Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs About Turtle Disease: Diagnosis

Related Articles: Treating Common Illnesses of the Red Ear Slider (& other Emydid Turtles) by Darrel Barton, Turtle eye diseases; Recognising and treating eye diseases in pet turtles by Neale Monks, So your turtle has the Flu? Recognizing and treating respiratory infections in pet turtles by Neale Monks, The Care and Keeping of the Red Eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans by Darrel Barton,   Shell Rot in Turtles, Turtles, AmphibiansRed Eared Slider Care

FAQs on: Turtle Disease 1, Turtle Disease 2, Turtle Disease 3, FAQs on Turtle Health by Type: Environmental, Traumas, Social, Nutritional, Growths/Tumors, Infectious, Parasitic, References, FAQs on: Shell Rot, RES Disease, Turtle Respiratory Disease, Turtle Eye Disease,

Mass on Head     7/7/17
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I've been browsing your site looking for answers on what in the heck this is and how I should treat it.
<From way over here that looks like a cyst with or without an accompanying infection>
I saw a similar picture but there wasn't any commentary to go with the image. I have 2 box turtles and this one was wild and my husband saved it from a busy highway not knowing where he came from to return him.
<1- thank you for rescuing him. 2- thank you for not releasing him. It’s never EVER a good idea to release an animal into the wild … even if it’s just a short transport. There are just too many variables to consider>
Please help!
<I can help – but only a little. This is a classic case of the need for an up close and personal examination from a trained professional. It’s likely that the cyst can be burst and excised without anesthesia, but the problem is that no one will know anything until someone does an actual exam. This leaves you with three choices. First is a veterinarian in your area that does reptiles (technically called ‘exotics’ in the trade). Second is a young veterinarian just starting his practice. At first that may seem incongruous, but here’s the reasoning: If a vet makes exotics part of his practice, that’s best. If not, all vets do a rotation in exotics during their med school, so a younger veterinarian may not have the most dedicated skills, but at least he’s done it in recent memory.>
<Third – look for a Turtle and Tortoise Club in your area. People with larger collections usually have to, if only for financial reasons, learn to treat common maladies at home and can help you directly – if not they can point you to the most qualified vet.>

I'm not sure what's wrong with my Turtle could you help? Mystery deaths, w/o much info.    12/7/16
<Hiya, Darrel here>
My name is Emma and I recently got 3 Brisbane short necked turtles for out pool that we have covered into a pond due to no one swimming anymore.
Unfortunately one of the turtles was found dead a few weeks after we got them, not sure what killed it. Anyway, my family and I have noticed that one of the other 2 turtles hasn't been seen for a few weeks until today about 11:30am Australian time, we're not sure if they're both males or both females or what their sex is but when I spotted the 'missing' turtle today it's shell was bobbing up and down in and out of the water which I have never seen before, I have tried Googling answers but I couldn't find anything useful. Could you please maybe help me?
Kind regards
<Unfortunately, Emma, we get a tremendous amount of letters such as this and there is very little we can do to help. Without pictures or a more detailed description of the behavior or activities it's impossible to tell what may or may not be going on. When in doubt, with a water turtle, get them out of the water and get them somewhere warm and dry for a while. We call it Dry Docking. Any hard shell water turtle can go a week or two with no water at all and can go literally for YEARS out of water if they are given a short bath every day or so (like 10 minutes) to drink, poop and eat. >
<Most of the problems a turtle can have get worse when they are in a warm, humid environment and get a little better when they are warm and dry. It doesn't cure the turtle, but it helps him heal himself a little bit better.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >

Turtle query. Hlth. concern; immotile       8/22/16
Hello and thanks for your time.
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I have a turtle, and he just seems to stay in one spot of the aquarium all day, near the bubbles of where water is coming out into tank (filter). Is this ok?
<It would be better if he moved around like normal>
Also, he can see his reflection in glass in that area, should I try and cover this up so he is not " mesmerized", as that's what I'm thinking is the problem.
<Could be, but usually it's a fear of leaving that safe spot>
Also, I've noticed that he never goes up on his dock. I spoke to pet shop the other day and they suggested a lamp, which I purchased. He went up on it one day, but I haven't caught him again doing it, just swimming in his bubbles.
What can I do to make him swim around his whole tank and go on his dock!
<First thing: read this article and make SURE you understand what it says -- AND THEN UNDERSTAND that he NEEDS everything it says.
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

Sleepy Turtle       10/19/15
This question seems like a little thing but I'm a bit scared. My turtle is sleeping a lot during the day and he never used to do that. Should I be worried?
- Jordan
<It can be a very bad sign when reptiles become lethargic. But it can also mean nothing much at all. Here's the bad situation: lack of warmth, lack of UV-B light, and lack of proper diet. All these things can cause slow decline in reptiles, and eventually they reach a point where they're dying.
Slowly, for sure, but dying. Here's the good situation: temperate zone reptiles kept at room temperature will often slow down, quite normally, during autumn and may even rest up completely during the winter. As day length increases in spring they'll perk up, and by the middle of spring they're back to their normal selves. So basically, ask yourself whether you're keeping a turtle that rests in winter (clue: none of the common pet species like Sliders or Red-Ears do; at least, not safely). Now review its environment. When was the last time you changed its heat lamp? When did you last change its UV-B lamp? Both these need replacing every 6-12 months.
Without heat, reptiles of all kinds become lethargic quickly, and without UV-B, long term problems develop that make reptiles very sick. Let me send you to some reading, here:
Should help! Cheers, Neale.>

Yellow Bellied Slider      7/26/15
Dear Crew,
Hi! I am emailing with concern about one of my turtles, Bowser, a yellow bellied slider. He (not positive about gender but pretty sure it's a boy) is about 4 inches long, not sure how old but probably about 2 years. I got him a couple weeks ago. Originally I had him in my big tank with my other turtles, but he is slightly bigger and I noticed him bullying them, but only when there was food. So I separated him and put him in a different tank.
<Turtles aren't social. How big is this "big tank"? This will be a factor.
Furthermore, having multiple basking islands under multiple heat and UV-B sources makes aggression much less of a problem. Turtles (and reptiles generally) squabble over access to heat and UV-B, and while they can take
turns to some degree, if there are multiple basking areas, then there'll be less fighting.>
It's kept at the right temp., has a filter and basking docks and lights.
Now onto the issue. For a couple days I noticed him making a funny noise when his head was out of the water. It's something like a squeezing or squishing noise (don't know if that makes sense) and also there are bubbles around his mouth area (again only when his head is out of the water).
<Could be two things. Normal, nothing to worry about water in the windpipe.
Happens frequently, and turtles sort themselves out quite quickly. If it's normal, then other aspects of their health should be normal too. Feeding normally, eyes nice and open, no weird sounds (such as rattling) and no evidence of lethargy. The alternate is a Respiratory Tract Infection. The symptoms for this are a lot like Flu: lethargy, wheezing, mucous production from the nose and mouth, puffy eyes. Pretty distinctive really. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/turtrespart.htm
Have a read, and act accordingly.>
Other than that he seems perfectly healthy. He eats very well, he basks (not as often as my other turtles), he poops, and he is very active. So I can't figure out if this is an early on RI? He doesn't sneeze or have swollen eyes or anything like that but I wanted to contact you to make sure.
Is he sick? If so, what do I do to make him better?
Please email back ASAP.

Painted turtle; hlth.      6/22/15
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My husband was recently coming home from work in eastern Idaho, he nearly ran over a turtle so he picked it up and brought it home knowing our 3 yr old son would love it. We believe it's a western painted turtle. Well it's got a piece of skin coming off, not shedding like, but like a scab coming off but its skin.
<If so that's easy to treat>

I just went and bought a 99 liter tote and we have one side with white garden type rock then water halfway up. Once I get paid I plan on getting the UV light and everything else he may need. We are trying to get him to eat ReptoMin floating food sticks but he just claws at the sides to get out.
<His life has changed radically all of a sudden. Don't worry too much about that for now. First take care of his wounds (here's everything you need to know:
) >
Should we just put him back or what kind of supplies should we get for him?
<If he was completely healthy then maybe, but if you have an injured turtle I'd keep him>
<Next order of business, as you suggested, is proper housing and care.
One thing to keep in mind is that this does NOT have to be complex or expensive. The tote is a good start! Now read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<As far as feeding is concerned he (or she) probably won't feed much until after the treatment for the wound and gets into his new home and settles in. When that happens often times a single earthworm will grab their attention and jump-start their appetite>

Turtles... random... disease...     1/15/15
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My turtle usually has all four legs on the gravel in his tank at all times. He had about 4 inches of water in his tank. I woke up this morning and he was standing underneath his basking dock and it looked like his back was stuck to the bottom of it. He still stays mostly grounded. His front legs stay down but his left back leg doesn't stay on the ground. His whole back side rises up as if it's floating but not his front half. So he ends up at an angle and can't get his back half back down. He can still swim and everything, but I didn't know if it was normal for them to partially float like that.
<Ah. The back floater. There are a number of conditions that can cause this, none of them BY THEMSELVES are serious. Sometimes they get gas bubbles in their intestinal tract and it tends to make them float unevenly. Sometimes it's the back, sometimes it’s the side. This works its way out after a few days as … well … as gas bubbles in our intestinal tracts do.>
<It's also possible that there is simply an air bubble trapped in his abdomen and those just come and go.>
<Now for serious things: An internal infection. A bacterial infection can cause gas bubbles in the abdomen, but that will be accompanied by a sickness and the sickness will be accompanied by other symptoms: no appetite, lethargy, dull-looking eyes, basking all the time, soaking all the time, bloody stools, etc.>
<As long as he's just an odd floater for a week or so and otherwise alert, active ... basking and soaking like he usually does -- and eating, I wouldn't worry.>
Thank you for responding!
<No Charge!>

Turtles     12/27/14
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have 2 turtles a Diamondback, and a Southern Painted ( they are both babies)

<Both really cool turtles>
This is going to make me sound like a really bad pet owner but The Diamondback had green gunk growing on his tail, I scraped it off, but I don't know how it got there
<Sounds like Algae>
And all he really does now is just bask
<Did you injure the skin while scraping? Did you use any chemicals?>
The Southern Painted back legs are moving they just stay out like there basking, and all he does is bask
<OK - so it sounds like both turtles bask all the time. What comes to mind is heat. If they can't warm up enough while basking, they won't choose to go into the water to cool off.>
I heat is set at 72, and I clean out the tank like every week <If the water temp is 72, which is just fine, then the basking area should be 88-92 degrees. That way they climb out to bask & warm up, then when they warm up they go into the water to cool down. If they never get warm enough they'll never warm to cool down.>
<Read this: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm  
compare EVERY part of your care to the instructions and correct anything that's wrong>
Please help

Flipping    10/5/14
Hi, my daughter found our pond turtle 16 years ago when she was about the size of a quarter. she's always been healthy, but recent behavior even has her herp vet baffled. she lives in a 75 gallon tank..28"H x 48"W x 18"D, with 15" water, temp about 77°. The past 3 or 4 times that I have cleaned her tank, after she's back in the water, she flips herself over and cant turn herself right side up again. this happens 3 or 4 times after each cleaning. no chemicals are used. The vet suggested that this time I wait a couple of hours before putting her back in the water. all went well, but after two hours she flipped over and couldn't turn again. I have learned to clean the tank and plan to be home for the whole entire day in case she gets herself in trouble, but obviously that's not the best solution. our vet is one of the leading herp vets in New England, so when he says he is puzzled, that's really something. after I righted her, she hung out of the bottom of the tank for a while and then climbed up on her float. interested in your feedback
<Would suggest three things to consider. Firstly, most often when turtles flip over in the water, it's because of fluid in the lungs. That implies a respiratory tract infection. So run that idea past your vet, and at the very least he or she will give your turtle a quick once-over, listen to its breathing (tends to be wheezy or snuffly if the turtle is sick), and prescribe the necessary antibiotics (and often give a vitamin shot as well). RTIs are very common, though usually when turtles are kept by inexperienced keepers rather than "old hands" at the hobby. Nonetheless, it's the most likely problem on the evidence supplied alone. Secondly, constipation. Not heard of this with turtles, but it's common enough with fish. Review diet. Most pond turtles are omnivores rather than carnivores, with plant-based foods a significant part of their diet in the wild. A plain vanilla diet of reptile pellets lacks the necessary fibre, which is most easily supplied by offering some fresh greens such as cheap aquarium plants (Elodea, or "pondweed", as sold as an oxygenator plant, is ideal). Finally, and least likely, could be a deformity of some sort that's become apparent with age. Assuming the shell and limbs look normal, you can probably discount this, but you do so occasional deformed baby terrapins and turtles sold, and these could have trouble swimming as they mature. Would remind you turtles don't need much swimming depth, so if you have sufficient depth for the turtle to bathe and cool down, with rocks and cobbles to prevent her physically turning over, you should be able to create a safer habitat for her. Have cc'ed our resident turtle experts Darrel and Sue for their input, advice and corrections. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Flipping
thank you for the reply, respiratory infection was something that her vet and I had discussed, so we are making plans to have her checked out. the odd thing about it is it only happens after I clean her tank, it never, ever happens any other time and within 24 hours after cleaning it she never flips again until the next cleaning. my first thought was that if it was an RI, it would happen more often, not only after I clean the tank. that's the puzzling part about this. but it certainly bears having her checked out, thank you again
<Is indeed puzzling. Do you dechlorinate the water before use? Do you check water chemistry and temperature at all when you do water changes? I suppose dramatic changes in pH and temperature might elicit some sort of negative reaction. Turtles are usually pretty robust about that sort of thing, but
it's worth considering. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Flipping       10/6/14

that's one of the weird things about it, I don't use any chemicals when I change her water
<You should use dechlorinator, at the least. Nothing fancy. I find pond dechlorinator is effective and cheaper to use than aquarium-sized bottles where large scale water changes are necessary, but be sure to measure it out carefully.>
I just scrub the walls down with a brush and dry everything off. vets suggest I check with the town to see if anything has been changed as far as the water supply.
<Quite so; chloramine as well as chlorine can/will irritate the eyes of reptiles, and while chlorine dissipates quite quickly after the water is drawn, chloramine is more stable and is consequently significant more dangerous. As your vet suggests, it's something water suppliers can/do switch to, as they strive towards improving the quality of drinking water.>
she's been fine since that other night. they certainly do keep us guessing, lol
<Indeed. Good luck, Neale.>
re: Flipping      10/6/14

thanks so much for all your input, it's really appreciated
<Most welcome, Neale.>
Flipping; turt. beh.; sys. maint.     10/12/15

<Hiya - Darrel here. I've been asked to weigh in>
My daughter found our pond turtle 16 years ago when she was about the size of a quarter. she's always been healthy, but recent behavior even has her herp vet baffled. she lives in a 75 gallon tank..28"H x 48"W x 18"D, with 15" water, temp about 77°. The past 3 or 4 times that I have cleaned her tank, after she's back in the water, she flips herself over and cant turn herself right side up again. this happens 3 or 4 times after each cleaning.

No chemicals are used. The vet suggested that this time I wait a couple of hours before putting her back in the water. all went well, but after two hours she flipped over and couldn't turn again. I have learned to clean the tank and plan to be home for the whole entire day in case she gets herself in trouble, but obviously that's not the best solution.
<I have a better one>
Our vet is one of the leading herp vets in New England, so when he says he is puzzled, that's really something.
<I agree - but then compulsive behaviors isn't taught in Vet School>
After I righted her, she hung out of the bottom of the tank for a while and then climbed up on her float. Interested in your feedback
<Neale hit the basics as far as health in concerned but we're assuming our Vet has done an examination and not seem evidence of an infection. So the following assumes your vet has ruled out an RTI. Why she flips only-after-a-cleaning and why she can't right herself are totally separate issues and all I can think of is that a sudden temperature change aggravates an inner ear infection and she thinks she's upside down…>
<The water temperature or the water composition is affecting her in some unusual way. Since she's otherwise healthy I'd begin a process here.>
<First I'd do a cleaning, like normal, and wait for the expected flip.>
<Just as soon as she's settled in again, I'd change the water (no scrubbing) just drain the water and replace it with water of and see if the behavior repeats.>
<Yes, what I'm saying is - make the effort to force the situation so we can see what we're doing wrong>
<Then a water change of the exact same temperature (maybe mixed up in the bathtub)>
<Next, I'd try small water changes - no more than 3 gallons at a time>
<The purpose of this is to try to find what COMPONENT of the cleaning is really upsetting her.>
Meanwhile each time she does flip I'd look to see if she's really trying to right herself -- and this is key -- try to see what she's failing. I mean, turtles turn themselves over all the time and they do a little flailing with their neck and arms and turn right side up. Especially if the water is deep enough this should be easy. What Neale alluded to earlier was water level: If it's shallow enough they can flip over but not drown and just lay there stupidly until found. If it's deep enough (at least as deep as the shell is wide) then they should be able to flip with ease -- it's that middle ground, say 3-4 inches, where they may not be able to right themselves but would get 'worn out' trying to hold their nose above water>
<If the water is 7-10 inches deep and she still flips and can't flip back then I'd say certainly she has a health issue. Although this may seem cruel, if she's in 7 inches of water, pick her up and roll her over and release her - and see that she can (or cannot) right herself>
Re: Flipping     11/20/14

just an update on my crazy turtle, & I also want to thank you for all your input. she was seen yesterday... little monkey has pneumonia. she's on injectable antibiotics. other than that she's in fantastic shape and the vet sees no reason why she can't make a complete recovery. you guys are a terrific resource, thank you again.
<Glad we were able to help/diagnose the problem. Good luck with her recovery! Cheers, Neale.>

Painted turtle not using front arm     5/24/14
Dear Crew,
<Hiya Beth - Darrel here>
We got a painted turtle from the pet store on April 5th. He eats well and is active and happy. The other day we noticed that he is not using his left arm.
Can you possibly help?
<It's hard to guess from this distance>
Is this something that needs to be seen by a vet or something we can help him with at home?
<There are a lot of possibilities, starting from a mechanical injury (a broken arm) to nerve paralysis to a fairly severe vitamin deficiency. The only that that a vet could treat in any meaningful way would be to give him
a multi-vitamin shot. Make SURE he is getting really good quality UV-B light for at least 8 hours a day, feed him small pieces of beef liver every day for a week and then every few days for a month. Watch for any
additional changes in his behavior that might show any sort of progression.>
<If you tend to his diet and his environment you'll be doing everything you can do. If the leg is broken or affected from a dietary deficiency, he'll regain the use of it, but even if it's permanent, turtles are remarkably
resilient and can live very happy lives.>
Beth Hovorka

Reddish Turt 4/23/14
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I do not know much about this turtle due to the fact that it is my son’s turtle who has gone to the Philippines for a year.
<The turtle has gone to the Philippines for the year?? Where did she get that kind of money?>
I have read hours on care for this turtle, and I am looking for a vet.
<Oh wait … your SON when to the Philippines for a year leaving you with the turtle. THAT makes more sense!>
I also have just moved here, and live at the border of Georgia in Wildwood. So far most vets will not see turtles; especially, in Tennessee.
<I know that problem well. Know the difference between Zoos in Chicago versus Zoos in Tennessee? In Tennessee …. The plaque that has the name of the animal also has a recipe …..>
The turtle does not appear sick, and he is eating a lot every day. I see now that could be a problem. He will not eat veggies, but he will eat a lot of earthworms (from outside) and store turtle food.
<The AMOUNT we feed our pets is often their biggest health problem>
I have cleaned all of his water out twice in the less than a month I have had him and wash everything including the gravel. Today I came across a site that indicates that may be a problem. He pushed a section over the filter out and fell about two feet into a bucket last week. He did not appear to be hurt.
<Turtles are incredibly resilient. We've all experienced that or something similar and the turtles usually survive just fine.>
He’s coloration and baggy skin is what I am concerned about. Today, I took a good look at his basting area which is made from rocks. He could be hurting himself as he is getting back into the water. I have pictures which I am emailing to you. My zip code is 30757 if you know of a vet that will see a turtle in the area.
<Jeannie, from what I'm seeing and hearing, I'm not as concerned as I would have been many years ago. The reddish coloration can be a sign of sepsis, but that is a last-stage infection. By the time an animal becomes septic it hasn't eaten or basked or barely moved for a month or more. It just doesn't happen in otherwise healthy animals.>
<The problem is not water quality … but even so sliders are very tolerant of water quality problems. It doesn't appear to be environmental either. What I mean is we often see turtles with reddish marks on the plastron (bottom shell) because they bask on and scrape along red bricks or old, red logs, but that's not the case here. My next thought is dyes in the food. You should be feeding her a diet of Koi pellets and an occasional earthworm. The baggy skin is just not an issue unless this has come on very suddenly, which I doubt, and the coloration could be natural or a result of internal bleeding from that fall… the latter being a condition that will subside over the coming weeks>
<My suggestion is to not fret and not go to a vet. If she is active, alert, swimming, basking and eating, then chances are very much that she (and you) will be just fine.>
Thanks, Jeannie

Help needed for male Indian Roofed Turtle    3/23/14
Please help me.
<You bet!>
I've had an Indian roofed turtle for eight months now.
<From this angle he looks a lot like a Red Eared Slider>
I keep him in a turtle tank with a water heater set at 26 C. I change his water at least once a week, and put in filtered water.
<That's fine. Normally I leave my turtle's water unheated unless you live where the temp can drop below 8C or so>
I feed him turtle food(4-6 sticks) or freeze dried worms twice a day.
<Very little nutritional value in freeze dried worms. The simplest and best diet is simple a high quality Koi pellet. It's vegetable-based and very well balanced>
Yesterday I noticed these balloon type patches of white loose skin on his hind legs which stretch out when he kicks but gather up when he's relaxed.
I'm not sure what it is and I'm worried.
<Don't worry>
The skin isn't there on his front legs. Please tell me if I need to be worried, and what I can do to help him
<Your turtle is getting a bit chubby. That's where it starts, right there in the hind quarters. Now, a certain part of that is normal and it's healthy as long as it doesn't get out of control. Now that he's no longer a baby, you should cut down a bit on the feeding. Start by feeding him 6 sticks ONCE a day ... then cut down to 5 days a week. He'll protest -- he'll act frantic -- he associates you with food. It will make you feel bad that he is acting SO hungry .... but he's trying to trick you to get more food. Don't let him win!>
I live in a country which doesn't have vets that look after turtle
<You seem to be doing a FINE job of caring for him!>
I've attached pictures for your reference.
Hope to hear from you soon

My turtle water   3/10/13
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I'm sorry for disturbing but I'm really having trouble caring for my second turtle.
<You're not disturbing us at all - this is what we do!>
My first turtle is a red slider and he has been really lovely since I brought him but then I brought another turtle that I don't know what it is (I attached a picture of her)...
<A Slider … in the family … identical care … just not a Red Eared variety>
First it didn't go in the water but after a while she started to get in the water but then I noticed something orange starting to form in her tail, legs and neck. And her shell started to get a bit of white.*note: the orange thing is not showing in the picture because the picture had been taken a long time ago and I noticed the orange thing these weeks* and in the place I live there is nothing for turtle no vets or even shops so I couldn't provide a vet care for the turtles so if u can please see what is my turtle and tell me if the orange thing is okay or not and if I have to separate her from my other turtle I asked bout what the turtle may be before and you said a yellow billed turtle but I don't think so because her eyes and her skin looks so different from the yellow billed
And thank u very muck for helping all the replies to my old questions were very helpful
<I'd like a better description of the orange.  Is it just a faint color in the background?  Or does it look like it's on top of the skin?  Natural colors in some foods or the artificial dyes used in prepared foods can seem to change the coloration of the skin itself.  Dyes in the bricks, rocks or wood that they bask on can coat the top of the skin or shell.>
<The most important thing is that there are no breaks in the skin and nothing smells.  If that is true and the turtles are active, alert, eating well and take turns basking and swimming, I wouldn't be concerned.>
<Check the colors in the foods and in their surroundings.  Also, if you have any doubt at all - natural unfiltered sunlight for 15-20 minutes a day will be very beneficial to any and all kinds of skin conditions.>
Thank u
<Yer welcome!>

my turtle... Check the moon for fullness    2/18/13
hi I'm a new turtle owner and he/she has been great up till now and I'm not sure if there's something wrong or I'm just over reacting because I'm a mother lol. when i clean the tank i talk to the turtle and it usually talks back to me but today the turtle wants to but nothings coming out. is there something wrong?? thanks for your time Tessa
<What do you mean "talks to you"? Turtles don't talk. Indeed, while they sometimes make hissing noises (if very unhappy) and may burble from time to time, like most reptiles, they're silent animals who communicate more through body language. If you mean your turtle is less active than normal, check first of all the thermometer on the tank (they become sluggish at air temperatures below 18 C/64 F) and make sure the heat source (usually a heat lamp) is working. Reptiles hate cold! Secondly, check everything else about the tank is right. Is the filter working? Is the UV-B lamp working? Do have a read here:
Virtually all reptile health problems are caused by environmental shortcomings, most often people not buying the UV-B lamp and not providing the right sort of diet. Treating sick reptiles is difficult and expensive, whereas prevention is actually pretty cheap, if you plan ahead and buy all the bits you need to keep them healthy. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: my turtle   2/18/13

He does talk to me he squeaks when I talk to him and only me.
<Uh, okay...>
He seems to be himself today thanks
<Cheers, Neale.>

Red Eared Slider won't stay in the Water     7/6/12
We have a Red Eared Slider that is about the size of your palm (3-3 1/2").  Unfortunately we went on vacation and left someone to care for him (we think it's a male).  Before we left he was always active and lived mostly in the water, yet would bask appropriately under his UV or Heat Lamp.  His eating habits were better when he was younger...he would take food from out hands...but prior to our leaving his eating wasn't what it used to be.
<Often decreased appetite is the first sign that they’re not feeling well.>
Unfortunately when we returned his water was TERRIBLE...cloudy, algae, old food, etc....I usually change it every two weeks..with proper additives and filter change. 
<What do you mean by additives? As long as your water is safe for you to drink, no sort of additive is needed.>
He is in a 20 Gallon Tank with about 11 Gallons of water has a 50 Gal/hr filter and was fine before we left.  When we returned home he was on his basking rock and not in the water...I figured it was because it was so dirty...I immediately cleaned his tank, replaced the water with clean treated water.
<Re: treating water – as above.>
He won't get in the water...I put him in the tank and he stays on his basking rock with head  legs and tail out like normal. When I try and place him in the water he floats, then swims back to his basking Rock.
Is he sick?...
<Could be – turtles will often spend more time basking when they’re not feeling well. It’s also possible he’s feeling stressed from all the changes that happened over a short period of time. Turtles are creatures of habit and often don’t like ANY change in their care or environment - whether it’s for the better or for the worse!>
<However, you also mentioned his appetite wasn’t the same even before you went away. So it could also be that he’s starting to show some ill effects from a problem either in his care and/or habitat that’s existed for a long time. Because of their slow metabolism, it can often take turtles months, sometimes even longer, before they actually start showing signs of illness. So my first recommendation is to carefully read over our basic care article in this link,
to compare the care you’ve been providing to what’s recommended in the article, and to make whatever changes necessary. In particular, compare your lighting (must specifically be UVB), check your water quality (do some water testing just before you clean the tank), and also make sure that the land and water temperatures are both in the recommended ranges. Also compare the diet you’re feeding him (not only the ‘what’ but also ‘how much’ and ‘how often’) to the recommendations in the article.>
Should I take him to a Vet?......When I put him in a smaller container, with water, to feed him, he is active eats some....but moves around like normal.
It's been 3 days since I cleaned his tank and replaced the water, but he won't stay in the water.
<We’ll try! The fact that he’s still active and eating at least a little are both good signs. What I’d suggest is to err on the side of caution and respond as though he’s not feeling well. Remove him from the water completely for a week or two and place him in a warm dry environment except for a few minutes each day. This link below tells you exactly how to do this – read under ‘Isolation’:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwlvstkind2.htm >
<The ‘isolation’ treatment won’t hurt him at all if he’s not sick; in fact it will even help by giving his body a rest and his immune system a little boost. And he may not mind the warm and dry since that’s what he seems to be seeking out right now anyway. Having said that though, don’t be alarmed if HE’S not crazy about his new temporary quarters! >
<Good luck! Give this a try, read over both links, and write back if you need any clarifications or any new concerns come up. ~ Sue>
Re: Red Eared Slider won't stay in the Water

Sorry – I just noticed the 2nd link I gave you with the instructions for ‘Isolation’ is wrong; here’s the correct link!
Re: Red Eared Slider won't stay in the Water     7/8/12

 Thank you for your response......the additives are to control Algae, his Waste and a Clarifier that has been recommended by Vets and other people with more knowledge than I have all are to try and keep his water clearer. 
<Understood, but … you also have a turtle that’s sick right now (and was showing signs of illness before you went away) despite the advice you’ve been given.  I understand it’s tempting to use these products, but unfortunately when it comes to turtles and water quality, there are no good substitutions, quick fixes, or short cuts for clean, clear water – water additives and filters included.  Once every two week water changes is likely not cutting it for you given that you’ve got him in only 11 gallons of water (the smaller the tank, the quicker the water becomes dirty and the more it needs to be changed).  I’d suggest upping the water changes to at least once a week (if not more).>
<Also water in smaller tanks tends to be more vulnerable to the heat given off by the lamps – which makes the water even more hospitable to algae growth, especially when food and organic matter is left in the water.  Any waste or uneaten food should be promptly removed (netted up or siphoned); don’t allow it to sit and decompose in the water.  Or better yet - feed him in a separate container (plastic bin is fine) filled with a couple of inches of water, and then simply dump it when he’s done.  I’d also try to position your lamps away from the water and directly on the basking area as best you can.>
<All these additional things should be done regardless of additives and filters to maintain good water quality.  And if you’re doing them properly the water WILL be clean and clear -- then you can use the money you would have spent on additives to buy something else - maybe save up for a larger enclosure and more powerful filter which he’ll eventually need anyway.>
I have spent hours trying to make sure he is well taken care of, before we went on vacation he was acting normal eating and active.  There has only once been an issue, and of course he went to the Vet and acted normal.
<Unfortunately smaller tanks are often more, rather than less, work when it comes to turtles.>
I've tried extra heat, but as of today he hasn't eaten in over 5 days.  He has his head out, but he is very slow to move.  He was in the water, but it was probably by accident, because he wasn't swimming, just floating.
<It’s not just extra heat he needs; he needs the Isolation (warm and dry OUT of the aquarium) method that I recommended to you in my 1st reply (refer to the link I sent you in that reply).  It was likely he was in the water not by accident but to try and cool off from the added basking heat you gave him. This is what you want to happen when he’s healthy but NOT when he’s sick. A humid environment where water is present 24/7 (regardless of whether he’s actually in the water or not) can be harmful when a turtle is sick as this is the very environment that bacteria and fungi thrive in – and they’re more than happy to seize the opportunity to take advantage of a debilitated turtle.>
<Once he’s all better, then yes, make whatever necessary changes in your care according to the recommendations  in our Basic Care guide that I linked you to in my 1st reply, including his water and basking temperatures if they’re different than what’s recommended in our guide.  HEALTHY turtles need cool water (68-70 degrees) and warm (88-90 degree), dry land with a heat bulb and a UVB bulb (strip UVB lighting preferable as distribution of UVB rays is better).>
When I add heat if he's hot he will move toward his UV Light
<Again -- check to make sure the bulb is specifically a UVB bulb. He needs UVB now while he's in Isolation and also later when he's feeling better and back in his aquarium.>
.....but eyes are closed, legs out, tail out....will move them slowly if I pick him up, or put him in a smaller container.
<It definitely sounds like he’s gotten worse since you last wrote.  He not only needs the Isolation but additional treatment.  Eyes closed are almost always due to a Vitamin A deficiency.  If he's really moving this little, I'd suggest bringing him to the vet ASAP for vitamin injections (and have her assess if he also needs injectable antibiotics), but in the meantime read here for how to treat Vitamin A deficiency at home:
The only caveat to this link is that we now recommend Isolation and not putting turtles back in the aquarium again until they’re well. >
<Also, the link I sent you in my 1st reply for Isolation has a section on Vitamin A deficiencies and recommends some additional treatments. >
Could he be fighting going into Hibernation......he has never been colder than 74-75 degrees, and has lived in the same habitat for over a year.
<No – he’s sick.>
If he's ill...what could it be...there are no bubbles...according to the Vet that would be a respiratory issue.....he's just not active, eating or acting normal.
I think it's getting worse.
<I agree; he needs proper treatment NOW before he gets any worse:
•  As I recommended in my original note, remove him from the aquarium and follow the Isolation instructions in the prior link I sent you for how to keep him that way.  The enclosure can be as simple as a 12” deep or so plastic storage bin or even a cardboard box.  He WILL need access to water every day to drink and poop, but ONLY for a few minutes.
•  Again, make sure his light is UVB. He needs this now while he’s sick and also when he’s healthy. UVB is what helps turtles properly digest/convert food into the vitamins they need, and is also important for their immune system/functioning.
•  Read and follow the recommendations for treating Vitamin A deficiency that I sent you in this reply, and also in the Isolation link I sent you in my original reply.
•  Consider taking him to a vet for a Vitamin A injection, and possibly also a Vitamin D as well (preferably one who specializes in turtles or at least herps, even birds). While treating orally (by mouth, not eyes – he needs to ingest it) is OK, the most optimum and quickest treatment is by injection (after the injections, though, you should still continue to treat him orally until he’s all better).
•  Once he’s better and eating again, make whatever changes are necessary in his diet (including not only what, but also how much and how often you’re feeding him), and also to his environment (all the things I already mentioned and that are in our basic care guide).  >
<If you read and follow these recommendations promptly, you should start to see him improving in a couple of days.  However, if instead you see him becoming worse during this time, you’ll need to take him back to the vet again, because at that point it’s likely he developed a systemic infection and will require injectable antibiotics. >
<Good luck; let us know how things go. If you do write again, though, please give us more specifics about how you were taking care of him before he got sick. This is because nearly every turtle illness boils down to a problem in their diet or environment.  ~ Sue>
Re: Red Eared Slider won't stay in the Water     7/9/12

Thank you for everything ...unfortunately Mr. T went last night!!!!!
<I’m very sorry for your loss, as I know the rest of our crew is too. Turtles are very stoic when they’re sick which helps protect them in the wild from predators, but that strategy unfortunately doesn’t serve them well as pets. By the time they show symptoms they’ve often been ill for a long time.  Should you ever decide to get another one, hopefully you’ll find the information I sent you useful. Our crew has had years’ of experience keeping turtles, so if you ever come across any advice that conflicts with something you’ve seen on our website, do write us before acting on it, and we’ll be happy to clarify for you. Best wishes to you, Sue >

Yellow faced turtle - injured?  10/2/10
Hi there!
<Hey there Ho there!! Darrel here there!>
Thanks for taking the time to read this :)
<No problem Shinji - it's why I get the big bucks>
I purchased two yellow faced turtles about 1.5months ago, from a coworker. They are a turtle local to the Northern Territory of Australia, and they are aquatic. They originally came in a tank about 250L, but we made a raised pond for them which is 300L of water with a lip around the edge for them to sun bake and exercise on.
<Sounds good so far>
They are about 10-15cm long, brother and sister. I feed them every second day with frozen food (which I defrost first). I also treat them with things like lettuce, and prawns and fresh fish as we get it. We planted around the tank with lettuce and parsley for them to eat as they wish, and they love eating one of the floating pad plants we have in the pond. Oh! And I'm an avid fish keeper, so I have two filters in the pond, and do water changes weekly.
<Sounds very good. I would do a bit more research on their diet in the wild. If you're describing genus Elseya you can reduce the fish & prawns as they grow and gradually replace that with regular Koi food pellets. It's less expensive and actually better for them>
Lately I've noticed the boy developing splotches. These splotches are the colour of rust, and started near his mouth, but I have now found them on his tail and underside of his shell. One or two are small on his legs and very slightly raised. Maybe a scab, but too small to tell. None are bigger than a 5c piece.
<I think a 5 cent piece is far big enough to examine.>
His shell is hard, and clean, eyes are clear. He's VERY active and feisty and will claw my hands up when he doesn't want to be held anymore, and looks around attentively. The girl is much shyer and will hide whenever anyone goes close. I haven't been able to catch and inspect her. She's way too fast a swimmer, but on the weekend she had small marks at the corner of her mouth as well.
I'm not sure what it is caused by. I have Googled and read tons of stuff, and the only thing I have come up with is they might be mild scrapes from something in the tank. But I don't think they've eaten anything that would hurt their mouth? It's ridiculously hard to find information on these turtles so I don't have much to go on.
<I agree>
Do you have any idea what could be causing this?
If you have no clue from the description, I can take pictures in a couple days.
<If you take pictures, make sure that you have focus - often people try to get too much of a close-up and all we see are blurry colors>
Thank you for any help you can provide! Our whole family loves them and we don't want anything bad to happen!
<Shinji - what you describe is odd. It's hard to get a visual in the mind of what you're actually seeing, so let's run down a general list.>
<First, can you rub the brownish spot with a Q-Tip or cotton swab and get any of it to rub off? If not, what about a swab dipped in alcohol or even vinegar? Does anything loosen the material? If it any of it rubs off, does it have an odor? (If you use vinegar, don't bother with the smell test). You can use the eraser on a #2 pencil as well. Try a very small area. I know this sounds mean, but if we can't tell what it IS we can often guess what it is by seeing what's UNDER it. If you rub a piece of and there is raw skin underneath (like a wound) then it may be a scab.>
<If you wet the area with hydrogen peroxide and the "scab" turns white, it's possible that it is a mold growing on the skin and putting root-like material down in the tissue. The more we find out how it reacts, the more we can focus on what it might be>
<In the mean time, take them out of the water and keep them warm and dry for 3 or 4 days. I'm giving you a link on treating common illnesses, but that link has a section on what we call "Isolation treatment" which is how to keep them warm and dry for long periods -- almost every condition causing these spots in encouraged in warm, moist aquatic conditions and DISCOURAGED in warm DRY conditions. Try it for a few weeks and see how the situation changes. Also, and I can't stress this enough, unfiltered natural sunlight!!! Direct sunlight is immensely beneficial to treating almost all skin conditions. Make sure, of course, that they have shade to be able to get out of the sun - and remember, sunlight through glass loses it's benefit.>
<Do some of these tests and write back with results>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >

Pudgy Turtle problems 12/5/07 Clear Day Hello. <Hello to you , too!> I have a red bellied Cooter that I had purchased in Feb. of 2006 for my 3 year old daughter. It was approx. 3 inches when we had gotten him and he is now only 3.5 inches. He eats TetraMin turtle pellets and/or TetraMin shrimp every to every other day. We keep him in our 29 gal. fish tank with some mollies and guppies. All of the levels in the water test out correctly and he has a turtle dock to bask outside of the water under a UVA/UVB bulb. The water in the tank is filtered. <The first comment I want to make here is that while turtles and fish live in what appears to humans to be the same environment, in reality they occupy very different niches in the aquatic world. GENERALLY speaking, the conditions required for fish health are often only marginal for turtles. In addition, while fish (especially healthy fish) don't make up a high percentage of a turtle's diet, every once in a while they just get lucky and suddenly a prized fish is gone.> Last week I noticed that the skin around his neck and legs seems bubbled almost as if it is filled with air or something? I can't seem to find anything about that other than swollen eyes which he does not have. I didn't know if maybe he has some sort of shell growth problem since he hasn't grown at all really and maybe he's getting to chubby for his shell. If you could figure something out for us I would greatly appreciate that. <The questions to ask here are his behavior and activity. Is he active? Any problems diving? Internal infections can cause gas pockets that puff out and make a turtle extremely buoyant. This isn't common without a slew of secondary symptoms, but I thought I'd ask.> <It's also possible -- just as you suspect -- that he is simply obese and this is possibly due to a dietary imbalance or environmental issues or both. First, see if you can obtain Koi Pellets at your local fish store. I've used very high quality (and expensive) imported brands and locally produced cheaper brands (such as Kay-Tee) with great success. Failing this, Repto-Min food sticks are wonderful -- they're essentially identical to Koi pellets, just more expensive. Make sure that his basking area gets to at least 83 degrees (f) and preferably as high as 93 -- and that his water is no warmer than 73 (preferably 70). Either or both of these conditions can produce the abnormalities you are describing -- a turtle that eats more than it is metabolizing will have stunted growth while still appearing to be fat.> If you need pictures to better help in seeing his problem I would be happy to provide them for you! <Is his name Pete by any chance?> <Please check out the following article and measure your care against the recommendations and, by all means, write back with pictures!> <regards, Darrel> < http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm > Thank you very much! Kimberly

African Sideneck Turtle In the Corner  7/14/06 I got my African Sideneck Turtle 3 days ago and all it has done is sit in the corner of the tank near the water filter. My parents say that it likes the flowing water, but I am not sure. He also has not eaten in 2 days. My friends say that he is lonely, but I don't know. Should I be concerned? < Check the water temp. It should be up around 80 F. He will be more active at higher temps if everything else is OK. -Chuck>
Turtle Not Eating, was African Sideneck Turtle In the Corner   7/15/06 What do I do if the water gets too cold? Why is He not eating? < You have a tropical turtle that needs to be warm to increase his metabolism and properly digest his food. If he is too cold then the food sits in his stomach and rots. Get an aquarium thermometer and set it for 80 F and see if he gets more active. The other problem could be parasites. You will need to take a fecal sample to a vet to have it checked out.-Chuck>

Riddle Me This - Red Eared Slider Questions To who can answer these questions, I have three questions to ask about Red Eared Slider turtles: 1) how do you know if, a Red Eared Slider turtle is dead or alive? 2) < You should see some movement after a few hours after the turtle has been warmed up. If it is not breathing that is usually a pretty good sign it is not alive.> How do you know if, a Red Eared Slider turtle is in hibernation? 3) < Hibernation is a pretty complicated process in which the turtle would bury itself into some soil and emerge after a few months when things have warmed up.> Could a Red eared slider turtle put it self in some sort of comma, to help it heal a problem it might have? < No, sounds like your turtle has died. Sorry-Chuck>

Turtle Q's Hello <How goes it?> I have a slider which I have had for about two months now and everything was going good, but lately he has not been so active. He has been sleeping all day, even after I got him a heater, his shell has spots the people at the pet store told me he's shedding. <Hmm.. can you get a picture? Does the turtle have an area to get out of the water, and a lamp (that provides UVB rays) in which to bask?> When he is in the tank he has white stuff around his mouth <Can you be more descriptive\get a picture?> He really doesn't get out of his water; I have to take him out of the tank. <See above question regarding a heat lamp> His eating habits are very good and he is still very strong but I'm still really worried. I did every thing I was told to do, but I'm afraid he's not ok. <Have you been feeding him a variety of food, and bring him outside for a half hour or so of sunshine every other day? Turtles NEED UVB radiation to properly absorb calcium, and the spots on the shell may be decalcified areas. Get him a heat lamp with a UVB incandescent heat bulb, and make certain to take him outside for a half hour of sun each day. Also, obtain a reptile vitamin supplement and add it to his food>  Is it time to take him to the vet or am I being overprotective? <Nothing wrong with a checkup from a vet, they know a ton about animals>  Please help I don't want him to die. <See above :) From now on please use proper capitalization\punctuation, as these letters are archived for future reading> Thanks <You're welcome, good luck!> 

Aquatic Turtles Hey!  Okay, I know that there have already been a lot of questions about feeding the turtles, but I'd like to ask again.  See my little brother got a painted turtle a little less than a year ago, and it would never eat so we always had to force feed it with pellets, which requires a lot of patience and work!  Then that turtle just died (didn't last too long like most the others do...are we doing something wrong... we have dry land, water which we change every day at least every other day, rocks, and heat??) and it was devastating for my little brother, so we bought a new turtle.  This one is the red-ear which we currently have.  We got it about 10 days ago and it's still pretty young. I'm not sure how old, but it's not a baby and not an adult!!  But anyway, it hardly moves around like our other turtle did.  It just sits on a rock all day and barely moves around even when we put it in the water.  Also, it won't eat like the other turtle.  It also won't open it's eyes which were swollen so we gave it vitamin A drops. can you give it too much vitamin A?  Anyway, I'm afraid that it's starting to die, and we just got it.  It would really be a very traumatic event to go through that again with my little brother, so if there is any way that you can help me, it would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks so much, Becca! <Hey Becca, sounds like your turtle needs to go see a veterinarian, I would not risk home treatments at this point, it sounds like your turtle is going downhill.  The Painted Turtle and the Red Eared Sliders are both aquatic turtles, you want their environment to be primarily water with a small area for basking, these turtles eat while they are in the water, they will come up to the land to grab food, but will pull it back into the water.  Care for these guys is not too difficult, filtered and heated water, around 78 degrees F, a small area of land to allow them to get out of the water if the want to.  Above the land area you will want to mount a light for basking.  We have an article on the care of Red Eared Sliders at the link below.  Best of Luck, and take your turtle to a vet, this sounds serious, Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/redearsliders.htm  >

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: