lot but he does eat and he does poo regularly.  I have read in a turtle book about a pink splotchy condition over the entire body called Red Leg - they indicate that this is a bacterial infection.  I am unsure what my RES has got, if anything, if it is related to his sleeping patterns and what I should be doing to correct it.  Look forward to your reply. Regards, Farah Dwyer < Increase the heat to the basking spot. Change the water and clean the filter if you have one. Dip the turtle in ZooMed's Repti Sulfa Dip and get a Dr Turtle Sulfa Block for the water. You need to clean the tank more often. Get Repti Turtle Eye Drops to help clear the eyes.-Chuck>

Turtle with Fungus on his Shell and Neck 7/9/05 Hi, my name is Brooke, I have a red eared slider that I got on Easter last year and he seems to have some kind of fungus growing on his shell and neck. Is he sick, will he die, will my other red eared slider die too, is there anything I can do? Please e-mail me back and help me out! Thanks! Brooke < Fungus usually attacks dead or dying tissue. This could be the result of a bacterial infection. Clean the tank. Change all the water and clean the filter if you have one. Your basking light may not be hot enough. Get it closer to the basking spot or get a light of a higher wattage. Dip the turtle in ZooMed's Repti Turtle Sulpha Dip and get a ZooMed Dr. Turtle Sulfa Block for the water. You should see some improvement within a week.-Chuck>

Pink Skinned Turtle 7/7/05 Hi, I'm really worried about my turtle.  She is a two year old red eared slider.  She has recently had a decrease in appetite and her skin on her front and back legs have turned a very slightly pink color.  She lives in a 50 gallon tank, complete with basking platform and sunbathing lamp, and two Fluval filters (one very large external, one small internal).  There is some algae growing on the side of the tank.  Could this be contributing to the problem?  We feed her once a day, turtle pellets and dried shrimp.  Please advise! Thank you. < This sounds like a bacterial infection. Change the water and clean the filters. Wipe down the algae. Clean the filters and change the water every week. Place a ZooMed Dr. Turtle Sulfa Block in the water. I would even use the Repti Turtle Sulpha Dip too.-Chuck>

Snapping Turtle I'm really hoping you can answer a question for me. My aunt gave me a snapping turtle because they had no room for it. it is 1 yr old and I am worried about salmonella. Is there a way I can see if it has it or anything else. I have a 9 yr old brother and I would like to know where to get it treated to figure out if it has it and if it does what options are available. I really don't want to get rid of it I would like to know where to take it to figure out whether or not its clean. I researched salmonella and its not pretty and I'm a little worried because I don't want to get it. I wash my hands every time I hold it and I would REALLY appreciate it if you guys could help me out. Thanks a bunch >> Only a laboratory can test to see if your turtle has Salmonella. The best way would be to see if maybe someone at your local university can help. Good Luck, Oliver

Turtle Trouble in Japan Dear Wet Web Media Crew, I'm living on a military base in Japan. Our vet doesn't service turtles and I'm at a loss. I've had my turtle since it was a hatchling (the size of a quarter). It's about 2 inches and is currently in a 10 gallon tank. I change its water once a week. Feed it pellets 2 times a day and offer it tuna, carrots, apples, etc. (though it currently ignores all veg./fruit - which I've read is normal for young turtles). I have a basking area in the tank, lighting, 3-stage filtration. I use a water conditioner and dechlorinator. I've read that turtles shed, but I'm not sure if my turtle is shedding or has fungus.... whatever it is, it doesn't appear to be going away on its own. One web site recommended adding 1/4 c. salt for each gallon of water, but I read in one of your sites Q&A's that sliders can't process salt. If I suspect fungus, what can I do? Are fungi treatments for fresh water fish ok for my turtle? Also, one site recommends live feeder fish, while I noticed a link on your site warned against it, just wondering what's best and why. Please help. Stacia <Aquatic turtles often suffer from whitish patches of fungus on the skin. Zoomed makes a medicated sulfa block called Dr. Turtle that will treat 15 gallons of water for both fungal and bacterial problems. The salt is an old remedy that affects the disease but not the turtle so they really don't have to absorb or process it. I would stick with prepared foods and stay away from the feeders for now and go with a more invertebrate diet for smaller turtles. Larger one may take more vegetables. Feeders are messy and have bone that may injure a young turtle.-Chuck> 

Crusty Turtle Hi,     My turtle is about a couple years old, and he recently developed a crust on the side of his head.  Other sources have told me that it is an inner ear infection.  Is this extremely serious?  Even so what can I do so this infection will go away, and what can I do to make sure it doesn't come back? <It does sound like it could be an infection, and the mucus is hardening into a crust.  I would definitely call a good reptile vet to be safe.  The best way to prevent problems in the future is through good husbandry, clean water is very important.  Best Regards, Gage>

Turtle Quarantine  I have been a turtle fanatic since I was a small child and have renewed my interest in the last two years.  <Awesome, I have been thinking of having a turtle shell tattooed on my back, ok, not seriously but the thought did cross my mind.>  I was given two young RES two years ago and they are now 5-6" from back to front. I have built a small pond and they cohabit with some feeder fish that are now 7-8" long. I am in the process of increasing the pond size and would like to provide them with land area in case they want to leave the pond and "stretch" their legs. Can you provide some direction on designing this area for them?  <Anything that has a nice slope into the water will work fine, a large rock, an upside down pot with rock on top of it, a large piece of wood, a pile of rocks, whatever looks good to you and is functional for them.>  Also today a large RES, 2-3 times larger than my two found its way into my back yard.  <I had a duck run into my garage once, blew my mind.>  There are no ponds, lakes close by although several homes have pools. No one in the area claims the turtle so I would like to adopt it. At this time it is living in a large "tub" but I don't want this to last too long so therefore the urgency of my questions. My question is can all three turtles live together since there is a considerable size difference? If so what can I do to ensure that the new found turtle does not contaminate my others?  <If the pond that they are living in is large enough they should be fine, aggression is a possibility and you need to be prepared to separate them if one of them gets too rough. I would keep the new turtle separated for at least a month, possibly in an aquarium, preferably bare bottomed. This will allow you to observe the turtles behavior, and watch for signs of disease. If something does come up you can treat the turtle before he infects your other two. Quarantine is important in reptiles as well as fish.>  I also have a Florida soft shelled turtle that was given to me that is living in an aquarium at this time but will be relocated to her new pond this summer. Will all my turtles live together or will they need separate homes?  <I am not up to date on my soft shell husbandry, if they enjoy the same environment as the sliders it might be ok, you will still need to watch for aggression. I do not think I ever see these turtles mixed, there could be a good reason for that.>  I want to make sure all is right because I would be devastated if I did anything to harm, injure or cause death.  <Quarantine is the way to go. Best Regards, Gage>  Thank you for your time and assistance - Todd Hunt

NEW TURTLE Hi you guys. I have enjoyed reading your replies to what seem to be some of the lamest people on Earth, I am sure (helllloooo....you think your turtle has a broken leg? You don't even think of taking her to the vet??).  Here is our situation: I work in the Biology Dept of a community college. 2, 6-inch Sliders (both males) were donated along with their 150 gal tank about a year ago. They are thriving-eating, growing, very social. Someone found a small (4-inch) Slider in their yard and asked if we could take it. I have him here, separated from the others. He is eating reptile sticks, soaking in a small tub of water and enjoying the warming light. I read in the forums to keep him separate for at least a month, which is fine.  I wonder, not knowing anything about this guy, if I need to worry about any parasites or other diseases. The new guy seems healthy, bright, clear eyes, very active, decent appetite. Should I do anything besides the quarantine? I also noticed that someone mentioned to keep the introduc-ee in a bare-bottomed tank. I assume this means no water?
<<Mmm, no... no substrate... gravel. RMF>>
 He has a tub within the tank so he can get in if he wants. The rest of the tank is medium sized gravel. Thanks ahead of time for your help.  Your forum is terrific. Dandelian Tucker Teaching Assistant II, Biology/Environmental Science < New turtles should be quarantined for a month in a clean aquarium. Add a sulfa block to the water for the month. The sulfa will dissolve into the water and inhibit any bacterial or fungal growth due to trauma.-Chuck>

SICK TURTLES I have two red- eared slider turtles that I have had since July of 2001. They were both the size of quarters when I bought them and now they each weigh 4.5 grams. This past Christmas I noticed that my male turtle (Mustard) was shedding his scutes. It did not seem to hurt him, but I had never noticed anything like that before. I sort of panicked, I was out of town and not near his normal vet so I went to a different one. He said that both of my turtles had a fungal infections and suggested that I let them soak in a diluted chlor-hexadine solution. When I did that, it seemed to irritate their eyes, so I went to suggestion number 2 and painted them w/the non-diluted chlor-hexadine.  Well, after a few weeks, I didn't notice a change in their shells, but I did notice that Mustard was keeping his eyes closed more often. When they were open they didn't appear swollen and they were still really clear, but I was concerned so I brought him and my female turtle (Honey) to their regular vet.  He took a few pieces of their shells and looked at them under the microscope. He said that he didn't see any fungus or bacteria. He suggested that they may be starting to develop one or more vitamin deficiencies. He suggested that I add some frozen vegetables to their diet, and continue w/the chlor-hexadine. I did that and then about 3 days later I noticed two small spots to the top of Honey's shell that seemed to be missing, it looked like bone (white) instead of a green color. This made me take a closer look at Mustard and I found a similar spot on the bottom of his shell only it was pink in color. I called the vet and when he called back he said that they should start antibiotic injections, he didn't look at the turtles, but I picked up the medicine and for about a week and a half I have been giving them the shots.  They are still shedding scutes and now at the very edge of their shell where they were rimmed w/a nice yellow color, it seems to be turning transparent. It's still a yellow color, but you can see through it. It's weird. Not only that, but Honey's shell is peeling so badly that on the bottom there is a piece that if I pulled off her pink shell would be totally exposed. I've just left it. As for their behavior, they both are very active and seem strong. I have noticed an increase in Honey's appetite and a decrease in Mustard's. He still eats, but not w/the gusto that he used to.  Their vet doesn't always seem like he is confident about what he is talking about but unfortunately there are not many exotic vets in the area where I live. There are a million different suggestions all over the web and in the books that I have at home. Some contradicting each other. I read through quite a bit of the turtle FAQ's page and whoever was answering the questions seemed very knowledgeable. Please, I am open to any advice. My turtles are great and I have invested quite a bit of love, time, and money into their care. I'm desperate to get them healthy again.  Thank you for any suggestions you might have.  < Here is what I would do in your situation. It appears your turtles have a deficiency. Either the wrong light or the wrong food. First I would start with the tank. Make sure the tank is clean. Use a good filter and service it often. Change water before it starts to turn sour. Give them a good dry spot to bask under a good light that provides heat, UVA and UVB. Feed a commercial aquatic turtle food and supplement their feedings with mealworms, earthworms, crickets and kingworms. It your water is soft and acid like in the NW U.S. then I would add a tropical fish buffer to increase the pH and increase the calcium in the water. New turtles should have a sulfa block added to the water to prohibit the bacterial infections you are currently encountering.-Chuck>
Chuck, thank you so much for your suggestions. I wanted to let you know that I do have them in separate 15 gallon tanks (maybe this is not big enough). I buy bottled distilled water to fill their tanks.  < I would suggest adding a fish tank buffer to keep the pH above seven and increase the calcium levels in the water.>  I empty and clean their tanks and change their filter media every 30-45 days.  < I would do it more often until they are well, like every week.>  They each have a UVA/UVB light that is on for 12hrs a day along w/a basking lamp that is on for about 5hrs a day. I keep their water temperature at 76 degrees w/an underwater thermostat. Their basking area is usually between 85-88 degrees. I feed them a commercial turtle food and until recently it was every other day. I have tried every day since I've noticed them getting sick. About once a month I will buy them each a dozen or so guppies and every 3 months I'll split about 50 mealworms between them. I actually even feed them in a separate container in an attempt to keep their water cleaner. I have been adding StressCoat as a suggestion from their vet when last year I noticed their skin peeling. As for the Sulfa blocks....they eat them. Is that safe?  < Eating the sulfa blocks may be their way of expressing a need for minerals.>  I feel like my turtles may have picked up a bacterial infection this past fall when we were re-building their habitat. It took us longer than expected and they weren't exposed to the UVA/UVB lights as often as they should have been. In addition, I was using our tap water (which is well water) filtered through a Brita pitcher to feed them in rather than the bottled water and recently we were given a boil notice saying that our water may or may not have fecal bacteria in it. The Brita pitcher obviously can not filter this type of bacteria, so that's why I've gone to using the distilled water to feed them. I wonder about using Povidone/iodine solution to paint on their shells. Their vet said that it would be OK if I diluted it, but did not give me instructions on how to do so. Also, should I leave them in their water all the time, or should I be keeping them more dry? Their vet wasn't sure what to suggest. I really appreciate your help with this matter. Thanks again. < I would feed them a more varied diet with mealworms once a month instead of every three. Keeping the water cleaner will be a big plus. The minerals in the sulfa block are very beneficial. I would try and isolate it with some plastic mesh so the turtles can't get to it directly.-Chuck>

Basking for Sick Turtles Hi. I just got two baby red eared sliders (they are very small about 1 in and I just found out illegal). I really want them to do good in their new little habitat but today I noticed one of the turtles was sleeping on the basking rock (he was there all day yesterday too) I tired to put him in the water and he began to move a little but didn't use one of his legs and kept it in his shell. Eventually he moved it out of the shell and began to use it but he won't leave the basking rock. He looks fine, his shell is hard and he's green. Is there something wrong with him or is there something I should be doing?? Both of them seem not to eat much although this one more so. I tried to give them different things but they still only eat the floating pelts. The other turtle seems to be doing fine and is very active. Please help me out :( < When turtles get sick they tend to stay out of the water. I would recommend a high quality heat lamp so he can raise his body temperature. It would be the same as you getting a fever to kill the bacteria. Make sure that the basking spot can get up to 100 degrees F. When he gets too hot he can always go back into the water. I am afraid that your basking spot is not hot enough to raise his body temp. move the light closer or get a bigger light.-Chuck> 
Basking For a Sick Turtle II
Thanks so much!! Should I move the other turtle to a different cage though? <Respiratory infections can be contagious. If you have separate and adequate facilities then separate them. But don't do it if you only have one tank and one light though.-Chuck> 

New Red Eared Slider Hello, I just got a slider a week ago. Someone left him in a house once they got evicted, so I really don't know anything about him. I believe he is old and might be sick.  I am taking him to the vet in two days. He eats a lot and is pretty active, but I am a little scared when I pick him up. I heard they can bite. I really like him and want to take care of him. Do you have any suggestion on picking him up. I have to take him to his doctors appt. Should I be scared? Thank you Tammie <Red eared sliders can inflict a nasty bite when they are picked up. I would recommend that you hold him from the back side away from his mouth so he can't bite you. After holding your turtle you need to carefully wash you hands with warm soapy water to prevent you from getting sick. Your vet can get you set up on the right track. They are pretty easy to keep as long as a few requirements are being met.-Chuck>

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