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FAQs About Turtle Babies, Young: Behavior

Related Articles: My Turtle Laid Eggs. What do I do? by Darrel Barton, Turtles, Shell Rot in Turtles, AmphibiansRed Eared Slider Care

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

Red Ear Slider question, babies... beh., hlth.     12/7/13
We just got two baby red ear sliders, we have a 20 gallon tank for them and nice rock and filter. We found out we need a uvb light so were going to get one of those asap. But my question is one turtle seems very happy and active, but the other one appears to not be able to take its back legs out of the shell. It seems to want to, we can see its little muscles wiggling
down there but no feet ever pop out. It swims fine and just seems to drag itself along the rock with its front legs. Is this a sign of illness? Its shell also seems to be curved in the back by its legs. The turtles are probably about 2 inches. Any information would be helpful.
-Alex
<Hello Alex. Sounds to me like Metabolic Bone Disease, which is a catch-all name that describes problems where reptiles haven't been given the right (i.e., calcium-rich) diet and/or adequate UV-B lighting. Cutting a long story short, without adequate calcium and UV-B, reptile bones don't grow properly. Bowed legs and difficulty walking are two common symptoms.  Given the right conditions from now onwards, you can hope subsequent bone growth will compensate for any problems thus far. You've mentioned a new UV-B lamp; do also review diet, and in particular pick up some sort of reptile vitamin supplement with calcium in it. Fresh green leafy foods have lots of calcium, and as you may be aware now, turtles will do well if given a bunch of goldfish-style pondweed to graze on. Our resident turtle expert Darrel recommends Koi pellets as an ideal staple, and some brands of these will be rich in calcium too -- so choose these ones.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/redearsliders.htm
Cheers, Neale (bcc'ed Darrel for errors/omissions).>

Baby RES Turning Brown    9/2/12
Hi crew,
<Hi Dennis! Sue here.>
I have had 2 baby RES for about 1-1/2 weeks. They are about 1.5" in length now.
<Congrats on your new additions. They’re so cute at that size, aren’t they?!>
One looked like what a RES is supposed to look like; the other one was a noticeably lighter green and had an almost "featureless" carapace, i.e. no whorls and such.
<Actually RES turtles ARE typically a lighter green color when they’re small/young.  They grow darker in color as they age. But that doesn't usually happen until they become larger than yours.>
Now the former still looks the same, but the latter is turning a darker green and brownish, especially along his backbone. I am just worried about the latter's quick change in colouration, even though their behaviour is normal.
<I agree that color change in their shell doesn’t happen this quickly. My guess is that something is amiss in your environment, in particular the water quality. >
<Can you write us back and provide us more information about your set-up and what care advice you were given when you bought them?  What size aquarium are they in?  Did you purchase a filter? If so, what size filter is it, and how many gallons per hour is it rated for? How often are you doing water changes?  How much are you feeding them and are you removing any uneaten food from the water?  What temperature are you keeping the water at?  These are the questions that first come to my mind to try to answer before looking at other possible causes for the sudden change in shell color.>
<It would also be helpful to know what type of heat and lighting you’re providing them for basking – and if/how long they’re out of the water basking for each day. Depending on your answers, these could also be playing a role.>
Please advise.
Thanks & regards,
<You’re welcome, Dennis.  While we’re waiting to learn more, I’m going to give you a link to our basic care guide. Compare what you’re providing them to what’s recommended in this guide and make whatever changes might be necessary. Regardless of the reason(s) for the sudden change in shell color, either way it’s important to be providing them with all the things recommended in this guide.>
Dennis
<Oops! Sorry, Dennis, I forgot to include the link I referenced in my reply below. Here is is--
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
Re: Baby RES Turning Brown     9/7/12

Hi Sue,
<Hi Dennis>
Thank you for your reply.
<You’re welcome!>
I thought of taking a picture of the affected terrapin but when I looked at it today, its carapace was a darker green and the brownish colouration was not obvious. There is perhaps still a hint of it. The terrapin looks much more like the other one now but with a slightly lighter green carapace. That made me feel better.
<It sounds like what happened here is your turtle may have shedded his shell. As the older layer starts to lift up from the newer shell below it often takes on a translucent caramel color appearance. Did you happen to notice any scutes coming off?>
The tank is around 2' x 1' x 1' in size. It is a bit small but they seem comfortable in it. I intend to get a bigger tank. I did not get them because they were cute; One day, my daughter brought them home without any warning and it was a mad scramble to read up on RES and buy what I thought at the time was suitable gear. As such, the current setup can be expected to be less than optimal.
<What a nice dad! It’s amazing what we do for our kids’ happiness, isn’t it? Actually your story is exactly what happened to me a few years ago also. Just be careful; it’s a slippery slope. After that first one we got 6 more – all rescues, and now here I sit a few years later volunteering at WWM in the *turtle query* department; LOL!>
My filter is a small submersible mechanical and I have no idea what its rating is because I do not remember seeing it on the box, which I have thrown away. I bought it because the pet shop where I bought my gear from uses that particular model and they have a terrapin community in their tank, so I figured it should be OK. It keeps the water clear and seemingly clean as the water smells normal for an aquarium.
<Sounds like it’s doing the job OK, at least for now. Depending on the filter you got and other circumstances, you may find that you’ll need (or want!) to upgrade it later on down the road when they grow larger. No matter how good the filter is though, it will unfortunately never replace the need for water changes!>
I remove any obvious poo daily and clean out the tank completely once a week. I am feeding them pellets and vegetables alternately without overfeeding. (They have not gotten used to me enough to beg anyway.) I feed them pellets in a separate feeding bowl and remove leftover vegetables from the tank after a day.
<All very good; you’re being a good turtle dad!>
Once a week, I might let them hunt ghost/glass shrimp in their tank as a treat and to give them some real exercise. They are thorough with the shrimp and will leave only a few bits of shell and legs, so it does not mess up the water much.
<I’d substitute earthworms for the ghost shrimp – in a separate bin though. The earthworms will also give them exercise, are also a treat for them, and will also offer them a lot more in the way of nutrition than the ghost shrimp. Ghost shrimp may (repeat may) be slightly safer (as far as transmitting diseases) than feeder fish, but early on I decided to stop feeding these as well. The only thing I throw in there now on occasion to give them some fun and exercise are small cut off chunks of turtle bone. They love chasing the little chunks around and taking bites out of them!>
The water temperature is 28-31°C - I know, warmer than recommended,
<No, MUCH warmer than recommended!  Way too warm! It should only be in the 20-21 degree C (68-70 degree F) range! Because of the way they rely on external temperatures to properly regulate their bodies’ functions, turtles need to be given a clear choice between cool water and warm dry land.>
but I live in an equatorial climate and I am working on the setup to bring the water temperature down –
<Can you get access to an air conditioner to put in their immediate vicinity to help bring/keep the temperature down?>
and I have not measured the basking area but according to the lamp manufacturer's temperature chart, it should be around 30°C. 
<31-32 degrees C or 88-90 degrees F is better.>
I could make it warmer but the lamp heats up the water as well and I have to settle the water temperature issue first.
<Is there any way you can angle the light away from the water so it just hits one corner of the tank above the basking spot – which can help shield the water from the heat?>
They are in and out of the water frequently and do not bask for very long.
<They may be trying to find a place to cool off!>
There is also a UV lamp set at the manufacturer's recommended distance from the basking area.
<Just make sure it’s UVB specific; turtles specifically need a UVB light.>
As before, looking forward to any advice.
<Minus any photos (they’re often not clear enough to see anyway!), I’m just guessing here that what you may have witnessed with your one turtle is his shell shedding as a result of the warmer water. Warmer water increases their metabolism and may have caused him to have a growth spurt. This one time occurrence may be OK, and normal shedding does happen as part of the natural growth process. However, if what brought the shedding on was the result of the water temperature being too warm, unless that’s corrected it can eventually cause him/them to grow too quickly which can further lead to excessive shell shedding, shell fungus, and other health issues. So it’s important that you try to cool the water down for his shell health and also because it motivates them to get out (and stay out!) of the water to bask. They should be out of the water for several hours a day completely drying themselves off and basking under the heat and UVB lamps.  Besides keeping their shells (which are essentially their bones) healthy, basking under the lights also helps them to properly digest and metabolize the vitamins from their food.>
<Thanks & regards,
<You’re welcome Dennis. It sounds like you've done a great job with everything so far except for the water temperature! If you continue to have trouble getting it to where it needs to be, or see that they’re not basking enough each day, or notice any other changes in their shells or behavior, I suggest you dry dock them for a while until you can figure things out with their set up.  Instructions for how to do this are here in this link under the section called “Immediate treatment – isolation and dry dock”:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >
Dennis
Re: Baby RES Turning Brown    9/13/12

Hi Sue,
Thank you again for your reply.
<You’re welcome!>
How weird! Obviously you received my replies but I did not get a copy when I sent them.
<Sorry, can’t help you there; I’m unfortunately technology challenged!>
I can take clear pictures but I did not because, when I examine the terrapin under bright indoor fluorescent lighting, I cannot see any brownish colouration. Perhaps it is just a trick of the yellow light of the basking lamp when it is in the tank? It is impossible to take pictures of it in the tank because it is always hiding from me. I did not see any scutes coming off but at one time, the lines between its scutes were thick and now they are back to their "normal" thinness. (Now it is the other one's turn to have thick lines.)
<Without having the benefit to see/examine them, it sounds to me like what's going on with your turtles is just their normal growth process. I say this because you mentioned the carapace of your first one turned brown but is now a lighter green. That’s typically what you see after a normal shed. And with normal shedding, the layers of shell peeling off are so thin that you often don’t even notice them. It’s only when the shedding is obvious and the layers are thicker that we start to suspect the shedding is due to an illness or some environmental issue. >
I would love to get more terrapins, perhaps a Cooter, which I have read is easy-going, and a painted with a nice red stripe along its backbone. Unfortunately, I realise I have neither the space nor the budget, after seeing how much the current pair have cost and are going to cost in future.
<Well, most of the expenses for turtles are the upfront costs – and there are even creative ways around those costs with the exception of possibly the filter. But even with filters I’ve seen people build their own!>
I found out that the filter has a rating of 400L/h, which is more than adequate as the tank has only 20+L of water. However, I do not like seeing a collection of vegetable bits stuck to it (as it is a submersible) and continuing to rot in the water, so I will replace it with a better one soon.
<Unfortunately even with the expensive filters, bits of debris still tend to collect at the input – which has always been one of my “pet” peeves! (Bad pun I know.)  The only way to really remove the larger pieces of debris is by either suctioning them or netting them out.>
I have not seen any earthworms being sold around here. 
<Try to see if there is a tackle shop near you that sells fishing supplies, or a sporting goods store with a fishing department. Either will often sell earthworms.>
I tried feeding the terrapins crickets (the ones from the shop are MUCH bigger than those around my house!); one ate a couple but the other was not interested. Mealworms are large in comparison to my terrapins, so I did not feel like trying to feed them those. I think bloodworms should be OK.
<Actually we don’t recommend either here. Bloodworms are known to carry diseases and the crickets don’t offer any value-added for turtles. We recommend earthworms because they provide the most in the way of nutrition for their occasional snack and are generally safer than other worms as well as bugs and feeder fish.  The extras left over are also great for a garden if you have one.  If you are able to find earthworms in a fishing supply department or store, just try to make sure they weren’t exposed to any pesticides.>
Their basking rock has been replaced by a floating platform and I have doubled the water height; that gives them almost all the water volume to swim around in. Unfortunately, after installing the floating platform and repositioning the filter, I found that my own access to the water was severely restricted. I was surprised, then found that the tank was actually 17" x 12" x 14", not a 2-footer as I had mentioned earlier! Now I feel guilty for confining them in a small space. Well, I am going to get them a 3-footer, which should be good until they are more than 7" long, a good many years later.
<That should be fine and I’m sure they’ll appreciate it the extra swim room!>
The floating platform is large and blocks the heat from the basking light from reaching the water. That, combined with the greater water volume, reduced the water temperature by 2°C. Not much, but even in an air-conditioned environment here, the ambient air temperature might be 23/24°C. Running an air-con all day for the sake of a pair of terrapins is not an option; my wife would slaughter me and then, there would be no one to take care of the poor terrapins.
<Hopefully they’ll grow on her over time!>
A large fan at the water surface might bring the temperature down significantly.
<Sure, I would try this to see if it brings the temperature within range.>
I could get a chiller, but would run it at 24/25°C, which is what most people here have their fish tanks at. I balk at the cost of the chiller, which is more than that of any other single piece of gear I have bought or will buy in the near future, and the cost of the electricity it would consume. I understand everything you recommended but the cost of keeping the terrapins in an optimal environment makes me want to fall down.
<Well, rest assured, there are actually a lot of creative things you can do to significantly cut down the cost! I’d hold off on a chiller for now until you see if having a larger enclosure coupled with your fan brings the water temperature in the cooler range I mentioned in my last reply.  If not, write back and I’ll run this by the rest of the crew to see if anyone has any other ideas.  You may also want to search online to see if you can find anyone who has ever built a DIY aquarium chiller.  I recall a while back seeing someone on the web jury-rig a regular cooler to serve as a chiller for his aquarium! >
Thanks & regards,
<You’re welcome, Dennis. Feel free to write us again if you need any more help or advice getting everything up and running.>
Dennis

My Yellow Bellied Slider babies are not Basking!     3/13/12
Hi..
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I recently purchased two yellow bellied baby sliders -Bella and Boo- 2 weeks ago.
<Great!>
I'm not too sure about their gender. I tried to compare the claws and looking at the flatness of their bellies but found it all difficult. They look too much alike! However since Bella's shell was slight bigger than Boo's, I just made out that she was the female.
<They don't start showing their sexual characteristics until they get bigger, so any comparison NOW isn't likely to be valid.  HOWEVER … they don't seem to care, either.   I have a very large Female Slider named 'Mike' and she seems to be just fine with that>
They both seem quite happy and healthy in a 10 gallon tank (don't shoot me! I'm saving for a bigger one) and a good filter.
<That's a fine size to start them out>
The water temperature is always at 20 degrees Celsius.
<That's 68 Degrees (f) for those of us here in the Land of Gallons>
UVB light is inserted. I have put some dry logs with an easy access for them to do some basking. However until now, I have never seen them basking!! Maybe the light is too far?!
<Well, they need a heat lamp to generate the higher heat and you didn't say if the UvB lamp is fluorescent, which would generate no heat, or incandescent … which would.>
<There are two things to think about.  One - and this is not at all uncommon - small turtles are often very nervous and will NOT bask … or will jump in the water at the very first sign of people … or even vibration:  It could be that they 'feel' you coming and jump in the water before you get a visual sighting.>
<The second thing … sometimes something in their enclosure just isn't "right" to them: like perhaps a vibration from a filter, a buzzing from a lamp.  I once consulted with someone who had their tank on top of the television (telly to those of you in the Olde Worlde) and when it was turned on, the vibrations from the speakers made them nervous.>
<My first suggestion is that you change a few things around, maybe just one at a time - and see what effect, if any, it has on their behavior>
And another thing.
<Thing Two>
I have checked their bellies this week and it seems to discolour quiet a bit. I remember when I got them their bellies were nice flat and yellow. Now it seems bloated as well?!
<Bloated is not the same as discolored.   Please write back with more detail - but in the mean time DON'T worry too much about it.  A bit of color change is very normal  ... what we don't want is for them to get bloated and fat from eating too much>
I was planning to take them to the vets but I stumbled upon your website and I thought I would as your help first.
<Yes, save that money for something else>
Please, I'm looking forward for your guidance...
Sarah
UK
<I hope I helped.  No write back in much more detail on their bellies.>
<Darrel - California>

RES refusing to eat and not growing.   1/8/12
Guys-
<Well actually, girl.  Hope that will suffice!  Sue here with you.>
So I am in a predicament. I purchased 2 RES for my wife for our anniversary back in September. (In hindsight, I realized that adoption was an option here in PHX but was ignorant to this at the time).
<Nice of you to consider that at least; sounds like youve learned about the unfortunate turtle plight!>
She has been a lifelong turtle lover but had never before had her own as a pet.
<So far its sounding just like my story!  My father refused to buy me one when I was little and in hindsight just as well given what happened to all of them back then!>
She was very happy with the gift and we love the little guys dearly. Beings that we were both illiterate to turtle care going in, we had much to learn.
<Yes, though always preferable to do this kind of research BEFORE you buy a new pet, as you soon discovered!>
Although, as a somewhat smart individual, I figured I would be able to figure it out and give them a good life.  At first it was just the one, Kiwi. Kiwi seemed to be very timid at first and still is to this day. However, from the beginning, he would eat when we fed him albeit reluctantly sometimes. We then soon decided to add another to the tank. Again, being ignorant to the situation we assumed that he would be better off with a tank mate.
<And especially before buying your new pet a friend as well!>
Someone to play with someone to be social with. I now know that RES dont really need to have another buddy around.  So we then added Seymour to the tank. We had bought an initial setup from the local Petco that included a 20 gallon tank (MUCH TOO SMALL we soon realized) as well as a pathetic little filter and some other junk.  After just a few days we quickly
realized that everything in the kit was not only junk, but wasnt anywhere remotely adequate for the needs of 2 turtles (Like they show happily on the box!).
<Yes, kits of any sort are unfortunately often just another marketing gimmick companies use to bundle up all their *junk* so that they can sell even MORE of it at a cheaper price! >
Seymour was/is much more social than Kiwi. Although he spooks like any turtle does, he will eat out of our hands and even sometimes stays in his basking spot while we are right there staring at him.
<In time, Kiwi will probably do the same!  But theyll always have a tendency to be on the nervous side because of their natural instincts.  In the wild, they are the PREY!>
We ended up upgrading almost immediately to a bigger tank, better filter, etc. After about a month, we realized this was not going to work, either.  After doing some research on the best habitats we can give them, we happened upon a few people who were using a spare bathtub to house their turtles. Since we have a spare bathroom that we never use, this idea was intriguing. The thought of just pulling the plug and refilling the tub was much better than having to do endless water changes and endless upkeep.
<Yeah, unfortunately turtles are such poop factories that theres really no such thing as ever cycling a turtle aquarium the way you do for fish!  A filter/media is of some help though with odor, water clarity, and general circulation so the water doesnt become stagnant.>
We decided to do it. We made a trip to Home Depot for supplies,
<Yeap, been there more times than I care to count! >
then to our local pet store for some more.
<Ditto for this too!>
After 4-5 hours, they were set up with a complete habitat including an above water basking area, 2 hanging lamps, a full jungle look complete with river rocks, plants and a covered hiding spot at one end of the tub. The rocky path leading up to the basking area also has a trail leading down one side of the Roman tub to an above ground area where they can roam around to stretch their legs. In a nutshell, we have really went out of our way to give these kids (theyre gonna be with us for 20+ years)
<Or longer!  They can live for 40 years or more.  You may need to make arrangements for them in your wills!>
a great life and a natural looking habitat to grow in.
<Yes, you sure have!  Wow, youve accomplished a lot in a short period of time!  Those are lucky turts!  Sounds like a place even ID want to live in.  Send us some pics, would love to see it!>
<Since you like the idea of a more inviting and natural habitat, another possibility to consider in the future should you ever wish to reclaim your bathroom (or have them within easier viewing range without having to go to the bathroom!) is an indoor pond.  Theyre not terribly expensive, especially when comparing them to a glass aquarium of equal size.  Lowes carries a line of different size and shape preformed ponds made by MacCourt (available through special order).  I have a simple rectangular shaped one I use indoors thats 60 x 36 x 12 deep, and has worked out well.  Mine is set up to drain through a filter to a sink using an auxiliary filter output hose, so nearly as easy to drain as a bathtub!>
<And if you tack on a quiet waterfall and park bench to the set-up, you can have your daily moment of Zen (i.e. enlightenment; not the Jon Stewart translation!)>
Now we get to the problem... Soon after they moved in to their new digs, Seymour (the more social of the two) began nipping at Kiwi.
<Oops, trouble in paradise.  Looks like the honeymoon is over!>
He started with biting at his feet, which over time, then progressed into biting at his head. Kiwi got to the point where he seemed like he was in constant anxiety for fear of being bitten.
<I dont blame him; I would be too! >
We tried to separate them when the biting would happen, but it was to no avail. It wasnt feasible to keep them apart as we were told to do. Luckily, it was only a phase and after a few weeks they went back to getting along again. 
<Its fairly common for turtles to initially be nippy toward one another when theyre marking their territories, and also common that one turtle emerges as the dominant one.  The nippiness is also something that may come and go periodically.  For the most part, turtles of the same species are compatible, but they can all have their days just like people!>
Kiwi started to slowly get back to sleeping with his legs out of his shell again! The problem I am having is this- basically, ever since this behavior started, Kiwi refuses to eat. 
<This is probably due to a combination of factors, not just Seymour.  As you mentioned in the beginning of your note, Kiwi had a very timid personality right from the start and was sometimes a reluctant eater even then.  So hes timid by nature and as a result, will likely react more dramatically than Seymour to ANY change (you; a new *roommate*; getting bitten and intimidated by his new roommate!; and/or suddenly be placed into a completely new environment).>
When they were purchased in September they were both nearly identical in size. Both were about the circumference of a softball.
<The best way to describe the size of turtles is by holding a straight ruler above them and measuring the length of their carapace (top shell). >
I do not know the age of these guys as I have been told it is nearly impossible to tell without physically knowing their actual birth date.
<Yes this is true.  All you can do is make a general estimate based on their carapace length. From your basic description they sound like young adults.>
I do know they are both males. I know this from their features (tails, claws) and from their habits (fluttering of their hands at each other). I also know that Seymour has shown dominance and has taken over the tank based on his actions. Again, they live peacefully together now, however, it is clear based on their past actions toward each other and the present fact that Seymour eats all the food that he is the dominant one.
<Likely true.>
Now, 3 months later, Seymour has grown to be noticeably bigger.
<Again, not uncommon.  Whats more important, though, is whether Kiwi IS in fact eating, growing, and thriving; not so much whether or not theyre the exact same size.  Even if NEITHER was dominant, turtles just like people have individual rates of growth (even if theyre the same sex).>
When feeding them, Seymour starts devouring all of the food and Kiwi just lays back and will not even eat anymore. The food can be right under his nose and he wont touch it.  I have tried to take him out and feed him separately in another tank but he still will not eat.  I dont know if it is the anxiety of taking him out and putting him somewhere else or what.  I even have tried to take Seymour out to run around outside and leave Kiwi in the tank by himself with food. My thought process was that maybe he would eat if he was in a more comfortable setting without The Terminator hanging around.  Still, he wont eat.
<As above, its likely too many changes happening to him at once given his naturally timid nature.  Turtles (especially Kiwi) are creatures of habit.  He should do better if you give him a predictable routine that he can consistently count on every day no matter WHAT that routine is. You may just need to give your ideas more time to work with him than only a few days.>
<Though having said that the routine itself doesn't matter as long as there IS a routine, it does seem clear that Seymour IS playing a significant role in Kiwis level of stress.  >
<So Id eliminate anything that could trigger Seymour to become aggressive.  And two of the most common things that create aggression in turtles (besides competing for a mate!) is competing for food and competing for prime basking *real estate*!  So if it was me, Id make it a habit to feed them separately and eliminate at least one of the two things!>
I know he is eating a little at least, because he isnt dying, obviously, and he doesnt seem to be sick or anything. His shell is nice and hard, no discoloration, he is still active, still basking, etc.
<Again, thats whats most important.>
The tub they are in is plenty big for both of them. We are feeding them every other day and sometimes every day...basically 4 days a week.
<Well, besides feeling stressed, feeding too much or too often can also affect a turtles appetite.  I would definitely NOT feed them every day only every other day at MOST.  Even just 3 times a week is all they need.  Over-feeding is the most common mistake people make and it can lead to a variety of health issues.  Better to err on the side of hungrier.>
Each feeding we give them enough food to eat and we clean out what they dont eat at the end of the day.
<Another thing to change!  Besides feeding them separately, feed each of them ONLY what they can eat in 5-10 minutes NO longer AND remove the uneaten food right away.  Dont leave it in there until the end of the day for a number of reasons.  Besides encouraging over-eating, it also doesnt allow you to monitor their appetite and whos eating what or how much.  It also encourages aggression by leaving it in there for both of them to potentially fight over.  And after a few minutes, it also starts to decompose in the water which makes it harder to maintain good water quality.  Even the best filters can only do so much!>
They both basically refuse to eat pellets unless they are starving in which case they never are allowed to get to that point.
<You nailed a key problem here youre not allowing them to get hungry enough to want to eat the pellets, which should be the main staple of their diet!>
We feed them crickets occasionally, but their diet is mostly shrimp.
<NO!  Better to feed them NOTHING than to feed them these!!  Neither has any nutritional value.  Besides over-feeding them, letting them get filled up on junk food makes it even less likely that theyll eat the healthy food!  If they continue to eat this way, they will develop vitamin deficiencies check out another query that I replied to earlier today that should get posted in the next day or so on the *Todays FAQs* link.  It was about this very thing.>
We have tried to incorporate Greens and some fruits, but they both will not eat them.  I know they are young and need greens but they wont eat them. Can you recommend anything to try that they may take to?
<Trust me, though they may balk for a while because youve spoiled them, theyll eventually *take to* ANYTHING eventually when you allow them to get hungry enough!  If they refuse to eat the pellets, remove them and wait a couple of days, then offer again.  Healthy turtles can go days and longer without any food at all.  When they get hungry enough, theyll come around!>
<As I wrote in the other query, their diet should be simple but complete.  The more things you offer  them, the more likely theyll get hooked on one thing that shouldnt be their staple.  A Koi or good quality pellet (like ReptoMin, which most turtles love) should be their staple.  Then just give them an earthworm or two every few weeks (which they love AND are nutritious).  These two things will give them a balanced enough diet, but if you want you can also continue to offer them some dark leafy greens on their *off* days from the pellets so they get used to seeing them.  Theyll become more and more interested in them as they get older.  No iceberg lettuce though it has no nutritional value.>
We keep their habitat very clean and we drain the tub and refill it about once a week.  Each time we add the proper amount of water conditioner
<No need for this, tap water is fine.  It wont harm your turtles, and in fact its better for your water quality if your water does have a little bit of chlorine in it.  And its one less expense you have to worry about!>
and we clean out one level of filter media. The filter we are using is a Fluval 205. It does a pretty good job of keeping their tub clean and with the weekly change of water, frankly, they live in a very clean habitat.
<I use Fluvals myself and have had very good luck with them.  I do as you do, however, and change the media every week or two instead of their monthly recommendation which is geared toward fish (who are MUCH less messy than turtles!)
I dont know what to do. Do you guys have any suggestions??
<Besides the suggestions Ive already made above, if you see any more aggression or notice that Kiwi isnt basking, you may also want to consider adding a 2nd spot for basking.  You might also want to set up your tub with plants or other décor that are strategically arranged in such a way that they allow each of them to have their own *space* to go to where theyre visibly out of range of the other.>
Again, they both seem otherwise healthy, but Kiwi is not growing like he is supposed to be. I am concerned that Seymour is going to eventually get much bigger than him and we will then have other problems to contend with.
<Yes, thats astute of you.  The bigger Seymour gets, the more he may throw his weight around (literally!) with Kiwi.>
<I had a similar problem once when I rescued *twin* baby turtles.  One literally climbed on top of the other to take the food away from him.  When I saw it getting to the point where the less dominant one wasnt really growing and was becoming visibly smaller in size, and that the big one was growing too fast because he was stealing all the food, I immediately started to feed them separately AND put them on different feeding schedules.  I fed the smaller one every other day, and the larger one 3 times a week.  I gave the smaller one 10 minutes to eat; the larger one 5 minutes. >
<Its important to note that BOTH these schedules can be OK but you also need to use your judgment, watch their individual growth rates, and make adjustments accordingly.  In my case the smaller one eventually did start to catch up in size WITHOUT growing too rapidly or becoming fat.  And the larger ones growth rate slowed down but did NOT become underweight.>
<They are now very close in size, and neither one is overly dominant of the other and even when one does occasionally try to act a bit dominant over the other, the other one holds his ground!>
I am sure you guys have encountered this before, any help would be great. Thanks for your
time and keep up the great website!!
<Youre welcome, Brian.  Hope this was helpful, and let us know how everything turns out!  Send us a pic if you can of your set-up too; it sounds interesting! >
<Also, since youre relatively new to the *world of turtles*, here is a link to our basic care article read it all and see if there's anything else you need to correct
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<One thing in particular that I didnt see in your description of their set-up was a UVB light, but assume youre providing that based on everything else youve done so far!  Another important thing with their basking spot is to make sure the temperature is high enough (in the 88-90 degree range). >
Brian

Baby Red Ear Slider not basking   10/13/11
Hi,
<Hi Emily, Sue here with you.>
I bought a baby Red Ear Slider three months ago. It was about the size of a silver dollar during that time. I brought it home and it was basking just a little but stayed in the water most of the time.
<Thats normal when theyre new.>
I have him in a 10 gallon tank but I know he needs a bigger tank from what I have read. I plan on getting that as soon as I can.
He continues to stay in the water still this day. Except he never leaves it!
<Well, normally Id say its because hes new and still adjusting, but given its been 3 months my guess is its something with his environment.>
He eats perfectly fine. When he swims he swims along the edges of the tank most of the time. I tried to redo the basking area thinking that maybe he was having difficulty getting on to the basking rock. I made a little stairway of rocks for him to climb up onto the big basking rock. He will climb up and over the rock and then straight back into the water.
Also, he hides a lot. There are other times he is out in the open just fine. Maybe because he is a baby?
<Yes, babies do tend to stay hidden more, but to some degree hiding is a part of any turtles natural instinct because in nature they are the prey, not the predator! Once he gets more used to you and his surroundings though, this should get better.>
He is about 2 to 2.5 inches now I believe.
I also tried adjusting the water temperature and the outside temperature of the tank. I have the water temperature close to 80. The outside tank temperature is 90. Maybe I don't have the temperatures perfectly set?
<This would actually be the first thing I would try to change in his environment to see if it makes a difference. If 90 is the temperature above the basking area, thats fine, but his water is on the warm side. What prompts turtles to get out of the water to bask is to warm up. With the water at 80, he has no reason to want to get out of the water! Take out your water heater if you have one (yes, contrary to what all those other websites say!) and keep the water on the cooler side, around 68-70 degrees F. Give this a try first and see if it nudges him out. If not, you could next try to throw in a frozen water bottle to give him a little bigger nudge!>
I set him in a separate bin with just a little bit of water in a dish and shade in case he gets hot. I set up the basking light so that he had no choice but to bask. Is this bad? I hate to force him. But he needs it for health purposes.
<No, in fact we recommend something similar to this to people when their turtles appear sick as it gives their immune systems a little boost! If you need to do this again though because he's not basking for several days, instead of the bowl of water just fill up your bin with water once a day (or if you notice his skin is getting too dried out); place him in it for a half hour or so to allow him to eat, drink and poop; then dump out the water.>
I am really worried.
<Well, dont go there just yet. From your description, it seems to be an environmental issue rather than a health issue. Having said that, though, its good you recognized his need to bask and put him under the lights because 3 months without basking is too long. Turtles should be basking for several hours every day.>
<One thing I didnt see you mention though, is whether youre also providing him with a UVB light. If the package the bulb came in said just Basking light, then its most likely not a UVB light. And UVB IS something he must have to stay healthy. So make sure hes also basking under a UVB light in addition to your heat light.>
I have looked everywhere but couldn't seem to find the exact answer. He is young so I thought maybe it is just a baby thing.
<No, not a baby thing but at least from your note, it also doesnt sound like a health thing either!>
From the other posts I read either the turtle was older or it had eating issues along with not basking. I just want him to be healthy!
Thanks.
<Youre welcome, Emily! Try lowering your water temperature first and see if that helps. That usually does the trick. If hes still not buying into it after a few days, write us back. In the meantime, also read over our basic care guide below to see if there is anything else you need to change with his care and/or environment: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
Emily K

Baby RES Growth Problem!   9/24/11
Hi-
<Hi Kari, Sue here with you.>
I bought two baby RES back in early June 2011.
<Welcome to the club!!>
When they arrived they were slightly larger than a quarter. They have been living in a 20 gallon tank with basking platform, mercury vapor bulb, heater, and filter.
<Nice size aquarium to start; youll eventually need a larger set-up for them as they grow. You dont need a water heater. The water should be kept on the cool side between 68-70 degrees F. This is what encourages them to get out and bask under the warm light. Everything else sounds good: You have a filter, basking platform, and the mercury vapor bulb should contain UVB, a critical part of the light spectrum they need. Here is a good basic care link that talks more about all of this. Its very helpful for people just starting out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
I do partial water changes every week and a full water change about once a month. They are very active and have great personalities.
<Sounds good!>
However, I am a little concerned with their growth rate. I cannot find any info on how fast they should be growing. I was told, by the company I bought them from, to feed them protein pellets twice a day and try to incorporate veggies every now and then. They are now approximately 2.5 inches (measuring from the top of the carapace near the neck to the bottom of the carapace at the tail). This seems to be an astonishing grow rate. I cut back on the amount of protein because I was afraid they would start showing signs of pyramiding.
<Well 1st, turtles do tend to grow at a faster rate when they are little. Their growth rate does slow down once they get to be the size yours are now.>
<Having said that, the recommendation you were given to feed them twice a day was too much and likely did accelerate their growth rate somewhat. But the important thing is that you recognized that and cut back. They should be fine now that you are feeding them the pellets less frequently.>
They now get feed protein
<I would switch from a *protein pellet* to a pellet that contains less percentage of protein appropriate for the size theyre at now. ReptoMin pellets are good. Id also recommend Koi pellets as their staple pellet, as theyre also vegetarian based and also less expensive!>
3 days a week in the morning only (approximately the size of a very small pea at each feeding)
<We recommend feeding them as many pellets as they can eat in 5 minutes or so.>
and then get veggies twice a week (usually carrots or romaine lettuce). I alternate as much as possible on feeding protein and veggies.
<Red leaf lettuce is also good and they seem to like that. Aside from giving them some more natural sources of vitamins, these types of greens are also a good fiber source and can help to curb their appetite if they are incessantly begging for food on the *off* days from the pellets. It makes you feel less guilty by giving them something, and you dont have the worry about over-feeding them greens as you would with the pellets!>
<Another thing that I've done on the off days if they seem hungry is to break off a couple of small pieces of turtle bone, which is essentially just cuttlebone. My turtles love the game of chasing the pieces around the tank and taking bites off them!>
This is my first time raising turtles.
<Youre doing great so far Kari! It sounds like youve done your research on their care needs!>
They don't show signs of development problems yet but I am afraid they are growing too fast.
<As above, their growth rate should significantly slow down now that theyve had that initial growth spurt as babies, and also because youve now changed their feeding schedule. So I wouldnt worry.>
Please let me know if I am doing something wrong.
<Kari, I think youve done a great job up to this point! Your set-up is good, and youve now got them on a better feeding schedule as far as the pellets. The only thing Id do is remove the water heater. As above, their water should be kept on the cooler side, and their basking temperature should be around 88-92 degrees F so they properly metabolize all the healthy foods youre feeding them!>
I love these little guys and dont want them to develop any issues. Please Help!
<Hope this information was helpful and helped to reassure you as well. After you read the care article above, feel free to write us back again if any more questions come up. Were happy to help you anyway we can get your turtles off to the right start! ~Sue>
Kari

Baby RES Turtles, shell colour concern  7/20/11
Hi WWM Crew,
<Hi, Norma, Sue here with you.>
I have 2 RES turtles I purchased for my kids from someone on the beach about 4 months ago without knowing just how much of a pain in the butt it would be to set up the proper semi-aquatic habitat for them, money wise that is.
<Well, good for you that you at least committed to getting them what they needed after you found out!>
So I've searched the web and slowly purchased almost everything I need for them to be in a healthy and happy home, including a heat/uvb lamp and basking area. Do you think I should get a red light for at night?
<No light needed at all at night; the dark is just fine! A night time heat lamp (red, black or any other color for that matter) may be helpful for other types of reptiles, but its not necessary for aquatic turtles. The heat lamp is intended for their daytime, placed directly above their basking spot so that it heats them up while theyre out of the water basking (basking temperature should be in the 88-90 degree range). >
I have noticed their shells are changing colors and I think they are shedding their shells because I do notice they have gotten bigger over the last few months. My problem is that I just can't tell if thats what it is. They eat lettuce occasionally, but mostly they like Zoo Med Aquatic Turtle food (micro sized pellets) which I've been feeding them 2-3 times a day because they are babies.
<Nope; the shell shedding has nothing to do with not giving them a night time heat light. The 2-3 times a day feedings is the reason theyre shedding; the shedding is just an outgrowth of them growing sorry, couldnt resist that bad pun!>
<Turtles do grow fastest when theyre little like that, but you do want to prevent excessively fast growth as that can lead to shell deformities and other health problems. Contrary to what you might read on other websites about how often to feed baby turtles, unless theyre literally brand new hatchlings, you should only be feeding them one time, only every other day, and no more than they can eat in 5-10 minutes, especially when the protein content is a higher percentage as it is with the Zoo Med micro pellets. Over-feeding is one of the most common mistakes people make with turtles. I'd also switch them to the growth formula. Just soften the pellets in water first to make it easier for them to nibble at it. Alternatively you can give them ReptoMin sticks which most turtles seem to love, or Koi pellets (KayTee brand even makes a mini Koi pellet).>
<Another thing that can contribute to a faster growth rate is when their water is kept too warm. Again, contrary to what you may read on most other websites, even when theyre small, their water temperature should still be kept in the cooler range, around 70 degrees F.>
I had them in a 20 gal. tank until about 3wks ago when I moved to N.Y. from Cali. where I accidently left the tank. So I set them up in a plastic drawer about 5 or so gallons deep with a filter, rocks, a fake log for basking and a 75watt uvb light. They bask ALL the time and always eat.
<I can tell youve done your research and everything sounds great except the always eating part! Though the fact that they have a good appetite IS great, and a sign that theyre healthy!>
I have enclosed some pictures of them. I also haven't seen any shell pieces falling off, just a lot of discoloration.
<By discoloration, do you mean the new growth that is coming in is a lighter green? If so, thats a perfectly normal color. Also, while theyre still in the shedding process, you may notice that their shells temporarily appear a bit duller in color until theyre all done shedding, and the new shell underneath is completely exposed. As long as the newer shell thats coming in looks fine, then this is all normal.>
I'm so confused, I know they can live more than 30 yrs and I really like that idea and we love the lil buggers
<They are pretty irresistible, arent they?!>
so any help and/or advice would make my day!
<The main items are a good diet, dont overfeed, cool clean water and warm, dry basking spot with UVB; most of which you already have covered!>
<If theres one additional pointer I could offer you, it would be re: the water quality. You mentioned you have a filter which is great. Just dont let that lull you into a false sense of security. Youll still need to do frequent water changes even with a good quality filter, especially as they start to grow bigger. Also try to net up any debris you see right away; dont allow it to collect between water changes. Here is a link below to a good article on our website about general care. It sounds like youve got most of the basics covered, but look this over to see if there is anything else you might need to tweak:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
Thank you ~Norma
<Youre welcome, Norma! Good luck with them. Let me know if theres something I missed in the photos regarding your concern over the discoloration.>

Re: re: Baby RES Turtles  7/23/11
Thank you Sue for the quick response.
<Youre welcome, Norma.>
The link to the article you suggested was really awesome and helped put my mind at ease as far as their habitat I have set up for them.
<Yes, it can be pretty overwhelming when you start out, especially with all the information thats out there, and when so much of it is contradictory!>
After reading the article, (I really wish I found WWM when I first got my turtles) I decided their water needed changing. I usually set the new water up a little on the cool side of warm (if that makes any sense). I don't have a thermometer so I use my wrist to check the temp. Also their basking area is a log they can go under to get in the shade.
<If the log is hollow, keep an eye on this and any other decor that they could potentially become trapped in or under, especially as they start to grow. Turtles can actually drown if they land up getting trapped under water!>
I think I will get a thermo. to be sure it's not too warm anyways.
<Its really not a bad idea. Most sell for under $10. I actually use 2 one in the water and one under the heat and UVB lamps. >
<In particular, with smaller enclosures like the one you have, temperatures, especially water temperatures, can often fluctuate several degrees during the day even if the air temperature in your room is kept in the 68-70 degree range. Heat lamps heat up not only the land inside the enclosure, but can also heat up the water several degrees throughout the day. Even filters can make water temperatures rise a couple of degrees. The less water (and the less deep the water) is in your set-up, the more it will be susceptible to temperature fluctuations. The temperature above the basking area will also continue to rise throughout the day, though its usually more stable and predictable than the water temperature.>
So as I changed the water I let the turtles just dry off for a while in the sun and I saw one of their shell parts (forgetting the name) peeling up a little! So I'm definitely sure it's shedding that I see now.
<Yes, and I realized I never mentioned this in my first email. The more normal the shedding is, the less noticeable the peeling layers will be. They should be paper thin. And you often don't notice it as much until you take them out of the water. From what youve described, though in this and your other email, it's more than likely the shedding with your turtles is just normal shedding. And youll always notice their shells dulling in color while its happening. >
<Having said that, theres also a fine line between fast but normal growth and normal shedding; and growing too fast and excessive shedding. And usually shedding does start out normal before it becomes abnormal. Thats why I wanted to alert you about cutting back on the feedings and keeping the water clean and on the cooler side before it does become abnormal!>
Yes, their shells were getting lighter spots all over and their designs are harder to see because of dulling.
<As above, this is normal.>
How long will it take to shed completely I wonder now?
<Usually several weeks, but certain factors can influence it like a turtles age, their individual growth rate, environmental conditions, etc.>
As far as the feeding, omg thank you! I didn't even realize I was doing something wrong. I'm so happy I found out I was over feeding them and now I know what else is good for them to eat.
<Its a very common mistake people make so dont worry. And the important thing is you found out before any ill effects.>
We want happy and healthy turtles :-)
<It sounds like you do so far!>
Your web site is the bomb! It has sooooo much good information. Thank you Sue and WWM for helping! Have a great day! Turtle love!!
<Thanks, Norma! It makes us happy when we know weve helped. Dont hesitate to write again if you have any more questions or concerns. We want you to have happy and healthy turtles, too! - Sue>
~Norma

Re: re: Baby RES Turtles  7/23/11
Thank you Sue for the quick response.
<Youre welcome, Norma.>
The link to the article you suggested was really awesome and helped put my mind at ease as far as their habitat I have set up for them.
<Yes, it can be pretty overwhelming when you start out, especially with all the information thats out there, and when so much of it is contradictory!>
After reading the article, (I really wish I found WWM when I first got my turtles) I decided their water needed changing. I usually set the new water up a little on the cool side of warm (if that makes any sense). I don't have a thermometer so I use my wrist to check the temp. Also their basking area is a log they can go under to get in the shade.
<If the log is hollow, keep an eye on this and any other decor that they could potentially become trapped in or under, especially as they start to grow. Turtles can actually drown if they land up getting trapped under water!>
I think I will get a thermo. to be sure it's not too warm anyways.
<Its really not a bad idea. Most sell for under $10. I actually use 2 one in the water and one under the heat and UVB lamps. >
<In particular, with smaller enclosures like the one you have, temperatures, especially water temperatures, can often fluctuate several degrees during the day even if the air temperature in your room is kept in the 68-70 degree range. Heat lamps heat up not only the land inside the enclosure, but can also heat up the water several degrees throughout the day. Even filters can make water temperatures rise a couple of degrees. The less water (and the less deep the water) is in your set-up, the more it will be susceptible to temperature fluctuations. The temperature above the basking area will also continue to rise throughout the day, though its usually more stable and predictable than the water temperature.>
So as I changed the water I let the turtles just dry off for a while in the sun and I saw one of their shell parts (forgetting the name) peeling up a little! So I'm definitely sure it's shedding that I see now.
<Yes, and I realized I never mentioned this in my first email. The more normal the shedding is, the less noticeable the peeling layers will be. They should be paper thin. And you often don't notice it as much until you take them out of the water. From what youve described, though in this and your other email, it's more than likely the shedding with your turtles is just normal shedding. And youll always notice their shells dulling in color while its happening. >
<Having said that, theres also a fine line between fast but normal growth and normal shedding; and growing too fast and excessive shedding. And usually shedding does start out normal before it becomes abnormal. Thats why I wanted to alert you about cutting back on the feedings and keeping the water clean and on the cooler side before it does become abnormal!>
Yes, their shells were getting lighter spots all over and their designs are harder to see because of dulling.
<As above, this is normal.>
How long will it take to shed completely I wonder now?
<Usually several weeks, but certain factors can influence it like a turtles age, their individual growth rate, environmental conditions, etc.>
As far as the feeding, omg thank you! I didn't even realize I was doing something wrong. I'm so happy I found out I was over feeding them and now I know what else is good for them to eat.
<Its a very common mistake people make so dont worry. And the important thing is you found out before any ill effects.>
We want happy and healthy turtles :-)
<It sounds like you do so far!>
Your web site is the bomb! It has sooooo much good information. Thank you Sue and WWM for helping! Have a great day! Turtle love!!
<Thanks, Norma! It makes us happy when we know weve helped. Dont hesitate to write again if you have any more questions or concerns. We want you to have happy and healthy turtles, too! - Sue>
~Norma

Floating hatchling   11/22/10
Hi crew.
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a question I have a little wild hatchling turtle that was given to me since I like and have two other water turtles (red eared slider and alligator snapping turtle).
<Just so you know the entire snapping turtle family will have no problem at all eating a slider at their earliest opportunity. Snapping turtles (Chelydra and Macroclemys) are two species that are always kept alone. They'll even eat each other>
I don't know what kind of water turtle it is just that it is indeed a water turtle. It was found outside very small even still had it's beak
<egg tooth>
-- to break the shell. I took it to a local pet store to try to find out some info on what kind it is and they told me to put it back but also said it would most likely die since it was born so late in the year and it is now cold.
<You're right in that regard>
I am an animal lover hence the two dogs, two cats, now three turtles and a gerbil that I am not just going to let it die without giving it a chance. It wouldn't eat for about a week or two which I read was normal for new hatchling.
<OK>
He now does eat occasionally not daily but does eat.
<Nor should he eat every day. Turtles in captivity expend very little energy. At the most, feed a captive turtle all it can eat in 5 minutes, 4 times a week>
He seems healthy for the most part except he floats evenly not tilting to either side.
<That's normal .. so what do you mean by "healthy except" ??>
He is in a small plastic tub with heated and filtered water and I also have a UVB light on him.
<OK for now>
He can swim although not very well and I have never seen him go to the bottom and sit, occasionally he somehow manages to get himself upside down.
<The problem with shallow water is that they CAN get themselves upside down and don't have the water depth to easily turn over.>
What can cause the floating?
<Turtles can float. Not seeing the problem yet but I have a guess>
I did notice once when I cleaned the tank I accidentally made the water I'm guessing a little to warm (he started like panicking) but he didn't float.
Although he didn't care for the too warm water he sank like a normal turtle would. I am completely lost on this and why he floats with water 77 degrees but sank when it was warmer (I didn't take the temperature of the water but it felt a lot warmer than the normal). Any suggestions on what is wrong with the little fellow.
<Not yet - but 77 degrees is too warm for a typical water turtle. We'd like the water temp to be in the low 70's and the basking spot to be in the high 80's to low 90's so that the turtle can make his own choices about warm or cold.>
Thanks,
Mary
<Mary, can you please do this? Can you use a camera, even a cell phone camera, to take pictures of all three of your turtles and then email those to us? What I'd like is a picture from "almost" head first, meaning directly at the shoulder one from 4 feet away and one as close-up as you can get it without losing focus. If I can see pictures

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