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FAQs About Red Ear Slider Turtle Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related Articles: The Care and Keeping of the Red Eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans by Darrel Barton, Red Ear Sliders, Turtles, Amphibians, Red Eared Slider Care, Shell Rot in Turtles,

Related FAQs: Sliders 1, Sliders 2, Red Eared Slider Identification, RES Behavior, RES Compatibility, RES Selection, RES Systems, RES Disease, RES Reproduction, Turtles in General: Turtles, Turtle Identification, Turtle Behavior, Turtle Compatibility, Turtle Selection, Turtle Systems, Turtle Feeding, Turtle Disease, Turtle Disease 2, Shell Rot, Turtle Reproduction, Amphibians, Other Reptiles,

I've said this before and I'll say it again: Koi Pellets! Cheap, easily found at virtually any pet store, 99.5% vegetable matter and -- A COMPLETE DIET for Sliders and their families. DarrelB.

About my red eared slider; not eating     1/24/17
Hi there I have had my turtle for about 6 years now. She has always been a good eater until recently she's been being fussy and refusing food she has eaten for quite some time. She is only eating one specific type of food but less of it. She is also less active then she was and she is sleeping a lot. She still basks during the day in natural sunlight but whenever she seems to go in the water she seems to always want to sleep. The water is not too cold as I know that could have been a possibility. She tends to do a strange thing with her mouth sometimes as if she is grinding her teeth(although she has none) She does not seem to have any abnormal breathing though. Please let me know if you could give some advice.
<Sorry for the delay replying. I wonder if she's egg-bound? Quite common in female turtles. Male turtle not required! See if a tray or box of warm, dry sand attracts her attention. Place it in her habitat, so she can climb onto it easily. Exercise is also important to get things moving, in much the same way that lack of exercise promotes constipation in humans.
If this doesn't help, and you can rule out diet, temperature, and lack of UV-B light, then a trip to the vet will almost certainly be required. Egg-binding is serious, and if it doesn't fix itself (as it usually does) then the eggs die, decay, cause septicaemia, and the turtle dies. Yikes!

Can RES eat sea shells?         9/17/16
Dear Crew,
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I have a question.
<Unlike Radio Shack, we have answers!>
Ever since i got some small sea shells from the beach my turtles have been biting them and chewing on them. I've come to see the shells chewed on and bitten. I want to know if it is at least ok for them to eat it or should I take them out of the tank. Some of the shells in the picture are chewed up.
<Yes, it's OK. The shells are mainly calcium, which is good for them, and for the most part anything they can bite small enough to swallow can be digested. Some turtles will go after them as a delight, others not at all, so it could be that one is in need of calcium ... or maybe the shells just taste good,>
<As a General Rule: I don't put sharp things like sea shells in the tank any more than I would put chips of glass --- the sharp edges of the remaining shell can become a source of cuts or scrapes as the turtles go about their daily business>

Dark greenish floating sack. Nutrition/RES     5/8/16
Dear Crew
<Hiya Darrel here>
I noticed a bean sized floating object in my turtles tank. It was dark greenish. When I retrieved it, I pushed it too hard against the bathing rock and it popped. The fluid inside was maroon colored and mucous like. It didn't mix into the water so I was able to get it out. I'm just wondering what it was and if I should be worried. She is a 8 month old red eared slider. She eats dried mealworms, shrimp, and protein pelts. She is very active and seems well.
<She won't BE well for long, eating mealworms and shrimp. Neither of those have much nutrition and neither would be part of her natural diet, Read here for complete instructions on keeping her. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<As far as the object is concerned, that is certainly unusual. My guess is that it was something organic inside the package of food that absorbed water and swelled when it was released. As long as she is active, alert, eating, basking and bathing don’t worry about it. Correct her diet and care and move forward>
Please help ease my mind!

red eared slider; feeding     3/3/16
Dear Crew
<HIya, Darrel here>
We just got a 5yo red eared slider in January. He has been great, but this week has had trouble getting his food. We give him the stick food.
Normally, it floats, he sees it and snaps it. He is now needing to snap at it 7+ times before he actually gets it. He will give up on it and go after another piece. The same thing occurs. We are concerned. Any ideas?
<Thanks for being good turtle parents. The fact that you notice such things means you are paying attention.>
<That said ... no, not really. They are some of the clumsiest eaters on the planet. If a piece of food is large enough that they can't easily grasp it they'll snap dozens of times ... each time pushing the food away
and making them chase it. It's comical but harmless. As long as they finally get the food, consider it their exercise!>
Re: red eared slider    3/3/16


How long can res turtle live without food      11/25/15

<Days to a few weeks depending on how fit and nourished it starts; how warm the environment is....
Bob Fenner>

Feeding a Slider         6/1/15
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My baby turtle is about a year old it has never shed we feed him crickets and meal worms he does not like to eat greens for the life of him so we give her pellets.
<Good! Meal worms and crickets are not part of his diet anyway. I feed mine almost nothing but Koi pellets from the time they are hatchlings to adult breeders. Just an occasional earthworm>
We scrub him with a tooth brush weekly she hates it.
<It won't hurt her .. but that's more often than I scrub mine. If the water is clear and conditions are optimum she shouldn't need much scrubbing>
She is starting to look like a dinosaur.
<Not sure what that means -- can you explain?>
We have also seen when we pick her up she has a head twitch and we have no idea what to do about it :(
<I sure wouldn't worry about a head twitch. If someone the size of a house picked you up and scrubbed you with a brush as big as a Toyota pickup truck it wouldn't surprise me if your head twitched, too! LOL>
<Here is everything you need to know about caring for your little guy:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
Re Feeding a Slider     6/4/15

She wont shed is why she is looking like a dinosaur i don't want her shell to get infected or something because she wont shed
<Ah -- no real problem there. Make sure she has a balanced diet (Koi pellets are a GREAT food for them) and access to water and natural sunshine. The scutes that are curling at the edges will continue to do so until they eventually fall off. Something you might try is offering her very small pieces of beef or chicken liver. Do this in a shallow container of luke warm water (never in her own tank - liver fouls the water quickly).
Put her in the container, give her a few minutes, maybe as long as a half hour, to get over the shock or confusion or whatever -- until she settles down -- then offer her a few pieces. The iron and the vitamins in the liver will be beneficial to her in many ways>

Red Eared Sliders; sys., fdg.       11/7/14
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here.
I have a young RES (maybe 6 months to 1 year old? his shell is about 2inches long.) I keep him in a 50 gallon aquarium with gravel on the bottom, and a rock to bask on. He has a lamp that provides UV light for 12 hours during the day, and one that provides heat during the other 12 hours.
<No need for that. In the wild they have no heat at night. Heating and cooling cycles are healthy for them>
I've been feeding him some small, brown pellets that were provided when I got him, but I have no idea exactly what they are. I feed him a small pinch ,maybe 10-15 of these daily, along with 2-3 Tetra Reptomin Food Sticks, and sometimes a small piece of sliced chicken as a treat.
<Repto-min is good, but I feed my water turtles Koi Pellets (usually the Kay-Tee brand) because it's a fully balanced diet and inexpensive.>
<Meat-wise, I'd not give chicken for a variety of reasons. Once every 6 weeks or so go to a fishing supply/bait shop and get a container of earthworms (night crawlers) and feed him one or two -- then you can dump the rest in a garden or flower box. Failing that would be a very small piece of beef or chicken liver … but be sure to feed him liver in a separate bowl because the oils will foul your tank in a hurry>
He has a pool inside the aquarium, maybe 1/2 gallon, that he spends all of his time in. I've never seen him come out of the water to bask. I've had him for about 2 1/2months. I change the water in his pool weekly, and I clean it and the rocks in it. The water temperature stays between 70-80 degrees, depending how I position the lamps, and the basking area is generally between 80-85degrees. I noticed about 2 weeks ago he had some dark green spots on his shell, and when I changed the water, I took a wet washcloth and cleaned his shell and put him and the pool back in place. It cleaned off easily enough so I thought that it was a type of mold. It came back the next week, and I repeated the cleaning process, but I'm in the 3rd week now and I can see it coming back already. Is this mold or something else, and what can I do to stop this and prevent it from happening again?
<Well, let's start at the beginning. This setup is great for a land tortoise, but not a water turtle. Read here and set up his habitat to an aquatic one rather than a land-based one. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

Koi Pellets & RES         6/30/14    /Neale
We (my son got - I do everything else - funny how that is) have two RES, Rip Curl and Quicksilver, that we got as hatchlings last year at this time making them 1 now. They are doing very well.
Found your website while looking for ideas on aquariums. Great site and lots of great information. We have been using the 'typical' floating turtle sticks by Tetra. We also give them a few Flukers Freeze Dried Mealworms and, on occasion, Flukers Freeze Dried Crickets. I want to switch to the Koi Pellets to help keep the water cleaner - little bits of uneaten mealworms and/or crickets are not fun to clean out of the tank or filter when they are waterlogged - or at all really. We live out in the country and there isn't anything but a Wal-Mart nearby - I know I can order on Amazon, but not always the best
price for things.
Our Wal-Mart didn't have anything that said 'Koi' on it. They have Wardley Pond Pellets. The package reads 'Food for All Pond Fish'. Can this be fed to RES? If not what is the difference between Koi Pellets and Pond Pellets? What does is have that RES shouldn't or what does it not have that RES need?
<Check the ingredients. These pond pellets are made primarily of plant material (which is the key thing) and contain a good spectrum of vitamins and minerals. So yes, these are fine. Reserve your crickets and Tetra Sticks as occasional treats. Cheers, Neale.>
Koi Pellets & RES    /Darrel

We (my son got - I do everything else - funny how that is) have two RES, Rip Curl and Quicksilver, that we got as hatchlings last year at this time making them 1 now. They are doing very well.
Found your website while looking for ideas on aquariums. Great site and lots of great information.
<Thanks - we try. Nice to be noticed>
We have been using the 'typical' floating turtle sticks by Tetra. We also give them a few Flukers Freeze Dried Mealworms and, on occasion, Flukers Freeze Dried Crickets. I want to switch to the Koi Pellets to help keep the water cleaner - little bits of uneaten mealworms and/or crickets are not fun to clean out of the tank or filter when they are waterlogged - or at all really.
<Not to mention the fact that mealworms and crickets are not part of their natural diet anyway. More specifically, crickets are the junk food of the insect family. Same as Iceberg Lettuce is to the veggies - virtually no nutrition>
We live out in the country and there isn't anything but a Wal-Mart nearby - I know I can order on Amazon, but not always the best price for things.
<Do you have access to earthworms?>
Our Wal-Mart didn't have anything that said 'Koi' on it. They have Wardley Pond Pellets. The package reads 'Food for All Pond Fish'. Can this be fed to RES? If not what is the difference between Koi Pellets and Pond Pellets?
<The Wardley line has not been my favorite but this particular product is great. You'll do well with it>
What does is have that RES shouldn't or what does it not have that RES need?
<Feed them all the food they can eat in 5 minutes, 4 times a week in summer, 2 times a week in winter (assuming they're indoors and their water is at room temperature>
<For treats, feed them an earthworm or two once a month -or even better- a few pieces of beef or chicken liver. HOWEVER…. While the worms CAN be fed in their tank - the liver is ALWAYS fed separately. A shallow bowl or tub with enough water to barely cover their shells. Set them in it and give them a few minutes to get over the sudden change and then drop in the worms or liver. That way there's NO fouling of their living water. Also … it will take them about two feedings to know that the plastic tub means treat time!>
Re: Koi Pellets & RES       7/2/14

Thank you for all of the wonderful information. Yes, they are indoors and the water is room temperature. We have a garden and plenty of worms. We will start giving them once a month as suggested. Love the bonus directions on how to feed the worms and liver.
<act now and get a free Spiral Slicer!>

I buy whole chickens all the time for slow cooking. Can I just give them the liver packed inside it? Sometimes I get organic chickens, but not always, does this matter?
<well, take it out of the package first .. but yeah. Small pieces of raw liver is fine. Any kind>
I'll offer the remaining mealworms and crickets to our Guinea Fowl.
One last question (for now), do RES need anything added to the water? I've been told to use Reptisafe Water Conditioner and Nutrafin Turtle Clean Biological Turtle Habitat Cleaner. I'm also told I should get Turtle Shell Conditioner.
<For my money … no. Red Eared Sliders are remarkably tolerant of water quality and unlike fish, don't need the chlorine or minerals taken out unless it is a desire of yours. Use the money to make really sure their UV-B is the correct wattage and the basking lamp generating the right temperature.>
Thanks again.

Worried about my turtle...Please help!     2/10/14
First I'd like to thank you for such an amazing site.
<Thank you!  We do it all for you!  (And for the free food)>
After Googling tons of sites, yours has had the most info I've found to be very helpful.
<Thank you again.>
Now to my issue. I have a Red Eared Slider turtle that's about 3 years.
He's super healthy, I have a 10 gallon tank with a filter, a platform and a heating lamp. I've noticed recently that he's not as active and won't eat.
He ALWAYS eats when he's fed. I usually give him calcium enriched pellets and every once in a while goldfish. For the first time I gave him pellets and he just let it float past him. It's been 3 days now and he won't eat.
I've changed the water and filter and still no change in his behavior, except I noticed some huge black brownish glob in the tank. Which is weird, because I literally just cleaned out his tank and changed the filter so I didn't know where it came from. To my surprise he started biting and eating at it. I rushed with a net to scoop it out and it smelt like poop. Why was he eating at poop, but won't touch the pellets that were floating right next to him? I love the little guy, but I am starting to freak out that something may be wrong.
<Not "wrong" exactly, but something we should fix>
I would take him to the vet, but I don't have the money right now.
<no need at the moment - lets try a few things first>
What do you think is going on?
<It's hard to tell, but eating his own poop is a sign of a dietary deficiency and the easiest way to fix that is to change his diet.   First, warm him up a bit.  If his basking lamp is normally 82 degrees (f) where he basks, bring in a bit closer - make it 88 degrees.   When he's warmer, place him in a shallow pan or bowl of luke warm water and give him a small piece of beef or chicken liver (small piece!) or perhaps an earthworm.  
What I'm trying to suggest is that you offer him something that is different AND something meaty.   See what he does and how he reacts.   Get some Koi food (Koi pellets is basically ALL I feed my sliders) and let him try those.  Again--something different.   If it's a dietary problem, he'll let you know what he needs by eating the items that contain what he's missing.>
<Meanwhile - pay attention to all your care:  Heat, UV lighting, etc.  Look
for anything that may not be up to standard>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
Re: Worried about my turtle..Please help!     2/10/14

Thank you so much! Will do.

Help with a Red Eared Slider     6/1/13
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I need help with Charger!!
He's a Red Eared Slider and I've had 'him' since March 20th and he wasn't eating at first, but I finally got him to eat... One problem - he will not eat pellets! I have a food *mix* of pellets , shrimp , worms and cranberries(he doesn't like the berries..) all he wanted was the worms and shrimp - which was fine for me at that time - but now I'm worried he's not getting the right amount of vitamins , I got him to eat the pellets  secretly.  I've been mashing up the pellets cutting open a few bugs and inserting the pellet mush into the bugs, that's become too much work for me
<Yes, that is a lot of work, but it was a good start>
I have tried leaving the pellets in there, He still eats meal-worms, shrimp, crickets and the occasional romaine lettuce.
<This will be easy to fix>
He's in a 30 maybe more gallon tank with a basking light and platform (which I have to replace now) He's I think 5 inches long. He likes feeder fish too (Rosey red Minnows)
<He shouldn't eat those>
Anyway he won't eat pellets and I don't know how to get him to eat them. I will feel awful if I have to starve him to get him to eat them, especially since I want to get him a friend! (A baby RES) I've done pretty well at taking care of him just the pellet thing... It's too hard to keep stuffing bugs with them. Thank you for the help!!
-Sincerely Rhiannon
<Rhiannon, you've done a very good job trying to get Charger to eat a wide variety of things and the good news is that he IS eating!  What I mean is that he's feeding well and likes food, so all we have to do is get him to start eating the RIGHT foods.  The way we do that is by NOT feeding him at all, for a few days.  Don't even try.>
<First thing is … don't worry about his health.  Turtles that are healthy can go a month or more without eating.   So, for 4 days, don't even offer anything to eat.  Nothing.  No worms, shrimp, romaine… NOTHING.>
<Then on day #5, offer a few pellets.  JUST a few.   Let them float in his tank for about 5 minutes, and if he doesn't eat them - scoop them out and then skip 2 more days.  On the third day, offer pellets again.  Same deal.  If he doesn't eat, scoop them out and skip two more days.>
<I PROMISE YOU …. When Charger gets hungry enough, Charger WILL eat the pellets!!!>
<While you're waiting, please read this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

Red Eared Slider won't eat, doesn't stick out tail     5/3/13
<Hi Emily! Sue here with you.>
I have a couple of questions regarding my Red-Eared Slider. After checking your website (and multiple other websites) for the answers and not finding any, I decided to email you for help.
<We’ll do our best!>
1. I have never seen my turtle eat at all in the 6 months I have had him. He seems healthy (swims around and acts all turtle-y), but he doesn't seem to eat at all.
<That’s a positive sign that he appears active, but it’s very unusual for a turtle to go that long without eating unless they live outdoors in a 4 season climate and hibernate in the winter.>
I have placed the pellets in his tank and left, then came back later and counted the pellets to see if he had eaten any (did this multiple times over the last 6 months), and each time all the pellets were still there. Is he anorexic or something? Is there anything I can do to encourage him to eat?
<Will need more information from you; see below.>
2. He never sticks his tail out, ever. I saw a bunch of sliders at the zoo and the all had their tails out, and my brother's turtle also sticks her tail out, but my turtle never sticks his out! Is my turtle just a nerdy, introverted turtle, or does he have some kind of strange problem? Do you have any suggestions or explanations regarding my turtle's behavior?
<The only time I’ve seen turtles tuck in their tails is when they’re afraid or uncomfortable in their surroundings. I’d like to get more detailed information from you about his habitat.>
Additional information:
My turtle is about 6 inches long (just his shell, not including his head or the tail he never sticks out). He is kept in a large Sterilite tub outdoors, and there is plenty of sunshine. I feed him regularly (even though he doesn't eat) with turtle pellets from PetSmart. His name is Jason Whittaker.
<Emily – Without knowing more detail, my guess is that his lack of appetite and strange behavior is more than likely due to a problem in his habitat.  Here are some of my initial thoughts based on what you’ve written so far:
Ÿ   1st, I would NOT keep him outside in any sort of plastic or glass enclosure. These types of enclosures are especially susceptible to large temperature swings and can easily overheat if put in the sun. You don’t want to risk cooking him!
Ÿ   Also this kind of an outdoor set-up makes him vulnerable to a predator attack.  This could be why he’s exhibiting what appears to me to be very nervous behavior with his tail tucked in his shell.
Ÿ   Next, are you in a 4 season climate where it gets cold in the winter?  If so, did you keep him outside over the winter?  If you did, the reason he didn’t eat was because when temperatures drop in the fall/winter, turtles go into brumation, a period similar to hibernation in animals when their metabolism slows down to the point where they stop eating until the weather warms up again.
Ÿ   If you want to keep him in a Sterilite bin vs. a glass tank that’s fine, but you should be keeping it/him INDOORS, not outdoors.  Also given his size, you want to make sure it’s large enough for him (in particular the surface area). Turtles enjoy having a lot of room to swim around.
Ÿ   You didn’t mention what you have inside his enclosure. Is there just water inside, or is there also a dry basking area that he can haul out onto?  Sliders need an environment that’s part land, part water.  The water should be kept COOL (around 68-70 degrees F) and “the land” (or basking area) should be WARM and DRY (around 88-90 degrees F).  Besides the heat lamp, you will also need to provide him with a basking light that specifically has UVB (if the bulb says only “basking” it’s likely NOT a UVB bulb).
Ÿ   Lastly, I'm also going to give you this link to our basic care guide to read over:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<Compare what you’re doing to what I’ve said above and what’s in this article, and make whatever necessary changes in his habitat – hopefully that will be enough to do the trick and you’ll start seeing him eating and behaving more normally. Make sure you also read about filtration and water changes as you didn’t mention this either in your note. I’d also suggest reading the section on Diet to make sure you have that covered appropriately as well.>
Thanks in advance for your help,
<You’re welcome, Emily. Write us back if you have any questions about any of this, or if you’d like to provide more information about his habitat, we’ll see if we can help you even further! >
Emily L. Gullion
Freaked-Out Owner of Jason Whittaker
<Sue, Frazzed-Out Mom-n-Chief of a 6 and 11 year old (humans)!>

RES in need of change in diet     2/17/13
Hi there,
I have two red eared sliders that are about eight months old , and at first we fed them bloodworms with multivitamin feed supplement in the water. Also, we gave them at least two hours in direct sunlight with some shade to get into as well. After this, we changed their food and started feeding them freeze dried shrimps .Recently, they got vitamin A deficiency due to this diet. Now, that they have almost recovered, I am thinking of changing their diet. But they have taken a liking to the shrimp and are refusing to eat anything else and I don't know if I should start immediate action or wait till a few weeks after they have recovered.
<Two words: Koi Pellets. Read here:
Bob Fenner>

Red ear slider turtle. Sys., feeding them. GF...   1/17/13
Dear Crew
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I have two red ear slider turtle that I got at the end of October. One is a female and one male they are about 2-3 inches long. I recently changed them to a bigger tank which is 25 gallons and up graded the filter and basking dock. Well the question I had four goldfish in there with them in a smaller 10 gallon tank and when I changed them to the bigger tank three days later after all the upgrades I notice a gold fish die and then a few hours later another one died.
<Almost certainly from Chlorine or Chloramine in the water>
The goldfishes had a red blood clot above its mouth and so do the other fish. I am worried that my turtle might catch something and die. There are two goldfish that are still alive with the red mark as well and they never had it before. I cleaned out the tank half ways and put some fresh water in it but I am really concerned for my turtles. I need to know what I should do. I took the fish out as soon as I noticed them but seen that the turtles had ate a little bit of one. Should I be concerned?
<No.  Turtles, especially the Sliders, are quite tolerant of water conditions.  The fact that your goldfish died so quickly is a sure sign that it was a toxin in the water.  The fact that 2 survived is a sign that the condition is mild, or that it improved.>
<Either way the turtles are not going to be affected>
<If the goldfish are decorative (pets) you'll need to pay more attention to water quality - and be prepared for the eventuality of a turtle biting a live one.  If the goldfish were intended to be food, remember that life fish are not part of a turtle's diet and not even that good for them. 
Turtles will thrive happily on koi pellets from the time they are babies and into adulthood>
Re: Turtle Help, RES    1/17/13
>lt;No charge!>
We haven't got moved to Texas yet but are very soon, Buddy's appetite did get better
He is eating more than he was. I'm thinking it might have been the change in the season that slowed down his appetite
<The length of daylight has that effect as well as lower daytime temperatures.  Remember, if it's not warm enough, digestion stops.  If they keep eating they can get sick.  Better to under feed than to over feed>
I'm glad he is back eating. I didn't like it to much when he didn't want to eat I can't stand to see any animals or reptiles starving
<OK - but remember - animals RARELY die from lack of nutrition - as far as food goes, they usually die from too much food - or the wrong kind of food.>
<If you feed Buddy all the koi pellets he can eat in 5 minutes … just 3 times per week, he'll have proper nutrition>
just want to let y'all know he is doing good he is almost 5 inches long now, he was about the size of a fifty cent piece when we first found him
<Good for Buddy!  And for you!>
He loves it when I walk over to his tank. He likes fluttering when I put my finger against his tank. He goes nuts when I move my finger off the tank and when I put it back he flutters again. Is that his way of telling me hi?
<That all have individual personalities.  He may be happy for the attention, or it may be excitement that food is coming … not much different than my son>

Aquatic Turtle refusing food   3/17/12
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have 2 aquatic turtles - yellow bellies.  I've had them for about 4 years - one is about 6 inches long, the other is about 7 inches long.  They are in a 40 gallon tank, have heating lamp, place for basking, etc.  I fed them turtle food for years until around December of 2011 when they both stopped eating.
<Could have been a change in the formula of the food>
After trying to feed them every day for a couple of weeks, I got some ham and hand fed them that - they were very excited about that.
<That's like candy to you and me>
Since then, I have been feeding them ham.
<Bad idea>

I tried to switch back to turtle food several times and they wouldn't eat it.
<Turtles can fixate on foods.  They can also cycle in their fixations>
The day before yesterday, the smaller guy stopped eating.  He is still splashing like crazy when he sees me as if he is starving, but he won't eat when I drop the food in for him or when I try to hand feed it.  I tried to feed him turkey, chicken, and again... turtle food.  He won't eat anything but every time I go near the tank he splashes like crazy like he wants something to eat.
<Quite a bit of that is learned behavior - like getting excited when you hear the Ice Cream truck even when you're not going to get Ice Cream … it triggers a response>
Also, their tank has required twice a week changing for about a month now.  I scoop out all of the food that isn't eaten right after they are done, but the tank gets tremendously foggy really quick.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.
<OK - here goes.>
<Stop feeding them.  Period.   Don't even try for 7 whole days.  Nothing.  Clean their tank like usual, check that the water is clean and cool and their basking area is warm, but NO FOOD.  Be heartless about it, too.  THEY are hoping you'll give in and feed them.  DON'T GIVE IN>
<On the 8th day, take them out of their tank one-at-a-time and put them in a shallow container of luke-warm water.  Based on their size, I'd guess a plastic storage container or bucket will do.  After giving them 4 or 5 minutes to steel down, drop in 4 Koi pellets or Repto-Min floating food sticks.  Then leave him alone for 5 minutes>
<At the end of 5 minutes, whether he's eaten or not, take him out, put him back in his tank, CHANGE THE WATER IN THE BUCKET and start over with the next turtle.>
<If one eats, repeat the process with that turtle in 3 days.  If one does not eat, repeat the process in another 7 days.   No cheating, no cutting corners>
<After a month of this, they should be conditioned to eat what is offered.  If not, try another month.  They WILL give in.  Eventually.  If they don't break your will first.>
<After they've started eating, they get all the Koi pellets or Repto-Min floating food sticks they can eat in 5 minutes … every 3 days.  No more.  Then, once a month or so, an earthworm or two.>
<No Ham, cheese, hot dogs, steak, burgers, bean burritos, Ice Cream, turkey, Coke, Diet Coke, M&M's, peanut butter cups or …  hmmm … gotta go eat.  See ya later!!>
Thanks so much,

Re: red eared slider    2/9/12
We have had him out of the tank for 2 days now. Today when I put him back in water for a while he ate a few mealworms from his "treat jar" but wouldn't eat any of his ReptoMin plus sticks.
<Given he hasn't eaten anything at all for quite some time, that’s an encouraging sign for just 2 days!  That was a good idea to offer him worms as a way to try to “jump start” his appetite back up.  I’m not too surprised he passed up the ReptoMin.  When turtles are given a choice between worms and pellets, they’ll almost inevitably always go for the worms!  It could also be that after eating a few mealworms, he wasn’t hungry for anything else.  And he shouldn’t be consuming too much food anyway – no more than he can eat in 5 minutes.  Especially if you’re questioning whether he’s sick or not, he shouldn’t have a lot of food sitting in his stomach. >
<One thing with the worms, though, is that we recommend earthworms over other types of worms, and once he’s feeling better only as an occasional treat – occasional meaning only one or two every few weeks.  Earthworms have a higher nutritional value.  It also wouldn’t hurt right now, while he may still be feeling a bit under the weather, to add a pinch of a good quality powdered multivitamin on the earthworm before feeding it to him.  Some of the vitamin will dissolve in the water, but if you allow him to see the earthworm first and place it right in front of him when you feed it, he’ll be able to eat it more quickly and get at least some of the vitamins in him. >
I completely took apart his tank today to clean it out. I realized that the small glass thermometer I keep in the tank has broken and all the little "balls" from it were in the rocks. It’s the kind of 
thermometer that sticks to the wall of the tank. Could this be the cause? Are those mercury balls?
<Not sure about mercury content in those types of thermometers, but it could be that chemicals of some sort (whether in the balls or not) got released into the water when it broke.  However, whether or not this would account for why your turtle stopped eating I couldn’t say.  The timing of both happening at the same time is a little suspect though.  It could also be that he actually swallowed a couple of the balls themselves and that could have caused him some indigestion.  If you see that he’s not pooping then it’s possible there might be some obstruction; otherwise if he’s pooping as usual and he did happen to swallow a couple of the balls then they’ll eventually pass through.>
<Because turtles are notorious for breaking anything made of glass, when you get a replacement thermometer, get one where only the sensor goes in the water and the thermometer itself is outside of the tank. >
His habitat consists of a 20 gallon tank which I keep about 1/3 full of water, a large floating dock, a UVB light, a heat lamp, a large immersible filter, and a water heater.
<As long as your room is the normal room temperature I’d get rid of the water heater.  It’s just one more thing turtles can break and there’s no need for it at all.  In fact, with heat from the lamps the challenge most people have with smaller aquariums in particular, is how to keep the water cool!>
<I also noticed an attachment to your query – were you trying to send a photo of your set-up?  If so, it didn’t come through but your description here is fine.>
I keep the water at about 72-74 degrees. He eats the ReptoMin sticks daily and has a treat every 3 days or so.  I don't overfeed.
<Actually, once a day feeding is over-feeding believe it or not!  He should only be fed the ReptoMin every other day and even then, only allow him 5 minutes or so to consume what he wants – then remove all the uneaten food.  I know this doesn’t seem like much, but it really this is the best thing, especially for a captive turtle who’s nowhere near as active as a turtle in the wild would be.> 
Please let me know your thoughts.
<I think it’s a positive sign that he ate the worms after only a couple of days of the warm & dry isolation, even though he didn’t eat the ReptoMin.  It’s possible he’s even fine now and just chose the earthworms over the ReptoMin.  But there’s no harm at all giving him a few more days of the Isolation – in fact if anything it will help give his immune system an added boost.  So feel free to continue with it until you feel comfortable he’s 100% back to normal and has resumed his normal eating patterns.>
Thanks so much for your help.
<You’re welcome; I hope he’s all better soon!  Any more questions or concerns let us know.  ~ Sue>

Re: RES not eating and very sleepy   3/1/12
Hello, I hope you reply soon? I have noticed a new symptom just today.  There is a small and slightly raised pink spot on her neck which I noticed when she was stretched out. As well as this around her neck there seems to be a 'crack'. She is going in the water, and we are putting her in a separate Tupperware for a swim and to try and tempt her to eat. But she still is spending a lot of time basking. Still not eating. I wondered, could the UVA/B light be causing these skin problems?
<That's not likely, Ruth.   The red patch on the skin is sometimes simply an irritation or abrasion from rubbing against the shell above the neck.  We normally see this in obese turtles, but it does happen sometimes on others.>
<The problem, which you've already discovered, is that while the symptoms are there, they're non-specific symptoms -- nothing is dramatic enough to make us go "AHA!" and know what to do next.>
<Ninety degree water is certainly unusual and it presents some big problems.  First, with a "natural" temperature that hot, the turtle will feel no need to bask and the lack of basking reduced the effectiveness of the UV-B radiation.  Also high temps like that will cause an explosion of fungi and bacteria in the water … not usually a problem for a healthy turtle … but when something goes awry and the turtle becomes susceptible, it makes it easy for the fungi or bacteria to take hold>
<All that said, there is nothing specific here, so I'm going to tell you what I’d do if I were there and they were mine:   I'd move them both OUT of an aquatic environment and into a dry environment for now.   Similar to what we call "dry-dock" for a sick turtle -- only something more permanent.  I'd keep them that way, feed them in a separate shallow bucket of water every day for 15 minutes and I'd try to get them at least 15-30 minutes of direct sunlight (unfiltered through glass or window screen) every day … making sure that they're out-door stay had a shaded part they could crawl under.   I'd keep them this way for at least two months.>
<Here's my thinking:  EVERYTHING about the 90 degree water just screams out that there will be problems if the turtle gets sick for other reasons.   What I mean is that the hot water itself is not the problem -- but once there IS a problem, the hot water makes everything worse.  In your part of the world, the steps taken to compensate for the heat is just a part of the keeping process.>
<Also, check your UV lamp - First make sure it truly is a UV-B lamp and not a Plant-Gro or other type of specialty bulb.  Second, make sure it's within its life span - the manufacturers will tell you how many running hours before the UV is reduced to half or even less.  Good luck!> 

Help regarding my red eared sliders, foods/fdg. 12/19/11
<Hiya - Darrel here>
You guys seem to be doing an amazing job,
<Yes, we do seem to be doing a great job but "seem" implies that not all is as it appears, doesn't it? Truth is that we have one or two slackers on the team who aren't doing an amazing job merely a credible job. They know who they are, too!><<Yikes!>>
-- and was wondering if you could help?
<I wonder that sometimes myself - let's give it a shot, shall we?>
I have a bit of a difficult situation here, and really need some advice in tackling it. I have two red eared sliders , Toto and Mia (I acquired them in May 2009, when they were approximately 1.5 inches (so I am not sure about the age) Currently they live in an outdoors tank which is 70 gallons, which is cleaned regularly and maintained at a fair temperature because I live in India. They get adequate sunshine and are normally voracious eaters. They're now 6.5 inches each, very friendly towards each other, have a great temperament.
<That's great growth for 2 1/2 years. An indication that things are well>
What they eat:
- ReptoMin Pellets
- Bloodworms
<Not so good>
- Cuttlebone
- Occasional freeze dried shrimp
<Too fatty>
- Lettuce, sprouts, cooked frozen corn
<OK - but not worth your effort>
- Bananas, oranges (peeled and sliced as a treat)
<Great for monkeys, weird for turtles>
- Grapes, carrots (occasional)
- Garden greens, flowers (occasional)
- bees or flies they catch (Mia does this once in a while)
However, over the 3-4 couple of months, I have noticed that they have become really fussy about food. At times they don't eat at all, at which time the food is removed from their tank so that it remains clean.
<That's fine. Good housekeeping, too!>
Recently my husband and I had to go away for a couple of weeks, and our driver was entrusted to feed them and ensure they were okay. When I came back I realized he had also fed them cheese for 3 and a half days. I was really upset, as I read that salt intake is dangerous for turtles and dairy cannot be digested by them :( And for the last 3 days they have been pooping out only white cheese and not eating ANYTHING....
<Turtles in the wild are opportunistic and omnivorous. They'll eat a lot to things and generally have no problem digesting them>
I am really concerned and look forward to hearing from you
<Don't be concerned>
- Any advice is welcome.
<Yes. I hope your drive follows better driving instructions than feeding instructions!> regarding vets, in India they do not have vets trained to take care of turtles (they admit this) and so are as clueless as me in this aspect. So far the best advice for me has come from the net.
<Well, sadly, you got me instead!!>
Hope you can help!!
<Me too!>
<All I'd do now is give them 3 or 4 days without food, then offer the ReptoMin food in small amounts - say, all they can eat in three minutes every other day for a week>
<Then, assuming their behavior is still the same: Active! Alert! Swimming! Basking! Just go back to your normal feeding routine.>
<Four days of a bad diet is nothing to get upset about but if they LIKE the cheese, they may fixate on it and refuse other food for a LONG time! Whatever you do, don't give in. Hold your ground offer the "right" food or nothing!!!! They can go a month or even two without food as long as they're otherwise healthy so hold your ground until they give in>
Thanks so much!!
<Yer welcome!>

red ear slider... fdg. 12/19/11
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My name is Amalia and I have had red ear slider turtles for almost 3 years now. When we got them they were about the size of a half dollar, now one is as big as a DVD case and the other is the size of a CD case.
<That sounds about right. Possibly one is male and one is female. The male will be smaller and have longer front fingernails>
We always watched them eat but for the past few months we haven't seen them eat and the food is still in the tank.
<OK - PLEASE tell me that the food you gave them a few months ago is not in the tank!!! You mean that you offer food and the food you offered, say .. yesterday is still in the tank?>
<If food you offered them a month ago is still in the tank, then the water is so fouled and contaminated with bacteria that it's no wonder they won't eat - in fact it's a wonder they don't die from a skin infection!>
I have checked for symptoms such as spots and mucus and they seem healthy. I can't afford a vet and I was wondering if you had any ideas why they wouldn't eat? Like I said, it's been months and they are still alive without eating. I don't know what to do at this point so any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
<My guess is that they're eating when you're not looking>
<Clean their tank completely. Water, rocks, filters, everything. Refill with fresh clean water. Make sure the water in clean & cool (no more than room temperature), make sure the basking area is nice and warm (88-93 (F) ) with a source of UV-B lighting. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<after you've verified that their habitat is clean and healthy for them, wait three days to verify that the swim sometimes, bask other times, have a general alert look to their eyes (follow you with their eyes as you approach them, etc.) and then offer them a very small amount of Koi Pellets or ReptoMin and watch their reaction.>
<If that doesn't help, write back describing how they handle the changes and we'll continue>
Thank You,
Amalia K

Red Eared Slider questions 11/14/11
Hi there,
<Hi, there! Ho, there! Hiya - Darrel here>
I currently have two Red Eared Slider turtles. Unsure on there exact length... I would say around 3 inches. I was reading through all the random questions, and received a ton of useful info!
<Random questions??? Hmm. I usually think the questions are logical it's my ANSWERS that are more or less random!>
I have the full set up, besides the tank heater, soon to buy.
<Please don't. Unless you live north of the Arctic Circle, room temperature water is what they need. They CHOOSE between a warm basking platform and cool water. If you make the water warm enough then they don't haul out to bask and that opens the door to all sorts of fungal infections and other problems. Read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
My main reasons in writing are 3 questions.
<OK - now for my random answers!>
1) I have earthworms for my RES. But they seem huge compared to their tiny mouths.... Could I just drop a clean one in the tank and just let them bite at it lol?
<Exactly. They don't have to finish the whole thing. First, don't underestimate their ability to eat. That said, I place them in a shallow plastic tub (maybe an inch of water) and put the turtles in there. After about 10 minutes (when they've settled down from the move) I put the worm in. This makes it easier for them to find it and eat it -AND- when they're done it makes it easy to clean up, with no mess to clean in their main tank.>
2) What is the best type of lettuce to buy for these little guys
<None. Their primary diet should be Repto-min food sticks or Koi Pellets (same thing, just a LOT cheaper) with an occasional (monthly or bi-weekly) earthworm. If you enjoy seeing them eat their greens - a small piece of Romaine left floating on the top is fine. Just make sure you remove what they don't eat before in sinks and disintegrates.>
3) One of the RES we bought (at a carnival.. poor little guys) has a brown spots on of the pieces of its shell. It hasn't gotten any bigger. The picture I attached is about a month or so old. But you can see what I mean by saying the brown spots.
<Those discolorations are fairly common in younger turtles that have been kept in dirty water. It looks almost like a stain, doesn't it? If you test it with a toothpick by trying to gently scrape it, it will appear to be under the surface. In any case, it will have no texture and no smell. Assuming that all to be true, it more or less is just a stain and will lessen as the turtle grows and sheds. Just in case, just could swab it three times a week with white vinegar, allowing the shell to dry before you put him back in the water. In the alternative you could spread any topical antifungal on the area (again, allowing it to dry/set before placing her in the water). That's all just in case you feel the need to baby him - in all likelihood it's just a stain.>
And he's had it since we've gotten him (approx 2.5 mo) I assume it's a male because it has a pretty long tail, but still unsure
<He/She/It is way too small to see any sexual characteristics. They mature by size, not age>
I really appreciate your help.
<Hope it helps!>
And totally love your website.
<Suggestions and donations always welcome!>
I remember being a young teenager, and the boys would hurt random turtles we'd come across. It was extremely sad, and when I seen this bum like man selling these turtles I just felt like I had to rescue a couple.
<I have a yard full of turtles, tortoises, iguanas and 2 cats that came here for the same reason. Nowadays I rarely leave home for fear I'll return with yet another animal in need!>
He didn't really know much about them. I could tell he was just trying to make money. He didn't warn anyone about the possible disease they can carry, and was just letting all these children pick them up out of this play pool. And I know most of these parents buying them for there children weren't properly taking care of them.
<Pets make TERRIBLE gifts unless the recipient is expecting them and prepared for them. In your case, you did the Right Thing!>
Sincerely Summer

Re: Red Eared Slider Questions, fdg. 11/19/11
One more thing..
I just went ahead and dropped a earthworm in the tank. And both of my turtles seem to be normally active. But the less active one practically demolished over half of this huge earthworm! Should I wait like 3 weeks before I give them another one?
<Not a bad idea. I only feed my turtles one a month during the summer and none in the winter. Remember that OVERFEEDING is a major health problem for our pets. Er, ah, um and I guess, for us people, too!>
Oh and I understand you accept donations. Once I'm done with college, and get on a good financial track; and have extra income. I will totally donate.
<We're happy to wait, Summer. We'll be here!>

RES Turtle feeding Question
<Hi Kristi!>
I have 2 baby RES turtles (Phineas & Ferb)...
<Thats my kids favorite show!!>
They are about 6 months old. One is about 3 inches & the other is about 2 1/2 inches.
Right now, I am feeding them, twice daily, as much as they can eat in about 15 minutes. At what point should I stop feeding them daily or reduce it to once daily?
<Right now! Hows that for the worlds shortest answer or at least thats MY record!>
<OK now for the longer answer EXCEPT you should only be feeding them one time every OTHER day, as much as they can eat in 5-10 minutes. Over-feeding turtles is the most common mistake people make, and its one that can lead to health problems.>
<If they occasionally appear to be ravenously hungry on the off days, you can offer them fresh dark leafy greens (not iceberg lettuce though). Theyre a good supplemental source of vitamins and the added fiber they contain will help fill them up.>
<Also hopefully what youre feeding them is a good quality turtle pellet or alternatively Koi pellets. Then just give them an earthworm or two every few weeks for a treat and some added nutrition.>
I noticed that the larger of the two turtles eats a whole lot one day, and then not the next, and then again a whole lot the following day.
<Thats great! Thats the pattern both of them should be on right now.>
<Youre welcome, Kristi! ~Sue>
Kristi L Eaves

Re: Hiya... RES...? 9/13/11
I think he's eating his poop.
<Theyre known to do that; thats why its important to remove their poop right away, either before they eat it or before it breaks apart and contaminates the water.>
also, is that a good diet? because I just decided to start feeding him 2 pellets and 3 little pieces of romaine every day.
<A turtle of his size should be eating more than two pellets! Allow him to eat as much as he wants once a day for several minutes every other day.>
he also doesn't bask much, and I feel that this will cause his to rot.
<Lack of basking is a concern, because in order for him to digest his food properly, he should be basking under a heat and UVB light for several hours each day. It could be your temperatures are off. The land area under the heat and UVB bulb should be between 88-90 degrees F. The water should be around 68-70 degrees or so. This temperature differential encourages turtles to get out of the water to warm themselves up.>
are there any other common turtle illnesses?
<Below is a link to an article describing the common turtle illnesses and how to treat them. After reading this over, if you feel he is ill, follow the instructions given in it for isolating him in a warm, dry environment, along with any other instructions for treating the specific illness:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >
<Also, I believe I sent you the care guide below already, but if you havent read it yet, you should read it over carefully to make sure youre providing him everything he needs. Mostly all the common illnesses turtles suffer are caused by something missing or wrong from either their environment or from their diet. ~Sue>

Red Eared Slider tank setup and feeding 9/13/11
<Hiya - Darrel here>
You have an excellent, informative site.
<Well thanks!! We try and it's nice to hear that we succeed!>
<Of course, it would ALSO be nice for hear that we'd won the lottery or even that the Santa Clarita Court had lost that ticket we got from going 78mph in a 65mph zone last month, because THAT would have saved us from the purgatory of 420 online minutes of Traffic School this weekend. But all that said, ya got to love a country where you can sit at your desk and take a 7 hour course dedicated to safe driving with a glass of wine in your hand!!>
I have some questions about Red Eared Sliders.
<Well then, think of me as the Radio Shack of Turtles: I have answers!!! And at least 25% will be correct!!>
I have two 1.5" sliders. They are currently in a large plastic storage container while I am setting up their tank. My tank is 120 gallons. I have filled it with 45 gallons of water. I am using a Rena Filstar Xp3 for filtration. For the substrate, I am using pool filter sand.
<When you say pool filter sand I'm assuming you mean the high grade silica sand -- very fine particles as we might find in a child's sandbox. This is a fine substrate for looks, and it's small enough that nothing the turtles can ingest will hurt them BUT it's going to be a real pain to maintain. Compared to fish, turtles are poop machines. They create all sorts and sizes of poop, often in exponential relation to the amount of food they get. For this reason, no water filter will keep a turtle tank clean and you always end up siphoning the detritus off the bottom, which in your case will end up being a large amount of sand. The best thing I've found for "substrate" are the polished "river rocks" that they sell in building supply stores for gardens and pathways and I get them at the 1 to 2 inch size (HUGE compared to a baby turtle) so that the waste falls between the cracks. That all said, your sand is fine, I'm just too lazy to set myself up for that much work>
For the basking area, I have the large ExoTerra turtle bank. Above that is a 150 watt Zoo Med Ceramic Infrared Heat Emitter and a Zoo Med ReptiSun 10.0 UVB Bulb. The basking area is currently 88 degrees.
<That all sounds great. Basking temp should be 88 to 92 degrees>
I also have a 36 inch Fancy Plant giant in the tank.
<Don't know what that is. Is it plastic? I like plastic plants. You can't easily wash a live plant in soap and bleach when it gets dirty>
While I have been preparing the tank, I have placed their storage container outside for sunlight for a while during the day.
<As long as a PART of it is shaded, so they can crawl out of direct sunlight - nothing could be better for them>
I used a desk lamp while they're in the house.
<Do they read a lot? >
I have been offering ReptoMin and earthworms.
<Excellent, but go easy on the worms. In spite of the classifications of our mentor Dr Linnaeus, Turtles are Pigs!>
I also have Anacharis in the container. It's hard for me to tell if they're eating the Anacharis, but they're not eating the ReptoMin or earthworms. I've had them for 3 weeks. Do you think I should follow the steps for isolation? They are basking and swimming. Their eyes look fine.
<The first thing I notice about a turtle is her eyes. It's also important that she can make me laugh and that I feel safe in talking to her you know ... that I can really open up and be honest with her about my real feelings. OH WHO AM I KIDDING??? The first thing I notice is her shell!!!!>
<On a more practical note, 3 weeks is a long time for them not to have eaten. It's not a DANGER sign just yet, so don't get terrible worried it's just time to take serious notice. They ARE likely chomping on the plant material and they way to test that is to remove that option for a while. It may be a long while, because we want them to settle on the Repto-min (Koi pellets are cheaper and just as balanced for them) with all other foods as treats or supplements.>
For the 120 gallon tank, the water depth is 11". Is that too deep?
<Nope that's perfect!!! The really great thing you've done with your 120 gallon tank is given them a lot of surface area. A turtle is better off in water twice their height (4-6 inches) if the tank is long and wide but in your case they dont have to trade one for the other.>
I could lower the water, but I'd rather not have the heat emitter inside of the tank.
<Because the heat emitter sits higher than the tank? The only loss there is that, to a slightly greater extent, you're heating the room, too.>
Also, I don't see much mention of cycling a tank for a red eared slider. I have used dechlorinator and I have the filter running. I was going to go to a local fish store and get some rocks or other media from their cycled tanks to place into the turtle tank. Is it necessary for me to cycle the tank prior to adding the turtles?
<Nope - not even a little bit, Jill. Cycling a fish tank is an attempt to get a biological filter cycle running so that there is not a buildup of ammonia and other substances that are immediately toxic to the fish who you can think of as having to drink and breathe that same water 24/7. Turtles do neither, so none of the toxins in a fish tank are anywhere near as toxic to turtles. PLUS the aforementioned poop machines they are, youd need a filter bed the size of the Everglades to process their waste biologically. No fish store HAS that many rocks and your tank wouldn't hold them if you did>
Thank you for your help and for all the information on your site!
<Again - you're welcome!>
<Your setup sound great. Get it running and toss them in (figure of speech) and have a go.>
<Something you can easily do with turtles that you can't do with fish - is feed them in a separate container. Come up with a shallow bowl or Tupperware container like the plastic shoe boxes they sell - maybe 7 inches wide, 12 long and 4 high. Fill it with 2 inches of luke warm tap water and set it on the coffee table in the living room>
<NOTE TO ALL READERS: Follow this step ONLY if you have turtles, plastic container, a living room AND a coffee table!!!! Eliminating EVEN ONE step can be catastrophic!!>
<ahem I must have just had a flashback to the Traffic School test. Let's review!!! Arrrrg!>
<Pick up the turtles and place them in there, give them a few minutes to figure out it's not the end of the world then place 3-5 Repto-min sticks in with them and then sit back and watch TV (again - only if you HAVE a TV) and read a book ({sigh} only if you Can read) while they play around. At the end of 10 minutes, place them back in their tank and you'll see if they've eaten (they're little tummies will be full and they'll have unbuckled their tiny little pants -- or else you'll notice the sticks gone!!!) and this will give us an idea when/if they've eaten. After youre certain they've accepted the food, you can start placing it in the main tank -- being sure to scoop out any uneaten food after 10 minutes -- or you can continue the separate feedings if you feel it makes a bonding experience.>
Re: Red Eared Slider tank setup and feeding 9/13/2011

Thanks so much for your reply!
<No charge! - but donations always welcome (see upper right) if the mood every strikes you)>
You've made me laugh and I love your sense of humor.
<The #1 thing women say they look for in a man is someone who can make them laugh but if that were true, why don't women marry clowns?>
Pool filter sand is slightly more coarse than sandbox sand, but I understand what you're saying about the maintenance.
<It's fine as long as you're OK with it>
I put the turtles in the tank yesterday and they seem to be doing okay, but they're not basking yet.
<Probably a mixture of fear and stress>
I've tried "teaching" them to climb on the bank, but they scurry off immediately.
<Right. The handling part is good because they do get accustomed to it, but the "teaching" part is pure wishful thinking on our parts>
Maybe they don't like the sound of the filter water near the bank?
<They have no ears (funny they're called Red Eared Sliders, huh?) OK .. well maybe not Laugh Out Loud funny but still odd) but they DO sense vibration. You might try moving the filter outflow to another part of the tank>
I don't know. I guess I'll have to rig something up so there's more of step down into the water. More research!
<Or chill out. They are fairly hardy, resilient and resourceful creatures. Maybe just wait a bit & relax?>
I don't have the heat emitter inside the tank because I'm afraid of it falling in the water. It has a clamp, but I'm just paranoid about it. I could get the stand so it doesn't have to clamp onto the tank.
<Again No. That was merely a question. You've bought enough stuff already>
I have noticed that their shells are somewhat flexible. They're not mushy, but they're not totally rigid. I read that their shells will harden with age. Is that correct or is this something to be concerned about?
<The word we're looking for is 'flexible' and yes, at their size & age that's normal. If they don't get enough UV and Vitamins A, C &D the shell will get softer and you'll notice.> I'll try feeding them in the plastic container in the living room, but I have no coffee table. What shall I do??
<Thankfully, the keystone of my technique is the plastic container, not the coffee table. Any hard surface will do. The trick here is HIGH enough that any dog, cat or other predator can't get to them and low enough if they climb out & fall, it won't become an emergency.>
I did want to mention my experience with setting up the Rena Filstar filter. I spent 2 days messing with it and when it worked, it was loud and was spewing water mixed with air.
<I hate when that happens - you're sucking air>
Then I tried cutting the input and outlet tubes because I had initially left them longer than recommended. Then my son used the fish net to whirl around all the plants in the tank. When I fixed that, the filter stopped working. I thought it was because sand had entered the filter. I could not get it to prime properly.
<No one can>
I poured the water into the inlet tube and replaced the top while the canister lever was up. When I pressed the lever down, the tank would fill only an inch. I tried manually filling the canister with water and pouring water into the inlet tube. When I turned the filter on, it worked fine for 30 to 45 seconds and then I could see large air bubbles in the intake tubing and air bubbles in the canister. Then the canister water level would drop and the impeller started grinding and I couldn't get it to stop. The problem was the plastic inlet piece (where you fill the water and replace the cap). It wasn't completely flat at the top. It had a little chip/gouge in the top edge, so air was able to seep in even when I had tightly screwed on the cap. I was able to find a rubber gasket to fit into the cap and that completely fixed it. Just thought I'd mention this, because after hours of Internet searching I could not find this exact problem.
<Welcome to the club, Jill. We have jackets and even a secret handshake>
<I regularly do battle with a Fluval 401 filter on my Marine Aquarium. TECHNICALLY it's my son's Marine Aquarium because he begged and pleaded for two years to have one and then he got it, was happy as a clam (Marine Aquarium Humor) and then he discovered girls and now it's MY Marine Aquarium that just happens to be in HIS room>
<Anyway when I change the filter media and reassemble the unit, there is this plunger thingy that you're supposed to pump up & down "4 or 5 times" according to the manual - to prime it.>
<IN WHAT ALTERANTE UNIVERSE DOES THAT ACTUALLY WORK FOR ANYONE????????? Are these people kidding? Are they sitting back in their labs laughing their butts off at people trying to prime their pumps with their silly valves and levers? Or are they so seriously detached from reality that they think it actually works?>
<The first thing I learned is that the outflow tube must be above water when you try to refill - if the outflow in underwater, the air can't flow out easily due to the pressure of the water. SO with the outflow tube in my right hand, I pump the plunger thingy until I can hear water flowing into the main chamber. Then, when I see water flowing up to the top and just STARTING to flow up the outflow tube, I cover that tube with my thumb, hang it over the side of the tank, plug in the pump (it's important to have it off while starting this siphon) and then uncap the tube.>
<At this point, I usually have no water flow at all and I can hear the Fluval engineers laughing all the way from Germany. So THEN, I take the canister in my hand and turn in 90 degrees sideways and then a bit more ... so the impeller is at the bottom and the air bubbles float to the top. So NOW I get a full water flow starting.>
<Except that I'm stuck there, like a dork, holding a canister filter upside down and thinking if there is some way I could just permanently mount the darned thing ..>
<Once the flow is started, I momentarily rotate the canister upward and that give the impeller a gulp of the air. Then I turn it upside down again until the water flow returns. Then rotate & gulp, etc. If I make it gulp TOO Much air at one time, it breaks the siphon and I start over. And in case you're wondering what I'm THINKING while doing this impression of a troop of howler monkeys playing football with a watermelon, I'm thinking that I no longer like Marine Aquariums and no longer fond of children, either.>
<Easy operation and simple maintenance ---- my foot.>
I didn't want to mention this at first, but getting Red Eared Sliders was an impulse purchase while on vacation. My kids begged for them and I really wanted them too.
<My KID was an impulse um purchase while on vacation. Lesson learned>
Then I researched them and discovered how much is involved in their care and how large they grow. I have learned a tremendous amount from your website. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.
<Jill - the beauty of the Emydid turtles is that they require much LESS care than many other animals (including kids and husbands). They are tolerant of a wide variety of mistakes and inattention that we end up giving them. PLUS they don't spend their weekends watching football, they never borrow your car to "study" at a friend's house only to come back with a dented fender from an incident at a drive-in nor will they ever beg you to buy them a pair of $250 purple tennis shoes that they just HAVE to have only to find that they're out of style within 2 hours of the purchase.>
<[AS AN EDITORIAL NOTE: Did anyone know that Microsoft Word Spell Check recognizes "THINGIE" and suggests the correct word "THINGY"?? When in all of creation did "thingy" become an actual word? The same day regardless became a word? Due knot Re: lie two much on spell Czech!]>

Fuzzy Food! 9/2/11
First off I would like to say that I think the team at WWM is doing an excellent job of keeping novices like myself informed on the best way to keep healthy RES Turtles.
I have a three year old Slider that is approx: 8" long and in apparent good health. She lives in a 50 Gal. tank that is cleaned by a four stage canister filter that is changed every two weeks with a full water change
once monthly. I feed her ReptoMin sticks every other day supplemented by greens and occasionally a few goldfish. Recently I have noticed that the food that is not eaten starts to get fuzzy after a day or so. The water temp is maintained around 72-76 deg.. I tested the water and the Ph is within range and the ammonia levels are nominal. I just can't figure out why the food gets fuzzy. I assume that it is "growing" some sort of bacteria. Any help would be appreciated. Ed B
<The fuzz is fungus, fungal hyphae to be precise. Siphon out such food as it won't be eaten by your turtles (and indeed, shouldn't be eaten, because it's rotting). That you have leftover food that becomes fungused implies you are overfeeding. I'm also worried you're using goldfish as feeders -- this is downright dangerous and has no practical value at all. Do please read here:
Diet should be based around pondweed and Koi pellets. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Hiya, RES fdg. 8/27/11
Hi, I had another question. My turtle eat a lot and has a big appetite so should I be feeding him a lot or no? and when should I feed him like how
<Hi Jasmine. Thats great news that his appetite is no longer a concern! However, continue to follow the same recommendations for feeding the pellets, earthworms and greens that I gave you in my August 10 reply below no matter how hungry he seems. Over-feeding can lead to a number of health problems and is one of the most common mistakes people make with turtles, because they cant resist their darling little faces when theyre begging incessantly for food! So stay the course below. Dont give in no matter how hard it is to say No!! It will be better for him in the long run. Sue

Red Ear Slider Questions, sys., fdg. 5/5/11
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I acquired a hatchling Red Ear Slider about 8 months ago.
<Is his name Merky, perhaps?>
He (or she) has grown from about an inch to 3.75 inches at this point and I'm starting to wonder if the 10 gallon aquarium he is in is starting to get too small.
<Yeah - a little bit too small.>
I know you typically can't sex them until they are 4 inches or larger but he is almost that length and looks like he has the toe nails and tail of a female. I know these girls can get quite large and want to make sure I have the proper housing.
<It's always a good idea to look forward, but also remember that AS they get older their rate for growth slows, so even if Merky IS actually a girl, she'll not grow from 4 inches to 8 inches anywhere nearly as fast as she grew from 1 to 4.>
What size aquarium do you recommend for a turtle of this current size and how long would it last before I need to upgrade again? I don't want to buy a 20 gallon only for him to outgrow it in the next 6 months or so.
<Well, if an aquarium is the way you're going, I'd say a "Breeder" tank, They come in 30 gallon and 40 gallon sizes. They are both 36 inches long by 18 inches wide; the difference being the 40 gallon is taller. Although it may be hard to locate one, they are perfect for turtles because turtles appreciate WIDTH and LENGTH of an enclosure much more than depth.>
I was also wondering at what age these turtles are typically full grown and what size tank/pond should I plan on once he gets to this point? I have a 90 gallon aquarium I could move him to if I had to but it would require some reworking. If I did move him to the 90 could I comfortably house two turtles or would I be setting myself up for needing a much larger system in the future?
<A typical 90 gallon tank is 48 inches by 18 inches and would house 2 turtles nicely. Keep in mind that they would be perfectly happy in 12 inches of water, leaving plenty of room for a basking area under a UV lamp, etc.>
My final question is about feeding, I've read that after a hatchling becomes a yearling they should be fed every other day vs. every day and I'm wondering at what size/age I should move to this schedule. He is fed a mix of turtle pellets, veggies, crickets and some fruit.
<No crickets, please. They are Mother Nature's Peanut Butter Cups: Junk food>
<I feed my hatchlings every other day for the first year and then 3 times a week thereafter. I use Koi Pellets as the staple diet, with an earthworm or two once a month. I feed all they can eat in 5 minutes, 3 times a week. Always keep in mind that we humans ALWAYS feed our animals too much.
Over feeding and feeding the wrong foods are much more common problems than underfeeding.>
Your help is appreciated!
<More reading: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm

Re: Red Ear Slider Questions 05/07/11
Thanks for the info so far.
<Not a problem>
I have a few follow up questions if you don't mind.
<Not at all>
I live in So Cal so having him live outside year round is a possibility, I believe. I do worry about predators that could snatch him and would have to look into the space and filtration required to put a pond in our small yard.
<I understand. Predators are always a worry. On the other hand ponds open the door to much imagination. Nothing says that they have to be a hole in the ground. MY pond is above ground, outlined with concrete blocks (cinderblocks) that contain a pond liner AND a fence with a lip on it then around the outside is a decorative garden that hides the blocks.>
In a few years with a bigger yard I think this will be the plan.
<Then you can add Koi and even bigger filters and then even more Koi and then rebuild the pond to be bigger and hold more turtles and then HUGE filters and PRIZED imported Koi and then have to retire from your job because there isn't enough time to do that AND care for the Koi and the turtles O.K. wait. On the other hand, maybe not>
As it is I have a light for heat on his basking area but I put him outside in a part sun/part shade container most days to get his sunlight.
<That works. The prices on specially-made UV-B lamps have come way down in recent years, but then I don't want to take away from your "together time" with him.>
If I do move him to the 90 and decided to get him a friend do you recommend a specific pairing of sex and size?
<You mean like am I a dating service?>
Also, would there be other turtles that are not Red Ear Sliders but are similar enough that they could live in the same habitat?
<Yes. All the Sliders, Cooters, Pond Turtles, etc. all share the same needs and seem to get along just fine. What you will find though, are simply certain individuals that are a bit more nippy than others, so try to find a turtle that is around the same physical size. Sexual pairing is problematic because the males mature faster than the females and begin their courtship behaviors while the females are too young to respond and to me, it just seems to annoy the females but then again, I may be projecting back to Jr. High School>
<The one thing I'd do, whether you use the 90 and/or later when you build a pond arrange the decorations, rocks or whatever you use so that the two turtles can, when in the water, get out of each other's visual range. For some reason, Basking is a shared resource and they almost universally get along "up top." It's in the water where they seem to have their tiffs and as long as they can get out of each other's site for a while when they need it, they'll otherwise work out their differences.>
Thanks again
Re: Red Ear Slider Questions... Painted Turtle sel., comp. now 5/9/11

I have decided to go with a Painted turtle.
<Nice choice>
I like the Midland and Eastern but was concerned as adults they'll be significantly smaller than my Slider. I was leaning toward the Western Painted for that reason.
Wouldn't that make your name Eileen?>
Do you think this is a concern?
<Not even a little bit. Eastern Painteds and Sliders of all types will get along fine. The THREE issues to consider. (1) Your PARTICULAR Slider and Painted may not be suited for each other. No way to know, only time tells. (2) As long as they are similar sized when introduced (that whole fighting for dominance thingie) they're usually fine thereafter. (3) arrange the enclosure such that when they are both in the water, they can get away from each other visually. Bricks, rocks, etc. to break up the water basin, seems to do the trick. Basking spots, for some reason, are virtually neutral territory>
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
<Sent from my TRS-80>

obesity 3/6/11
Hi Sue!
<Err .. I'm Darrel. Someone dropped this in my box>
I'm Cristy. I have a female red-eared slider which I rescued from a flood.
<Two guys on the beach in Miami and they get to talking and discover they're both from New York.>
<The first guy says "Yeah, my business was wiped out by a fire. My insurance company gave me $100,000 so I thought I'd come down here and have a vacation before I rebuilt and started over>
<The second guy says "Yeah, me too. My business was wiped out by a flood and the insurance company gave me $250,000 so, like you, I thought of a little vacation before I start over>
<The first guys says "$250,000 ???">
<The second guy says "yep!">
<The first guy asks "so tell me how do you start a flood?>
I have her about a year now. I would like to know if she is fat/ obese. I attached pictures of her. If you notice her shoulders, it looks plump but if you touch it, it's just skin. I noticed this when she grew and get fat. Because before, we only feed her with fishes and meat. So I put her in a diet which consists of turtle pellets and some greens. It went good since she doesn't look that fat or big. But she still have those skins. She also have those skins in her legs. However, every time she puts her feet inside her shell all those skins goes with.. What do you think is it? Is she fat? Thank you..
<Christy - she's a BIG girl and yes, she's a bit overweight.>
<What you have to do is cut down on her feedings. No more than she can eat in 5 minutes - 3 times a week. It will take as much or more than a year for her to reach a more normal weight and during that time she will seem to you as if she is STARVING -- always looking for attention, craving more, etc. I've found that it's harder to put a pet on a diet than it is to put myself on one but it is in their best interest>
By the way, I bought a male Malayan box turtle, about three inches long(shell).Will the slider, who is about 8.5 inches long(shell), hurt the little Malayan.
<There is no way to tell, Christy. Sliders are not known for aggression toward others beyond being snappy and nippy to their own kind. I kept and outdoor pond for years where the water was dominated by a colony of sliders and the garden was occupied by a family of box turtles. Water turtles basked on land, Box turtles (who are land turtles) occasionally took a swim .. all got along just fine. But that's just GENERAL information. This turtle might be different. My suggestion is that you watch them carefully for the first few times they meet each other. Also - and this is important when keeping more than one animal in any tank/cage/pen/situation: Make sure they have enough room to get AWAY from each other and to get out of sight of one another!! Many animals that you might expect to fight constantly will do fine as long as they also have places they can get away and feel safe>
Thank you so much Sue..
<I'm passing this letter on to Sue - she's great!>
My slider loves her Koi pellets by the way..God bless you...

RES, young... fdg... floating lopsided... 2/8/11
<Hiya!! Darrel here>
I have a Red Ear Slider who is approximately 3 months old, the size of a silver dollar, named Timon (as in Lion King).
<Did you know that The Lion King was based on a Japanese cartoon of the 1960's called "Kimba the White Lion"?>
He eats so much!
<It's good that he has an appetite. That said -- overeating and obesity is a HUGE problem in pet care. We feed our guys too much. Timon should get all he can eat in 15 minutes, three times a week.>
I have noticed that his left side is constantly higher than the right side of his body while he is in the water. When he basks he lies evenly but as soon as he slides back into the water he has what I have termed a "ghetto lean". I am very worried for his well-being. Is this normal? If not, how can I help him?
<It's not normal, but it's not uncommon, either. Usually, in a healthy critter - which Timon seems to be, it means nothing more than he hasn't expelled all the air from his lungs evenly, maybe he has some gas in his intestines but nothing to worry about!!>
Thanks so much, Concerned Turtle Parent.
<Yer welcome!!>
<Read here for general care see if you've got everything covered: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

Feeding Red ear sliders and Painted turtles vegetables constantly? 2/1/11
I have read that it is advisable to constantly have plants for the turtles to eat in the tank. When I drop romaine lettuce in my tanks the turtles eat the whole leaf in less than 30 min. I would have to keep a head of lettuce in the tank every day too keep up with them. I guess my general question is: Can you really overfeed with leafy greens (aquatic plants, lettuce)? This is in addition to my feeding of Tetra ReptoMin pellets 3-2 times a week.
My 5 Turtles-
0.3.1 Red Ear Slider Trachemys scripta elegans: Holly (7.2") (8 years old), Pine (7") (8 years old), Preakness ( 3.75") (2 years in March), Clover (3") (2 years in March)
1.0.0 Eastern Painted Turtle Chrysemys picta picta: Bonsai (4") (15 years old)
2.0.0 Convict Cichlid Amatitlania nigrofasciata: Stripes (4") (1 year), Mugger (3") (1 year)
<Hi, Sue here with you.>
<The greater concern when it comes to overfeeding your turtles is to not overfeed them the pellets. I do as you do and feed mine a good quality pellet (ReptoMin, Koi) every other day but only as much as they can eat in 5-10 minutes. >
<As far as feeding them too many greens, really the ideal to aim for overall is offering them a balanced diet not too much of any one type of food. Technically, ReptoMin and Koi pellets should provide them with a balanced diet, but personally I like to offer mine some greens in addition to the pellets just to give them some added fiber, some different sources for some of their vitamins and nutrients, and also because plants and greens are most like what they would be eating if they were living in the wild. I usually give them the greens on the days they dont eat pellets, but sometimes also on the days they do if I happen to have some extra greens on hand. I also give them an earthworm or two every couple of weeks as an added healthy treat.>
<As long as your turtles are not refusing the pellets, then youre fine offering them as many greens as theyd like. I wouldnt worry, though, about keeping them supplied 24/7 should they clean you out!>
<One thing you did mention in your note, though, is that you feed them a lot of Romaine lettuce. Do you offer them any other types of greens? If youre going to offer them greens, I wouldnt feed them just one type. The website below lists several other recommended greens and plant materials that you can offer your turtles to give them more of a variety:
http://www.redearslider.com/plants.html >
<I tend to stick with the ones listed under Beneficial and Recommended and once in a while some under the Moderate. In the summer when I have them in an outdoor pond, I also give them some of the plants listed under Aquatic Plants.>
<Another crew member whos kept turtles for many years feeds his only Koi pellets (no greens at all) with an occasional earthworm, and has had good success with that. So it would seem either approach is OK, or even somewhere in-between! And given the ages of some of your turtles (especially Bonsai, your 15 year old turtle), Id say that whatever youve been doing all these years appears to be working out just fine!>
<Youre welcome, hope that answered it!>

How is this feeding routine for my Painted and Red Ear Slider Turtles? 1/24/11
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a painted turtle and a few red ear sliders. I feed them every other day. I'm feed ReptoMin pellets along with vegetables and bugs. Here is a typical week of feeding.
Monday: Pellets
Tuesday: Nothing
Wednesday: Various vegetables (rarely fruits such as apple skins) like romaine lettuce, carrot tops, wild dandelion leaves (from my lawn. Its safe)...etc.
Thursday: Nothing
Friday: Pellets
Saturday: A few bugs, usually stink bugs (brown marmorated)
Sunday: Nothing
How is my feeding routine?
<Incredible. FAR more involved that my feeing routine. If you'll research the ingredients on the Repto-min, you'll find that it's high in vegetable matter and by itself is a fully balanced diet. I use Kay-Tee brand Koi Pellets on my water turtles, TJ. They're also a completely balanced diet for Sliders and their brethren and much cheaper. The only uh-oh are the bugs. Turtles can easily "fixate" on one particular food and ignore all others. My guess is that bug are like candy to them. If it was ME I'd cancel Bug Day except for once a month and I'd use earthworms instead>
<As far as the schedule, that's great, too. Make sure you feed only what they can eat in 5 to 10 minutes>
I'm interested in the health value of banana PEELS. I would cut them into bite size pieces and they would be feed (on occasion) along with the vegetables on Wednesday.
<Bananas are high in natural sugars, which neither the turtles nor their water need, so I'd say no. HOWEVER if you decide to do it anyway no need to cut them up -- the exercise the turtles get by tearing into things and biting off portions --- is good for them>

Get that Stink bug out of your mouth - you don't know where it's been!! 1/21/11
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have two 9 inch female Red Eared Sliders.
My house has so many stinkbugs (gross!). I put one in with the turtles and they ate it like a pellet. Can I give them like 1-3 stinkbugs a day along with my feeding of pellets (3 times a week) and lettuce (3-4 times every 2 weeks). I mean the shield looking ones invading the east coast from Asia.
These are bugs that have been in my house all winter so I don't think they have any diseases that could harm my turtles. I have read they are not poisonous.
<Here's the issue. It's not toxins, but crabs -- the Halyomorpha halys (Asian Stink Bug) would never be part of their natural diet. Like many bugs, they seem to taste really good
because turtles do seem to like them. What happens after a while is they like them so much, they will start to "fixate" on them and not eat the pellets and the "proper" diet. THEM you have a problem, because the stink bugs are not at all nutritious.>

Tortoise Food for RES? 1/12/11
Hello Crew,
Tina here,
<Darrel here>
I've written in once about a year ago about Edward only eating dried krill.
<If Edward is your husband, boyfriend or son, you have BIG problems!>
Now I have a new question.
Oh wait questions.
<Even better - the more questions you ask me, the better chance statistically, that I'll give you at least one right answer!>
Can you feed Rep-Cal Tortoise Food to a Red Eared Slider?
<OK -- Now I'm starting to see a pattern forming>
My friend has a tortoise that won't eat pellets and she gave me a big ol' jar of it. I'm starting to run out of the floating stick pellets and wonder if I should toss the tortoise food or let Edward try it.
<Well, yeah he can have it - if he likes it. A balanced tortoise food is low in protein and high in fiber and is plant-based, which is fine for Edward as well. When you run out of floating turtle sticks, pick up some Kay-Tee brand Koi pellets from your local pet store and use that instead.
It's a fully balanced and nutritious food for water turtles. I raise hatchlings to adult breeders on Koi pellets and an occasional earthworm.
I use Kay-Tee brand because it's decent quality and inexpensive>
2nd thing:
<Thing Two - as Dr Seuss would have stated it>
For the last 2 days I've noticed him eating bubbles from the filter's waterfall every now and then. Is this a problem or just him being weird?
<Yep - just a bored turtle assuming himself>
He basks, eats, swims and ponders his next escape normally. He has climbed out of his tank twice now and landed in a mesh net I have around his tank.
I fixed that by using cardboard.
<Tina - if Edward has the ability to escape, please makes sure your credit, debit & ATM cards are safe. Red Eared Sliders are COMPLETELY irresponsible with credit!!>
Thank you in advance for the help.
<It was my pleasure!>

Diet, inactivity and care conditions, RES 11/24/10
<Hi Tanya, Sue here with you.>
I have a few questions. I have two red ear sliders. I've had them for a few months now. The first couple weeks I had them they ate the pellets but them they refused to eat anything until I stared feeding them baby shrimp. The freeze dried kind. They won't eat any thing else. Is this ok?
<No, freeze dried shrimp has little to no nutritional value and shouldnt be a part of their diet. Stick with the pellets as their staple; feed them only every other day as much as theyll eat in 5-10 minutes to avoid over-feeding. If you see one stealing all of the food, you may need to feed them separately. You can also offer them fresh greens liberally every day (not iceberg, though - use red leaf lettuce, curly green lettuce, dandelion greens, etc.) I put them on a clip with a suction cup and attach it to the inside of the aquarium to try and keep them confined to one place for easier clean-up. The only treat we recommend is an earthworm or two every couple of weeks or so. Most turtles love earthworms and theyre much healthier for them than freeze dried shrimp. Your turtles will land up sick with nutritional deficiencies if you continue to feed them this as their staple.>
<Having said this, as you mentioned they like the taste of the shrimp and now dont want to eat anything else. Its no different than kids wanting only dessert but not their vegetables. One thing you may want to try is to wean them off of the shrimp. Try putting several pellets in a cap from a drink container, then stick just a few of the freeze dried shrimp in with it. Wait at least 20 minutes or until the pellets are completely softened, then mash everything into a pulp and see if theyll take small amounts of this off the top of the spoon. If they do, then just gradually decrease the amount of shrimp over the next week or two until its only the pellets theyre eating. We often also suggest holding off feeding them for a few days to try and make them hungry enough to eat the pellets. The only caveat with this is that they shouldnt be otherwise debilitated (which yours may be; see below). Healthy turtles can go a few days without food but I wouldnt advise doing this with malnourished or unhealthy turtles.>
Also, I noticed the skin on there face is peeling. It happens only when I fully clean out there tank. It is only the face which is peeling. Whats happening to them?
<Not sure why youre only noticing this when you clean out the tank, but usually when skin is peeling to the point that youre noticing it, this usually points to either water quality issues and/or a water temperature thats too high. How often are you doing water changes? What type, if any, filter are you using? What temperature is the water? Ill forward this question on to one of other crew members to see if he has any additional insights on this as well.>
Another thing I have noticed is the smaller of the two turtles just sits in the corner of the tank under water. Is she depressed or something?
<Turtles often just like to hang out but if shes doing this all the time, this would not be normal. Healthy turtles should be spending several hours out of the water each day completely drying off under a heat and UVB lamp (both of which you are hopefully providing. And when theyre in the water, healthy turtles also like to actively swim about as well as just hang out. If you dont have the proper lighting and heating they require, I suggest you get these items as soon as possible and see if they make a difference. Both of your turtles will become quite ill if you are not providing these additional things.>
<As an aside, if youve only been feeding your turtles freeze dried shrimp AND not providing a basking area, heat lamp and UVB, it is likely they ARE debilitated. Especially your one turtle that is completely sedentary sitting in a corner. If all these things are true then I would shy away from the starvation option above in favor of weaning, and purchase the needed equipment as soon as possible. Turtles dont require a lot, but what they do require, they must have or they will become seriously ill.>
The larger turtle will occasionally go to the little turtle to play with her. The water is really deep. Is it possible for them to drown?
<Though turtles do breathe air like we do, they won't drown unless they get trapped by an object under the water and can't swim up for air, or if they're seriously ill and having difficulty swimming (i.e. are swimming lop-sided). Otherwise you shouldn't worry. And while turtles do appreciate deep water, what they appreciate even more is a large surface area with lots of room to swim around.>
please help me.- Tanya
<Tanya, try out the things I mentioned above and see if these things help them convert back over to the pellets and increase their activity levels. Ive also attached a link below that is our basic care guide. Compare the care youre currently providing your turtles to whats recommended in this guide and make whatever changes are necessary. Let me know how it goes, and please feel free to write back with any more questions or concerns.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

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

red ear slider help 11/14/10
To whom this concerns:
<Hiya- Darrel here>
I am the owner of 4 red eared slider, all of whom are over 20 years old and have been in my care, save one, the whole time. I feed my turtles both "meat" and greens and have never had any trouble, not even a slightly soft shell. About a month ago I noticed my oldest turtle looked like he was losing weight. He is in a large tank with direct sunlight, a thermometer on the tank and all the other turtles are just fine. I've been watching him carefully since I noticed his weight loss. He seemed to eat with the other turtles but was slower about getting the food. I realized that the other turtles had taken to sitting on him when the water was lower and so I've kept an eye on that too and have chased them off of him. This last week he hasn't eaten at all and I picked him up to find he has what looks like bruising in many spots on his body. He is listless and his limbs hang when you pick him up.
<Well, as you are already aware, this is not a good sign>
I made numerous phone calls before resorting to this email out of sheer desperation. I am not close to a vet that treats red ear sliders and the after hours clinic that will take him this weekend I simply do not have the money for.
<I understand that, too>
I have isolated him and have a lamp over his enclosure. I'm trying to figure out how to put a bowl of water in with him or whether I should just eye drop water into him every hour. I am also going to get cod liver oil within the hour to start administering that to him. I will get him to a vet on Monday (it's Saturday afternoon right now). Do you have any idea of what is going on and is there anything I can do for him between now and Monday?
<My guess is a long term debilitation from a dietary deficiency. I understand the idea of "meat" and greens, but I'd need to know many more specifics on the subject of diet>
<For now, keep him warm and DRY. Warm means around 80 degrees. If you have an old fashioned heating pad (the kind that does not turn off after a few hours) I'd wrap the pad in a towel, set it on medium and put that in the bottom of his enclosure rather than a lamp above. The lamps better than nothing, but direct heat is better and doesn't dehydrate them as much.>
<If you can get him to open his mouth, the cod liver oil isn't bad - just remember to hold him level (or almost level) when giving it - don't hold him vertically because the fluid is more likely to fill his lungs than stomach>
<Don't worry about water. If you feel the need to hydrate him, place him in a shallow bowl of water that is less that 1/8 inch deep for no more than 5 minutes>
<When you see the vet, the vet will look for signs of bacterial or fungal infection because those are things that can be treated separately. Failing that we will assume that it's dietary and the reason for this is as follows: If it's not fungal or bacterial or dietary, then it's internal and we can face it - we're not going to operate, we're not going to treat for renal failure or anything that will cost thousands of dollars so we treat for what we can afford to treat for: Fungal, bacterial or supplemental.>
<I'd like to see the doctor give your turtle multi-vitamin and calcium injections and ask him about the ability to send you home with 2 days worth of injections rather than oral meds. GIVING the shots is tricky and the vet will have to show you, but the problem with oral meds at this stage is that his digestion is likely to be shut down and it's an inefficient way to deliver the meds. Three or four days of being warm and dry with the proper supplements and your turtle will start to show signs of improvement *IF* the ailment is something that can be treated.>
Thanking you in advance,
<You're welcome - and we'll hold hopeful thoughts for you>
Isabella Daley

Need Help with Slider Behavior and Eating - 10/29/10
Hello Crew:
<Hiya! Darrel here>
I have a new juvenile (?) Red Eared Slider purchased from a reputable pet store. I've had him about a week. He lives in a 20-gallon tank purchased as a "kit" for aquatic turtles. There's a cut out in the end of the tank where the filter goes, so the tank is always half full of water. It came with a filter, two lights and a basking rock. I purchased a "hiding log" for him. It will need to be larger at some point, and I'd like to add a land area eventually, but this seems to be adequate for now. The 3 issues I have are:
1) he doesn't really eat. If I put dried shrimp in the tank he will eat that, but not his pellets or anything else, really. I've read it's beneficial to feed outside the tank and I've tried that, both with and without water. I put him in the smaller feeding tank and he just tries to swim or walk forward, (depending on if there is water in it) kind of flailing his legs. No interest in any food, even shrimp in the feeding tub. In the main tank, his water seems to be plenty warm, about 82F, and he is active. How can I get him to be interested in food and how can I condition him to eat in the feeding tank, instead of kind of flipping out?
<OK, first, the water is WAY too warm. Water should be no higher than room temperature (low 70's, etc.) and the basking area in the 90's what we want to do is offer Scoobert (my name for him, doesn't have to be yours) a choice in temperatures and let him decide warm lamp or cool water.>
<Besides, we don't want heaters in a turtle tank. If you live south of the arctic circle, any room temp you're OK with is fine for him.>
<Second, dried shrimp is a problem. Not part of their natural diet nor is it very nutritious, so this is something we have to address>
2) I believe the water is plenty deep for him. His shell is about 4 inches.
<If he is really a he, that's approaching sexual maturity and we consider them to be young adults>
-- He frequently stands on his back legs and pokes his nose out of the water. What's up with this?
<They do that. It's like they're waiting for a bus or something -- standing on the bottom, front claws against the glass, head poking out of the water and just .. watching. That's not abnormal behavior at all. No worries.>
<Parenthetically, I have an adult female rhinoceros Iguana that watches daytime TV for hours at a time. She was enamored with Tyra Banks -- got up close to the screen and took turns staring with one eye then the other. But then she'd get hysterical almost unmanageable when Montel Williams came on. Go figure.>
I think maybe he is just breathing, but I made several trips to the store to research and watch the other turtles when I was deciding to take this on, and I never saw this behavior in any of the turtles. It's kind of cute, so I don't mind it, but I need to know if there might be something wrong--with him, or the set-up.
<The setup is a tad small for a 4 inch slider fine "for now" but he'll likely need more room.>
3) He won't bask. I know he can get to the rock because he gets up there to get shrimp if I put them there. I've placed him on the rock, but as soon as the "hand monster" is gone, he plops back into the water. I switched the two lights tonight to see if a warmer rock is more enticing. But I am not sure which light goes where: I have a bluish, curlicue UVA/UVB lamp, and one that seems to have a regular household bulb. Which one goes over the rock?
<Both. The UV-B bulb is necessary for bone health (without UV-B he can't metabolize Vitamin-D) and the heat is necessary for metabolism and digestion in general. Usually you can accommodate both on the same basking area.>
<For the moment, let us assume that because the water is so warm, Scoobert never feels the need to warm up - therefore doesn't choose to bask. Fix the water temp and give him a week to see if he changes his mind about sun bathing>
Thanks for any help you can provide. I wanted a turtle because I find them restful to watch.
<Me, too! Restful, relaxing and sometimes comical, just when I need a smile>
I want to do right by my responsibilities and I did a great deal of research before committing--books, internet, and observation. But my little guy doesn't act like any of the turtles I've read about.
<Just like kids. Everyone has advice for problems my kid doesn't have and when he DOES have a problem someone has already been through, my kid doesn't respond to the solution anyway.>
Maybe I need to get HIM to read the books!
<NOW you're getting silly! They get the books all wet when they try to turn the pages!!> But instead of the restful enjoyment I had planned for, I find myself totally stressed out over this, and I feel like I'm failing as a turtle mom. Do you have any suggestions?
<Why .. yes I do.>
<First. Chill out. Stop stressing. Nothing bad is happening and you're so far not even in the neighborhood of something bad happening!>
<Let's correct the water temp. Room temp around 70-73(f). Basking site should be around 89-93(f) The probe of a cooking thermometer will test this just fine. Adjust the heat (visible) lamp away or close to get somewhere in that ballpark.>
<That leaves food. Koi Pellets are the preferred choice. Cheap, pet-store local and 100% complete and balanced diet for Sliders, Cooters, etc. Kay-Tee is a fine, inexpensive brand from our friends at Central Pets>
<The problem will be that they can fixate of a food and ignore everything else and we make ourselves feel really, really bad when they don't eat when we want them to eat.>
<What I'd do besides stop stressing. Is change the water and basking temps and offer no food at all for a week. An entire 7 days. See how he does.>
<Then, on day 8. Take him out and put him in a plastic tub or such with about 2 inches of room temp tap water and let him be in there for about 15 minutes undisturbed. Then put 3 or 4 (no more) pellets in front of him and wait for 10 minutes. Then, eaten or not, Scoobert goes back in the tank and the tub water/food is tossed. If he eats, repeat tomorrow - if not -- SKIP a day and try again. Do this whole routine for 2 weeks. Be strong!! Scoobert is strong, but you are stronger!!! In 6 weeks, ONE of you WILL CONTROL THIS RELATIONSHIP! Make sure it's you.>
Hillary J
"CooterMom" on the WWMedia Boards
<I think you're doing a great job.>
<One last thing.>
<VERY Important>
<Do not EVER let a Red Eared Slider anywhere near your ATM card!!! They have NO self control when it comes to spending money>

Slider chews rocks 10/6/10
<Hiya - Darrel here>
its been a while since I mailed with the tragic loss of one of my turtles after it jumped from my balcony(thanks so much for the support then Darrel) and I have another issue id like some advice on.
<I remember and you're welcome. >
My remaining Slider (Midori) seems healthy and happy if a little overweight in his/her (still cant figure it out) 120cm tank have a full spectrum basking light with a heat lamp, feeding a combination of two kinds of commercial pellets (normal ReptoMin and ReptoMin super) and frozen bloodworms(leftovers from my dwarf puffers in another tank)
<Obesity is caused by too much food for the metabolism. Assuming Midori is active and otherwise healthy, cut back her food (skip the blood worms entirely) and as she grows she'll absorb that condition>
<As a general note that applies to turtles, fish, dogs, cats and all our pets overfeeding and the resulting obesity are one of the major causes of health problems in all of our pets. We simply feed them too much. We always worry if they are thriving and think that we're helping them along with a bit more food. In the wild they would spend almost ALL of their active time foraging for just barely enough food to get through the day. In captive conditions Over feeding and Poor feeding (wrong diet) are FAR more likely to cause health problems than under feeding.>
water parameters are great because I have three tanks connected so a total of around 400 liters of water( so much easier to manage)
<Yes it is - good idea>
.. BUT I noticed yesterday that his/her "gums" are a tint of red/orange I did catch him/her biting rocks on a few occasions but not so much recently so could be that. took him/her out of the tank and looked in the mouth, the upper inner mouth is yellow but the rest seems a healthy pink and when out of the water no blood appears so his her mouth isn't bleeding as such but the colour really suggests it is. Googled but didn't get much TBH.
<TBH is "To Be Honest" for those of us that are computer lingologically challenged> Wonder if its something to worry about or something I should wait and monitor.
<Dale - their behaviors are their own, so it's really hard to say. I have noticed that sort of behavior on rare occasions and I'd suspect an fungal infection. Then I thought it was a sign they were looking for calcium, so I'd add a calcium supplement (take an earthworm and power it with crushed oyster shell calcium) or maybe calcium injections the thing is, for all I know, I could have changed the water, moved a bulb or had something different for my OWN lunch and they would have still stopped. Next time you offer her a meaty sort of treat, powder it with something calcium and see how she behaves>
<Watch her closely as long as you don't see a deterioration of the tissue or anything looking like fungus, it's not a major issue>
P.s If you're interested I now have:
120cm tank
black mollies
neon tetras
tiger Pleco
ghost shrimp
"safe" area for the fish to retreat to using ventilation bricks everyone is getting along great although occasionally a guppy or tetra will disappear when Midori gets hungry!
<Make sure, sure and SURE that Midori can't get trapped in those bricks. Any part of her!>
<That said, as you've probably read here before, I'm not a fan of mixing fish and turtles. Fish is really not any significant part of their natural diet and it seems a shame to the fish>
60cm heavily planted tank
dwarf puffers
ghost shrimp
60 cm tank (used for half-hearted breeding)
dwarf Gourami
all the tanks are connected using water bridges and are attached to 2 canister filters and a sump the Gourami tank and main tank are open so the fish can freely move back and forth (and often do!)
PH 7-7.5
amm 0
nitrite 0
nitrate 30~ Think my tap water is high in nitrates

Red Ear Slider is not acting like normal self - 8/17/10
Dear Crew
<Hiya Lexi -- Darrel here>
I'm very worried about my Red Ear Slider. We purchased 2 babies on May 23, 2010, one was approx. 1.5 in. in shell length and the other was approx. 1.75in-2in. in shell length.
For the past two months they both seemed to be healthy and showed no signs of any problems until Aug. 4, 2010 when the smaller one suddenly stopped eating. I was feeding him ReptoMin food sticks and pellets,
<That's a good, balanced diet>
-- and would also alternate between giving him crickets, mealworms, or earthworms.
<earthworms are a nice treat, crickets and mealworms -- not really so good>
I also would feed each turtle separately in a different container so I could make sure each turtle got enough food.
<That's a good, caring idea, Lexi>
The little one had always loved to eat and would beg for food anytime I would walk into the room, so I found it very odd when there was food in front of him and he wouldn't bother with it. Its been 12 days now and he still will not eat; however, a few of the days he would grab the food but then spit it out as if he just didn't like it and then when I would put him back in the tank he would eat the pebbles on the bottom.
<That is unusual>
I have since removed the pebbles because I didn't want them to hurt his stomach.
<Good idea. They're not necessary and the turtles do sometimes ingest them>
I then decided to try to feed him in his tank, but he still just doesn't want the food. He spends a majority of the day basking and every once in a while will get in the water but he doesn't swim too much. He'll swim around for maybe a minute then goes over to one of the fake plants and just hangs on them for an hour before getting back out and basking again. I have thermometers and the temps seem at the right degrees so I don't believe he's just cold. The water stays around 78 degrees, the basking area between 90-100, the rest of the tank around 80 and a UV/UVB bulb that goes on 12hours a day.
<The water is quite a bit hotter than it should be -- around 68 to 73 (normal room temperature) -- no warmer>
I don't notice anything else wrong with him besides him not wanting to eat but after so many days of not eating I'm getting worried that he's not going to make it.
<It is a little disconcerting and yes, it may be an indication of a deeper problem>
Any suggestions on why he would stop eating so suddenly or how to get him to eat again?
<Well, Lexi - you've already covered all the bases, so what's left is to do things differently. Lower the water temp to room temperature. You probably have a heater, so just unplug it and remove it -- never was a need for it anyway.>
<Take the little guy out and put him some place warm and dry (about 80 degrees, not any hotter) for a day or so, then put him in the separate feeding bowl and let him swim for a minute before adding food. Then try a small earthworm.>
<What we're doing here is really changing his "world" for a few days on the chance that something about his tank is bugging him. Vibrations from a filter, current leaks from a filter just something that perhaps you and I wouldn't notice but that could be a BIG deal to him. A few days alone and dry might give him the rest he needs to shake off whatever is bothering him but even if it doesn't we'll have ruled out environment.>

RES actions after laying eggs 7/24/10
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have read a lot about female Red Eared Sliders and how they act before they lay their eggs, but how do they act after laying eggs?
<They kick back, light up a cigarette and lazily blow smoke rings!>
My female RES is @4.5 yrs old and is 12" in length.
<That's HUGE for a Red Eared Slider and at least double the size I'd suspect at approximately 4.5 years old>
She stopped eating her turtle pellets about 3 weeks ago and won't eat and veggies or fruits (tried various ones per vet)( she has guppies in her tank with her, we think she is only eating the babies),
<A turtle's diet should be Repto-min food sticks and/or high quality Koi pellets. Period. No fish, no snails and maybe an earthworm or two, once a month, as a treat>
she was in perfect health and was told to monitor her weight and bring her back in if she lost 20-30 grams (which she has maintained). Last night when I took her out she started trying to dig (we were in doors 2 am) she did the digging motion for 2 hrs then calmed down, so I put her back in her tank (120 gal). At 6 am she was restless again so I took her outdoors where we had some sand and she dug for about 4 hrs and then she laid many eggs (no males for fertile eggs), some off which the eggs seemed busted, which I read on your sight they can get infections for, and to monitor your turtle for not eating, swollen eyes, etc. My question is if she wasn't eating her normal diet 3 weeks before laying eggs, and doesn't seem to have an appetite after laying eggs, she was really tired, which I can understand why she's not hungry right afterward--how long before do they start to go back to a normal appetite or should I be worried, a couple of days?
<Oh no even a month sometimes. USUALLY they're ravenous within 4 days, but they can go a month before the appetite returns. Make sure your food source is rich in calcium, as she has depleted a lot of her own in order to shell the eggs.>
This was her first egg laying, but has had the lack of appetite, the last couple of years, but only lasted a couple of days. She lost about 100 grams after laying the eggs and her eyes aren't swollen and are clear.
<All good signs, Gail. At her size, she's done growing and she should start to have a smaller appetite. In fact, your #1 health concern for her now is obesity. At her size and age I'd feed no more than she can eat in 5 minutes every third day.>
Thanks for your time, Gail Bannister
<No charge! In fact, I enjoyed it!>

Baby Res not eating and basking most of the time 7/20/10
<Hi there, Sue here with you.>
I have a baby RES thats around 3 1/2".
<If 3 Ã'½ is her shell length, she (or he!) is not a baby; more of a juvenile.>
I've had her for around 6 weeks. Shes in a 8 liters <just a little over 2 gallons> tun <??>
<Way too small an enclosure for a turtle this size. The general rule of thumb is 10 gallons for every inch of shell length. Ideally a 40 gallon for now (at least a 20), but he/she will eventually grow to be about 8-12 so will need a much larger enclosure down the road.>
with a heating and UV lamp.
<A heat bulb and UV bulb are very good, but is your UV bulb specifically UVB, or just UVA? It needs to be a UVB bulb. If its just UVA, you need to replace it with a UVB bulb no matter what the pet store might have told you! See why below.>
I change the water every 1-2 days.
<Thats good also; however, (especially if you dont have a filter) its also a good idea to scoop up with a net any uneaten food and poop as soon as shes done eating and before it all breaks down in the water. Turtles, especially as they get older, become quite messy so Id highly recommend you consider a very good quality filter one thats rated for several times more than the amount of water in your aquarium. Turtles need better filtration than fish.>
Recently her appetite slowly reduced. Now she won't eat anything and would mostly stay on her basking rock.
<The combination of not eating at all and basking all the time especially when its a change in how she normally behaves is often a sign of illness.>
The water temperature is around 76-78Ã'°f during day and 72Ã'°at night. I've ordered for a water heater.
<I wouldnt put a water heater in the tank. When it comes in, return it. Her water temp. should only be around 70-72 degrees (F) all the time. Turtles need cool water and warm dry air see more about this below.>
I feed her dried blood worms and turtle pellets. And occasionally fed her dried shrimp and carrots.
<Id replace the dried blood worms with an occasional (live) earth worm and ONLY as a treat, maybe just 1 or 2 every couple of weeks. They should not be part of her regular diet. Her turtle pellet should also be a good quality pellet such as a Koi or ReptoMin brand pellet. She only needs to be fed once every other day in the morning, and only as much as she can eat in 5-10 minutes to avoid overfeeding.>
<For some added fiber, I also give my turtles various assorted greens (not iceberg lettuce though). I attach a few of them together on a clip with a suction cup attached to the side of the tank and let them dangle in the water (easier to clean up later since theyre all in one place!). I replace with new greens every couple of days (or more often if they gobble it all up before then). I was able to get the clip with suction cup at a pet store; it comes in handy.>
She never used to bask before. She loved to stay in the water.
<Turtles should be both basking and swimming every day. One of the main reasons youre having some problems now with her skin and possibly her shell is that shes been spending too much time in the water. Turtles cant self-regulate their body temperature like we can; they have to rely on their environment to properly maintain their bodily functions. Each day, they need to haul out of the water, completely dry off, warm up, and soak up the UVB light rays (mimics the benefits they would normally derive from the sun if they were outside) both for their shell/skin health and to properly digest their food.>
<In order to entice your turtle to get out of the water, she needs to be given a clear choice between cool water (low 70s F as above) and warm, dry air above her basking area (around 88-90 degrees F attach a suction thermometer to the inside wall immediately above this area to monitor). The wider gap between the cool water and warm air is what will entice her to get out of the water in order to warm herself up. If her water is too warm, she wont want to get out.>
<However, right now, she should be treated differently until her other conditions improve. See below.>
There's no reptile vet in my city (so vet isn't an option). How long can a baby RES stay without food? What should I do to make her eat again?
<Whats more of a concern than her lack of eating right now is her skin and eyes. Turtles can actually go days, even weeks without eating and still be ok. However, her lack of eating is a sign that other things are going on with her, and that her environment may not be correct. These are the things that need to be addressed. Once these things are fixed (see below), her appetite should return. If not, write back and I can offer you a tip or two!>
<Also, as far as a vet, Im aware of at least one herp vet who will provide telephone consultation to regular vets. If/when you need to take your turtle to a vet, write back and Ill see what I can pull together for you. Its always a good idea to plan ahead so that youre not scrambling around if/when your turtle should become ill enough to need to see a vet.>
I could see her shell peeling a very little bit. Is it shedding?
<It could be. A little peeling is a normal part of growth and not that noticeable. A lot of peeling, however, is not normal.>
Her shell isn't soft or oozing. Shes a little active when shes in water.
<These are good signs.>
She has a little fungus on her legs and tails. I think her skin is shedding too as I could see a layer of her skin peeling (I think it's her skin ). Her fungus seems to getting better as she basks all day now. It's reduced significantly.
<Yes, and this is the perfect lead-in to my suggestion for you!! You should remove her from the tank completely right now and place her in a warm, dry environment until shes all better. Fungi, like other infections, are opportunistic and take advantage of warm, moist environments. Keeping her warm and dry right now except for a few minutes each day in shallow water to eat/poop will give her system an added boost and help her get better quicker. Click on the link below for a very good article written by another crew member that will tell you how to set up/isolate your turtle in a temporary warm, dry enclosure:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >
<Oh and looking at her eyes. (Theyre) not fully open. But they arent swollen or puffed/no discharge either.
<Her eye problems are likely the secondary effect of being generally debilitated as a result of not basking up until now, and as a result, not metabolizing her Vitamin D. I would recommend giving her ReptiVite vitamin supplements by ZooMed. Theyre calcium based and should also help a bit with the skin shedding though you should still isolate her using the guidelines outlined in the link above. A vitamin can never take the place of proper care. And as above, Id also switch to a good quality Koi pellet or ReptoMin.>
How can I save my RES and is all this because of her shedding?
<By isolating for now, then afterward making some changes to her diet and environment. The problems your turtle is having arent due to shedding. Rather, the shedding and the other problems are all due to environmental conditions (above mentioned) that need to be fixed. Here is another great article (written by the same crew member!) that outlines all the care guidelines in much greater detail. Give it a read over, and make whatever adjustments are necessary. Providing your turtle the right size enclosure, diet, water and basking conditions will go a long way to ensure that she (or he!) will live a long and healthy life. Hope this helps! http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

Baby RES eating own poo....yikes! 7/5/10
HI guys,
First of all, I scoured your site for this problem and found only two answers, both relating to the turtle being hungry, which is not the case here. So I'm writing in to ask for your insight and advice.
<Thank you, Denise.>
I'm temporarily caring for a friend's RES hatchling. A couple of years ago my friend bought a five inch male to keep his older, large female RES company as he apparently mistook her roaming for loneliness rather than looking for a suitable place to lay eggs.
Two years later, the younger male died, reason unknown. But he left a little legacy as this hatchling was discovered in the pond several weeks ago.
Initially my friend left him/her in the pond, thinking it would manage. I intervened and offered to help raise it until it was ready for his pond.
<Neat. They are very cute little critters when small.>
It did well the first week in it's set up an then developed puffy eyes. A visit to the vet resulted in a vitamin A injection and the addition of bits of frozen beef or chicken liver to it's diet a few times per week.
<Yes, the puffy eyes problem is not uncommon. While we don't tend to recommend the use of mammal or bird meat to pet turtles -- turtles are largely herbivorous in the wild -- as a supplement to a balanced diet small amounts of liver shouldn't do any harm, and as your vet probably explained, can provide some Vitamin A. With that said, you do want to look at how else you could provide the correct, balanced diet here because excessive use of
meat rather than plant foods can cause significant problems in itself.>
It eats well and seems very happy, but lately I've noticed he's eating his own poo with the same gusto as the other fresh food floating in the vicinity. I've been started feeding him in a separate container in an attempt to remedy the problem, to no avail. It goes like this: Move him to the feeding container, offer food. He happily takes a few bites,
scoots around, defecates, eats a bit more food, eats his poo and continues to eat more food. Yuck
<When you say "fresh food" what do you mean? Herbivores have large stomachs, and only feel full when their stomachs are full. If they're eating 75% plant material and organic detritus -- as would be the case with freshwater turtles -- the stomach fills up quickly because most of that stuff is "roughage" or "ash", i.e., indigestible. Just the same as with humans, why we feel full after eating a couple of carrots with 20 calories in total but not at all full after eating a candy bar with 500 calories.
Now, if your turtle is just getting low fibre foods, e.g., liver, meat generally, turtle pellets, then it will not feel full, ever. So despite consuming all the calories it needs, it starts hunting for something else it can eat. Reptiles have a relatively poor digestive system compared to ours, and much of what they consume comes out undigested. So their faeces can "smell" attractive in terms of food because they still contain a lot of nutrition. Since organic detritus is on the menu as far as your turtle is concerned, Mother Nature takes over, and before you know it your little turtle scarfs up his own faeces.>
I've even attempted to remove the poo during feeding before he gets to it - no dice.
<A stronger filter would help, of course.>
Today I waited longer than usual to put him back into his regular set up, hoping he'd finished defecating. Immediately upon returning to his aquatic home, he pooed again and, yep, turned around and ate it. What is up with that???? I'm aware of horses and dogs sometimes doing this when they have a mineral deficiency. Is that what's going on here?
<Possibly, but see above.>
He's diet currently consists of those Bio-encapsulated frozen brine shrimp with multi-vitamins added and bits of fresh/frozen chicken liver a few times per week.
<Not nearly enough plant material.>
Today I offered him a little cube of aquatic turtle frozen veggies -- romaine lettuce, carrots, etc. -- but he showed no interest.
<He will. If necessary, don't feed him for a week or two. Leave some floating aquarium plants -- Elodea/Pondweed is cheap and tasty -- in the aquarium. He WILL eventually eat them. He won't suddenly develop a bad eye infection because he's starved for a week, so don't worry about that aspect.>
Will keep trying that and look to purchase the Koi pellet food mentioned on your site which includes the veggies in it's formula.
<Indeed; another good, plant-based food with a lot of wheat germ in it. This pads out the pellets, balancing protein with the necessary fibre.
Essentially, turtles need a diet not dissimilar to our own. The more plants and fibre, the better; providing too much meat at the expense of plants invariably leads to problems.>
Any other ideas???
Love your site...very helpful indeed.
Thanks so much, Denise
<Cheers, Neale.>

RES questions 6/16/10
<Hiya- Darrel here>
I just got a baby Red Eared Slider and was wanting to know how much food should I feed it a day?
<no more than it can eat in about 5 minutes, then scoop up the rest>
also I noticed that when he/she lays out under the heater lamp that he/she sticks one of its legs out and swishes them every once in a while, should I be concerned about this?
<nope. That's normal>
I just got a 10gal tank for it how do you think I should set it up and what stuff do in need for the water?
<Read this link: EVERYTHING you need to know:>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>
one more thing how do I tell if my RES is a girl or a boy before she/he is mature because its still a baby and only 1 1/2-2 in long
<You really can't Savanna. At that age, the differences are all inside. You won't know for 3 to 5 years, depending on how fast it grows. The GOOD news is that they don't care what you name them a male Slider is perfectly happy with a girl's name and vice versa.>
<Read the link, make sure you provide everything he or she needs and you guys can be together for years!>
<yer welcome>

Help with our Red Eared Slider 6/16/10
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I'm really hoping you can help me out!!
<Lets see what we can do>
We have an adult, female Red Eared Slider (she is about 10 inches long). She lives in our outdoor pond which is 20 foot by 30 foot and 5 feet deep. We have Koi, goldfish and Shubunkin that live in the pond with her. We just got back 2 days ago from 3 weeks of vacation and found that the waterfalls had apparently stopped working early on our trip and our friend just left the pond and threw food in. The water was pretty stagnant and gross when we got back. The RES was out of the water when we first saw her and she jumped in right away and swam at the surface and then the second we walked back in the house she got out. About an hour later we went out again but she just sat there and didn't move. We went to pick her up and she was very lethargic and her eyes were puffy and swollen.
<Indicating a vitamin deficiency>
We immediately isolated her and she's now in the house in a full size bathtub. We have a heater in the room and the temperature is 87 where we have her. We've got a little water (about an inch deep) at one end and then no water at the other end. She's poking her head out and we were just putting ReptoMin in with her but she wasn't eating it (in the pond we give her Koi pellets and the ReptoMin). So, we went out today and got her an earthworm and fed her the earthworm and the ReptoMin with a dropper. We were able to get her to eat that by basically force feeding her.
<Force Feeding he is probably stressful for her, so make sure you're using the feeding as a method to deliver the vitamins (read below and that will make more sense) -- don't feed her "just to feed her">
She's always been an outside turtle (we got her about 2 years ago from someone who also always had her in their outdoor pond). Because she eats with the Koi I don't really know how much she's getting all the time. I want to make sure that we're feeding her adequately while we work to try to get her better. Can you confirm how much we should feed her exactly?
<I feed mine Koi pellets as well. Never any more than they can eat in 5 minutes.>
She doesn't seem to have a runny nose and the only other issue she had was a small amount of scute shedding but we haven't noticed that problem since we brought her inside. Her shell does appear nice and hard and normal. We obviously won't put her back in the pond until she's completely healthy and we have the water back to 100%. Is there any treatment that would be good for her eyes that we can do?
<Yes, I'll include a link>
I also would like to confirm that, in your opinion, we're caring for her as we should while she recovers.
<You're doing MUCH better than most people. Keeping her warm and dry is the #1 thing you did right. When a turtle is sick and/or debilitated, having to swim & haul out to bask, etc all their normal activities become overwhelming for them. When she's warm & dry, she may no be healing yet but she's at least resting.>
If you have any other advice I would greatly appreciate it. We are trying to see if we can get her better on our own but will take her to the vet if necessary.
<What I'd like to for her to have a set of vitamin and calcium injections. Failing that, earthworms and pieces of beef liver (small pieces) are good. Vitamin 'A' drops like they sell in the pet stores are a waste of time and money .. but like my grandmother said about Chicken Soup 'what can it hurt?'>
Thank you for any assistance you can provide. If I can provide you additional information to help you respond, please let me know.
<Debbie - this is a link about general care. You'll already done the single most critical part (isolation) but read about swollen & puffy eyes. As she dries out, relaxes and gains strength, her appetite may come back, making it easier to slip her the vitamins>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm>

need help 6/16/10
Hi, my name is Derek.
<Hiya - I'm Darrel>
I just got two baby slider turtles. One of them stopped eating. It looks like its eyes are swollen and it wont open its eyes.
<This seems like the day for swollen eyes>
It wont eat and swim. all it will do is sit under the light. I got a uvb and heat light. Before all this started it looked like it was having a hard time swimming.
<He may have been sick when you got him, but let's see what we can do>
It just started to move it head back and forth a little and its mouth will open a little.
<That part is OK>
It looks like it might be having a herd time breathing but I don't know. the temp is good in the basking and water. I don't got a filter for it yet but I try to change the water every day or two.
<No worries there Derek. I've raised many turtles in tanks without filters by just cleaning them every few days. Turtles don't need a lot of things and what they do need doesn't have to be expensive -- we just have to find simple ways to get it done>
please let me know on how to help it. I can not find a vet that knows anything about turtle.
thank you for your time.
<No problem, Derek>
<The swollen & closed eyes is a sign of a diet deficiency usually for a fairly long time. Without Vitamin A and sunlight (or a good UV-B light) they develop eye problems fairly easily.>
<The first thing to do here, Derek is to treat them both the same way. Even though the other seems fine (or at least better) they both have had the same care, same diet, etc. so they probably both have the same condition, just that one is more advanced.>
<Here is a link about basic treatment - read the WHOLE article please
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >
<Now what I would do is drain the tank completely and use it as the warm/dry isolation (unless there are other living things in the tank). Put them in a very shallow bowl of water once a day for a few minutes (just barely up to their neck but not so that their head goes underwater) and offer just one or two pellets of food.>
<Make sure they're WARM but since there is no water for them to cool off in, make sure the heat lamp doesn't burn them (shouldn't be uncomfortable for you to have your hand under for a minute or so). Make sure the UV lamp is the proper type, make sure they are getting the UV DIRECTLY -- through glass or even screen doesn't work>
<Try to get them to eat tiny pieces of beef liver or Koi pellets or ReptoMin with a drop of cod liver oil on it>
<While you're treating them, read this link about general care and try to see what steps might have been missed that led them to the dietary deficiency in the first place:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

Red Eared Slider, fdg.... gen. - 6/12/10
Dear Sir or Madam,
I recently found a red eared slider in my garden in Dubai, he was being attacked by some myna birds when I found him. He is male (long claws and tail), approx 4-5" and looks fairly healthy. He has either been dropped by a bird or dumped by some irresponsible owners. I took a roasting tray (30cm x 20cm x 10cm) and filled it with water then built some large gravel around it so he can easily climb in and out and put it on the patio enclosed by some chairs (on their side) and covered with a towel to provide shade but with a small sunny spot on the patio on one side. I fed him some raw prawns which he very quickly ripped apart and ate. After a trip to the vet I got him some terrapin pellet food, but he doesn't seem too keen on that.
<Children aren't wild about vegetables, and will happily gorge themselves on chocolate. But which is best for them? Prawns are a fine treat maybe once a week, but they are nutritionally not very useful. Among other things they contain thiaminase, which means the more you use them, the less vitamin B1 the terrapin will have in its body. Long term that causes serious problems. Koi pellets are a good staple, and better treats would include salad greens and small pieces of white fish fillet like tilapia.>
He is quite active, he will lie in the water putting his head up occasionally for air and looks as though he is sleeping. Then sometimes he'll climb out and have a wander around, he likes to bask in the sun after the sprinklers have been on (I think perhaps because the patio is then a bit wet) and he doesn't seem to object too much to being handled (we have to move him every day to replace his water as we do not have a filter yet).
So I wanted to ask:
1) Will he be okay in the enclosure I have made for him? I cannot get a pond built for a few weeks as I need permission from my landlord.
Otherwise I will have to spend a lot of money on a tank setup as a temporary measure. The outside temperature in Dubai currently averages low 27 C (80 F) degrees and high 42 C (107 F)
<Air temperature in Dubai will be fine. Indeed, the water will need to be quite cool so he doesn't overheat, and he'll likely bask in the sunshine and then cool down in the water, so something that shades the water will be handy. The size of the tank isn't adequate though. Do read:
2) How much of his diet should be pellet food can he survive on just prawns (well perhaps varied raw fish)? and how often would you expect a terrapin this size to eat?
<Prawns should be only very occasional treats. Again, read those articles for tips on feeding.>
3) Are they social animals?
Does he require company and if I get another terrapin should it be the same size as him?
<Least of your problems now, and indeed, mixing them in small enclosures is likely to end up with aggression. Males are somewhat aggressive.>
Our pet store only seem to sell babies (about 1-2") Should I get male or females to keep him company?
Lastly should terrapins be neutered if they are kept in mixed groups?
<No. But females will need access to dry sand or coconut fibre to lay their eggs in, otherwise they become egg bound. You can throw the eggs away after they're laid. But you do have to make sure females can lay their eggs.>
Many thanks for your advice and assistance,
Kind regards,
<Cheers, Neale.>

Red Eared Slider question 6/3/10
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a Red Eared Slider 5 yrs old and we usually feed him turtle pellets but my family spoils him and feeds him bread and rice. I try to stop them but they don't listen. these things cant be safe for them can they? please tell me soon, I cant find an answer on the internet.
<Sam - you are correct . Many breads are very high is sugars, which is why fish and turtles are attracted to them, but it is NOT good for them. Long term dietary sugars will cause both liver and kidney problems. Rice is less detrimental but not by much - it simply is NOT part of a Red Eared Slider's diet. At the very best it will tend to make him obese and at worst can actively affect his health. Tell your family that if they truly want to spoil him, give him ONE earthworm every three weeks. It's not only good for him, it's fun to watch him eat it>
thank you.
<Yer Welcome>

Turtle Shaking & Not Eating! Need Help Please!! 5/28/10
my name is Nicole
<Mine is Darrel>
. and I am a new owner of a baby (2inch) Red Eared Slider (Michelangelo). About a month ago, my fiancé was on his way home from work and they were selling them on a corner (which I later found out was illegal to sell or own baby turtles).
<NOT illegal to own them (in most places) usually just illegal to sell a water turtle with a carapace (shell) length of less than 4 inches except for educational purposes.>
Anyway, we had him in his plastic container for a day or so until we could get to the pet shop and get an aquarium and such. For the first week, he did not eat anything and did not know how to swim!
<Maybe just stressed out>
I was getting so worried! It wasn't until my fiancé came home with some printed out aquarium pictures for the tank and as soon as I put them up, he immediately started running around his docking platform and diving into the water.
<Interesting. Most likely, what he saw out the glass where the pictures went frightened him.>
By the next day, he was swimming and holding his breath going down to the bottom of the tank and best of all, he was eating! I was so happy he was doing great! I figured he was stressed out about the environment.
<My guess, too>
I have tried multiple food with him, crickets, lettuce, meal worms, turtle food, minnows and the only thing he would eat for sure was the meal worms and turtle pellets. Therefore, I would feed him twice a day, pellets in the morning before I went to work and meal worms at night around dinner time. I would cut 2 or 3 pellets in half in the morning and chop off the heads of the meal worms and cut them into 3's or halves depending how big each worm was at night. He seemed to love it! He was active and playful and curious about everything. When holding him he would run around in your hand, never shy! However, this past Sunday, May 23rd I was out and my fiancé tried to feed him. He called me and said he was not eating. I thought that he was just doing something wrong. When I came home, I tried to feed him and sure enough, he did not eat. I thought ok maybe he just is not hungry. I put him back in his tank and tried again Monday morning. Again, he did not eat.
I have tried every day twice a day since Sunday to try to get him to eat.
<A bit strange>
After observing him and watching his movement, I noticed that when he is on his docking platform he does this weird spasm thing where he is almost shaking and jolting. He goes up to the water as if he is about to go in and
then jolts back. The best way I can describe it is that it looks like he is hiccupping! When I take him out and put him on the bed, he runs around like he is perfectly fine. However, as soon as I pick him up I can feel the muscle contractions in his little body and it seems as though he leaps unwillingly. I am just so confused because I have been doing the same things I have been doing for the past few weeks and he was doing great.
<OK - first lets' everyone calm down. Nothing TERRBILE is happening here>
Please! I hope someone can help. I am so scared for him. It breaks my heart to think that something bad might happen. I am taking any and all suggestions.
<OK - that right there is a bit overboard. Let's NOT take any & all suggestions .. just one at a time>
What other food could I try to get him to eat? After this, I am unsure as to what to feed him and how to keep a well balance diet. I thought the pellets were good for the vitamins and the meal worms were good for him.
What should I do?
<First, regarding food. I feed my hatchlings Repto-min turtle pellets and small-sized Koi pellets. After about 4 months and for the rest of their lives, I feed them just Koi pellets (a perfectly balanced, perfectly complete diet for Sliders & family) with just an occasional earthworm (like maybe one a month) just as a treat. Mealworms have very little nutritional value and are high in fat as well.>
<If he doesn't act right where he's living, let's let him live somewhere else. If you can come up with a plastic tub that you can put just a tiny bit of water in (just up to the bottom of his neck) and just a slab of stone, wood, etc. that he can climb out on move him to something like this for a day or two and see if his behavior changes. Turtles don't have a particularly complex nervous system so complicated neurological conditions are unusual. Not to mention, of course, that if it WAS some weird medical condition it's unlikely we'd be able to treat it anyway.>
<So here's what I'd do. I'd take him out of the tank that he doesn't seem to like and place him somewhere else like I described above for a few days. Keep in mind he still needs a warm & dry plus cool and wet. Still needs UV light, etc. -- but some place different. On the VERY off chance that he's had a fall or a tumble and his stomach is twisted, pick him up & hold him head up (to the ceiling) & tail down (to the ground) for 3 or 4 minutes. Just hold him steady and calmly. At first he'll probably struggle, but eventually he'll relax. I can't even TELL you small the chances are .. but what the heck, you probably have an extra 5 minutes, don't you? After that, place in his new digs and see how he behaves>
<Don't sweat the food right now. Don't offer food for 3 days and then place him in shallow water and offer one turtle pellet and see what he does. If he ignores it, skip two days and try again on the third.>
Are there any medicines for this?
<Not until & unless we see an actual condition to treat>
I love him so much and will do whatever it takes!
<First, take a breath, next take your time & third, give him some space. It very well could be all the handling that is the source of his discomfort.>
Thank you,

Red Eared Sliders, hlth., nutr. 5/11/10
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I love your site but was unable to find my answer so here I sit writing to you ... I have 2 Red Eared Sliders - both we got as quarter sized turtles. Randolf is about 15 1/2 yrs old and doing great. Squirt will be 3 this summer. They are in separate aquariums .. my concern is Squirt. The last few days, he seems to flip himself over ... he has plenty of clean swimming area and also a rock to get up on and sun. Today I noticed him holding his head out and back .. as if someone pulled it out and bent it backwards ..
It doesn't matter if I put him in the water or on his rock, he will not retract his head. His eating has dwindled to nothing also. What's wrong????? :(
<That's a strange symptom, Sherry. It sounds vaguely like a vitamin & calcium deficiency has led to MDB (Metabolic Bone Disease) and possibly a degeneration or a slippage of a disc in his neck. This is one of those times where a visit to a qualified vet and an X-ray are absolutely in order. My guess is that he can't move his head or mouth as necessary to eat or drink.>
Sherry & Alex

Re: I need help!!!! RES,,, food 5/3/10
than ks so much for all ur help.okay today I was looking at both my turtles and I know RES's have red markings on the sides of their heads.well,mine dont.does it come with age or is it always there?another question,how often should I clean the tank and they look a little too young to eat turtle pellets and my neighbors have a huge one and when it was little they told me they fed it tropical fish food and they told me to feed them that and mr.t seems to like it.is it ok to feeed them that? if so, when do you think I should start feeding them turtle pellets and what kinds of vegetables should I give them and when?sorry about the long note.i really want to keep them and make sure they're healthy because I am only 12 and I have already becomevery close to my turtles.thanks a bunch!!!!
P.S., sorry about the pictures I will try to send better ones.again, thanks!!!
<Dear Jessica, you can feed your beloved turtles with floating fish pellets, you can also boil some zucchini and give them little slices. You can try with little pieces of apple and all vegetables and fruits and some raw meat. Be careful and remove all the food uneaten to avoid water pollution. You can feed them when you see the turtles swimming and basking. Maybe one of your turtle is quite shy and unsure but day after days she will get more lively!>

Red ear slider wont eat 3/15/10
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a 1yr old slider who hasn't eaten in 5 days. Prior to this feed pellets daily along with chicken, which he loved. Just boom won't eat? Is this a cause of just not hungry? Or should I be worried?
<Too soon to be worried just concerned>
<It's likely that SOMETHING has changed in the past 5 days. Water temperature, water quality, day/night cycles, air temperature . Something is likely to be different.>
<Is he otherwise active? Basking to warm and swimming to cool off? Is his shell hard?>
<The first thing to do is stop feeding chicken! I've been in just about every lake, stream, swamp and puddle in the Western Hemisphere and I've never seen a turtle eat chicken. In fact, the ONLY actual meat that they'll have is when they get lucky enough to occasionally encounter something that died but this is rare. Feed him Koi pellets or ReptoMin pellets (same thing) daily with something like an earthworm or a very small piece of beef liver maybe once every other month and he'll live happier and healthier.>
<Here's a link to general care instructions that cover every aspect of care -- measure every one of your solutions again the suggestions given - just to make sure. Correct everything that might be out of balance and see if he doesn't start eating again soon.>
<If everything is fine and he hasn't eaten in another 5 days, write back>

Red eared turtles... fdg... repro. 3/1/10
Hello...I am the proud owner of three red eared turtles one female and two males... Of the three the largest one (female ) seems to have lost her appetite she sees to look for secluded spots (which I have provided in there 45 gallon tank) and she is not eating... I tried feeding her alone but she doesn't bite. Otherwise she seem OK. I do provide vitamins in the water, but I am worried about her. The other two males appetite is terrific... should I be concerned? Please advise Thank you
<It's likely she wants to lay her eggs. It's very important she can do so, otherwise egg-binding follows, and that can/will kill your pet. Make sure the vivarium has a stable tray filled with soft sand where she can lay her eggs. Something about the size/shape of a kitty litter tray will do, with sand almost to the top. She'll take it from there. There's a good review of egg-binding here:
Most folks don't bother looking after the eggs. There are already far too many Red-ear Sliders in the pet trade! Cheers, Neale.>

RES not eating pellets 1/19/10
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I've had my Red Eared Slider for almost a month now. Its a little guy his name is Edward unless in a couple years from now it turns out to be a girl I'll change it.
My mom bought him at the mall by the Cinnabons. Can't remember what the tank size we have... 20 gal I think but it's filled up to 10 1/2. There are 2 different basking docks next to each other under 2 lamps the heating and
that sun bulb one, Zilla rock with foliage med. size. A submersible heater, 2 different thermometers, and AquaClear 50 filter which is awesome but a little loud with the water falling in. I did fix that with the lid of the critter container he came in. Oh and a Turtle Hut that is acting as a stand for the lid to quiet the water fall.
<The only thing I'd change for sure is the heater. If his basking site is warm enough then his water should be cool - so that he can choose what temperature.>
He came with pellets but never ate them. I had ordered a starter kit and it came with pellets and krill (says Treat on it). He loves the krill but wouldn't eat the pellets. He tried but never succeeded in getting it in his mouth. So I bought the smaller pellets for hatchlings. However, he just snaps at it and spits it back out. Also have the floating stick food for hatchlings and I cut them in half and he did the same thing as the smaller ones. When he first came home couldn't get him to eat for about a week. But that was because he was in his little container waiting for the tank to be bought and warmer water.
<It's not uncommon for a turtle to get fixated on one type of food and ignore all others. The thing to do is AFTER you make sure he's been eating well (As Edward seems to be) you simply stop offering him any other kind of
food except the pellets until he eats. Do it like this: Every day take Edward out of his tank and place him in a shallow bowl of water (just scoop some from the tank - just barely to the top of his shell) and offer him 2 pellets (I use regular Koi pellets and / or Repto-min sticks by Tetra) and wait. If he doesn't eat after 5 minutes, place him back in the tank, toss out the water and the pellets and try again tomorrow. Do this every day for as much as three weeks and when he gets hungry, he'll eat!>
Water temp varies from 72-76 degrees at night up to 77-78 during the day.
The basking area varies from 90 to 93 degrees.
<Here's a link to a complete care sheet>
<Yer welcome!>

Re: Slider not eating pellets 1/26/10
Hey crew,
<Hiya dear reader!>
Just an update on Edward. He just started eating his ReptoMin floating sticks today! But it was in the tank instead of a bowl. I was doing the bowl but he freaked out or just sat there. Since he's eating now, I'll put him in the bowl again.
<The bowl is mainly to help keep the water clean. Let's not freak Edward out right now. If he eats in his tank that's fine -- as long as he eats all you give him. One or two sticks at a time and then you scoop out what he doesn't eat>
Just out of curiosity how old is he when he's about 2 inches? I couldn't get a good measurement on him because he is sleeping at the moment.
<12 to 18 months maybe>
Oh yeah.. How long can I keep him out of water, let's say on the floor when the dog isn't around? I can't take him outside in my complex, there is no grass anywhere and there are cats running around. The one time I did take him out, he peed on me and almost pooped on me.
<As long as you are RIGHT THERE to watch him. I'm not kidding as long as you don't let him out of your immediate sight, he can be outside as long as you'd like to be there with him>
Thank you so much for the help!
<happy to help!>

Email #2 - RES Turtle Feeding Questions 1/19/10
Darrel, Hi again, long time no chat!
Here's email #2 ; Feeding Questions; did look through FAQ's but couldn't find what I needed. Again, Shelly's likely a young juvenile - she/he was about 2" carapace length when I rescued him in July; he's about 3 Ã'½ " long now.
<That is one handsome turtle you got there, Sue!>
I did see in your response that you feed your turtles Kay-Tee Koi pellets and an occasional earthworm (Gotta say here never gave them a passing thought when I was the tomboy I used to be. Now, just the thought of opening the top of a container of them gives me pause...let alone watch the turtle eat one...my, how things change!) But I do realize I should break down and offer a little more variety. BTW ; do you happen to know what the primary nutrients are in earthworms ; i.e. is it primarily just protein
based or does it have other essential nutrients as well?
<Maybe the box of earthworms has a "nutritional information" label on the side!>
<No. Here's what I do: Buy a cup of night crawlers from the local pet store, give one to Shelly and put the rest in your garden - they're excellent gardeners and soil aerators>
Anyway, you must live in a much warmer place than I do! I tried to find Koi pellets and earthworms last week and found out:
* Koi pellets (up here in the frozen tundra of New England) are considered an "outdoor pond" item, and sold only during "outdoor pond season" when the wild life is not hibernating!
* Earthworms in the pet/fish stores here:. notice I didn't say tackle shops!....are only sold during fishing season is there something about this that doesn't sound right to you?!
<Just one MORE reason not to live in the backwater, backwoods of New England! Any society that can't muster up a cup of worms on any given day probably has other, less obvious problems too. Probably don't have Palm trees or white sand beaches and can't go scuba diving in February either.>
So, before searching for Koi pellets (and earthworms???!) on the web, I have a couple of questions about what I'm currently using:
* The staple - I'd like to get your opinion about the brand I'm using if you're familiar with it...Zoo Med Aquatic Turtle food "growth formula" 35% protein (for turtles with carapace between 2 and 6). I noticed you mentioned to someone that you like ReptoMin and feel it compares to the Koi pellets. What about the Zoo Med Aquatic Food?
<My friends at Zoo-Med do not pay me to endorse their products, which by the way is always an option -- I AM willing to sell out .. and for very reasonable prices!>
Are you familiar with that brand, and if so do you feel that it's the same level of quality as ReptoMin?
<LOL - Yes, the ZooMed is good and perfectly balanced. It's just been pricey compared what is available.>
I ask this because ReptoMin was the very 1st food I tried to feed Shelly, and she would have none of it...even with no other choices. So I switched to Zoo Med which she took and has been eating since.
<If it's working and she's healthy, then you can stick with it - I have no reservations>
* Treats - In the event I can't get earthworms until spring, what I've been using as my occasional treats for Shelly (both of which he loves) are either a few pellets of the Sera Reptil Carnivor (38% protein) or the Sera Raffy 1 (53% protein; contains - Gammarus, anchovies and shrimp). Are you familiar with either of these, or have any opinion on whether either of them are a suitable substitute for earthworm treats...again not knowing exactly what nutrients earthworms would offer that these wouldn't?
<I'd use tiny pieces of beef liver in the absence of worms. The only problem is going to the meat counter and asking the guy for 1/10 of an ounce of liver -- or dealing with tossing out the remaining amount. You can cut it up into fingernail-sized pieces and then wrap each piece in a tiny bit of Saran Wrap (Saran Brand Plastic Wrap!) and then toss them in a Baggie Brand Freezer Bag until needed. But what you have going for you is that the ZooMed is a perfectly balanced diet so anything that's a treat is just that: As long as it doesn't contain arsenic, shards of glass or metal or traces of Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks .. it's fine for a treat!>
* Another staple - Even though Shelly doesn't eat much of any of it yet, up to this point I've been offering him a variety of different greens every day or two (attach them to inside of aquarium with suction cups) because I'd read (before WWM!) that it's still good to introduce these foods when they're young. However, I saw that you don't feed your turtles any kind of greens, either plants or vegetables. Not that it's relevant for Shelly yet anyway since he's still mostly a carnivore, but I'm curious if there's a reason you don't offer any plants or vegetables. I have read not just from you ; that Koi and good quality commercial pellets are a complete diet and all that they need; but on the other hand I've also read (from Neale here), and other places like anapsid.org, tortoisetrust.org, etc. that it's better to provide the same nutrients from a wide variety of sources (more than just 1 or 2 sources) including various pond plants or vegetables...I know opinions can differ and all still be right, and it sounds like you've had success for years with just the pellets and earthworms, but am curious what your view is on the other recommended approach.
<Well, MY opinions are referenced the world around as the "right" or "Correct" opinions!>
<Seriously, Neale is actually smarter than me, so when he offers an opinion, I take it into very careful consideration. In this case he's right. It's good and always helpful to supplement their diet with natural greens -- but here's thing: Neale may be smarter, but I'm better looking AND LAZIER!! I look at it like this: In their wild habitat, turtles dine on Anacharis plants, lilies and hyacinth plants as well as snails, bugs and worms when they find them - not collards or kale or any of the typical dark green veggies you'd be buying at the store. SO I read on the nutritional information on the commercial food packages that THEY are already buying the stuff I'd buy - fish meal, corn, alfalfa, etc. so I just decided to let them do all that work, which leaves me more time to goof off.>
I also have a question on appetite, dietary requirements and seasonal change ; for an indoor turtle. Similar to the question in my other email about reducing the UVB lighting time in the winter for an indoor turtle, why also reduce the frequency of feedings in the winter for indoor turtles? I have noticed that Shelly does seem to have a little less appetite, but I didn't attribute it to winter because for her, the temp is the same all year! So am curious why the dietary needs should change from season to season for an
indoor turtle?
<well, in addition to temperature we have light cycles that affect them and possibly many other kinds of natural "cues" that Shelley senses that we don't. Small changes and cycles are normal. Flow with them>
And finally....last question about diet, you must be jumping up for joy by now!...I have a shell related question concerning too MUCH calcium??? We recently brought Shelly for a "well visit" check to an exotics vet up at the Tufts small animal vet clinic near Boston (unfortunately herp expert here in CT retired a few months ago). Reputable clinic, but not sure how knowledgeable this particular vet (actually an intern) is on turtles, or how often he sees them (pictures of rabbits all over the room!) I asked him about Shelly's shell (can you guess how my daughter came up with turtle's name?)
<I names one "Dutch" because, at the time (maybe still now) The Shell Oil Company was based in the Netherlands>
Shelly's shell is hard, and for the most part smooth, however there are some slightly raised areas on some of the scutes, especially the ones closer to his head (are you able to see this well enough on the attached photos?...another close-up of his shell is also on the 1st email). I asked him if this was an early sign of pyramiding. He wasn't especially concerned; said that these were very minor raised areas on the scutes. He didn't consider it pyramiding. Instead, he said that given the diet we're feeding (the pellets above) along with Reptimineral H vitamin twice a week, a pinch of Rep-Cal calcium with D3 powder on food every day, and a small chunk of Zoo Med Turtle Bone every other day or so, that if anything, the thickened raised areas on the scutes are more the result of TOO MUCH CALCIUM rather than too much PROTEIN. Do you agree with this???? I've never read
anywhere anything about turtles getting too much calcium, or that too much of it can cause raised areas on the shell - have you??
<I don't necessarily agree with that, but I've heard it - yes>
He advised us to discontinue the Reptimineral H and Turtle Bone COMPLETELY, and only give the pinch of Rep-Cal with Vit D3 twice a week instead of once every 1-2 days like I had been doing. I realize the Reptimineral H may be overkill assuming a good diet, but I am concerned about cutting out the Turtle Bone completely and reducing the Rep-Cal to only twice a week. What do you think about his advice - especially given that Shelly is still a young and growing turtle?
<I agree that you're over supplementing. Supplements are specifically what we do to compensate for some inadequate condition. Shelly is getting all the calcium she needs in her basic diet>
<I have extensive experience with pyramiding scutes on tortoises and at present I'm waiting for veterinary science to catch up with me. Pyramiding is present even in tortoises that have actual 'natural' diets as well as those with completely managed diets. The different in effect and exaggeration is not so much the diet but how much the food itself. In other words, pyramiding of the scutes is roughly analogous to obesity of the shell and more related to the AMOUNT of food consumed than to the makeup of that food. Veterinary science has yet to conclude that. But they're wrong and I'm right>
Anyway, I'm sure I've surpassed my quota on questions now! Again, thank you so much for all your help so far (and also for the laughs!); I feel like I should be paying you for your time!!
<Don't worry about it - Bob Fenner pays me per word. Per word per word per word><<Right... what's that fave song from Billy Preston?: "Nothing from nothing leaves nothing..." RMF>>
Kind regards...
P.S. If you or the crew would like any help further parsing out/re-categorizing any of the 'mixed topic' emails or any of the sub-web indexes about turtles to make it easier for people to find exactly what they need, let me know. With all my research over the last several months, I think at this point I've gained enough knowledge to at least know what all the relevant TOPICS are (and hopefully eventually what most of the ANSWERS are as well!); it may even help me learn more about turtles in the process.
<Be warned, Sue -- any offers to do the scut work might actually be accepted! - I'll pass on your offer to RMF>
<<Sue... what do you have in mind? BobF>>

Re: Email #2 - Offer to help organize RES/Turtle FAQ's... and note to fix Google search on "Ask" page 1/21/10
Hi Bob,
Regarding my offer to help that Darrel passed along to you, and to your question about my thoughtsÃ'….
First I want to say that you have a wonderful website, provide a great service and I'm glad I found you guys! 2nd is I hope you're treating Darrel well; he's very knowledgeable, informative and entertaining!
<Heeee! I "treat" all people the same, but he is a treasure>
3rd is Wow, you receive a ton of FAQ�s!! I noticed a few things on the Turtle FAQ�s while going through them before emailing the crew with my questions:
Ã'· There are many varied topics stored under very general categories like Sliders 1, Sliders 2, Turtles 1 and 2, etc., rather than under the applicable topic.
<Yes... and their "organization" is an ongoing, unfolding effort>
Ã'· Other categories that are more specific like �RES Systems� are still very encompassing topics that cover a wide range of sub-topics.
Ã'· Some of the emails themselves (unfortunately a couple of my own earlier ones as well!) were not confined to a single topic, but often had multiple topics within them. This forced you guys to either have to choose the most representative category to store the email in � and/or store the same email in more than one category, resulting in having a lot of information that's unrelated to the category its stored in.
<Yes... this is almost all my work... and a mixed source of amusement, consternation and enlightenment>
I realize its not critical if a given FAQ is not under the �technically correct� heading since you have the word search feature, but still it might make it more convenient and expeditious for someone who might want to go to one given category to have all of the related FAQ�s listed together in one spot.
<Mmm, yes... and having put this site up in the mid 90's, knowing "the fields" fairly well, designing the "sub FAQs" categories as I have, you can very well appreciate the intention to (over time) add "articles" to head each>
So 4th is that I'd be happy to offer to whatever help I can (if you'd like to have any help) on any of the above! Some of my thoughts as to how I could help with the organization of the Turtle FAQ�s (wouldn't even know where to begin with the other ones!) �
Ã'· Redistribute FAQ�s currently located in the very broad categories (such as under Sliders 1 and 2 FAQ�s, RES Diseases, etc.) to one of the other more specific categories.
Ã'· Add subtopics under some of the very encompassing topics like RES Systems 1 and 2 similar to what was done for Turtle Systems 1 and 2. For example under RES Systems, create subtopics such as Basking Area Options, Lighting & Heating Requirements, Water Filtration & Heating Questions, Turtle Enclosures/Sizes (and maybe under this even �Indoor� vs. �Outdoor�), Accessory Items/Decorations for Habitat, etc.
<Very good>
Ã'· Unless you feel original questions should be archived using the
exact words:
Ã'§ Parse out the �multi-topic� emails and redistribute the topics within them to the appropriate categories where they belong.
Ã'§ Rather than having so many questions essentially asking the same thing, instead consolidate each group of repeat/commonly asked questions under a single paraphrased one, and put the various answers below them (hopefully the way I worded this is clear!), AND/OR leave the original questions and answers intact and instead �
Ã'§ Possibly create a list of the �most commonly asked FAQ�s� at the very top of each of the different topic sections that contain paraphrased questions and answers � this might help people more quickly get the answers to at least the most commonly asked questions instead of having to read through all of the individual FAQ�s sorted only by date, many of which overlap each other and contain extraneous information (such as some of mine!)
<This last is my preference>
Also � FYI � one thing I noticed on the �About Asking the WWM Crew a Question� page �
Ã'· The Google Search for the WWM website under Direction #1 doesn't work � at least it doesn't for me.
<Have just checked... Will fix!>
It just takes me to a blank page no matter what words I type in the search field. I later found the alternative Home Page search field mentioned under the �Tip� link further down in the directions (which does work for me), but just thought you should be aware that there may be a problem with the search feature that's under Direction #1. If it turns out that its not working for others as well, they may not think or know to check �Tips� or go to the Home Page � and possibly not bother trying to find an alternative way to search the FAQ�s before submitting an email question to you! Also, as an aside, the �HOME� page link is a very dark color and doesn't stand out very well at least on my computer.
Anyway, if you'd like any help with any of the above, or as Darrel put it, any of the other �scut work�!, I'd be happy to provide whatever help I can to further your very nice cause! Just let me know what would be of most help. (Again, only turtle scut work, wouldn't have a clue what to do with the other FAQ�s!!)
Kind regards,
<How to proceed here Sue...? Would you go through the present archives, make up the pages as you deem worthy, and send them to me to post? BobF>

Trachemys scripta elegans; diet 1/18/10
Hello: I was wondering if you could tell me why my red-eared slider nips at his front humerus, I have looked and I can't see anything there.
<If the skin isn't broken, i.e., there isn't an obvious sore or infection, I wouldn't worry overmuch.>
About 3 weeks ago I introduced a female and at the same time transferred my male at the same time into a 75 gallon tank, could he be stressed with these changes?
<Possibly, but terrapins tend to be fairly phlegmatic animals, and while the males can be aggressive to one another, females usually do not harass the males.>
At first, my male ( Zac) did his little mating ritual to no avail.
<Most folks don't want eggs, and indeed, it's usually recommended against breeding them given the limited market for offspring.>
They seem to do fairly well together otherwise. One more question I have had so many different opinions about their feeding can you give me your expert opinion about how much to feed them, how often, free feed or not, and what to feed.
<There are a great many options, most of which are very cheap. A good basic diet is Koi pellets. There's no need for expensive terrapin food except as an occasional treat. In fact Red-ear Sliders are most herbivorous in the wild, and vegetable-based Koi pellets are a MUCH better staple diet than high protein turtle sticks. Next, you can add all sorts of green foods.
Curly lettuce is a good and cheap staple, but you can also use small quantities of red lettuce, cooked peas, melon, really anything that isn't peppery, mustardy or otherwise strongly flavoured (the strong flavours we humans like are actually toxins meant to dissuade animals from eating the plant, which is why young children, who have better taste buds than adults, often dislike vegetables). Do read here:
Thanks in advance.
<Cheers, Neale.>

RES... tankmates, diet mostly 1/11/10
I just have a few questions about my turtles. First of all here is my setup: I have two red-eared sliders, one male and one female I believe, they are both about 4-5 inches now.
<Getting to be sexually mature... do watch the male, can be snappy towards other turtles.>
I also have a western painted that is about 3-4 inches that I believe to be a male and a Pleco cleaner fish.
<Do not keep fish with turtles. That's the first rule of turtle-keeping, and stated by every expert and turtle book out there. For a start, a Plec won't "clean" anything, so that aspect is a total delusion. Secondly, it's almost impossible for casual pet owners with regular budgets to provide the space and water filtration required for both fish and turtles in the same tank.>
They are all in a 75 gallon aquarium filled 2/3rd of the way with water and I have created a custom basking area that has some smooth gravel rocks and a 75 watt reptile lamp. I have a 305 Fluval canister filter that has proven
to be a god send. I feed them turtle pellets for the most part and have offered crickets as a treat from time to time. I have had them for about 4 years now and they seem to be healthy. I do not offer any calcium or vitamin supplements and was wondering how or if I should add this into their diet.
<Yes. Their diet should be as varied and balanced as possible. Turtle and Koi pellets make good staples, but augment with fresh plant materials as well for vitamins and fibre.>
I am also wondering if there is any other creatures that I can add to make the tank a little more interesting.
<Nothing safely.>
I was thinking about one of those blue crayfish or maybe some African cichlids?
<No. Let me state again that as turtles get bigger, they produce massive amounts of waste. It will not be possible to maintain zero ammonia, zero nitrite, and sub-20 mg/l nitrate levels in tanks with turtles. The turtles don't care so much, but fish, because they have permeable skins, are far more exposed to these toxins.>
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Red eared slider questions... diet, sys., the universe! 01/03/10
Hi Darryl...What a GREAT service you guys provide!!
<We do it because we like to help. And for the free food>
Unfortunately the only vet we had in our area who specialized in exotics recently retired so it's a very valuable resource that you provide! Thank you so much for your very informative response and hilarious one as well!
<Bob Fenner says that Im funny but he doesnt smile when he says it, usually hes shaking his head .. hmmmmm><<Hey, where IS that free food? RMF>>
I very much enjoyed your humor (are all of you professional writers as well?!)
<Ive been described as an unprofessional writer>
Always good to end the day with a few good laughs, especially after one week off with 2 kids! I hate to confess but I take better care of our turtle than MY kids also!! (though haven't caved to Pop Tarts, soda or potato chips just yet :-) ).
Thanks for the insight about changing turtle's home. I actually thought he would welcome more space! Got an A+ in HUMAN psychology in college, but guess I have a ways to go before figuring out the inner psyche of a turtle!
<Dont ever let a turtle near your ATM card they have NO impulse control>
Thank you also for your other ideas; will try them out! Wasn't sure, though, about a couple of them you mentioned - hope you don't mind answering a couple of more questions! Again, thanks so much for taking the time to read all this...
* Re: nocturnal light - Would it be better to not have this? We put this in not for a night light, but to keep the air temp inside his aquarium warm during the night. We keep the regular room air on the cool side - 68 degrees, so air temp quickly drops in his aquarium if no source of heat is provided.
<True, but the outside air temp in most of his natural range drops below 68 at night for 80% of year as well. What we want here is a light and heat cycle that falls into his natural zone. That said, Im not sure it HURTS, either. Take it out and see what happens>
We chose black because it seemed to emit the least light. The red bulb seemed overly bright.
<And Red Lights have that whole Honky-Tonk Im the cheap kind of turtle you dont take home to Mama: kind of feel, too. With a black light, the worst that happens is that the turtle grows up very laid back, with an almost unnatural affinity for stairway to heaven or in a gadda da vida>
* I also assume that this black reptile bulb is NOT the same as the dangerous black light??
<Yes. Black light is UV-A (long wave) UV-C is germicidal (very short wave)>
* Re: live food - you mentioned not feeding live food but said you
feed earthworms.
<Right what I meant was trying to duplicate what appears to be live food within their environment as if theyll hunt their own. Live food that occurs within that system is not really that much of their diet yet are often heavy with bugs and parasites that are bad for them very much like my ex wifes cooking>
<Earthworms are not carriers of pathogens that are harmful too them. Just a bit on the fatty side, which is why I use them as occasional treats>
Do you feed these live or cut them up first?
<Saute in garlic with finely chopped parsley and cilantro>
<NO!!! Just one live one, usually on the basking area>
* Re: aquarium heater: You mentioned removing the heater in the water if we have one. Yes we do have one, and put it in the aquarium back when we got him because we read that young turtles should have a water temperature of around 80 degrees.
<Again, theyd never see 80 degree water in their range unless some backwoods redneck in Georgia was cooking him for dinner. 68 degree water is just fine as long as he has a basking area thats in the mid to upper 80s>
It's a black (not glass) thermometer, good quality one with protective sheath. I know if we remove it, the water temp. will drop quite a bit. Is a lower water temp ok for young turtles, and would it outweigh the potential risk of our thermometer causing a micro-leak of electrical energy?
<yeah we want to offer a range and let him choose>
Thanks so much Darryl, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
<yer Welcome!>
<[EDITORS NOTE: On behalf of Wet Web Media and all the rest of the crew, we would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Comedians, Professional Writers, Psychologists, Honky-Tonks, Jimmy Page & Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin, Doug Ingle/Iron Butterfly, Ex-wives in general, Rednecks, the State of Georgia (except for East Dublin) and of course, to you, the reader. Sigh we were all hoping that the meds would have kicked in by now]>

What happen to their appetite? RES fdg. 12/27/09
Dear Crew,
<Hiya Darrel here with you>
Hi, I have a question about my Red Eared Sliders appetite. I have 2 RES which was separated by me for several months but had recently reunited as I had bought a new tank. However, one of my RES suddenly dislike everything I fed him while the other ones eat almost everything. I have fed them a variety of foods over the past few days including turtle pellets, cabbages, carrots, grapes but the RES which has a bad appetite just ate a little of it. What had happened to it?
<One word: Stress. The change of environment affects some turtles and not others. Make sure your setup is providing proper temperature gradients, clean water and UV light. If everything is right, give him or her 4 or 5 weeks to settle in. As long as he or she is alert and active, dont worry for at least that long>

No appetite for my RES 12/18/09
Hi, my RES doesn't seems to have a good appetite this few days.
<What are you feeding it? Contrary to what the pet store might suggest, turtle pellets or sticks can't be used every day. They would get just as bored of them as you would being fed just one food every single day! A good idea is to use pellets 2-3 times a week, and the rest of the time offer things like Elodea pondweed, cooked peas, Sushi Nori, curly green lettuce, earthworms, small pieces of white fish, and so on. Since Red-ear Sliders are more herbivorous that carnivorous, it's a good idea to offer green foods at least as often as meaty foods. In the wild, Red-ear Sliders become more herbivorous as they mature, so that's a factor to consider as well.>
It do have swollen eyes or it seems to be lethargic, it also seems to be quite active. What should I do? Should I change their diets?
<Do read here:
Cheers, Neale.>

Question about baby Sliders, sys., fdg. -- 11/09/2009
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I had a concern about my two Red Eared Sliders. I got them as a anniversary gift from my husband from a local girl who's turtles had babies.
<Generally speaking, we don't recommend pets as gifts, but they are great, low maintenance pets!>
They are really small, as in a tiny bit bigger than a quarter. One of them loves the water and is very active, just never seems to want to leave the water. The other is always in it's shell and always basking, never seems to want to go into the water. Just recently he/she started to burrow itself under the rock bank we have set up for them. Is that normal?
<No, it's not. Possibly there's something about the setup that he doesn't like, or that scares him>
I feed them both in a separate container when I put them outside to get some sun, I've never seen them eat though.. I think it might be because they are eating the plant I purchased at the pet store for them.
<That could be -- BUT it's really important that we know they are feeding, so I suggest that you remove the plant for now ... and anything else edible, so that we have control over their food and can eventually watch
them eat.>
I was recommended to get TeraFauna ReptoMin that has 3 foods in 1.
<Great food. Koi pellets are an almost identical food that cost a lot less, but ReptoMin is excellent>
Again, I've never seen them eat it. Their enclosure is a 20 gallon long tank, with a water filter, water heater and bank of rocks set up for basking with a light. I could really use some answers from someone who
knows what they are talking about!
<Well unfortunately, You got me instead!>
<Remove the water heater and let the water become room temperature. The difference between cool and warm is what causes them to swim, bask, etc. Our job is to offer them the choice. As the tank cools, I'd expect the one that swims all the time to start to bask more. We'll get to the other one last.>
<As far as feeding is concerned, feeding them outside of their tank is a good thing to help keep the water clean and at least for now, when we're not sure, gives us the ability to verify that they are or are not.>
<When a baby sits on land all the time all closed up (not basking/relaxing)
it may be because he's sick, weak, afraid ... or simply not happy. It's not easy to find which. I've seen Sliders take a walk from a pond and bury themselves in a garden somewhere -- and each time I bring them back, they stay a day or two and take another walk & repeat the behavior.
Changing basking areas, moving rocks and other rearrangement can often make it seem "new" to them and allow them to settle. You'll have to experiment on this issue.>
<I'm enclosing two links, one on general care - that will give you guidelines against which you can measure your care and one for illnesses, which explains how you can take a turtle out of it's habitat and keep it
warm & dry for a week or so. This isolation technique might be just enough of a change or rest that the shy one needs to kick-start his normal behaviors. Just remember to continue the sun/feeding routine each day.>
Thank you for your time,
<Write back and let us know how they're doing!>
<care: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

Re RES turtle questions... fdg. 10/1/2009
one last question:
<Fire away!>
i am giving them ReptoMin food sticks and lettuce.
<Excellent. Romaine lettuce in particular is a favourite, and more nutritious than iceberg lettuce.>
I have heard they also eat insects and worms. can i give them worms?
<Earthworms make a good treat, but use them sparingly. You don't want your pet getting "hooked" on earthworms and not eating his green foods regularly! Do also take care to collect them somewhere safe, i.e., not sprayed with chemicals. It should go without saying that pesticides that kill insects and other nuisance animals will kill pet animals too.>
thank you! :)
<Cheers, Neale.>

RES not eating 7/27/2009
Hi ,
<Hiya -- Darrel here>
I looked through all the questions and answers about the RES before asking this question.
<Thank you very much, Parul. We really appreciate people who make that effort.>
I have 2 RES, they are 2 years old. They have stopped eating all of a sudden.
They have a proper basking area, large tank and I clean it regularly, scrubbing the rocks that they bask on, filter it as well. Up to about 10 days ago they stopped eating.
<There are really only two reasons why a turtle stops eating, Parul. One is that they are ill. The second reason is a change to their environment.
Let's take the second one first>
<Do you have any idea what changed? Basking temperature went down?
Basking bulb changed to a different wattage? Anything in your care that is different? Here in Los Angeles, when the municipal water supply changes from the Northern California Delta water to the Colorado River way, the PH and hardness change and I often see my turtles acting strange for a few days. Back when I had alligators, some of them would actually refuse to go in the water for almost a week. If you've checked all the usual things, look for unusual things. Are they indoors? Have you started using the Air Conditioner and the air is colder? Loud noises in their area? Anything like that?>
I feed them turtle pellets. I tried a bit of prawn, which they ate for about 2 days. Then they stopped eating that as well. Now they wont touch any food.
<Try warm baths every day for 15 minutes. Lukewarm water. Don't offer food for a few days, but a warm water bath for 15 minutes every day -- and then try offering food on the 4th day. Sometimes just a change in routine will get them started again>
They seem healthy but they are constantly sleeping or sitting on their rock.
<If they're no longer active, then they're most likely not as healthy as you think. The problem is that warmth, UV light and diet are the three primary things you can do to treat them at home, so it they won't eat, it's hard to treat. Check out the enclosed two links on the treatment of illnesses and basic care. Check the CARE to find what you've done that's different and read the TREATMENT to see what we can do. Isolate them out of the water, like the treatment section says ... and let's see what 4 days of lukewarm baths do>
Thanks in advance.
<care: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

When should I plan on throwing my turtle a Bar Mitzvah? 7/18/09
Dear Crew,
<Hiya Heather, Darrel here>
At what chronological age should an Red Eared Slider shift from youth to adult diet? In all the literature I have read, no one offers any specifics. Thank you very (from the bottom of my three turtles' livers) much for your assistance with this matter.
<A Mar Mitzvah? What if it's a Bat Mitzvah?>
<Heather, there's no real biological age and that's why the literature doesn't reflect it. For one, turtles mature with SIZE, not years ... so perhaps it's when they're big enough to sit in a grownup's chair and not drink from a sipper cup? For another, their juvenile diet is far more about what they're able to find & eat than anything specific that they
<I raise hatchlings that grow to be breeding adults on nothing but Koi pellets from the day they first start eating. I feed all they can eat in 5 minutes, 3 times a week and then put their diet out of my mind. This way I can concentrate my energies on the other aspects of their care and keeping.>
<You should all live and be vell~!>

Red eared slider question, fdg. 7/18//09
Hi Crew,
<Hiya Bob, Darrel here>
My red eared slider is 2.5 inches. I've had her for about 7 months. I am not new to RES but I am new to feeding a baby res she is about over a year old and I feed her ZooMed's aquatic turtle food. I feed her about 20 ball size pellets in the morning and then another 20 again in the evening is this to much or to little because she still seems hungry afterwards.
<My friends at Zoo Med make and distribute fine products, but when it comes to feeding Emydid turtles (Sliders, Cooters, etc.) I use plain old Koi pellets. It's an inexpensive, fully balanced diet that I use on hatchlings all the way up to breeders with an occasional (once a month) earthworm given just as a treat.>
<The enclosed link will give you basic feeding instructions. I feed babies daily and at about a year, make that every other day.
<In 40+ years of keeping and working with reptiles, I can count on one hand the number of animals I've seen that have died from starvation (not including bad diet, which is a different story) but over feeding is a common problem that leads to a whole host of debilitating illnesses.>
She then try to eat whatever waste(feces) there is on the bottom of the tank.
<there shouldn't be feces left around, cut the feeding back, increase the tank cleaning a bit and this problem will solve itself>
Please help
<I hope we did!>

A Slider, Mon? 7/8/09
Hi I'm Kelly from Jamaica,
<Hiya -- I'm Darrel from California>
I have a Red Ear Slider that I bought in may from a pet store and I was told that it was one year old at the time. I was told that it is fed on a pellets known as Aquamax 300. However, at the time of purchase the store did not have these in stock and I was given another pellet known as beta bites. The turtle seem to enjoy both, but I'm wondering if this would be enough for it. I've seen in some of your articles where reference is made to turtles being fed crickets and stuff however I'm not seen where these are available at local pet shops. I do have access to fishes. Would just the fish and pellets be enough for it?
<No fish, no crickets, no stuff like that. Koi pellets are a perfectly balanced 100% diet for all of the Sliders and other Emydid turtles. I raise them from hatchlings to adults that breed their own babies on JUST that and an occasional earthworm as a treat. Fish is not part of their natural diet, can contain parasites and .. because the turtles usually can't catch them, the fish thrive and you end up taking care of them as well!>
Also, indication is made in some articles posted that meat can be fed to them, is it any kind of meat?
<Nope. They're scavengers and opportunistic eaters to be sure. If you give them a steak or a pork chop they'll eat it ... but that doesn't mean it's good for them.>
And may I know the types please. Another thing that your articles suggest as important is an UV lamp, but given the type of climate we live in (tropical), would that be a necessity for my turtle? I do ensure that he gets sunlight everyday or every other day, will this be enough for him? Our temperature range is generally between 27-32 degrees Celsius year round.
<Your climate is perfect for him ... but the sunlight needs to be direct.
Coming through glass does no good at all ... even through screen reduces it's effectiveness quite a bit. The very BEST is a UV lamp that you can place over his basking spot (next to the lamp that provides heat) so that he gets both UV and heat when he needs it and then can cool off when he doesn't.>
Thanks in Advance for your help,
<You're welcome. We enjoy helping!>
<Kelly, I'm sending you a link to a BRILLIANT article that covers the entire basics of keeping Sliders and similar turtles. The author is experienced, well regarded in his community (did I mention he was brilliant?) not to mention good looking. EVERYTHING you need to know about the basics is in this article and you can compare every aspect of your care to what this brilliant article mentions and you'll be just fine.>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

Feeding red ear sliders... 6/13/09
Hi, I'm Felix from Malaysia, having 3 less than 2 inch baby turtles since 2 months ago, i only feed them koi pallets everyday, which contain wheat-germ meal, white fish meal, shrimp meal, wheat flour, soybean meal, dried yeast, minerals, Vitamin (A,D3,B1,B2,B6,B12,C,E)
<Koi pellets can make a good portion of their diet.>
Then as i heard from my online friend, she told me that fish pallets contain a lot protein which is not good for turtle, she feed her turtles lettuce most of the time, but as i know from ur web, it's a junk food for them... This morning i feed them lettuce too, but they just won't eat, they only take my pallets, so what should i do? what can i feed daily? I only trust you guys, so please help!
<You're both right. Lettuce is very good for Red Ear Sliders, Trachemys scripta elegans -- but it does depend on the lettuce! Iceberg lettuce for example is useless, because it contains virtually no nutrition at all. But old fashioned curly green lettuce (what here in England we call English or Round Lettuces) are very good for them. Red Leaf lettuce is also good for them. Cheap aquarium plants are very good: the Elodea ("pondweed") sold for Goldfish ponds is extremely nutritious and turtles readily eat it. There's a great list of safe and dangerous plant foods here:
Give your turtles pellets 3 or 4 days in the week, and let them eat plants on the other days, and you'll have the PERFECT diet for them. Cheers, Neale.>

Red Ear Slider unable to grab food 6/1/2009
I have a red ear slider who is about 6 years old. I am not sure on sex.
Based on size I would say female but we may have seen it's male parts.
<The urogenital systems of turtles are largely internal, and the penis won't be visible unless the turtle is actually mating. Instead, look firstly at the claws: if they're long, it's probably a male. Secondly, look
at the length of the tail. Males have longer tails, with the cloaca (the combined anal/urogenital opening) nearer the tip than the base of the tail, whereas on females the cloaca is nearer the base of the tail than the
The issue is he wants to eat but has trouble grabbing the food. He is a bit lethargic and is no longer aggressive during eating time.
<If a turtle is clumsy when trying to feed, as yours is, that's a fairly reliable sign of poor health. Review environmental conditions. Check that the water is adequately heated, that the turtle has access to UV-B light, and that the water is changed at least once a week. There's a good summary here:
Also check that the turtle isn't wheezing and that it's eyes are clear and bright, not groggy-looking or swollen
These are both very common problems caused by improper diet, lack of warmth, etc. Since turtles should live 15+ years, that you lost one that was only 6 years old is a bit worrying. Some problems, such as the lack of UV-B light or the lack of vitamins can take months, even years, to cause death.>
We had another res which passed a few months ago I believe the temp got to low we since have added a heater to the tank.
<Would be careful here; turtles can, will destroy glass heaters. Put a plastic mesh called a "heater guard" around the heater. Some heaters come with these anyway (or at least, they do here in the UK) but aquarium shops sell them for use with cichlids, catfish, etc.>
It appears he sees the food but just can't quite grasp the food I have tried meal worms, brine shrimp, romaine lettuce, pellets nothing works.
<Check his eyes!>
We were able to hold the food with a fork until he grabbed on but that does not seem to work lately. I am afraid he will die if he does not eat soon.
Need Help!!!
<Hope this helps.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Strange behavior in turtles and perhaps crewmembers 5/15/09
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I have a Red Eared Slider almost a year old. He eats pretty well. I feed him pellets and lettuce and worms most of the time.
<Pellets are good, assuming you're talking a quality Koi pellet. Lettuce isn't particularly good at all. It's the 'junk food' of greens and they can often get fixated on it and not eat the rest of their food. Worms as in Earthworms are OK for an occasional treat (like once or twice a month) but any other kind of worms are not good. You didn't ask for advice on feeding, but this is America and in America EVERYONE is entitled to my opinion!>
Usually, if I put my finger up to the glass, he tries to bite it, which is normal, and he pushes himself backwards. However, lately he's been biting at the glass randomly when nothing is there to even resemble food or anything. Do you know why he could be doing this?
<Sure. I happen to be a turtle psychologist in my spare time.>
<He's conditioned to the sight of you as being connected to food, your finger being associated with food items ... so now just the site of you is associated with food items.>
<Nothing harmful or even particularly strange about it, Casey ... but if your turtle starts giving you Stock Market tips ... THAT is strange behavior.>
<Because we all know that turtles don't know anything about Investing! [rim shot!] At least .... that's what my Iguana says. [Badaboom!]>
<I better get outta hear before they trace the line>
Thanks a lot.

Help in feeding an overactive Turtle. beh. 4/26/09
Hi, I'm Mahalia
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I'm the owner of a Red-eared Slider, about three years old and a little under 4 inches in length.
I'm a little worried because he seems to be very restless for some reason and EATS everything I put in, no matter how numerous the pellets I give.
I'm scared that the turtle might become obese and I can't control it.
<First, thank you for your letter, Mahalia -- it gives me a chance to talk about some things that don't come up as direct questions very often.>
<The term "restless" isn't much different from "active" and it's a good thing to have an active turtle! I've known some turtles that will spend what seem like HOURS just swimming into the glass front of their tank and not very much time resting and basking ... yet they were very healthy and well growing turtles. But turtles take on the temperature of their environment and their activity and appetite (your second concern) rise with the temperature! So in your case I'm going to ask you to check your water temperature, which should be no warmer than 73-75 degrees and the temperature under his basking light, which should be between 88 and 95 degrees. If the water is warmer than that, then the turtle has no way to cool down and he could be hyperactive from that heat. If there is a problem, please correct it. Check all your care and housing against the suggestions in the link below and correct anything that is out of line.
If he remains active under proper temperatures, that's simple a great thing! If there is a temperature correction to make, that will probably reduce his appetite as well.>
<Which brings me to your second concern -- eating and appetite.>
<One of the top causes of death in our pet population is health complications due to obesity. This goes for our dogs, cats, birds, turtles, fish, kids, parents and ourselves, too! It is in the psyche of most to associate feeding with caring so in an attempt to provide good care, we provide good food. And WAAAAAAY to much of it. Mahalia, in 38 years of keeping and breeding animals of all sizes and types and consulting for people all over the country, I honestly cannot recall an instance where an otherwise healthy animal died from simply a lack of food. Many died from BAD nutrition -- the wrong foods that didn't contain proper
ingredients, but many, MANY more from OVERFEEDING -- too much food makes their internal body parts as fatty and out of shape as it makes the outside look.>
<I feed my outside adult turtles all they can eat in 5 minutes -- once every three days (and that's here in Southern California under the full summer sun. In spring and fall it's once every four days and nothing at
all during the winter. My younger, tank kept turtles get Koi pellets every other day (same rule, only what they can eat in a few minutes) and then I skip two days every week or so.>
<Remember, in the wild, their full time job is to evade predators and find food ... and in the name of good pet-keeping, we keep the predators away AND provide room-service!!>
<So ... cut back on the food and let them be just a little bit hungry -- they'll be healthier for it!>
<Now ..... if I could only manage to do that for MYSELF .........>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

Re: in feeding an overactive turtle, RES 4/27/09
Thanks so much Darrel! I never thought about checking the temperature of the water. I should also cut back on the food (he just eats it all up voraciously!) But I think I'll keep the sched of every other day? Because I
live in a tropical country.
<Sounds good. Just let him be a tiny bit hungry and he'll be healthier for it!>
It's rare to find real help online nowadays, and I really appreciate your taking time to answer my mail.
<That's what we're here for, Mahalia!>
I'm a ease now. Long live turtles!:)
<Ditto! -- Darrel>

Turtle stops eating 2/3/09 Hi, <Hiya Rowdell, Darrel here> I have had two Red Eared Sliders turtle for about 8 months and not one of them have been sick yet. I feed them food sticks everyday, the water temperature is about 78-80 degrees and I clean their aquarium about once a week. Four days ago one of my turtles stopped eating, but nothing else seems wrong with him. I know turtles can go along time without eating and I don't want to force him to eat to eat. <So far, this sounds O.K. Many times they'll go "off their feed" for a week or so and it means nothing at all as long as they're otherwise healthy, active and alert. > He also has been laying on his rock almost the whole time I have the light on (about 13 hours a day.) I don't know what is wrong with him. Can you help me? <Let's see what we can do, Rowdell. First, take a good look at him up close. Look at his eyes. Are they open and staring back at you? Looking around and any other movement? Or are they dull and unfocused or closed? Look at his nose. Bubbles of any kind? Breathing seems OK? Now check his skin. Bright green (same color as the other turtles)? Now pick him up and smell him. Any odors? > <Place him on the floor (assuming no dogs, cats or foot traffic) and give him a few minutes to sense his new surroundings. (You may have to back off a bit an not seem big and intimidating to him) Does he move around and try to explore? > <If his eyes and nose are clear and he's up and alert, place him back on his rock and observe any changes over the next week. My guess is he'll be hungry again and things will be back to normal. > <If his eyes or nose aren't clear or if he seems weak and listless, then write back with specific examples and we'll dig deeper. > <That's all for now -- best wishes! >

Re: turtle stopped eating - now more symptoms 2/4/09 Hi thanks for replying back. <Happy to> My turtle still hasn't eaten. We tried to get him new food but he won't eat it. There is a new symptom now. His mouth looks like it had dried blood around. When I smelled him he smelled bad, and he's been opening his mouth when he has been breathing. His eyes and alertness seems to be fine. Do you think this is an early stage of a respiratory infection? <It's possible, but more likely a sign of other trauma and maybe something as simple as cuts from a fight or abrasion from the environment.> If it is what should I do? <The first order of business is to remove him from the turtle tank and get him somewhere warm and dry. The moist, swamp-like environment that is so perfect for a healthy turtle becomes his enemy once any kind of sickness or injury occurs. Remember, he can happily stay out of water for weeks if needed and if you give him 5 minutes a day in a shallow bowl of water so that he can drink, poop & maybe eat, he can otherwise be in a warm/dry place for months! I suggest something as simple as a cardboard box or plastic tub with sides high enough that he cannot climb out. A simple dry washcloth or towel on the bottom and a simple ordinary light bulb suspended above part of it. Aim for around 88 degrees, but we still want him to be able to move to and from the heat source a bit> <Once he's warm and dry, try to clean the affected area with a Q-Tip or swab and if you uncover any open wounds or cuts, rub some Betadine (any kind of iodine solution) on it and place him back in his dry place. Then every day, place him in that shallow warm bowl of water with a turtle stick or two (no more) for no more than 5 minutes. Let him eat, drink, poop (or not) then swab him off, apply iodine if needed and back in his box> <If it is an internal infection getting started, the warm, dry climate will help him fight it and you should see improvements in a week or 10 days. If he hasn't eaten by then or if the small comes back or gets worse, you'll need to seek professional veterinary help. > <Best of luck, Rowdell -- We'll all keep a good thought for you> <Darrel>

My RES Turtle, hlth., feeding 2/2/09 PLEASE HELP, Can my 2 year old RES Turtle get sick and/or die from eating a feeder fish infected with Ick and/or with any other kind of sickness? <Yes. Though Ick itself isn't something reptiles can contract, any fish that is sick is likely one kept under poor conditions, and other illnesses can certainly affect your reptile. More specifically, you MUST NOT feed feeder fish (e.g., goldfish or minnows) to pet reptiles. This is extremely bad for them. Firstly, such feeder fish contain a lot of thiaminase, which breaks down thiamin, and over time when used the reptile will gradually develop a Vitamin B1 deficiency. Secondly, feeder fish contain a lot of fat, and the fat accumulates around the internal organs, causing health problems. Red-ear Sliders are essentially herbivores, and around 75% of their diet MUST be green foods. If it isn't, all you're doing is making him sick.> If so how do I treat him? <Depends on the disease. If all else fails, contact a vet.> I got some feeder fish about 2 years ago and picked 3 of them to keep for pet's. I never had a Ick problem until now. 2 of the 3 died from the Ick. I have 1 left and he is getting better (slowly). <Ick is easy to treat and shouldn't kill fish. See WWM re: Ick for more.> So I did some research to learn Ick comes from stressed out fish being moved in and out of their environment. <Not really stress as such, but yes, if you move fish between tanks, you can expose them to the disease.> So what I need to know is how long does it take for Ick to go away and now that he has had Ick once will it be easier to get it next time around? <Once you have treated with an appropriate medication (or with salt/heat) then Ick is gone for good. However, if you add new fish, or potentially move anything into the tank that can carry the free-living parasites, such as aquarium plants, then Ick can come back.> Also should I keep feeder fish in a separate bowl? <Goldfish should not be kept in a bowl. Doing so kills them. Forget everything you have seen on the TV. They need big, well filtered tanks. 30 gallons is about right for beginners. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/goldfish101art.htm> Thank You, Donna <Cheers, Neale.>

Vitamin A deficiency, RES, hlth. and fdg. f's 1/25/09 Hello, <Hiya Najah, Darrel here> I would first like to start off with a thank you. So far I have asked two questions and both you have very helpful. <Thank you. That's why we volunteer here -- to help> I have a Red Eared Slider that is actually having surgery today to remove an ear abscess. When I first took him/her (I'm not sure yet) to the vet to find out what the lump was the Vet told me that it also looked as if my turtle has vitamin A deficiency. When I looked through previously asked questions some said that the Vet could/would provide a vitamin A shot. However, mine did not even offer. <That's unusual Najah. Normally Veterinarians are liberal with vitamin shots. The only thing I can think of is that perhaps he didn't see that it was serious enough to charge you for that shot> I know that carrots are high in vitamin A so I fed them (I have 5 Sliders) some. Is there anything else I can do? I tried to find some turtle vitamins but none of them contained vitamin A. <Your best bet at this point is liver. A small bit of ordinary liver from the grocery store will add quite a bit of Vitamin A and even though they are primarily herbivores, they will enjoy it.> Although his/her eyes are bulging, they are not swollen and I do not want them to get to that point. <I agree. Normally I'm a very strong believer in proper care and diet. It has been my experience that if our pets are getting the clean water, proper temperatures, lighting and nutrition that they need -- there is no need to supplement. But even it never hurts to go the extra mile. A piece of liver every week or an earthworm or two is a good way to add those extra nutrients. Still ... please check, double check and recheck your feeding and keeping situation and correct the underlying cause.> Thanks <Yer welcome!>

New Red eared sliders 1/11/09 Hello, <Hiya Najah, Darrel here tonight> This Christmas my dad was given five Red Eared Sliders and gave them to my son for Christmas. <Generally speaking, I discourage people from giving live animals as gifts, especially unexpected ones -- if the receiver isn't a fan of that animal, he or she only inherits an unwanted responsibility -- Just mentioning that....> The family loves the new addition -- <But in this case, all works out!!!! Yaaaaaaay!> -- but I am becoming worried. I have had them for about a week now and I haven't seen any poop. They all appear to be healthy. <It may take a while for their digestive systems to get into gear, Najah. This by itself isn't worrisome.> All but one are scared of us. <Again, nothing unusual. It takes all of them a while to adjust and even then one of the nice things about these guys is they have individual personalities. Some are friendly and others may well be a bit standoffish all the time. > They generally hide when I come near to the tank. I think that the car ride from Philly to DC may have shaken them a little. <I can't say as I blame, Najah -- I took a train from DC to Philly over 18 years ago and I'm still shaken up by it. Rearranging anyone's whole world stresses them and it takes them a while to acclimate.> I am having a hard time feeding them lettuce, but they seem to really like carrots. I've read some info sites that says to feed them carrots often is ok and others say to use carrots moderately, which one is true? <Well, to be candid, you won't find many Red Eared Sliders eating carrots in the wild. Any site stating that the Pseudemys need a vegetarian diet are far better than the ones that claim they eat fish and meats ... but still, I can't see how someone can expect that foods they buy at their local Kroger are suitable for turtles.> <I've said this before and I'll say it again: Koi Pellets! Cheap, easily found at virtually any pet store, 99.5% vegetable matter and -- A COMPLETE DIET for Sliders and their families. I use Kay-Tee brand myself and I raise them from hatchlings all the way up to breeding adults on just that, with a very occasional (once a month) Earthworm tossed in just for variety. Tetra's Repto-Min food sticks are good too. They're virtually identical in makeup to the Koi pellets and a bit more expensive, but if it makes you feel better feeding your turtles something labeled as turtle food, this is the stuff.> <This is a link to a wonderfully written article covering all the basics of Slider care in captivity. Please compare your situation against the guidelines... and remember, Turtles don't need very much at all, but they absolutely NEED what they need. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm > Thanks for your help. <You're welcome, Najah -- and we're glad to have you in our world. Enjoy>

Steel Trough Pond Concern, turtles 10/24/08
I am interested in making an above ground pond from a stainless steel horse trough. I live in a rural area, and I like the way it would look out by my pasture. However, I have heard that the sealant used in the steel can leak zinc or some other type of hazard to turtles(I have Red Ear Sliders) and fish. Short of using a liner, is there some type of coating that would work on the metal? Is there a way I could season the seams to make them safe?
<Mmm, I don't think the amount of possible/probable metal leaching from the welds, nor the steel of this tank will cause your sliders any problem. I have seen corrugated (round and oblong) troughs of such construction used as ponds on many occasions. Bob Fenner>

Red ear slider turtles, gen. and esp. fdg. 8/14/08 Hi! <Hiya!!> I have 2 red ear sliders--they are both about 4 inches, in length (this is shell length, and shells are thick). We got them in April of 2007, and they were quarter size, at that time. They are best friends, we have no problems. <No jobs, school, property taxes OR alligators trying to eat them (I have all the above) -- they have easy lives!> My question is I think I have one female, and one male? One has longer tail, the other has shorter, stubbier tail. Claws look to be about the same size. They won't cooperate long enough for me to check under tails. They have started to do the "mating dance" (I think). They get nose to nose and one will start fanning the face. Just for a few minutes, and then they continue on their way. They are only in a 10 gallon aquarium with the lighting, the basking rocks, and gravel, etc. We live in Buffalo, and on nice warm days, I fill up the baby pool outside with driftwood, and let them hang there for a few hours. With supervision, due to cats and kids in the neighborhood. <I was born in Niagara Falls. Nice summers!> Since they are only about 1 1/2 yrs old, isn't it too soon for them to breed? <It's not the age, it's the size. Although 1 1/2 years is early, 4 inches is barely about the size that males start to mature, so while it's not likely, it's POSSIBLE ... and the fanning behavior is typical male slider courting behavior ... so if you're not there yet, you're getting close> How old are red ear sliders before they breed, and do I have a male and female, since too, they are about the same size? We bought them together in Myrtle Beach. Maybe female isn't mature in size yet? <That is correct. The male matures at a smaller size while the female keeps growing and gets bigger before she's mature. The male will get the nice, long nails (a girl I know sites that as one more reason that life just isn't fair). Once the male starts courting behavior this just "bugs" the female for a few more years because she's not interested yet,> They are extremely happy all the time, love to eat, people and kid friendly, love to greet people as soon as anyone walks into the room. <Really? That Warner Brother's Dancing Michigan J Frog comes to mind> They'll come a running to side of the tank, when they spot anyone. Oh, one thing I noticed (from having turtles when we were kids), is they LOVE raw hamburger, and RAW turkey burger. We feed them that off our fingers, (so they are not being overfed, and leaving raw burger in they're tank), but every so often they grab the finger and OUCH!! <You deserve to hurt for that. No. NO.... NOOOOOOOOOOOO! No Hamburger!! No Turkey!! No Hotdogs, chicken, pot pies, pork chops, steak, Cheese Doodles or ANY other people food. PERIOD!! And no wine or cocktails either (they have no self control!)> <Diet --- bad diet and overfeeding are the #1 health problems in turtles and most pets -- and what you're feeding them isn't good for them, OK? Koi Pellets, Repto-min food sticks (exactly the same as the koi pellets only more expensive) and a rare and occasional earthworm> They pinch and pinch hard. <Another reason not to do that. It won't be long before that pinch becomes a skin break and then it's tetanus shots and antibacterial ... for them -- humans can be infectious to reptiles> Need too know, though, if I should start a nesting area, or anything. All we are seeing at this time is we think the "mating dance". Could you let me know? <She needs to be around 5 inches minimum straight carapace length before she's even remotely ready ... so.... not yet.> <BUT FIX THE DIET IMMEDIATELY PLEASE!!!!> Thanks kindly----VaLinda <Pretty name!!!!!> <Darrel> < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

Re: Red ear slider turtles - diet 8/16/08 Thank you for getting back to me so soon. <Happy to do it!> Glad to hear its a little early for baby turtle making too. Not ready for that. <I feel the same way about my kids.> Thanks too, for the input on no raw meats. It wasn't their main diet though, they mainly eat variety of turtle foods. It was just a treat here and there for them. I should of specified that. But, I'll make sure no more raw meats. <The problem is that they can "fixate" on something like that and then refuse to eat the balanced diet and then you're in for problems.> They will be sad, though:( <They'll get over it -- and they'll be healthier, too. Now make sure they have proper temperature gradients and UV A&B lighting:)> Thanks again for your great advice, I'll keep making sure I keep well read on your columns. <We respond well praise!!!! Thank YOU!!!!> Thanks again--VaLinda <Darrel>

My Red Eared Sliders!!!! Shell concerns, nutrition 8/11/08Hey!! <HIYA!!!!!!!> I'm Priscilla from NY and I have some concerns about my Red Eared Sliders. I have 2 and they were bought at the same time. They were pretty much the same size. However, after I started taking care of them, I found out that one of my turtles, grew a LOT bigger in a short period of time, while the other, grew slowly. I realize that on the website, the bigger turtle may be a female, but I'm not sure yet. <Probably not that reason, Pricilla. Some people claim that females grow a tiny bit faster than males while juveniles, females mainly get bigger because they keep growing. It's too early to tell their sexes.> One of the concerns is that I think my turtles are fighting to get food, and usually, the bigger one gets all the food. <that's more likely. In any group, even a group of only two, there is some competition for food and other resources and one animal will become more successful. Even in situations where there is plenty of basking areas, food and other resources, the dominant animal will simply thrive better than the other, if only by a little bit. Slightly brighter, slightly bigger ... just .... better.> <Sometimes it's tricky to solve the feeding problem. If you simply add so much food that the big one gets full and swims off, there's usually so much food that the water fouls. After you start feeding and the big one is eating, use a net handle or a pencil and nudge the little guy over to a different corner where you have just dropped a few pellets of food. Sometimes I've even removed a smaller animal to a shallow bowl of water for a private feeding once every week or so. If you see that he gets a really good meal every once in a while he's usually equipped to compete well enough on his own the rest of the time.> The bigger turtle has a more vibrant-colored shell than the smaller turtle. It has a dull shell. My biggest concern is that I find that my turtles' shells look like they're shedding, but they're not they're basically bits of the shell that look clearish-whitish. It doesn't smell any way it shouldn't smell. I understand that the bigger turtle's shell looks like that because its growing, and shedding a lot of skin, so it's only natural. But the little turtle... I don't understand. Is it shell rot? <From here it looks like normal shedding. The SKIN comes off as very small gray bits and usually the pieces are too small to notice. When shreds of skin are visibly hanging off of a turtle it's usually a sign of water quality and fungal problems. The shell scutes (pronounced skoots) come off as thin, transparent to translucent chips -- sometimes the full size of each scute and sometimes smaller. This is normal growth. Just before the scute comes off, it turns dull and starts to wrinkle, which is exactly what your picture shows.> Or is it not getting enough food? Does it need vitamins? <If they're getting good basking temperatures (about 90f+), unfiltered UV A & B lighting, clean water and high quality Koi Pellets or Repto-Min food sticks then no, you don't need to supplement their diet. As far as getting enough food, with just a little extra effort on your part you can see to it that the little guy is doing well enough to hold his own. I'll toss in a link below> Thank you so much!!! <You are so welcome> Priscilla <Darrel> < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm > <******************************************************************> <************** SOAP BOX ALERT **********************************> <**** This is America where everyone is entitled to my opinion!!! ************> <I get asked my opinion on food supplements all the time and my answer is always NO!. And then yes. Let me explain.> <When a diet is deficient in vitamins the first thought and often the choice -- is to supplement with vitamins. The problem with that is ... that the diet is STILL deficient in vitamins! If the animal is not getting enough natural sunlight or concentrated enough UVA & UVB to synthesize Vitamin D, you can certainly give the D ... but after giving all the D in the world ... the environment is STILL DEFICIENT in UVA and UVB. You end up compensating for a problem instead of CORRECTING the problem. So what's the difference you ask? Easy to answer: If your diet is deficient in vitamins or nutrients then I guarantee you that it's too high in fat (or too low in fat) or too high in protein or too low in whatever else ... to be good for them in the first place. PLUS ... you're spending money on a diet that's improper and then spending MORE on supplements. > <On the other hand ... when you solve the problems .. when you're giving a balanced diet in an environment with high water quality of the correct parameters, light & temperatures of the right types, degrees and variances .... then the supplements are no longer necessary!!!!> <But then .. every once in a while, I add a few drops of supplements anyway> <<Extremely valuable input/reminders for humans and their own nutrition as well. RMF>>

Feeding RES Anacharis 05/31/2008 Hi Neale <Christine,> I just picked up some Anacharis for my 1 year old RES's. I have two of them. I put it in the tank and they went crazy for it. <Cool! This is what they'd be eating a lot of in the wild, so doubtless they're enjoying themselves.> I had to remove most of it, because they ripped it apart. I was wondering how would I feed them this? <As you're doing. Use a net to remove broken fragments if you want, but since plant material contains little protein, these bits don't have much effect on water quality. Of course, do make sure the water inlet to the filter isn't blocked. Try feeding just a couple strands at a time, and leave the rest in a bucket or jar somewhere cool and sunny.> Is it good for them? <Yes, very.> Also how would I store the unused portions, until next feeding time? <Ideally buy what you need and no more. But failing that, these plants are easy to maintain in buckets outdoors or even jars on windowsills. At a pinch you could freeze bite-size portions; this would kill the plant (obviously) but otherwise wouldn't harm the nutritional value. Because the plant is dead, only put in enough for one meal at a time -- anything uneaten within a couple hours will start to rot and just make a mess> Thanks Christine <Cheers, Neale.> New Red eared sliders 05/25/08 Hello! I have acquired 2 baby red eared sliders... I have followed all directions from your website as far as habitat, lighting, etc.. <Very good. Lots of people get these reptiles and then pick and choose the stuff they care to spend money on. Skipping things like filters and UV-B light sources isn't an option, as you know. But you'd be surprised how many people don't buy these things, and then ask why their reptiles are sick!> The only question I have is reading all the documentation out there, it is said the staple-diet sticks (ReptoMin staple) is great. <I've never said it's great, and neither do any of the terrapin/turtle experts I've spoken to. While these dried foods are adequate for some meals per week (maybe half, tops) the rest should be green foods plus some safe seafood items like mussel or prawn as treats.> However the turtles will not eat it - in fact, they will swim up to it touch it, & swim away. <Solves that problem. Don't waste your money. Go buy some frozen mixed seafood and then make up the rest of the diet with cheap aquarium plants (e.g., Elodea, here in the UK around Ã'£1 a bunch, which will last a week or so).> They will however eat the freeze-dried krill & baby shrimp immediately. In fact they will eat it all day long if one would allow them. Again, in reading all the info out there, the krill & baby shrimp might only suppose to be a treat, & it is the staple diet sticks that should be the primary feeding. <The "sticks" and "pellets" aren't essential. In the wild your turtles are eating something like 50% green foods as juveniles, and up to 75% green foods as adults. The rest is a mix of carrion and small animals such as worms and insect larvae. Replicate that sort of diet at home and you're laughing.> Can you possibly explain why they might not eat it? Is it true about the krill & shrimp only as snacks?? <Meaty foods should certainly not make the bulk of the diet. The green foods provide fibre as well as moisture and the right mix of nutrients. Greens are cheap, don't pollute the water, and completely safe in terms of parasite risk. What's not to like?> Thanks Chris <Cheers, Neale.>

RES not eating 3/28/08 I have read through several of your answers to others after doing a search and can't seem to pinpoint what I'm looking for. <Oh?> I've had a red ear slider for over 5 years now and he's been great, growing like a weed. A few weeks ago we decided to get him a "buddy" also a res. <Not really social animals; can be territorial. Always be careful not to put human feelings onto animals. You can make terrible mistakes by doing this.> They seemed to be dine for the first 3 weeks and suddenly 5 days ago our 5 yr old "Digger" stopped eating. He is still active and basks for several hours a day but lets "Wilson" eat all of the food. I have even tried separating them during feeding but he still won't eat. <May simply not like what's on offer. Most folks give Sliders the wrong food. They're herbivores in the wild, and the WORST thing you can do is give them mostly pellets. Leads to constipation and other problems.> They currently reside in a 30 gallon tank with a Fluval 700 filter with water flow. A tank heater and basking dock as well as lamp. <UV-B lamp I hope. Regular lighting is fine, but not what they need. Must be UV-B light for proper metabolism.> My husband is concerned that he may have eaten a piece of one of the plastic aquarium plants and may be bound up now. Can you tell me if that is possibility or if there is something else that may be causing his "hunger strike". <Could easily be possible. Their instinct is to eat green foods. Most animals aren't stupid enough to eat plastic plants, but I've known humans that ate potpourri thinking it was edible so who knows? In any case, simply stop feeding everything but green foods. This will help if the problem is constipation. If the animal seriously hasn't eaten for a couple weeks, and the temperature and other environmental issues are perfect, then a visit to vet is DEFINITELY in order. If there is a blockage, e.g., from gravel or plastic, the vet can diagnose and treat accordingly. The alternative is a very painful death. So get in touch with your vet or humane society!> We feed them pellets as well as occasional lettuce, worms and crickets. <Lettuce is funny stuff: iceberg is utterly useless, but old fashioned curly lettuce is fine. Red and other lettuces are not recommended. In any case, the diet of mature Sliders should be 75% greens. Pellets are fine once per week. Meaty foods aren't essential, but can be given as occasional treats. For sheer convenience and cost, it's hard to beat pondweed (Elodea type things) as the perfect all-around Slider food. Over here in England a bunch of Canadian Pondweed costs about Ã'£1 and lasts a good week or so. Provided this is floating in the tank and looks green rather than rotten, you can leave this in the tank indefinitely. Many other aquarium plants will do fine too; any reptile book will list what's good and what's not.> Thanks for your help <Cheers, Neale.>

Vacation feeding for turtle 03/26/2008 Hello Crew, Great site. I'm an owner of Northern Bellies Hatchings turtle. <This is a made-up common name. I'm assuming you mean Pseudemys rubriventris, sometimes called the Northern Red-Belly Slider. Remember, Latin names good; common names rubbish.> I'm going for vacation for 2 weeks. Could you suggest me how should I feed my pet? <Easy. As you know, these are herbivores, and 50% of their diet needs to be aquatic plants or green leafy things. So you're already feeding them this stuff if you are a good turtle-keeper. What you'll do is stick in a couple bunches of live aquatic plants (e.g., Elodea or Myriophyllum or Cabomba) and let your turtles go vegan for a couple weeks. Whatever is cheap and convenient. This will do them no harm, much good.> Any assistance greatly appreciated. Thank you, Victor <Cheers, Neale.>

Red ear slider questions. 3-24-08 Matching Up a Red Eared Slider Hello, After reading your pages, I have found it very informative. We still have a few of the questions though. We have a female who we have had for about three years and her shell is about ten inches long now and was about 4 inches when we got her. She lives in an 80 gallon tank, kept about 76 degrees, with a heat lamp and a place to haul out of the water, and with a few minnows who have stayed clear of her and one large plecostomus in the tank. We were thinking about getting her a companion, but have heard conflicting opinions. Is the tank too small for two turtles? < Two turtles can physically get around in an 80 gallon tank. The tank will foul twice as fast so you will have to clean it twice as often. If the turtles get very hungry they may fight over food. A male turtle will try and mate with her during the warmer months. If she is not ready them she may bite him.> Will she be fine by herself because she has been for so long now? < I personally recommend keeping a single turtle by itself. Two turtles may get along with an occasional nip of the tail or a foot. These nips heal but do not grow back leaving a slightly imperfect animal for you to care for.> She has a very timid personality and likes to hide in the little underwater cave whenever someone is moving around the room (unless she wants food, then she is right at the edge of the tank). Also her diet is in question, she only ever eats the turtle pellets (the ZooMed, and the floating turtle sticks). We have tried lettuce and various aquatic live plants and she seems not to be interested. Only the few fish who are not smart enough to evade her live and the few small snails that were place in the tank were ever eaten other then the food pellets. Is this an diet ok for her, it has worked so far, but would could be done better? <The ZooMed diet is very complete. Look at her shell. It should be round and smooth. Turtles with too much protein in their diet tend to have very bumpy shells. I would still offer some anacharis since it will absorb some waste from the water until it is eaten. I would recommend that you change the fluorescent light bulbs every 12 to 18 months. They weaken over time.> We are also wondering if there is anything else we should do to keep her healthy and happy. Also what kind of fish would you recommend for the tank for her to chase and eat in her leisure time. < Fast moving fish like the shiners or local bait fish should be OK. Stay away from stiff spined species like sunfish.-Chuck> Thank you for any information

RES Turtle, diet 03/07/08 I have a 8 year old red eared slider. He is in a 75 gallon tank with a Fluval 404 filter and the temp is 76 degrees with and I have a basking lamp. I have never had a problem with him until the last week. Every time I feed him he tries to eat the food but spits it back out. You can see he is having problems trying to swallow the food. He appears very healthy and is still active. His daily routine has not changed at all and there is nothing in the tank that he can eat except the foam on his basking rock. He has never touched this before. Any help would be very much appreciated. <Hello. Obviously you need to remove the foam for a start; if he's eating this, it could easily cause a blockage, and my concern is that he is not eating food because he feels congested. In the short term, switch to a 100% plant-based diet. Other than the fact this species of terrapin should be eating at least 75% green foods anyway, removing meaty or pellet foods will reduce the chances of constipation. Do see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/turtlefdgfaqs.htm If this doesn't help within a week, then you probably need to take your pet to the vet to see if he has a blockage. If that's the case, your terrapin will be in severe pain and danger of a quick death. In fact you might want to ring up your local vet and ask them whether they think he should be brought in at once. When animals eat foam, gravel and so on it can cause all kinds of problems. Cheers, Neale.> Neale Thanks a million for your help with my turtle. I have booked an appointment for today with the Vet. Keith <Very good; probably wise. Good luck! Neale.>

Turtle eating gravel? 1/31/08 Hi there, Your site is brilliant, thank you for being such a great source of information. <Bob Fenner deserves that credit, but I'm happy to say thank you on behalf of all of us. Except ONE of us -- he knows who he is -- is just a slacker!!><Heeeee! RMF> We are in the process of treating a skin fungus on our two baby yellow bellied sliders based on your advice, fingers crossed. But whilst going through this process we have noticed that one of them has a swollen tail, it seems so swollen that the colour and markings have appeared to have drained from it. I have recently seen him playing with the gravel, whilst I have not seen him eat any I am worried that he may have and that he is now trying to pass it. is this possible/likely? If so should it pass without causing him too much pain or stress? Alternatively could the fungus do this to his tail? Sorry to continue this stream of questions but we just want to make sure we are caring for them as best we can. <It's unlikely that it's gravel, Emma. They rarely eat the stuff and anything big enough to be seen as you've described would unlikely have been passed from the stomach and anything that traveled past THAT would be excreted without problem.> <As to what that swelling IS .... is next to impossible to say without an actual examination. A secondary bacterial infection would be my best guess and this is the time that I tell you the proper course of action is to seek a qualified veterinarian for a personal examination. Short of that there's many things it could be and very few courses of action. Is it possible there's a mechanical injury (cut, scrape) that is getting out of hand?> Thanks again for all your help Emma (UK) <You're welcome, Emma. I'm also going to drop this letter into Neale's box and we can get his opinion. He lives in the Metric System just like you do so possibly he might have a more useful answer.>

Re: those yellow-belly terrapins 1/31/08 Greetings! "I'm not completely sure what the connection here is with the "metric system"! In any case, unusual swellings can be serious problems, for example metabolic bone disease. On the other hand, sloughing skin is dead and comes away in grey patches, and can look quite alarming. Likewise in several terrapin species the shape of the tail varies depending on the sex of the animal in question. Without actually seeing a photo of said terrapin, it's difficult to be sure exactly what the issue is. Gravel can probably be ruled out; the anus opens at the base of the tail and if the intestine or cloaca was swollen, it wouldn't affect the tail. In any case, while some reptiles naturally do swallow small amounts of gravel periodically for various reasons, they don't seem to do so by accident. I'd recommend that they carry on treating for fungus and for the next few days just observe to see if the swelling goes down. If it doesn't after, say, a week, and the pet owner can rule out sloughing or sex differences, then a vet is likely going to have to examine the animal. At the very least, antibiotics for reptiles need to be obtained from a vet. This isn't expensive or time consuming; last I heard, a course of antibiotics for a small animal was about Ã'£20 including the visit to the vet. This might vary, and if a person can find their local RSPCA or animal shelter, they may be able to find out about subsidised/free medication instead. Cheers, Neale On 31 Jan 2008, at 04:28, WetWebMedia Crew wrote: > Your site is brilliant, thank you for being such a great source of information. > <Bob Fenner deserves that credit, but I'm happy to say thank you on behalf of all of us. Except ONE of us -- he knows who he is -- is just a slacker!!> > We are in the process of treating a skin fungus on our two baby yellow bellied sliders based on your advice, fingers crossed. But whilst going through this process we have noticed that one of them has a swollen tail, it seems so swollen that the colour and markings have appeared to have drained from it. I have recently seen him playing with the gravel, whilst I have not seen him eat any I am worried that he may have and that he is now trying to pass it. is this possible/likely? If so should it pass without causing him too much pain or stress? Alternatively could the fungus do this to his tail? Sorry to continue this stream of questions but we just want to make sure we are caring for them as best we can. > <It's unlikely that it's gravel, Emma. They rarely eat the stuff and anything big enough to be seen as you've described would unlikely have been passed from the stomach and anything that traveled past THAT would be excreted without problem.> > <As to what that swelling IS .... is next to impossible to say without an actual examination. A secondary bacterial infection would be my best guess and this is the time that I tell you the proper course of action is to seek a qualified veterinarian for a personal examination. Short of that there's many things it could be and very few courses of action. Is it possible there's a mechanical injury (cut, scrape) that is getting out of hand?> > Thanks again for all your help > Emma (UK) > <You're welcome, Emma. I'm also going to drop this letter into Neale's box and we can get his opinion. He lives in the Metric System just like you do so possibly he might have a more useful answer.>

RES not eating 1/31/08 Hi. <Hiya April> I have a Red Eared Slider that has not been eating for the last three weeks. We have had him for about one year and have never had any problems. Today I was holding him and when I put him back in his water he had a stringy, yellow poop. Do you know what this could be? <How big is he? It could be stringy yellow poop -- BUT ... it sounds like he is a she and that stringy yellow poop is a crushed egg!! Females often go off their feed just before they lay eggs. Can you create a sort of nesting box for her -- a cardboard box with peat moss or vermiculite mixed with a tiny bit of water (one part vermiculite BY WEIGHT to one part water) or even just barely moist potting soil. Place her in there for a day and see if she digs a hole. You can search WetWeb for turtle eggs and get many suggestions> <Darrel>

Question not found on the net . . . RES, feeding... tuna... 11/19/07 Hi, Crew - <Hiya right back!> Hate to be a pest, but I am the new mother of two Red Eared Sliders (we just rescued them on Sunday) and you know how new moms can be! <Yes I do .... PESKY!!!! -- just kidding, Kimberly -- we love questions and we like the attention!> They are sweet as can be, but are not eating that I can see. In an effort to entice eating, I tried some tuna. They LOVED IT! <uh oh ... Insert menacing "Jaws"-type music here .......> So, I bought a few Rosey-red minnows last night. Also gone in seconds! <More menacing music .....> My problem is, though, that this morning I noticed tiny, almost microscopic, white dots on the side of the tank. I am 99.9% sure they are water fleas (daphnia) from the little bit of water that went in the tank with the minnows. The pet store told me that is what they feed their minnow fry and it is often residual in the tank. <Dum-Da-DAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!> <Yes! Reason number 4,613 on why we should feed our little friends "Properly Prepared Balanced Diets": HITCH HIKERS that foul our tanks and generate odors normally found only in a pre-teen aged boy's closet> Will daphnia harm the turtles? I tend to think not, or I probably WOULD have found something on the web or your site. <They just make things messy and smelly. In high ENOUGH concentrations where it upsets any semblance of hygiene then they would, in a way, open a door to fungus and bacterial infections. I suggest a complete break down of the turtle home and a good disinfecting with bleach and several rinses.> <So ... lesson learned here, Kimberly? Either Koi pellets or a commercially recognized prepared food such as Repto-Min. Either one is a perfectly balanced diet that will see them from hatchlings all the way to breeding adults. For a "natural" treat every so often, a single night crawler (an earthworm) available from your local pet shop will do the trick. (Put the other 10 or 11 worms into your garden or plant pots!)> I appreciate and anticipate your reply! <That's my reply ... was it worth the wait?> Thanks! k <Darrel> <OH .... one other thing ... been thinking about this for a long time> <GENERAL NOTICE ABOUT THAT JAWS-TYPE MUSIC> <Swimmers and scuba divers, listen up! When you're in the water .... and you hear that music ??????? GET OUT OF THE WATER!!!!!!!!!!>

Re: Red Ear Slider Turtle Question, fdg. 12/9/07 Hi Neale, My Red Ear Sliders are doing well and getting very big, although they are fussy eaters! They only want to eat corn, is that a good meal for them. They wont touch green beans or lettuce and they will eat peas if they are in there for a while. Do you have any tips on getting them to eat? I want them to get the nutrition they need! Thanks, Ryan <Hello Ryan. Most animals can become fussy eaters over time. If you've ever owned an elderly cat, you'll be VERY familiar with this! The solutions are two-fold: variety and appetite. In terms of variety, experiment with any greens you have in the house. Some green foods aren't good as staples, such as cabbage, but in small amounts will be fine. Blanching (or zapping in the microwave) can make a big difference, by softening the vegetable item and making it more pleasant to eat. Just as we find many (most?) vegetables more pleasant when cooked, so do animals. Tinned peas are, oddly enough, more readily accepted by animals compared with frozen or fresh peas. Tomatoes are another food that, in small amounts, terrapins enjoy. Ditto most soft fruits. Keep the portions small, because these sugary, acidic foods can overwhelm their little stomachs if given in excess. But a small portion once a week will be a good vitamin boost. Cooked corn is fine, so if they like that, giving that as often as two or three times a week will do no harm at all. I wouldn't use it too much because it isn't perfectly balanced. The other great source of greens are pond plants such as Elodea (Canadian pondweed). Terrapins enjoy this stuff a lot, and it couldn't be easier to use: stick in aquarium, let terrapins eat as much as they want! Now, in terms of appetite, one trick zookeepers routinely employ is to "starve" their animals one day a week. It does them no harm at all. After this day, the animals will be more ready to take foods they aren't wild about at other times. It also helps to clear out their digestive tracts. Cold-blooded animals, unlike warm-blooded animals, do not need regular meals and certainly don't need daily meals. Famously, big predatory reptiles like boas will be getting by on one or two square meals per month! Even your Red-ears will become semi-dormant in wintertime in the wild, and during those months will hardly eat at all. So you can use this knowledge to encourage your charges to feed the foods they should be eating. Don't feed them for a week, but leave pondweed in the tank instead. If they're really hungry and need energy, they'll eat the pondweed. Hope this helps! Neale.>

A TwoFer! Turtle sys/UV light and RES fdg. 10/04/07 <What we have here is a TWO-FER! One question comes in and even before we can answer, another follows the first one> Hey guys, <Hiya John - Darrel here> I was just wondering, in the wild how do turtles and other reptiles get UVB and uv rays on a cloudy day. Does UVB and uv rays still pass through the clouds. If so, is it okay to leave my red eared slider outside on a cloudy day. Thanks for all your help. <There is some UV on cloudy days, but the simple answer is that some days they don't get some. It's no big deal. We stress the importance of UV for two reasons 1) They need it for LONG TERM health and 2) We encourage all pet keepers to be habitual about things -- in other words we want you to put your lights on timers and UB bulbs above your tanks, etc. rather than relying on you to remember (or forget) to take the turtle out for some sun. With that said ... if your UV bulb burns out and it will take a week to get another one, don't break into a cold sweat about it -- as long as they've had some recently and will have it back in a week, or so .. they'll be just fine without it for a while.> * <Part Two!> Hey guys, <Hiya again!> I was just wondering, do baby red eared slider, under about 2 inch, need a varied diet or can I just feed them commercial stix, just until they get bigger though. <I feed mine Koi pellets from birth to breeding age. If the Sticks you mention are Repto-min brand, they're the same thing - just in stick form and a lot more expensive. They're a fine basic diet for their whole lives, John (see below)> Thanks for all your help I really appreciate it. By the way, your website is great, I learned a lot about my pets and how to take care of them. You guys are doing a great job! <That's always nice to hear! We all try really hard. Well .. all except ONE of us (he knows who he is!)> <http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

Semi-question... RES shell hardness, fdg. 10/3/07 <Two different emails & not a question to be found> Hey, <Hiya, Chris> Sorry to bother you. I was just wondering is it normal for an Red Eared Slider' back shell near the tail) however the rest of the shell is hard. He has an appetite and seems to be very active. Thanks for your help. <Answering the question is never a bother, Chris ... FINDING the question sometimes is .... in this case, I think you missed part of a sentence> * <If you're asking about the shell being SOFT ... then .. no. The shell is usually uniformly firm. Perhaps a tiny, TINY bit weaker in that area, but if it's so much weaker that you can really feel it, up the UV lighting and check the diet> * <Email #2> I wanted to know if it was also okay to feed koi pellets to a baby red eared slider all the time until they are a juvenile <It's not only OKAY ... it's great! It's a perfectly balanced, heavily vegetarian diet for their entire lives. You just may have to buy smaller pellets for the babies, although I usually don't -- they seem to go at the big pellets and take them in chunks.> <regards, Darrel> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm

Re: sick betta fish (follow-up), now fdg. RES 9/23/07 Since you were so helpful with my late betta fish... do you know anything about the feeding of red-eared slider turtles? We have two small ones who have been happily eating dried shrimp (brine shrimp?) labeled Repto-treats... which reminds me of the betta fish situation. They also eat arugula leaves that I float in the tank, but they completely refuse to eat the Repto-min pellets. Do I need to cut out the shrimp until they've started eating the pellets? Thanks, Lauren <Lauren, red-ear sliders need a mixed diet that, as they get older, becomes more plant than animal based. Current thinking is adults need about 70% plant material in their diet. Suitable foods include dandelion leaves, duckweed, Sushi Nori, green curly lettuce (not iceberg!) and so on. The main job of meaty foods is as a source of calcium. Typically, people dip worms or whatever into calcium supplement powder. Anyway, there are plenty of facts about this aspect of RES care here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/resfdgfaqs.htm . Cheers, Neale>

Red Ear Slider 9/12/07 Hello! I am writing about my red ear sliders again. I have 2- they are about 6 months old and I have a typical set-up with a filter, basking rock and lamp, and a water heater and some fake plants. I have had one of the turtles since about May and he has been healthy and active for the most part- but he has stopped eating. I noticed about 3 weeks ago it seemed like he was having problems breathing and his body would jolt out of its shell every few seconds. I started cleaning the tank more often and it seemed to help him because it went away in a few days. Then a week later he stopped eating and is always basking (which I believe is because he is trying to fight whatever sickness he has) and is not very active. It has seriously been about 3 weeks since he has eaten- how can he survive that long? <Chelonians -- turtles, terrapins, and tortoises -- take a long time to die. They take a long time to do most things! But seriously, let's review. What sort of basking lamp do you have? Is it the UVB type? That's essential for vitamin synthesis, and without it, they gradually weaken. Secondly, are you adding vitamins to their food? Again, this is a long term issue, but an essential one. It's also very easy to feed the wrong things (pellets, meat) to these fish instead of the right things (plants) and end up with constipated, sickly, vitamin-deficient pets.> I did have live plants in the aquarium for a while and he really liked those but I took them out because it was really messy. Could he have gotten use to feeding off the plants? <Perhaps, but the main thing is these turtles are plant eaters, and need to eat plants. This is non-negotiable. Whether you add live plants like Elodea or chopped greens of the right sort (dandelions, curly leaf lettuce, Sushi Nori, small bits of soft fruit, etc.) doesn't matter. But they must have some access to plant matter every day. As they get older, this becomes EVEN more important, because the adults are basically herbivorous.> I had a another companion for him when I first got him that was born with many deformities and unfortunately did not make it longer than 2 months, and this turtle (Crazy Feet) is acting the same as the other did before it passed away, except he only lasted about 1 week without eating. <Ah, a pattern. Please go back and check you're doing all the right things. Missing just one key step can be fatal in the long run. There are plenty of articles bout these animals at WWM; read, review, and ask questions.> The pet shop suggested that I get a water heater because it's getting colder here (I'm in Southern California) which I did about a week ago and I am keeping the water temp at 85. <A bit too warm for them. Aim for 25 C (77 F). They're subtropical animals really. On the other hand, they are sensitive to cold conditions too, so don't let it get below 18 C (64 F).> They also suggested guppies but local pet shops have been out of them. <OK, stop listening to this pet store. Red-ear terrapins do not need to eat fish, and it isn't good for them either. Live fish are a potential source of parasites and bacterial infections as well. So, stick with what they eat in the wild: green foods, invertebrates, green foods, green foods, and green foods. Use prepared pellets once or twice a week, but no more often than that because they are too dry and cause constipation. And before you say, "but they're sold as reptile food" well hamburgers and French fries are sold as human food but no-one defends the idea that they're good for us (except maybe the marketing departments of fast food chains).> I feed them Reptomin and dried shrimp. <Stop doing this except as a treat. It's green foods they need. GREEN FOODS!> I am very concerned he is going to go soon, please help with any suggestions! Thank you, Samantha <Good luck, Neale>

Re: Red Ear Slider Turtle Question 08/26/07 Hi Neale, <Hello Ryan,> I will get a picture tomorrow night of their shell and, hopefully, the Growth Rings. <Cool.> I have noticed one new thing with my Babies. They seem to be eating a lot! they never ate this much before. one would wait for you to leave the room before it ate. Now it comes out and eats like there is no tomorrow. <Normal. These are greedy animals. But the problem is likely a lack of fibre in the diet. If "filled" with green foods containing lots of fibre, they feel satiated more quickly. Just like humans really: we might crave fatty and sugary foods but neither "fills us up". Besides, green foods are where some of the essential vitamins are, like vitamins B and C, so take advantage of their seemingly endless hunger to give them some greens.> Is it possible to feed them too much? <Not really, but water quality obviously suffers.> All I have been feeding them lately is their baby floating pellets but if You put 20 or 30 in the tank between the 2 of them they are gone in a matter of minutes! Is this too much? <If they eat them, then its fine. But I'd only use pellets only once or twice a week; go raid the kitchen for green and invertebrate foods for the rest of their diet. Blanched lettuce, tinned or frozen peas, courgette, soft fruit like melon (with the rinds) and so on. Really, just try anything not obviously risky (chili peppers and onions would perhaps be unwise!). Once these reptiles become adults, their diet needs to be nearly 100% vegetarian if you want them to have good health. In terms of meaty foods, once or twice a week offer frozen prawns, mussels, and other bits of seafood. Don't use meat from warm blooded animals: the fats congeal in cold blooded animals, causing problems.> I heard it is possible for them to grow too fast for their shell. <Garbage. When these terrapins show things like shell deformities, they are either genetic or down to poor care, specifically a lack of UV light and not enough of the right vitamins and minerals (especially calcium).> Thanks Again!, Ryan <Cheers, Neale> Re: Red Ear Slider Turtle Question 8/28/07 Hi Neale, I got those pictures of the turtles shells, Notice the brown in between the plates that was never like that it was either black or green. Any feedback on this is appreciated. I'm going to pick them up some Peas and lettuce tomorrow, are blood worms good for them? I have been throwing them in there too. Thanks again for all your helpful information! Thanks Again, Ryan <Hello Ryan. I'm afraid those photos are too small/blurry to really pick out anything useful. If you can try again, zooming in on the brown stuff that would help. At first glance, the image with the terrapin over the red/black gravel looks as if it has been painted! The brown stuff seems to be metallic, like gold paint. This isn't a silly idea on my part: it used to be quite common to see terrapins and tortoises sold with simple paintings and patterns on their shells. Anyway, since you said this brown stuff has recently appeared, it can't be paint. So what I'm interested in is whether the stuff is smooth or textured. Fungal infections can happen on terrapin shells, and is revealed by a furry or fluffy texture. Since the shell grows from the insides outwards, the each "plate" on the shell is a stack of modified keratin scales, with the oldest ones at the top. If your turtle is suffering from [a] malnutrition or [b] lack of UVB light then the scales lower down the stack will be deformed. So it would be interesting to see if the brown stuff is actually a sign of deformed scales. It is extremely common for these terrapins to be kept without sufficient UVB light, or with the light but no space for them to bask underneath it. So remind me again what lighting system you are using. It's also worth mentioning that as the terrapins grow they lose their green colour and turn a muddy greeny brown. The bright green plates at the top of each stack eventually fall off, and you're left with a terrapin much less brightly coloured than it was on purchase. Cheers, Neale>

Re: Red Ear Slider Turtle Question; feeding young 9/1/07 Hi Neale, My babies seem like they can eat more than i give them. Would it be ok to feed them twice a day? I have been feeding them lettuce and broccoli and there calcium pellets along with the occasional blood worms. Ss there anything else they should be eating? Also should I boil there lettuce and such before feed it to them? Their colors seem sharper now that the UVB is in there tank and they seem to be much happier also! I appreciate very how much how knowledgeable you are and willing to share your information! Thanks Again, Ryan <Hello Ryan. When feeding green foods you can basically feed as much as you want. Plant material contains very small quantities of protein, and so there's little that comes out of the fish or turtle that pollutes the water. Yes, there's solid waste, but it's mostly fibre and has zero effect on water quality (even though it *looks* unpleasant and makes the water cloudy). In fact, herbivorous reptiles (and fishes for that matter) tend to be adapted to feed more or less constantly in the wild, so feel free to offer two or three meals a day if you want. You should probably leave some food in the vivarium 24/7, removing uneaten food and replacing it with fresh once or twice a day. Boiling the lettuce is probably not helpful, but blanching it (dipping it for 10 seconds in a cup of boiling water) does seem to make lots of animals happier. It breaks down the cellulose cell walls a bit, making the lettuce easier to digest. To bear in mind that iceberg lettuce in particular contains practically no nutrition at all, and is a total waste of time. Instead, go for old fashioned lettuces with nice dark green leaves. Even so, these aren't terribly nutritious. Better green foods include cress, parsley, and dandelion leaves. Some turtles also go for tomatoes and soft fruits like plums, so you might try those, too. Try a little at first, to see if they like them. Otherwise, just try out different things. Reading around the web and in books should give you some idea of the kinds of things these turtles enjoy. They're omnivores, so the main thing to keep in mind is variety, rather than looking for the one "perfect" food. Anyway, I'm glad you're seeing the difference the UVB makes! I'm sure your turtles are much happier now! Good luck, Neale>

Red Eared Slider isn't competing for food 7/25/07 Dear Crew, <Hiya, Andrea -- Darrel here> I have two red eared slider turtles and one has grown and the other hasn't. I read on your website that the bigger one may be dominating the tank. However, when the smaller turtle attempts to eat it seem to be able to open his mouth wide enough to consume a pellet. The turtle opens his mouth only slightly and I don't think he's eating but appears to be trying. Do you know what is happening and what I can do? <They little one must be quite small if he can't chomp on a pellet. Here's what I'd do: At feeding time, place the larger one in a separate container and feed him there. Wait for about a half an hour after you remove him before feeding the little one who is still in their regular home. Use a razor blade or sharp knife to cut a few pellets into smaller chunks and feed them to the little guy. This way he gets to eat smaller pieces and he gets to enjoy them in peace. Then just watch him to see how he's eating. If that doesn't worm, try some night crawlers (earthworms) or even a ball of Tubifex worms from a fish store. Once he starts eating again, continue to feed them separately for a few months -- usually this problem settles down.>

My red ear sliders, eating goldfish 6/6/07 Hey guys. <Hello again, David> My turtles are doing great. <That's always good to hear> My Friend and I got some little baby gold fishes. It's funny how my turtles chases it and try to eat them. They have successfully caught two. I was wondering if it is healthy for them to eat the little fishes. <It's O.K. David, but not great. Goldfish can carry diseases and not only that but when the turtles DO catch them, they eat "most" of the fish and the remaining small parts just help to dirty your water. If you want to feed them goldfish occasionally, that's fine but I suggest that you use Koi Pellets or Tetra-Min reptile sticks as your basic food and then get some Night Crawlers (a kind of earthworm) for treats every so often.>

Simple Slider Food 5/18/07 I bought my Red Eared Slider about a month ago. The person that I got them from said that they were about 3 months. So how long or how old should i wait till i feed them live bait? <Thank you for writing, David. There really isn't a size requirement for feeding a Red Eared Slider and in fact, I'd suggest that you don't feed him any live bait. In the wild turtles will occasionally pursue live bait but with the exception of worms and snails they're rarely fast enough to catch anything. For a basic diet, I'd suggest that you find a good quality Koi Pellet at your local fish store. They come is different sized pellets so you can buy your guy the small size for now and it has all the nutrition he needs to grow and thrive. Don't over feed him, make sure is water is clean and that he can bask under a heat source that's between 80 & 90 degrees and no higher. Good luck & keep us posted. Darrel> Regarding some turtle question, RES fdg., comp. 5/13/07 Dear crew, I have several questions and I hope you can help me. Recently I tried feeding my red ear slider with new food, dried Red Shrimps, or at least that's what the bottle said. Anyway, after I fed the turtle with it , it appears that it refuse to eat the usual turtle pellets. My turtle will only eat those pellets if I haven't fed them for some period. If I throw in some shrimps , they ignore the pellets, is it normal ? < Your turtles are actually quite fond of the shrimp. It is in their best interest to feed them the pellets first. As they start to slow down you can add a couple of shrimp. An all shrimp diet is not good for your turtles overall health.> Could I introduce a new turtle or different species to my turtle? Is there anyway I could do it safely , assuming their size varies greatly? Thanks for ur time and reply < I would recommend one turtle per container. RES's are very aggressive turtles and see other turtles as competition. Smaller weaker turtles would be hiding from the established turtle and not be getting enough food.-Chuck>

Comments & Questions, Turtle/RES comp. 5/15/07 Good Morning Gentlemen & Ladies And ... as always ... many thanks. <As many welcomes> First a comment about Red Eared Sliders. I've been raising them and breeding them for almost all my adult life and I can tell you that all types of sliders, cooters that you're liable to run into in the local pet store will live together famously if they have enough sun, enough food and enough clean water. Although I wouldn't normally put hatchlings in with adults, eggs that I missed collecting have hatched out and the babies spent as long as a month with the adults with no ill effects as long as the adults are happily fed. Heat 'em, Feed 'em & Clean em. As far as food goes -- forget the packaged turtle foods in the cans and remember two words: "Koi Pellets." From hatchlings that have to take several runs at even a small one to adults that can eat a dozen in one gulp ... they'll live, thrive, grow and reproduce on that one staple. Softshells & Mud/Musk turtles, too. Once in a while when I'm at a pet store I'll buy a container of night crawlers (worms) and toss some around and they seem to like the treat and it rarely affects their basic appetite. Once in a while they get finicky, but after a week or three they'll give in and eat again. Box turtles are another story -- I've seen them 'fixate' on something like strawberries and go as long as a YEAR refusing any food at all if they can't have their favorite. <Thank you for this input... Please do consider joining us if you have time, interest... if for nothing else to help with such captive Chelonian questions> Darrel <Thank you for writing, sharing. Bob Fenner>

RES Won't Eat 5/12/07 I hope you are still in the business of helping with turtle problems. I found your link on a website and we could use some expertise! I had a RES and a Cooter both with respiratory infections; the cooter didn't make it, even with antibiotic injections from the vet. My RES seems to have finally recovered and looks to be feeling better, but still will not eat. I suspect he may be eating some of the lettuce, but I can't be sure as I also have a map turtle (who did not get sick) in the same tank (although she seems to be more interested in the pellets & the feeder guppies than the lettuce, I really can't be sure who's eating the lettuce). I have tried offering fresh strawberries & kiwi with calcium powder on them, and Reptomin fruit gel, but so far he doesn't seem to be eating any of it, and won't go after any pellets, no matter what brand (or turtle yummies either). He doesn't seem to be having pain upon movement, so I don't think there's any significant calcium deficiency or shell trouble yet, but I'm worried that if it does start, the painful movement will further restrict any attempts to eat, or even to get to the lettuce. He spends most of his time in the basking area, although lately he is getting in the water more, sometimes riding around (surfing?) on the lettuce. Water is currently at about 86* < Way too warm. Upper 60's to lower 70's would be better.> although I have to cover the cage with a towel at night time when the A/C kicks on to keep it that temp, otherwise it drops several degrees. < At night it is suppose to drop several degrees. This is normal.> I was instructed to keep it this temperature in order to get him to eat, but it doesn't seem to be helping. His last round of shots was about a week ago, and he's not completely lethargic like he was when severely sick, but I'm still worried that if he doesn't start eating he will develop shell problems. Is there calcium in dark lettuces? < Not much of anything in lettuce. Try spinach or kale instead.> We do have UVB spiral bulbs (3) in the hood, and UVA in the basking lamp, so if he can just get the Ca+, there's plenty of D3 available. < If the light bulbs are over 1 yr old they need to be changed.> I read something someone else said about humidity in the tank keeping them sick, so maybe I should dispense with the towel and add another basking lamp to keep the temp up? <I would recommend checking the temp of the basking site. It should be at least 85 F. I would lower the water temp and not cover up the tank at night.> Although we do have very dry air in AZ, perhaps its getting too humid inside the tank with the towel covering it. < That's one way to get your turtles sick.> My infirmary for him while he was sick was a large Tupperware rectangle with just a little water and a huge basking rock, with a towel draped over the whole thing to keep out drafts, and that seems to have worked pretty well. He's been back in the tank for about a week now, getting stronger every day, but still not sure he's eating, which is why I'm worried, and writing. Hope this isn't too long...I'm looking for help since the vet doesn't seem to know what to do at this point (and he's a reptile specialist recommended by ARAV!) and we're just very personally vested in our turtles! We've made arrangements to adopt a new Cooter from Las Vegas (day trip!) but want to make sure our little guy is healthy again before bringing a new one home. If there is a fee for your question & answer service, I am happy to pay it, I had stumbled upon some questions & answers on an online message board that had your name & email. Thanks for your time, ~Alissa <Check the temp of the basking site (85F+), lower the water temp and don't cover the tank at night(70F). The dry air is actually good to remove the fluid from the turtle's lungs. Try feeding washed earthworms, mealworms, crickets, waxworms, ZooMed Adult Aquatic Turtle Food, aquatic snails, spinach and kale. One of these will get him eating if he is healthy. The heat of the basking site is the most important factor. WWM advice is free. Our main goal is to help save pets lives.-Chuck>

Feeding Turtles Bait Shop Worms 5/11/07 Hi, is it safe to use nightcrawlers from a Bait shop to feed my turtles. I have both Sliders and Painted. Thanks! Brian < Those would be fine as a treat as long as they are washed off.-Chuck>

Little Turtle Will Not Eat - 05/02/07 My little RES is not eating. He sits in the basking light all day and rarely goes in the water. He has been like this for two weeks now and we were getting worried about him so I found this food called Repta-Aid. We have been force feeding him for about 4 or 5 days now and he won't open his mouth for the food. Also when he basks his head will bob and his eyes will close. We have another baby RES turtle in the tank with him and the other turtle is doing fine. We have a filter for the aquarium too but it's not doing much. If you can please help us we don't want him to die! Thank you! Bree <Your turtle is sick and is trying to warm himself up under the light. The basking site needs to be at least 85 F. Get a bigger light or move it closer to warm him up. Do not force feed him. If he is not warm enough the food will sit in his stomach and rot. This will cause more harm than good. Hard to say what exactly is wrong with him. may have eaten too much or got cold and now has a respiratory infection.-Chuck>

Feeding Turtles 5/2/07 I have a question regarding my son's new RES turtle. We did lots of research before purchasing "King Tut" and have all of the equipment I think we need for him. My question is regarding his food intake. We have Zoo Med turtle food and treats, live fish in the tank as well as fresh veggies for him. I am concerned because he is only eating the feeder fish. He has eaten 6 in the last 36 hours. All of the reading I have done says he needs the other two components in his diet as well. Does he need the dry food and veggies to be healthy? Should we try crickets and meal worms instead? Your help is greatly appreciated! Deidre < If the turtle is a hatchling (approx 1 "), then their diet should be 80% ZooMed Hatchling Aquatic Turtle Food and 20% other foods. As a young turtle they need lots of protein for growth. Older turtles (4"+) need the adult turtle food as well as some vegetable matter. Feeder fish are actually poor food sources for turtles. They are often poorly treated and are barely alive. They are a source of protein and calcium but not much else. The pellets are designed to be complete but I still would add other things to make a varied diet. Crickets, mealworms and washed earthworms are always accepted. Don't let the turtle train you into giving him treats all the time.-Chuck>

Baby Turtle Being Overfed 4/2/07 My hatchling RES, about an inch long, must have possibly eaten a whole pellet (about a centimeter and a half long) usually I break them up into smaller more manageable pieces, but I came home yesterday to find a huge poop in the tank, usually they are about 2-3 millimeters long and small, this one was larger than the pellets, in both length (about 2 cm) and diameter. I noticed Fred's cloaca (I think that's the right term) was huge and looked stretched out. Should I be worried? (I know gross question, but I'm really worried it was like an organ or something) < A prolapsed colon is caused from an extreme bowl movement that has traumatized the area.> They have everything they need and are happy and healthy otherwise. 20 gallon tank (for now, while they are babies, I will upgrade as they grow), ZooMed turtle dock, basking light w/ UVA/UVB at 90 degrees, water temp at 75, filter, etc. I feed them guppies (which they are not very good at catching. any suggestions on slower feeder fish?), < Feeder fish are not great food for little turtles.> tiny Ramshorn snails, < They may have a problem passing the shells and contributing to the condition you are so concerned about.> occasional red meat, Gammarus pellets, and offer leafy greens although they don't even recognize them as food. They've got fake plants to hide in and a cuttlebone for calcium. Am I missing anything?? Thanks in advance, your site has helped with so much already. < I would recommend ZooMed Hatchling Aquatic Turtle Food as a base diet and add the other things as treats. The vegetables will be more important in their diet when they get older. The key to feeding turtles is to watch them while you are feeding them. At first they act like they have never eaten before. Soon they slow down as their belly begins to fill up. You should stop feeding them when they start to slow down. Never leave food in the tank for them to eat later. When they start to move around and hunt for food then they should be fed again.-Chuck>

Older Turtle With Shell/Feeding Issues 3/30/07 Hello -I have a 9-year old red-eared slider that I've had since she was hatched. She is constantly shedding her scutes and recently I've noticed small white spots on the top of her shell. At first I would take her out and clean off her shell and use some shell-conditioner (moisturizer?). But the spots keep coming back. I can flick off these spots - there is a barely-noticeable dent left behind when I do so - and it doesn't seem to be soft. The spots do not seem to return in the same place, rather another point on her shell. She seems to be fine otherwise - she basks regularly and eats turtle pellets. Her eyes are clear and don't seem to have any problems. I have tried adding other items to her diet (mealy worms, crickets, veggies, etc.) but she doesn't seem interested. She used to eat feeder fish regularly, but I haven't put any in the tank since she was moved into a 125 gallon tank. There are currently 4 small fish in the tank with her - originally there were 6 fish but she only ate 2 over the course of about 2 years, so I haven't tried them again. Previously when there were fish in her tank she would eat them almost immediately. Should I try them again? < No, not needed.> She has two big rocks on which she can bask - both have lights over them. I have the water temperature around 80 degrees. <Too warm. Drop it down to the lower 70's to the upper 60's.> I would take her to a vet but I'm having a hard time finding one in my area that deals regularly with turtles. There seems to be a lot of algae that grows on the rocks - could this be an indication of a water issue? < Water is high in nitrates.> Can I put algaecide in the tank (I have some that I use for my fish tank)? <Better to change more water and clean the filters more frequently.> I have 2 filters for the tank - I know each brand of filter is different, but is there a general rule of thumb for how often the filters should be cleaned? <I would get in the habit of clean each filter every two weeks. But don't change them both at the same time. Clean one on even weeks and then change the other one on odd weeks.> Does she need vitamins? If so, how do I get her to eat them? < At this age your turtle should be eating more vegetable matter. Try not feeding your turtle for a week, then add some spinach and kale to the diet. The pellets should be for adult turtles and not for hatchlings.> She's not handled very much and seems to be pretty shy when I get close to her/handle her, so hand-feeding is probably going to be an issue. Thanks so much for your help! Kasie < If you have not done so in awhile, I would recommend that you change the light bulbs. Even though they are still lighting and heating the tank, the wavelengths get weak over a couple of years and need to be replaced to make sure that your turtle gets the proper lighting.-Chuck

Older Turtle Questions II 3/30/07 I wanted to mention that if it's a lighting issues, I live in the Northeast so taking the turtle outside right now isn't an option b/c it's too cold. <Once again check the date on the lighting. new lighting may be needed.> On that note, how warm should it be if I do want to take the turtle outside for some sunlight? Also, I can send a picture of my turtle's shell if that would be helpful. Thanks again, Kasie < The outside highs should be at least 65 F. Less than that and turtles usually just go dormant. Check on the items I have discussed and see if things get better.-Chuck>

Turtles always acting hungry/begging 3/29/07 Hi there! Thanks so much for your incredibly informative website! It has really helped me learn how to properly care for my two Red Ear Slider turtles. I've had them about a year and a half and they are 3.5 inches long and 3 inches wide (they were silver dollar size when I got them) they are now growing fast and shedding skin. They are active swimmers and like to bask under the heat and UVA/UVB lamps. <Sounds like you have a great set up!> I have a couple of questions though... <Fire away.> My turtles constantly want food! <Normal for most people and animals.> They are always begging when I come by the tank, swimming up to me and poking their heads out of the water. I currently feed them once a day, a rounded teaspoonful (approx. 50-60 pieces) of Nutrafin Max Turtle Gammarus medium pellets which I pre-hydrate before feeding in a little water mixed with ReptoCal supplement and they eat them up SO FAST! <Sounds good, but be sure and augment the pellets with other foods, perhaps alternating each day to get variety. Pellets one day, veggies the next, earthworms the third, and so on. Besides being more fun for the turtles (or terrapins as we call them here in the UK) variation prevents animals become either addicted to just one food or else turned off by it all of a sudden.> If I give them more, they eat more - no food ever goes uneaten. <Suggesting their appetites are good, always a positive sign with reptiles.> They gobble up earthworm and mealworm treats and try to swallow them whole as snakes do. <That's how reptiles eat -- they can't chew.> I usually cut up the worms because I'm afraid the turtles will choke. <Most animals can't choke; humans choke largely because of where the larynx is, an evolutionary adaptation that provides a benefit (speech) at the cost of greater risk of choking. But I digress...> I've read on your site that overfeeding is bad and can lead to the turtles growing faster than their shells. <I'm not sure they grow faster than their shells, but it is certainly possible for turtles to get insufficient calcium in their diet (or insufficient UV light) and therefore develop improperly formed shells as they grow. Provided the diet is rich in calcium as well as the other nutrients, I wouldn't worry too much.> I don't want to feed too much or too little, so how much food and how often should I be feeding? <Tricky question because it depends on the nutritional value of the food being used. The pellets should state on the packaging what amount to give per day. Vegetables can be really be give at liberty, because they can't really overindulge in them, since most of the plant material is water and indigestible cellulose. What matters in the plants are vitamins and minerals. Meaty foods are more serious. But I'd not give a turtle a bigger food item at one time than was the size of its head. Not very scientific, but at least easy to estimate! It is actually much easier to overfeed a turtle than underfeed it (just as with fish, or for that matter humans).> Also, I've read that older turtles need veggies such as spinach and kale in their diets - but exactly how old is an "older turtle"? When should I introduce the veggies? I would appreciate your advice. <Indeed correct, as red-ears mature they become more herbivorous in the wild. Presumably their size and bulk makes it less easy for them to catch prey. Anyway, there's no harm in feeding some greens straightaway. If nothing else, you'll be training your young turtles to accept a variety of foods. Greens also provide essential vitamins as well as roughage, which prevents constipation, a common problem with captive turtles. Be sure and use a variety of plants. Dandelion leaves and round (not iceberg) lettuce are particularly good. Obviously, thoroughly clean anything used to avoid pesticide residues. As mentioned earlier, these can (perhaps should) be available 24/7 so that the turtles can graze when they're feeling peckish.> Thank you, Gina <Cheers, Neale>

Cat Biscuits Not Good For Turtles 03/25/07 Hey crew! Firstly i just wanted to thank you all for the really useful info you've given me, thanks to your advice I've learned heaps about my red eared sliders and have learned ways to keep them happier and healthier! I've been looking at cheap alternatives to some of my turtles' food (as I'm sure you understand, turtle food is at ridiculous prices now days!) and a friend of a friend told me that she uses cat biscuits ( about half the size of a small fingernail, not large ones) for her turtles. I've tried my turtles on these and they happily eat them, but I'd like to know your opinion on feeding my turtles these. Thanks again! Caitlin. < Turtles will pretty much eat anything. Feeding these biscuits occasionally is Ok but not for the long term. These biscuits are too high in protein. A high protein diet causes the scutes on the shell to grow abnormally quick and thick. This prevents the shell from expanding as the turtle grows. Eventually the turtle is squeezed to death in its own straight jacket shell. For the long run a commercially prepared turtle diet is best.-Chuck.>

Little Turtle With Swollen Eyes 2/26/07 It is my hope that you can advise and/or provide some support re Kayla my RES. I received Kayla (a hatchling) 5 months ago and immediately she did not take to the commercial turtle food i.e. floating sticks or mini pellets. < Switch foods to something your turtle will eat.> To date, I have given her baby cabbage, red leaf lettuce, mealworms, crickets dusted with vitamins, and shrimp. < The vegetables are usually offered to older turtles. Younger turtles are more meat eaters.> She will only eat the shrimp. < A shrimp only diet is not good.> On two occasions I did not feed her for 2 days and when I placed the commercial food back into the tank - she would not eat. < Little turtles easily become imprinted on food items and become difficult to change.> Last week, I noticed she was listless, not swimming around a lot, eyes constantly closed, although she continued to eat the shrimp - with closed eyes. I cleaned the tank (10 gallon), changed the water and the behavior remained. Yesterday I noticed a softness of her shell right above her tail and a few hours ago I noticed a small split between the same area. I brought drops for her eyes which appeared swollen. I have been holding and examining Kayla for the last few days looking for various signs/symptoms of illness, distress- I know not what is normal from what is problematic. I am extremely worried about Kayla and I do not want to lose her. Also, what is the growth rate for RES? Kayla is about the size of a pinky finger and does not appear to have grown since the time I got her. Any help/advise you can extend is greatly appreciated. Danielle < The swollen eyes are caused from a deficiency in vitamin A. Not all eye drops are the same. Zoo Med eye drops have vitamin A while other brands have antibiotics or chemicals to clean the eyes. Zoo Med makes an aquatic hatchling turtle food that is specially designed for baby turtles try this along with the meal worms, crickets and washed earthworms. Check the temperature of the basking site. It should be at least 85 F. Your lamp should be providing UVB and UVA rays for proper vitamin D3 so they can absorb calcium and keep the shell nice and hard.-Chuck>

Little Turtles Overfed 1/9/07 Hello Crew, My name is Samantha and I am a complete turtle freak! I have raised box turtles since I was a kid. I just bought two baby RES's about a week or so ago and for the first couple days they seemed fine and dandy, Swimming all around eating pellets, and kelp like crazy. As I have mentioned I have had them for about a week now and am a little worried. I have a dry basking area with a UVA Incandescent lamp for them to bask in at about 90 degrees, two filters, a water heater set to about 75 degrees and a thermometer for the water. The thermometer shows that it is constantly around 75 degrees and it does not fluctuate much. The turtles no longer eat any more and they are almost dead like. They don't hardly move at all! I got them some bait fish and they ate 2 of them and there are still two left yet they just sit under the lamp with their mouths closed sprawled out. They never want to get in the water and when they do its only for about 2 minutes until they are back under the lamp. One of the turtles doesn't open his eyes. If you pick him up with his eyes closed he will open one and it takes about a minute for the other one to open. About 2 days ago he couldn't open any of them for about 5 minutes after you pick him up. They do not have any lesions or shell deficiencies except their shells on their bellies are soft. The top is hard but the bottom is a little flexible. I let them outside in a bowl with damp cloth and they just lay around soaking up rays. I keep their water clean and I just don't know what to do anymore. I have researched and researched on the internet on different problems. They just won't eat and they do not move. If there is any advice you could give me that would be great! Thank you, Samantha < The little guys have so much food in their stomach that they can't move. These full stomachs are putting pressure on the rest of the internal organs. They are trying to heat up enough to digest the huge meal. Turtles die from being over fed. Hopefully it is not too late for yours.-Chuck>
Re: Sick Baby Turtles (Red Ear Slider). Overfed Turtles II 1/9/07
Thank you so much I had no idea that I was over feeding them because I had never seen them eat! Thank you soo much for your help. I hope that I have received this info in time so that they won't die on me. Should I just feed them once a day maybe and thanks again! Sincerely, Samantha < If they are eating, then they are on the road to recovery and out of the danger zone. If they are not eating and still lethargic I would leave them alone until they start to show some movement. In your first question you indicated that they were eating pellets and kelp like crazy, so I assumed that you had watched them eat. Dumping food in the tank and taking off is not a good idea. Do not feed them until they are actively seeking food. Then feed them 3 to 4 times a week. Watch them eat until they slow down, then stop. They are full and do not need to be feed any more until the next time.-Chuck>

New Turtle Questions 12/31/06 Hello, I have a new RES that I bought at PetSmart on the 23rd. She has yet to eat. Habitat seems good. She is in a 20 gal tank with UVA/UVB light, basking lamp and rock. I have tried feeder fish, earthworms, vitamin blocks and turtle pellets. After going back to the pet store 3 times, I finally have found out that I need a heater. The water is now at 78 -79 degrees. She still is preferring the basking rock. What temp should the basking rock area be? Originally I was using a 100 watt bulb and it would get up to 80 or 85. Have been informed (by brilliant pet store people) that this is too much and have changed to a 60 watt bulb, and now area shows to be around 75 degrees. Am very worried about my turtle - please advise. Wendy < The basking site needs to get up to at least 85 F for your turtle to properly digest its food. It may take awhile for your turtle to warm up enough to eat.-Chuck>

Turtle Won't Eat 12/9/06 Hi! We have a 5 inch male RES who won't eat lately and has been shedding his shell a lot-not skin. We change the water in his 30 gallon tank weekly or every two weeks and he has a basking light on all day. I've noticed white spots on his top shell the past two days and he's becoming very inactive...Please help Ariel! Thanks < Check the temperature of the basking spot with a thermometer. It should be at least 85 F. Turtles need heat to digest their food. If they are too cold then the food sits in their gut and rots. The causes all kinds of problems. Now that the days are colder he may require more heat. Either get a bigger lamp or move the existing lamp closer if needed. As you turtle grows his diet changes. Smaller turtle need lots of protein from insects and worms. Older turtles need less protein and lots of vegetable matter like kale and spinach.-Chuck>

New Little Turtles Need Help 12/4/06 I bought two red eared sliders from a vendor in Chinatown two days ago (I know, bad idea.) < You said it. Not me.> I set up a comfortable home with good heating and they seem content, save the fact that they do not eat. (they are about an inch long, and I believe both males.) < Too young to tell.> I read the faq's and I believe it is just the stress of traveling, should I try different foods everyday and avoid handling them until they start eating? or should I worry that they are unhealthy. also, is crab/lettuce ok? < Very young turtles do not eat for a while just after absorbing their egg sac. Make sure that the basking site is around 85 F. Offer insects, pellets, and small earth worms. As they get bigger they eat more vegetable matter. Save the crab and other items until they start to eat on a regular basis. Do not handle the turtles until they are well established.-Chuck>

Turtles Won't Eat 9/26/06 Dear Crew! I currently have two red-eared sliders, one is 2.16 inches long (Sunday) and the other is 2.75 inches long (Monday). I have no idea what their sexes are, but I'll just refer to both as males. I can't appreciate any difference in their tails or claws!! I have had Sunday for a around 5 months now and he has been doing fine. I feed him once a day and his meal consists of turtle pellets, peaches and carrots. He had developed eye problems earlier but thanks to you guys, is doing fine now. He lives in a 20 gallon tank with a full-spectrum lamp and an elevated shelf of rock that he can stay completely dry on. I don't have a filter in the tank but I change the water every week and I feed him outside the tank in another bowl. He's very active and not at all aggressive. Every morning I put him out in the sun, in a tub of water with a huge rock he can easily climb onto. He gets around 6 hours of sunlight, roughly. I also give him a dip in warm, saline water every day for 5 minutes, just to be on the safe side. Now, around 10 days ago, I got Monday as a gift. He's bigger and darker and also meaner!! He tried to bite my finger when I held him. I, unknowingly put him in the same tank and did not worry about the situation because they were both getting along fine. I have only seen Monday snap at Sunday once and that did not leave any lasting damage. I found out just now, as I was reading through the FAQ's that red-eared sliders do not get along very well. I have decided I'll separate the two, but they get along really well. They bask on the same rock and sleep quite peacefully together. I should not take any chances, right? < As they get older they may see each other as competition and become more aggressive.> Why I was reading through the FAQ's is because, they have both stopped eating for the past three days! Sunday had a really healthy appetite. Monday used to eat less but he was very active so I did not worry. Now they have had not a single bite in the past three days. They are both still active. Monday basks a lot and his shell is peeling so initially I thought that maybe it's shell-rot because I thought I saw white, stringy feces. But after reading the links on your site, I am almost sure it's not that because his shell in not soft and it's a very dark green. None of the other FAQ's answer this query so I am bothering you with this long mail. Oh and there's a lump on Monday's fore-head. I had not paid much attention to it but a thread on your site caught my attention. Do I incise it, in case it's a worm pocket? My biggest concern though is that they are not eating. Not even the pellets that they were both very fond of. I live in Pakistan and we do not have reptile vets here. I am hoping this will be a problem I can treat at home. Please advise! Waiting anxiously for your reply, I remain with kind regards. Sidra < Your turtles need a basking spot that gets up to at least 85 F. If they are not able to heat up then the food in their stomach rots and they get sick. heat up the area and see if they get better. Heat also helps fight off parasites.-Chuck>

Turtles Won't Eat II 9/27/06 Dear Chuck! Thanks for the prompt reply. I'll start working on a new tank for Monday. About the eating problem, I am sorry I forgot to mention in my earlier mail that they do have a basking spot under a full spectrum lamp that gets pretty warm, around 90F. They love basking there and they also love basking in the sunlight. So in all, they get around 12 hours of heat!! Of course, in both situations there is an available pool of water where they can cool off. Should I leave the lamp on for longer after I bring them in out of the sun? It said on a turtle care site that they need to bask for around 6-8 hrs. Am I giving them too much heat? < Not as long as the water is unheated or relatively cool, under 70 F.> And I have two new questions! I found one of the turtles, the younger one, swimming on his back today!! I freaked out and took him out but he seems in good health! In fact he even ate a little today. I have searched your site in hopes of reading that a turtle swimming upside down is normal but no-one else seems to have reported one. Please advice!! < Not normal but could happen. Watch him closely for a few days for signs of stress.> And The older turtle has a lot of white spots on his body, specially on the legs. They look like growth of tissues. Is it a dietary deficiency? < Not really. Growths on the skin could be bacteria or fungus. Keep the water clean and add a Dr. Turtle Sulpha Block to inhibit bacteria.> And please also tell me if changing their feeding time has an effect on their appetite? And for how long does it last? Should I revert to the old time if they don't eat at the new time? <Turtles should be fed in the morning so they have the entire day to heat up and digest their food. Feeding them in the evening causes the food to sit in their stomach until it can be heated/digested the next day.> Once again, I remain with kind regards. Sidra

Turtles Still Not Eating 10/8/06 Dear Crew, Greeting and salutations to all of you. I am writing with my previous mail as in-line text so that you guys get the complete picture. The turtles are still not eating. It's been two weeks now since I shifted their time to the morning. I make sure they get enough heat during the day to digest their food and they even have an unheated body of water near by to help them cool off. They get turtle pellets and cut up vegetables and fruits (carrots, peaches and apples) once a day in the morning. They both loved this menu previously. I should also mention that the weather in our part of the world has dropped a few degrees but even the coldest winter does not bring snow. It stays between 20-25 degrees Celsius. Is the weather making them sluggish? They do get enough heat, nonetheless. I would be very grateful for any tips you guys can provide me with. Take care, all of you. Sidra < If their environment is getting colder then their metabolism is slowing down and they are not going to eat as much. They may get to the point to where they will not eat at all. If it is not the cold then it may be internal parasites. Take a fecal sample to a vet to be sure. I think they are getting ready for winter.-Chuck>

Hatchling Turtles Still Won't Eat 10/10/06 Dear Crew!! It's me again, with the two Red Eared Slider Hatchlings who weren't eating but were otherwise fine. I have increased there basking time to the result that one has started eating and the other is no sicker. Though I am sure, the sick one has a respiratory tract infection. He is sort of limp, not moving much and gasps for breathe occasionally. I have taken him out of the tank and put him in a dry box under a lamp light. There is dry area in his tank but he keeps falling into the water and I am afraid that he will drown. I state again that we do not have reptile vets in our country. Sunday's suddenly gotten worse and I would really appreciate it if you guys could tell me some home-remedy or other easily available items I could use. I understand that this is a serious problem and you have advised reptile vets to other people on your site but as that is not a option, is there nothing else I can do? Please help! And thank you Chuck for your help with my previous question. Take care all of you. Sidra. < A vet would inject antibiotics to treat the infection. I would place the sick turtle in his own aquarium. I would give him a basking site on one half of the tank and a shallow area on the other. This way he cannot fall in and drown. Check the basking area with a thermometer. It should be at least 85 to 90 F. Place the sick turtle on the basking area for one half hour. If he starts to show signs of stress then place him back in the water for awhile. Then place him back on the basking spot. You need to heat him up but not to the point that he will be cooked. The temperature fluctuation is like you getting a fever to fight an infection. Hopefully your turtle is still strong enough to survive this therapy. Good luck.-Chuck>

Little Turtle Didn't Make It - 10/11/06 Thank you for the effort, Chuck but it's too late. My turtle died. He was already in a pretty limp state when I mailed you this morning. I am hanging on to him in hopes in vain but I am pretty sure that he's not alive. He's not reacting to ANY stimulus. The other one's fine, though and has started eating. Thank you for all your help. I just wish I had picked up on his gasping earlier. < Sorry to hear that the one turtle didn't make it. Hopefully the other one will grow up to be healthy and strong.-Chuck>

Found Turtle Likes Mealworms 9/6/06 Hi all! I have a 2 Ã'¼ RES that my teen found in the street several weeks ago. At first it wouldnt eat anything, but when we tried mealworms we found he really liked them. I know young RESs need a diet with more protein then older turtles, but can a diet of JUST mealworms be healthy? < No not really. Offer some insects , earthworms and commercial aquatic turtle food.> He wont touch the Reptomin sticks, canned crickets or turtle bites anymore (never ate more than a bite or 2 anyway) and doesnt appear to recognize veggies as food at all. Will a 100% mealworm diet harm him? < His taste will change when he gets hungry enough. Only offer food a few times a week. After that he will try anything.-Chuck> Right now hes eating about 5 med sized 1 worms a day on avg (usually more, but he has 1 or 2 off days each week). Hes in a 12 water container outdoors in FL with partial shade & plenty of basking room so while I dont have a thermometer Id imagine the temp is fine it feels lukewarm & gets about 5 hours of light daily. Appreciate the advice! Tamara

Turtles Getting Older 7/28/06 Hello. I like your site. <Thanks> A family I knew was a typical "turtles are cute let's get turtles" family and they ended up giving their pair of red-eared sliders to me. Well I wanted to be responsible so I read up on care, bought a bigger tank (twice now), and have tried to give them a reasonably good home. They seem happy, except for the occasional bullying. They act like they are well acclimated to my home, I've never noticed any health issues (spots, mucus, etc that would be obvious concerns). They swim around a lot, they bask, they shed, they are growing so much every time I have guests they say they are huge. I think they are about 3 or 4 now. One is about 6 inches long and the other is about 4. Both lower shells are flat and I see no difference in tails or claws, so I figure they must be the same sex, aside from the whole size thing. I had thought they were both female until suddenly the big one had a wound on the neck so I separated them. Since I only have one light and one filter, I put the other one back in under supervision so he can not be too deprived and they both started fluttering their front claws at each other (so now they are both males?). Is there any chance that a female will do the dance as well or because I saw both of them doing it at the same time, is that proof-positive that they are both males? < This fluttering is usually associated with males but I guess females could do this too.> I don't want to see either of them get hurt or have a bad home. I live alone so I enjoy having the company. They beg for food when I come home from work, which is fun at first but they will do it for hours (I put a blanket up in front of the tank if it bothers me). They like to watch TV and they have distinct personalities. I've seen the big one trying to bite the tank wall before (presumably trying to attack his own reflection) but he gives up after a short time and it seems no harm is done. It's amusing to say the least. He also learned to eat from my hand and now won't leave my hands alone whenever I have to put my hands into the tank to do maintenance on the filter (also amusing - I know it's my fault for playing around with teaching them to eat out of my hands, so I don't blame him for it). Any way, I doubt I can keep up two separate tanks for the next 40 years, any tips on how someone who lives in a very rural area can find a good home for a turtle? < Give to a pet shop, place an add in the paper, county animal rescue or even a school.> I think the littler one lost the battle for dominance and is now afflicted with a sort of "short man's syndrome" and has become more aggressive. The big one is bolder but gentle with humans and likes to explore but the littler one will bite people, although not hard enough to hurt anyone, I worry about children and won't let them touch him, much to their disappointment (and no worries, I insist on thorough hand washing if any kids do get near the turtles). Another question, is it important to feed them a varied diet? It's not very easy to get specialized pet food in my area because mostly we just have your typical cats, dogs, birds, goldfish, and farm animals. They've had a diet of Wardley reptile premium sticks since I got them. I tried feeding them some kind of lettuce-like green early on after I got them, but they acted like they couldn't tell that it was edible. This year I fed them some cherries that I tore into little pieces and they were noticeably more enthusiastic for them than they are for their normal food, so I am thinking I'll do that again. I'm not sure if I can do worms and bugs, though. If I don't vary their diet am I going to have to find homes for both of them instead of just one? < Try earthworms, insects , kale and spinach. They will try them and eventually learn to eat them.-Chuck> Sorry for the length and thanks for your enthusiasm for water-loving creatures. Heather Turtle Diet - 04/19/06 I was just wondering if RES can eat flies( Common house flies) Thanks . < Insects that fall into the water are definitely part of a turtles diet.-Chuck>

Red Ear Slider/Green Feces - 04/02/06 Hi, My one and a half year old red ear slider turtle had green in his feces last night. It was a small tiny green clump, looking almost like gum. I was wondering if this was a reflection of what he is eating. Currently all we have fed him is Wardley Reptile Premium sticks. They have a minimum of 40% crude protein, min 6%crude fat, min 2%calcium, max 2.5% calcium, min 1%phosphorus, max 5% crude fiber, and 10% max moisture. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks Stu Lyons Canada < Most fecal matter represents the diet. Could be plants or some algae fiber accumulation. Older turtles require more plant matter in their diet than younger turtles.-Chuck>

Turtle With Mouth Problems 3/27/06 I have a red-eared slider that is about 1 year old. It was eating it's turtle dock and I picked it up to see if anything was in it's mouth and I noticed that it's mouth does not completely close. It closes in the middle and has gaps on both sides. It only touches at the middle point. Is this normal? I searched in my turtle book and did not find anything. Thanks, Ami < In an effort to obtain minerals not found in its diet, it has tried to eat some of the algae off the turtle dock and has probably damaged its mouth. Change the diet to add more greens like spinach and kale. Older turtles require more vegetable matter than younger turtles. The damage may heal over time.-Chuck>

My daughter has a RES which has a bump on the left side of the mouth, no injuries 6 month old any suggestions? 3/27/06 < Sometimes while eating young turtle accidentally bite into objects that damage their mouth's and it may get swollen an infected. Sometimes turtles caught from the wild contain parasites that show up as bumps on the skin. If it does not get better in a week then start looking for a vet. Reptile vets for some areas can be found at Kingsnake.com.-Chuck>

Red Eared Slider Can't Eat 3/19/06 Hello. We have several red sliders (about 5-10 years old, so fully grown). We have them in a pond in our greenhouse in summer, and hibernated in the cellar during winter. This year, after waking up from hibernation, one of them has problems eating. It is clearly hungry, and snaps at the food on the surface, but first of all it seems to miss the food (it snaps to the left of it), and secondly it can't open its mouth more than about 1mm. We have tried to pry the mouth open and put food in, but the jaws are very strong, and we are afraid to hurt it. Apart from not being able to open its mouth it seems healthy and alert. Can sliders get a dislocated jaw? < Sure, but it could be an infection too. Go to Kingsnake.com and look around on the headers and you will find a vet finding section. Hopefully you can find one in your area.-Chuck>

Red Eared Turtle Not Eating - 2/4/2006 Hello, I've read through the many FAQs and my RES situation is slightly different. I have a 8-9 year old RES. Its shell is a 3" in diam. and I am unsure of the sex (though due to the length of its tail, 1-2 cm, and claws I'd say it is a male). I've kept it in a 30 gallon tank for the last 3 years with room temperature (70s) water, a reptile UV light, and a tree sticking out of the water for it to bask on. I've fed it strictly turtle sticks with the occasional treat (fish, cricket, or worms) a couple times a year. Last week I did my water change which I've done routinely ever few months (I do have strong filter on the tank). After the water change I did notice there was more particles in the water until it settled. After the water change I notice when I next fed my RES that he struggled to eat the turtle sticks. He would bite at them and get them in his mouth and then spit them out. After that feeding he hasn't shown any interest in any food I give him. He also nestles in the rocks on the bottom of the tank for most of the day/night. When he does come up he swims around as usual, however shows no interest in any of the turtle sticks. I have tried other food (some veggies, and another brand of turtle sticks) and he still shows no interest. I put in a heater to heat the water a little, changed the UV light, thinking perhaps I put in colder than usual water which might have affected him, but the temperature has stabilized to room temperature (70s) and he still is not interested in food. He does not bask any more, just dives deep to the bottom and lays there. Is there anything else I should try? -Scott < Take him out of the water and examine his mouth. The normal beaklike mouth may have been damaged while trying to eat a food stick. Do a big water change and see if he eats the invertebrates. Older turtles need more vegetable matter in their diet. Try some Kale or spinach. If this fails to work you may need to see a vet.-Chuck>

Turtle Won't Eat 12/24/05 Hi. My name is Roy and I have a res in a 20 gallon tank , he is about 4 and half inches long. My problem is that he wont eat the turtle sticks, all he will eat is chicken and some lean meat, but I read that there diet can't be just meat because its to fatty for his diet. I'm worried that he might get sick. What should I do? < As turtles get older they become less of a meat eater and more of a vegetable eater. Try some washed earthworms, commercial adult turtle food, kale and spinach leaves too.-Chuck>

Young Red Eared Sliders Hey Pufferpunk, <You've got Gage tonight> I would like to ask, why doesn't my RES eat anything. <My guess is they are cold.> I got a new heating pad as well as a rock which they can go under and over; however, my only problem is that they are not eating anything [five days and counting]. <What is the temperature in the tank? A heating pad may not be enough, they are also hard to regulate. 78degrees would be good.> I fed the turtles the turtle sticks, some lettuce, and ham [which is diluted so that its not really salty]. How can I make them eat? <I'd leave the ham out of the diet, depending upon their size, try some night crawlers (cut up if needed), wax worms, small crickets, and the turtle sticks.> They are just baby RES' so how often should they eat? <Every couple days at least, they are young and growing.> They seems to swim around some but when I just put food in front of them, they don't eat it. <Make sure your water is warm enough and try some worms, everyone loves worms. Best Regards, Gage> Thanks, John

Feeding Young Red Eared Sliders O hey Gage, should I go out in my backyard and try and find an earthworm, wash it off with plenty of water [and soap?], and feed it to the turtles? <Worms from the yard will work, rinse with water, no soap. You can also get them from the bait shop, if the turtles are really small you can use blood worms sold in the frozen fish food section, just thaw them out before feeding.> Does the worm have to be dead when I feed it or do they like it wiggling around in the water? <Wiggling.> My brother said that one of the smaller turtles ate something but the other one didn't. Since one is starting to nibble at things; shouldn't the other do the same? I mean, I don't want one of them to eat and the other one starving when I think that its just not ready yet. Also, is it true that babies don't eat when they are born for awhile until their egg sac goes away or something? If so, how long do you need to wait until they do start eating? Thanks For Your Help John <Whoa, I did not realize they were that young. I am not sure about the egg sac, I imagine they would absorb it after hatching, but I do not know the time period, and do not have any books handy here at work. I would recommend purchasing or getting a book from a local library that goes over breeding and rearing hatchling turtles if yours are that young. Water Quality and temperature are going to be important in raising your turtles up. You should also find a good reptile vet in your area and have them checked out, especially if they do not start eating soon. If they have recently been moved to a new tank it could take them a few days to settle down and get adjusted. There is a good care sheet for sliders located here http://www.anapsid.org/reslider.html I may have already sent that, not sure. Best Regards -Gage>

Turtle not eating 11/06/03 <Hi, Pufferpunk here. I'm not sure why this popped back into my inbox. I'm sending this back to you, so please forgive me if you already got it. I added a few more foods for your turtle.>> I would like to ask a few question about my baby Red-Eared Slider Turtle (I'm not really sure if it really is a RES, but it looks exactly the same; however, the red part is yellow and the shell is green) They're only like 1 inch long and for three days, they haven't been eating the turtle stick food thingy. I'm scared that they would die. They are occasionally active and like to dig around. I'm thinking of buying a heating pad for the tank (which is 6"W x 3" D x 4"H) Do I need the heating <How many turtles do you have? There are special tanks for aquatic turtles w/half of the side glass cut out. That's where you would hang a filter. You need about 2/3 water & 1/3 land, or at least a floating island for your turtle to bask on. Then you can get a clamp-on lamp at the hardware store for a heat source. Keep in mind that your turtle will eventually grow as large as a dinner plate. You have a long while though. Try feeding your turtle/s bloodworms, frozen/freeze-dried krill & or plankton. They will also like crickets, pieces of fish, scallops, squid, or anything I find for cheap at the fish dept of my grocery store.> <Good luck w/your new friends--Pufferpunk>

Red Eared Slider Feeding Hello: I have a 1 year old red eared slider that's about 3 inches long. Currently I have him in a 20 Long Fish tank with the water level two-thirds full. I'm keeping the water temperature at 78 degrees. Is this correct? I'm feeding him moist cat food now (salmon flavor -- which he's crazy about -- more so than the ZooMed products) and his poop is a very dark green. Is that what his poop should look like? Previously, he was eating ZooMed Can-O-Worms, Mini Crickets, and Earth Worms and his poop was a lighter color and it looked like mini sausage links. I changed the food for variety purposes and cost (Can-O-Products costs $5-$8/can and the cat food is .39 cents a can). The tank has a 18 inch 3% UV / UVB light that's on from 7AM - 11PM. Also, the tank has a terrace with ramp and a lower submerged level that I built. Brian <Hey Brian, everything sounds good except for the cat food, if you are going to use it, it should be a very small part of his diet. I would pick up some floating turtle sticks to use as a staple, and feed worms and crickets for variety. He will need a larger enclosure as he grows. Keep up the good work, check here for more info, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/redearsliders.htm Best Regards, Gage>

My Red Eared Sliders Hi, I bought two RES for my son for Christmas one of them is doing fine and seems to be growing normally. The other my favorite is not growing he is still the same size as he was when I got him and today I noticed that he seems to be off balance he keeps flipping backwards and swimming in circles I have looked him over for injuries and have found none, his eyes look fine the only thing I have done different is I got them some krill said it was high protein. If you could give some advice I would appreciate it. I know of no reptile vets in my area. Thanks Sandra < You don't want to give them a diet too high in protein or else they grow faster than their shell. This leads to a distorted shell that never really looks the same. I would isolate the smaller turtle into his own tank. Makes sure. If he still has a good appetite then I would give him some live food such as mealworms, earthworms and crickets. Make sure to give him a warm dry area to bask. A heat lamp with a full spectrum bulb is recommended. Usually high heat will take care of most of the parasites that affect turtles. Make sure to keep up on the maintenance and keep their tank clean.-Chuck>

Baby RES not eating 07.04.05 Thanks for the advice! I did get a filter although I did not get a heater for the water yet...but I have one other question. My baby R.E.S. won't eat now! It has been 3 days and I haven't seen him eat a bite yet. Is this normal? Get back A.S.A.P. THANKS <I missed the previous email but cold water will definitely slow metabolism and discourage your turtle from eating. What's your water temperature? What foods are you offering?-Gage>

Turtle on a Fast 7/9/05 Baby RES not eating 07.04.05 Thanks for the advice! I did get a filter although I did not get a heater for the water yet...but I have one other question. My baby R.E.S. won't eat now! It has been 3 days and I haven't seen him eat a bite yet. Is this normal? Get back A.S.A.P. THANKS < Heat is the key to a turtle's metabolism since they are cold blooded. The warmer they are kept, the more energy they burn and the more food they require. If the water is too cool or they don't have a hot spot to bask then they simply won't eat. If it is too cool then the food would be rotting in your turtles gut and that may kill him.-Chuck>

Red Eared Sliders Not Eating 7/19/05 I have two baby RES. One female and one male. < You cannot tell the sex on baby red eared sliders until they are around 4 inches in length. At this size I wouldn't really call them babies.> The female seems to be more aggressive then the male. But that's not the problem. The problem is that the turtles have not yet eaten yet. I've had them for 3 days now and they haven't eaten. I've tried baby floating pellets and bits of raw ham. Is this normal for them? And the male seems to spend most of his time under water. He goes up when he's under the light though. Is that also normal? < If you are truly referring to baby red eared sliders then the are pretty small at around one inch. Look at the belly and see if they still have an egg spot on the bottom of the shell. If they are really this small then they just got done absorbing their egg sac and really shouldn't have been sold yet. We have gotten letters from people impulse buying baby turtles at swap meets and then trying to figure out how to take care of them after they get them home. Keep the water clean and give them a basking spot out of the water where they can heat up under a plant light or some natural direct light. Try feeding them small washed earthworms. That will usually get them going.-Chuck>

Red Eared Slider Questions 11/10/05 I just got my Red Ear Slider on the 30th of Oct. I don't know how to tell their age or sex and I would really like to know. < Females get larger than the males. Males have longer front claws and a longer tail. They grow pretty fast until they get around 6 to 8 inches and then slow down a bit.> I named him Tom, but I don't know if that is right. He is currently living in a five gallon tank w/ a UV ray light and a basking light. He has a turtle dock to get out of the water and bask, he has a bubble maker and other decorations. I feed him Zoo Meds Hatchling aquatic turtle food. I also put in Reptisafe in the water to get rid of the bad stuff. The water is about 3/4 of an inch above his shell. I have a picture of a turtle sitting up facing his tank. He loves to sit on the rock and look at the turtle.. too cute! I am thinking about getting another RES, how many and what sex should I get? < I would recommend not adding another turtle.> Is there anything else that I can feed him to make him feel better? < He will appreciate live foods such as washed earthworms, mealworms and kingworms.> I think he may be constipated. What color is normal for turtle feces and urine? < The color is a reflection of the items he has been eating.> I have not seen any in the tank so I'm thinking he may be constipated. How do you know and if he is what do I do? < A small turtle fecal material may be small and caught up in a filter.> He is shedding and I want to know if it's ok to be shedding this young, he is still a hatchling. Thank you, M. L.

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