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FAQs About Soft/Shell Rot, Conditions In Turtles 6

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


Related FAQs: Shell Rot 1, Shell Rot 2, Shell Rot 3, Shell Rot, Conditions 4, Shell Conditions 5, Shell Conditions 7, Shell Conditions 8, Shell Conditions 9, Shell Conditions 11, Shell Conditions 12, Shell Conditions 13, Shell Conditions 14, Shell Conditions 15, Shell Conditions 16, Shell Conditions 17, & Turtles, Turtles 2, Turtle Identification, Turtle Behavior, Turtle Compatibility, Turtle Selection, Turtle Systems, Turtle Feeding, Turtle Disease, Turtle Disease 2, Turtle Disease 3, Turtle Reproduction, Amphibians, Other Reptiles,


Black Shell (on a Red-ear Slider) -- 09/08/09
Hi, I have a 4-year old RES, and she has a black shell. Why is that?
<Well, their shells do become darker with age, and tend towards dark green-brown rather than the bright green they are when babies. Algae often grows on their shells, and this can make them look even darker. Does the black stuff wipe off? If it does, it's likely algae. If the shell doesn't smell of mould, and doesn't have signs of pus, deformity, or rotting, I'd not be too worried.>
Is she sick?
<Probably not. A photo would help.>
I also have a 13 year old girl RES who barely ever goes in the water, only to eat and when she doesn't want the other turtles to sit on her. Is that bad?
<Difficult to say. She's a fair age now, and could simply be cranky! These turtles spend much time basking under the heat lamp, and tend to go swimming in part to cool down. So if the water is too warm, they might not go swimming so much. If there are aggressive male turtles in the water, the females might simply avoid swimming to keep away from them. There's a bunch of reasons. But again, if she's otherwise healthy and feeding normally, and not showing signs of disease such as wheezing, runny eyes, sores, or shell problems, I'd not be too concerned.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Black Shell (on a Red-ear Slider) 9/9/09
I'll try to send you a picture but it might not work.
<Well, give it a whirl.>
I don't know if it wipes off, i never tried to.
<A piece of paper towel usually does the trick. Handle your turtle carefully, of course. They can nip if they want to, and if you hold them carelessly, you could drop or otherwise hurt them.>
I only have one male and he's 4, also. Both 4 year olds fight a lot and I know why, am i supposed to separate them when they fight? Is it normal for the 4 year olds to go on top of the 13 year old when basking?
<Yes, they often clamber over each other to get closer to the Sun in the wild, and heat lamps in vivaria. On the other hand, when turtles do this underwater, they're usually mating.>
By the way, the 13 year olds name is Tiny. You might think this is weird, but i think Tiny can read and is really smart. What do you think?
<I doubt he can actually read. But animals are extremely good at picking up on signals from their handlers, and will use these as cues for certain types of behaviour. Read up on a horse called Clever Hans who seemingly could do sums, but it turned out (just as amazingly) he would watch his handler, and could tell from his handler when he'd tapped out the right answer.>
Be honest. And I'm under 13, incase you didn't know. But I'm not telling you my exact age:).
<However old you are, it's clear you are interested in animals and taking an interest in the welfare of your pets. That's always a good thing.
Cheers, Neale.>


I'm with Sharp Knife removing Fungus from my Turtle bottom shell. 9/6/09
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My Turtle is FAMILY: TRIONYCHIDAE (Softshell Turtles) Indian Flapshell Turtle* (*Lissemys punctata andersoni). My Turtle's age is 4-5 years old & its Single Female. As you can see in my pics my Turtle's bottom shell got fungus so I Search net & came across this link from your site:
Please tell me am I doing Ok?
<Let's take a look>
What I did is
1. Swab the infected area of the shell with a diluted povodine-iodine solution(the one in my Pic).
2. Gently scrape away the infected area with a blunt tool like a butter knife, but later I Used Sharp Knife as in my Pics. which made it easier to peal off fungus.
3. Swab the area with the dilute povodine-iodine solution again.
4. washed Top & Bottom Shell with Bath soap (to remove povodine-iodine solution).
5. Treat the infected & Pealed off Area with an antibiotic ointment (see my Pic), and now I didn't left my turtle in Aquarium. It will stay & sleep with me on my Bed under blankets (dry & warm place that is)
< It's very brave of you to do it .. BUT IT IS ALSO VERY DANGEROUS. Any time you attempt a procedure with a sharp instrument there is the danger that you will remove skin or dig too deeply in the process. Just be very, very careful!>
<Also, a warm and dry place where she can get exposed to UV light would be good. A box of dry tub would be better than on your bed. Unlike you and I, she doesn't generate her own body heat so wrapping her in blankets doesn't help her get any warmer. I've included a link to treatment below>
Should I Use same technique to remove Rest of the fungus from bottom shell also???
<What you're doing is what I'd do, Rehan, except that I would treat a fungal infection with an anti-fungal cream like what is used to treat athlete's foot. The Povodine is doing a good job in preventing a secondary bacterial infection from setting in, but it doesn't do a very good job of stopping fungal growth.>
<KEEP IN MIND that as along as you keep the turtle warm and dry and swab the areas with anti-fungal cream you should be able to stop the fungus from spreading and eventually kill it.>
How to cure Top Shell part?? because I don't want to peal off Top Shell skin...or is their no other way for it??? Please guide me what should I do next?? What about Top Shell???
<Before you try scraping off the fungus, try this. Put her in a shallow pan of clean water, just up deep enough to cover her tail, every day for 15 minutes. So that she can drink, poop and maybe eat. Then wash the entire carapace (the top shell) in povodine and get it clean and dry. Then rub a thin coating of anti-fungal cream over the entire surface and let it stay on. Do this every day for a week and see if the fungus begins to shrink on it's own. Even it the fungus doesn't shrink, the treatment will make it easier to remove the fungus with a much duller scraper>
I don't want my Turtle to Die.
<We all hope so, too.>
I got this turtle 3 weeks ago (16th August 2009). it only had one small mark on its Top Shell & these fungus in small amount on Bottom Shell. As you can see After my aunt's death no one knew how to care for this turtle for 40 days & they put every food in its tank & it ate nothing. After 40 days I took care of the Turtle.
<Bad diet and poor water quality is probably what caused the fungal infection. Your treatment should clear it up>
*What I bought for turtle? *I tried Apples, bananas, bread, peaches & it eats nothing. It only eats boiled chicken, boiled fish & small pieces of Non-cooked chopped fish. it Does NOT eat turtle food grains also.
<Offer her an earthworm for food. Try to get her to eat one or two every day. The chicken and fish aren't nutritious enough for her. Very small amounts of beef liver are good for her, too. Later, after she's better, you can try to get her back on to a more balanced diet>
I bought Aquarium, Water filter & water Bubble maker (what is this thing called by the way & what is it for?)
<A bubble maker just makes bubbles -- and it helps a tiny bit in circulating the water. The turtle may or may not like it. An important thing with all turtles but VERY IMPORTANT to our soft-shell turtles, is that the water must be kept very, very clean. Soft shells DO haul out and bask, and for that reason they need a basking lamp and a source of UV light ... but since they don't do it as often as the hard shelled turtles they don't get as much of a chance to dry off and "burn off" the little fungi and bacteria that are in the water, so pay very close attention to making sure she has crystal clear and clean water once she goes back to aquarium life.>
I don't want this turtle to die because it is the only pet my aunt had and she passed away last month.
<We don't want that either, Rehan. Keep up the good work>
Thanks in Advance,
waiting for your Help & Response.
<You're most welcome. Read here about general care (lighting and filtration) and also general care for fungus>

<Care: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

Please help! 8/20/09
<Hiya right back! -- Darrel here>
I have a red eared baby slider just like the ones you've shown in your pictures. He has a strange discoloration along his spine. Please see the pictures attached.
<COULD be a fungus, but believe it or not, just the other day I examined one similar and it turned out to be just a mineral deposit (water spot).>
We also attached a picture of our tank
We're not sure if it's a scrape or shell rot.
<We're going to assume fungus for two reasons 1) It probably IS fungus and 2) It's easy and cheap to treat. See the attached guide on turtle care and especially fungus>
We feed him twice a day with shrimp, Romaine lettuce, Zoomed aquatic turtle food, and Reptomin baby turtle sticks.
<Reptomin GOOD .... Shrimp & lettuce bad. Here's a guide on general care, too.>
Please help.
<OK. The treatment guide will tell you about fungus, the care guide will tell you about food, light and heat and *I* will tell you to get rid of the water heater and add a UVB bulb if you don't already have one (it's in the care guide.>
<PERSONALLY, I'm not a fan of underwater caves & places where little guys can get stuck. Those things aren't part of their natural habitat and I think it's better to be safe than sorry>
We love him very much!
<And it looks like, in general, he's in good hands!>
Thank you so, so, so much,
<No Charge!>
Cyndi Liu

<care: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

Re: Please help! RES 8/22/09
Thank you so much Darrel!
<You're welcome!>
You rock!
<YES I REALLY DO!! -- I can 'GET DOWN' with the best of them! -- it's just that at my age I often need help getting back up>
It's just that No one has ever been as nice or prompt regarding our turtle questions. You are hired as our official vet ;) Thanks for taking care of our turtle, Newton :D Thanks again!!!
<Your thanks is why we do this, Cyndi. That and the free food!>

Red Ear Slider Shell Fungus? 8/20/09
<Hiya right back! Darrel here>
I am so glad I stumbled upon your website! It was actually by accident while searching for a UVB light,
<We're sorry that you stumbled, Jen -- hope that you weren't injured in the fall!>
...... and I am so glad to now know that what I am seeing on my Red Eared Slider, Toby's shell is not normal. Toby is right at 2" in size, and I have had him for a month now. I am new to taking care of a turtle so I wasn't aware that the spot on the top of his shell might be a fungus. I thought it might be where the basking light might be discoloring his shell or where that part of his shell stays out of the water more than the rest. Anyway, after reading several questions, & answers on your site about fungus & shell rot I started really checking his shell out. I realized there are more white areas on his shell than I thought. The pictures I have attached show these other white areas. I took a picture of him while he was dry so you could see the brown stuff that is around the largest white area on the top of his shell. I checked his shell to see if it smelled bad, & yes, it smells horrible. I have had him in one of those lagoons which is what he was in when I purchased him, & I bought a 10 gallon aquarium last week for him, & a floating basking ramp. He hides under the ramp & never gets on it.
I have removed it from the tank cause I don't want him to get stuck under it. I have put several smooth stones in there so he can climb on them. The water is only 2 1/2 to 3" deep. I clean out his water daily, & have had a day basking light on him, & at night I change it out to a night heat bulb.
Both are 75 watts. While he was in the lagoon I had the clamp light clamped onto something else so the heat would be on him, & when I moved him to the aquarium a few days ago it has been clamped onto the aquarium. I am going today to buy him a water heater, & UVB light.
<No buying anything just yet -- read first, then buy>
< Toby is really cute, by the way!>
<Toby doesn't need a water heater unless you live north of the Arctic circle. The idea of a basking lamp is to give Toby a place to warm up and then some water where he can cool down ... and let him choose.>
<Any room temperature that you'd be comfortable living in is warm enough water for Toby. NO HEATER!>
He use to get out & bask all the time when I had just a simple florescent light over him from a desk lamp I have. I used this for the first 10 days I had him. When I changed to the basking & heat bulbs he stopped getting out of the water to bask. I now know that more than likely they made the water temp. to warm.
<AND ... warm water helps breed fungus>
I have noticed this stuff on his shell since he stopped getting out of the water.
<The next thing is the night light. Again unnecessary unless the room he's in has some extreme temperature swings. Nighttime should be dark>
He does sleep a lot, but will get very active when I feed him, & change his water. He has a good appetite. I live in a small town, & we don't even have a pet store here. Only have what Wal-Mart offers. The closest pet place to me is a Petco that's an hour away. I went there a few weeks ago, & bought the clamp light & bulbs. He has been eating some small pellet food by T-Rex (Aquatic Turtle Dry Formula- Juvenile Sized Pellets), & baby krill & shrimp by Tetrafauna ReptoMin Select-A-Food. He is not interested in the mini-sticks it offers. He absolutely LOVES the krill though! I also feed him regular worms I find outside & wash them. I have offered him fresh strawberries, bananas, apple, & romaine lettuce. He has tried them, but not interested. If I feed him with tweezers he will at least try a bite of them, but won't take seconds on them. He loves to chase the tweezers around so I like to make him exercise by letting him chase them.
<Sounds like fun and I applaud the effort that you're making. The exercise and games are fine, keep them up, but Toby's basic diet should be either a high quality Koi pellet (small size) or Repto-min food sticks (which are the same thing only more expensive). Both/either can be ordered online and even a small bag of pellets will last him a year>
I have taken him outside today for some sun. I need to know what you think he has, & what do I need to buy to treat him. I noticed the sulfa block, antibiotic ointments, anti-fungal cream, & diluted povidone-iodine solution being recommended a lot. Which of these do I need to get?
<No. Not really>
Also, please tell me in detail what all I need to do since I'm new to this.
Do I need to leave him out of the water for a few days & treat him? Toby is such a sweetie, & I have become so attached to him. I don't want to lose him. He is so cute when I walk into the room I call his name, & he pops his little head out of the water to see me! He's so precious! I would really appreciate all the help you can give me on this. Thank you so much for your time, & sorry this is so long. I have attached 3 pictures of Toby for you to reference.
<Two links, Jen -- first one details how to treat fungus and the second is an absolutely fool proof guide to keeping a Red Eared Slider. If you understand and follow the guide, you can raise Toby up to adulthood and maybe even one day have grandkids ... er... ah .. Grandturtles.>
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >
<Care: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>


Re: Red Ear Slider Shell Fungus?
Hi Darrel! (If not Darrel...then hello to you!)
<Yep -- You win again -- it's me!!>
Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly yesterday about my baby, Toby. I definitely want to Toby to grow old with me! I bought him for my 7 year old son, but also for myself....just don't tell my son that! He & I both just love Toby, & really enjoy having him. I knew a lot of special care was involved with turtles, but I didn't realize they can get sick so quickly. I wish I had been able to get a UVB light as soon as I got him/her, but I got laid off at my job the day after I bought him. Money has been tight of course, & on top of that I'm a single Mom. I have lots of babies to take care of. My son, Nicholas, our 6 hermit crabs, 2 fish, 3 cats, & now our Toby.
<Toby seems happy>
I will try not to turn this into another book, but I did want to say thank you for your help so very much. I just have a few questions for you. I did buy the UVB light, & glad to find out I didn't need the heater. Thank goodness...it saved me a lot of money. I live in Alabama so no, I definitely don't need the heater. Most of the other info sources I was reading from kept saying to get a water heater. I didn't have time to get the anti-fungal cream so will be doing that this morning. I want to get him some calcium pills, but what milligram do you recommend? Not sure what brand either so any suggestions on that would be appreciated.
<No real 'brand' on this stuff. The antifungal cream is just anything you can find for athletes foot and calcium pills are the cheapest and smallest amount you can find. Pills made from crushed oysters are best, but really ... don't spend an extra $1 -- just get the pills, crush them and coat his food. I all helps>
I also need to find a digital thermometer since Petco didn't have any in stock last night.
<Something you can buy VERY cheaply in you buy online. I buy a cheapy little digital thermometer from a store called Harbor Freight (they're in Birmingham, Dothan, Huntsville, Mobile & Montgomery - I checked) and online ...... for around $6>
I read, & printed out the info from both the links you told me to read. I put Toby in his 10 gallon aquarium, & have his basking light, & UVB light hooked up. Do I need to keep both of these lights on him all day, & of course turn them off at night? The basking light is 75 watts. Is that strong enough for him being in isolation?
<All fine. Remember, we want him DRY ... but he also should be able to crawl out of the direct basking lamp heat if/when he feels the need>
Also, he looks so pitiful sitting in there all by himself with nothing around him. Just him, & all that glass. Is there anything I can put in there with him so he will feel a little more secure? I had just moved him from his little lagoon to that aquarium this past Monday. He really acted like he didn't like it at all. He seemed very scared of being in such a big area. He kept freaking out, & I finally put him back into his lagoon Monday night, & he was calm again. Tuesday, I put him back into the aquarium & he hid under the turtle dock only to come out when I fed him. I took the dock out so he wouldn't get stuck when I realized he was not going to stay out from under it. I know he has to get use to his new home, but now there's no water, & no rocks. Any suggestions on anything I can put in the tank with him while he's in ISO? A blanket or teddy bear maybe? Ha Ha...just kidding of course.
<In SeaWorld in San Diego, the killer whale keepers are always looking for things to stimulate the whales' intellects. It seems that a bored and neurotic Killer Whale is a bad thing. So .. and I don't know if people know this, but in the mornings and other times when there aren't people around, they'll let the whales out into the theatre and show movies on ShamuVision. Some like it, some not, but there is one, a big, older female ... that is fascinated when the keepers show TOP GUN... When there's a scene with Kelly McGillis, she'll [the whale] boost herself out of the water as far as she can and stare at it until the scene is over.>
<In Toby's case, I wouldn't worry. If the fungus is topical, it will clear up in the dry heat with just a few applications of the cream ... and the calcium supplement is a long term thing but he can have that treatment in his wet tank when he's ready>
Okay, I think that's all my questions. Again, I appreciate your time, & help. I hope you, & your crew have a wonderful day!
<We thrive on kudos! Thanks!>

African painted turtle, red stripes are turning white 8/11/2009
My friend recently moved to Phoenix, AZ and the red stripes on his African painted turtle are now turning white.
<There's no such thing as an "African Painted Turtle". Even Google shows up nothing other than a single person using this non-name again and again. Any chance of a Latin name? Or a photo?>
Otherwise the turtle is doing well. Is this something to worry about?
<As turtles/terrapins age, their colours will often fade, particularly those around the face. The colours on the shell often become more subdued, too. So, provided the turtle doesn't have fungus and isn't showing signs of bacterial infection, there's probably nothing to worry about. Fungus should be obvious as cottony or slimy patches, usually with a very distinctive moldy smell. Bacterial infections like Shell Rot have dead white patches of tissue alongside red patches of inflammation, so again, should be easy to diagnose. Have your fried review maintenance. Make sure the turtle has swimming space, has adequate UV-B light from a special UV-B lamp, has a basking spot where it can warm up, and is receiving the appropriate diet for its species (typically greens-based, and certainly no live feeder fish!). Almost all turtle sickness comes down to neglecting these key maintenance essentials. Cheers, Neale.>

Turtle Shell: Injury or Fungus? 7/31/09
I've attached two photos of my six-year-old yellow-bellied slider, Moose. His "twin" brother, Merytle Louis Rutherford, has always been the bigger, stronger, more coordinated, healthier, and luckier of the two, but we love them both all the same. Moose has always had a much bumpier shell, longer front claws, and slower overall growth since I got them both as babies due to some metabolism issues which I try to correct by separating the turtles regularly and giving Moose a more calcium-rich diet and his own private basking spot.
<Smaller size and longer claws is also characteristic of males, Adrian.
Maybe you have one of each sex.>
In spite of his handicaps, Moose recently managed to climb out of his enclosure (now being completely overhauled with a much lower water level and LOCKING screen cover in light of his new-found skill),
<Turtles are AMAZING climbers. I've seen a 8 inch River Cooter (a cousin to the Slider family) climb a 6 foot chain link fence. Without a locking top, you have to have an inward lip at least 1 1/2 times the length of the largest turtle.>
... ending up on his back, where I found him quite cranky and stressed out a few hours later. At that time, it looked as though he had just barely scraped the prominent points on his shell from all the rocking back and forth in an effort to get himself upright after the fall.
<When I encounter a turtle that's been upside down, I always pick it up and hold it upright (Head UP/Tail to the ground) for a few minutes to let the internal organs hang vertically. Although uncommon, the stress of being upside down and flailing as they do can cause the intestines to twist.
Again, not a very common thing, but a very easy & quick thing to do>
Since then (it's been about a month), these supposed scrapes have turned into something else entirely. When they didn't go away initially, I started dry-docking him and disinfecting his shell with peroxide, then iodine solution, then, finally, my Nolvasan solution arrived from the vet supply store, and I started swabbing the spots with that. Fearing shell rot in the injured areas, I started trying to scrape the areas with a plastic card, and treating with more antiseptic. The current white areas, which have grown considerably, LOOK like exposed bone in texture (though I know the entire shell is integrated with the skeleton), and they are the result of the scraping...what came off was just a thin layer of pigmented shell, not even the thickness of Moose's normally-shed scutes. After that horrific experience, I stopped trying to scrape stuff off, and have just been using a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub the areas. The areas are not, and never have been oozy or sticky or smelly.
<I don't think you've caused as much damage as you think, Adrian. It's not possible to scrape off a healthy scute with a plastic card. Something was already going on there and all you've done has been to expose that condition (to make a pun).>
Have I damaged my turtle unnecessarily in my vigor to treat an imaginary case of shell rot? The exposed areas had started to faintly show some of the pattern of the rest of his shell (which is pretty pronounced for an adult), as if the cells were starting to regrow, but that recently seems to have faded away, too, leaving these huge blank white areas.
<The pictures show the bone that is normally under the scutes, so the most obvious answer is that due to some cause not currently known, but possibly related to something metabolic, the scutes have died. This in itself is not fatal or even debilitating. Moose can live a happy live of joy fulfillment as long as we can find and correct the root cause. That and making sure he doesn't become an Amway rep.>
<That said, finding the cause isn't as easy as it sounds. If we assume you've provided proper diet, heat and UV for both turtles then finding the source will likely involve a scraping culture and/or a blood test.>
Now, since they're in temporary housing anyway as the new tank comes together, I have them separated and Moose is, sadly, back in dry-dock state with a bath every 24 hours, and halting all the doctoring I've been playing at. What is the next step, and what should his shell look like when, or if, it is healing?
<Review every detail of your care instructions against the care sheet below, Adrian. The best possible outcome here is that upon detailed review, you find something subtle that might end up making a huge difference. I'm not suggesting it's a Good Thing(tm) that we find a mistake ... but if, for example, you'd accidentally hung a plant-Gro bulb instead of a proper UV bulb, the FIX would be easy and inexpensive. I want to cover the basics 2 or 3 times before we have to resort to the more esoteric and expensive.>
I am very concerned about Moose, as I am far too young and irresponsible to have a REAL child, and I was really looking forward to these little turts growing up to support me and place me in a good nursing home in thirty or forty years...
<Well, you seem more responsible than a number of parents I know, Adrian.
Besides, it's unlikely that turtles would be able to support you in your old age ... they're financially irresponsible (never let a turtle NEAR your ATM card)>

Just Checking...(re: Turtle Shell: Injury or Fungus?) 8/5/09
Thanks for the reassurances...but I fear, just like I never forgave my father for giving me a curfew for my own good growing up, Moose may never forgive me for scraping off his dead scutes!
<Actually, Sliders are pretty affable that way. I've never known one to hold a grudge .. unlike a certain soft-shelled turtle (Trionyx ferox) that I know.>
About my newest setup: I recently switched to two Exo-Terra Solar Glo lamps (one for each end of the tank) to try and streamline away from all the incandescents and fluorescent strip lights I had strewn all across the top of my 90-gallon tank. These are mercury vapor bulbs which boast "optimal levels of UVB, UVA, visual light and heat in one bulb..."
<Can't get much better than 'optimal' !!>
I keep a cuttlebone in their tank for extra calcium/beak-wearing at all times, but neither of them really seems to touch it.
<Turtles get their calcium from their diet and unless you can find a away to make a lump of chalk taste like anything but a lump of chalk you're just wasting time and space. Which is exactly what I say about my wife's
They'd much rather bite at their own reflections. I am trying a new filter setup, using a Rena Filstar XP4 canister filter hooked up to an undergravel filter plate with large river pebbles as the substrate (I've connected the tubes of the XP4 directly to the UGF so that one panel is the in-flow, the other panel the outflow), in conjunction with the largest hang-on power filter I could find locally.
<I like the idea there, but just remember that compared to fish, turtles are giant poop machines. It's a practical impossibility to get a true biological filter going and so the biggest thing that an undergravel filter
does is provide a hidden grid and chamber that the detritus can fall into while it fouls your water>
Almost half the surface of the water in the tank is devoted to a home-made built-in basking platform which is integrated with a 3D rock background.
Are there any glaring holes in the latest version of their setup?
<Nope - looking good so far (although I'd ditch the undergravel filter>
I am planning on doing a gravel vac and a half water change every two weeks, and a complete water change every couple of months. I plan to add some real plants where the turtles can't destroy them, and I hope that with the added filtration, I might be able to keep a giant Pleco or two in the tank, but we'll have to see how stable the water quality is.
<Let's not put the Pleco in there. Fish and turtles don't really mix that well>
About the food: I feed them HBH Turtle Bites outside their tank, and have tried feeding them Anacharis and chives before, but they prefer their bourgeois pre-packaged pellet food to anything from Mother Nature. If I
put a few feeder fish in, they'll slowly NOM them, but I try to stay away from too much protein because of Moose's metabolism issues.
<A decent quality koi pellet as a staple, an earth worm once a month or so as a treat ... and NO FISH. Either they carry parasites into your tank or the turtles can't be bothered and now you have fish to feed and care for ..... no fish!>
Moose is still basking and eating normally, and is probably the more social of the two, so I haven't noticed any changes in his behavior, just his shell. No bubbly orifices or paralysis (beyond the overall awkwardness
he's had since birth), and still no soft spots or ooziness. I'll continue with the peroxide and Nolvasan, unless you would recommend switching back to the iodine or trying an anti-fungal cream? Looks like I'm headed to a herp vet in the Chicago area to figure out this mystery! Any recommendations?
<actually, as long as it's just the lost of the scute in favor of the bony plate underneath, just continue the treatment, watch for behavior changes .. but as long as Moose appears to be thriving ... just keep on keeping on!>
I appreciate all your help, and I especially appreciate your patience in reading through and responding to my rambling emails.
<You have NO IDEA what we get here, Adrian .. yours are not rambling emails, they contain punctuation, capitalization and recognizable sentence structures! We are impressed!>
A doting turtle mother again,
<any time Adrian! -- Darrel>

Box turtle shell issue 07/13/09
Dear Crew,
<Hiya -- Darrel here>
We have 8 to 10 box turtles living in our backyard. They've all lived here for years (10 + yrs) and seem to thrive. One of the older female turtles has a broken or cracked shell along the leading edge of the carapace. It started as a small defect and has grown/spread to about 3 x the initial size. The shell itself seems relatively health - hard, no soft spots, no discharge or odor. The affected area is slightly pitted along the broken edge and the edge is rolled over.
<I see this frequently in older Box Turtles, Mike. I've always assumed it to be fungal in nature but I've found only marginal improvement with topical antifungals. I've begun to suspect that there's a systemic issue with the shell itself, possibly calcium absorbs ion problems or maybe the calcium crystallizing in the middle layers, etc.>
<The best results I've experienced have been to file or grind away the leading surface to a 'clean' edge and then seal it with clear nail polish applied twice weekly for 2 months. Obviously, GREAT care must be taken in this arena and not something I'd suggest to just anyone.>
Again, other than being broken the shell is hard. Her appetite is good or seems to be.
<A little filing and sealing and she'll likely get over it>
We feed her and the others "treats" of strawberries and other berries along with an occasional veggie.
<That is a VERY dangerous thing to do, Mike. Box turtles (genus Terrapene) are extremely prone to food fixations and often refuse to eat anything but their one desire and the only thing you can do is offer them a basic diet until they finally give in. I once had a female Eastern box that fixated on strawberries and it took THREE YEARS of offering her nothing but a basic diet before she relented. The problem is that berries are a perfectly normal part of their diet, so it's not like you're feeding her the "Wrong(tm)" foods. Berries and melon, flower petals, collards, snails and worms are all good treats, just make sure that you vary the offerings and watch for the ones that only come on 'berry day' or 'melon day', etc.>
She one of the best beggars in the group.
<Yep, they're very accomplished at it>
Otherwise they fend for themselves. We live in No. VA and the turtles all seem to be otherwise healthy- lay eggs annually and all move around their backyard well. None of the others are affected.
<You might also make note to tone down the treat-feeding as fall sets in>
Thanks for your help.
<You're welcome Mike>

Re: Box turtle shell issue 07/13/09
Thanks Darryl. BS the Turtle (broken shell) should live a long and healthy life.
Michael Walters,
<Mike, in my day job working with computers, I rarely get to plug for my friends, so it's with a certain amount of pride that I casually mention that a personal friend of mine, Doug Mader, literally DID "write the book" on Reptile medicine. You should order a copy of "Reptile Medicine and Surgery" by Doug Mader DVM and have it on hand at all times!>
<In fact, some of the photos of various tortoises' gooey innards in the book are pictures of some of my guys!>

Mexican River Cooter's shell -- 7/18/09
I had some questions containing my Mexican River Cooter's shell a few weeks ago. I would just like to thank you for your help and ask you a few more questions.
<Thanks for your appreciation. Helping people like you is why we do this!>
<Well, that and the free food>
My turtle, Stanford, has completely recovered as far as I can tell. However it has only been 13 days since I took Stanford out of water and started to give my turtle calcium covered food. Therefore I was wondering if I should
keep him out of water for the remainder of the two months or put him back in it.
<My suggestion is that you give Stan at least another month. Reptiles are very slow to appear sick (that's why they seem "just fine' one day and then 'very very sick' the next) but they also seem quick to heal when they still
have a way to go.>
Thank You so much.
<No charge!>

Mexican River Cooters Shell Again Shell Rot? 8/12/09
I took your advice about taking my turtle out of the water and his shell is now very hard like it should be. At least I hope it is.
However I believe my turtle may be getting shell rot or a mild version of it. I was checking him to she if anything was wrong with his shell. I peeled of a loose part of his shell and it was white and foggy under it I
read through directions on how to get rid of shell rot and have been rubbing in anti-fungal cream on the parts of his shell. His shell has some very dark spots and is a blackish brownish color with a pattern you can see
under some of his scutes. (when he or she is in the water the top layers of shell are almost see through and you can see some yellow pattern) Which is where I found shell rot underneath. Some of his shell has the white coloring when I peel off loose scutes but some of it has bright vibrant colors that are not on the other scutes of his shell. I was wondering if this is just his natural coloring coming out as it gets older or it has
been covered up by rotting shell.
<Could be either>
I would love any advice on what to do or if this really is shell rot.
<Abby, can you shoot some pictures, even with a cell phone cam and send them off to us? As the bone underneath the scute grows, the scute becomes dislodged and transparent-looking and eventually flakes off. It's not a good idea to help that process, but again I can't tell from your description.>
<If you can, please take several shots of the affected area as well as the
other areas of the shell (for comparison) and then send then back, OK?>

shell and belly problems 7/6/09
Hi guys, basically what it is... I have 2 Mississippi map turtles I believe 1 boy and 1 girl... recently I have noticed that 1 of them has whitish marks on its shell which can be wiped of till completely gone but continues after a few days to come back and also on its underbelly instead of the yellow and black shape its underbelly is all most sharp black dividers between each of the under shell fragments and I'm worried if this continues what will happen and would this affect my other turtle... the tank its self is a large 1 just over 10 litres I believe, it has around half the tank is for basking and the other half is water with stone and rocks for climbing etc, the water temp is a constant 85 celcus, I have a large uv light that is on some of the day and a basking lamp I have on for some time through
the day... perhaps they're not fond of Scotland, lol, any help would be much appreciated.
cheers JJ
<Hello JJ. Now, first things first: 10 litres is not "large" by any standards! Even 100 litres (about 26 US gallons) wouldn't be suitable for turtles/terrapins except while they were young. As you're doubtless aware, turtles/terrapins grow very quickly and some species can become very larger. Your species, Graptemys pseudogeographica, gets to about 10 cm long in the case of males, and about half as big again in the case of females.
That puts them at the smaller end of the range to be sure, but you'd still need a good 200 litres (55 US gallons) to keep them safe and happy for life. Males can get fairly aggressive towards females, so the extra space
makes it easier for you to create two basking spots, one at each end of the tank, so the two animals can rest away from each other when they want to.
Depending on how you arrange this, you'd also need to make sure the UV-B light crosses both basking spots, and the turtles need precisely 12 hours of this light each day to stay healthy. Do remember the UV-B light is useless when the turtles are underwater, and only "works" in terms of vitamin synthesis if the turtles are basking on dry land under the light.
UV-A lights do not work for this, so make sure you have the right kind of bulb in your system. I mention this because the lack of UV-B is a major cause of shell deformities. There are two other things to consider.
Firstly, simply lime scale. If you live in a hard water area, lime deposits on the shell a bit like chalk or the stuff you see on bathtubs will appear.
Simple wiping should shift it, perhaps with a cloth dampened with vinegar or lemon juice if needs be. It's harmless, if unsightly. Secondly, there's fungus. This usually implies poor water quality, and often goes along with shell deformities, with the fungus setting in where the shell is weakest.
Either way, have a sniff, and if the white patches smell rotten, then the issue is fungus. Clean the turtle as described below, and then carefully review hygiene:
I also doubt you have the thing warmed to 85 Celsius; that's about the temperature of a scalding hot cup of coffee (100 Celsius being boiling water). For these turtles, an air temperature of 25 C is fine, and that is easily attained by keeping the water slightly warmer, say 26-28 C, and then ensuring there's a reasonably secure (but not airtight) hood to keep the warm air largely in place. Ventilation is important for preventing fungus, so you need to balance things; usually hoods are "leaky" enough to allow sufficient flow of air, but if not, and if the air gets too warm or too
musty, then open the hood slightly. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Re: shell and underbelly problems 7/6/09
thanks so much guys... sorry bout the water temperature thing no idea where I got 80 from on closer inspecting my heater says 25... old age must be hitting me faster than I thought lol
<Glad to have helped -- and blown a few cobwebs off your little grey cells.
Cheers, Neale.>

Mexican River Cooters Shell 7/1/09
Dear Crew
<Hiya -- Darrel here>
I have a two year old Mexican river Cooter I got from a friend.
<For those of you that aren't familiar with a Cooter ... think of a Red Eared Slider without the red ears and a black & yellow paint scheme rather than green & yellow. Very pretty animals>
The problem is that the second day I had it I started to notice that its yellow underbelly was "wearing away" the yellow is slowly fading away in some spots. Then today I noticed that part of his shell was flaking off. I know this is normal for a growing turtle but I wasn't.
<You wasn't? I think you mean that you're not sure. During healthy growth, the scutes flake off the top of the shell in very thin sheets that remain almost the shape of the underlying plate. If that's what you mean, then yes that's normal. If you mean something else, then no it's not.>
Then later today I picked up my turtle and its underbelly was feeling unusually soft. I was hoping you could tell me if this is something I should be worried about or not.
<Yes. Please worry. This could be a sign of long term calcium deficiency which will lead to Metabolic Bone Disease if not corrected or it could be a sign of an infection. Only a veterinarian can tell for certain.>
<Your immediate job is to get him out of the water and kept someplace warm and dry. A series of calcium injections provided by a veterinarian would be best. Failing that, a diet high in calcium. Most Emydids (Sliders, cooters and friends) will readily eat cheese, which contains calcium and you can coat the cheese and anything else he'll eat with powered calcium from the food supplement section of your local grocery store. Crushed oysters are the best source of calcium but the trick is going to be to find it in powdered form.>
<Keep him warm and dry for the next 2 months. Make sure there is UV lighting available to him or else 15 minutes, twice a day in unfiltered sunlight. Place him is a shallow bowl of lukewarm water for 15 minutes every evening so he can drink, poop and hopefully eat and make sure that everything he eats is coated with whatever calcium powder you can get.>
<If you don't see an improvement in two weeks, or if he becomes less active or less hungry or the shell changes color or gets softer, you're only hope will be to find a qualified vet to treat him.>
<Yer welcome! Read this
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

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