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FAQs About Soft/Shell Rot, Conditions In Turtles 17

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, AmphibiansRed Eared Slider Care

Related FAQs:  Shell Rot 2, Shell Rot 3, Shell Rot 4, Shell Conditions 5, Shell Conditions 6, 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,& 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, AmphibiansOther Reptiles

Is my turtles shell ok       2/26/20
So I got a RES about three months ago and everything was ok until about a month ago and I just want to make sure he’s ok
And the same thing started happening with my brothers turtle too
I just want to make sure there ok and nothing is wrong with them
<The pictures don't seem to show any sign of red inflammation, so likely the shell is fine. But do read here:
In short, if after wiping with paper towel, the shell smells clean and there's no sign of pus or inflammation, changes to the colour of the scutes (the plates) are normal. Often down to limescale, age, or simple variation between turtles. Cheers, Neale.>

My Turtle; bleeding/shell      1/20/20
Hello, I thought my eastern painted turtle was shedding so i picked the scoots and now it is bleeding, HELP WHAT SHOULD I DO?
<Will ask Neale to respond as well, but you should have searched WWM re: Read here:
Bob Fenner>
My Turtle; bleeding/scutes     /Neale       1/21/20

Hello, I thought my eastern painted turtle was shedding so i picked the scoots and now it is bleeding, HELP WHAT SHOULD I DO?
<Ideally, go to a vet. Honestly. That's the best and most reliable approach here. If the cost is an issue, some charities exist (such as PDSA) to help out. Failing that, 'dry dock' him; see about halfway down this article:
Chances are good that if he's kept dry, the shell will heal over quickly, assuming that there are no underlying problems (such as Soft Shell).
Turtles are generally healthy animals, but there are some non-negotiable things that people skip on, and sadly, once you do that, it's not long before the turtle gets sick. Same with most if not all reptiles. Good
review of the basics here:

BOX TURTLE     8/29/19
Hi. I have a box turtle that has places on her carapace that are like small craters. Is this shell rot?
<If the holes smell bad, then yes, very likely.>
And also on the plastron there are small spots that look like someone got flecks of slightly off white paint on her.
<Could easily be limescale. If you live in a hard water area, the dissolved minerals that form limescale in pipes and appliances and also form limescale on turtles. If you take the turtle out of the water, drop on a
little vinegar or lemon juice, limescale will bubble or fizz. Limescale is unsightly but harmless, and you can remove it with a toothbrush and a bit of vinegar or lemon juice periodically without any harm to the turtle.>
It is not soft. It does not come off easy at all. We have well water and it is hard water.
<Well there we go.>
I have some stuff for treating fungus and bacteria. There is no white stuff in the cracks but there are also a couple of small holes on the bottom shell. Same color as the shell just like the craters on the top. When treating how do you know when it is healed since I imagine that it would take quite some time for the shell to regrow there and what is the cause of the craters, holes and off white stuff? Thanks
<Going to direct you to some reading, here:
The important thing is to double-check your turtle has both UV-B light as well as a heat lamp for basking under (some premium lamps include both heat and UV-B) and a diet with sufficient calcium. Get these two things right, and you shouldn't have to worry about Shell Rot. As always with reptiles, prevention is both cheaper and easier than cure, and most (likely: all) turtle health problems come down to neglect. Hope this helps, Neale.>
BOX TURTLE      8/30/19

Hi. Thanks for the info.
<Most welcome.>
My turtle is living outside all warm weather.
<Direct sunshine should provide the UV-B, so you should be sorted on that front!>
It started with swollen eyes and then the shell started caving a little.
<Swollen eyes are the classic symptom of Vitamin A deficiency. Of course other things (such as bacterial infections) can be explanations too. But checking the diet of your turtle, and ideally, giving either a suitable Vitamin A supplement, or getting a vitamin shot from a vet, should fix mild cases. Do read, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/turteyedisart.htm
As you know, these turtles consume a lot of plant material in the wild, but will eat meaty foods in captivity almost to the exclusion of fresh greens.
This is what can cause Vitamin A deficiency.>
The eyes are pretty much all better and I've been treating the shell rot, but how do I know when to stop?
<Are we talking about the Shell Rot here? If the shell smells clean (Shell Rot smells musty) then beyond simply cleaning the turtles shell periodically (an old toothbrush works great) and keeping the aquarium/pond clean (water changes and filtration) should do the trick. Dabbing with a cotton bud dipped in iodine solution (as used in first aid) does a really good job of sterilising the wounds. After dabbing, leave the turtle 'dry docked' for at least half an hour, and then return it to the pond or aquarium. Dry docking involves keeping the turtle on land, but with plenty of drinking water, especially if it's a hot and sunny day. Do this clean-and-dry once or twice a day for a week at least, and you should see
There is no white or red there. It looks like the shell but is deeper.
<Turtle shells are, obviously, quite thick. It is possible for infections to work their way through to the bottom, but that is very uncommon.
Treating as described above should show marked improvement within a week -- i.e., the shell pits smell clean, there's no weeping fluid (sort of like pus) and definitely no sign of blood. If the wounds aren't improving after a week or so, I'd definitely have a vet take a look, or at the very least, an experienced reptile keeper who you trust to be able to diagnose diseases in turtles. As said before, treating reptiles is really best done BEFORE they get sick, or failing that, as soon as things seem amiss. Otherwise, once they get really sick treatment can become time-consuming and expensive in part because of their slow metabolism, which means medicines (not to mention their immune system) tend to operate more slowly than warm blooded animals.>
The turtle is very active and eating otherwise.
<Both positive signs. A quick trip to the vet to get some assurance he's on the mend would really be the best option here.>
Have any good ideas on how to get the turtle to eat more greens?
<Turtles will eat greens in the absence of other foods. So not providing anything energy dense, like reptile pellets or worms, let alone meat, is important. In a pond situation turtles will probably be grazing between occasional feeds from you, especially if you only feed every few days. In between the turtle should be consuming pond weeds (Elodea-type things are ideal) alongside general organic muck they'll dig up in the pond (roots, worms, carrion, etc.). In an aquarium situation just don't feed anything else, stick a bunch of Elodea, Cabomba, or whatever cheap pondweed is sold in your local pet store. With luck, your turtle will chow down on these.
Duckweed is another useful green food that people can grow themselves without trouble -- it's often a pest in ponds! There are some kitchen greens you can try, though pale green salads like Iceberg lettuce, while accepted, are nutrient poor and not especially useful. Better bets are things like Romaine and other dark lettuces, sliced courgette (zucchini), squashed cooked peas, and blanched kale or greens. You'll need to experiment a bit, as every turtle seems to have different tastes. Some will eat a little fruit, too, such as sliced grapes, but use these very sparingly as they have a strong laxative effect and aren't really a normal part of their diet in the wild. The key thing to remember is turtles will ignore greens if meaty foods are offered, much in the same way humans ignore the salad bar while there's still steak and chicken on the buffet counter. Cheers, Neale.>
BOX TURTLE      8/30/19

OK. Thank you.
So for a box turtle do you put the iodine on the shell and just leave it?
<Dab iodine onto cotton bud; wipe across hole in shell; allow to dry for at least 10 min.s. After another 20 min.s, you can rinse off the shell and then return the turtle to its home.>
On another note, I came across a boxie today and wanted to get a picture of it. As I came to it, Shell completely closed up. (normal) I sat on a nearby log very quietly for quite some time and the thing only opened up enough to see the face. I kept waiting and waiting and then I started to wonder if it was OK. I decided to take it home just to see if it IS ok.
<Almost never recommended by wildlife experts.>
It's in a cardboard box and it has been a couple of hours and I haven't seen its legs or head and neck. Is this a veeeeeery shy turtle, or is there possibly something wrong with it?
<Could be, but hard to say. Certainly a wild turtle transported from its wilderness habitat into a human home is unlikely to be eager to leave its shell. Best bet is to call your local Fish & Wildlife agency for their input. There are (wild) animal rescue charities about (here in England, St Tiggywinkles is the best known) that might also offer advice.>
I did see the eyes. They looked different? Don't know what to think. Any ideas?
<Without a photo, nope. Sorry! Neale.>
BOX TURTLE      8/30/19

I am hoping to get a look at it to see if it's ok. I took a large snapper, the size of my steering wheel, to a local vet because someone deliberately ran it over.
<Yikes! Poor thing.>
I hoped it could be saved but they said the damage was too deep (heart break)
<I would imagine. They're fascinating animals.>
I know I can bring it there because they will help if needed and then release.
The problem is I can't get a good look at the face and eyes. I might just call them and ask what they think. Thanks for your help on the other stuff.
<Most helpful, and good luck with your endeavours to help local wildlife!
Always good to know some people are trying to do good, not just messing up the planet. Cheers, Neale.>
TURTLE CARE      9/1/19

Hello again.
<Hello again Shirley,>
Just wanted to touch base with you to let you know that I found an animal rescue about 50-60 minutes away and brought the box turtle there.
<Good news.>
It looked like something took a chunk out of it's face and it was infected.
<Makes sense. Poor little guy!>
They took it in and will try to treat and save the little one and then return it back to the area it was found.
<Sounds the best outcome.>
Also, I want to return my box turtle outside after eye infection is healed.
<Understood. The main things are to ensure she doesn't become "socialised" to humans (which should be seen as dangerous by wild animals) and also to ensure she doesn't come into contact with anything likely to carry reptile-specific diseases (so certainly pet reptiles, but also equipment like buckets or boxes used around pet reptiles). The first is about making sure the turtle keeps away from other people and doesn't see them as sources of food, which can bring them close to roads, which are obviously dangerous, as well as pets, like dogs, that might harass or kill them. The second is because pet animals can carry diseases that may be treated by a vet, but lethal without a vet, which is the situation for wild animals.>
There is a wooden hide box and a plastic water bowl.
<Sounds fine.>
She hasn't been in there for about two weeks. Is there anything I should do to it before I put her in there?
<Access to shelter, food and water are the main things. But also that the turtle can move between warmth and cool easily. While reptiles do like to bask in the sunshine to warm up, they also need to avoid overheating, so use things like burrows or shady spots under shrubs to get away from the sunshine. If this enclosure is outdoors, ensure also that predators cannot get in: not just cats and dogs, but even things like coyotes, raccoons and even large birds can be a danger.>
Would you also know if white vinegar is a good cleaner?
<Yep, should be fine. If it's safe to eat, it's a safe cleaner.>
Thank You
<Welcome. Neale.>
TURTLE CARE    9/2/19

Hi. I apologize for not being clear. Originally I was asking you how to treat shell rot in a box turtle.(I already have one I'm treating.)
<Shell Rot best treated by dry-docking the turtle periodically, and using Iodine to dab the wounds once or twice a day, leaving at least half an hour before rinsing the shell and returning the turtle to the water. Do read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/turtshellrot.htm
All the details are there.>
The turtle I found is with the rehab and I will most likely never see that one again. Even if it heals. I was referring to my boxie that has been living outside for years in a fenced in area but has had some shell
problems and eye infection. She is doing well now and I would like to put her back outside. I didn't know if there was something I needed to do in there before hand so that it is good for her to go back. Just don't want her to run into problems again.
<Understood. Realistically, if a wild animal has been in your care for more than a few weeks, it is extremely difficult to return it to the wild. All kinds of issues. One is that it will have become at least partially tame.
Another is that it may or may not have enough body weight to survive winter hibernation. If it was sickly when you got it, it might not have eaten enough to put on the necessary fat as well as repair physical damage (bear in mind that a sick or injured animal is usually eaten, so 'getting better' isn't often an option). Consult with a suitable expert who can assess the body mass of the turtle. Indeed, I'd probably approach someone able to rehome and/or reintroduce wild reptiles, rather than do it yourself.>
Thanks again for your help
<Most welcome, Neale.>
TURTLE CARE      9/4/19

I'm really puzzled at your answers to my questions.
Perhaps I am just not explaining the situation very well.
I have a box turtle that stays in an outdoor pen. She got an eye infection and a little shell rot so I took her to the vet for medicine. Now that she is well I just wondered if the wooden hide box or the plastic bowl needed to be treated with something before she went back to prevent reinfection.
<Shell Rot is opportunistic and the bacteria and fungi are all around anyways. Eye-infections tend to be caused by dietary problems, but can be caused by physical damage. Either way, while giving your reptile's enclosure a good clean periodically is a good idea, sterilising them is probably unnecessary. Still, if you're concerned, bleaching and rinsing the nesting box, and sticking the bowl through the dishwasher would be quick and easy ways to clean them.>
That's all. But thanks. Take care
<Will do. Cheers, Neale.>
TURTLE CARE      9/4/19

OK. Very well and thanks so much
<Most welcome. Neale.>

Softshell Turtle Fungus       7/16/19
<Hello Kai,>
I have a spiny softshell given to me recently by a friend who got it at the market intending to keep it as a pet but realizing he could not really take care of it (not sure if this is a common occurrence everywhere, but where I live people tend to eat Softshells, not care for them).
<Understood. Spiny Softshell turtles, if by which you mean Apalone spinifera, are members of the Trionychidae, a group of long-necked, fast-moving, and rather vicious turtles that can be dangerous to keep. They also get rather big, shell lengths up to 50 cm or so in some cases, making them not only dangerous but demanding pets.>
I keep him in a 40gal tank with a Penguin 75gal filter, currently only river pebbles as substrate but once I found out sand was needed I ordered it online and it should be coming soon, and a basking dock and UVB light.
<Good. While Softshells don't come out onto the land much, particularly when they're adult sized, they do like resting on sloping banks with their back flippers and tail in the water, but the top half of their shell, and their head, under the basking lamp.>
I also keep some Marimo moss balls in the tank. Since it was such a sudden request for me to take him in, I had no choice but to put the softshell (Pancake) in the tank with my two young red eared sliders.
Fortunately, so far there has been no visible aggression and they seem to get along well, but I'm aware this is a risky living situation - I'm working on being able to buy another full set of tank, lighting, filter,
etc. for him.
<Indeed. Depending on how big the Softshell is, you might be fine for the time being. But when they get bigger, Softshells can become problematic (i.e., aggressive and territorial, not to mention well-armed and fast) so are best kept singly.>
Pancake has been doing badly from day one - his rough treatment at the market led to several wounds along his spine which are healing, but very slowly.
<Good clean water essential here, even addition of a little salt might help (2-5 gram/litre) since Apalone do occur in mildly brackish water.>
A few days ago he started developing a soft, slimy, white kind of gunk all over his shell. At the very edges, his shell is VERY soft and pliable, and almost completely white. This condition developed very rapidly. I began dry docking him as soon as I realized the fungus was an issue (I assume it's fungus rather than shell rot; it seems like it's primarily affecting the surface, and he certainly smells bad but I'm pretty sure this is just what Softshells smell like).
<Do scrub, clean gently. Turtle shells may smell wet, like a well-maintained aquarium, but shouldn't smell bad.>
However, I began the antifungal treatment with vinegar today, and despite the fact that I was barely touching him with the toothbrush + vinegar, he seemed to be in great pain and now there are small localized spots of dark red on his shell.
<I would not use vinegar then!>
They look like blood to me, though I've read they can also be bacteria, and they appeared almost immediately after the vinegar treatment. Should I continue the treatment, buy better antifungal meds, or take him to the vet?
<Do see above. Salt may help, but certainly regularly changing the water and giving the turtle time to recover will be the important things.>
Also, do you have any extra tips about dry docking a softshell turtle?
<Dry docking Softshell turtles isn't really necessary or useful. Bear in mind these turtles dehydrate much more quickly than Sliders or Box turtles, and their shell is more leathery skin than dry scutes. In some ways they're more like amphibians -- they're super-sensitive to poor water quality, and scratches and bites can become infected if the water isn't clean enough.
The use of salt can help in this regard, but to stress, clean water and the opportunity to bask _when it wants to_ will be the aim here.>
I currently keep a cold wet towel in his tub so as to try and prevent dehydration, since I've heard Softshells are much more readily dehydrated than hard-shelled turtles, but I'm not sure if this is enough.
<Dry docking while wrapped in a wet towel is a bit pointless, I think.>
Thank you so much for your help!
- Kai
<Have cc'ed Darrel in case he has a second opinion here. Cheers, Neale.>

Red eared slider shell issue     7/6/19
> Brent; howsit?
> Please resize and resend your msg. Your file is more than an order of
> magnitude too large.
> BobF
Sorry. Let me send a link instead.
<Thank you, BobF>R
Red eared slider shell issue     7/6/19

We have a female red eared slider about 8 years old. She is very healthy and is very active. She does bask several times a day for long periods.
Her shell has become more and more discolored and her scutes are peeling off in small pieces. It has progressed much more in the last year or two. In my home, which is the last year or so, I do have very hard water. I can't tell if this is fungus or just really hard water.
I have been scrubbing her shell with a brush and using some "hibiclense" to try and clear out any fungus or bacteria that there might be at least twice a week. I have only been scrubbing for 2-3 months but not seeing any progress. See the attached photos.
<<Her shell is not atypical. You can see the older scutes flaking off, but that's to expected when turtles get older. They're dead, rather like fingernails on humans, so don't heal. So as time passes, it's normal for
the scutes to get a bit scruffy looking before they slough away from the shell. Provided there's no musty smell or abnormal soft patches (which would indicate fungus or bacterial infection) then I'd not be concerned.
Hard water can cause limescale deposits, and these could very easily be the off-white to brownish patches you're seeing. It's important to understand that adult turtles do not look like the bright green youngsters, and this sort of mottled, dull colouration actually provides the turtle with useful
camouflage, so is more of a feature than a bug! Cheers, Neale.>>
Re: red eared slider shell issue      7/7/19

Thank you for you quick reply!
Yeah when we ran ph strips everything looked good but the water was about as "hard" as it gets.
<Not a problem for your turtle at all.>
Her shell is very hard and doesn't smell too.
<Sounds good!>
If it is limescale deposits, is there a way to remove it to get her shell looking "cleaner"?
<If you were so minded, a toothbrush used to scrub with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar would dissolve the limescale and brush it away. Rinse thoroughly afterwards, perhaps by using some clean tap water, to remove any remaining juice or vinegar. While neither are toxic by the time they're diluted by the aquarium water, if some splashed or otherwise got into the turtle's eyes before he was properly immersed in water -- could sting a bit! Still, the limescale is doing no harm and not something to stress
yourself -- or your turtle -- over. Longer term, you could choose to mix your tap water with distilled or deionised water to reduce its hardness. I would NOT use water from a domestic water softener though because these replace hardness minerals with table salt, and raising the salinity of the water isn't good for your turtle.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: red eared slider shell issue       7/8/19

<Everything Neale said!>

Turtle’s Problem   6/4/19
Hi, can u indicate what is wrong with my turtle?
<Not quite sure what you think is the problem here. The white stuff on the shell is probably a combination of limescale and the older 'scutes' starting to come off. If the shell smells normal (not musty) then I wouldn't be too concerned. Some people periodically clean off limescale with a toothbrush dipped in vinegar, but it really isn't necessary. Cheers, Neale.>

7 Year old RES acts perky but I’m worried about her shell and “ears”    5/5/19
<Hello Avery,>
I have a red eared slider named Mikey (we didn’t know she was a girl when we got her ��) who is about 7 years old now. She’s not fully grown but is kept in a very clean tank, with both a whisper filter and biological filtration through ghost shrimp, a few feeder fish, some algae-eating snails and healthy, kempt green moss. Her basking spot gets her completely dry and at leas a couple times a month I get her out and very gently rub a soft toothbrush over her shell and apply some special avocado pit- based shell oil I got at Petco (I never apply the oil more than once a month.)
<Never heard of anyone using this product, but can't imagine it does any harm! Just be careful with turtle shells. They're not meant to be abraded clean, and loose scutes (the shell plate pieces) should never be peeled off but allowed to fall away naturally. Otherwise there's a risk of allowing bacteria and fungi into tiny cracks where the shell hasn't completely hardened off.>
I also make sure to use medicated turtle eye drops sparingly and occasionally (she had pink/inflamed eyes once when she was younger but that’s far in her past) and try to get any excess food from the tank when I feed her in there (she Houdini's her way out of our Tupperware and bowls now because she’s a big girl so it’s hard to feed her out of tank! ��)
She sheds her scutes occasionally but in a very irregular manner,
and her shell looks bumpy (it isn’t rot though) with all of the air trapped under her scutes that are in the process of shedding.
<Can happen. Provided the shell smells normal, not moldy, nothing to worry about.>
I feed her a variety diet that includes greens, reptile vitamin and various protein sources and sometimes Reptomin too, and tried giving her Koi sticks for a while since they’re said to aid in shedding. I worry that she’s going to get an infection because she doesn’t shed properly.
Also, on her red patches, I’ve noticed portions where her skin creases have Turned a slightly darker, more dull red or near-grey. Overall they’re bright red, just some concerning patches.
<Do review the three basics for turtle shell care. The first is calcium, whether in the form of Reptomin or some other calcium-rich foodstuff. The second is UV-B, which is important for all types of bone growth, not just the shell. Most commercial UV-B lamps last 6-12 months. Other than direct sunlight (i.e., not through glass) for 4-6 hours a day, UV-B is a non-negotiable, and lack of UV-B is an extremely common cause of problems. By the way, don't confuse UV-B with UV-A, this latter being useful for establishing day/night cycles, but otherwise not needed by most reptiles. Finally, there's dry heat. Turtles like to warm up on land, rather than in the water. Sitting on a large dry rock under the heat lamp will allow the shell to dry off, which helps to keep algae and bacteria from seeping into the cracks within the shell. Dry heat also encourages old scutes to dry out and pull away from the new shell plates below them, and in doing so ensures more even shell growth. You can buy combination heat and UV-B lamps, and while more expensive than plain heat lamps, they're very convenient, killing two birds with one stone. As the turtle basks under the heat, it'll receive the UV-B at the same time!>
She’s a peppy girl who likes to swim and explore and is the opposite of lethargic, and she’s not been sneezing or acting sick otherwise, but I’m just afraid that she has underlying health problems that could become something worse. I can send pictures if you are interested. Thank you!
Avery H.
<Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: 7 Year old RES acts perky but I’m worried about her shell and “ears”       5/7/19

Thank you for the quick and In-depth reply! I will make sure the bulb I’m using (a reptile light, of brand I don’t remember) utilizes UV-B! And I’ll definitely monitor her and make sure she gets completely dry when she basks. I appreciate all your help! Thank you so much.
<Glad to help and good luck! Neale.>

Mud Turtle; shell concern        2/12/19
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a 2-year-old mud turtle named Groot.
<Cool name. Yours and his>
Over the last year, his shell has started to turn black with little holes.
I am worried that it may be shell rot but I don't know. He has a little hole on the side of his shell that I have determined to be caused by shell rot but it is in a different part of his shell.
<I'm looking at the picture now and what I see is normal>
He lives in a tank with a few fish and has a basking dock (that he doesn't use a lot). We change his water every week or sometimes every other week if we are gone. He is eating fine and is swimming fine.
<Mud and Musk turtles are very shy out of water. Unlike a Slider they rarely get used to basking in company and will dive for the water at the first vibration near then. Their timidity is so severe that many people who own them will swear that they never bask... but they will do so frequently if they are able to do it in private>
1. What can I do to help him with the blackness of his shell?
<That mottled look is common - as is the algae that grows on the shell just as I see Groot seems to have.>
2. Does it look like shell rot?
<Shell rot is a feel (soft and mushy) and a smell (old socks when you scrape it and sniff the scraper)>
3. Should I be worried?
<Not from what you've told me. Make sure Groot has a basking spot that is warm and has unfiltered UV-B lighting. Feed him a high quality Koi Pellet or Repto-Min sticks (same stuff just more expensive) with an occasional earthworm (or teeny-tiny piece of beef or chicken liver) for added vitamins. Check every day that he is alert, moving around and eating well.>


Turtle shell issue       9/27/18
Hello! My turtles have a sort of scattering of tiny white spots on the bottom shells.
<First thing is to check if the turtle shell smells. Remove the turtle from the water, dab it dry with paper towel, and have a sniff. Shell Rot is distinctly moldy in smell.>
Unfortunately, I can't take a decent picture as I simply do not own a camera that could adequately capture these tiny spots. They don't look like any type of shell rot I've ever seen, they don't smell, they aren't soft, they appear to be under the scutes rather than on top of them.
<Ah, so you seem to have checked what I suggest above!>
They can't be rubbed off with vinegar.
<So unlikely to be calcium carbonate or limescale deposits.>
They are pin-prick sized but scattered around most of the plastron. I can't find any images online that look like them. My first instinct is always to ask a professional, but there are no herp vets here, and there's really just 2 vets that will even see a turtle at all, one of them is terrible, the other has no equipment of any kind, so no tests can be done, and honestly, I'm afraid they might do more harm than good.
<Understood. But if the vets are really this bad, you should probably flag this problem up with your national veterinarian licensing body.>
I've dry-docked the turtles, and have already attempted treatment with iodine (in case it's bacteria), and since that has done nothing, I am now attempting an anti-fungal treatment. I'm starting to wonder if maybe it's nothing and I'm torturing them with treatments for no reason.
<I would certainly agree that this doesn't sound critical, and treatment probably isn't necessary.>
Should I maybe just let them go back in the water (I've disinfected the tank and everything in it and replaced the water, by the way), and see if the spots grow or change or...something?
<Let them go into their watery home.>
My only, and very flimsy guess is that it could be some kind of allergy to the new basking area.
<Conceivably, assuming reptiles have allergies -- not sure they do -- and if they did, I'd expect their eyes or flippers to be more sensitive, having thinner protection than the shell. The shell is, as you'd expect, pretty tough, and the scutes themselves don't have much of a blood supply once they've been hardened off into plates.>
They've had it for a while, but maybe the reaction took some time to develop. Does that even happen?
<No idea!>
Could a turtle's shell have an allergic reaction to a certain material?
<I would seem unlikely. It could be that scratchy materials create grooves or pitting into which limescale or bacteria can become embedded. But if there's no evidence of Shell Rot, and the turtles themselves appear to be well-fed (e.g., in terms of calcium) and getting adequate UV-B, then I'd put down any unusual colours in the shells to natural variation. Indeed, there may even be minor development glitches caused by life in captivity caused by diet, vivarium size, etc that we can't really do much about, but
don't actually affect the turtle in any significant way.>
Any help would be highly appreciated. Thank you!
<Hope this helps, Neale.>
Re: Turtle shell issue     9/28/18

Thank you for your help! I guess I'll monitor to see if there are any changes, and go from there. As far as flagging the bad vets with some kind of administrative body, I'm not sure if such a body even exists. I'm a foreigner here, but from what I've observed this country doesn't care much about animals, and most things function on corruption and bribes anyway, so reporting bad care, especially bad animal care, is not going to do anything. I understand where you're coming from and I'd absolutely love to report...just about everything here, but it's just not viable with the country's general functionality.
<Understood. Meantime, I'm going to pass on a comment from Darrel, our turtle expert:
"Add two tablespoons of salt for every actual gallon of water in their tank and mix it in. Also take a half cup of lukewarm water and 1 tablespoon of salt into a shallow dish (enough for the turtles to be up to their shoulders) and place the turtles in there for a half hour. Then put them in the tank with the added salt solution. Check again in 4 days and we'll know a lot of what it isn't."
Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Turtle shell colouration/ turtles not basking      6/23/18
<Hiya – Darrel here>
We recently adopted two 4 year old musk turtles from a friend. They seem happy and healthy enough, although we don’t really know what to look out for in terms of how happy they are!
<Active, alert and eating>
We’re slightly concerned for two reasons,
1 Because the turtles don’t seem to be basking. We’ve provided them with a basking spot with uvb and heat lamp but they just don’t seem to want to go out! How can we encourage them to bask?
<Mud and Musk turtles, along with their cousins the snapping turtles, don’t bask much – and in addition they are shy about it. Unlike a Slider, Cooter and their friends, a Musk will rarely if every get “used” to people or movements dive for water at the slightest sight or vibration. Oddly, once in the safety of their water world, they’ll be as active and excited (at the possibility that the human is bringing food) as any other turtle.
The second concern is with one of the turtle’s shells. He has a spot of brown on a lighter part of his shell and we have no idea if it’s just discolouration or a problem related to a lack of basking. I’ve attached a photo of the discolouration for you to see. There’s no indent and no smell related to the darker patch.
<Looks like a stain to me. I wouldn’t worry about it for now>
<The general considerations on the mud and musk turtles are clean water and good food. Even though they live in muddy, murky waters and often bury themselves, they will experience better overall health with clean, clear, room temperature water.>
<I personally raise them from hatchlings to adults on a good quality Koi Pellet as a staple diet and an occasional earthworm like a nightcrawler once every week or so.>
<Be mindful that they are frequently active, eager eaters and aware of your presence; in other words, even if they flee from you when you walk in the room – that means they’re alert and active!>

Turtle shedding poorly      6/23/18
Hello all,
<Hiya – Darrel again>
I wrote you around 13 years ago because my southern painted turtle got her head stuck in some tubing. I dry docked her and she recovered though I swear the hypoxia contributed to her having less sense than her feeder guppies.
<Most turtles are not college material anyway, so no worries>
Since then, she has had a number of health issues: got her flipper stuck in a filter, resulting in rehab and a slightly weaker arm; fatty liver; peritonitis; and retained eggs leading to oophorectomy. She has been
treated with every antibiotic under the sun and even with lactulose for the liver. Her quality of life went down so much due to the regular force feeding of meds that I stopped the lactulose. Two years later, still kicking. She's about 6 inches stem to stern and has held steady at 12oz no matter how much I try to feed her.
<Sounds like all that’s missing is the sound of coconuts banging together and Moe or Larry going “Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck.” Sorry for her troubles.>
I say all this because over the last few years, she is shedding poorly. She has UVB/heat lamps, a good filter, a diet comprised of Zoo Med, Hikari wheat germ, Mazuri, and ReptoMin; a tank heater, and guppies to chase/eat.
<Personally, if you live south of Point Barrow, I’d leave the water at room temperature. There is virtually no part of her natural range that would see the heat of a tropical aquarium heater>
In the past her scutes would come up cleanly but now they peel apart or don't come off at all. I've attached a picture. The shell is not soft, no signs of infection or fungus, and she eats/basks well...but not right now because we just moved...and she doesn't seem to be in discomfort.
<and she LOOKS fine as well. That ‘look’ on her shell … that kind of dirty, frayed at the edges and kind of but not quite discolored look … is all natural for them as they age>
Other than being unsightly, should I worry? She's extra splashy right now and letting her walk around helps.
<I wouldn’t worry a bit>
What does it mean? I suspect it is a laying urge not extinguished by removal of her ovaries.
<Well, yes it is. There are eggs developing in her oviducts so she doesn’t get THAT urge. But that’s not to say that she won’t get agitated and want to walk and explore at some fast, frenetic pace. Those sort of scattered, active and crazy bursts of energy are typical for her kind>
Thank you again,

Soft Spot on Eden's Head and Shell      6/10/18
Dear Crew
<Hiya, Darrel here>
Last year, I was given Eden, a painted turtle, that someone could keep anymore; she had a leech on the back of her head and one on the back of her shell, after cleaning and putting her in clean water the leeches came off and then raw spots healed over slightly. Now, a year after that I was out cleaning to pond and turtles and I noticed the soft spots were still "Soft Spots" they look fine; she is acting normal not sickly - Should I be concerned ?
<In one word: no>
<In this case, Mary think AABE -- is Eden Active, Alert, Basking and Eating? If she passes those four tests then don't worry. Just examine her periodically and make sure nothing gets worse.>
Mary in MD

Shell Rot       4/12/18
<Hiya, JP. I'm so sorry this email seems to have been stuck in my inbox and just now listed>
I have a turtle who has some obvious shell rot. We got her last spring from a family in the town we live in. She had a little bit of white spotting, but nothing major. We moved in the summer and she refused to bask at much, preferring to stay in the water. Once we got back to taking her out on the grass more often, allowing her shell to try, we noticed bigger white splotches on the hard shell and underneath. I took pictures and went to the pet store. They said it was just because we have hard water as we are on a well. I found this hard to believe as she also wouldn't eat much. I sent pictures my sister-in-law who is a veterinarian and she had us dry dock and use a fungal ointment. She was looking better come October, and I reduced treatments, but continued to dry dock. The last couple weeks her shell has rapidly become worse again. She never sits in the same water. She dry basks in her tank and then I put her in a separate tub overnight which gets refilled every day.
<Your sister-in-law was correct, clearly, but so is your pet store. As the shell firms up you will notice white discolorations under the scutes.
What separates them from shell rot is that the white doesn't scrape off -- it's a true discoloration and not a coating.>

Is my turtle shell normal       4/12/18
Dear Crew,
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I have two peninsula Cooter turtles, I’ve had them for over a year already and their underside started looking like this a little while ago and I just want to know if my turtles are healthy, are their shells normal?
<Since I have no idea what you mean by "this" -- I just look at the pictures and I see a normal and healthy carapace.>
<Remember, the most important things are: 1) that they are active and alert. 2) that their behavior today is the same as their behavior yesterday. If they do THAT for you ... and you keep them in healthy conditions, you'll have no problems>

RES; shells      12/27/17
Dear Crew
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I have 2 Red eared Sliders in a 40 gallon tank- approx. 15 gallons water to swim in. large basking areas at various distances from lamps. I have noticed that the edges of the shells are becoming transparent.
<Wonderful. That means they are growing and the scutes become transparent before they shed>
Water is changed about every 10 days.
Please help.
Any suggestions?

Help!!        8/13/17
<Hiya, Darrel here>
Today I was looking at my turtle and saw that he had these peculiar white spots on his shell. I don't know if they're anything to worry about, but I just wanted to get a second opinion before doing anything.
<I recently went to the doctor and he said I was becoming diabetic.>
<I told him I wanted a second opinion>
<He said “Ok, you’re ugly, too!” {thanks Rodney!}>
Could it be shell rot?
<Doesn’t look like it>
Also, some background information: he is in a fifty gallon tank, has proper heating and basking area, and a clean water with a filter. I think it might have to do with his diet, because I don't give him as much greens as he should get. Here are a few photos.
<It doesn’t look like a diet problem, either>
<Actually it doesn’t look like a problem at all. Three things to consider:>
<1. It’s a water spot. A plain old buildup of minerals from hard water. Nothing wrong, nothing to do, no worries>
<2. The scute is preparing to shed. As each scute grows in often becomes slightly discolored underneath before it eventually lifts off and sheds like a fingernail. Nothing wrong, nothing to do, no worries>
<3. As they become adult a Slider’s shell tends to become mottled in color and pattern and this is also normal.>
<The size, shape and placement of the discoloration doesn’t indicate that the cause is infection, damage or illness.>

I need help my turtles shell looks like as if it were shedding     7/22/17
please help me I don't know what to do
Dear Crew
<Hiya, Darrel here>
It looks as if it were snake skin shedding from its shell plz help me As the turtle grows the plates on the top of the shell, called "scutes" come off in thin layers. Is that what you're seeing? If so that's completely normal.>
<here is everything you need to know about keeping him healthy and growing:

Shell rot?     6/30/17
Can you please give me a little advice. I've read your articles on shell rot but still unable to determine If its shell rot. Is this shell rot on the edge by his back foot?
<Hi Tabitha,
It does indeed look like turtle rot, it can be treated and will take about 2 weeks.
You will need Betadine, paper towels, gloves, mild soap and a new toothbrush.
Place your turtle in a safe container near a sink.
Rinse your turtle under running water then rub the soap on the infected area with a wet toothbrush, rinse the toothbrush and brush again on infected area and towel dry. Apply the Betadine with your finger or Q-tip (Be careful! the Betadine will stain so that is where the gloves will come in handy) Place your turtle back in the safe container and
allow the Betadine to dry, about 20 minutes, then you can put your precious pet back into its enclosure.
You will need to repeat these instructions for 2 weeks and try not to miss a day.
Thank you for your inquiry, I hope that your turtle has a quick recovery.
Donna >


Turtle Shell Problems       4/23/16
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
Reading on your site I discovered that my turtles living condition is not ideal so I'll be changing that.
<Oh behalf of your turtle, thank you. SO MANY people don't bother to read the site until they have problems>
But my turtles shell is turning black in the "cracks" and the sides are starting to kind of curl up.. There are no odd places on her shell and she's acting fine. But I'm starting to wonder if something might be wrong.
<Not necessarily, Lakira. The cracks (properly called "margins") do turn darker as the turtle ages. A slight turning up at the edges is also normal as the shell grows. Significant warping of the edges have be a sign of metabolic bone disease (just add more calcium to her diet) or simple obesity (just cut a back on feedings a bit. Nothing sounds bad, but if you have more detailed descriptions I'd be happy to take another margin at it, Oops, I mean CRACK at it! LOL Ok that was a REALLY bad pun ...>

Re: Indian Flapshell turtle shell      3/25/17
<HIya, Darrel here>
his wound seems to have gotten worse his scab fell off today leaving the open wound worse, is there anything I can do to make it heal at all?
Thank you in advance!
<Wounds of this type are very difficult to heal. They take time and patience. First thing of course, is that he needs to be dry-docked ... which is to say that he needs to be kept in a warm dry place while his skin heals. As long as he/she doesn't move around too much to the point where he wears the scab off, he can be left to roam inside whatever small container you use. If he's very active, frantically trying to get out and won't settle down after a day or so, then you will have to bandage the wound so he can't damage it as he moves. Another alternative is to
confine him to a small container ... so small that he literally can't move ... for 5 to 7 days until the wound starts to heal.>
<Warm & dry. Betadine (Iodine of some variety) every day. Perhaps a good wash with Hydrogen Peroxide first and again once a week. Read here:

Turtle shell help       1/24/17
I have three turtles who are all one and a half years old: Ciben, Kiwi, and Kalicot.
Recently though I have noticed some things going on with my turtle Kiwi's shell. For one, in the scutes down the middle of her shell have gotten a very dark brown color (Which I assumed to just be aging at first though I'm not sure now)
<Quite so. Normal. As the turtle grows, the older scutes ("plates")
separate from the shell, peeling off a bit like dead skin.>
Another thing I've noticed is very light grey between her scutes which I actually saw peeling off (which once again may be apart of her growing/scutes shedding but I want to make sure)
<So long as this smells of nothing much, you're fine. Shell Rot smells of mould. Horrible. But if the turtle merely smells of warm water, you're fine. Let me direct you to some reading:
Seek, and ye will fine!>
There is also a cloudy spot on one of her scutes at the edge of her shell, it's hard to see but it's there and even though it doesn't look like it because of the picture she doesn't have it anywhere else. Is it shell rot?
<Don't think so.>
Lastly, her shell just looks very odd in general, it's hard to tell though pictures but there are lighter cloudy grainy areas towards the top of her scutes but I'm sure it isn't shell rot so what is it?
<Adult turtles don't look much like the tiny ones sold in pet stores. Their shells are muddy-brown with faint grey-green markings. Basically, camouflage!>
Here are my pictures:
<Indeed! Please do us a favour next time and reduce the file size before sending. 5+ MB of images swallows up a fair chunk of our email storage space, and for those of us checking in on our travels using phones and tablets, it's a real pain in the backside. We do ask our correspondents to observe this minor courtesy, so please do take this request in the manner with which it's intended.>
From what I've looked up Overfeeding and not enough basking is the cause of the lighter cloudy grainy areas towards the top of her scutes so I've been dry-docking her for a few hours everyday so far and feeding less.
<So long as your turtles get a few hours of basking under a UV-B lamp, they should be fine. They will regulate access to the light as they switch between the water and dry land, provided of course there is enough space for them to share the lamp without territorial squabbles. Turtles aren't social, so don't assume they'll "take it in turns" if there's only enough
space for one at a time. A bigger rock under one UV-B lamp or multiple such lamps over several rocks can help.>
So what are your thoughts, is there anything else I can do or is it some kind of fungus, shell rot, etc?
<See above. Cheers, Neale.>

Turtle Shell Margin Question      10/11/16
Good morning,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
We just had to evacuate because of the hurricane. We live in Georgia. We drove to stay with family in South Carolina about 7 hours. My Wife put her RES in a plastic tub in blankets when we got to the house. We will probably be here for a couple days. Will the turtle stay warm enough? What special care does it need to not over stress?
<Not a thing! They are among the most resilient animals we know, If they were reasonably healthy before the trip, then 10-14 days in a Tupperware container at room temperature is not a problem at all>

Turtle question; hatchling cond.s     7/25/16
Dear Crew,
<Hiya, Darrel here>
My turtle is a hatchling he is very small and I recently got him about 1 month ago. I have UVB light a heat lamp and a basking area I also have the water at 80 degrees.
<That water is too hot. Water should be room temperature and no warmer and the basking area around 88. The goal here is to offer him a choice of warm or cool and let him decide what he needs. Right now you’re giving him a choice between warm and warmer>
I recently noticed near his tail the edge of his shell seems soft well it bends sort of.
That is the only place effected.
<That’s normal for a turtle his size>
The turtle is active and eating he has no other problems and I recently got him a cuttlebone for calcium.
<I’m not a big fan of supplements, Mercedes. If the diet is correct then you don’t need supplements and if the diet is not correct, then we should correct the diet. That said, a calcium bone that they might chew on doesn’t hurt. The idea of putting calcium in the water (those calcium blocks that dissolve) is a waste of your money. Calcium dissolved in the water doesn’t get into the turtle’s body in any effective quantities>
<read here about everything you need to do – don’t skip anything http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

Turtle question, young; soft shell        7/24/16
>Okay my turtle is a hatchling he is very small and I recently got him about
>1 month ago. I have UVB light a heat lamp and a basking area I also have
>the water at 80 degrees. I recently noticed near his tail the edge of his
>shell seems soft well it bends sorta. That is the only place effected. The
>turtle is active and eating he has no other problems and I recently got him
>a cuttlebone for calcium.
<I've had success with my hatchlings by feeding them black worms a couple of times a week.
You can get them at tropical fish stores either live or frozen. You didn't say what species your hatchling is but the common red eared slider is omnivorous and will eat dark green leafy vegetables as well. Small pieces of romaine lettuce or green leaves from any other leafy vegetable except kale. I've never used a cuttlebone for calcium so I'm not sure whether they can get their calcium from it or not. A varied diet is much better. I also feed a good quality kibbled dog food that has a salmon or chicken base that has been soaked until soft. Concerning his soft shell, I don't think you need to get too concerned unless the sides of his shell start getting soft as well. Good luck. Al

Red eared slider mom      7/10/16
Dear Crew
<Hiya – Darrel here>
I love all the info, it's funny.
<Be sure to tip your waiter>
I have had turtles in my life from age 6, I just have one now I got her when I was 13 and I'm 54 now so when I read expect 30 year commitment... try 41 and still going strong.... murtle the sweetest girl so smart amazing pets, but not for everyone... it's a daily commitment and attention to every detail, all and any different behavior, the ancient Chinese i ching describes turtles as the connection between heaven and earth! Heavenly divine creatures we are blessed to have in our lives....
<I agree … except when they steal your credit card and go on an on-line shopping spree. Turtles have no financial discipline at all!>
Her shell is abnormal because of my lack of education when I was a teen.... I constantly read and it's so great to have website like yours.... thank you for the blessing of continued knowledge.... I also had a firebellied toad that lived 28 years I rescued from a garage and a few other I took from a classroom.... teacher have no business having animals unless the teacher to respect all living things....
<except politicians and door-to-door salesmen>
<Carolyn, on behalf of Bob, Neale, Sue and the crew, thanks for your kind words. It’s letters like that that make us feel good about what we do. It sure isn’t the money … we’re chained up here in the basement of the Flemner Building in San Diego and all that sustains us is the kind words … and the free food. So thanks!>

Help RES Turtle Sick?  Ian?     7/10/16
Hello Im here to ask a question is my turtle needs help.
Her name is Nicky and I've almost had her for a year. Recently in the past month her shell has been getting paler and faded also her shell lines are getting bolder and darker. She looks fine but her shell is the problem she us to be a light colored shell bright green. I've seen on the web that its her shell growing up and becoming darker but i feel in my heart its not that there's something wrong. I need help and answers if i should do something. The 3 firsr <first pictures perhaps?>lictures are ger now a few days ago. Rhe<the> last one is her 2 months ago.
Thank you for reading.<This with my experience is normal and the shells will darken and become bolder in definition as the turtle matures in age.
As long as the shell isn't showing signs of deterioration, rotting or becoming soft I see no need for worry here. ~Ian>
Sincerely Your Turtle Freind,
Help RES Turtle Sick?      7/10/16

I’m here to ask a question if my turtle needs help.
<With math homework? Cuz I’m not really good at that.>
Her name is Nicky and I've had her for almost a year. Recently in the past month her shell has been getting paler and faded also her shell lines are getting bolder and darker.
<perfectly normal!>
She looks fine but her shell is the problem she used to be a light colored shell bright green.
<That’s her baby colors. She’s growing up>
I’ve seen on the web that it’s her shell growing up and becoming darker but I feel in my heart its not that there’s something wrong. I need help and answers if I should do something. The 3 first pictures are her now a few days ago.
The last one is her 2 months ago.
Thank you for reading.
Sincerely Your Turtle Friend,
<Nicky has a fine looking shell… just what I’d expect from a growing turtle. Keep up the good work!>

My Turtle Needs Help   7/31/16
Hello I'm here to ask a question is my turtle needs help.
Her name is Nicky and I've almost had her for a year. Recently in the past month her shell has been getting paler and faded also her shell lines are getting bolder and darker. She looks fine but her shell is the problem she usto be a light colored shell bright green. I've seen on the web that its her shell growing up and becoming darker but I feel in my heart its not that there's something wrong. I need help and answers if I should do something. The 3 first picture are her now a few days ago. The last one is her 2 months ago.
<Laly.... The answer this time is the same as it has been when you have emailed us previously. Your turtle is fine and is just maturing. Its a natural occurrence. Please arm yourself with the knowledge about your pet before purchasing it... Nothing is wrong with your turtle.
Our experts have told you this more than once. If you do not believe us, take it to a specialist. ~Ian>
Thank you for reading.
Sincerely Your Turtle Friend,

Possible Shell Rot Identification       7/10/16
Hello, My name is Donatello,
<Hiya – I’m Darrel>
and my human thinks I’m a Yellow Slider.
<That’s WAY better than your human thinking you were a 4 slice toaster>
He found me in the driveway when I was smaller than a blueberry! Anywho, he keeps picking me up and looking at my shell, he says he’s worried about Shell Rot, after reading some concerning posts on your very informative site! So, in efforts to calm my human so I can go back to eating my ghost shrimps, can you please let us know if these spots on my shell are anything to worry about?
<Tell him to stop feeding you ghost shrimp before you get a fatty liver and get sick>
Silly humans.. I told mine I feel fine, and eat plenty! They have a nice basking light and sunnin’spot, and they made a house for me, and the water in my 55 gal tank is heated with a nice turtle heater. I like to eat red leaf lettuce, turtle sticks, and of course, lots and lots of ghost shrimps! Thank you for all your help !
<Red leaf lettuce is the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups of the plant world. Yes, it tastes like Nature’s Perfect Food … but it’s not nutrition.>
<The picture doesn’t look like shell rot to me. Shell rot makes for a SOFT shell (as opposed to just flexible) and at the heart of it is a fungus. Have the human scrape a section with a toothpick and smell the scraping. Fungus has a strong odor.>
<Have your human read this, Don: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>  

Soft shell and shedding    6/5/16
Hello sir
<Hiya Darrel here>
...sorry sir my English is not good but I try to make u understand
<So far it’s better than kids I run into here in Los Angeles>
...I have a red eared slider baby turtle I don't know baby is male or female... Three days ago turtle start shedding white thread films more on tail and little on chin legs or Shell... Shell also seems soft on edges and near tail shell is slimmed and soft...yesterday I gave him salt bath. my turtle not act normally not eating from yesterday.... And seems sleepy.... Whole night i put him on dry place... In morning for 10min gave him direct sunlight... And from morning to evening in water tank with optimum temp.. I am worried about him he is my first pet...please help me...is there any problem or it is normal...
Please reply...please send me email..
<Kismat, the shedding of skin in tiny white threads can be normal. The shell being soft probably means that he is not getting enough direct sunlight. He needs direct sunlight (not sunlight coming through glass or screen) every day. If not that, from a good UV-B light such as Repti-Sun light bulb. Without that he can not manufacture the Vitamin D he needs for healthy shell and bones.>
<The fact that he seems to have slimmed and is now not eating may be a sign of bad diet and now he is sick. Keeping him warm and under UV-B light until he feels better is important. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm>
<Hopefully he will start to feel better and eat again if we caught this in time. Please read here to see ALL the things you have to do to keep a turtle healthy: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

3-striped mud turtle shell discoloration       4/20/16
Hello, my name is Tessa
<I'm Darrel>
I just recently received a 3-striped mud turtle (a little over 3" in shell length) about two weeks ago. I earned him from a local restaurant that imports their crawfish from Louisiana, and he was amongst the lot. Sneaky little guy got a few ride and meal. My neighbor was lucky enough to be there at the time and quote: "confiscated" him to bring to me, knowing I am a studying Herpetologist. At first it was believed to be a common snapper, and I had every intention of releasing it back into the wild after it grew big enough to not be devoured by any of the animals that occupy the lake I live on. But after doing research when the shell and body markings never matched, I found out cage's (Cajun) true identity. Found out that he is not indigenous to Texas and that he would for ever be a small turtle (easily edible to anything looking for a appetizer). My heart sank and I know it is completely inappropriate, but I don't have the guts to release him now.
<Good. We never ever release captive animals into the wild>
For really two main reasons. One being that he would be considered an invasive species, and two being that I just couldn't live with myself knowing that his chances of survive out in our wilds would be almost nothing. He is a legal animal to own, I made triple sure I was in no violation of laws. So currently I'm debating on whether or not to make a trip to Louisiana, release him into my backyard public lake, or keep him and spoil the adorable lil' thing to no end.
<They make interesting, low maintenance pets>
But while he is in my custody, I want to keep his health in optimal condition, and I fear currently that it's not. Just recently in the past few days, his shell has began to discolor around the frontal portion, turning a almost yellowy brown. And it has me scared out of my wits that he's sick (don't trust vets anymore after they killed my chameleon), and wanted a more expert opinion before I went down a rout that I don't feel comfortable with.
<He's fine. That's a natural discoloration that can be from the water, the particular food OR from the scute preparing to shed. All my mud and musk turtles develop that mottled coloration and thrive and even reproduce.>
He is currently in a 10gal tank (have eyes on a 75gal long for him) with a pebble substrate, a submerged perch about a inch below the surface and a above surface wood basking spot. He is currently in filtered lake water,
being of wild decent, thought that would be better than treated tap.
<Plain, ordinary tape water is all they need. No treatment necessary>
And have a red night bulb and blue uvb day bulb.
<Double check the specs on your bulbs... those colors don't sound right.
Note that he doesn't need a heat lamp at night ... he'll sleep in the water. What he needs is a warm basking light and a UV-B light during the day. You will rarely if ever SEE him basking, because they are shy and don't like to be out of the water until they feel completely alone, but the DO bask and they do still need the lighting and heat>
He is eating well and is fed once a day in the mid morning.
<I use the same diet as for the Red Eared Sliders -- Koi pellets with an occasional earthworm>
I don't understand what it is that is going wrong to cause this discoloring, whether it be shedding, or a calcium deficiency, but would greatly appreciate avoiding any illness to befall this little guy. Do you by any chances have a idea what it is that is happening?
<Yep, It's normal discoloration>

Red Eared Slider (Male)... Shell, carved?      4/15/16
Dear Crew at WWM,
My red eared slider just developed something on his shell that looks like somebody took a chisel and chiseled the letter "N" on him. The color is not white it is more like his body color under his shell. That's what I'm thinking. There are little tools around the house for him to do something like this.
I have a strange roommate that may have hurt him while I was out. Last year he popped my dog in the face near her eye. The dog went upstairs and I heard her yelp and cry, when she came back down her I was swelled and a
little blood was present.
I have Neosporin on the turtle right now. I can take a picture later and send it to you. I just want to know if this is an emergency. Should I take him to the Vet ASAP?
<if the wound is clean then your treatment of Neosporin along with keeping him dry for a few weeks will do the trick.>
It seems like when he sheds he will be fine.
<I agree>
I also wanted to ask you about the lines that turtles have on their shells.
I see on your web page that, that may be shell rot?
<"lines" is an awfully broad description. As they age there are natural, irregular lines and patterns that form - nothing to worry about>
This turtle was rescued and had colorful lines on him already. I did not have him as a baby to now what his shell looked like when he was young.
He is eating just fine. I am scared, I love this turtle so much.
<It sounds like you have a roommate that is guilty of animal mistreatment.
Carving into a turtle's shell is dangerous and in this case illegal. If I were you I'd put my turtle and my dog under lock and key and away from this person>
Please help.
Thank you,

Turtle shell    4/9/16
Dear Crew,
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I have a large yellow bellied slider she had a soft pit bit on her belly
<I'm not sure what you call a pit is what I'd call a pit. It's important even in unscientific communications, to give us an indication -- does it feel like it's WORN into the plastron (like rubbing over a stone)? DUG into it (like a partial puncture?) or does it feel like the material is disintegrating?>
I removed her from tank I've treated her with betadine and Neosporin, it looks clean and she seems to have grown although still pitted, I put her in water for an hour and a half per day then the pitted area feels as though its softening. She is 19 years old that we know of, she has good water condition, good diet, she's still live let and eating great but i am afraid to put her back in her tank and don't know what else to do with her belly
<It doesn't sound like you have a life threatening situation, so the first thing to do is relax a bit. Next, like I indicated above, I need more of a detailed description; is it a shallow depressing (sloping sides) or a sudden, deep hole? As large as the shaft of a pencil? or as small as the tip if a pencil? If you take something firm, like the end of a paper clip
... can you rub the area and get material to come off -- or would you have to DIG and SCRAPE to get it to come off?>
<Write back with more information>

Turtle help    4/9/16
<Hiya Darrel here>
I have 3 turtles 2 have white spots on their shells but it seems as if their shell is shedding please let me know if you think otherwise.
<Well, that's not a lot to go on, White spots that scrape off and have an odor are fungal infections and the site has methods to treat that. However, when the scute is ready to shed it gets thin and clear-ish but the mottled colors often look whitish when it's really just dry>
<Also, water spots, just like you get on your dishes from hard water, look white when dry>
One has on their belly like this dry patch is that normal?
<That sounds like normal shedding Mollie.>
My other turtle has these like bumps by his armpits they remind me of skin tags.
<Well, those could be a number of things. Fatty tissue from being over-fed ... benign tumors in the muscle is also very common. USUALLY it's nothing to worry about and the turtles will live just fine.>
Please help me!
Thank you

Invisashell     3/3/16
Dear Crew,
<Hiya Darrel here>
I recently became the owner of a painted turtle that a friend got from the wild about a year ago and didn't want any longer...I have had him for a few months and I know his shell is growing but is it normal for him to have a tiny transparent ring around the entire edge of his shell? Is this part of the normal growing process?
<Yep - that's normal and healthy>
I am also concerned because a friends kid pulled a tissue paper thin scale off his shell!!!
<Please hove your friend's kid stop doing that; the pieces are ready to come off when the underlayment has completed its growth and then the piece comes off all by itself>
(pic included of shell and piece torn off) I know it was starting to flake off a little but I don't know if doing this will cause him harm.
<The sloughing of the shell is normal - ripping it off for him is not>
Also his top shell is about 2 inches long..is there any way to guess how old he might be?
<perhaps two years, maybe 2 1/2. Hard to tell from a photo>
Any information would be much appreciated.
<Painted Turtles fall 100% under the care instructions for the Red Eared Slider. From light to heat, water quality and food - it's all right here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

RES Fractured Shell    3/3/16
Hello, my name is Rebecca.
<HIya, Rebecca – Darrel here>
I've looked at your site, and while it has a lot of helpful info, there is nothing that exactly addresses my questions that I could find.
<I hate when that happens>
I have had my RES, Emmy, for almost 30 years. She has been well most of her life - aside from refusing to eat vegetables. However, the other day she somehow managed to climb out of her tank and fall to the concrete floor (I think because her heater malfunctioned and she got a shock!).
<Not only wow – but what’s a turtle doing with a water heater in the first place? Unless you live at the South Pole … her water should by just a normal room temp. Please don’t replace the heater>
She has fractured her shell - an L shaped fracture from her bottom shell up her right side near her front leg. She has some small surface cuts to the skin of that leg and to the top of her shell that bled as well. We took her to a vet who bandaged her, and gave her pain killers and antibiotics (which I have to inject every 3 days!). They did x-rays and there is no damage to bones, internal bleeding or other internal effects visible. I have her in a large dry shower stall (tile floor, glass walls to the ceiling), with her heat and UVB lamps at one end and a box to hide in at the other. I'm using a space heater (outside the shower) to keep the room warm.
<That technique is what we call dry-docking and it’s the right thing for her>
The vet said that she cannot go in the water and suggested feeding her on land.
<Unlikely she’ll eat on land>
I did not think she could eat out of the water, and she certainly has shown no interest in the various things I have offered her so far - shrimp (a favourite treat normally) and feeder insects.
<Wow again. Neither of these food items are natural for her – and neither are nutritious; in fact they are notoriously non-nutritive.>
<then again, she’s lived 30 years … and as they say nothing succeeds like success>
I don't think she has even been drinking. I hold her over water, so that her head is in a bowl of water (as the vet suggested) a couple times a day. But, it doesn't look like she drinks, and she certainly doesn't like it. The vet also gave me syringes to try to squirt water at her mouth with, she really doesn't like this either. I also tried a shallow dish of water with some shrimp floating in it while I supervised, but I don't think she noticed or was interested. All she wants to do is hide in the box/hiding area I made for her. I know leaving her alone to heal in a warm dry place is important now, and I am trying to do so. But I am worried about her being dehydrated and not eating. How can I help her to eat/drink water without getting her shell and the bandaged area wet? Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.
<Assuming she was otherwise healthy she can go months without food, so don’t let than be too much of a concern. As far as water in concerned, Emmy herself can be immersed in shoulder-deep clean water once every three days for about 5 minutes. That won’t effect her healing as long as (A) it doesn’t damage the wound dressing (B) she dries out COMPLETELY immediately after. >
<That will give Emmy time to drink and perhaps poop>
<other than that, let her heal. Try feeding her during her bath in about a week>
RE: RES Fractured Shell    3/7/16

Thanks for getting back to me.
<no charge!>
Things have changed a bit since I first emailed you. She has managed to eat a bit and drink when I put her in a small plastic bin with rocks beneath her. She figured out how to dip her head in the water to drink and to eat.
<they are amazingly resilient animals>
As for the shrimp I know you advise against it, but I am going to worry about that when she is better. We haven't found earthworms for sale anywhere nearby but I will see if she will take them (the feeder insects are the closest the reptile store had, so I thought I would try them, she has never had them before).
<The trick is a fishing store. Night crawlers are fishing bait!>
The heater is not ordinarily in her tank, I added it recently because the room in the basement she is in was getting quite cold - well below normal room temperature. But I won't replace it! We are taking her back to the vet to check on her on Friday but meanwhile I was hoping you could answer a couple more questions:
1) Does she need to be immersed in water so that her tail is covered for some reason or is it ok to just continue with the shallow water she can dip her head into? She pooped in the dry enclosure the day after the accident, but hasn't done so since that I have noticed.
<If she is able to lower her head to drink then she is hydrating. We sometimes soak the cloaca so that water will enter and some of that will be absorbed, which is not necessary now>
2)I've been keeping the room she is in warm, so she hasn't spent any time under her lights - is that ok for a few weeks while she recovers, or should I force her to bask somehow?
<As long as she’s dry and generally warm, you’re fine. Here’s the deal: When a turtle is sick and under the weather, the moist environment they normally live in becomes the enemy. Too much humidity favors the fungus, so to speak. The other issue is metabolisms: At higher temperature their metabolism speeds up (just a little bit) and that speeds the healing.>
3) I obviously want to change the setup of her tank so that this can never happen again. Is it okay to make huge changes while she is out, and introduce them to her all at once when she is allowed back in the water, or should I just add a barrier to her current set up and introduce any other changes to her enclosure (I want a bigger basking area for example) when she has been back in the tank for awhile?
<By all means make the changes now  >
Thanks again for your help!~Rebecca
RE: RES Fractured Shell    3/7/16

Thanks so much for your help. She is doing very well. Vet says it is healing quite quickly and can probably go back in the water by next weekend.

Can you identify what is going on here with this turtle?     1/15/16
<Hiya - Darrel here>
Please accept my thanks in advance for any help you can offer.
<no charge!>
We are thinking this is shell rot, but not positive. She is an older turtle and approximately 12 inches long and I am not sure on age, but I know she is quite old. She got her from family when her uncle died. Someone said she was around 15 but another said around 30. And she's had her for 6 or 7 years.
<She's a senior, that's for sure.>
Thank you so much for your consideration. The girl is just beside herself and I am trying to help her out the best I can.
<Well let's see what we can do.>
<Shell rot is smelly. I bet if you scraped that area with a toothpick you'd smell something musty but not offensive. What it LOOKS LIKE from way over here is that in the fullness of time pieces of the shell have died or been chipped off and the whit you see underneath is the bone. These little pockets make a great environment for algae to grow, which appears to be the case here.>
<Dry dock her as per the instructions, treat the area with some hydrogen peroxide and let it dry out for a few days>
<Then, as long as she's active and alert, place her back in her normal quarters and relax>
<Treating conditions:
<Basic care - check your care against this funny and well written article:

RE: Can you identify what is going on here with this turtle?     1/15/16

Yellow belly slider; sore on shell      1/8/16
<Hiya – Darrel here>
I really need some advice, I have a yellow belly slider who is about 5 months old I think. I noticed the other day that she has a sore on the underneath of her shell I'm assuming she might of caught it due to the fact she is very active. I'm very worried about this developing into an infection. Since I first got her I noticed her shell started to shred and has improved a lot over the last few months. I have never seen her basking and I'm worried that she isn't getting enough vitamin d which has made her shell sore.
<that’s possible>
She is eating loads and is still very active. Is there any way I can help treat the sore other than making sure her water is clean and to make her bask more? Could really use some advice!
<Thanks for noticing, Sophie. Many people wait until it’s too late to notice odd behavior and a small problem becomes a big problem>
<If Mongo isn’t basking (IF her name is Mongo) there could be a reason or there could be no reason. The first question to ask -- is she afraid to come out of the water? Is there something in the area that would be frightening to someone the size of a silver dollar? A common mistake people make is arranging a filter outlet to be a waterfall. Turtles in general prefer still water. Is there an air conditioner nearby? Something that would make vibrations Mongo would feel? Look at things from her perspective and knowing that you like calm … still … quiet … alone – then look for things that aren’t likely to make you feel that way. Sometimes rearranging the tank helps. Make home a different home and see what she does after a few days>
<In the mean time, if she’s active, eating and her shell is firm-to-hard then Mongo’s not in any immediate danger>

Discoloration on golden thread turtle baby      1/6/15
Hi :)
<Hiya Darrel here>
I have two of these turtles and one of them has whitish patches on the shell as shown in the pic :(
<Nice Pic>
Is it something normal or should I be worried? If so it would be really grateful if you could guide me into curing this :)
<It’s hard to tell from a picture. That whitish discoloration is typical just before a hard shelled turtle sheds a scute (normal growth) but if the whitish material is on top – for example, can it be scraped off with a toothpick or your fingernail – and does it have an odor? – then it could be a fungal infection, which is easy to treat.>
<Read here for overall care – make SURE you haven’t missed anything: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>
<read here for treatment of the most common issues: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm>

Re: Discoloration on golden thread turtle baby      1/8/16
Thanx a lot for the info :)
<No charge!>
the patches can't be rubbed off and don't stink at all :) so it must be speeding :) how long does it usually last?
<On and off for the rest of his life>
And the patches only appear when out of water. It disappears after sometime in water.... Is it shedding?
<that sounds just like shedding, yes>
And is there anything that I should do
<Just be aware of the normal health signs ... as long as he's active and alert and eats once in a while, relax>

Alligator snapping turtle shell problem (Urgent)      12/29/15
Dear WWM,
<Hiya – Darrel here>
I really hope u guys can help me out with my alligator snapping turtle problem. This issue has been going on for years and my turtle's shell have gone from bad to worst. I have taken pictures to keep my turtle updated on this forum (link below), but no one seem to be able to help me out with this shell issue. Is it possible for you guys to take a look?
<I did>
Recently there's a big piece of scute from my turtle that came off and I found it inside the tank, and it seems that the spot after the scute peeled off looks black/grey. It really worries me to look at it everyday and I've been reading your website and it seems to be under the ''Dead or dying scutes , When good shell goes bad'' category. ''In some cases of fungal, bacterial or physical damage, a scute (the plates that make up the top part of the shell) may be so damaged that the underlying tissue that supports it may die and just slough off the entire scute. This is clearly identified by the scute being partially or completely missing and the underlying tissue turning hard and white.''Is it possible for you guys to confirm the issue with me so that I can start on my treatment asap? Thank you so much!
<Kevin – Snapping turtles are enigmatic in a sense. They seem to need slightly acidic water. Even ‘pristine’ water from a tap or a filter … that is clear, clean and top-notch healthy water for almost all other turtles, from Sliders to Soft Shells to Musk turtles, seem to promote shell disorders in the Chelydridae (That’s a $5 word for the snapping turtle family). What I see in your photos appears to be just a shell infection. What’s interesting is that when a scute completely dies the underlying bone is usually very, very light colored (almost white) and not the darkness seem here.>
<That all said, the treatment is the same. Dry dock him, scrub his carapace and plastron with Betadine (Iodine) on alternate days (let it dry in place) and on the other days cover the affected areas in an anti-fungal cream (athlete’s foot cream). Keep him dry and warm from about a month, except for a daily 15 minute bath so he can drink, poop and maybe eat …. Except your little guy seems fat even by the standards for his type … so if he doesn’t eat I wouldn’t work.>

Turtle Shell Margin Question       10/30/15
Wet Web Crew,
My wife has a RES that is not quite a year old. He is very active, eats plenty, and basks regularly. He has filtered water, UVB and warming lights, and a aquatic temp regulator in tank. Recently, slivers of his margin (what looks like the material of his margins) and the edges of his scutes have been peeling. It is only noticeable when he is swimming, so I cannot get a
photo. I have attached a photo of his shell outside the water when I could get him to sit still. The material underneath the slivers seems healthy and exactly like the old was. His scutes are not shedding in large pieces, at least not yet. Maybe this is the prelude to shedding? I have seen turtles shed before, but the scutes usually did not peel in such small pieces.
Thank you.
<It seems likely that yes, these are old scutes getting ready to peel away.
Might also be limescale, a common problem (if you can call it that) on turtles kept in hard water areas. Provided the shell smells healthy (wet maybe, but not musty or rotten) I'd not worry overmuch. Soft Shell or Shell Rot is usually distinctive, with a nasty mouldy smell around infected areas, and it usually goes hand-in-hand with other problems, such as puffy eyes or lethargy. That's because Shell Rot is to do with underlying metabolic processes going wrong thanks to poor diet, lack of UV-B, or some other critical factor. Do have a read here:
So while healthy turtles will exhibit changes to their shell as they grow and age, including the loss of older scutes, it's usually not difficult to differentiate between normal wear-and-tear on the one hand and Shell Rot on the other. I'm cc'ing our turtle expert Darrel just in case I've missed something, but otherwise hope this helps. Neale.>

Re: Turtle Shell Margin Question       10/30/15
We have the definition of hard water here in coastal Georgia. I have to clean the sides of the tank almost daily or the residue will build up ridiculously. I put hard water cleaner in the water before I change the tank water and have a filter that says it will help with it, but its very bad here. Any solution? Clean the shell daily? It doesn't seem to be effecting him in any way. Thank you.
<I wouldn't bother doing anything. Hard water provides good conditions for turtles. If it's unsightly, wipe away periodically using paper towel or if necessary with a soft toothbrush. A little lemon juice or vinegar can be used to dissolve away stubborn spots. But otherwise don't worry about it.
"Liquid rock" is what I grew up with, and all my turtles prospered in it.
Cheers, Neale.>

RES with white scutes after shedding       10/26/15
Dear WWM crew,
<Hello Karen,>
I am worried about the shells of my two RES who are nearly two years old. I know they have a problem of retained scutes. Recently they have been slowly shedding a few pieces of the top scutes but the problem is, the scutes underneath the fallen scutes are whitish (see picture below), which look a lot worse when they are completely dry when basking (whole scute appears dry and white and chalkish). The shell is not slimy or smelly.
<Which is good news. Means the problem isn't serious.>
Their habitat is not the most optimal as I only have a small tank, which I will upgrade asap.
<Can be done cheaply:
The basics aren't expensive at all if cosmetic appearance isn't a big deal.>
But they have a canister filter, water heater and access to uva and uvb lamps. I also take them out a few times a week for direct sunlight.
<Which all sounds good as well. I think the turtle in the photo is merely ageing, and the white flakiness, though not typical, isn't unusual either.
Soft Shell and other fungal infections are distinctive, with smelly gunk between the scutes. That doesn't seem to be a problem here.>
Do you think the white shell is caused by fungus? What should I do? Should I take them to the vet?
<Probably no need. Review care, including diet (calcium) and when the UV-B lamp was changed last (most only work for 6-12 months). UV-A, while nice, isn't essential, particularly if your chaps get daily sunlight to help regulate his body clock, which is what UV-A does.>
Appreciate your prompt response.
Thanks and best regards,
<Welcome. Neale. Have cc'ed our turtle expert Darrel as well, in case there's something I've missed.>
Re: RES with white scutes after shedding     10/27/15

Thanks for your reply. So there is nothing that I can do about it (other than looking at diet/UVB)?
<So far as I can tell from your photos, yes, that's about it. Optimise diet (plenty of fresh greens and crustaceans help with synthesising colours) and basking conditions (to avoid fungal infections).>
But their shells look ugly now with new scutes being white and old scutes yellowish. Will the dull white colour not go away leaving shiny shells like other RESs?
<That's the reality. Red-Ear Sliders only have that bright green colour when they are very young. By the time they're more than, say, 8 cm/3 inches in shell length their shells will be more muddy green-brown. Of course they still have attractive markings, particularly underneath, but the colouration is much more subdued than before. You can improve things by
cleaning them periodically (simply wiping dirt away with paper towel, certainly not detergent) and keeping the water itself as dirt-free as possible (plenty of mechanical filtration will help). But do look at photos of adult RESs to get an idea of what they should look like.>
Also, what do you mean by ageing when they are only 2 yrs old?
<Quite so. They're not adults yet, but at this age should be well on their way to looking like adult turtles. Lifespan in captivity is 20-30 years, I believe.>
Thanks and best regards,
<Welcome. Neale.>
re: RES with white scutes after shedding     10/27/15

Thanks. Glad to know that it is normal.
<Indeed. Cheers, Neale.>

Red Eared Slider Turtle       10/24/15
Hello my Name is Jennifer and I own a RES. For about a month now she has developed a rust like color in the creases of her shell, only on the top behind by the head and some towards the sides but the bottom is just fine.
When we rub it, it does seem to come off slightly however, we haven't took a tooth brush to the shell yet, should we do that and what could this be?
she also just shed. when we got her she was in very dirty water we got a UVB light but not one for docking. I have noticed that her appetite has slowed s little but I really don't know how many times a day I should be feeding her either. She is about 9-10 inches now. Please Help!! My husband and I are both disabled and cant really afford a trip to the vet.
<Hello Jennifer. Assuming the rusty stuff doesn't smell, this is probably just dirt or algae; it's also quite normal for old 'scutes' to come away from the shell. Nothing to worry about there. So if the red stuff brushes or wipes away nicely, leaving the shell clean underneath, then just do that as often as necessary and your turtle will be fine. It's quite normal for the shell to get covered with algae in the wild, and this probably provides useful camouflage, so your turtle won't be fussed. The problem in captivity is that dirty shells can become infected with fungus because the water is usually dirtier in aquaria than in the wild (the fish tanks we use are so much smaller, and filtration doesn't usually clean up all the mess turtles make). So regular cleaning of the shell is recommended. I'd have you read here:
Skip down to the "Soft Shell" section and review. Make sure diet and UV-B are correct, because these are the two things that lead to serious shell problems (such as Shell Rot), about which you can read here:
Shell Rot is smelly and a very serious issue, so it's important to keep the shell clean if you want to avoid this problem. I've cc'ed our turtle expert Darrel in case I've missed something, but in the meantime, I hope this helps.
Cheers, Neale>
Re: Red Eared Slider Turtle     11/26/15

Thank you so much Neale, we took a toothbrush to her shell and she cleaned up nicely.

Her appetite is still slowed how often should we be feeding her?
<Tricky with reptiles because it depends on how warm they are. Rule of thumb would be a few floating pellets a day, all they eat in a couple minutes, plus as much fresh greens (cheap aquarium pond weed is fine) as they want. Better they graze on Elodea all day long that overeat the turtle pellets. Once a week you can offer a meaty treat like a little bit of fish fillet or an unshelled shrimp, but these are optional.>
and she don't smell so that's a great thing.
when we seen the red rusty stuff we thought it was sepsis, that kind of scared us. What should the UV-B be? I think we are using the Reptile UVB 100 26W Exo Terra is that good?
<It's an excellent unit from a trustworthy company. Cheers, Neale.>

RES with lots of issues      7/26/15
Hi there,
Great site and mods-your dedication is much appreciated. I have been taking a class at a facility that has a children's centre and my class got a tour of it recently. I saw that they had an RES and fish tanks and volunteered to help care for them.
<"No good deed goes unpunished!">
Last Friday was my first time really getting in there and the first thing I did was deal with the turtle tank. The turtle was donated, and they were told SHE was a 16 yr old male-she's been at the facility for 4 years which would put her at 20, and her SCL is only about 5.5. . She was in a 1/4 filled 20 gallon in front of a window, no filter, no heat source and a tiny basking area made up of stacked rocks and bricks. The ammonia in her tank tested at 8.0 on API.
<What you'd expect without biological filtration.>
My partner went and with his own money, bought a reflector lamp, a medium turtle dock and a Zoo Med 318 filter (not what I would have chosen but beggars and all). I put in an infrared bulb that was in the room just to get
some heat on her and filled her up with fresh water, added lots of anchors, her new dock, the filter and a rock with some Anubias tied to it.
<The Anubias will probably get eaten once the pondweed is gone, and I'm not entirely sure it's non-toxic, so do keep an eye open.>
She was shedding excessively and to me it looked like there was a fungus issue on her skin. She had another 100% water change the next day and was offered dandelion and watermelon. She got a 100% water change on Tuesday, today and scheduled for Saturday. Today I heard her wheezing and when I checked her plastron there was a tiny red pit-beginning of SCUD?
<Possibly, but wouldn't get too alarmed just yet, given what you're doing now...>
In any event, I've asked them for money to buy a UVB/heat bulb, EHEIM 2213 and to take her home to dry dock her for 2 weeks.
I will bleach out her tank and get it set up for when she goes home. Also found a herp vet close by and asked them to let me take her. So, I'd like your input-would a turtle with potential fungus, bacteria and respiratory issues be too stressed with the dry docking procedure or should I just leave her be with 3x's weekly water changes while the filter cycles and the UVB light?
<Dry-docking isn't stressful, but provided the turtle's shell doesn't smell moldy or funky, I wouldn't worry about dry-docking just yet. Nice clean water, big dry area above the waterline, and a good dose of UV-B and warmth from the basking light should fix things. Do bear in mind that the shell scutes are more or less dead, like nails or hair, and get replaced from underneath. So while the top ones do eventually peel off, healthy new ones will replace them. You can certainly do a bit of a clean if you want, dabbing with a bit of iodine tincture or failing that really strong salty water will help clean things up. Rinse off, then pop back in the tank.
Assuming the turtle is feeding normally, breathing normally, has nice bright eyes and doesn't show signs of being lethargic, she's probably fine and won't need much/any help from the vet (though a quick check-up is never a bad idea).>
I will do all that I can for this long neglected turtle but feel better with your thoughts on the matter. PS-they're not bad people. They will be moving rooms eventually and would like my input on a proper set up for her.
Thanks in advance.
<Have cc'ed our turtle expert, Darrel, in case I've missed something.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: RES with lots of issues-thanks Neale!      7/26/15

Hi Neale!
Thank you so much for your reply. Your input makes me feel much better.
I've done everything that the WWM crew has suggested in this case, and bought the suggested meds as well.
<Glad to have helped.>
I brought her home on Friday night, applied Hydrogen Peroxide, iodine and Polysporin to the two plastron pits, and athletes foot cream to her limbs-she was very good about the whole ordeal!
<Mindful of that comment by Bill Watterson about 'Hobbes' having that quiet dignity of most animals he'd met. On the whole, I think that's true, and shows up a few people, I can tell you!>
Set her up in a 2cuft packing box with puppy pads, a towel and her tank screen with UVB, infrared and Zoo Med digital thermometer. But without knowing really what I was doing, it was way too stressful for ME and it seemed to be for her. She was constantly scratching at the box and I was constantly watching her temp. When she came out for water time in a bowl with a little bit of water, she wouldn't drink or eat and seemed panicky.
<Would have you read here:
Scroll down to the bit about isolation and dry docking.>
Yesterday I went and got her tank, gave it a dilute bleach and bombed with enough Prime for 100 gallons. Filled up with fresh, Primed water and put her back in with that puny filter, UVB and new 75 watt infrared bulb. So she
had a 24hr dry-dock with 2 times in a bit of water. We don't run A/C at home (Toronto))so after all lights out, her basking area stayed 80 degrees.
She was swimming when I woke up!
I will keep her here for 2 weeks with 3 times daily 30 percent water changes and short dry-docks for topical medicine application.
<Sounds good.>
I'll also just suck it up and buy the EHEIM (or whatever you think best for her current set up-9 gallons water in a 20 gallon).
<While an external Eheim canister is probably the ideal, you may want to balance that against the fact internal canisters are much easier to maintain. Since turtles aren't as strongly affected by water quality issues as fish, it isn't necessary to go into overkill when it comes to filtration. Do have a peruse of Eheim's website page on their internal
filters, here:
The Aquaball is an excellent budget unit (I have two and love them); the Biopower a step up in terms of flexibility and a good choice for messy fish (and turtles); while the PowerLine is a top-end system that works really well but costs a bit more. Cut according to your cloth, they're all good, but get the biggest turnover rate you can afford. So for a 20 gallon tank, I'd easily choose one suitable for 40 gallons or even 60 gallons -- you're turtle will thank you, as will your nose and eyes. Since turtles produce a lot of solid waste, the main job of the filter is not to remove ammonia (as with fish) but to remove faeces and moulted skin (to keep the water clear and not too smelly). Internals are quick and easy to clean, even weekly, and not as nerve-wracking when it comes to reconnecting everything (if, like me, you're paranoid you'll not connect some hoses up properly and get water everywhere on the floor).>
Once that's done we'll have spent $500 on a turtle that isn't ours-but the alternative is unacceptable, I think. Once she's back in the classroom, I will continue to go weekly and service her tank AND educate them on proper
husbandry for the interim days.
<To be fair, the thing with reptiles as pets is this: day to day, they're cheap. Unlike cats and dogs, their maintenance costs are very low and provided they don't get ill, their vet bills are minimal (even with healthy cats and dogs there are checkups, flea control, neutering, and so on). So while $500 sounds like a lot (and you can actually save a bunch of money on that) across the 20 year life of a turtle, it's not a lot. But, reptiles do have these up-front costs that come across as more than for cats and dogs.
They can't sleep on our sofas and eat from old cereal bowls, so we need to buy a bunch of stuff just for them. Do that and their healthcare costs are small, but get something wrong, as you're learning, and stuff becomes more
complicated (and expensive). Do also read here:
As Darrel makes clear, there are some workable budget alternatives if aesthetics aren't crucial.>
I'd like to know what you think the possibility is that this female RES turtle at 5.5" could be 20 years old?
Could she just be small because she didn't have proper life support all these years?
<For sure, or simply genetics.>
I wouldn't have thought she could have survived in a cold, toxic tank for so long?
<Reptiles are (mostly) amazingly tough animals. They generally get sick only after months and months of abuse. Turtles are especially robust animals. As a book I had as a child put it, they were around millions of years before the dinosaurs, and if we give them half a chance, they'll be around millions of years after us. They are truly born survivors. Red-Ear Sliders have managed to get established here in the UK, which is generally too cold for them, in theory. While they probably don't breed much, if at all, in urban centres like London, there seem to be enough microclimates they can scrape a living. And yes, these are turtles that were "set free" after being unwanted pets for a while.>
I got her water lettuce and water hyacinth-the Anubias got trashed so it's gone. Thanks for the heads up on that.
<No problems. Do be aware that many plants rated as "fish proof" are actually toxic, Java Fern being the classic example. Since turtles eat a lot of plants, buy cheap and cheerful stuff or find a local aquarist who has excess plants they want to get rid of. One of my tanks needs the floating Indian Fern cropped literally weekly, armfuls of the stuff.>
Thank you again for being part of "Jack's" upgraded care!!
Have cc'ed our turtle expert Darrel in case I've missed something. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: RES with lots of issues-thanks Neale!      7/27/15

Last one!!
Thanks so much for the filter options-will read up and get something tomorrow.
I did a lot of research online before considering dry docking. I read the WWM dry docking page about 8000 times before attempting. Found differing opinions on method and duration elsewhere online but felt more comfortable
relying on your advise. There was also a video on YouTube but his turtle was only at 70 degrees which is not the temp WWM suggests. I didn't sleep at all when she was dry docking and was very nervous about me causing harm
to any animal, let alone one that isn't mine. I don't approach things like this without first recognizing that I know that I don't know. I spent a lot of time researching your site and others but thank you for the links.
<Dry docking is not dangerous providing the turtle is given periodic access to water for drinking and defecation (they tend to do both in water). If the damage to the shell isn't infected (smelly) there's no real need to dry dock if you clean using iodine tincture, wait for that to dry, maybe 20 minutes to so, then return to the vivarium.>
I had female RES that I rescued from my nephew 20 years ago. She was 2" and in my care, grew to 9" in three years and had to live in a bathtub ultimately-with filter, heat lamp and basking area. I was fortunate to not have any 911 or vet moments-especially as home computers were not de rigueur. I also run 2 tropical tanks at home so am familiar with equipment for that application-which is why I thought of the 2213 for a turtle-as opposed to what's in there now.
<An excellent filter. Good value. Have the similar 2217 for my big aquarium. Nothing to say against this/these filter/s, except maintenance is not as easy as with internal canisters.>
Anyway, WWM is an excellent resource for the rest of us and I appreciate your time.
<Thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>

plastron with small dents     6/22/15
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a 26 year old RES and she has always been very happy and sociable and fabulous. She last visited my vet a year ago because her eyes were slightly puffy and so he gave her a shot of vitamin B and I changed out my UVA/UVB bulb because I think it lost efficacy after only 6 months instead of a year.
<That can happen, but eye problems are more of a vitamin deficiency - specifically "A" and so I'd be examining her diet>
Yesterday I added this super incredible basking condo and ramp from glasscages.com to her tank to increase her swimming area. Today I noticed that a weird callous-looking spot I’d seen previously on her plastron had come off, leaving a small dent. I know that over 26 years she has probably done some things to her shell that weren’t exactly gentle. Do you suppose this callous was akin to scar tissue that finally made its way to the surface of her plastron and was pulled out as she slid down her ramp from her basking condo?
<That's EXACTLY what I'd suspect!>
The shell is nice and hard and not discolored, just dented (about the size of an eraser head). Should we visit the vet?
<Shell is nice and hard - she's active and alert (notices you when you want into the room and naturally assumes you have food) - she sleeps, basks, swims, eats and does all those normal turtle things?>
<If all those are true, then no trip to the vet!>
Thanks so much!

Re: About my res hatchling      4/26/15
Hi again this is the recent picture of velvet . The White spots have become more . Is it fungal infection ?
<from everything I see that looks like the normal mottled coloring they get as they grow.><<No pic found. B>>

Re: About my res hatchling      5/23/15
Hi. I have a red hatchling . The White patches are still there .you said it might be shedding.
<Dead skin sloughs off in sheets; underwater this is obvious, almost like picking sheets of PVA glue off your hands. But out of the water the dead skin can look less obvious, but will look a bit faded compared to the new skin beneath it. Dead skin has no odour; fungal infections are very obviously smelly.>
But for safety am applying beta fine and letting the turtle dry for some time a day . And today when I applied beta fine and put it dry.
<Do you mean Betadine, as in old fashioned "iodine"? Why?>
I saw some powdery white dust on the eyes.
Not in the eyes the eyes seem normal and wide open and no discharge.
<So you're medicating by throwing white powder over the face of a turtle that has perfectly normal eyes?>
There were some white powdery things over nose to . I took picture but sorry isn't that clear
<Indeed. But I stress: why? All medications are toxic to some degree, that's how they work, by poisoning stuff. They're not magic pixie dust that makes everything they touch more wonderful. If your turtle is not in trouble, medicating is simply going to stress it to some degree, outweighing any good you might be doing. Do instead operate by the precautionary principle. What do your turtles need for good health?
Calcium-rich greens-based diet, UV-B light, and sufficient warmth under a basking lamp. The tragedy about reptiles as pets is that people are too cheap to buy the stuff they need to STAY healthy, then desperate to avoid trips to the vet by buying bogus medications that achieve little/nothing if conditions aren't right. Do read, understand the roles of diet, UV-B and warmth in the lives of reptiles. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: About my res hatchling
Thanx . But you don't understand my question . I didn't sprinkle any white powdery medication. I applied betadine one the shell coz it appeared like fungal infection but it could be shedding too.
<As stated: shedding skin is very obvious, and scutes peeling away from the shell should be obvious too. Not these? Then do read:
Diagnose, then medicate. Not the other way around!>
I noticed something over the skin on the face some thing white and powdery so I sent you the pic and asked you if you know any thing about it . I have the uv thing and basking light . But am not sure what to feed it . Am just giving turtle pellets for now . Any suggestions?
<Many. But do read:
Feeding not difficult. Koi Pellets a good staple; augment with various green foods (cheap aquarium plants such as "Elodea" work nicely).>
Am not desprate to avoid vets but am worried because I am from a city in India and no one know anything about turtles . I know better about turtles than the vets here . No rep vets :)
<Understood. But it's more about legality than expertise. In India, as in the UK, antibiotics can't (or at least, shouldn't) be sold without a prescription from a doctor or vet. This is a good thing because it helps to avoid antibiotic resistance, but it's awkward for reptile-keepers.>

white parts of baby Turts shell           4/17/15
Hello, my name is Candice. i have a 5 month old RES with some white parts of shell... read a lot on the site and still unsure... i have been using the vinegar and antifungal and leaving him out of the water all night... for about a week now and it does not look any different.... it is not soft. any insight you can give is greatly appreciated.
i attached a picture of the little guy showing the white marks. thanks so much.
<Does the shell smell? If not, it's probably fine, and it's normal for the "scutes" (the bony plates) of the shell to change colour as they age and eventually fall away. It's also quite common for limescale to build up on the shell if turtles live in hard water areas. Not at all harmful, but limescale can trap bacteria and fungi, becoming slightly discoloured. So if the shell isn't soft and isn't smelly, and you're 100% sure he's getting enough calcium (for example, from a piece of cuttlebone or occasional
unshelled shrimp) then I wouldn't worry too much. The disease Shell Rot is quite distinctive:
Read, examine your turtle, and act accordingly. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: white parts of baby turts shell      4/19/15
thank you so much Neale... I really really appreciate it.... you've set my mind at ease. I was sooo worried. it has improved since I sent the email so ... .. and I am saving that page for future reference ... hopefully I will never have to use the information :) thanks again and keep up the great work!!
<Thanks for the kind words, and glad to hear things are improving! Cheers, Neale.>

About my res hatchling       4/6/15
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I don't understand what this is . Expect for this everything else is fine .
And I can see it only when the shell is completely dry
Here's a picture
<That's very normal. It looks like water spots or mineral buildup, but sometimes that is what a scute looks like just before it's going to shed>
<If it doesn't smell and it doesn't flake off, don't worry about it>

Re: About my res hatchling       4/11/15
Thanks for the reply . I don't think it smells . But the turtle has a smell right ?
<A very tiny whiff of an odor, yes, but a turtle does NOT have an objectionable smell>
<If it smells like sewage, rotten food, sulfur, etc. then you'd have a problem>
Re: About my res hatchling
Hai .
Me again .
<Me, too. We have to stop meeting like this - people will talk! LOL>
I feel the White spots are more now . Are you sure this isn't fungus .
Here's a picture
<From here, without being able to examine him personally, it looks like normal growth and change. He's been slowly losing that 'bright green' color since he was 4 months old and as it turns darker green it does get a sort of mottled coloration. I look at the pictures and I'm just not seeing 'disease.'>
<Pay attention to the whole of him: If he's active, alert, eyes clear and follows you as you interact -- if he swims, basks, eats and poops then relax>

Slider turtle shell      3/21/15
My turtle is about 2 and 1/2 years old. I noticed a spot on the side of his shell and when I started looking into shell problems, I became scared it was shell rot.
<Doesn't look like it from here>
But then the middle of his shell started forming spots and is almost metallic looking. Is he about to shed?
<That looks like what first happens when the top layer of the scute begins to separate>
Or is this shell rot?
<Don't think so -- yanno what ELSE it can be? Freaks people out but is OFTEN the case? A plain old water spot/mineral deposit!! See if it washes off with a tint bit of vinegar on a cotton swab>
Also, the bottom of his shell has a couple weird spot on it. I am really trying to learn more about his shell but I am struggling!
<You're doing fine>
<With turtles, the easiest thing is PREVENTION and that is also the easiest. Here is a link to help you -- make sure you compare your keeping to the suggestions here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>
<Now as far as treatment is concerned, I have another suggestion. When in doubt … when you even THINK you're in doubt … even if you aren’t even sure if you are in doubt or not … dry-dock him for two weeks! It won't hurt him, it's actually not bad for him -- and virtually EVERY skin condition, shell condition or superficial infection has a harder time growing during dry-dock. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm
What I'm saying is that you can't go wrong dry-docking a turtle even if it's only for your peace of mind>
Thank you for your time!!!
<No charge!!>

Hey there! Child, RES shell ish.        2/13/15
<We're out of room due to folks sending too-large file sizes: JUST READ HERE: http://wetwebmedia.com/TurtsAmphibsInd.htm
SCROLL DOWN to shell conditions. Bob Fenner>
Hi I'm Bernadette and i just got my terrapin a couple of days ago when i noticed a white patch on its shell so i took it out from the tank and i was wondering if this is normal. It has a layer of translucent skin on its shell and a white patch underneath. Could you take a look and tell me what's wrong? Thanks!

Turtle shell      1/26/15
As I was cleaning out my turtles tank today I noticed he had some reddish looking spots on his shell. Could you tell me if he has an infection of some sort? I'm a new turtle owner so I don't know much about diseases they can get. The picture tagged is what his shell looks like.
<Not normal, not healthy. Do start by reading here:
Various ways to treat, including "dry docking" and swabbing with "iodine" (actually, Povidone-iodine).

Shell rot?    1/15/15
Hi there,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
This is Kaipua, she's a rescue from Craigslist, her owners had her in a 20 gallon tank and she was 6 inches!
<She's pretty>
She's about 7.5 inches and has been with me in a 120 gallon tank since last March. When I got her, she had a crack in her shell in between the scutes behind her neck. Is this just residual scarring/healing, or is it shell rot?
<That's a dead scute. What you're seeing is the bony plate underneath. That scute had been at one time damaged or infected and a part of it died. It won't grow back, but as long as you keep her reasonably clean and healthy there's no problem.>
Just thought you may have some ideas
<I have lots of ideas … not all are practical or even legal in all 50 states>
<Many thoughts, too. Why is it that turtles are so SLOW in everything they do … until you let one of them out of your sight for 30 seconds, and then they're out the door, down the sidewalk, across the street, over a neighbor's fence and in their pool?>
<Advice, too. Keep her away from credit or debit cards and AWAY from the Internet. Sliders and Cooters have absolutely NO sense of financial discipline and the next thing you know they'll order the entire reptile section of Pet Mountain on YOUR credit card -- AND they pay extra for overnight delivery… even on things they can't use.>

Spiny Softshell with shell fungus      1/14/15
Dear Crew
<Hiya Darrel here>
I have a 9 year old male spiny Softshell who has never been seen to take advantage of his basking dock. He has always lived in a 20 gal tank with a fine sand substrate for burrowing, a basic filter and a regular light in an elementary classroom 10 out of the year. Eats ReptoMin voraciously, and feeder fish maybe 1-2 times a year. No heater. Has always been very healthy & VERY active under these conditions. Students NEVER touch him. The basking site was removed this summer because we thought he never used it…. possible big problem. But I really thought over 9 years we would have seen him slide off it SOMETIME if he were using it. Janitors never have seen it used in evening(light off then anyway) and I have never seen it used during summer months when he was home in a quiet room!
<Softshells can be very skittish in strange ways. The same turtle that appears to be willing to climb out of the tank and follow you down the street IF FOOD IS INVOLVED - may be shy about just being out of water and being observed. Perhaps it's because he's in his skin and humans are judgmental … ?>
He now appears to have a fungus on his carapace and food consumption has dropped…not stopped. I love this turtle….please advise. I am reading mixed info about iodine, betadine, salt in the water, vinegar, dry docking… etc. Cleaned tank as a start, but obviously need to take further steps. Thank you for any help you may give.
<Yes, I understand the mixed advice. Some comes from people not knowing, but some comes simply from mixed experiences. So let me try to make sense of it for you>
<First, water is a fungi's friend, so dry docking is absolutely indicated. Now Shelbourne (if that's her name) won’t like it, but it's in her best interest. Warm and dry works against the fungus. The write up here covering fungus in the hard shelled turtles describes the basic treatment … http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >
<The difference with a Softshell is that it's easier for a bacterial infection to start so we try to prevent that with the addition of betadine after she dries off from her bath. Then wait an hour and apply the antifungal and described.>
Re: Spiny Softshell with shell fungus       3/28/15
Hi Darrel,
Thanks for the reply. Pannekuchen (Dutch for pancake, as he looks like one) seems to be doing very well. Started the vinegar, betadine, dry-dock (about I hour total) regime once a day, 7 days ago. His shell looks great. I did not use any anti-fungal other than the vinegar , as I was not sure where to get it… one article indicated a ‘scrip was needed.
<Any athlete's foot cream has the require anti-fungal.>
Still a slight pale “shadow” but that's it. Gave him a few feeder fish this weekend to boost him up a bit. Today he seems quite interested in his ReptoMin again. Looks like he will be heading back to school soon. I returned his dock to his tank just in case he really has been using it all these years secretly! Hard to imagine we would never have seen it, but stranger things have happened.
I have also read about adding a little aquarium salt to the tank. Is this a general maintenance regime? Would it help stave off further problems? I hate to mess with a system that has been so successful for 9 years except for this one incident.
<Some people do. I don't. The idea is that a tiny bit of salinity might stem the growth of certain bacteria, but then it may stimulate the growth of others.>
Another strange thing, I have NEVER seen any feces from this critter in his tank. I mean never! His tank stays incredibly clean with only a small Whisper filter. He is 9 years old, typically eats voraciously, and his tank never even gets an odor. Seems odd. The slider & painted turtle tanks get filthy in no time. Obviously he is as secretive about his excretions as he is about basking!
<Let's hope he doesn't suddenly explode when he's 17!! -- LOL>
<He probably lays it IN the substrate, where it breaks down quickly>
Thanks for your help.

RES Scutes built up not shedding     11/21/14
<Hiya - Darrel here>
Thank you for such an informative website! I have a 5 1/2 year old female RES. She's quite large, about 7 inches long by 6 inches wide. We fed her too often in her first 2 years due to misinformation. She has a 100 gallon tank with proper heating, her water is always Luke warm. Proper filtration and regular cleanings, the water is always clear. We live in San Diego, so during the warm months, which are nearly year round she is kept outdoors and is allowed to bask outdoors as often as she pleases. During the cold months she is brought indoors and is still brought outside to bask but on a regimented schedule.
<That's fine. My turtles often don't come out to bask at all in the cold months>
She lives alone as we purchased her alone and was told she would likely attack any other turtle introduced.
<If you found another female of equal size you'd probably be fines after some initial settingling in … but that said, they don’t' need companionship, either.>
She exhibits no other health concerns besides her shell. I assume it is based on her diet which is solely Tetra ReptoMin floating food sticks with calcium and vitamin C. She has refused any other vegetables, greens, or fruits introduced to her. The only other thing she has eaten are feeder fish which we feed very sparingly.
<Try earthworms (nightcrawlers from a local bait shop. MUCH better for her than fish>
I believe she is accustomed to the sticks and will now refuse any other food. Her shell is in bad shape. Her scutes have built up several layers and just finally shown signs of shedding after several years. And by that I mean 2 scutes in a month over the past five years. There may even be signs of pyramiding. There is no softening of the shell, no foul odor, and no reddening or puss or blood. Please, any advice would be greatly appreciated!
<Happy to help>
We love our dear Sophie! She seems healthy otherwise but of course we want her tip top!
<Add some calcium to her diet. Try getting Sophie used to eating beef or chicken liver. Take several small pieces and place them in a pan that has some luke-warm water and Sophie. What I'm saying is that never, ever place liver or any raw meat in her tank -- the oils come right off and foul the tank and then you have a mess to clean. No one ever makes that mistake twice -- LOL.>
<Once she likes liver in small pieces, you can dust the liver with calcium powder available from any health food store. Something I rarely ever suggest -- you could even try the calcium plaster turtle blocks you find in some pet stores. They are a complete waste of time for most turtles, but in Sophie's case they might help.>
Thank you so much in advance!

RES with rotting shell     11/11/14
Firstly I would like to thank you for the service that you are providing.
<Thank you for noticing. When you get rich and famous, come back and press the "Donate" button on the page J >
I live in Mumbai, India which is a pretty warm place. I received two baby turtles as gift 6 weeks back and everything was fine when I got them. Some time back I noticed that the bottom shell of both turtles seem to have developed brown spots and white lines. I have been feeding them Taiyo turtle food and both turtles eat it without any issues. I had sunlight coming in my apartment the first few weeks but with the change in season sunlight no longer comes in my flat. I change water on a daily basis. keep them in the tank whole day with 4-5 hours of basking time and let them loose at night. There are certain issues that I am facing here as pet store owners have very basic accessories here. There is no UVB lamp available. Taiyo is the only food available and the tank in the picture is the only one available for turtles. I will be making one myself ones done with my exams. There are no vets in my locality to consult about this. please help me out with the issue.
<You may not have an issue. The white lines are often mineral deposits from the water getting on the joints of the shell. This is very common and not a problem. As far as brown lines are concerned I don't see anything in your pictures that indicates a problem>
<Here's the thing: Turtles need to have cool water and warm basking areas so they can choose what is best for them. A warm basking area allows the shell and skin to dry completely and THAT is what keeps the bacteria and fungus from taking hold. If you have even the slightest doubt about their external health, take them out of their environment and keep them somewhere warm and dry for 4 or 5 days.>
<As far as the UV-B lamp is concerned, our friends at Zoo-Med make some very inexpensive Reptile bulbs that may be available in your area>

Re: RES with rotting shell     11/11/14
thank you very much for your response. I sure will ;) .I will look in my
neighboring places and try to find the lamp :)

... turtle... Chester... Shell cond. f'      ‏            11/10/14
Hi, So I bought Chester a 50 gallon aquarium, I've got a filter for a 110 gallon aquarium, a water heater set at 78F, a uvb & heat lamp at about 86-88F, & a basking dock.
I clean out the aquarium once a month and use a fish net every day to clean out the fish & turtle waste.
<All sounds good.>
(I've read that feeding turtles goldfish is not recommended but Chester did not seem interested in them for the longest time until recently. And now there is only one left, I won't be buying anymore.)
<Good. Feeder Goldfish are parasite bombs. Imagine somebody fed you live food that'd be grown in a sewer. That's pretty much what we're talking about here. Why on earth feeders are still available in the US beggars
Anyway, Chester is a very active turtle in and out of water, he likes basking and is constantly begging for more food.
<Indeed. As youngsters they're pretty hungry and eat a fair amount of protein. But protein-rich foods aren't filling, so do keep some greens available for bulk. Floating pondweed does the trick nicely, and is cheap/easy to buy.>
I feed him ReptoMin pellets, but will be switching to the Koi ones because I've read that they're the same thing but cheaper? A+.
<Not the same; better. Less protein, more plant-based content. "Chester" may reject the Koi pellets at first, but he'll eat them eventually. Do bear in mind reptiles can go weeks without food, so starving him for a few days
to heighten his interest in alternative foods is not a problem.>
I have a couple questions.
A) I've noticed that Chester's shell seems to be pyramiding. But only the spinal part. That part was very slightly raised when I first bought him and now they've grown slightly upwards. And I'm wondering if this is bad? How do I fix it? And how many pellets would you recommend feeding a baby turtle?
<Genetic abnormalities can sometimes account of misshapen shells, but more often (indeed, almost always) it's a toss-up between lack of calcium and/or UV-B light. Review, and act accordingly. There's nothing you can do to fix the damage, but you can prevent it getting worse. You already know about the UV-B lamp, so do also look into calcium sources. "Dusting" food with calcium is an old school approach. Messy, and I'm not sure terribly
efficient unless they swallow a lot of the powder. Floating cuttlebones in the tank is another option. Bizarrely perhaps, they'll actually chomp away at this instinctively. In the wild you often see tortoises eating bones, so
I guess it's an instinct that chelonians have generally. Providing whole, unshelled calcium-rich foods (such as krill) is third option, but you'd have to use these very frequently to make a difference.>
B) From a couple pictures I've seen, this seems to be ok but I'd like to check with you anyway. He has silver/grey lines around his scutes? And also, is it normal for a turtles shell to look like that when it's dried out? I haven't seen any pictures to confirm whether it's normal or not.
<Scutes do change with age, tending to get paler and less clearly marked.
They also flake away eventually. Provided the shell doesn't smell or have red or white soft bits on it (see: Shell Rot) "Chester" is probably fine.>
C) the back of his shell is soft and bends downward if i apply pressure.
It's been like this since I bought him. I've been putting in calcium blocks and I recently bought a cuttlebone thing that floats in the water. I'm not sure why it's still so soft! I would like to think that I have all the right conditions. (Except for the food, I'm not 100% certain about that.)
<Indeed. See above, and ensure he's eating enough of the calcium. Do also review the UV-B aspect. You can feed a reptile all the calcium you want, but without UV-B they can't do the chemical reaction that turn it into bone and shell. Not all UV lamps are equal, and if for some reason the turtle hasn't been basking (perhaps it's too cold under the lamp or scared off by another turtle) then problems can arise. Review, and act accordingly.>
Thank you so much for you time and help! I very much appreciate it.
<Most welcome. Have cc'ed our turtle expert, who'll doubtless chip in if there's something I've missed/mess up. Cheers, Neale.>

Ornate Wood Turtle won't take calcium!   3/10/13
Hey there!
<Hi thare!, Ho Thare!>
I asked a question here about a year ago for a little Yellow Belly Slider with a pale spot on her shell.  Turns out she was just shedding after all; she's in perfect health, living safe with my mother; Mom fell in love and wanted to keep her.
<Could I introduce your mom to my youngest son?  Maybe I'd have the same luck!>
I recently moved to Texas (Corpus Christi),
<Oh dear … sorry to hear that.   Was it part of a Court Order or something?>
And I was in Petco with my partner.  We saw this Ornate Wood Turtle (5" across the shell, female) flopped over in the corner of her tank.  Her tank was very, very moist, with no place for her to dry herself, and I've actually attached a picture of what she looked like when we brought her home.  We took her to the vet, and we have to take her in for antibiotic shots twice a week, as well as keep her dry-docked, with daily soakings for 30 minutes per soaking.  Bar for some exposed bone, she's been looking better, as you can see in the other picture, but she's now refusing to take her calcium.  Her favorite food is blueberries, but if we put calcium powder on them, she'll look at them and sulk away.
<I hate when they do that>
We've tried mealworms, night crawlers, squash, kale, and just plain old wood turtle food, all to no effect.  I tried dissolving some calcium in water and giving it to her via dropper, and while she opened her mouth and drank a few drops, as soon as she realized what it was, she tucked her head in and refused to come near the dropper.
We got a cuttlebone, and she avoided it like it was going to bite her.
<Also, yep>
Do you think I should just dissolve it in her soaking water?
<Nope.  In order to dissolve enough calcium into the water for her to absorb it - the water would be more like what we call dry-wall.>
As well, do you think Vita Shell would be safe to use on her, to avoid her shell cracking while she's dry-docked?
<First ... turn the worrying down a few notches.  You're doing fine,  Petunia is doing fine and so there's no real need to having anything but an arched eyebrow here.   That whole family of turtles is notorious for fixating on certain foods, refusing all other foods until their owners go crazy with worry.  I once had one that fixated on strawberries for THREE YEARS, she wouldn't eat anything else.  It got so bad I changed her name to Queeg (look it up) and she only got fed once ever 6 weeks … until finally, one day, I put her outside while I did some yard work and when I looked up she was eating a dandelion.>
<In your case, you've given the emergency treatments or antibiotics and supplements and Petunia has responded.  So as long as she's eating and active, she'll get a natural amount of calcium and other vitamins from her diet, sunshine, etc.  It takes a little longer, but as long as the signs are positive, you're OK>
<Remember, vitamins and supplements are necessary for two reasons (1) To make up for a bad diet, which won't be the case here since you seem to be a great turtle mom and (2) to correct a past problem - which we're almost passed now.>
<Make SURE that you vary her diet.  If blueberries are her fave - go VERY sparingly on them (like once every 6 weeks) because she can fixate on them and drive you crazy like Queeg did to me.  Also, it becomes your ace in the hole … when she DOES want the berries badly enough, then you can sneak in other supplements with them.>
<Now to the case in point.  Ask your vet for a few CC's of calcium Gluconate.  It's calcium in a glucose solution.  Put a few drops on a piece of white bread crust and see if she'll jump on it.  Another delivery system for calcium is snails: Find a local garden that has snails and does NOT use snail bait and take a few and place them in Petunia's habitat.  Usually, in a few days, the snails and their calcium rich shells are gone.>
Thanks for your help.
<No charge!!>

Ornate Wood Turtle Update    9/27/14
Hello again! I wrote about a year ago about a turtle with shell rot that was being fussy about her calcium. Just dropping in to say that she's healing up great (no pictures right now). She's got scarring that the vet
says might not fade, but the exposed bone is peeling up, and there's healthy scute growth under it. Now that she's healed, she's really curious and lively, which is a real change from how lethargic she was a year ago.
Thanks for your help and advice, guys!
<Always nice to hear a happy ending! Thanks for letting us know. Cheers, Neale.>

Painted Turtle; shell, CaCO3       9/8/14
I just got a baby painted turtle from a friend last week. He is currently in a 15 gallon tank. I've got a really good filter, basking area with heat and uvb lighting. I started noticing there are tiny white, clearish flakes coming off him. Its all around the edge of his shell and a little bit on his legs. I tried to scrub it off with a q-tip and it came off, but it has come back. It is nearly impossible to see you less you are looking for it. He doesn't seem bothered by it and is his appetite hasn't diminished since I've had him. He doesn't seem stressed out at all. The tank is clean and at a good water temp. I was trying to figure out if it just normal shedding or if there is a fungal infection and how to tell.
<Do you by any chance have hard water in your area? Hard water will leave limescale on the shell as the water evaporates. Try dabbing a little vinegar on the shell - if it fizzes, it's probably limescale. Limescale is not harmful at all, but because it's rough, bits of dirt and algae can
trapped in it. So it's a good idea to clean it away periodically. Have cc'ed Darrel and Sue, our turtle experts, in case I've missed something.
Cheers, Neale.>

CUMBERLAND SLIDER HELP; shell rot      8/16/14
Hello, I have two Cumberland Sliders. They are both about a year and a half years old. One of my turtles has red spots on his belly. They are not big. I felt them and they are not soft. My other turtle has not gotten these spots. Is it possible that he has soft shell disease? Or is he healthy?
<No, not healthy; yes, Shell Rot or similar incipient/starting. Do read:

<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have two Cumberland Sliders. They are both about a year and a half years old. One of my turtles has red spots on his belly. They are not big. I felt them and they are not soft. My other turtle has not gotten these spots. Is it possible that he has soft shell disease? Or is he healthy?
<Yanno - I run into that condition from time to time as well... and every time I do my heart skips a beat. A general pinkness can be a sign of a serious infection... but by serious I mean SERIOUS and extremely
progressed. I'm never seen a turtle that is septic that ate, swam, basked and acted normally.>
<Another unusual cause is a stain. Basking on a red brick, certain logs, etc>
<But the #1 reason ... is feeding them food that has a red or pink dye in it.>
<If the shell is hard, no smell and the turtle is acting normally, don't fret. A change in their food might fix the problem after a few months>

hi.      8/3/14
I bought two red eared slider babies. asked for female and male. the smaller one has greyish/white tiny spots on its back.
<Do smell the shell. Sounds odd, but a musty, fungus smell is one indication of Shell Rot.

Turtles shells do change colour to some degree, and inexperienced keepers are often surprised when old "scutes" peel off the shell. Algae and dirt will sometimes stick to shells if the water isn't clean. A scrub with a paper towel can help clean turtle shells.>
weve had them for ten days now and it looks like the little one may have more spots. I researched on line and wondering if its ich disease or is it called ick?

Red eye terrapin   2/18/14
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I bought my son a terrapin recently. We brought it from Singapore to Malaysia. While in Malaysia, the terrapin started to develop white spot on the shell, towards the tail.
<A white spot can be many things, often it's a sign of fungus which can often happen when the turtle does not bask in enough sunlight to get completely dry.>
<If no UV-B light is available, direct sunlight is good as long as the turtle can get out from under it after some time.  10 minutes a day in a dry pan under direct sunlight is OK as long as he can then be put back into cool water.>
Since then, the terrapin refuse to eat.  We normally feed the terrapin with Nutrafin basix which according to pet shop, contains all the nutrient required by the terrapin.
<I use Koi food which is available in pellets at most pet stores.  It's a great and balanced diet of almost all water turtles and it's very inexpensive>
Appreciate your advise as I'm not aware of any reptile vet in Singapore.
<No reason to rush to a vet just yet.  Please read here and understand the need for UV-B light and see if you can arrange for some sunlight for him each day.   He should have a warm basking place and cool water so that he can choose what he needs. 
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<In most cases a fungal infection will clear up after a few days of access to good sunlight.  If you feel it needs to be treated, read here about
fungal infections: 
Re: Red eye terrapin       2/26/14

Hi Darrel,
<Hiya Esther>
My baby terrapin is still not eating and I notice that is back legs are coated with a thin whitish coating. I managed to find AZOO bacterial and fungal drops meant for turtles and tortoise.
<OK, now yes - this is beginning to get serious.  The very first thing to do is to "dry dock" him.   Water (and a warm moist environment) are no longer his friend.   We need to keep him warm and DRY except for a short bath daily.   Apply the anti-fungal drops according to directions, but the dryness and exposure to proper UV lighting is you most potent weapon against the fungus.
Please read all about it here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm  > Also got Nutrafin slow release calcium supplements. But I'm concern that the terrapin is not eating. It had been about 10 days already and it seems to be very weak. Hardly move now. What can do with the non eating issue and can terrapin continue to survive not eating for so many days?
<10 days is not a terribly long time to not eat… but not moving and seeming to sleep all the time is a sign but he has been sick for much longer than 10 days and we just didn't notice.   If it was possible, I'd ask a veterinarian to give him a multi-vitamin & calcium injection.   Any veterinarian can do this, even one that treats dogs and cats - since the injections are the same and the dosages are available from the manufacturer's web site.>
<If that is not possible then it's not likely you can force-feed the terrapin.  Instead, keep him warm and dry and the instructions say… help him fight off the fungal infection and his daily luke-warm water bath may stimulate his appetite.>
re: Red eye terrapin       2/26/14

Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately the terrapin died last Sunday.
Hopefully we'll be better with the next terrapin. We actually took care of two terrapin successfully and they are now as big as a small saucer.
Didn't encounter any problems with them. Still can't understand why this baby terrapin became so sick. Anyway thanks for all the help.

Spiny Softshell Shell Lump, HELP!    1/27/14
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My step son "rescued" a spiny soft shell turtle about 7 years ago from a sandy river in southern Louisiana. Ever since, I have been taking care of her. I have done a lot of research and believe she is a female Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle.  I keep her in a tank with about 4 inches of fine, smooth gravel with about 8-10 inches of water. I use spring water to fill the tank and use a water filter. Any deeper and she doesn't seem happy.
<yes, they like to be able to bury themselves and stick their necks out like a snorkel>
We try to keep her water temp between 70 and 75 degrees F at all times. In the dead of summer (and it can get to 100 degrees around here) her tank MAY get to 77 - 78. But that isn't the norm.
<That's OK for short times>
She eats aquatic turtle pellets and, every few months, when it's time for a full tank cleaning, she gets her fill of feeder fish. These are the only two things she will eat. She has grown steadily and hasn't had any health problems, cuts, bumps or anything up until now.
<If by turtle pellets you mean Repto-Min or a high quality Koi pellet - that's what I feed all my turtles, including the soft shells.   As for fish … I'd MUCH rather see her get an earthworm or two as a treat.  Feeder fish are notoriously poor food and prone to carrying parasites>
I have been searching all day and can not find anything on her new problem.
<Well - let's see what we can do>
Her pump went out a few weeks ago. I've been adding fresh water but I could not physically bring the tank outside to clean it until my husband was home. When we went to clean the tank, I place her in the sink filled with fresh water.  When I placed her in the sink, I noticed that she has a lump on her body. I was not around for her last tank cleaning and my husband would not have noticed anything abnormal. The lump isn't obvious unless you're looking at certain angles. It covers about 1/4 of her shell. She's about 7 inches across. There doesn't seem to be any cuts or infection. She's acting normal. The lump is about as raised in the highest spot as her spine is.
<OK - a lump THAT size is unlikely to be a tumor.   That sounds more like what I'd call, for lack of a better word, a malformation.  In a perfect world I'd like to see an X-ray from the top and from the side, but the next best thing would be a physical examination and a really detailed description.>
I'm hoping you can shed some insight on what this may be and how to treat this if it is something that isn't a normal occurrence.
<It's not>
Please help.
<Sure -- let's start with this.  Take Turdi out of her tank and let her dry off.  Next what I want you to do is pick her up and feel the entire shell.   This is not the easiest thing in the world because Soft Shell turtles have short tempers, long flexible necks and painful bites.   An assistant would be a really good idea here.   The assistant has something like a rubber kitchen spatula in his hand and his ENTIRE JOB is to use the spatula to continue to block Turdi's head from moving in you direction - pressing the neck down, pushing it to one side, etc. whatever it takes to keep the mouth away and occupied.>
<Start with the rear flap.  Flexible and leathery?  Then move around the edge toward the lump area how flexibly is it?  Does it feel hard under the leather?  Or mushy?   Use as many words and as many ways to describe the entire shell.   This will narrow down the possibilities and we'll try to decide what it is and then what to do about it.>
Turdi's Mom 

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