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FAQs About Turtle Disease: Nutritional

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, SocialGrowths/Tumors, Infectious, Parasitic, References,
FAQs on:
Shell Rot, RES Disease, Turtle Respiratory Disease, Turtle Eye Disease,

Vitamins are of use for turtles and you

Red Ear Sliders are not feeding and are having swollen eyes    12/30/12
I have two red ear slider turtles for over 2 years now.. they were gifted to my daughter.. well that apart.. Its winter time here in Shanghai and the turtles have stopped feeding for more than a month.. now for the past week or more are having swollen eyes I used a CHLORTETRACYCLINE HYDROCHLORIDE eye ointment (0.5%) but really don't know if its helping as I don't see a significant difference. Also one of them is pretty much sinking when put is warm water and the other is a little tilting.. I am not able to find a suitable expert opinion here and am desperate for a solution.. please help.
<Will hold onto your message, hope one of our turtle folks responds soon.
Have you read here:
and the linked files above? Bob Fenner>
Red Ear Sliders are not feeding and are having swollen eyes    12/31/12

<Hi Arusha; Sue here with you.>
I have two red ear slider turtles for over 2 years now. They were gifted to my daughter. well that apart. It’s winter time here in Shanghai and the turtles have stopped feeding for more than a month.
<Are they indoor turtles? If so, weather shouldn’t have that much of an impact on their appetite. In the future, after one week of not eating, you should assume something’s not right and start taking steps right away to address it. That’s because by the time a turtle starts showing signs of illness, they’ve often already been ill for a long time.>
Now for the past week or more are having swollen eyes I used a CHLORTETRACYCLINE HYDROCHLORIDE eye ointment (0.5%) but really don’t know if it’s helping as I don’t see a significant difference.
<I wouldn’t be administering any antibiotics unless you know if and what type of infection they have. And in this case, the most likely reason for their swollen eyes is probably not an infection, but a Vitamin A deficiency. What kind of a diet have they been on? Read here about Vitamin A deficiencies –
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/turteyedisart.htm >
Also one of them is pretty much sinking when put is warm water and the other is a little tilting.
<What appears to me to have happened is that the turtles started out with a vitamin deficiency caused by an inadequate diet, and that this left untreated/unaddressed over time has caused them to be debilitated to the point that they are now less able to fight off other more serious illnesses. In particular, the turtle that’s tilting sounds like he/she may have acquired a respiratory infection.  Read this article and learn what other symptoms to be on the look-out for with a respiratory infection --
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/turtrespart.htm >
 I am not able to find a suitable expert opinion here and am desperate for a solution. please help.
<Arusha, given how long these turtles have been sick now, and because they appear to be getting worse, they should be seen by a vet.  Home remedies are good during initial stages of illness but once they start showing more serious signs of illness as yours are, there is really no good substitute for a vet. You should still administer home remedies, but only IN ADDITION to vet care.>
<Yes, ideally it would be great if you could find a vet with special expertise in turtles, but most qualified ‘general’ vets are more than capable of administering injectable vitamins (would recommend at least Vitamin A, possibly D as well); and also putting them on a course of antibiotics (depending on what they find). Often vets who treat birds, a more common pet, will be able to treat turtles. And if your vet has any specific questions about which antibiotics to administer or dosages, etc., they will usually have a resource they can contact. If not -- zoos, wildlife museums, nature centers, etc. might be able to direct them to a knowledgeable resource.>
<So … 1st get them to a vet ASAP. Injectable vitamins will be the most efficient, effective way at this point of giving them these vitamins, especially given they're not eating any more. Also -- only a vet can give them the kind of antibiotics they'll need if it turns out they also have come down with a systemic infection. >
<2nd ... get them out of the water ASAP. Water is a turtle’s worst enemy when they’re sick. Please read here under the section called “Immediate Treatment … Isolation and Dry-Dock” for instructions on how to do this --
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >
<When dry-docking, you MUST provide them with not only a source of heat but also a UVB light as well – in fact, even when they’re not sick they need this. Lack of UVB and/or basking under a warm, dry spot with UVB each day can also lead to vitamin deficiencies and illnesses.>
<You should also read another section in the Dry-docking link above called “Swollen or closed eyes”, and try some of the suggestions mentioned here as well. Once their appetite returns, I'd also recommend giving them a powdered vitamin supplement once a week also (they make them specially formulated for turtles). But again – this should NOT replace a trip to the vet.>
<You’re welcome Arusha. Because you didn’t mention anything about their diet, care or environment, I’m also going to give you this link to our general care guide --
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<Turtles don’t need much but they must have everything mentioned in this article to stay healthy. But for now until they’re well again, keep them out of their normal aquarium and follow the sick instructions above. Feel free to write us again if you have any questions about the information in those links. Good luck; I hope this helps!>
<<Excellent Sue; thank you. BobF>>
Re: Red Ear Sliders are not feeding and are having swollen eyes  1/2/13

Dear Sue,
Thanks for your time and help.
<You're welcome!>
Yes I have dry docked them.. but they are not feeding at all...
<They likely won’t get their appetite back until they get the treatment(s) they need and start to feel better. Just keep trying during the time when you put them in a shallow container of water each day to drink and/or poop.>
They didn’t feed last winter as well.. but they got along super fine..
<I'm glad it turned out o.k.; but again if they’re indoor turtles, while they may not be as hungry as they might be during the warmer months, it’s not normal at all for them to go all winter without eating. That should only happen when they're out in the wild and hibernating in the cold weather, but not when you're keeping them as pets. >
<Though the main reason now for their lack of appetite appears to be that they're sick, one possible reason why they may have initially lost their appetite is if they hadn't been spending enough time out of the water each day basking under the heat and UVB lights. Both heat and UVB will stimulate their appetite and is very important to them for other reasons as well. Make sure you're providing enough of a temperature variance between the two environments to incentivize them to get out of the water and bask each day. Your water should be around 68 degrees or so (F) and the "dry land" temperature around 88 - 90 degrees or so (F). >
<Also, definitely read over the last link I gave you to the general care guide to make sure you have everything in place that they need to stay healthy – especially the right diet, not overfeeding, clean water, and an adequate sized warm, dry basking area with overhead heat and UVB.>
well I will take them to a vet and pray they get well soon.
<Sounds good; I hope they feel better soon, too! Try to get them into a vet as soon as possible.>
Thanks a lot once again..will trouble u again if I need more help and guidance.
<No problem; that’s what we’re here for!>
Happy new year.. have a great year ahead
<You too!!>
Re: Red Ear Sliders are not feeding and are having swollen eyes     1/7/13

Thanks for your help.
<You’re welcome, Arusha. Hope they’re continuing to get better!>
I have got some medicines which need to be put into water and allow them to be in it for about 4 hrs each day
<I’m not familiar with any Vitamin A treatment that gets dissolved in water. I checked with another crew member and he wasn’t either. What was the specific medication the vet prescribed for you? It would be interesting to know; the main concern being that the medication would get too diluted in water. Even topical medication that gets applied directly to the eye is often not as effective as Vitamin A taken internally.>
<But … on the other hand … as long as you continue to see your turtles improving, then this is all that matters!! :) >
and then dry dock them again.. seems to be working I got the more sick one to open one eye and the other had both its eyes open.. fingers crossed.. have been asked not to feed them for a week more... well I am hoping they both get better.. will keep you posted.
Thanks once again.. truly appreciate it
<No problem; happy to help. We’ll keep our fingers crossed, too! ~Sue>

Red-Eared Slider question about eating decorative plastic plants 7/3/2011
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a Red Eared Slider named Lucy. Got her around Halloween of last year, after my previous slider died. (Previous one was a female named Shelldon, who had no eyes and no tail, along with an asymmetrical shell.
I'd gotten her as a teeny, illegally-small turtle from a friend who'd bought her for her niece. Shelldon died suddenly at about 7.5 years of age.
I found her at the bottom of her tank. She looked strangely peaceful. I took her to my turtle vet to see if they could see any obvious reason, but they could not. They assured me that it was likely a miracle she'd even lived that long. I donated her body to a local veterinary school. A week or two later, the vet's office called to see if I wanted Lucy, who'd been surrendered to them with a bad respiratory infection, which was cleared up long ago).
<That was very nice of them>
Tank set-up is pretty good, if a bit smaller than I'd like, at 55 gallons-ish. Lucy is 8-9" shell-length.
<She's good-sized!>
I have a UVB light and a heat lamp and don't use a heater anymore (thanks to reading your site). Her filter is sufficient and I do periodic water-quality testing, although I am never sure how reliable the results are. She has a basking platform and eats like a pig, typical Red Eared Slider.
<So far, so good>
The problem is, I had some floating decorative plastic plants in the tank and in March I noticed that she had been eating them! They were sort of flimsy, in that they had a rather filigree-type look, lots of tiny sub-pieces, if you will. As soon as I discovered her bad habit, I removed all plants from the tank (there is also no gravel, never has been).
Previously I'd seen her eating this felt-like stuff I'd put on her basking platform, which I'd gotten to help Shelldon get up onto it, since the adhesive-y/felt-y stuff that had come on the platform was long gone. So I got rid of that too, and now use what is basically "boat tape," waterproof stuff with a bit of traction.
<Amazing what they'll eat, isn't it?>
For a time, I found little pieces of the plants in her poop, but figured that was "normal," all things considered. Then I found no pieces after a time, but she eats her poop (gross, but also pretty normal, I assume) so I wasn't always able to truly monitor. Fast-forward to about a week ago and I saw a bit more of the plastic bits in her poop. That means that almost THREE MONTHS after I removed all that material, she is STILL digesting it.
<Yes, non-digestible parts will impact in various places in the gut and not move for long periods of time>
Should I be alarmed?
<Not alarmed, just a tiny bit concerned>
Should I take her for an x-ray or something?
<An x-ray might show pieces of foreign material in the gut, but it's not going to show the conditions with any clarity. For that you'd need a colonoscopy which you're unlikely to be able to get at a local vet's office. Certainly not here in Torrance.>
Not sure what to do, as she is acting normally and has been all these months.
<Here's what I think you should do: Add some Metamucil to Lucy's diet.
About a half teaspoon rolled and mixed in with some chopped chicken.
Feed her that in a separate bowl once a day for three days. Metamucil won't have the same effect as it does on humans because they're diet is already high in fiber, but in concentrated amount it will make Lucy's bowels move a little faster and it may whisk some of any remaining debris through here system.>
<Beyond that, I'd just keep one eyebrow arched for a few more months. If she's active and eating I'd just let it pass (bad-pun-alert)>
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
<well, there you go>
Thank you so much for your website,
<Thanks again>
Linda Abbott

Re: Red-Eared Slider question about eating decorative plastic plants7/15/11
Hi Darrel.
<Hiya Linda>
Thank you for your time and for the advice. I actually followed your suggestion and gave Lucy the 1/2 teaspoon of Metamucil with chopped chicken 4 times over 5 days, instead of just 3 times in 3 days.
<Still good>
here's what I found (and I saved all the plastic decorative plant pieces I recovered, though she does eat her poop so I may not have gotten it all; I got all that I found in her "diner" though--the smaller bin where I feed her):
Day 1 of 5: I found one piece of plant floating in her tank. Must have come from some poop that she'd eaten. It was all that was left and the first piece I'd seen in several days, I think.
I "dosed" her, then found about 6 pieces of plant (various sizes). Day 2 no "dose" given
Day 3 of 5: about 6 pieces again. Day 4 of 5: about 7 pieces. Day 5 of 5: can't find the baggie but I think it was maybe 1 piece. Might have been zero, which is why I have no baggie (my memory isn't what it used to be and this exercise ended Sunday).
<The important thing is that she's not impacted. The plastic isn't BAD for her as long as it doesn't block her up>
I will send a picture to give you some idea of average plastic plant piece size as compared to a quarter.
Also, she's been shedding quite a bit for some time. My other turtle, Shelldon, rarely shed, at least not a noticeable amount. Am thinking this is because she is being overfed and is growing too quickly? Or is it because her tank water could be bad? It looks good, but I know that's not everything. I could test it in a bit.
<Don't bother testing it. Just siphon out half and replace it. The nice thing about turtles is that you don't have to condition the incoming water. Tap water is just fine>
Please let me know what you think and thank you again,
<What I think: That you're doing a good job. Lucy is going to be fine. Now it's time to relax and just let her get back to what passes for 'normal' in turtle land and lastly, I think it's time that we stop electing idiots to Congress and then complain that Congress is filled with idiots. But that's just me>
Linda abbot
good ol' Torrance
<Good - better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, too!>

my turtle may have metabolic bone disease  07/23/09
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a red eared slider turtle that is 3 years old and have noticed something wrong. I've noticed that my turtle sometime jerks its head or makes a twitch like movement. Another thing I have noticed is my turtle is walking with its right front leg bent back and want to know if it is broken or fractured or anything like that having to do with the disease. I read an article saying these are some of the symptoms of the metabolic bone disease.
What can I do to care for my turtle if it has this disease?
<The first thing I should say is that any serious illness should be treated medically. A qualified veterinarian who diagnosed MBD would give your turtle a calcium and vitamin injection and you'd see a marked improvement within days. Treating at home will take longer and there is a risk:
Reptiles and fish are very stoic animals, which is to say that they tend to hide their sicknesses for as long as possible. We often don't see any outward signs until the animal is VERY sick .. and sometimes by that time, it's too late.>
<In any case, your first action should be to remove him from an aquatic environment and house him someplace warm and dry. The hard part is getting the calcium into him, since normally turtles eat in water and the water tends to wash away any coatings or powders. Some turtles will eat cheese or bite into yogurts or cabbage while on land and all of those contain calcium.>
<Get some calcium tablets from the local drug or vitamin store (pure calcium carbonate is best, ground oyster shells, etc. but even if they contain phosphorous or magnesium it's OK - just make sure calcium is the primary ingredient) and crush the tablets into a powder and coat whatever food he'll bite into. Maybe a piece of liver would entice him. I've even had turtles that will simply eat a vitamin tablet -- there's just no
accounting for taste.>
<The problem though, which I've already mentioned, is that this a painfully slow way of getting a relatively small amount of calcium into an animal that very likely has a large deficiency. It would take months of this kind of care plus a balanced diet and plenty of natural sunlight to begin to see a difference... and as I also stated earlier, this will only work out if it's not already too late, so again I suggest you consider seeing if you can find a Veterinarian.>
<If you read enough literature on the diseases and ailments of fish and reptiles you will see a constant thread running through everything:>
<Sorry to shout like that, but it never seems to sink in to people: One trip to a veterinarian for a relatively simple procedure will cost more than the sum total of proper care for several years. Preventing is FAR cheaper than curing.>
<Back on topic ... Liver is high in vitamins and will easily accept a coating of calcium and if you chop it into small enough chunks that he can swallow, you may be able to deliver enough calcium to start correcting the immediate problems. Better care and diet will address the longer term issues. Please read:

Turtle care question: yellow membrane and swollen eyes 11/28/07 Hello Crew, <Hiya Miranda! - Darrel here> A friend of mine recently got three baby turtles. I have turtles too, so I helped him set everything up. We've been watching the water temp & quality, the basking area, the food, and two of the turtles are doing fine, but another one is sick. Its eyes are closed most of the time, and when opened, they have a yellow membrane (sort of like a 'contact lens') covering the entire eye. It is also very lethargic. HELP! <OK!> What's wrong with it? <What's wrong is most likely an eye infection. I know that seems obvious, but the obvious is always the best place to start> What can I do about it? <Eye infections in water turtles is usually a sign of poor nutrition - specifically a vitamin imbalance. A lack of Vitamin A is the primary cause but we rarely see a lack of only ONE vitamin, so let's assume that this little guys needs a complete vitamin supplement in his diet. Make sure his basic diet is either a high quality Koi pellet or a commercial turtle food - Tetra's Repto-Min is the one I'd recommend. Meanwhile he's going to need a vitamin SUPPLEMENT from the pet store. The question is how to deliver the vitamins. If he's still eating you can coat his food in either a supplement powder or drop some liquid supplement on it. If he's too weak to eat then the next course of action is to either try to pry his little mouth open to more of less force a drop of liquid vitamin in once a day ... or a trip to the veterinarian for some injectibles.> Is it contagious? <No. Yes and Yes. NO in the sense that hypovitaminosis is not "contagious." YES in the sense that if one is subject to it, it's likely that all are getting insufficient nutrition as well -- it's just that the smallest or weakest show the signs first. The final YES is that any sickness or situation causing weakness in a fish or reptile opens the door WIDE OPEN for secondary problems, such as a fungal infection and that is VERY contagious. For this reason, we'll treat all animals in the collection> <One, ensure that the diet is corrected. Two, add a vitamins or treat for that condition. Three make sure they are getting adequate exposure to UV-A and UV-B light. Four, keep them warm and out of water except for a few minutes a day to bathe, drink and eat -- bacteria and fungus LOVE warmth and wetness!> You've been very helpful in the past with my other turtle questions, so I'm hoping you can help me make Felicity (the turtle's name) feel all better. <If best wishes were fruit, you'd be swimming in a banana smoothie right now, Miranda! Get started on the treatment, look for signs of improvement (or signs of further problems) and write back, OK?> Thanks in advance! <yer welcome!>

Turtle Eating Gravel  1/2/07 Thanks for your prompt reply Chuck. I forgot to ask one other thing.... She also seems to have an affinity for eating the gravel on the floor of her tank... What would be the reason for that??? This can't be normal.... or is it? < Usually when turtles start to eat at gravel and wood they are really going after the algae that is growing on it. This is a sign of a vitamin deficiency. Offer green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. Try offering some reptile vitamins too.-Chuck>

Turtle With Prolapsed Colon  8/28/06 Hi, I have a red ear slider for about 10 years now, and recently I saw a mushroom looking thing came out of his butt. It was dark brown and it seems to be attached to him. It was very creepy and I'm not quite sure what it was. But after a while it went back inside again. Would you happen to know what it is? Please help my turtle and thank you! Vince <When turtles eat a big meal all at once then there is a tremendous pressure put on the rest of the turtle's digestive tract to make room for that big meal. The result is a quick and painful bowl movement that sometimes drags some of the colon out with it. You are lucky that it went back in. Sometimes a t vet is needed to stitch them back up. Feed smaller portions and more often. Your turtle is an adult and should be getting almost 80% vegetable matter in his diet.-Chuck>

Sulfa Block for Turtle  6/6/06 I have a beautiful two year old male RES.  About a  year ago I put a sulfa block in  his water to help keep him healthy.   The block was in the shape of a turtle.  After it had dissolved to a  smaller size  (maybe the size of a lima bean), my turtle ate  it!   For about five days afterwards he  had the worst diarrhea  imaginable.  I haven't tried a sulfa block since then.  Is there any way I can keep sulfa in the water without tempting my turtle?  Also,  are there any vitamins or other antibiotics I can put in his water  to help  keep him healthy? Elizabeth Walley < When a turtle eats a Sulpha block it is a sign that the turtle needs additional minerals in its diet. Add some green leafy vegetables like spinach and Kale. They are a good source of calcium. Offer some other item like insects and worms.-Chuck>

Wood Turtle With Bumpy Shell  - 05/22/2006 This is my turtle Woody, a north American wood turtle, if you look at her shell, it looks really bumpy, is this normal? - Celia < The bumpy shell is caused by a diet too high in protein. This is usually seen in tortoises that are fed monkey chow. As turtles grow they require less protein and more vegetable matter. You probably kept your turtle on a hatchling type diet too long.-Chuck>

Water Turtle With Swollen Eyes - 03/18/2006 My turtle {Florida yellow bellied turtle} has sore swollen eyes with over a week, she's not eating. I have put water freshener into the water but it is doing no good. What will I do. I have no vet in my area. < Change 50% of the water, vacuum the gravel, and clean the filter. Add a ZooMed Dr Turtle Sulfa Block to the water. Get ZooMed Turtle Eye Drops for the eyes. Check the temperature of the basking site. Should be 85 to 90 F. If it is a smaller turtle then get ZooMed Aquatic turtle food for hatchlings. If is a larger turtle then get the adult formula. They are different. Adults need more vitamins, minerals and a more vegetarian diet than younger turtles. A vitamin deficiency has caused the eye problems. After the eyes have cleared then your turtle should start eating again.-Chuck>

Turtle With Prolapsed Colon  12/15/05 Ok, I've had my snapper turtle (I think its an alligator snapper) for like 1-2 years now.  I got him when he was small, anyway, today I am cleaning his tank and when I picked him up he had what appears to be a pink sack on the bottom of him, near his butt. Please tell me what's wrong and write back ASAP. < When we keep pets we usually feed them once a day. Sometimes this can be a pretty big meal. Especially when the turtle is acting like it is starving. When turtles eat a lot at one time then this puts stress on the rest of the digestive tract. Instead of small bowel movements many times a day you get one large one that may take some of the colon tissue with it. I believe that this is what you are seeing. Try smaller feedings  many times per day to see if will go back in. If not then you may need to see a vet for further advice. Try the Calif Turtle and Tortoise club at tortoise.org for possible other solutions.-Chuck>

Worried about a constipated turtle  11/20/05 Hi- I'm taking care of a little turtle who is having a big problem with constipation. I have no idea of his species or if his owner kept him incorrectly and gave me bad instructions. This is him: [Unable to display image] Right now he has the run of my office, a 'hot spot' with UV lamp, there's a heater in the room keeping it at a nice warm room temperature, and I've been weaning him off the Boston Live Lettuce his owner's been exclusively feeding him and introducing grapes and veggies slowly.  I've soaked him in warm water and he extends his cloaca, sticks his legs out, dunks his head, drinks a lot of water, and seems to strain. It's been several weeks without more than a small inconsequential poop and I'm starting to get worried. Today he strained to go for a half hour and seemed to extend either fecal matter or some inside bit and then retract it back in. Any advice on habitat, species, or care for this constipation problem? I'd appreciate anything you can offer- I've grown very attached to the little booger. Richard <Unfortunately our number one Chelonian expert is out (Chuck Rambo) and number two (Gage)? Please take a read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/chelonians.htm the linked files on turtle disease, systems, feeding... Bob Fenner> 

Slim the (Red Ear) Slider  11/20/05 We recently bought our oldest son a Red Ear Slider around Labor Day. Since then it has seemed to do very well, even though it eats very little. <How large is it? Is it being kept inside or outside? How large of an enclosure?> We were told that they do not eat very much, but it seems like he hardly eats at all. We feed him Turtle pellets about every other day because his food always never seems to get eaten. <If it's cold in the room, the turtle won't be very active, and thus won't eat much> Also in the last week we've started to notice his shell becoming covered with a white almost powder like film. I clean his tank about 2 times a month. I tried to clean off the shell and when it gets wet the film seems to go away but when he basks in the light it returns when he is dry. <Get an anti-biotic cream for the turtle's shell from a pet store or online vendor, and follow the instructions. Also, be sure to change the water every day or every other day until the bacterial infection has subsided. You're also going to want to vary the diet beyond just pellets - feed the turtle meaty foodstuffs a couple of times weekly> We do have city water and I did not know if I need to be putting something in the water to neutralize it or not. He also has a few very small spots on the bottom of his shell where it seems to be flaking. Is that shell rot or is it normal?? <Unless your water is exceptionally high in chlorine, I wouldn't worry about it. The shell should not be flaking. Buy a lamp and purchase a UV incandescent lamp, and put that over an area where the turtle can come out of the water and bask. Also, take the turtle outside for half an hour of sunlight each day, just make sure you keep an eye on it. Turtles need at least half an hour of sunlight every other day, more if possible> Thanks  <Anytime> Melanie <M. Maddox> 

Soft Shell on Non Soft Shell Turtles  11/10/05 I have two baby painted turtles they are about 3 months old. There are two things that concern me and was wondering if you could help. The first one (which isn't serious because I believe I know what's wrong) is that the bottom of the shells are very very soft. I believe its because they are still small and are still growing or it could be because they just shed and we weren't aware of it. < Soft shells are never a good sign. Make sure they have a good basking site to get out on.>  <<Kind of like how soft teeth are never a good sign?  MH>> And the second problem is. The one turtle has a lump on the right side of its neck. The problem didn't start until after he ate guppies (we believe). We know he ate the fish because the one guppy in the tank was pregnant and when we looked there was only 1 baby guppy and I know that guppies have more than one baby. Now I believe that the lump is from the scales of the fish, I think the turtle is too young to digest the scales. This happened to my snake and in the end the lump killed him.  I don't want this to happen to my baby turtle and there are no vets around here that specialize in turtles. I also believe he may have a cold because his eye is very infected. We are already taking care of the eye, and we are putting calcium blocks in the water for the shell. But the most concern is the lump. Please help ASAP. Also my other turtle the abandoned one, the shell rot is gone. Thanks a million :) Sincerely, Jessi Rae < The soft shells and lumps in the neck may both be a sign of a vitamin deficiency. Get some reptile vitamins and increase the warmth on the basking site. Get a thermometer and check it. It should be around 90 F.-Chuck> 

Turtle Question 7/9/05 My turtle has white chalky feces.. what could this mean? < This is the result of diet. Sometimes the binder of some prepared turtle foods have clay as a binder. Add some live food to your turtles diet like kingworms, crickets and earthworms and you should see a change.-Chuck>
Russian Tortoise with Chalky Fecal Matter 7/9/05
Thank you for your response.  I should have told you that it's a Russian turtle.  Does the same rule apply? < Somewhat. They like more vegetable matter in their diet but they can still eat the worms.-Chuck> Russian Tortoise Problems 7/11/05 Thank you.  Last question... I promise!  The Russian Turtle has white, chalky diarrhea.. same solution?  (Sorry.. I'm researching this for a friend who didn't give me all this information at the same time.  Again.. last question.) Thank you Chuck!!!! < A Russian tortoise with diarrhea is not good. Unlike turtles that are in the water the entire time you don't have to worry about them getting dehydrated. If is a different story with land turtles. Diarrhea can quickly kill a tortoise if it lose to much fluid. I would recommend that your friend take the Russian turtle to a vet for a complete check up. Your friend has no idea on how to care for this animal and this little info I have given you really isn't enough for long term success.-Chuck>

Small Australian Turtle Needs Help Hi, I recently got a penny turtle, it had been run over by a bike and I was given it. I think its a *Emydura subglobosa* but I don't have a photo of its belly yet so I've done a bit of guessing with the keys. I have a small tank 21x35cm (will be getting a bigger one, just not yet), a basking rock, UVA/UVB lamp and am trying to give it a varied diet (carrot, fish pellets, mince). The temperature ranges from 79F at night to 82F during the day. Yesterday morning I noticed it didn't open one of its eyes for quite some time, and when it did there seemed to be a whitish lesion on it. On closer inspection with the naked eye I can't tell if its on the eyeball or upper eyelid. The turtle scratches it periodically with its front limb, it doesn't blink the eye as often as the other one and seems to have a reduced range of movement in that eye. To me it seems like an ulcer - whether bacterial or fungal I can't tell and I'm not sure it was traumatic as I don't remember it being there when I first got it. I'll try to attach a photo of it. No vets are open today on Sunday. My question is -are human eye antibacterial creams/ointments too strong/too weak for a turtle? <ZooMed already makes eye drops for turtles with infected eyes like yours. Human eye drops are usually weak boric acid solutions. Call the vet tomorrow and get a recommendation to be sure.> Would they be worth trying if I can't get to the vet until tomorrow? < Before you go to the vet, get some Repti Turtle Eye Drops by ZooMed. Follow the directions on the package. Make sure the basking spot gets up to about 85 F. Your turtle may have a Vitamin A deficiency and need some food that is high in vitamin A. Try some kale or spinach in addition to a commercial turtle diet. Add some earthworms too when your turtle is better and able to eat.-Chuck> cheers Colleen

Re: res turtle and Ick hi I have a RES turtle and I feed him goldfish feeders.  About 2 weeks ago I noticed that the fish had Ick. I called the vet and they told me to clean everything In the tank with a diluted bleach mix and not to give him anymore of those fish.  I do all of that and I bought new fish. I bought the fish from a different store in case that was the problem. The fish look fine when I put them in the tank. I noticed that the fish now have Ick. How do I get rid of Ick for good? <feeder fish live a stressful life, no way to really get rid of Ich without quarantining and treating for Ich before feeding them to the turtle.> Is Ick bad for my res turtle?  Could my turtle be infected with Ick and is giving it to the fish?  and if so how do I treat my turtle? <I have never heard of turtles getting Ich, but I'm sure it cannot be great for them.> and one more question.  can older bigger res turtles live with younger smaller res turtle in the same tank? will the bigger one try to eat to smaller? <should be ok, just make sure the smaller one is getting enough food.  If the larger one shows any aggression I would separate them.> thanks for the time cause it seems like none of the vets around here know that much. <Honestly, I would start feeding the turtles prepared turtle food, frozen food, veggies if they will take them, and worms (I get mine from a bait shop).  That way you will not have to worry about dirty fish.  Best Regards, Gage>

Turtle Problem My friends neighbor had 2 turtles. About the size slightly smaller than a quarter. He kept them in a cage much too small with filthy water no food for a week, no light, and kept them outside. Due to there poor nutrition and surroundings one died, I have the other now and I think he is OK, but his shell is growing in an odd shape and it is hard to get him to feed, I was worried and put him in his own tank just in case he had something that could spread to my healthy turtles. Is this OK, is he going to be OK, what about his shell??? Rachel <<Dear Rachel, the shell problem sounds like a vitamin deficiency, probably due to the previous bad diet your turtle has had. Try to feed him vitamin enriched foods, e.g. soak his pellets in Selcon, (available from your LFS) or try to find a store near you that specializes in reptiles, and pick up some vitamins for reptiles from them, maybe also you can find him some live food, most reptile places sell all kinds of worms, larvae, etc. But make sure he keeps getting the pellets soaked in vitamins, and keep his water as clean as possible. I am no expert on turtle diseases, so if you find a good reptile store, they can look at him for you and give you some advice. In the meantime, keep him in his own tank! He sounds healthy, though, but get a second opinion from someone who can actually see him...by the way, you are doing a wonderful thing for this poor little guy. Good luck! -Gwen>> 

Turtle with Leg Problems Good day, I got your email address from a web site about turtles. We have 3 young turtles (a red painted 2 inches, a yellow Cooter 3 inches and a Mississippi Map turtle an inch and a half).  The first 2 are perfectly healthy but the Map turtle is small for its age and it stopped using his front legs. Do you have any idea as to what is wrong?  Or can you direct me to someone that might be able to give us a clue as to what is wrong with him.  We cannot find a reptile vet in our area. I certainly thank you for taking the time to read this and hopefully give us some insight as to what is wrong with him. Thanks, Bruce < A deficiency of vitamins B12 may manifest itself by paralysis of the legs. The cure is to present this vitamin orally, plus supplementary calcium and trace amounts of copper sulphate. Check out the pet shops that deal in herps and I am sure they sell a vitamin supplement for herps.-Chuck>

I have a yellow belly slider  which I think is a year old or so (he is about 2 1/2 inches by 2 inches). I feed him 4  pellets of food and dried shrimp fish treats. The bottom of his shell has pinkish areas that his previous owner said was from the owner before her not taking care of his water. They look to me like they are slowly going away. I wondered if this was possible? < Turtles may suffer from vitamin deficiencies or poor sanitation. These problems reflect on the turtle's shell. In many cases the shell can show signs of improvement when conditions are favorable for the turtle.> Also his shell is constantly peeling not badly but a little here and there. Is that normal? < The shell should shed in stages over a few weeks. If you turtle is growing fast then it could happen fairly quickly and seem like it is continuously molting.> Today I noticed his skin on his front legs and neck was peeling a lot but it didn't seem to bother him. So I cleaned his tank which was already clean but I did it anyway just in case. I put him in a dry area under a lamp because he was acting very strange. He is starting to act normal its been an hour or so and he is getting back to himself. Do you know what caused this ? < This shedding is probably caused by the turtle's rapid growth. This is to be somewhat expected in a young turtle.> I bought a shell conditioner that I put on him once a week is that good for him? < Probably can't hurt as long as you follow the directions on the package.> I just wanted to say that my turtle is the best friend. I never knew they could have such personality! I take him to work with me he  has a small one gallon tank on my desk. He has started to like going and swims happily all day. He lets me know if he wants less water and to bask in the light by scratching on the  tank wall. he is so sweet and loves to be petted. I want to make sure he's happy and healthy. please email me back as soon as you can . thanks again-Nikki < With proper care your turtle should live for many years.-Chuck>

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