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FAQs About Turtle Behavior

Related Articles: Turtles, Shell Rot in Turtles, AmphibiansRed Eared Slider Care

Related FAQs:  Turtles 1, Turtles 2, Red Ear Sliders, Turtle Identification, Turtle Compatibility, Turtle Selection, Turtle Systems, Turtle Feeding, Turtle Disease, Shell Rot, Turtle Reproduction, & by Species: Cooters/Mud Turtles, Softshells, Snapping Turtles, Mata Matas, Tortoises, & AmphibiansOther Reptiles

http://forums.kingsnake.com/forum.php?catid=32 http://www.turtletimes.com/Forums/default.asp

Emydid repro./beh.      1/13/13
Dear Crew,
<Hiya Darrel here>
I have two turtles, a male Red-Eared Slider and a female Painted turtle. I know they've tried to mate before (I was freaking out because she was bleeding and he had a strange bulge so I took them to the vet and that's what they told me).
<OK>
I see them doing, what I assume are,   rituals all the time (including
quickly wiggling their front fingers at one another).
<Yes, the male turtle waves his fingernails in front of the female, as if he's saying HEY! LOOK AT MY PRETTY LONG FINGERNAILS!  WANT TO GO GET A CUP OF COFFEE?"
Meanwhile the female is thinking "AS IF!!!  I WORK FOR YEARS TO HAVE PRETTY
NAILS AND THEY BREAK AND CHIP IF I LOOK AT THEM TOO HARD, I SPEND EVERY
SATURDAY AT THE NAIL SALON JUST TO KEEP THEM FROM LOOKING LIKE HECK --- AND
YOU COME ALONG AND WAVE THOSE THINGS IN MY FACE????  FUGGETDABOUTIT!>
Now I'm worried for a few reasons. The female seems to be getting on half of the dock that we have in their tank but keeping her body under water and biting at the air and then blowing bubbles under water. This has been going on for a couple weeks and the bubbles are accumulating in the dock area.
Tonight I came home and while she was doing that, the male was apparently trying to mount her (getting on top of her while she was on the dock and wiggling his tail underneath hers). I'm worried that she either has a lung infection or she is trying to lay eggs (which I didn't think was possible with two different species),
<Yes - all the Sliders, Cooters, Painteds, etc. will interbreed>
in which case I don't know as I have the proper set up for her to lay them.
<When the female is gravid (with eggs) and it's time to lay them, she'll usually behave differently - nervous, moving all the time, wandering around her enclosure, scratching everywhere, etc. This behavior is SO unusual compared to their normal activities, you won't miss it.   Building a nesting box for her is more complicated that just putting her in a box of dirt, because even then they just might not find the right spot.  Ideally, the box should be at least 2 feet by 3 feet and have at least 8 inches of a mixture of potting soil and vermiculite.  Place a small, incandescent 60w bulb at one end (about 12 inches from the soil) to provide some ground warmer that other places, place her in there for a few days and see what happens>
<All that said, in your case she's not exhibiting that behavior.  The gaping is not terribly unusual and the bubble blowing is a bit more unusual, so I'm "concerned" at this point, but not "worried" if you understand the difference.>
<Here is a link to an article on illnesses.   The article describes what we playfully call "dry docking" a turtle - and it's based on this principle: 
When the turtle becomes unhealthy, the warm moist environment they normally enjoy becomes a problem -- when they are weak for any reason, the warm moist world gives an edge to the bacteria and fungus that can hurt them.
SO, we take them out, place them somewhere warm and DRY for a couple weeks - and if they are fighting any sort of infection, the tide turns, the advantage is on the Turtle and it's easier for her to lick whatever is ailing her.  Try it for two weeks - it's all carefully explained - and let's see how she does.>
<
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm 
>
Please help!
<I hope we did!>
--
Love & rockets,
Maxine

Turtle Turds! - 10/22/2012
Hi. 
<Hi!  Sabrina with you today....  I must first warn you, I know little about turtles and even less about their poop, but this question has been languishing a few days now, so I suppose everyone else is scratching their heads too.>
I have a red ear slider that is about 5 years old.  I noticed twice that his poop seems to wrapped in some kind of skin cocoon (layers of some sort of rubbery skin) that is pretty large.  Do you have any idea what this is?
<Umm, honestly, no, I really don't.  If it's outside the water, is it possible that it's just partly dried?  Or if it's in the water, maybe it has started to mold?  These are guesses, though.  If you have a reptile vet in your area, you could call and see if he or she might be willing to look at a sample the next time your turtle produces a questionable poop.  Though you might have to pay a fee to have it looked at, it could at least help you know what is going on.  You might also consider seeing if there are any pet reptile clubs/groups in your area where there might be other people who keep Red Ear Sliders that might have seen the same thing; maybe an online turtle forum could be of use for this, too.  Just some thoughts.  I'm sorry I don't have a specific answer for you, but I hope this points you in places where you can look for more information.  Best wishes,  -Sabrina>

Turtle Behavior    1/18/12
Hi Darrel
<Hiya>
Hope you are well :)
<and you too!>
My turtle has been acting strange lately. She sleeps all the time, especially during the day.  I was not too concerned because even though she sleeps she is still active and wakes up when she is hungry and she does not look ill.
<Active and alert are important indicators.  When you are around her, is she aware that you are there, follows you with her eyes/head, etc.?  Does she assume you're bringing food and jumps off her basking area and swims toward you?  These are all important signs of healthy behavior or lack thereof.>
I did some research and read that turtles Brumate, but in cold seasons, and where I live it is summer.
<Then it's unlikely.  If the water temp is around 68-73(f) and the basking area is 88-93(f) she will likely not exhibit seasonal behavior as long as her light cycle remains constant.
I thought maybe there is something wrong with her eyes but that seems fine.
But now I need your professional advice!
Do i have anything to be concerned about or is this normal?
<When in doubt, Laken, warm her up a bit.  Not the water, but the basking area.  If that gets no results, "dry-dock" her as described in this article for a few days.  Sometimes just being able to rest in a constant temperature for a few days perks them right up.>
<Here is an article describing how to treat for illnesses.  Even though she doesn't appear to have any at present, the technique for holding her warm and dry for a week is a good idea.  When you put her in a feeding bowl, the rate of activity and appetite will tell you a lot about her condition: 
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm 
>
<Meanwhile: read here about general care -- compare it to your setup and verify that no need is going unfilled:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
Your help is appreciated.
Thank you
Laken

turtle behaviour 10/29/11
Hello,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
Im a new turtle owner (about 3 days ago). I acquired 2 Red Eared Sliders and a Map Turtle from people who were moving away. I have them in a 75 gallon tank with a basking light, floating dock, heater, and decorations. I havent set up the filter yet because the only place that sells filter material close to my house is about 45 minutes away.
<You can still set it up and run it for water circulation>
Up until today they seemed normal, but Ive noticed that the Map Turtle is swimming around frantically, hitting the glass and it definitely looks like he is trying to escape.
<Map Turtles (Graptemys) are by nature more shy and more skittish than the Sliders and it may very well BE frantic for a while after any kind of move>
I was going to try to take him out of the tank to see if that calmed him down, but he just hides under the dock so I cant reach him.
<You're going to have to be able to remove your turtles periodically, Jennifer, so you might as well get used to moving the dock and grabbing the little guy.>
I thought maybe the water was too warm, so I turned the heater off but hes still freaking out.
<Your water temp should be 68-73f (about room temperature) and no hotter. It's very important that the turtles be offered a CHOICE between cool water and a warm basking area (underneath a heat lamp of some type).>
Should I be worried?
<Not just yet>
The other two turtles seem fine, albeit very playful. Im wondering if maybe the two Red Eared Sliders are bullying the Map?
<That's POSSIBLE, but not likely. Sliders aggression is usually with other sliders.>
<Map Turtles are a bit more aquatic than Sliders, Jennifer. For that reason water quality is more important to them than to the others. Make sure the water is clean & clear, siphon out the waste material frequently and do partial water changes on a frequent basis.>
<Your Map Turtle may be stressed from the move and set-up, he may be upset that the filter isn't running (no ears, but sensitive to vibrations and water currents), the water may have been too warm (NO WATER HEATERS IN TURTLE TANKS) or he may not have enough privacy. Believe it or not, I've had Graptemys that did not thrive well in a tank that was in our main hallway where there was a lot of noise and activity around their tank all the time and when I moved them to a tank in the den, they perked right up.>
<Here's a link discussing general care that you can apply to the Map Turtle as well as the sliders: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

3 year old S.Painted Turtle Sleeping out of water.   9/26/11
Hello,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have an almost 3 year old Southern Painted Turtle alone in a 55g fish tank, water temp is low 80s, a good basking platform with a range from 85-100 degrees, she can move around and find a sweet spot.
<The water temp is a bit too high. If there is a heater, please remove it and let the water assume room temperature (around 68-72 is perfect for them)>
A varied pellet, cricket, worm diet.
<pellets good, worms good (earthworms) meal worms and crickets BAD>
Good uvb bulbs, and 150g rated filter. The Turtle has a healthy appetite and is very active.
<Does he have outside interests? Hobbies? Belong to any clubs? Does he have a Facebook page?>
Recently at night I have found her sleeping outside of the water, or propped up in the corner. I have looked but cant find any explanation as to why she would do this. I was able to get a picture of her sleeping propped in the corner. Is this normal, or should I be worried that something is wrong, Please any help would be greatly appreciated. as soon as I snapped the picture, the flash woke her up and she went back into the water.
<Josh - this is completely normal and not a problem in any way. Those are the conditions he chose and it indicates that he's feeling secure. They'll often choose deeper water when they feel insecure or threatened. Nothing to worry about at all.>
---Josh

Turtle flapping her back legs 9/21/11
Hello,
<Hiya - Darrel here *This is my 800th Response on WWM!!!!!*>
I have a turtle. I believe it is a female because the bottom of the shell is not concave but I'm not 100% sure.
<I am. She's a female. At that size, a male would have developed the characteristic long front fingernail/claws>
I am also not sure exactly what kind of turtle she is because I got her at a reptile convention when she was the size of a quarter and they told me she was a Cooter but did not specify.
<That's what she is, a river Cooter (Pseudemys concinna)>
<she has the EXACT same needs and care as a Red Eared Slider
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
I've had "her" for almost 2 years and she's growing beautifully!
<She looks great>
I was curious about a recent behavior of hers. While she is basking she will start rubbing her rump back and forth, kicking her back legs (like she's in a workout video) and sometimes walks in circles/back and forth on her floating dock.
<They do that, not sure why>
Her eating is normal (I feed her several dried shrimp and mealworms and occasionally lettuce 2-3 times a day which she consumes quickly).
<I hate to mess with success, but her diet should be almost exclusively Koi pellets by now>
Is she showing some sort of courting behavior or is it something else?
<She's just being a turtle, Ashley. The females don't really show a courting behavior, but they will from time to time show a NESTING behavior.
You'll recognize that by constant movement. On land, in water, going around and around almost non-stop as if she's looking for something or trying to get out. It will be behavior SO strikingly different from the norm that you'll recognize it right away. They can exhibit this even with mating or having a male present. Let her walk around the house, in the garden or lawn -- (ALWAYS SUPERVISED) -- for an hour or so every day and in couple weeks the behavior will pass>
Thanks!!
Ashley

My Red Ear Slider Turtles... Bruminating/"hibernating"     5/23/11
Hi, <Hiya - Darrel here>
I am really have some concerns about my two red ear slider turtles. I rescued them from a friend who was very bad because he kept them in their closet, never changed the water of the aquarium. There were three of them and what I did was put them in a large aquarium that accommodated the three of them and I bought an artificial rock where they basked in the sun. I would change their water every two days and feed them turtle food and they love fresh shrimp and fresh fish. I kept them in our backyard.
<Thank you for the rescue, but generally speaking an aquarium is not the idea thing for keeping turtles outdoors. The glass can have a tremendous heating effect on the water that you really can't control. You should either keep them inside the house, which is easiest, or build them some sort of small pond>
I live in CA and when the weather became cooler in October, I went to PETCO and they recommended the coconut mulch where they can bruminate.
Immediately they burrowed themselves under the mulch.
<Hmmm. Although they do hibernate (actually they bruminate as you wrote) over winters and can even survive a frozen lake, it's important to note that not all DO survive each winter. I'd much prefer that you take them indoors during the colder months>
In January, one of the turtles came out and I thought that it already woke up. I put it in the water. But I put him back again in the mulch. After a week I just it not moving and it was dead but the two other turtles are still burrowed.
<Yes, this winter in California was "bad" for reptiles. It was cold enough to slow their metabolisms down, but NOT cold enough for them to really enter brumination / hibernation. Just as you experienced, one warm week and a turtle began to get active, yet he wasn't really up to speed.
I'm sorry you lost him>
In February, the two woke up and basked themselves in the sun. I do not know if I did something wrong in moving them inside at night and I keep the lamp on. And move them again in the morning outside .
<No, that was good.>
I kept doing this until April when I moved to a new place. Then I placed them in a large plastic bin with the artificial rock. They would bask in the sun but them I am scared to let stay outside so I move it again to the small aquarium and put it under the table without any light at night in the backyard and move it in the morning to the bin so they can bask in the sun.
<That seems like a lot of work. Why not move the aquarium indoors and simply add a basking lamp and a UV lamp?>
A couple weeks ago, they would not eat but they would bask in the sun and when I got home one day I found the other turtle missing. I kept looking but cannot find it. I then released the other in our backyard.
<OK - stop. Unless your back yard is some sort of natural habitat for turtles, releasing them there was not a good idea. Outside of a genuine nature preserve, they need to be confined to an area where you can care for them>
Then I found it at the back of the door leading to our garage with its side up. As to the other turtle, I found it burrowed in the dirt under our almond tree. Both them are burrowed there. Is this okay?
<no>
They are still burrowed until now and the weather here is still chilly at night. Do you think they will die?
<To be honest, you need to improve your standards of care quite a bit or that may happen>
If they wake up and if I put them in a large aquarium with water enough for them to swim can I keep them there all night long with our light in the backyard on? I am a new turtle owner.
<Yes you are>
<Lilia, start here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm read this entire article. Make sure you understand it COMPLETELY. Do further searches on WWM (there is a Google Search Box at the bottom of the home page, click "search on WWM" and type your keywords) and write back if you can't get other answers>
<After you've read the article and understand their basic needs, then we can talk about how to house and care for them. As I said before, an aquarium is a bad idea for outdoor use. As you have already experienced, the sun heats the water and the night chills the water. To keep the sun from heating it TOO much and the night from chilling it TOO much - you have to have a whole lot of water in the tank. Four or five inches in the bottom will heat like an oven during the day -- and the glass sides makes it worse. The only exception is if you had the Aquarium on a porch or under an awning where it doesn't get direct sun.>
<As far as the bin is concerned, a large plastic bin or what they call a "stock tank" can make a nice turtle habitat. It takes a bit of work to fix it up to look pretty in the yard, but that's a different subject. The important thing is that the sides have to be high enough that they can't climb out. The one thing we don't want is for them to get out and wander around the yard or bury themselves somewhere where we can't find them>
Re: My Red Ear Slider Turtles    5/23/11
Hi again,
<Hiya again>
Do I just wait until they come out of the dirt or do I dig in the get them out and put them in the plastic bin again?
<Please get them out now>
Should I leave them outside at night?
<It depends on the amount of water you have. If the bin is an 18 gallon Tupperware tub filled to 10 gallons, then no - it will get too cold at night AND too hot during the day unless it's shaded. If you have a 100 gallon plastic tub with 50 or 60 gallons of water, and a wire mesh cover to keep cats and other predators out, then yes they can stay out all night>
I want to get them out of the dirt now and put them back in the water.
<I agree. But remember, they need a nice, dry, warm basking area too, not just water>

25 year old red eared slider, hibernation mostly  11/14/10
Hello!
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My name is Katie,
<Wow - this is my second Katie in the same day. Hiya>
. I've been browsing through your website this morning - it's great! Very informative.
<Thanks!>
However, I wondered if you could give me a little help with my turtle questions. Here are some facts about our Frankie.
<OK>
-Shell approx 8 inches head to toe, 6 inches wide.
-Female, goes on an annual trek out of her backyard pond (18 inches deep, gravel bottom) and into the garden every August to lay eggs.
-Approx 25 years old, purchased in 1995 from a home and was about 10 or so when we got her.
-She lives in the pond from May thru November - we live in Northwestern Ontario, Canada, the pond freezes solid in winter - is transported to a giant naturalized tank (6 feet long, 18 inches wide...not sure of the gallons) in our basement.
- Fed earthworms and pellet mixture throughout the summer.
- Enjoys moonlit evenings, soft music and good conversation
- Turn-on's include males with thick tails and long, fluttery nails
- Turn-off's are political conversations at dinner and Donny Osmond. This last one appears to be personal but she retracts from any attempt to get details
<All good so far, Katie>
My questions are,
a.) What kind of lamp should we put in the tank during the winter?
<When shopping, I always hope for a magic lamp. So far though . No luck>
We've had a vitamin d and a heat lamp every winter in the past with success but I'd like to know a specific kind, as I fear she may be getting older (I don't know the life expectancy of RES) would she now need more special attention?
<40 or 50 years is possible with good care>
<If by a vitamin D lamp, you mean a UV/B lamp? If so, that and a heat lamp, both arranged over her basking area, is just fine. For a million years, I used Vita-Lite by DuroTest Corp. Not because it was specifically for reptiles, but back in the day it was the only fluorescent lamp that published actual data on it's UV/B output. Nowadays there are many companies that can documented outputs and much higher "B" than the Vita-lite.>
b.) Should we let her have a hibernation period in her basement tank? As the pond begins to cool down quite a bit in early October, we think she may begin to hibernate and hide away - apart from the occasional warm, sunny week. Fishing her out on the transition day results in a bleary eyed, yawning turtle who takes a few hours to come around.
<There is nothing about the hibernation process that is necessary for their survival, Katie. It's natural, yes, but so is freezing to death or getting eaten by an alligator. If it was me, I'd bring her in a bit earlier in the year except I can imagine how you feel (because it's how I feel, too) about taking away those last few precious days of sunlight. But it's best for her>
c.) Earthworms and bait shops are scarce in winter around here and very expensive for the amount she eats on a daily basis. We like to spoil her during the summer with them as she has such a short, outside sunny season in her pond. She doesn't like the pellet food on its own, and won't eat vegetables.
<Think about it - would YOU eat pellets if you had the choice of worms?>
<Wait that didn't come out quite like I thought . Would you eat rice cakes if your were offered steak?>
<The problem you have, Katie - the problem we ALL have is we tend to let our pets be in charge of their care. We get them acclimated to a "happy" food and then we're puzzled that they refuse to accept the "better" food.>
Any suggestions?
<At 25 years and she's healthy, I think we should change very little and what we do change, change gradually. Once inside, I'd not feed her for a week or so and then offer a few pellets that had been rubbed in beef liver to see if the flavor would entice her. If yes, repeat every 3rd day. If no offer every 3rd day. Give it a month to see who wins.>
I did read on your website about the water being too cool, I'm thinking the heat lamp would probably encourage her appetite.
<We like the water to be 68-73(f) and the basking area to be 88-94(f) or thereabouts.>
I realize I've written a novel of questions and apologize for that, but she is very special to our family ( a gift from a now deceased grandparent) and we would like to keep her healthy and happy wherever she is for as long as possible.
<Your letter was great & you're doing good things, you care and you want to do what's best for her. I wish there were more like you!!!>
Thanks so much!
Katie
Thunder Bay, Ontario.
<That is aside from the Donny Osmond thing . Either you or the turtle need a therapist about THAT one!>

Turtle shows "frantic-stressed out" behavior   10/13/10
Hi,
<Hiya - My name is Darrel and>
I just got two turtles for the first time.
<I take it you mean the first time you've had turtles?>
I think they are red bellied turtles or at least that is what they called them at the store.
<the easy part of THAT one is that Red Belly turtles have pretty red to orange tints to the belly>
One is about 3 1/2 inches and the other one is about 3 inches. For now I am feeding them only the turtle pellets and doing it twice a day.
<I use ReptoMin turtle sticks and ordinary Koi pellets - both are perfectly balance diets, it's just that the Koi pellets are much cheaper>
I have them in a 20 gallon tank and during the day they have the UVB light and a heat lamp and during the night just an infrared light. The tank is about 3/4 full. They have a floating basking area that might be a little bit small for them, but they both still fit side to
side. The temperature inside the house is 78F.
<That's fairly warm, but if that's the room temp, then we live with it>
The tank has a Tetra in-tank 20i filter. I also put a turtle bone in the tank.
<That's a sweet thought, but not necessary. They don't hurt, but they're no real value>
The little one seems to be doing fine, she eats, swims and basks. But the bigger one has a strange behavior, she seems to be frantic, swims from side to side of the tank full speed like trying to escape from something, she eats Ok, but it seems she never rests, she doesn't bask, she is on the water all the time day or night just swimming from side to
side, trying to get behind the filter or trying to "escape" the tank, it is like she is really scared of something.
<We see that from time to time in turtles>
I am worried that there is something wrong with her and that one morning I will find her dead.
<Probably not.>
I am also worried about the amount of food, I have heard anything from: feed them twice a day one or two pellets to feed them only twice a week. They seem to be really hungry every time I feed them so I keep throwing pellets in until they are no longer
interested, I throw in there at least 12 pellets twice a day. I know they are
both eating because I stay there throwing pellets one by one until they no
longer eat.
<That's a little bit much -- but not terrible. What I do is give them all they can eat in five minutes, 4 times a week. That's all the food they really need>
The quality of the water also worries me, I changed the water a day ago and it is already really cloudy. Is this normal, are you supposed to change the water daily or is it the amount of food or is it the filter that is not appropriate?
<I think maybe you're feeding them too much and the food they don't eat as well as all the poop they create from that much food is fouling the water. Cut back on the feedings like I suggested and see how that goes. Remember they don't have jobs, kids, chores or even runs in the park -- they don't NEED that much food. They eat because it's there to be eaten.>
As you can see I have many questions and concerns, but mainly I am worried about the "frantic" stressed out behavior.
<Now we'll address that. We all see it from time to time and sometimes it comes from the strangest things. What I'd like to you do to is experiment with one thing at a time:>
<Change things around.>
<Move the basking area>
<change the lamp positions>
<Turn the filter off for 24 hours>
<Change the shades or blinds in the room.>
<After each change, give the big one half a day to adjust and see if it affects her behavior>
Thanks for your help, every suggestion is welcome as I have just one week experience in taking care of aquatic turtles.
<They're fun and easy, Monica!>
<Here is a simply care guide to get you started. Suggestions and input are always helpful but this guide is the standard: If someone gives you a suggestion that's opposed to what's in here, ignore the suggestion!! The guy who wrote it really *IS* that good!>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm

SOS! YBS & SCRC MIA IN H2O!!!! 8/24/10
Hi WWM Crew!
<Hi there, Hey there, Ho there!! Darrel here>
I have a YBS--10" diameter
<That's a Yellow Bellied Slider for those of you that are acronymically challenged>
-- and a SC
<South Carolina?>
<USC (Trojan football)?>
River Cooter--5" in my outdoor pond. The pond is natural...water lettuce, hyacinth, snails, frogs, etc. Pretty much takes care of itself ecosystem-wise. It is 3000 gallons and 4.5 feet at deepest.
<I wish mine was like that>
I live on a waterway (River) which at high tides is also salty because it mixes with nearby harbor/ocean through a manmade shipping channel. I have not seen my YBS for nearly a week. Could she have decided to leave home and get in "the big river"???
<Absolutely, Ronda. Sliders are notorious for simply one day decide to go for a walk. I've had animals in a pond/enclosure seemingly happy for years and then one day they simply up & disappear, only to be found months later (in one case TWO YEARS later!!!) buried at the base of a bush or shrub in the yard. Why? No one knows. It happens in HUGE yards, where an argument can be made that it went for a walk and got lost, but it's also happened in yards so small that the turtle could never lose sight of the pond. Sometimes, we dig them up & put them back and it never happens again -- other times they seem happy & adapted, they eat, poop, bask & swim just like normal and then in a week they're gone again.>
<Oddly enough, I find more of them that have wandered down the sidewalk & up the driveway and climbed a 3 inch door sill and climbed into my garage than any other single place>
Where else could she be? (My entire back yard is fenced-in).
<Buried at the base of a bush or rock, dug under the fence and into the river itself .. any of these and all other possibilities>
I am worried about her.
<Well, now that you're thinking to look everywhere she could be, you might just find her. It's possible that she is in the big river, in which case she'll live happily J but you may not ever see her again L . The salt is not al issue for her, so don't worry about that.>
<All of my turtles kept outdoors are surrounded by a hardware cloth fence that is buried FIVE INCHES below ground level, at least FOURTEEN INCHES about ground level -- and this part is very important: and additional horizontal lip 4 inches wide bent inward at a 90 degree angle. Sliders are INCREDIBLE climbers.>
Appreciate your thoughts.....
Ronda
<Those are my thoughts. Keep looking and don't give up hope!>

spastic behavior 8/3/10
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a yellow-bellied slider, about 4 years old. She lives in a small (700 gal.) pond with a Koi and a few Shubunkin. She has always been gregarious in her behavior (we call her Tabitha the Tudinous Turtle), and especially so at feeding time, coming right up to the edge of the pond and staring us down until the pellets fall, and then gobbling them up immediately.
<Sounds nice>
Lately she is swimming in a weird manner, retracting her head with each stroke, and seeming as though she is confused as to the proper direction to go, even to get her food. She is eating, but not nearly as much as before.
She still basks on her favorite rock each day, but is spending more time in and under water than before as well. I am worried that she is developing some kind of central nervous system disorder, or that some insidious kind of plant or virus is infecting her. Can you help me?
<I can try. A nervous system disorder isn't out of the question, but it's not the place I'd look - for one thing their nervous systems are pretty simple and for another, there's no way to test for it or any way to treat it if we found something.>
<What I would do is take him out of the pond for a while and keep him warm and dry inside the house. This would give you a chance to observe him at close range. Dry skin and shell usually points up mechanical damage,
fungus, wounds, etc. more easily than wet skin --AND-- if he really is hurting, then this 'rest' will make it easier for him to heal.>
<This link talks about treatment of common illnesses and a focal point is what I call isolation (keeping him warm & dry with access to water for only a few minutes a day). What you should do is follow that regimen for 2
weeks --even though you're not actually treating for any of the diseases listed-- and see if Tabitha simply heals from whatever ache or pain she may have. During this process you can examine more closely to see if she DOES
have a problem>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
Richard L
Los Angeles, CA
Re: spastic behavior   8/5/10

Thanks for the advice.
<Happy to give it>
She has never been out of the pond (since we got her, at about 4" in length...she is now a big girl), so I don't really have the setup to accommodate her. I imagine I will have to get some kind of aquarium, with a heat lamp for her to bask, right? Sorry, but this is all alien to me.
I'll do my best, though.
Thanks again.
RL
<Rich - don't sweat it. A Tupperware tub (excuse me, a Tupperware Brand Plastic Storage Container) or a cardboard box will do JUST as well and not cost as much. All we're trying to do is give he a rest while she
{possibly} heals from whatever is bugging here (was that a pun??)>
<Don't go all overboard and spend tons of money for what may be not much more than a 2 week vacation from being wet 24/7>
Re: spastic behavior   8/5/10

Darrel:
Got it. Thought that the front bathroom tub (enclosed glass shower doors), with about 2" of water and a nice brick platform for dryness, with a little halogen desk lamp for basking, might do the trick. What are your thoughts
on that, if any?
<She should be warm and dry and NOT have access to water at all except for the 15 minutes a day that you place her in the water to drink, poop and eat. The operative theory here is that almost all of the opportunistic
things that "could be" (remember, we have no direct evidence) affecting her from the outside are all encouraged by moisture, so we want to keep her dry.>
Thanks for all the practical advice and the encouragement.
RL
<yer welcome>

Aquatic Turtles, repro. beh.  7/20/10
Why does my female aquatic turtle act like she wants to scratch the eyes out of my male aquatic turtle? She's larger than he is and she will get right in his face and wiggle her finger nails right toward his eyes. I'm afraid she's going to hurt him. Any information and help you can give will be greatly appreciated.
Thank You, Cliffie
<Hello Cliffie. Are you sure you sexed them right? The fingernail wiggling thing is usually done by the males to the females. There's no reason I can think of for a female to do it to a male! In any case, no, no harm is done.
The only thing to make sure of is that once the female is carrying eggs, you ensure she has a sand-filled tray somewhere for her to lay her eggs, otherwise egg-binding is a common, and potentially fatal, problem. Cheers,
Neale.> 

Asian Water Turtle behavior  6/1/10
Hi Crew,
<Hiya>
My name is Susan,<I'm Darrel>
and my husband has had Squeaky (the turtle) for 26 years.
Squeaky is fine, but seems to A) have developed a big attachment to our cat Moose. i.e. when Squeaks and Moose were living in different rooms due to husbands allergies, Squeaks would smash the side of her tank non-stop all night long with her shell. It got so bad we moved her in the same room as Moose so we could sleep, and Voila, the banging stopped.....
<That's strange alright, Susan, but not unheard of. Our animal friends have very different brains than ours and they work in ways suited to their survival, not ours.>
<Anthropomorphism is the term for giving human characteristic to non-human creatures and/or attributing animal behaviors to human motivations. Now, everyone knows that's silly yet I have a female rhinoceros iguana that watches television sits with rapt attention to all episodes of certain shows but will physically turn her back when other shows come on. She will --and I mean this literally-- throw a fit if Jerry Springer comes on. Scientifically, it's probably a reaction to color patterns in the set of his show or a tonal pattern to the sound or it could be that she simply shows good taste and common sense!>
<What I'm saying here is that Squeaky does have a unique personality and it manifests as one behavior when the cat is nearby and another when it's not. Is that love? Scientifically its not possible to answer that but in my opinion, few other things will make someone bang their head against a glass wall for days on end, so in the words of the famous lounge singer "if this ain't love it's the next best thing!">
but now, B) She has recently laid an egg, the first in many years. Is this due to the
attachment to the cat? Does she think Moose is her mate?
<Again, scientifically, a series of events has triggered chemical releases in Squeaky's body that caused her go gestate and form an egg. In our terms, she CLEARLY went from "unhappy" to "happy" when she was moved in with Moose so in the most unscientific terms I can imagine "Yes, it's possible and seems to be the case.">
Do turtles form attachments like the one described normally?
<Not normally, no. When an Emydid turtle forms an unusual attachment, it's almost always for a rock or a log. All I can say is that Moose must be a real looker!>
Do turtles normally lay eggs like chickens? ( barring physical differences...Meaning without a male)
<Yes. The trigger stimulus for gestation isn't the presence of a male, exactly, but a sequence of events that happen coincident and often because of the male's presence>
The only change she has had in 26 years started about 4 years ago, when I realized my husband had never learned how to take care of a turtle, so I got a larger tank, a UVB light, and a floating basking platform. But since I didn't know what to feed her, or temps, lights, etc. I parked myself at the local pet shop and asked, and asked, and asked some more. Could it be these changes in her physical environment that caused the eggs? But that still leaves the cat issue. And before you ask, no, Moose does not seem to hold
her in the same affectionate light.
<LOL! What makes you think I was going to ask that???>'
<OK - I WAS going to at least make a JOKE out of it -- unrequited pseudo instinctive mating behavior -- or some other romantic suggestion>
<The problem with the alternate theory is that you made those changes 4 years ago. It's more likely exactly what you think it is. As they say "If it walks like a duck & quacks like a duck and bashes its head against a glass wall until it can be with its pet cat, it must be Squeaky the Turtle.">
Thank you for your time and help.
Susan
<All kidding aside, Susan, there's not much "help" here. The situation is probably just what you think it is but even if it's not, there's not much any of us could do about it. The down side is that Squeaky will outlive Moose, which means that one day we'll have another separation issue to deal with. Since we don't want to doom your husband to allergy issues forever by continuing the line of cats, you might want to consider getting a male turtle of Squeaky's family and seeing if, over time, the Squeakmeister might turn her affections to something more appropriate. Until then .. brag about this situation.>

Re: Asian Water Turtle behavior   6/2/10
Darrel,
<Susan!>
That is the funniest email I have had in a long while!!! Thank you so much for all the laughs!!
<[Editor's Note: Oh Dear, please don't encourage him! LOL]>
My husband and I got a kick out of it to say the least.
<Glad I could help>
How long will Squeaks live??? I thought I read somewhere on your site that 30 years is about it.... Moose is 8.
<One theory has it that married men live longer than single men. I don't believe that's true I just think it SEEMS longer. In Squeaky's case, she could well live 30-40 years. Moose can easily live to over 20>
I plan on bragging as it is too good a story.
<Yeah.>
Tried to email pic. of moose but can't get it to work.... again!
Loved the story about your iguana! Aren't "our" critters amazing?!?!?!
<They're amazing, quiet, low maintenance and never drop out of college after 3.7 years to become the night manager at a drive through car wash>
Thanks again!
<No charge!>
Susan and Mike Gomez

Turtle mating ritual or dominance? 5/21/10
Hello Crew,
<Hiya! Darrel here>
April 14, two years ago, I found an Eastern Painted Turtle hatchling which I adopted. I have kept it in a bowl on my desk at work Mon. thru Friday, bringing him home with me on the weekends. This April, I set up a ten gallon aquarium for him/her at work, which he/she shares with a small crab (not me). Since it has been in its new home (two months), it has almost doubled in size. (Is this normal?)
<The crab?>
<No, you mean the Turtle, right?>
<Reptiles do not grow to the size of their enclosure, as is sometimes the case with fish, but what CAN happen is that a larger enclosure leads to more comfort, more activity and more eating, all of which lead to faster growth>
Last Friday (5/14) I found another Eastern Painted Turtle hatchling which I adopted. I have it in the bowl vacated by "Killer".
<Wow. What are the chances of that?>
Several self-proclaimed turtle experts (research vets) have told me that because both turtles are the same species, Killer would not harm "Ditto".
<Well, it's like this: The sliders, Cooters, Painteds & family are not combative or predatory upon each other. Generally they can live happily in families or even a colony. But with that said, individuals can get snappy at times and the rule I generally follow has two main components [1] Match them to relatively the same size (no hatchlings with grown adults because one little 'snap' from an adult female is 'hey! Where did my arm go?' to a hatchling) and [2] give the group a large enough environment so that individuals that don't get along can get away from each other. Not likely in a 10 gallon tank>
I have tried putting the hatchling in the larger tank for several hours each day and until this afternoon there were never any problems. Today, Killer started vibrating his/her claws on both sides of the baby, but without actually coming in contact with it. I put Ditto back into the smaller bowl and my search for info on the internet brought me to you. I found an answer from '06 'Mixing turtles' about mating rituals and an answer from '07 'Mixing older & younger turtles together' about the older turtle showing the younger one who is the boss. Is it possible that both answers apply (even though both turtles are Eastern Painted)? Does this mean Killer is a male? I know the larger tail and longer claw nails are distinctions, but I have nothing to compare against.
<Killer is probably a male, if for no other reason that he's exhibiting male behaviors. The thick tail thing is a subjective judgment, but the front claws are obvious: They either look like short nails barely extending beyond the hand or they extend OUT and are clearly long nails. Let's assume Killer is a male>
I can barely see the baby's claws at all. Does Killers response mean that the baby is a female? Will a larger female turtle show dominance the same way?
<No way WE can tell with a baby, as the sexual characteristics aren't visible on the outside until the turtle grows quite a bit. What Killer can tell that we don't know>
<This is my suggestion: Since we can't tell and don't care and Killer thinks she's a girl let's call Killer the expert in this situation and giver her a girl's name>
Any feedback would be appreciated.
<My secondary feedback is regarding the tank and the bowl -- proper nutrition, proper basking and especially UV lighting. All pretty much covered in this article:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
Thanks for your time,
Carolyn
<Yer welcome>

Biting normal or not? 5/11/10
Hi Crew,
My name is Amanda! Jan of 2009 my grandparents brought our daughter 2 yellow bellied sliders from Florida. They were hatchlings at the time and have grown quickly we have a male Mr. Turtle and a female Tuck. Today we took our turtles outside (which they are usually kept in our living room in a tank) while outside a neighbors daughter 10yrs old..picked up Tuck (our female) and was bit on the lip.
<The turtle bit the child's lip? What on Earth was this child doing? Surely at 10 years old she should know better than to try and kiss a turtle... Kids these days!>
They have bit my fingers when taking food out of my hand, but never made me bleed.
<This is what they do if they're not habituated to being handled.>
I don't know if this is normal or an accident.
<Normal for non-habituated reptiles.>
I don't know if Tuck was scared or just wanted to be on the ground exploring.. please help I'm sort of freaked that someone got bit.
<I'm not sure why you're freaked out or surprised here. Reptiles are not family pets in any meaningful sense. Unlike dogs, they aren't social, so couldn't give a rip about you. All they want is warmth, a basking spot under a UV light, a mixed plant and animal based diet, and a bit of water for swimming. That's it. The rest of the time they want to be left alone. Some people habituate their reptiles to handling by holding on to them periodically, for short periods at first, and then for longer periods or more frequently as the reptile matures. With luck, the reptile will get used to handling. Some species are better at this than others -- Bearded Dragons for example are easily habituated, and that's one reason they're popular. But other reptiles never really enjoy being handled, and turtles,
as you'd imagine given their shells, prefer to be left alone. So yes, Tuck was scared, and his biting was simply a result of that. When it comes to hand-feeding any animal, it's best not to, and when hand-feeding my predatory fish I always use steel forceps, not my fingers. I've said it before and I'll say it again, turtles aren't pets for children. They bite, they and their enclosures can carry salmonella, and they provide nothing in terms of affection. None of these things are really issues for healthy adults, but children often allow themselves to get bitten or do things that cause animals to bite them, and children are especially at risk from salmonella infections because they don't wash their hands as often as they should.>
Thanks in advance--
Amanda
<Hope this clarifies things a bit. Cheers, Neale.>

Someone is clawing the carpet. Painted Turtle beh.   4/8/10
To whom it may concern:
<Hiya! I'm not exactly CONCERNED just yet, but I'm Darrel - nice to meet ya>
My wife and I have owned a painted turtle for about 4 years after my brother found her one as a baby.
<Your brother was a baby when he found a turtle?>
<Probably your brother was grown and the turtle was a baby?>
Until now, I have never noticed any awkward behavior. After looking several places, I haven't found any reason for her to be doing such a behavior.
<Your wife? Or the turtle?>
Basically, as she crawls around the floor
<Your wife? Or the turtle?>
she stops and begins clawing with her hind-feet at the carpet.
<.. ah .. the turtle!>
First she pushes back her left foot 4-5 times, and then steps forward to do the same thing with her right foot.
<Almost sounds like she's doing the Hokey-Pokey, doesn't it?>
This happens for up to 20 minutes one night, when we decided it a little nerve-wrecking and we placed her back into her aquarium.
<Who's nerves?>
If you could shine any light on this situation, it would be greatly appreciated.
<Perfectly normal behavior, Justin. She's just testing the ground. Were it to give way, she may stay there for a minute or two digging a shallow hole and then just move on. It's an instinctive thing they do some times, for not particular reason. What you could you if you wanted to see what else might be on her tiny mind, is put about 2 inches of vermiculite in a cardboard box and then set her in that one night. Sometimes immature females will dig nesting holes even when they have no eggs>
Thanks for your time, and I appreciate your helpful
website.
<Thanks Justin - we thrive on positive comments!> 

Turtle blowing bubbles  3/9/10
Dear Crew,
<Hiya Shelly - Darrel here>
My husband came home from work and noticed that my turtle kept releasing a lot of air bubbles from her mouth, and moving her back legs.
<Was she in the water, swimming as she did this -- or on her basking area?>
Can you tell me wants wrong with her?>
<Bubbles from the nose while on land is often a sign of a respiratory infection, but bubbles from the mouth while underwater is often just something "they do." I've often wondered if things like that are simply how they entertain themselves>
I've had her for 2 years. I recently changed her tank size and it seems with more water in the tank that she is eating less. Should I reduce the water so she can eat more.
<The amount of water wouldn't be a factor by itself, Shelly. Sometimes change itself can be a factor ... making any kind of change can disrupt their routine for a little while and often that shows as a reduction in basking or feeding. If "recently" means 1 few weeks, I wouldn't worry about it yet. Make sure her basking area is between 85 to 90 degrees and her water temp is around room temperature (say ... 68 to 73), that the water is clean and that she (is her name Shellie??) has a good source of UV-B lighting on her basking spot.>
<If the bubbles are from her mouth, just sometimes, when she's swimming, I wouldn't worry.>

Re: re: turtle blowing bubbles  3/11/10
Please disregard my last message. She laid eggs. Now I know that she's ok.
<Glad it all worked out. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: re: turtle blowing bubbles   3/11/10
She was sitting on the bottom of the tank when she was kicking her foot around.
<So far fine>
Her name is Suzie.
<Cool>
She loves to be out of the tank. I had to take her out today because she was not allowing my other turtle to eat.
<Nice of you to notice. Most people just heap so much food in that the foul the water>
His name is rexie. But about the bubbles. She was hanging out on the bottom of the tank when she was blowing the big bubbles. Just want to make sure she's gonna be fine.
<Just sounds like quirky behavior to me>
Also she's been kicking at her tail, what could that be.
<That's interesting. Next time she's out of the tank and relaxed try to get a good look at her tail. Sometimes they can get some abrasions (from their own shell even) that aggravate the condition, causing them to try to rub it more, etc. If everything looks fine and this is just occasional behavior let it be>
<Darrel>

help 02/14/10
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
Got a yellow bellied turtle from someone who was going to ditch it. I like it but its fluttering its front claws in front of its face in a quick fashion.
<usually that's what males do in courtship, Casey. Males have the long nails and they flutter them in front of the female as if you say "See? Look! I have long nails!">
<In the human world, I've found that it's never a good idea for the male to have prettier hair, longer nails or just be prettier than the female ... but apparently things are different in the turtle world>
<So if he's doing it to another turtle, that's normal.>
Should I be concerned ?
<nope>
Thanks --CASEY 

Baby turtles together aggression or love?  1/19/10
Hello,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have two babies in a breeder tank. One is a Central American Slider and the other is a Painted turtle. Generally, they get along well.
<As long as they're generally the same size, that is often the case>
At times, the painted turtle will pursue the Slider and put one leg on it. The painted will sleep on top of the Slider and often insists on being right next to it. The painted often basks with the Slider but I have seen it even put a leg on the Slider as it was boarding the perch. Is the painted showing affection or aggression.
<One of the most endearing traits in the Emydid turtles is their behavior in groups. While they don't have any herd instincts and generally do just as well (if not a bit better) alone, they also show every behavior we think of when we think of affection, bonding and friendship. In my opinion Also know technically as the "right" or "correct" opinion, this is neither aggression nor affection behaviors but they ARE perfectly normal ones.>
Thank you
Amy

My Turtle - gaping or coughing? 9/10/09
Dear Crew,
<Hiya! Darrel here today>
I have had a painted turtle for a year now. My kids found her last summer at our family campsite. She was very small when we got her, so I feel safe in saying she is only a year old.
<OK, at the moment exact age isn't important anyway>
I have her in a 20 gallon tank, and I clean it once a week, but lately she has been sitting on her dock when she is basking and is biting at the air.
It is like she is trying to catch something like a fly but there is nothing there, is this normal?
<Mmm Can be. Sometimes they gape - hold the mouth open for a while, almost like a yawn ... and this is normal. HOWEVER ... it could also be an early sign of a respiratory infection and this behavior is as close as a turtle can get to a cough. The good news is that at this early stage, it's also easy to treat.>
<UV light, basking light, clean water and a good diet -- and these symptoms will subside. I've enclosed a link below that describes the basic care for all Emydid (hard shelled) water turtles and it covers all these
issues>
Also I can't get her to eat plants or kale should she be eating more of those at her age?
<Be careful with Kale and Spinach ... both will tend to leach calcium from them. As the guide suggests, a high quality Koi food pellet fed in the water is a perfectly balanced diet for a Painted Turtle. You can
supplement once a week with a single earth worm or night crawler -- but that's more for a treat than any dietary requirement,>
How often should she be fed?
<All the pellets in the water that she'll eat in 5 minutes -- then scoop out the rest. 6 days a week. When in doubt, under feed -- nothing wrong with her being a little hungry>
I put food in her dish every morning and it seems to last her all day.
<Turtles are best fed in the water -- however I do know people that don't want to make the tank water messy, so they remove the turtle to a shallow tub with about an inch of room temperature water and feed the turtle in that ... removing him back to his regular tank after 5 or 10 minutes>
Sorry I have so many questions
<No problem ... we have MANY answers!>
but my last question is, how big of a tank should I have her in? I was told a minimum of 75 gallons is this true?
<When she's 8 years old and 5-8 inches long, yes. Right now a nice clean 20 gallon tank is just fine!>
Thank you for answering my questions.
Mechelle
<No problem, I enjoyed it!>
<care: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

Destructive Slider. (Trachemys scripta troostii; destroying plastic habitat) 07/28/09
I've been searching the web to find anything about destructive behavior and I haven't found anything that fits the scenario of my turtle.
<As someone who, the hard way, learned not to mix glass heaters with either Red-ear Sliders and your species, Trachemys scripta troostii, your message doesn't surprise me in the least. They are both clumsy and destructive, end of story.>
I have a Cumberland Slider and have had him/her for about 2 years. Recently a new floating dock was put into his/her tank and he has been ripping / biting it apart. He/she does not eat it, but just tears it apart.
<Guess he doesn't like it.>
I was wondering if this destructive behavior is a sign of needing more room, doesn't like the floating dock or wanting a more varied diet?
<It is true that these are omnivores, and their diet should be varied: plant matter like Elodea should be balanced with things like unshelled shrimp, aquatic snails, frozen lancefish (smelt) and even bits of fruit. A
monotonous diet of pellets will make for an unhappy reptile, that's for certain. So yes, review diet, and act accordingly. Do also consider whether your pet has sufficient swimming and basking space, and if not, upgrade the tank. An adult of this species is fairly big, so you're going to be looking at something around the 50 gallon mark, I'd have thought.>
Thanks for you time. Jessica.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>

Turtle question, beh./comp.    5/2/09
We had 3 smaller painted turtles in a 90 gallon tank (2 males and a female) the one male started biting the smaller male so we found the smaller male a new home. Now months later he has been biting the female. At first it was just her feet. But today he had her by the neck where she could not get away although she is larger than him. Do you think we need to find him a new home or is this normal behavior?
<Yes and yes. Terrapins are not noted for being sociable animals, and in small tanks, the males can be quite aggressive. Dominant males will often harass smaller males, and their breeding behaviour can be quite violent.>
We have had them around 2-3 years and this is the first we have seen of this.
<It's taken this long for them to reach sexual maturity.>
Carol
<It's actually not uncommon for sexually mature males to be kept singly, in their own tanks. Building two or more basking rocks above the water line may help the terrapins to space themselves out, or you could use a divider (plastic mesh from a garden centre) to keep the aggressive male away from the other two. Cheers, Neale.>

Yellow Bellied Slider, sys, fdg.   10/6/08
Hi Crew,
<Hiya Cherie, Darrel here this afternoon>
I have a young (5 months) yellow bellied slider that I house indoors, in a 15 gal. tank. Recently he has been acting very restless. He has always been an active little guy, he loves to climb anything as high as he can, and because of this I made him a long ladder/hill with a basking site on top, so that he can see out the window that his tank sits next too. I have been searching online for possible reasons for his sudden restless behavior (scratching at the tank, pacing back and forth), and have found that if turtles are not getting enough UV light, they sometimes try to go looking for it. I don't have a lot of money, (although I am willing to spend whatever I can to make sure my turtle is healthy), and when I was buying supplies for him I was told by the pet store owner that a plant light from home depot would provide the right amount of UV light, and is a lot cheaper than the expensive lights sold at places like Petco. So, I bought the plant light, and have been using it for 3 months, do turtles require more intense UV light as they are growing?
<Not higher intensity as they grow. Remember UV A & B comes naturally from the sun and (hopefully) the sun doesn't get more intense as they grow. What's important is that they need the right kind of UV and most Plant-Gro bulbs don't have the right spectrum. While I appreciate the Pet Store guy's logic .. and yes I'm going to say this -- It's better than NO UV light, it's not optimum for him and I urge you to save up if you have to and buy a more specific light for him. Normally I don't endorse products by brand in this column because there are many good products out there, Google is your friend, and I want people to do their research and learn. That said I'll tell you that back when I started, I used Vita-Lite by Duro Test because they were the only UV Bulb supplier that actually published their scientific research rather than just "trust me it's a reptile bulb." I did a quick search online and found an 18" Vita-lite fluorescent for around $15 that fit's in a $9 fixture from Home Depot or Lowes.>
I have been feeding him Gammarus (aquatic shrimp), along with water plants, and lettuce, and he has been eating more, but I assume that is because he is growing. I try feeding him when he is restless, but it only calms him down about 1/2 the time. I also tried giving him toys, but he doesn't show much interest in them. Is he sick, bored, or other? Does a plant light really supply enough UVB light?
<If he's eating and active ... swims and basks, we'll assume he's not sick. Please read the attached link and check your care against the article.>
<The next thing is diet. The pet store will have Repto-Min sticks. They're good but a bit expensive. HOWEVER ... on the same shelf at the bottom will be commercial Koi pellets that contain the exact same food for mush less money. Plants are good, lettuce & shrimp ... no. Actually ... NO! Switch him to the Koi pellets as the staple and a weekly or every other week treat of an night crawler earthworm (also available at the pet store.)>
Thanks so much for your help!
<Make these changes over the next month and then please write back, OK?>
Cherie

Lethargic Yellow Bellied Sliders    8/1/08 Hey Crew, <Hiya Mariana, Darrel here> So I have two yellow bellied sliders that I've had since March of 08. <Were they babies when you got them or adult? I'd like to know the sizes.> Recently they have been sleeping a lot, and when I put food in their tank, they don't eat. They no longer freak out to sounds or when I come in the room. Are they going through something? <Being tame is good, but this sounds like lethargic which is NOT good.> They are both male. <How are you judging this?> I recently cleaned their tank, and also put in a new light because I had the wrong light for them. <Recently cleaned their tank ?? I'm hoping you do that FREQUENTLY, Mariana. There's not a lot of information here, like the size of the tank, the size of the turtles or the type of filtration ... so all I can tell you is that most people underestimate how often to clean and they OVER estimate water quality. I'm sending you a link I'd like you to read & compare to your care standards> Am I doing something wrong or is this natural behavior? <My guess ... based on VERY little information, is that they are either not able to warm up enough under a basking lamp or they are sick from environmental reasons, like water quality. Read the link, check out how you're doing and then get back to us, OK?> -Mariana < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

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

Southern Painted Turtle -03/27/08 Please help... I have a southern painted turtle who is just the size of a silver dollar. I've only had him for a couple weeks now and am just getting to know his (her?) behaviors but the past couple nights/mornings I've noticed he/she is buying herself under the sand. Why is he/she doing this and is it normal? I'm a bit worried that I'm doing something wrong!!! Please help!!! Kristina <Kristina, assuming that the turtle is otherwise healthy (i.e., getting a balanced diet of green foods as well as meat and being kept warm and provided with UV-B light and clean water for swimming) then I shouldn't be too concerned about odd behaviours. Yes, turtles do sometimes burrow into sand. Usually this is because they are overheating, so check the air temperature above the sand (I'm assuming the sand is the land part of the vivarium). You may have the lights too close to the sand, so the poor turtle overheats. Do also remember that ventilation is important, so make sure there are at least a couple of gaps in the hood to let air circulate. Adult turtles of course will dig nests when ready to lay eggs, but yours is far too small for that to be an issue. Chrysemys picta dorsalis reaches sexual maturity at about 10 cm in length in the case of males, and a little larger for females. Cheers, Neale.>

Turtle Habits  2-05-08 Hi, <Hey, Mike with ya this evening> Was wondering if you could help. <Will try> I have 2 18 month old yellow bellied turtles(1 male, 1 female) recently the Mertyl (our female turtle) has been basking a lot and not eating much. I took her to the vet for a check over as was worried and he said she was fine, Henry (our male turtle) is eating fine, basking and being pretty normal except for a high pitch noise, he is not gasping for air. Do turtles communicate through sound vibrations? <Turtles don't really audibly communicate at all as far as I know, but can and do detect sound via vibrations. You may want to perform some further research regarding the vocalizations, I've never heard of this> It is not all the time mainly the evening. <Make sure you have an incandescent bulb that produces UVB, and preferably bring them out for some sun several times a week> Also when Mertyl is in the water Henry is getting quite frisky with her could this be why she's out a lot, he's not being aggressive or biting (think he's trying to mate but Merts' not interested). <Could definitely be a cause/factor. Reptiles don't need a whole lot to survive, and in the winter they naturally don't eat as much, even when kept indoors. As long as she's eating something, even if it's only once or twice a week, I wouldn't worry about it. Just make sure they're getting their UVB and sunlight, and a varied diet, possibly with some vitamin additives> Would much appreciate some advice. <Hope I've helped> Many Thanks <Anytime> Carly (Mertyl & Henry) <M. Maddox>

Painted Turtle - behavior question 1/27/08 My wife and I are the proud caretakers of Sam, a painted turtle that my brother and I found about 25 yrs ago. Over the years I've seen much varying behavior and tend to not worry too much if Sam continues to eat and appears to be healthy. Our turtle thrashes when she sees us, occasionally we take her out and hold her for a while which she used to enjoy for a varying periods of time, even closing her eyes and going to sleep or resting. For the last couple of months, this has all changed and holding is not tolerated. In addition, she has gone into a feeding frenzy, almost nipping my fingers when I feed her food sticks. Why the spastic behavior when she used to be mellow? Is there any reason to be concerned? Great website by the way, glad I found you. Matt <Hi Matt. Simply sounds as if your turtle is getting old and cranky. Happens with most animals and indeed people. Of course, do inspect the animal and look for any possible sources of pain, such as abnormal swellings, signs of infection, etc. It would also be a good idea to inspect the faeces for any signs of worms or an unusual texture. Turtle sticks by themselves aren't a great diet, so I hope you've been varying that. A bit more fibre might help clear out the system, relieving any constipation. Chrysemys picta lives a long time, and compared to wild specimens (which live for over 50 years) yours is middle aged. Of course, wild turtles spend many months close to dormant, whereas indoor specimens are kept warm and active all year round. So there are differences, and yours may indeed be simply getting old. Cheers, Neale.>

Putting my turtles to hibernation 11/19/07 Hi <Hiya! Darrel here> I have a Three Toed Box Turtle (about 6 or 7 inches long) that I have had for 6 or 7 months. I keep him in a large outdoor 5x8 cage built out of cinder blocks 2 high and lined with bricks sunk in the ground inside to keep him from digging out. There is a small shallow pond in it and I also have a chain link cover over the top. Our dirt is mostly clay so I mixed up a patch of it with lots of sand for him to dig in but he never digs. <Box turtles seldom dig actual holes. They're more likely to just find a natural depression at the base of some plant and hunker down for the evening or the season that way.> It is starting to get colder so I figure he should go into hibernation soon. The thing is he doesn't dig so I don't know if he will just go sit somewhere and hibernate. That would be bad for him right? <"Bad" is a relative term, Amanda. Winter causes their systems to shut down to a minimum for the season, but you have to remember that in nature, not all of our animal friends survive each winter. When possible or practical, I arrange for my animals to be spared the entire process> I also considered putting a box stuffed with hay for him to dig into in his cage so he wouldn't have to go underground. <Two course of action here. You could find a bigger box of cardboard or wood, put some straw or hay in the bottom and bring him inside, maybe to your room, and spare him the whole hibernation process. Two, you could get a smaller box, fill it with straw as you suggest and place him in a safe place on your porch or in your garage and let him shut down for the season. You don't say where you live, so I'm not sure just how cold or dangerous your winters are. More on this in a moment> Should I stop feeding him yet so his food won't rot in his stomach? <As fall approaches their appetites should start to shrink and yes, you should slowly reduce their feedings, both in amount and frequency> I also have a Map Turtle (about 4 or 5 inches long) I keep in an outdoor aquarium. Last year I just put him in a smaller container and put him in our glassed in porch (its unheated) and he hibernated on the bottom of the tank. Is this an okay way for him to hibernate this year? <A lot of the same advice applies, Amanda. For my inside animals and individual specimens, I bring them inside the house or porch and add a little heat and avoid hibernation, but for my outdoor ponds I have no choice but to let nature take it's course. The worry is that the pond is deep enough and the body of water large enough to maintain some temperature balance (cold or hot) and here's the reason: Most of our reptile and fish friends from temperate climates can hibernate over winter without problem, but what I call "almost winter" can be lethal to them. "Almost Winter" is where it is clearly winter and their metabolisms shut down according to plan, but it's not cold ENOUGH to shut down all the way .... or it has too many warm periods where they reheat and become semi-active only to be hit by another cold snap .. these transitions can be lethal to them.> <Here's an example: Yes, you could put your Map turtle in a large enough tank and allow him to over-winter, or you could keep the water warm to around 65-70 and a basking area warm to 88-90 and avoid winter altogether. BUT .... if you were to let the water become 50 or 55 and still have the basking area active, his only choices would be TOO HOT (for winter) and TOO COLD (for summer). Personally, I'd rather see the Map Turtle in a tank on top of the dresser in your room all year 'round than outside.> I would appreciate any reply to this. Thanks. -Amanda <You're welcome & best of luck to you!>

Turtle care question: fighting or playing? I have two turtles living in a 55 gal. tank. I got one of them about 5 years ago, when it was only about 1". The other one I 'adopted' some months ago, and after a few months in quarantine, I decided to put them together in a larger tank. They are between 5-6" in size. I've noticed though that one of them chases the other one around and would not leave it alone. I caught them yesterday 'fighting' and one was biting the other one's back leg. Should I be worried? Are they just playing or are they really fighting? This is the second time I've seen them like this, and I'm afraid one of them is going to get hurt. Should I separate them? Does a turtle bite can really cause harm considering they have no teeth? Both turtles are in good health and well fed. Pls help! Tks in advance Yenelli <Turtles (and reptiles in general) don't exhibit play behaviour. What you're describing is aggression. Turtles can and will do serious harm with their bites: they may lack teeth but their beaks are very sharp and their jaw muscles very strong. Big turtles can do serious harm to humans if handled carelessly, and have been known to bite the feet off other turtles. Males tend to be the most aggressive, both to each other and to unresponsive females. But in any event if yours are fighting, they're fighting! Separation is a good idea. Alternatively, make sure their enclosure allows them to sit apart from each other. Most fighting is on land. So if you have TWO islands in the tank, each one under its own lamp (or both under one big lamp) then the two turtles can bask separately. This should cool down their tempers a bit. Plastic plants can be used to create underwater hiding places too. Red-ear Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) -- the most common pet turtle -- are not social and can be kept singly without problems. Good luck, Neale>

Question regarding shell color on our baby turtles 10/29/07 Dear Crew, <Hiya! Darrel here this morning> They are both about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, one turtle has a dark green shell and the other has a light green shell. Is this normal? <Yes, that's perfectly OK! Usually as they age the shell colors will turn a bit darker but I've seen them hang on to brighter colors well into their adulthood. Now ... if the colors start turning plaid or paisley or the turtle appears to look like a Peter Max Poster from the 1960's ... it means you're not well and should see a doctor. Or at least ... cut back a little! Other than that ... look for spots or patches that change color and THAT might possibly be something of concern.> I just want to make sure they are both healthy! <And we appreciate your concern. Turtles are easy to keep as long as you do a really good job of providing them the few things that they need. Here's a link to help you: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm and also remember that the Google Search Bar at the bottom of our main page is a great way to access all kinds of articles and information. Finally, we always welcome questions AND pictures if you're seeing something that you don't feel you can describe> Thank you... Cheryl <Yer most welcome!>

Turtle behavior question... 10/12/07 This is my first time asking a website a question. Pardon me if I did not post it properly. I am not web savvy, but my curiosity about a turtle is killing me. <Hiya Kath & welcome. You're doing JUST FINE so far. Although I DO have to admit that about 7 or 8 jokes ran through my mind about people claiming to have never been on the web before, but since this IS your first time here -- the first of many, we all hope ... I'm going to behave myself> I was at a small outdoor pond in Oct 2007 at Brookside's Gardens in Wheaton, MD. I saw two turtles whose behavior amazed me. I was hoping your group could explain it to me. <I hope so too. I've given up trying to explain my kid's behavior, so maybe I can manage a turtle or two> Two turtles, one bigger (shell, maybe 7 inches across), one smaller (shell, maybe 5 inches across), were swimming slowly with heads out of the water. Both turtles had a yellow stripe and a smaller red mark on their faces. <Red Eared Sliders. Some of the nicest water turtles you'll ever meet> The small turtle swam directly in front of the big turtle, until they were head to head in a straight line. The small turtle stuck its front legs straight out, claws extended forward, and gently laid its claws on either side of the big turtle's head. The small turtle then did this weird gesture - it softly fanned or vibrated its claws on either side of the head of the big turtle for about 5-10 seconds. The big turtle sort of tolerated/accepted this gesture, but continued to swim forward. The little turtle swam like hell to catch up to the big one, cautiously got it front it and repeated the gesture. This went on at least 10 times until the people with me got bored and I had to leave with them. The little turtle seemed very motivated to do this behavior. Any ideas? <Yes Ma'am. I know it well. In fact, I tried that VERY SAME BEHAVIOR on a woman I met at a party last night. And, oddly enough, she also tolerated it for a while and then got bored and moved on.> <What you saw was courting behavior. It's the turtle equivalent of a young man turning his car stereo up to ear drum destroying decibels and then cruising past the young lady of his desire under some hope that she'll be so impressed with the vibration that she'll run after the car until she can leap in the side window.> <The males, which are smaller than the females, grow very long front claws so that they can wave them in front of the potential mates, apparently saying "Hey Baby, look at these long claws, we should get together some time!" and usually, just as you observed, the female looks and him and his claws, mulls over the possibilities and them swims on. Personally, I think she looks around and then thinks "Typical MALE! I've been trying for 7 years now to grow my nails out just past the end of my fingers and every time I try they break off -- even sometimes in my sleep-- and here he grows those ridiculously long nails WITHOUT EVEN TRYING and what does he do??? He FLAUNTS them in my face! Typical male!> <But then .... that's just what *I* think.... somewhere along the line, the right male flutters the right claws in just the right way and the next thing you know they're mating and then she digs a hole in the sand and lays eggs and then 90 to 120 days later 6 or 8 little green babies pop out.> <So there you have it. Courting behavior.> <On behalf of everyone here at Wet Web Media ... I hope you enjoyed your first time and hope that it will encourage you to do it again!> Kath <Darrel>

Turtle question, beh.  9/27/07 Dear Crew <Hiya Janis> How long can a turtle be on his back if he can't right himself? <There are several issues related to him being on his back but they're all pretty much immediate. That is to say that if you don't see evidence of the problem right away, then there probably is no problem. In their excitement and effort to right themselves, they can regurgitate (a nice way to say "throw up", isn't it?) and then choke on that. Obviously didn't happen. When upside down they are exposed (no pun intended) to predators (not a problem, we hope) and the elements -- which is to say that they can't move in and out of the heat. A turtle upside down under a basking lamp or the hot sun can literally die from the heat. This didn't happen, which leaves us only with heat stroke causing brain damage, which is a problem with turtles because ... after all ... how can you tell a "normal" one from a "weird" one? It's not like my brother-in-law who is just obviously damaged.> I found my turtle that way after a day away and now I'm worried. I have no idea how long he was like this. <I understand the worry. I have several herds of adult tortoise that are outside animals and if I travel more than a day trip, I either have to have someone check on them ... or I worry the whole time I'm gone. It goes with the territory of being a responsible "parent". Just observe him for a while. If he is eating, pooping and active and doesn't act like my weird brother in law ... just put it out of your mind.> <Two things though -- check his habitat to make sure that you haven't accidentally created a condition or a location that would cause this to happen ... and then have a stern talk with him about the dangers of unsupervised playing.> <Everything will be fine> Thanks, Janis <Yer welcome! Darrel>

Mud /musk turtle coming out of hibernation 7/3/07 Dear Crew, <Hiya, Darrel here> My Mud Turtle has been buried in the dirt for probably 6-7 months. <I'm going to go off on a tangent here for a moment. If this is an indoor environment, there'd be no reason for hibernation and if this is outdoors, unless you live very far north, this is very, very late to be coming out of hibernation.> He finally emerged a few days ago. he stayed in their dirt area for a couple of days, he looks really dry, so I poured some of the tank water over his shell. That day he finally went into the water side. <What I see most often in mud turtles is, for some reason, simply a dislike for a particular pond and they climb out, go hunting for a new pond and when they come to the fence, they simply bury themselves. If they're not found fairly quickly, they're emaciated and unhealthy when they finally come out again.> And Its been a few days now and all he does is float around. He hasn't eaten anything. He's gone to the bottom of the tank a couple of times but he mainly just floats around. He's I guess shedding some skin. <None of this is particularly good news, but then again it's not crisis time, either> There is no drainage from the nose. His eyes look good. <Good signs> My main question I guess is the floating around normal after hibernating? Does it take some time for them to recoup? <Not the way you're describing it -- this sounds more like the little guys has some problems.> I've been trying to find information online, but can only find information on box turtles. <Keep him on land, please. For now. Go to the pet store or bait shop and get a container of night crawlers (heavy-duty earthworms). Put him in a shallow pan of lukewarm water for 10 minutes under sunlight or normal room bright lights (just not darkness) twice a day and look for activity -- movements, poking his head out to see what's going on, etc. and after you see attempts at activity, offer one worm. If he doesn't chow down, try again tomorrow and let's give him another 4-5 days to come around. Hydration, warmth and nutrition are that basics -- once we have those covered he'll start to perk up.>

Re: mud /musk turtle coming out of hibernation 07/06/07 I wanted to thank you for the quick reply. My turtle climbed out of the water himself after I sent you the mail. He's been walking around in the dirt/grass side of the tank, he climbed on top of the rock. I got some worms and took him out of the tank and put him in the sink with warm water. He still didn't eat anything. he kind of pecked at the worm but didn't eat it. He is moving a lot now, so maybe he's coming around in time. Again thank you for your advice. I will try the worms again in the morning. <In a set-up like yours, I doubt hibernation is an issue. I suspect that he wasn't hibernating as much as he was trying to get away from your Musk Turtle. The little guy was probably running away from home, so to speak, and is now just coming back to that world and acclimating again. This happens from time to time and it's possible that now, for no particular reason, everything will be "better" and he won't do it again. As long as he's doing the right things, we won't ask too many questions. Keep offering the food as he gets more active.> p.s. hopefully the pics aren't too big of a file. the first one is of the 55 gallon tank set up i have. the second on is of the turtle i was asking about. <A nice looking Mud Turtle!> and the third one is a pic of all three of my turtles that are in the tank. <A very handsome Musk Turtle on the left> the slider i saved from a death bowl a friend of mine had it living in for like 3 years. the turtle still looked like a baby. i couldn't believe it survived that long. i made her give him to me. <Good for you! Keep up the good work> <Darrel>

Turtle Growth   4/16/07 Hello, My name is Cindy and I have two pet turtles, Todd and Chelsy, but I don't know if there a boy or girl and on most websites they say that turtles at that age are too young.  So my question is, do they grow fast? < Most young turtles seem to grow quickly when they are young. As they get older their diet changes from a meaty high protein diet to more of a vegetarian diet with less protein. At first they should grow and inch or two a year up until they get around four inches, then it may be around a inch or less. > How big do they grow to? 7 inches? < You did not mention the species of the turtles, so I am forced to guess that you have red eared sliders, the most common turtle in the trade. Males are smaller than females and can probably get up to 7 inches over many years. Females sometimes get up to 12 inches.> I'm curios, and I love them, please tell me the best way to make it love me like I love them. thank you!!!!!!!! < Turtles really don't form an affection for people like a puppy dog. What they will do instead is identify with the person that feeds them. Every time you walk by they will follow you around begging for food. Your biggest challenge will be not to over feed them. If they eat too much they can die. Turtle's stomachs can't can't expand because of the shell restricting them. The food will displace and squeeze their internal organs and cause problems.-Chuck>

Wild Turtle Coming out Of Hibernation - 04/04/2007 Hello, guys and girls. Earlier today my father-in-law found a turtle sunning itself in the middle of the road. He picked it up and decided to bring it home for the night, our weather is predicted to get below freezing for the next couple of days. He brought the turtle over to me. I myself own a turtle, I think he may of thought I would put the wild turtle with my pet turtle for the night. I of course had to refuse. Anyway, I looked the turtle over and discovered that I could not see the turtles eyes. He could open and close the lids, but the eyes themselves are totally covered over with a crusty, caked on substance. I assume it to be puss, it is rather quite discussing to look at. Also there was a white, watery liquid dripping from the cloaca. It reminded me of watered down milk. I thought at first maybe a vitamin deficiency, but now I'm not sure. Could this be some form of disease?   My father-in-law plans to release the turtle back into the wild within the next couple of days, when the weather is again warm. What do you suppose the turtles chances of surviving will be? Is there anything we can do to increase those chances? Thank you for any help you can give this little turtle. Casey < Springtime plays havoc with wild turtles in cold areas. Sound like a turtle typically coming out of hibernation. They come out as soon as a few warm days show up ,only then to get hit by a cold front that they cannot handle. I would recommend that you keep the turtle in a container with warm (70's) water just covering the shell. The eyes may be covered with a silt/clay crust that should dissolve in the water in a day or two. If they are still pussy then some vitamin A drops could be added to the eyes to clean them up. Once the turtle can see you could offer some food. Check the weather report for your area and release the turtle when there is at least a week of decent weather to give him a chance.-Chuck>

Turtle With Bubbles   1/28/07 Hey WWM Crew-I have been reading a lot of things on your website about how turtles and bubbles are bad. I have a painted turtle that is probably only 3 1/2-4". He's been great, but I noticed yesterday that he was coming to a certain part of the tank, sticking his head up, snapping at the top of the water, bringing his head back down and then blowing the bubbles out of his mouth once his head got under. I didn't know if I should be concerned or if he was just bored and amusing himself. Thanks so much! Beth < The problem is when turtles get breathing problems and liquids, foams and bubbles are being exhaled when the turtle is on dry land. This is a sign of liquids being in the lungs. Your turtle sounds bored but it may be trying to obtain some fats and oils floating on the top of the water from the food.-Chuck>

Turtle Sitting Like A Bump On A Log    1/21/07 Well, my turtles don't seem to want to do anything except lay under the basking lamp when it is on and off. They do not swim, eat, or wake up. When they open their eyes one of the turtles has a problem opening one all the way, and the other  turtle is doing just fine, but yet he just sits there like a bump on a log and when they do get in the water they do not seem to dive at all. They just float at the top and they do not kick very much. I have not seen them eat in a couple of days and the bait fish are still all there. Thank you once again, Samantha < Turtles that are overfed tend to just sit under the basking light until their food is digested. Check the temp. of the basking site. It should be at least 85 F. If not hen get a bigger heat lamp or move the source of the light closer. Take out all the food items and clean the tank. When your turtle starts to move again, you should only feed him three times a week. Watch him eat and when he starts to get full and slow down you should stop feeding. Overfeeding can be very dangerous to a turtle. The food may site in his stomach and rot causing all kinds of intestinal problems.-Chuck>

Turtle Eating Gravel   1/3/07 Hello-I have a 7 month old eastern painted turtle and I just witnessed her eating some of the small pebbles on the bottom of her aquarium.  Is this normal and ok????Thanks! Kelley < Your turtle is needing some additional vitamins and minerals. Try adding some green vegetables like spinach and kale to the diet as well as offer some liquid reptile vitamins weekly.-Chuck>

Yellowed Belly Hatchling Basks With His Eyes Closed   12/31/06 Hi, I have bought a hatchling Yellow-Bellied Slider, and before buying I researched a lot. I have had him for a day, and I'm feeding him on ReptoMin food sticks. He ate yesterday, which seems okay. I have noticed that when he comes out of the water onto his basking area (which is at 85 F), he tends to close his eyes. He keeps them open in the water and when he's sleeping (he sleeps at the top of the water), but when he gets up onto land and basks, he closes his eyes (his eyelids are like a clear-ish film). I just wanted to know if this is normal, or should I be worried? Thanks. < Basking lights are very bright and the eyelids are there to protect your turtles young eyes from too much light. If the eyes get puffy or do not open then there is a vitamin A deficiency and ZooMed Turtle Eye Drops are needed.-Chuck>

Turtle chasing with claws out   12/10/06 I have had a red-eared slider living with 2 goldfish for about 2 years now.  All have gotten quite big and are in a 10 gal tank. <Need much more room. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/ressysfaqs.htm and the linked files above> Lately turtle has been following fish constantly.  Often, it swims after them with its front legs extended straight out along the sides of its head.  It has very long claws and they stick straight out. <A sexual characteristic... as you'll find from reading> Do you know is turtle trying to spear them and eat them or what? Melbourne, FL <Mostly the eat them part. Bob Fenner>

Turtle Wants Out   12/3/06 Ok Hi, well I have a turtle. and its tail is getting very large, I have never had a turtle before and I'm just wondering if maybe that is a sign of pregnancy??? Also it has been digging a lot and its made many attempts to escape its tank. It has every thing a turtle needs rocks to crawl on and a lamp. But am worried that if it isn't a pregnancy then it may be a disease??. <Turtles lay their eggs in damp sand. Provide an area where she can get out and dig a shallow depression to lay her eggs. Red eared sliders lay their eggs at almost any time of year.-Chuck>

Turtle nipping other turtle feet, Turtles Trying To Mate   12/3/06 Okay, here is the scenario, we have 4 turtles in a 125 gal. tank with all the proper set up, (i.e. UV basking lamp & dock, Fluval 404,heater,etc.).1 musk or mud turtle,1 yellow belly NW pond turtle, 1 painted, and 1 Red-eared slider who is presumably female and larger than all the others. They are all healthy, eat well, etc. until recently the painted and NW pond have begun relentlessly pursuing the RES and nipping at her rear feet. They have even made some bite marks and the RES is trying to swim around with her rear legs tucked in. She is larger than both of them, why doesn't she fight back? Is this a seasonal thing? Like maybe she is in season and they are nasty little boys looking for action? What can I do about this behavior? There is no dirt or nesting material in this set-up, so if she is in season will she need an area to lay eggs? We don't need her to reproduce, but does she need to? Do I have to separate her? If so, for how long? Should I treat the small nip wound on her, and with what? I hope that this too shall pass as this set-up is nicely done and we have hopes of building an indoor pond for them, and our hatchling size turtles when they are larger, to cohabitate with each other. < In the wild turtles view each other as competition. They stay away from each other and only come together to mate. In the aquarium they are all forced to get along. If their is only one female then the other males in the tank will mate with whatever female is available. Try cooling the water temp down to the low to mid 60's. You may have it too warm for them. Cooling it down will slow their metabolic rate and take them out of the breeding temps.-Chuck>

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

Floating Soft Shell Turtle    10/6/06 Hello, My Florida Soft Shell is buoyant. He can't seem to stay down no matter how hard he tries... He keeps floating up to the top of his tank. Usually he acts starving when I feed him and is very vigorous and tonight at dinner time he didn't even budge. Finally I got him to eat 2 brine shrimp cubes (he normally eats 3), but he is just floating at the top of his tank. Could he be dying? Also, our power   went out the other day and I had to add water to the filter area to get the pump to stat pumping again.... when I did this, it added the pump debris in to his water. Could he have gotten sick from this if he ate it? Please help answer my questions if you can. < Could be sick from something he ate, but the problem is the water is too cold. Put a quality water heater in the aquarium and turn it up to 80 F. Soft shells really don't bask so the water needs to be warm all the time for them.-Chuck>

Re: Burping Turtle   10/5/06 Thanks.  Any reason for the big air bubbles (burping)? <Gas is usually a associated with food  being decomposed by microbes as opposed to being digested by the stomach juices.-Chuck>

Re: Burping Turtle II    10/6/06 I'm assuming that food decomposed by microbes as opposed to being digested by stomach juices is bad? < It means that the bacteria are breaking down and digesting the food and not the turtle.> She spends a considerable amount of time under her basking lamp, which is at the correct temperature, so I'm not sure what else to do. Thanks, Matt < Check the basking spot with a thermometer. It should be at least 85 F. If it is too cold then increase the wattage of the basking light or move the source closer to the spot.-Chuck>

Turtles Appetite Slowing Down   9/30/06 Hello, I have a painted turtle, which I rescued from an abandoned apartment four months ago.  I took her to the vet for a full inspection and received a clean bill of health.  She is 7-inches long and is kept in a 30-gallon tank with proper heating, lighting, basking area with lamp, and a significant filter.  Water is changed once/week and she is fed twice per day (pellets and leafy greens.) The question: it is now late September and she is eating less and slowing down.  She is spending a lot of time basking and sometimes I see her sleeping underwater during the day.  While eating she will chomp down on a pellet and spit most of it out.  She used to love these pellets and eat as many as I'd put in the tank.  Now she'll just eat a few per day.  I tried buying a variety of pellets, but she won't touch the others.  She no longer has much interest in the leafy greens, either.  Further, she seems to be burping large air bubbles underwater more than before. Other than that she seems to be normal.  I put her in boarding for a month while traveling, where she got a little fat (the pet shop that took her said she had quite an appetite.)  I know the Fall season beings a change in turtle behavior, but this is my first season with her and I'm not sure if this is normal.  Please advise. Thanks, Matt < During the fall turtles appetite normally slows down. This is in anticipation of hibernation. Food should be stored as fat. Food left in the stomach will rot if the temperatures are not right for digestion. If your turtle already has a good weight then she is probably OK. If she was thin then there would be a need for concern.-Chuck>

Small Soft Shell Turtle   8/30/06 Hi I have a soft shell turtle I have had it for nearly a year now and its  still about 5cm long is this normal? < Soft shell turtle actually require some warmth. Your turtle should be close to twice that size. Get a heater for the tank and set at 75 to 80 F. Feed foods that are high in protein like fish, insects and worms.-Chuck>

Lost Turtle  - 08/25/06 Thank you. I need to ask you one more question. My friend  has a turtle and it escaped from the kiddie pool he had it in and we cannot find  it. Where are some places he could hide and how long could he survive away from  the water. Also will he come back to the water even though he cannot get back  in. Thank you very much. <With elevated summer temps reptiles get a little extra boost from the heat and light and sometimes find new energy to escape from their enclosures. Start by looking under boards and rock. Then look in piles of leaves or any loose soil in flower gardens etc.. If they start to dry out then they seek shelter in shaded moist areas. If you lived in the Arizona desert then he wouldn't last too long. If you lived in an area that is fairly warm and gets summer rain then he could last outdoors for months.-Chuck>

New Yellow Bellied Slider Turtle  - 08/12/06 Hi. I found a turtle in my front yard the other day and I have some questions. I read the FAQ's and found a lot of useful info, but I need to know if I put Reptisafe in along with the little turtle-shape blocks? Or just one at a time? < The Reptisafe is a water conditioner that removes chlorine and some harmful minerals. The Dr Turtle Sulpha Block adds sulfur to the water to inhibit bacteria and acidify the water.> <<Can be mixed. RMF>> Also, she swims and swims against the glass. Is this normal? Is she freaking out? She was in a pond at one time as there is algae on her shell. I only have a 10 gal tank for now. < Your new turtle is accustomed to being out in the open with lots of swimming room. Now he is confined to a little 10 gallon tank and needs time to slowly get use to his smaller tank.> Thanks for the help and I do enjoy your site. Are you guys veterinarians or just have a lot of experience?  Sara < I am a long time amateur aquarist/herpetologist with some experience and lots of good books to look things up.-Chuck>

Hibernating Turtles   8/12/06 Hello. I have 2 red eared sliders and I have them outside in a pond. They have plenty of basking space and shady places. I have been keeping them in the pond for a few summers now and have been bringing them inside during the winter.  I was wondering if it is possible to keep them outside during the winter and if  so do I need mud in the bottom or what should I do. Thank  you <Hibernating turtles can be somewhat challenging. First your turtles must be in good health. Sick turtles do not usually survive a season of hibernation. Secondly, is make sure they are well fed. They must have enough fat reserves to last them through the winter. Do not feed them in the late fall when things have already cooled off. The food will rot in their gut and cause problems. Depending on where you live the pond needs to be fairly deep so that it doesn't freeze solid. In the south a couple of feet may be fine. Deeper the farther north you go. They need mud to bury themselves and to help insolate them. This year many turtles came out of hibernation early because of an unusually warm winter and early spring. Sudden cold fronts caught them already out and many turtles got sick with respiratory infections.-Chuck>

African Sideneck Turtle In the Corner  7/14/06 I got my African Sideneck Turtle 3 days ago and all it has done is sit in the corner of the tank near the water filter. My parents say that it likes the flowing water, but I am not sure. He also has not eaten in 2 days. My friends say that he is lonely, but I don't know. Should I be concerned? < Check the water temp. It should be up around 80 F. He will be more active at higher temps if everything else ids OK.>-Chuck>

Turtle Not Eating, was African Sideneck Turtle In the Corner   7/15/06 What do I do if the water gets to cold? Why is He not eating? < You have a tropical turtle that needs to be warm to increase his metabolism and properly digest his food. If he is too cold then the food sits in his stomach and rots. Get an aquarium thermometer and set it for 80 F and see if he gets more active. The other problem could be parasites. You will need to take a fecal sample to a vet to have it checked out.-Chuck>

Turtles Nipping At Each Other   6/27/06 Okay, here is the scenario, we have 4 turtles in a 125 gal. tank with all the proper set up, (i.e. UV basking lamp & dock, Fluval 404,heater,etc.).1 musk or mud turtle,1yellow belly NW pond turtle,1 painted, and 1 Red-eared slider who is presumably female and larger than all the others. They are all healthy, eat well, etc. until recently the painted and NW pond have begun relentlessly pursuing the RES and nipping at her rear feet. They have even made some bite marks and the RES is trying to swim around with her rear legs tucked in. She is larger than both of them, why doesn't she fight back? < Two against one are difficult odds to overcome.> Is this a seasonal thing? < Could be. Time will tell.> Like maybe she is in season and they are nasty little boys looking for action? <It is early summer and the timing is right for males to be courting females.> What can I do about this behavior? <Pull the heater to the tank and cool them down. This may slow down their metabolism enough so they won't feel like breeding.> There is no dirt or nesting material in this set-up, so if she is in season will she need an area to lay eggs? < If there is no where to lay her eggs she will abort them in the water where they will be eaten by the other turtles.> We don't need her to reproduce, but does she need to? < Well conditioned mature female turtles may still produce eggs.> Do I have to separate her? If so, for how long? <I would separate her if the cooling down idea doesn't work. Reintroduce her once every couple of weeks and see how the others react. When they leave her alone then you can try to put her back.> Should I treat the small nip wound on her, and with what? <Keep the water clean, add a Dr Turtle Sulpha Block by Zoo Med and treat the wounds with Repti Wound Healing Aid by Zoo Med.> I hope that this too shall pass as this set-up is nicely done and we have hopes of building an indoor pond for them, and our hatchling size turtles when they are larger, to cohabitate with each other. < Keeping groups of turtles can present problems as you have found out.-Chuck>

Turtle Sleeps on Back  6/23/06 Dear Bob, <Nope, Pufferpunk here to answer your turtle Qs>    I have 3 red eared sliders. <Boy, I hope you have lots of room!  Eventually, they'll need at least 30g each.> The one that's smallest of them all is sleeping upside down!!!!! I was wondering if this is normal and if not what can I do to help it? I'm absolutely sure its not dead and absolutely sure it sleeps that way, since my mom saw it do it several times. <Just turn it over, as some turtles have trouble turning over after being on it's back & can suffocate.> Another thing is that one of my turtles scales are falling off. I'm not sure which one, or why... I was wondering if perhaps they may be fighting? <That is how they grow.  You should see nice, bright shiny scutes underneath.  Check out this site for turtles: http://www.turtletimes.com/  (Please try to use proper punctuation when writing us, as I have to correct, before posting to our FAQs.)  ~PP> Thanks, Dianna

Begging Turtle Driving Owner Crazy    6/14/06 I've had my turtle for almost a year now and in the past couple months he has been crazily flapping around in the front of the tank when he sees me.  I thought he might be hungry but sometimes the food ends up just sitting there. Eventually he stops once put my face really close to the tank or put my hand there. I was wondering if this was normal behavior or if it could mean something else. I love my turtle but it gets real annoying sometimes when I hear him kicking in the rocks all day long. I've tried putting something in front of the tank so he could stare at it which makes him stop but I feel bad sometimes. But its either that or trying to stay real still in my room because once I move, he swims to the front and goes crazy again. Thank you for your time! < As your turtle grows he has different dietary requirements. When young, they like a more meaty diet. As they grow they need some vegetable matter in their diet. Try to vary the diet with some live insects, washed earthworms and add some vegetable matter like kale and spinach. These new items may take care of his requirements for additional vitamins and minerals.-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>

Frantic African Mud Turtle  - 06/07/2006 Hello. I have an African Mud Turtle, given to me 1 year ago in July. Twice now, he has acted very unusual. He has been running up his ramp, jumping into the water, all the while looking frantic! Then he proceeds to try to climb out of the tank by way of the heater, filter, or from the top of the ramp. He has actually flipped himself over attempting this. I have seen what I assume is  his sex organ, and it seems to coincide with this crazy behavior. We have him in  a 40 gallon tank with a ramp and basking light. We keep the water temp at 80  degrees, he eats turtle sticks, and about once a month we give him a few fish to  eat. He does not eat while this behavior is being displayed.  What is going  on with him? Do you think his living conditions are adequate? We have gravel in  the tank, which he digs in and tries to bury himself at the bottom of the ramp.  This is something he has always done, so I'm assuming this is normal. I have  never had a turtle before, so I don't know much about them. He is a cool pet, we  want to make sure he is healthy and happy! Thanks for your  help. <Sometimes turtle get stressed out by being in captivity and need a place to hide. I would recommend a cave-like structure be placed in the tank so he can hide when he wants to stay out of site. The area should be big enough to allow him and his shell full movement with no danger of being stuck, but be able to provide some cover. Covering half the tank with plastic or paper may help too. The other reason may be a desire to find a mate to breed. Cool the tank down a few degrees and this should calm his hormones down.-Chuck>

Turtle Toys  - 05/17/2006 I was wondering if you guys have any ideas for turtle toys. Our 2 turtles (Tank and Diesel) get bored. I was wondering if there were any toys made for turtles or any thing that could be turned into a toy. Thanks, Lisa < Turtles are always interested in food. I would recommend that you vary their diet with live earthworms, crickets, mealworms and kingworms. If they are somewhat larger you could add vegetable matter like spinach and kale. Zoo Med has recently come out with a floating turtle log. It is a hollow floating log that turtles can climb out on as well as go inside to feed. I am confident they will love it.-Chuck>

RES Hibernating  - 05/17/2006 My sister has had a RES for years.  She keeps hers in a tank.  I just got one and put it in my pond.  She keeps worrying about it going into hibernation.  She says it will die if it does.  Is this true?  The coldest that it would get in the pond in the winter is the low 50s. < Hibernation is a normal process for many "Cold Blooded" animals to survive the winter. If you turtle is put out now it will slowly acclimate to being outside. As the fall comes and the air begins to chill your turtle will start to rely more on body fat than on actually eating. If your turtle has not accumulated enough body fat, then it will not make it through the winter. This year was a very difficult year for turtles being kept outside. Sporadic heat waves brought turtles out of hibernation. When the cold settled back in , many turtles could not find enough food to eat and got sick with respiratory infections and weak from hunger. Many turtle keepers resorted to bringing their turtles indoors until the outside air temps remained consistently warm.-Chuck>

Sleeping Turtles and Shell Rot  - 5/17/2006 Hi WWM, I just got two red eared sliders from a co-worker. She said she got them as a Christmas gift. I don't know how old they are though because I don't know if she got them from two years ago(2004) or last year(2005). Im guessing they're from the 2005 Christmas because they're both about five inches long. I've had them for almost a week now but something that bothers me is that she never had a UVB or UVA light or even a heat lamp. Anyway, I read about turtles closing their eyes being bad, both of my turtles keep their eyes closed for long periods of time underwater, they seem to be sleeping, This usually happens during the night. I thought all turtles sleep but I just wanted to make sure. < Sounds like they are sleeping.> And also, the smaller turtle's feces are more of a powder than a chunk (the larger turtle's feces look more normal). I feed them pellets (the amount that would fit into their head), and I toss in some chopped up carrots and green lettuce that they eat sometimes. The water temperature is usually near 80F during the day and 75F during the night. I keep a UVB headlamp on about 10 hours a day. I also have a water heater and a submerged water filter on all the time. I also change half of the water everyday and clean the tank twice a week. There is also little white specks and dark brown lines appearing on its shell. I think its shell rot, I was also wondering if you can send me some pictures of shell rot so I can see if it looks similar. Sorry for the long letter but I wanted to give you all the information I had in case it has anything to do with the problem and thanks for any information you can give me. < The shell rot looks like little soft cheese like spots on the shell. Over time they get bigger and need to be cleaned out and treated with antibiotics. Some mottling, like the dark streaks sounds normal. The white spots should be checked out and probed to see if they are soft or hard like the rest of the shell.-Chuck>

Run Away Turtle   5/15/06 Hello, For a couple of months I have been letting my 2 yellow-bellied turtles roam the back yard each day for about an hour. I keep an eye on them and they usually go to the same places and sleep. The male is much more active, but follows the same path, where as the female finds a spot and digs in and sleeps. Well for the last week the female has been burying herself under bushes making it difficult to find her. And 2 days ago I lost her in the yard for good, I was working in the garden and turned for about 10 minutes and we can't find her anywhere. There's no access out of the back year since its all cement wall, so I'm thinking she's nesting. Is it that time of year? < She may be looking for somewhere to lay her eggs.> What I don't know is, is how long is the nesting process and will she come back? < If she has found a way out then she may not come back.> I have 2 pools in the backyard, all natural, no chlorine, and I figured she would head to the pool when done. If she doesn't come back, I would like to get another female for the male but I'm having a hard time locating a 3 year old female of the same size. Seems red sliders are more common. Is it okay to get a red slider female to put with the male? Or is the male better off alone? I assume they get attached to each other and he would like a companion, but I have no idea if turtles are "family-oriented".. Appreciate your help, Celeste < Turtles really don't get along except to breed. The rest of the time they are considered competition to each other. I would still give it a few months before I gave up. Look at Kingsnake.com to find a replacement turtle.-Chuck>

Turtle Strikes Out At Everything   4/30/06 Hello, my name is Dianna. I have 5 red eared sliders in a tank, and I'm afraid that my turtle that is second from biggest to smallest is sick or something's wrong with it. It keeps biting everything. It bites the other turtles for food and it bites me, or tries to, when my finger is on the glass of the tank. It did not do this before, so am afraid something might be wrong.. and maybe if it keeps doing that its mouth will be too stretched out. do you know what's wrong with it? -Dianna < With 5 turtles in one tank you have a very competitive situation. I think your turtles are not getting enough to eat and they are fighting each other and snapping at anything that resembles food. Feed them a little more and maybe vary the diet a little bit with some earthworms and insects.-Chuck> Re: Lost Turtle Questions  - 04/19/2006 Thanks for the positive action tips... Questions 1) How long can she go without eating or without being in the water? < In direct sun , not very long. In shady moist conditions probably a week or more.> Will she eat the vegetation in our yard or on the way to a pond? <She could try but most likely will wait until in a body of water.> 2) I read that turtles can walk up to 1.5 miles to find a new pond.  How long would that take? <In the heat of the day she would probably rest in the shade. Below 65 F is probably too cold for any movement. Stop and go movement would probably take a week to get that far.> 3) Can a raccoon eat her? <Raccoons could probably eat smaller turtles. Larger turtles would put up more of a fight and may put off a young inexperienced raccoon. An adult raccoon is pretty smart and if hungry enough enough could probably take on a good sized turtle.> 4) Can an 8' alligator eat her? < No problem. In one gulp.-Chuck> Thanks again

Re: Turtle That Came Home   4/21/06 You had a note about a run away turtle on your web site.  Mine ran away for about two weeks, but came back on her (?) own and seems content. They may want to keep the kiddie pool set up, and make it easy for their turtle to get back in. <Will post on the site to aid others.-Chuck>

Keeping Turtles Together  - 04/19/2006 I had a slider named Titus who turned out to be female when she was 25. After she started laying eggs she got more wild. One day in June when I was cleaning my house she ran out the door & went to live in the pond next door. Even though it was mating season, I used to think she was lonely sometimes because she was alone with no one else in the house a lot. I got her a male, Trajan, about 12, who didn't seem to think the pond was his thing last year, but this year made a bee line for it on the first warm day. That was why I thought 2 turtles, either 2 females or a male & female might work better. Due to Titus' size I have an extra large kiddy pond (maybe 600 gallons) with a ramp so they can run around the house if they want to. What is the problem with more than 1 turtle? Thanks, Stephanie < Many times pet owners give human traits to animals. Turtles really don't require the companionship of fellow turtles unless they are ready to mate. As you have found out that the turtle's drive to mate can be very strong, but over a few weeks the drive will subside and the turtles will look at each other as competition. Over 90% of the turtle questions we get are dealing with younger turtles in a small aquarium condition. In this instance  I still recommend a single turtle per container.-Chuck>

Turtle Waving  - 04/19/06 Hello!  My friend has a female yellow-bellied slider.  She has a certain ring that she will sit next to the tank and move it around in front of the turtle she will put both of her front "paws" above her head and wave them around. Why does she do this? Thank you for your help!-Beki < Males usually respond to objects that resemble other turtles in an attempt to mate. If the stone on the ring sticks out while forming a fist or closed hand then it loosely could be interpreted by the turtle as another turtle. See if he/she still does it later on in the year.-Chuck>

Courting Male Turtle  - 02/25/06 Have a ? for you all...I've had my turtle for about 14 months just recently he's started doing something kind of strange, he flips the rocks around a bit in the bottom of his tank and then puts his head down and his butt up in the air and turns his front legs (palm side out,) if you will and sort of taps on the certain rock he's chosen at the time. It's almost like he's in a daze while he's doing it. Just wondering if this is normal and what it is that he's doing? < If he has long front claws he is a boy and is courting the large rocks that resemble a female turtle.-Chuck> Turtles Biting Each Other  - 2/21/2006 I have 2 turtles baby red eared sliders I had one for almost a year now and my GF recently gave me hers which is the same age since we bought them at the same time. I put them together and the first few days they were together my GF's turtle was biting mine and hers was slightly bigger, but after a couple of days they got along fine and they were swimming with each other. I was wondering if this was ok? < Red Eared Sliders are actually pretty aggressive as far as turtles go. When putting them together they are establishing a pecking order food and turf.> My other question is that my turtle is about 1.5 inches and my girlfriend's turtle is about 2 inches bigger and as I said they were bought at the same time. Do you know why my turtle is much more smaller than my girlfriend's turtle? < It could be she kept hers warmer and it had a higher metabolism or it could be a female. They get bigger then the males.-Chuck> answers will be greatly appreciated thanks in advance!

Strange Protrusion From Turtle    2/17/06 My red-eared slider has just done something very peculiar.  I'm almost positive he is a male and is about 2 yrs. old.  He looked like he was going to the bathroom.  He put his 2 back legs together and something black was coming out from underneath.  When I tried to get a closer look, it was gone, like he just sucked it back in.  Can you help me understand what this is?  Thanks. Clifford Hetrick < Could be a fecal pellet but more likely extending his sex organs in anticipation of breeding in the spring.-Chuck> Strange Turtle Behaviour    2/17/06 Hello, I am writing to get some information. I have two RES and one is about one foot long from claw to tail, he is big. One RES is little and he is about 7 inches. They live in a pond in the back yard there is no heating element so they hibernate when it gets cold. They are hibernating now and have lots of caves and plants. I am writing to ask if it is normal for my RES to have their eyes swollen shut allot? When should I start feeding them? It has been really warm and the big one has came out to lay in the sun but the little one does not come out to much. Holly < The weather has not been normal for much of the U.S. It is warm in Feb and tricking many plants and animals out of hibernation, only to have it go cold again. I would not feed them unless I was absolutely sure the weather would be warm for at least two weeks. If you feed them and it gets cold then the food will rot in their gut and cause problems. If it stays warm then they will have used up all their fat reserves and be starving to death. To be sure you could bring them inside, feed, light and heat them and then use Zoo Med Repti Turtle Eye Drops to clear up the eyes. Bad eyes are usually associated with a lack of Vitamin A. Feed them Zoo Med Adult Aquatic Turtle Food. When it is definitely Spring you could put them back outside.-Chuck>

Turtle Eating Sulfa Block   2/13/06 Hi,  I tried to find an answer to my question everywhere else you suggested and am not having any luck.  I have a black knobbed Sawback map turtle, female about 2 years old, approx. 5 inches long (shell).  She is normally a very voracious eater, all of her living conditions are correct ( heat lamp, basking area, large filter, UV light, good varied diet, Reptisafe in water, etc...)  anyways --- 2 days ago she decided to eat her Dr. Turtle sulfa block.  Now she is not hungry and hiding under her dock, VERY unusual behavior for her!  I have had her since she was little and she has never been with a male so I know she is not egg bound.  Is that sulfa block that she ATE like a goof going to hurt her?  Jessica < A turtles get older their dietary needs change. They need less meat and more vegetable matter in their diet. Your turtle needs minerals. Add some kale and spinach to the diet while feeding Zoo Med Adult Aquatic Turtle Food. It may take awhile for the turtle block in the stomach to dissolve.-Chuck>

Turtles Not getting Along   2/1/06 I work at a museum where we have two Red-Ear Sliders with a Painted Turtle in a large pond that is indoors. Suddenly the Painted Turtle has started biting the Red-Ear Sliders. They have been together for over a year. We have created a caged area within the pond to separate the turtles. Now the Painted Turtle does not seem happy. Do we need to just permanently separate the turtles altogether? All the turtles are approximately the same size. Thank you, Tiffany Jackson, CVT < Large adult turtles can be very aggressive towards each other. They see the other turtles as competition for food and resources. To be on the safe side I would recommend permanently separating the turtles. If one gets a bite on the tail or leg then they really become very poor display animals.-Chuck>

Turtle Eating Fecal Matter    1/25/06 I have had my turtle for about 3 weeks to a month and have never seen it poop. This morning my son noticed that it was little green balls in the tank (poop) and the turtle was eating it. Is this normal behavior? How often should they poop. This was his first time since I've had him. Also the little antibacterial thingy (shaped like a turtle) that you drop in the tank, he eats that too. Is this normal? Please help!! April Wilson < Your turtle is craving minerals and vitamins. Vary the diet with Zoo Med Hatchling Aquatic Turtle Food, Zoo Med Turtle Treat, washed earthworms, mealworms, kale and spinach.-Chuck.>

Turtle "Shedding" Shell  1/21/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I was given a turtle who is roughly 3 years old.  The previous owner got him in FL at one of the many shops.  He is a small turtle with a red spot on the side of his head so I am guessing that he is a red eared turtle.   <That's red eared slider> Anyway, about 2 weeks ago, his plates on his back started coming off.  Now it looks like the skin on the bottom of his shell is shedding. I am no idea what it is! I took him from her because she was not taking care of him.  Please tell me what to do! He may be just a turtle, but he is still a pet! <Not just a turtle if God made it & you love it!  Not to worry, shedding it's scutes, is how it grows.  Be sure it has lots of swimming room & clean water.  Add vitamins to it's food & a calcium block to it's water.  It also needs a nice basking spot under a light.  Good luck with your "flaky" friend!  ~PP> Rebecca

Turtle Looking For Something   1/17/06 Hello, I don't have any dirt in my tank I have a 25 gallon tank with a basking ramp and a fish tank light. One of my females has been staring at the bottom of the tank would that be a sign of something. < I suspect that she is either looking for food or looking at her reflection in the bottom glass thinking another turtle is down there.-Chuck> Determining A Turtles Age I was wondering how to tell how old my Red Ear Slider is they are pretty small only like 2 inches but I still don't know how old they are please help be very explanative I am kinda slow! Thank you .ML. < Turtle are "Cold Blooded". That means the warmer it is the faster they grow and the more they eat. Under normal captive conditions a  little turtle can get up to 2 to 3 inches in a year. Wild turtles would hibernate and may only get to be 2 inches because they did not grow while hibernating.-Chuck>> How Old Is My Turtle? > I still don't understand how to tell how old they are please help! < I would guess almost two years old.-Chuck>

Two Turtles One Problem  12/5/05 I purchased 2 red ear sliders in July. Both were approximately 1.5 inch in diameter and looked identical. The photo attached is of the turtles. The question is that one is doing very well, and has grown larger while the other has not grown at all. I have not observed it feeding, its eyes seem to be closed most of the time, It remains on the rocks, is very inactive, and when put in the water, it swims franticly to get back out of the water. Could there be something wrong with the turtle? I've been waiting to see if something would change, but since over 4 months have passed, I'm guessing the turtle will not recover. Any suggestions. Thanks, Jason < The bigger turtle is dominating the tank. The smaller turtle is getting less food, fewer vitamins and is intimidated by the larger turtle to a point in which it is stressed and probably sick. I would put the smaller turtle in his own set up. Make sure the basking spot gets up to at least 85 F. Give it vitamin drops and place some Repti Turtle eye Drops by ZooMed in his eyes to get him seeing and eating again.-Chuck> 

Both turtles here are exactly the same age.

Hibernating Turtles  12/8/05 Okay, I have 2 red eared sliders (1 male and 1 female, I think) and I want to put them into hibernation this winter but I've been doing some reading and it says that I should have put them into hibernation 2 months ago and I was wondering if I should wait 'till next year or go ahead and do it this year, and if I could do it this year than what should I do??? <Lots of factors involved. Contact the real turtle experts at the Calif Turtle and Tortoise Club at tortoise.org for specific help.-Chuck> 

Turtle Eating Turtle Dock  12/8/05 I have a red eared slider that is about 5 inches. He has grown well ( from about the size of a half dollar to 5 inches since July). He eats well and seems very happy but he has started to bite on his turtle dock and actually eat it. Will this hurt him and if so what else can I use? < As your turtle grows it requires less protein and more vegetable matter in its diet. The Turtle Dock by Zoomed is made from urethane and is inert and will safely pass through your turtle. What your turtle is actually trying to do is eat the algae that is growing on the dock to meet its vitamin and mineral requirements. Give it some green spinach leaves or kale. Get some vitamins and follow the directions on the bottle. Cut back on the protein in the diet.-Chuck> 

Turtles and Their Behavior This Time of Year  12/08/05 Hi, I have a RES who was given to us just recently. He is about 5 inches long and was only in a five gallon tank. I have put him in a 20 gallon tank with a basking area - he never had one before. He has started digging frantically in the corner and has piled all the rocks up. He has also stopped eating. He won't stay on his basking area and insists on staying in that one corner that he has dug up.  He also keeps trying to jam himself under the water filter pipe. I am pretty sure that I need to warm up his water so I will go and get a heater for him. He also seems to have a large lump on the underside of his throat. I don't know if this has always been there or if I am just now noticing it because I started to worry about him.  Is this something that you know anything about? Is he just trying to hibernate and if so should we just allow him to follow his seasonal instincts or should we warm up his water and hope that helps? Thank you. <Hibernating turtles in captivity should be left up to more advanced hobbyist, I would definitely get a heater for the water. Warming up your water should also encourage him to start eating. Keep an eye on this lump, if it does not get any better you should take him to a vet. Turtles will often dash towards the back corners of a tank when startled. If your turtle is constantly trying to dig in the tank you might consider adding some more places for your turtle to hide. For more info on captive care of turtles check out the following link. -Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/redearsliders.htm

Turtle Hides  12/03/05 I have a RES about 3 inches in diameter. It is December now and he is kept in a medium sized tank about 75*F. I bought it a row of fake plants and he is using it to cover himself. He dug a hole beneath a large rock I provided and dragged my mini aquarium heater into it. He hides himself beneath the rock with the heater on top of him so he is out of sight. Is this "normal" or should I be worried? < You turtle should spend a certain amount of time basking under a heat lamp and some time foraging for food. At night it would be OK to rest out of sight but not all the time.-Chuck> 

Ouroboros-type Female Turtle Bites Male's Tail Off (Or "Rectum? Heck, Coulda Killed 'em!)  11/7/05 Hello. My children have had 2 RESs for about 2 years now. There is a male and a female. The female has grown to be larger than the male, and I guess has grown tired of the male's constant "courtship" of her. Recently, the female bit the tip of the male's tail off! I have separated them, and am in the process of building them an outdoor pond. I give him 20 minute salt water baths and have been putting Neosporin on the "nub".  What else can I be doing to help this poor turtle? Could she have damaged anything else in his tail? Thanks. Sam. < Luckily males have pretty long tails and as long as the bite was not as high as the rectum he should be OK. Watch for fungal infections. You may want to place a ZooMed Dr. Turtle Sulfa Bock in the tank to prevent infections.-Chuck> 

Sick Little Turtle May Just Be A Male - 10/24/05 I bought 4 Red Ear Sliders in May of 2005. 2 were around 1 1/2" in size an the other 2 were 2" in size. I bought a 40 gallon tank, finally figured out the Fluval 3 is the best filter. I have a 75watt basking light (use to have 100watt), a heater and the water is around 78 to 80 degrees always. I use turtle clean once a week to reduce the waste. Feed them daily or twice a day small amount. 3 have grown to about 4 inches the other remains the same size. The larger ones have gotten the cotton film on them several times but have cleared up by bathing in the sulfa dip in a separate bathing tub. I am assuming this was to my problem finding the right filter. My tank was constantly getting dirty, started to get algae. The little one never got this and all 4 have always eaten. I did notice the 3 big ones (even when they were all the same size) use to push him away but we always put food by the little guy for him to eat. Well I guess the other 3 received more food since they all grew to the same size. The l little guy has started to slow down on eating over the last month and now eats once a week from what we noticed. He does not swim much, just stays on the basking dock. He used to occasionally swim (not like the biggers but he did swim). The only thing I have done in the last month was take out the rocks. Constantly getting algae and trying to keep the waste from laying in the tank, finally last week just put in a small amount so they have something to dig in. The big turtles like to move things (my filter, my heater, my thermometer, the rocks) the little one never did.  I have put algae destroyer in the water . I had the heater out for about a week because it broke while cleaning (my big turtles like to move it).  Tried taking the little guy out of the tank and feed by himself. He moves more in the bathing dish with no water but does not eat or grow. What do you think? Should I separate him from the 3 big turtles or is he sick? I do not see anything unusual about his appearance. < I would set him up in his own tank for awhile as a precaution. Male turtles are smaller than females so this just may be related to sex and not his overall heath. In a separate tank I would set him up and keep him there until his appetite picks up and he starts acting more normal. If he is a he, the front nails will be very long and the tail will be longer than the others.-Chuck> 

Sexing Yellow Bellied Sliders 10/22/05 I got two yellow bellied sliders about a year ago. One is larger than the other and has longer nails. Which one is male or female? < Usually the female is larger with shorter nails and a shorter tail.> Also the smaller has seemed to be sleeping a lot is there an explanation for that? < Could be sick. The larger turtle is dominating the tank and the smaller one is not getting the nutrition and care it needs.> And last how can you tell if a yellow bellied slider is pregnant? < Females are large, fat and have an incredible appetite. Especially in the spring time when things warm up. Though this is not always certain, adult pairs will usually produce eggs.-Chuck>

Weird Turtle - No, Early Winter Turtle 10/22/05 We have a red eared slider, we have had him about 5 years. Early winter, in late November his eating goes way down he gets less active. But this year he is already slowing down his eating, and it is still October. He seems active, swimming around, climbing out to bask. He appeared to be digging at the bottom of his cage this morning, and it looked like he was posturing to his reflection (put out his front legs, puffed out his neck, and swayed back and forth).  He is also doing a turtle love dance to his floating food, our fingers, and a turtle statue by his tank.  Do you think his appetite is down because he thinks it is mating season? He usually does his love dance a lot in spring. He has a lot of character. He splashes to get attention, watches TV, and listens to you talk. Thanks or any thoughts, Katie < As the air temp cools down for winter their appetite slows down. If they are caught with a full belly of food it may rot in their stomach over the winter and kill them. They store fat not food. With the strange weather we seem to be having this year, an Indian Summer type of weather pattern may be tricking him into thinking it is spring.-Chuck>  

Bigger Turtle Picking On The Smaller One - Watch Your Toes! 10/22/05 Hi. I have 2 red eared sliders, I am unsure of their sex. 1 is bigger than the other and I believe it is responsible for gnawing and tearing the nails off the other turtle. I noticed the smaller ones' nails were missing and has wounds on it's back feet. I started to watch them closely and noticed the big one was very aggressive towards the smaller one, it kept trying to bite it. I have now separated them but I am concerned about the wounds. What can I do to help with the healing and to prevent infection? I keep the tank very clean (Changing water every 1-2 weeks). Any recommendations will be helpful and appreciated. Thank You Janette < Add a Dr. Turtle Sulpha Block by Zoomed to the water. It will help prevent infections. Keeping the water clean is a major step in preventing infections. Bigger turtles often pick on smaller tank mates. Separating them is a good idea.-Chuck> 

Little Turtle Can't See 10/10/05 Hello, We have 2 Red Ear Sliders. Don't know the sex yet, though. The larger turtle has about 3 in. carapace by bites the other turtle's, whose carapace is about 1.5 inches, back feet. The smaller turtle remains mostly on the turtle dock while the other turtle swims most of the time but comes out and basks. The larger turtle is more active and eats just about all of their collective food. How do I help this little guy out? < Separate him from the big turtle. At least during feeding so he gets some food.> He seems to bask with his eyes closed for a good part of the day. We have only had these guys for a few days. The smaller one seems more friendly and will allow me to pick him up. I have also tried "soaking" him on one occasion to see if that would help. He seemed more active but as soon as I put him back into the collective tank, he took to basking again with his eyes closed. Is he just too little and not active or is something else wrong? Thanks for any of your help. I've tried reading the postings on your forum but couldn't find one that matched this situation. Kathy Z <Probably been sick for awhile and that may explain the differences in sizes. I would keep them separated and make sure the basking spot is at least 90 F. The eye thing may be caused by a vitamin deficiency. Get some Reti Turtle Eye Drops from ZooMed. Once his eyes clear up he may start eating more normally.-Chuck> Gassy Turtles  10/3/05 Ok I know this may sound like a very dumb question, but I truly want to know the answer to it.  When turtles crawl into there shells and hide, can they pass gas in there shells and if they do, do they smell it? <There are no cavities within the shell for any gasses to migrate from the back half of the turtle to the front of the turtle. Once it leaves the turtle then it depends on which way the wind is blowing.-Chuck>

Turtle Needs Nails Trimmed 8/2/05 Hi, I have 3 red eared sliders, 2 males and 1 female...one of the males nails are very long, I was just wondering if they can be cut like other animals?  He doesn't have rough rocks or anything like that to "dull" them except when we let them play on the concrete floor in the basement.  I look at them and I can see the "quick" like other animals have.  Any suggestions would be great. You all have a really cool web site too. Thanks, Barb R.E.S;  Buddi ; Scooby; & Button < The turtles claws are naturally long and really should not be clipped. If they really are a problem then I suggest you start slow and clip only one off a short distance from the end. Clipping may actually make them sharper and create more of a problem. Nail file?-Chuck> Red Eared Slider My turtle has been acting up lately. When I let her out of the tank she goes to a rug and seems to be enjoying herself. Is it possible she is masturbating? Her tank has become real sudsy also? Please help! <Hmm, I am not familiar with this behavior in turtles, you might post your question on some of the turtle discussion forums to see if anyone else has experienced something similar.  Best Regards, Gage http://forums.kingsnake.com/forum.php?catid=32 http://www.turtletimes.com/Forums/default.asp >

Turtle Behavior I have a red-eared slider, I've had him for a few years. But whenever someone enters the room he gets scared and runs into the water. and if someone touches him, he hides in his shell. he also seems depressed. what's a good way to make him happier? Would getting another turtle work? Or what? <This is really just their natural behavior, I am not sure if there is a way to train it out of them, you could start hand feeding some yummy treats like night crawlers, after a while it will probably beg for food every time it sees you, which can get annoying.  My old slider would splash in her tank to wake me up to feed her.  I would not add another turtle unless your system can handle it.  Gage>

Red Eared Slider Aggression <Hi, MikeD here> I have three red eared slider turtles and noticed that the two of them have been showing what I think are signs of aggression.  They take both of their front feet and vibrate them in front of their face while at the same time, aim for one another.  A friend of mine was wondering if this was a sign of courtship?<It sure is! Males have very long claws/toenails on the front feet and they "flirt" with females by placing their paws in front of their face and doing just exactly what you are describing.  Males MAY do this as a sort of "hand jive" with other males as a stylized form of a dance in lieu of real and possibly fatal attacks. You might also want to consider giving the female access to some dry ground for egg laying, where they dig a pit similar to those excavated by their larger, more famous marine relatives!> Thanks! <You're welcome> Slider Fanatic

Red Eared Slider Turtles <Hi, MikeD here> First of all, thanks for the speedy reply!<You're welcome>  If it is a female and male and they are courting one another, than what do I do if I do not have a space for them so that she can lay her eggs?<That's a tough question that only you can answer. If she HAS to she may lay them on the rocks or even in the water, but there's an equal chance that she'll retain them and become egg-bound, which can be fatal. My solution, of course, is to get a larger container where you can build a dry land section to the terrarium>  They are all in a 20 long tank with about eight inches of water with about 10 inches of rocks piled up so that they can get out of the water and "bask" in the heat lamp.<Nowhere near large enough. They will grow to about 10"-12" long each>  Also, one of the sliders got out of the tank and fell to the floor!<Might I suggest a screen top as well?>  It's shell is cracked a little bit but its been eating and swimming fine.  Someone had recommended to put baby oil on the shell to promote growth.<I'd use a good antibiotic ointment for a day or so, then superglue along the crack, depending on the size of course>  The other two have been digging in the rocks quite a bit.<They'll likely injure themselves soon if you don't fix this situation as well>  I don't know if they are looking for a place to build their nest, but I don't know what I will do if I have turtle eggs!<I'd be more concerned with your turtles surviving than about any eggs, which certainly won't. They can be hatched and the babies raised quite easily, but not without a well designed enclosure, which you do not have. My honest suggestion is to do some reading and consider building a terrarium for your charges where they can be healthy and you will then truly enjoy them> Thanks! Slider Fanatic

Red Eared Turtles How long can a red ear slider survive outside of water? < They don't need to be wet all the time. They can survive a couple of days in a cool damp environment, like when they are being shipped. They re-hydrate rather quickly. In warm weather I would not let them go more than a day without letting them soak in water for awhile.-Chuck>

Turtle Fun Yata-HEY! I read a lot and gain very good info from here.  Much appreciated. Here is one to make you smile. My Red Eared Slider was a road-rescue,   Friend of mine found it several months ago on a neighborhood street and knowing I'd kept turtles brought it to me.  She was the size of a silver dollar and has doubled in 7 months. At any rate.  I'd tried not necessarily to tame her but I didn't want her afraid of me either.   She hides in her shell and sits and stares when I take her out of her tank but she 'chases' me thru the glass.  Paddling furiously over to the glass and following anything I might be doing outside the tank.   Just found out she has no inhibitions playing in her element as she followed my hand around the inside of the tank as I was pulling moss from the filter intake.  She let's me grab her by her tail or leg and drag her gently thru the water and will boost herself on my hand to get air. Also noticed she loves the heck out of the little waterfall and bubbles coming from the filter and will park herself under it at the surface and take a Jacuzzi break,  ;) Satanta the WhiteBear < These little turtles have a personality you just gotta love.-Chuck> Self-Abusing Turtle Bites Himself in Japan Dear WWM , I have a male red eared slider that is about 2 -3 years old in his own tank. Recently (last few weeks) he has started to bite his left front hand/claw keratin bits. One of the pieces of keratin is starting to look a bit inflamed and pale pinkish, not like a normal white keratin piece - like he has had a good gnaw at it. Is this self-biting normal and do you think he has potentially infected his claw/hand by biting it? If it is a potential problem, what can I do to fix it? Thank you for your time. Regards, Farah < At one point in time there was probably some food stuck on his claw and as he attempted to get to it he mistakenly bit himself. Now he probably thinks the reddish coloration is still food. I would clean the tank and keep it that way to help prevent the infection from getting worse. I would add a Dr Turtle sulfa block to treat the bacterial infection. I would then feed the turtle several times a day to prevent him from getting so hungry he will prefer the food instead of his claw. When the claw starts to grow back and turn back to a more normal color I would make sure he is well fed so he doesn't go back to his old bad habits.-Chuck> 

Aggressive Turtle I have two Red Ear Slider turtles.  One has red markings and the other has yellow markings.  I have raised them for approximately 3 1/2 years, since they were babies, both probably the size of a silver dollar when I got them.  They started in a 10-gallon tank with a wooden stand to sun themselves on.  As they grew, I slowly upgraded the tanks, and now have a 60-gallon tank with a custom built 6 x 6 inch platform.    The yellow ear has grown to approx 5 inches long and the red ear has grown to approx 4 1/2 inches.  For as long as I have raised them they have been healthy and happy and cohabitated beautifully.  I have over time vacillated about their sex, however I believe them both to be males.  They both have very long front nails, and long tails.  Additionally, over the last couple years they both have performed what your site refers to as the male mating ritual, i.e. the wiggling of the nails in front of the other's face.  From my reading, it appears only male turtles do that....I think? < Yes> Anyway, now that you have sufficient background of my turtles and their setup, I am hoping you will be able to diagnose the problem.  Specifically, the red ear (slightly larger turtle) has in the last 6 months become extremely aggressive.   He will approach the yellow ear as if he were about to do his mating routine and then bite the back of the yellow ear's neck and hold on to the point that I must physically separate them.  Over time he actually drew blood.  Thus, I bought a separator and kept them apart for about two months thinking he would grow out of it and allowing the yellow ear to heal completely.  Unfortunately, although the yellow ear has completely healed, the red ear has not grown out of the behavior, and the second I take down the barricade, he immediately goes after the yellow ear.  It is odd, both are very friendly to me.  I feed them by hand often and they are very gentle, and the red ear even pretty much leaves the fish in the tank alone.  Nonetheless, I can not leave the tank separated permanently and am now pondering giving the red ear away.  Please advise.  Is there something else I can do?  Is there something wrong with the red ear?  If they are both males, is that the problem?  Any help would be very much appreciated.  Thank you. < You are treating you turtle well and they are indeed displaying a breeding behavior. It is springtime and males are looking to court females and drive other males away. You could separate them for a few months and then try and put them back together again but I am afraid you will have the same problem every spring. For a long term solution I would cut back to one turtle.-Chuck>

Aggressive Turtle - II Thank you Chuck for your help. I contacted a local Pet Store and they have agreed to adopt the red-ear. Hopefully he will find a good home with someone eventually. I know he can be a good pet, especially if he has a tank for himself. < Sounds like a win/win situation for all.-Chuck> 

Hiding Turtles I have a big pond and water fall.  It is 15 feet by 16 feet 4.5 feet deep.  A friend gave me two slider turtles for the pond one is a baby.  Then I bought one.  For the first day or so I could see them swimming on the top of the water.  But when I open my sliding glass door to get a better view they went to the bottom.  I have not seen any of them for a few days.  How long can they hold their breath? < Up to a couple of hours depending on the water temp and their activity level. During the summer months it is up to about 20 minutes.> I have a bunch of feeder fish in there too. I have a UV sterilizer that I just add and it is clearing up the water.  I still can't see them.  I have rocks and gravel at the bottom of the pond.  Do they dig in to hide? < They do some digging but not to the extent you are suggesting.> Do the walk away for the pond? < It is totally possible for your turtles top walk away.> It's in my back yard and there is really no where for them to go.  My pond has not a lot of shade I am waiting for the trees to grow.  How do I get them to come out if they are still there? < When turtles get hungry they leave the pond to find food. I would put one of the turtles in a small kiddy wadding pool with some water, a brick to create a basking spot and some cover over the pool for shade. Leave the turtle in there for a few days. Walk up once a day and throw a turtle food stick in right in front of his face. After awhile your turtle will not be afraid and will learn that you are the source of food and actually come out to see you and be fed. Once one turtle does it then the others catch on pretty quick and they will all be out wanting food.-Chuck>

Red Eared Slider hibernation Hello, my name is Kristen, <Hi Kristen, Gage here.> my concern with my turtle "Baby Ben Franklin" is that he has something over his eyes.  Now I got the turtle from my b/f's aunt and she said she has raised turtle's all her life and what it is is a protective cover because he is in hibernation she says. Now whatever is over the turtles eye does not look infected or swollen or anything but I have not found a place that has said anything about when turtles go into hibernation that they should get a protective shield over their eyes. Now is this something normal, have you ever heard of something like this, or is there something wrong w/ my RES eye's? <hmm..., I am not familiar with this, but I also have never had a hibernating RES.> Also, if in hibernation when do they come out, do they sleep in water while in hibernation? <In captivity hibernation can be controlled by the temperature.  In the wild they spend winters in the mud at the bottom of ponds and rivers.  I would recommend a good book on slider care.  The link below has some good information on taking care of RES http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/res.html Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. <The pleasure is mine.  BTW, the number of a good reptile vet is always a good thing to have when keeping turtles. Best Regards, Gage> Thanks, Kristen  & "Baby Ben Franklin"

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

Snapping Turtle Shell Growths (continued) Bob, Mike ????<It's Mike D here again>   I know that algae will grow on the shell but when I saw a white film on my snapper's head, I became concerned.<Aha! I would too, but not knowing it was white, I was at a disadvantage! **grin**>  He has always eaten very well but seemed to not be interested anymore.  Over the aquarium I have a Slimline Reptile Fixture with super 15 watt UV lamp (it produces 3%+ UVB and 7%+ UVA) and a Daylight Blue Reptile 60 watt bulb.<I thought you probably would have, as you didn't sound like a novice, but had to ask>  I have put some Neosporin on his shell and rubbed it on his neck and legs.<Now there's some creative thinking, although it shouldn't have much effect if it's indeed a fungal growth, with Neosporin being for bacterial infections>  Now that the weekend is here I will put him out in the sun for a few hours while I am at home.<Good idea, but use care as once his body temperature hits 92 degrees it could be all over. I'm assuming that you know NEVER to sit a terrarium/aquarium in the sun as the sun's rays are magnified by the glass creating a rudimentary Dutch Oven>  He seems to be perking up a bit but still has some algae (fungus) hanging from his neck.<You might want to consider making up a fairly strong salt bath and soaking him in it for a few minutes at a time for several days. Many true funguses are extremely sensitive to salt and might die very easily.  I'd suggest no longer than 20 minutes or so for the soaks as snappers have no regulatory mechanism for secreting excess salts>  Thanks for your help.<Best of luck and keep us posted>  --  SUE

Sad Turtle  12/1/04 Hello, again.   <Hi, it's Pufferpunk here again> We upgraded to a 20 gallon aquarium with mulch and a big bowl for swimming, etc., and she absolutely loves it, but she still won't eat.  I did the mixture you said and she turned her nose up at it. <Have you tried warming her up in her bowl (with warm water) before offering her food?  also, they seem to be attracts to red foods, especially earthworms).   After two days of not eating I started to worry and gave her some apple which she gladly accepted, <Red foods, see?> but even the fruit she eats only bite sized amounts (to you or me) a day.  I've tried feeding her 2 or 3 times a day-giving her a fresh piece of something different-but she barely eats.  Are there any vitamin drops that I can drop on the food I give her to keep her healthy?  Or should I consider carrying her to a vet?   <I don't think a vet is necessary.  Turtles will try to hibernate in the winter. Try to keep her warm & keep offering her lots of variety, to find out what her favorite foods are.  You can buy good reptile vitamins form a pet shop.  Also, adding cod-liver oil to her food & rubbing it on her shell & legs is very good for her.  ~PP> Thanks for all your help. Jenni

Female Bit Off Male's Claws?  Turtle Stuff I apologize I am just now getting back to you. The email you wrote inexplicably went into my junk mail box so unfortunately I just saw your response. Thanks so much for answering ALL of my questions. It is so kind of you to take time out of your day to help others.  I definitely try to take care of the turtles as best I can. (You should see how I care for my dogs!) The main reason I suspected it was her who caused the wounds was due to the simple fact he was really hot on her tail at that time and sometimes she gets really pissed and snaps at him. I did think it might have been too suspect t hat it happened on both claws though. I picked up some RidRot drops and Sulfa baths to treat him with he seems to be healing well (but of course I still would love to know what happened to him). I have been watching them closer to be sure it doesn't get worse. I am positive it was not caught on anything since their recent tank set up is stripped down and there is actual wounds where several of the claws are missing so a trim is probably out of the question too. But again I learn everyday so I wouldn't surprised if it was something I never considered. I have raised their temps. I don't plan to hibernate them. I have never done so in the past. If it is something you recommend please let me know. I will check out the site you mentioned. Wiggle Puppy is just my company's name. Named after my first dog, Bootsy, who would do what we called the wiggle puppy when he was happy to see us (paws down and butt in the air while shaking his tail). We do film and video work (some features but lately mostly band/concert films). Our last bigger release was a rockumentary for the band Phish entitled IT.  Thanks again for the advice. Let me know if you ever need any multimedia work! < Make sure that you try and keep the water clean so the wounds don't get infected.  Once again a warm dry area to bask is essential for their health.-Chuck> Social turtles? Hi I was wondering if you were the one that I talk about my turtle? if I have the right person I was wondering I have an ornate wooden turtle and I was wondering if  they to have like other turtles in the cage with  them? < They really don't care one way or another.-Chuck>

FLOATING TURTLE I've had my turtle since November of 2004. I just cleaned the turtle's aquarium today and noticed that when I put him in the water he would float. Even if I tried to push him down to the bottom (not long at all) he just shot back up to the top. What should I do? What's wrong with him? Emily < Hopefully nothing. Check his diet and make sure that he is not getting too much protein and his shell is not growing too fast and out of proportion to the rest of his body. Make sure he has a good basking spot to help digest his food and hopefully pass any gas or air in the system. If you don't see any change in a week or so then I would consult a vet that hopefully specializes in reptiles.-Chuck>

Turtle Talk I have searched the web for my answer, but was unable to find it. We have a painted turtle, who is around 4 years old. He is growing very quickly, and I have purchased a cream to keep his shell healthy as he sheds scales, feed him food pellets along with shrimp pellets bought from the local pet store where he was purchased, and keep his tank clean and filtered. He came to recognize us whenever we walked into his line of sight, and became very excited and would come to the glass and wait for us to come to the tank to feed him.  Lately though, when he sees us, he rushes to the tank wall, splashes wildly, actually splashing water out of the tank onto the floor. At first, we thought it was just because he was hungry and was happy to see us. Now, he splashes like crazy and when we attempt to hand him a piece of food, he snaps so fast and hard that he has connected with fingers and literally brought himself out of the water attached to our hands. We feed him two to three sticks of food in the morning, and two or three at night, along with very small pieces of grapes or fresh fruit. I am not sure if this is a normal behavior, or if he feels the need to increase his food intake for some reason. He is growing rapidly and I am afraid of overfeeding him and making him obese. Can you please help me out with this? Thank you.........Sue Diesing <Some of the charm with little turtles is their ability to train their owners. They have obviously learned that you are the source of food and have learned that they're harder they beg the more you feed them. If they look like they are healthy and well fed then I would feed them a little heavier in the morning and maybe a little in the evening. Maybe they will learn that no matter when you walk by they will only be fed at certain times.-Chuck> 

Turtle Troubles Hello, We have had our turtles for a year now, we bought them at the same time. They were the same size at the time, now the RES (Red Eared Slider) is almost 3 times the size as the EPT (Eastern Painted Turtle). The RES is a female and the EPT is a male. I have done a considerable amount of research since having the turtles. Since when we bought them we had no idea what we were getting in to, (no thanks to the PetSmart people, another issue altogether). They have a great set up and are loved very much. So my main question, sometimes the RES will get in the EPT's face and put her hands out and shake them at him, one time I saw the EPT open his mouth at her. Is this a sign they are not getting along? One last thing, I have read that some males do this as a mating ritual.  I am sure our RES is a female. Thanks so much- A <Turtles really like to be left alone , so when one turtle gets into the other turtles face it is to be noticed.  I don't think your turtles are

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