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FAQs About Soft/Shell Rot, Conditions In Turtles 9

Related Articles: Shell Rot in Turtles, Treating Common Illnesses of the Red Ear Slider (& other Emydid Turtles) by Darrel Barton, The Care and Keeping of the Red Eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans by Darrel Barton, Red Ear Sliders, Turtles, Amphibians, Red Eared Slider Care,


Related FAQs: Shell Rot 1, Shell Rot 2, Shell Rot 3, Shell Rot, Conditions 4, Shell Conditions 5, Shell Conditions 6, Shell Conditions 7, Shell Conditions 8, Shell Conditions 10, Shell Conditions 11, Shell Conditions 12, Shell Conditions 13, Shell Conditions 14, Shell Conditions 15, Shell Conditions 16, Shell Conditions 17, & Turtles, Turtles 2, Turtle Identification, Turtle Behavior, Turtle Compatibility, Turtle Selection, Turtle Systems, Turtle Feeding, Turtle Disease, Turtle Disease 2, Turtle Disease 3, Turtle Reproduction, Amphibians, Other Reptiles,

Painted Turtle Problems... shell 5/23/10
<Hiya - Darrel here>
First off, sorry if this jumps around a little. I'm sure there would have been a better way to organize this all.
<Not to work, Heather!! My mind is like a steel trap!>
<[Editor's note: Yes, his mind IS like a steel trap - everything that goes in, comes out mangled]>
We have an adult female painted turtle named Rembrandt (thought she was a he until he laid eggs!) my step-son found at a park about a year ago. We had her for about 3-4 months and I noticed some white spots on her. I had been doing a lot of research on turtles because I wanted to make sure we did everything right. I took her to the vet and he said she was a good weight and size and that she did indeed have a small case of shell rot. At the time it was just a little on the edges with a small spot about the size of a pencil tip here and there. He got rid of the slightly "mushy" very edge of her shell on the back right of her top shell. Gave us Betadine solution to put on twice a day and told us to keep her in a dry place for part of the day.
<Sounds like a good start, but I'd have had her out of the water ALL day except for feeding time.>
Each day for a couple of months I had religiously taken her out of her tank, dried her off, put the Betadine on her, and had her crawling around in the bathtub. It didn't really look like it was getting any better or worse for that matter. I wasn't sure what I was looking for it to do. We had about 20 gallons of water in the tank, a 75w heat bulb and a uvb light with 40 gal filtration. We changed our water changing habits making sure that we did a 50% water replacement more often and changing the entire tank water more frequently as well as change the filter more often. We are also using a water conditioner and Nutrafin Water Clean. When we first got her we could not get her to eat the ReptoMin and gave her shrimp. We've later found out that shrimp were packed with bacteria and could have actually aided in the bacteria growth! Yikes! She finally got used to eating ReptoMin and she eats this exclusively. We tried the meal worms and she didn't take to those very well.
<ReptoMin is a fully balanced diet for her. It is essentially identical to Koi pellets, which is what I feed my hard shelled water turtles. They're nutritious and fully balanced AND fare less expensive>
I'd noticed that that the bottom of her shell became more cloudy colored. I started to worry that the shell rot was getting worse!!! I decided to start putting her in the tub again as we had some more Betadine left and this time moved the heat light into the bathroom while she was in there (originally the vet said it wasn't necessary and that she could be without the light for the time she was in the tub drying out). I noticed that she would dry out and there was white residue on her. There doesn't seem to be any soft spots on her though. There are still the little white spots on her shell here and there the size of a pencil tip and somewhat scratch off with my nail.
<The treatment isn't very effective>
I then started to research the "whiteness" that later developed on her shell thinking it wasn't shell rot but rather something else. I found some info on problems with minerals in the water. I realized that last year our water softener died on us. We've not replaced it yet. We've since increased our filtration to 80 gals (2 - 40 gal filters). When the water evaporates there is a "ring around the tank" and also if any water splashes on tank lid it dries and there are white spots. So to me I wonder if that is what the white on her shell is.
<You'd be surprised home many times I get an emergency call about white spots that turn out to be just water spots & mineral deposits, so yes, it's possible>
Her shell is not soft and when it dries out a paper thin layer can be easily peeled away with needle tipped tweezers to reveal a more "colorful" shell below but still the underbelly is not very vibrant. However then it would get all cloudy again within a number of days. I know they say "do not peel away any of the shell" and I feel awful for doing it.
<Yes, it's generally a bad idea. Things that are supposed to shed will shed naturally - the underlying material isn't "ready" when the scutes first start to loosen.>
But when it came off it was very thin and somewhat brittle. Somewhat difficult to explain so hopefully you understand.
<You're explaining it perfectly>
However, there was one small area that is right by her front right leg that when that dried layer was removed it reveled a very vibrant color of green and red. But then I noticed this color was gone a day or two later!
<This is natural for turtles her age. The colors darken as they age and when new shell is exposed it almost immediately darkens to match the other areas>
Now it is a cloudy white color with a red color behind it. More pink like. Almost like bone. I fear that that little layer was not just a paper thin layer but rather one two many layers. There is no bleeding. Does seem to bother her if I touch it.
<There are several possibilities here, Heather. The worse case is that she's developed and infection that has become septic (spread to her blood and therefore to all organs in the body). The telltale evidence is that shell, skin and/or bones start to take on a pink hue to them and the pink looks like it's coming from "underneath" rather than on the surface. This requires an immediate trip to the vet and a strong case of injectible and oral antibiotics.>
<On the other hand, this could be a case of shell damage from the (suspected) fungus. When the scute material (the plates that make of the shell) is damaged and dies for some reason, the area that dies sheds the last scute and what you see underneath is indeed bone, which '¦ surprisingly '¦ looks like bone. Beige with just a tiny bit of pink.>
<Turtles with a dead scute can go on to live happy and productive lives -- they scute area simply needs to be cleaned with peroxide and alcohol weekly to prevent algae from growing into the bone.>
She is very active. She swims and eats just great.
<both good signs>
What is it that we are doing wrong? I'm sure we could clean the water more often even and change the filters even more.
Could it be that she has mineral deposits? I have noticed that the edges of her shell where she originally had the shell rot are really hard and they are off white.
<It could be, but at this point it sounds like it would be a serious case>
Almost like how you get lime build up around a faucet.
The cloudiness on the underbelly is off white as well. I'm wondering if she needs to go back to the vet or if this is common with shell rot that it just takes a very long time to shed that edge off and get a "fresh start". I would like to try to correct any of our problems before taking her back into the vet just to get whatever meds and then it only be a band aid for a problem that ends up persisting. I will try to take pictures and send them if you think it is necessary. Please let me know if you need any additional information.
<If I were to take one guess, it would be mineral deposits. BUT, as you said, there are more than a few slightly different symptoms, so it's best not to guess.>
<Here's what I'd do: First, read the enclosed link on treating illnesses. Especially the part about warm, dry isolation. Even though we don't know what's wrong with Rembrandt, everything that COULD be bothering her gets worse if she stays warm & moist and gets better if she stays warm & dry. As long as she gets a shallow bowl of water for 5 or 10 minutes a day in order to drink, poop and eat, she can spend months out of water. She won't LIKE that (especially if it's just mineral deposits after all) but it's safe for her. The next thing I'd do is see that she gets some natural UV (sunlight) every day. I'm talking about direct, natural sunlight, as in taking her for a walk for 15 to 20 minutes a day. Both of these things will promote her own natural healing>
<The key to water spots or mineral deposits is that they're right on or near the surface and respond well to cleaning. Mix some household vinegar and lemon juice (50/50 mix) and place some on a cotton swab and then gently scrub a few spots on her shell. Let her air dry naturally and repeat again in an hour. After two treatments, a water spot will be gone or show remarkable relief.>
<Lastly, no don't wait to fix whatever might be wrong with the environment. Fix Rembrandt first. The symptoms you have described are just varied enough that it's worth a trip to the vet. If it is a bacterial infection it's not getting better and will get worse untreated.>
<Two links: One on treatment (warm, dry isolation) and another on general care. Match up your care against the guidelines and see if anything can be improved>
Concerned New Turtle Owner,
<treatment: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >
<General Care: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

Re: Painted Turtle Problems 5/24/10
Thanks for the info Darrel!
<Yer welcome!>
I've taken some pictures today.
<She's a pretty girl>
I've included different ones so as to illustrate the concerns I have. Hopefully they are clear enough. The bright white (or at least seemingly bright white) spots tend to really show up the drier she is.
<From here, those white spots look like chips in the very outer skin of the scutes. Very common and nothing to worry about>
This is evident in the different bottom shell shots.
The area on her belly you will notice looks very cloudy and it almost looks like its something under the top layer.
<Or the inside of the surface keratin is discolored>
However, like I'd mentioned before, after peeling away that very outer brittle layer (shame on me) it still is cloudy underneath. Is this from poor water and "stains"? Or is this a terrible infection?
<Infections don't present that way normally. For some odd reason, I'm thinking a calcium deficiency>
I also showed the site of the original shell rot and how it has become a very hard yellowish color. Is this a sign that it has never healed or is this a normal healing process? I also took pictures showing her eyes and beak so that you can see how clear they are. She is fast when I put her down to crawl around. She tries to climb quite vigorously.
<My guess is that she's generally healthy!>
I feel terrible about the one scute on the right side. It seems to become more white as she dries. And there is a definite ridge between that area and the surrounding. So it seems the damaged shell thought is probably true. I feel terribly terribly awful because had I not tried to remove the cloudy peeling scute at least she'd had something there even if it were a dead one. If indeed the last scute has been shed is there anything that can be done? Is it like this forever?
<Yes. It's not terribly debilitating for her and she can live a happy life and even sell Amway if she wants. What you need to do is periodically swab the area with hydrogen peroxide and then coat in Betadine (once a week or so) to prevent an opportunistic algal growth for getting a foothold.>
She has that area in the back that was the result of the original shell rot damage where the vet broke off the very edge. It is of course not a smooth edge anymore and there is a pit here and there but some she had when we got her. Will any of her shell "repair" with age or is it permanently "deformed"? Will the spot by her right leg ever get better? That is a very beginner question I'm sure. Can you tell by these photos if she seems to have any terrible issues? I don't want to hurt her and I don't know if it is better to set her free or not.
<First - you're doing well & she's doing well. Second -- and mainly for the rest of the readers -- DO NOT EVER EVER EVER EVER *E*V*E*R* release an animal that has been in captivity for much more than a few hours into the wild. EVER. There is nothing but chances for bad things to happen - to her, to the habitat, to the community she'll be joining. Not ever.>
<Ahem. Heather, you're doing fine. Make sure she gets proper nutrition and UV lighting. Check, double check and triple check those things. Due to her shell condition, she'll benefit from a bit more attention to water quality than otherwise, but you don't have to be paranoid about it, either.>
<Get some calcium supplement pills. Try to find some that are pure ground oyster shell, but if that's not easily possible, calcium & phosphorous is OK. Smash one up & mix it in with a half spoonful of wet cat food and try to get her to eat it. Supplement with a ground up calcium pill twice a week for 2 months (or wuss-out and go to the vet and pay a bunch of money for injectible vitamins & calcium). I think, with just a bot of extra attention, you can improve the shell quality without making yourself a nervous wreck>


Broken shell, RES 5/14/10
Hello, I have a pair of baby RESs and today one of them an accident
<How? Turtles don't tend to fall down stairs. By definition, turtles are well armoured and resistant to damage; to injure themselves sufficiently to start bleeding, something pretty nasty must have happened. Check children aren't playing with your turtles, and that their enclosure is safe from dogs and cats. Obviously baby animals of all sorts are curious and a bit slow at recognizing danger, so it's vitally important you keep your pet turtles safe.>
and broke a small part of it's shell. It's eyes bled a little
<This is a very serious symptom.>
but he is still walking but I'm not sure if he will eat anything.
<May well be injured internally.>
Do you think he has a chance of surviving this?
<Yes, but he will need to visit a vet or animal rescue agency. An x-ray will reveal whether there are internal injuries or broken bones. Without being looked at, a turtle injured in this way may be in a great deal of pain and very likely to sicken and die. So don't hang about! Call the vet now! Cheers, Neale.>

Two Baby Sliders with black spots? 5/10/10
Hi !
<Hiya! - Darrel here>
I recently bought two baby red eared sliders about a week ago. I assume they are hatchlings they are only about an inch across.
<You are a good presumer>
I have ordered all the proper things they need online and have about half of it, for example I have a 20 gallon tank with about 5 gallons of water in it, I have a big rock above the water for basking, a temporary heat lamp (waiting for the correct basking bulb to come in, I am using a 100 watt incandescent bulb) I even have a fluorescent light for UVB rays. I also have a heater and keep the water at approximately 80 degrees.
<I usually use a 75 to 100w incandescent bulb as my basking lamp, too.
They're cheap, energy efficient and get the job done!>
I am feeding them Zoo Med Hatchling Formula and Baby ReptoMin Pellets.
<I use small sized Koi pellets when they're hatchlings and regular sized Koi pellets thereafter. Koi pellets are a completely balanced diet! Then I toss in (literally) an earthworm once a month or so - just as a treat.>
I am making the best out of what I have for my new baby turtles while waiting patiently for everything else to come in. However recently one of my turtle seems to have black spots between some it's scutes and about two of these areas have started to turn whitish. It has no odor, it's not unusually squishy, or anything like that it feels normal it just looks kind of gross and it seems to me that there is something wrong with it. However I've done a lot of research on it, fearing that it is shell rot, and none of the pictures look like my turtles problem, one kind of did but not majorly, and other than that, my turtle has none of the symptoms of shell rot, nor do any other causes make sense.
<Is the shell nice and firm?>
My turtles are fine they swim around, they eat properly, bask, all that, their behavior seems normal and fine. I am just getting worried about him, is there something wrong with him, does he have shell rot?
<Doesn't sound like it to me, Tylan. Take some household vinegar on the end of a Q-tip and rub the area and lets see if it just cleans off. If not, a VERY gentle scraping with the edge of a razor blade -- VERY gently -- to see if it's a hardened material or some sort.>
<read here:

Re: Two Baby Sliders with black spots? 5/13/10
Thanks Darrel, I tried the vinegar and it didn't seem to do anything however the black spots are no longer so white in the areas they were.
<That would indicate that whatever is growing in UNDER the scutes '¦ so the vinegar seeps in, but a scrubbing is not possible. Keep trying>
Also what is this on his stomach? (first attachment)
<The most likely is simply an abrasion -- he's rubbing against something that has cut his plastron. Keep him warm and dry for a couple days and put some Neosporin on it each day>
The second attachment shows the black/darker spots on his scutes and In between them and you can see the few white spots towards his head on his shell.
<He may be heading for a fungal infection. Read this article and treat accordingly
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >

Re: Two Baby Sliders with black spots? 5/14/10
The redness on the bottom doesn't seem to be on the outside it looks like it's underneath, it's not open.
<It could be a sign of an internal infection, but that's normally only seen on extremely sick animals - that would have many, MANY other symptoms as well. My suggestion is that you keep him clean around there, alternate days swabbing the area with an antifungal cream (like Lotrimin) once day and an antibiotic cream (like Neosporin) the next. Let him stay dry for an hour after the swabbing (put him in a tub or box with a towel on the bottom) and let's see what happens in 3 weeks.>

Re: Two Baby Sliders with black spots? - 5/23/10
Thank you for all your help Darrel, but unfortunately he passed away last night.
<On behalf of Bob Fenner and the rest of the crew here, we're sorry for your loss, Tylan>
Thanks again,
<You're welcome, Tylan. Perhaps in some way, what is learned from this sad experience can be used to help make life a bit better and healthier for the other turtle and -what-I-hope are many other pets in your future.>
<our thoughts are with you>


turtles, RES... care... shell... 4/27/10
My son bought a red ear slider turtle at a store about 3 weeks ago.
<Helen, my heart sinks when I read this. The problem with kids is they have no idea at all about what animals need to do well. Actually, some do, and I hope you're son is one of them. But my point is that often they don't, and
even if they know what they need, they don't have the funds or the time to provide those things. Think very carefully about whether you want to keep this pet turtle. Start reading here:
The shell is about 3 inches.
<Going to get a lot bigger than this, around the size of a dinner plate.>
It was in a tank with bigger ones. It is in a tank by itself and eats good and gets all the right light it needs.
<Let's be sure you understand what it needs to eat and what sort of light it needs. Folks often delude themselves on these. Turtles can't really survive on just turtle pellets from the pet store. The pellets are too high in protein and lack the required fibre. Let's be clear that skipping dietary requirements will simply mean you get a sick turtle and expensive vet bills. Fortunately, providing the green foods they need is easy: a bunch of cheap Pondweed or equivalent will last a week or two, and provide plenty of fibre and vitamins. As for lighting, what turtles need isn't
visible light at all, but infrared for warming up and especially UV-B for vitamin synthesis. You can get some excellent combination heat/UV-B lamps that do the trick. Don't have UV-B? Well, unless the turtle is outdoors
most of the year, it IS going to get sick. Again, skipping on a UV-B lamp is just going to lead to a sick turtle and more vet bills. I cannot stress this point too strongly: when turtles get sick, there's little to nothing you can do with home remedies, and the only humane treatment is to take your pet turtle to the vet. Some folks have money to spend, some folks don't. If you want to save your pennies, don't economise on the food, heating and UV-B that turtles need. Can't afford those things? Then don't keep turtles. Simple as that. These ARE NOT cheap pets.>
My question is what is making the tips of it's shell turn transparent?
<As turtles grow, the outer plates of the shell will slough off the shell, and as they peel away, they may appear transparent, rather like patches of dead skin on humans after sunburn. For one or two such plates -- called scutes -- to be wearing off at any one time is normal and nothing to worry about. But if the turtle can't bask under a warm lamp, and isn't receiving adequate UV-B light, and the water isn't kept clean with a big filter and regular water changes, the shell can "go bad" in lots of ways. Deformities are common, as is something called Shell Rot where fungus develops between the scutes. Because turtles grow slowly, it often takes months for problems to show up, so you really do need to prevent problems rather than try to cure them. I hope I'm not sounding too negative here, but I'd guess something like 95% of the turtles sold as pets come to grim, premature endings through some sort of neglect. Most of those are turtles "cared for" by children, and I really cannot stress too strongly how inappropriate
these animals are as children's pets. If you and your son are prepared to share the tasks and you're able to keep an eye on things, that's great, and you'll doubtless get on fine. But bear in mind these turtles live for 20 years, get to the size of dinner plates, and eventually require vivaria about the size of a bathtub. Female turtles are further complicated by their need to lay eggs otherwise they tend to become egg-bound (and this can happen whether there's a male with them or not). So please take some time to read those two articles and the linked healthcare articles. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Neale's reply to 4/27 turtle FAQ 4/28/10

Dear Neale,
I happened to be on the site doing some work on the turtle FAQs and just happened to see your response to Helen today whose son just bought a red eared slider (FAQ entitled, "turtles, RES.care.shell.4/27/10).
I just want to say that I felt it was an EXCELLENT response and want to compliment you on it! You not only answered her question, but gave her the "complete picture" in terms of needs/requirements concerning diet, UVB,
heat and water quality, as I've seen Darrel do as well. You really hit the nail right on the head with each of the key points you raised, as well as provided the appropriate care links for further reading.
<Ah, this is good to hear. Balancing honesty with courtesy is always tricky, for me at least, and sometimes I miss the mark and folks feel that I've treated them like dummies.>
Really, your response should be kept handy and later given as THE "canned response" to any future FAQs you receive where people say they are feeding their turtle all the *right* food, giving their turtle the *right* amount of light and heat that it needs, having the *right* water quality and temperature, keeping their turtle in the *right* size aquarium - but without mentioning any of the details about what they really ARE providing their turtles when they write in!
<This was precisely my aim. Without data to the contrary, I can't assume they're providing the right conditions for their pets. When it comes to pets sold in shopping malls and the like, or purchased by children, my whiskers twitch with the likelihood that the new pet isn't being given adequate care. That may not be the case in that instance, but I always try to throw out some pre-emptive information just in case.>
With all the misinformation out there on the web and unfortunately even from pet store employees themselves, it really cannot be assumed that people really DO know the *right* thing to do when it comes for caring for their turtles.
<Quite so.>
So excellent job, Neale on your very thoughtful and thorough response, and in general, for all the valuable education (and time!) that you and the other crew members provide for the community!
<Thanks for saying so Sue. It's nice to get feedback like this, and does indeed make me feel all nice and glowy. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Neale's reply to 4/27 turtle FAQ 4/28/10
Much deserved Neale ... and at least from my read anyway, I definitely don't feel you were discourteous at all!
<Didn't hear back from that querier, so it's entirely possible she felt I was a bit harsh. I do get the odd piece of hate mail.>
Hopefully she will appreciate that she was one of the fortunate few who was actually told all these things (including the long term care considerations which are equally important) BEFORE problems occurred! And if not, at least the turtle will! :) I've got to believe (or at least hope) that most people who buy a new pet really do have the animal's best interests at heart,
<Initially at least, I think most do.>
and truly do want to learn (or at least be reassured) about their care requirements.
<Again, I think most do. But the costs of pet ownership often become serious issues, whether we're talking about vet bills, proper diet, exercise in the case of dogs, and various other things. As a species we have a remarkable capacity for self-delusion, telling ourselves that dogs don't mind having their tails docked, or cats don't mind having their claws surgically removed. If I might be slightly political for a moment, one could even argue the "Birthers" are a classic example of people who've deluded themselves into believing some remarkable nonsense simply because
it reinforces their own preconceptions. You get the same thing here all the time: The pet store told me I don't need a heater for my Betta or my Turtle, and they're professionals, you aren't, so I'm going to believe them and keep my Betta or Turtle in a small, unheated jam jar.>
Your response will hopefully also benefit others who read it as well.
Though it will never happen, personally, I think all the things you mentioned should be posted up on turtle tanks in pet stores everywhere - to educate not only parents, but also other adults BEFORE they decide to buy them - and in many cases, even the pet store employees themselves!
<I agree with you 100% here. Thankfully, pet turtles are now pretty uncommon in the UK, but as a kid they used to be among the cheapest pets you could buy. Or rather, the turtles (we call them terrapins actually) were very cheap; the equipment they needed wasn't. So the vast majority ended up dead. Weirdly though, some were dumped in rivers, and in a few places, notably Wimbledon Common in London, Red-ear Sliders have become
established. I probably don't need to tell you that the only thing worse than a dead pet animal is a live pet animal in an ecosystem where it doesn't belong. But that's an argument for another day! Thanks again for writing, Neale.>

Re: Neale's reply to 4/27 turtle FAQ 4/30/10
Neale: (Just a reply to your email; no need to post this to WWM - has nothing to do with turtles!)
No, you're right - you don't need to tell me about animals landing up in an ecosystem where they don't belong ... my (RES) turtle actually IS one of those animals!! He literally showed up at the back door of my house last summer! Not sure how he got there, but he was trapped on all sides by stairs and stone walls that are at minimum, a foot high. He was only a baby and had no way to climb over them, so most likely would have died had he not been found. Glad to say he's doing great now and very spoiled!
<Very good.>
I can also definitely relate to what you said below about "unplanned costs" when it comes to owning a pet. My 17 year old kitty came down with cancer (fibrosarcoma) last fall, which turned out to be only the beginning of a 4
month non-ending stream of expenses that wound up costing in the thousands.
It started with the local vets not being able to perform that kind of surgery and referring him to Tufts (Boston). $4,000 later... he survived the surgery and slowly recovered. However, it was a major surgery that weakened him and landed up exacerbating some of his other underlying medical conditions (kidney, heart, etc).
<As is often the case with older cats. Have been there, done that with both a 17-year-old Siamese and a Burmese of similar age.>
In December, he came down with a respiratory illness. I brought him to his (local) vet who was out, and had another vet covering. Unfortunately, this vet wasn't aware of "Chili's" underlying heart condition, ran his IV too
fast, and sent him into heart failure! Of course, he could do nothing more for him at that point, and so again referred him back up to Tufts! After a frantic 1 hour and 15 minute seemingly endless ride up there, they again saved him...another $2,000...but from that point on, I had to take him up there once, sometimes twice a week for ultrasound guided thoracocentesis (which local vets also didn't have the resources for!) to drain fluid from his chest (which slowly accumulated back up over time) in order to keep him alive...at a cost of $250 for each (10 minute) procedure.
Besides all of the bills was the agony I went through for the next 3 months about whether or not to put him down! Unfortunately it was not so "black and white". He tolerated the thoracocentesis very well (a 10 minute, quick
procedure), was still active, eating well, seeking affection...etc.) Tufts said they'd never seen anything like it; even dubbed him their "miracle" cat. However, in order to keep him this way and not suffering (which was the only way I could justify not putting him down) meant maintaining a constant vigil over him, and bringing him right up to Tufts at the first, even slightest hint of labored breathing. My nursing skills finally landed up coming in handy ... however, was VERY stressful!
<For all concerned I'm sure. But it's good you were able to help out here.>
Unfortunately, though, in the end, the cardio drugs he was on finally pushed his kidneys over the "tipping point" and he died in March. The only blessing was that when this happened, it happened fast - he was actually
active, affectionate, and ate well right up to the night before he died; only went downhill that next morning of his death.
<Often seems to be the case with cats; they have a certain sort of will power, but then they turn a corner, and just seem too tired for life.>
I was also relieved that I never had to be put in the position of "playing God", and also very grateful that I got those extra 3 months of special time with him (he unfortunately had taken a back seat over the last few years when kids arrived on the scene!)... however, that privilege unfortunately came with a VERY high price tag!!
<Sue, thanks for writing and sharing all of this. It's never easy to watch a loved pet get sick, and one thing with fish is that we're often a bit detached from that, since mostly they're either perfectly healthy or else close to death, with not much time between the two extremes. With cats, dogs and other "furry" friends that's often so very different, and potentially painful for both pet and pet owner. But your experience here is a reminder that when we buy a pet, we're sometimes getting bad times as well as good, and expense as well as pleasure. Anyway, all best wishes to you and whatever beasties inhabit your home at the moment! Cheers, Neale.>


My female red eared slider -- 04/22/10
Hi, my name is Kim
<Hiya Kim, Darrel here>
I have a female red eared slider. She was a gift. I believe she is about 10 or 11 months old. I have her in a 30 or 40 gallon tank she has rocks, gravel and a light at the top of the tank.
<Make sure the gravel isn't a size she can swallow>
I can't afford a filter for her yet but I do clean her water every 5 or 6 days.
<That's fine, if the tank or container is small enough, then water changing is actually more efficient than filtering - and even WITH a filter you'd need to change the water every 6 weeks or so><<RMF would say/state every 2 weeks>>
I feed her Zoo Med Aquatic Turtle Food 2 or 3 times a day about 8 pellets every feeding.
<That might be a little much, Kim, 8 pellets once a day is more than enough>
Today I noticed green fuzzy stuff on the top of her shell so naturally I Googled and came to your web site also the back edge of her shell is very soft. So my question is how do I keep her warm, what can I do to make it better for her? Currently I took her out of her tank and have her in a big plastic bowl with aquatic sand.
<Her tank is OK until the problem is actually solved>
I put her under some warm water then dried it off with a Q-Tip and green came off of her and I do have vinegar but I do not have anti fungal cream but I do have an anti fungal spray.
<It sounds more like algae than fungus, Kim.>
Please help me I do not have the means right now for a filter or a vet visit keep in mind she was an unexpected gift.
<This is why pets don't make good gifts unless we're sure the person wants one.>
<In any case, solving her problems is not going to require a vet visit or be very expensive. My guess is that she's not getting enough UV lighting so she can't produce Vitamin D and metabolize the calcium in her food. 20 -30 minutes a day of sunlight that isn't filtered through glass will probably firm up her shell in a month or so.>
<Here is a link to the proper care of Red Eared Sliders -- and you'll notice that nothing HAS to be expensive. The first order of business is clean water (no heater), a warm basking area, UV-B lighting and a proper diet>
<Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

Help Red Ear Slider Shell Not Smooth & Turtles Growing Too Fast? -- 04/22/10
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I found your article below. I bought 2 red eared sliders and this sounds very similar to the issue/question I have. The scutes were normal looking then as of last few weeks they seem to be growing & looking more like tree rings from the growth. The pattern on the scutes can't be determined anymore. It doesn't look like a fungus but I'm new to this & the info on line seems to be all over the place yet nothing on this. I've seen pictures of juvenile red ear sliders & the patterns on their scutes seem to be like when they were hatchlings (not my guys/gals). I got them about 2 months ago now & they were the size of a silver dollar. Now they are about 3 ½ inches. They seem to be growing fast?!
<Yes they do. Make sure you don't over feed them>
Also just prior to the shell changing they were shedding a lot. The one that changed first was shedding the most. The shell doesn't feel soft but I did notice today on the one that started changing later a little dark spot in between the scutes (where it looks like tree rings from growth). Also their shells are not smooth like other pictures I've seen.
<When the scutes shed, they come off as very thin, almost transparent sheets. Is that what you mean by shedding? If you do, that's normal and healthy>
I'm also not 100% they are red ear sliders. One has more of pink ears & the other doesn't seem to have any ears. They definitely look like sliders though.
<Pink ears are often seen, sometimes just variations in shade, sometimes after interbreeding with Yellow Belly turtles, another of the many members of the Pseudemys genus that we just generally call "sliders.">
I've attached the baby pictures and can send you pictures of how their shells look now, but it probably will be tomorrow or Wed. They are eating fine (actually little piggies - they ate 5 of 6 feeder fish I bought, however I was told the feeder fish were too big for them but apparently not because one of them or both of them at all 5 while I was at work. The last one still is going strong & was the smallest of the 6 fish! They don't' see to bother it.)
<First, turtles don't eat fish as a diet mainstay. Second, feeder fish are notorious for carrying parasites. Third - since they often don't eat the feeders, the feeders tend to grow and thrive and before you know it they become pets that you have to house, feed and care fore, etc.>
<No feeder fish!>
<Koi Pellets with an occasional earthworm as a treat>
<NO CAPES! -- Edna Mode>
<NO FEEDER FISH! -- Darrel>
I have a red heat lamp on at night, put the white 'grow/full spectrum light 60wat' on during the day to be on the basking rock (red sandstone) that sits on top of glass tea bottles (i.e. green tea that I had & the bottles were perfect height so they are the 'stand' for the basking rock). There is a heater (a generic 10 gallon heater for now), in a 10 gallon tank. The water temperature usually is around high 70s. They are active, swim around, beg for food (prefer hand fed first then will eat food that I dump in the water). Food right now is turtle pellets, red/frozen "worms", dried shrimp & krill (they love the krill the best & prefer to be hand fed that one that best).
<You're actually taking too good care of them!!!>
<They don't need a heat lamp at night unless you live north of the Arctic circle. A basking lamp for visible light & heat as well as a UV lamp during the day '¦ but at night let the basking area cool off normally and achieve room temperature. That's their normal & natural land cycle>
<No water heaters, either. Any room temperature comfortable for you is comfortable for them. What we want is for them to be offered the CHOICE of water around 68-72 degrees and a basking area of 88-92 degrees and let them regulate as they desire>
I change the water nearly weekly (keeping about ¼ to 1/3 or the original water & putting in Britta filtered water that I let sit out to settle out). Also I've had to use some tap water to top off on occasion but have water conditioner.
<Again -- good work on your part, but not necessary. Unless you live in an area with *exceptionally bad* or hard drinking water '¦ tap water is just fine. I like that you take good care of them, don't get me wrong '¦ I just don't want you to worry so much. So as long as it makes you feel like a good turtle mom, please go ahead>
Also, nearly daily I have to put in water that has evaporated (we are in a semiarid environment and with the heat lamps daily I have to top it off to bring the water level up to the rock so they can get on & off of it). There is a whisper reptile water filter in there too (I do need to replace the filter as the last tank cleaning yesterday is was gunky but I'm out in nowhere so it'll be this week-end before I can get another one so I cleaned it out with hot water).
I'm trying to figure out if they are just growing really fast (i.e. tree rings looking stretch marks around the scutes, the original size scutes are still there but the pattern is not as evident.) Also the shell isn't flat, sort of more like a box turtle bumps. Eyes are fine, activity is fine (they are good swimmers), basking is fine, I just don't see anything wrong except that from what I've read that the shell is suppose to be smooth on top, plus pictures all show the patterns for guys that are 3 ½ inches but these guys are loosing it (or maybe the scute is shedding & that's why I don't' see it?). I feed them twice a day but not a whole lot. They are 'beach bums' where basking is concerned so that seems fine too.
IF you can provide any help it would be greatly appreciated. I think they are growing too fast? Should I be concerned?
<They probably are a bit '¦ simply because you keep their metabolisms higher than they would see in the wild. If the water is in the high 70's they're process much faster than they ever would in the wild. Remove the heater and let the water temp become room temp. It will slow them down a bit, but they'll thrive a bit better>
I've attached a few of the baby pictures. These were taken in mid-March after I had them 2 weeks. The one on the left (aka "Stretch") is the one that started shedding first. The pattern on his shell is also not as symmetrical as the other (aka "Loh"). Stretch is more of a swimmer then Loh but both go to town. Stretch is the bigger piggy & basker too. He also went thru a LOT of shedding 2 weeks ago. As you can even see in this picture Stretches scutes are not all smooth. Neither had a lot of yellow but now only the edges are yellow. I've tested the edges & they do not feel soft.
<I've examined all the pics and everything looks good!>
<You're doing well, but here's a link to a fantastic article that covers the basics in a bit more detail.>

Terrapin shell problems -- 04/22/10
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have recently been given this terrapin, which had been kept in very poor condition! I have provided him with good lighting, diet and space etc but I would like to know what is wrong with his shell?
<From the picture Rebecca, it appears as if she's just had a hard life. IT appears that you have a Cooter (Pseudemys cocinna) or a Yellow Belly (p scripta). The green discoloration is from algae that will lessen in time as she has access to clean water and proper basking conditions '¦ but even in the wild many adult Sliders and Cooters have algae on their shells. The scuff marks on the shell can be just signs of wear and tear and nothing to be alarmed about>
<Is the shell nice and hard? If you look really closely at the shell, the whitish areas -- is the material soft and smelly like a fungus? Does it scrape off? Or does it simply appears as the scutes themselves are discolored? The more explanation you can provide, the better I can advise you>
also if I could treat the problem myself before I take him too a vet?
<If her shell is hard and he's active and eating, I don't see a reason to be alarmed just yet. Keep her clean, make sure he can get really warm and dry and try cleaning her shell with a cotton swab every few days and let's just see how she does>
<Care sheet: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>
<Treatment: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm>

Re: terrapin shell problems 4/28/10
Hi Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
This is a picture I took today of my terrapin. After removing all the black stuff off his shell there is more white patches underneath...they are hard like the rest of his shell and don't smell at all...he is eating and behaving normally but I am still very worried because it looks so bad. Any information you can give me I would be extremely grateful.
<Looks normal to me, Rebecca. In fact I have a number of ones that look just like that in my pond. She's just lead a harder life than some. Keep up the good work and don't worry>

RES, blk. shell spots? -4/6/10
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have had my red slider turtle for four years and he has always seemed healthy. Today I noticed black spots on his shell. I can't find anything on the web that addresses this problem so can you help. I change his water every week but this time it did seem more dirty than usual. Any ideas?
<I'd like to see a picture, because no '¦ black spots aren't unusual. As they grow older, the BRIGHT green turns to a dull green which turns to an almost dark green/black.>
<Can you take pictures & send them?>

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