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Terrapin enclosure, a matter of ethics.
Some thoughts below!
Subject: Terrapin enclosure, a matter of ethics.
This probably isn't a typical string of questions and i will say outright for
the sake of you prioritising your workload that this is not a critical medical
query. Nonetheless i think these are important questions. I would very much
appreciate your feedback and educated opinion on these considerations. After
all, i am but a self opinionated nobody on the internet. Ethics in pet keeping
has always been important to me, but i think it is equally important to consider
a stance objectively before holding true to it. I am unsure if i am being
objective and fully considering level of activity and true needs. The bulk of
this relates to RES/YBS terrapins, although the general principle extends to
many species of aquatic life in captivity.
<Agreed. In the UK at least, ‘Sliders’ seem to be the standard species in the
trade, and certainly the ones kept by the less experienced hobbyists.>
A couple of years back i stumbled on a child who had rescued a yellow belly
slider from a life in a small plastic tub. As keen as he was to keep it, after
explaining their needs to him, he asked if i would care for his now beloved
friend. I obliged knowing i could give it a better life than it had in store,
but knowing i myself would run into problems down the line regarding enclosure
should it turn out to be female. Turns out that is the case, it is now showing
it's gender, female. No doubt a common story arc.
So off i went to the drawing board. I had always pipelined a bigger tank once it
was needed, only now it needs to be for a terrapin of up to 11-12” opposed to
8-9" (i suspected it to be male). We hear these rules banded around across the
web, such as 'you need at least 2-3 times body length in tank width', 'x gallons
per inch of terrapin' and the likes. It seems to be generally accepted that a
deep 125 USGAL tank is about right for a female. I am not sure i agree this is
ethical, i think the commonly stated sizes are akin to a prison cell and more
emphasis needs to be put on the word minimum on certain websites. Some don't
even make any logical sense, such as the gallon per inch nonsense not mandating
footprint, those types of guidelines need to die a death in my mind; they have
no relevance aside from filtration needs.
<An animal behaviour scientist at university introduced a class by describing
the care of lions versus tigers. Lions don’t do much until they get hungry or
see rivals, so while it might seem unfair to keep them in small enclosures,
provided they’re well fed and kept apart from social threats, they would mostly
sit about sleeping anyway. On the other hand tigers actively patrol their
territories leaving scent markings and so on. They are much more active and
interact with their environment much more frequently. For them, the circus
situation might actually be more humane, in the sense that they’d be doing
something rather than sitting about all day. In other words, one has to be
careful about applying human standards to animal situations. I’d argue that
turtles don’t do much until they’re hungry or need to regular their body
temperature. They aren’t, for example, patrolling territories. So provided
they’re given access to food, somewhere to bask, and somewhere to cool down,
simply being able to move between those three parts of the tank will satisfy
their basic psychological needs. Of course giving them space to be able to do
more exercise is always a plus, and a decent water current that provides
something to swim into could help to tick that box quite nicely too.>
For a 12" terrapin, it seems to me that the bare minimum that should be desired,
once accounting for substrate and background items is around a 4'x3'x20" body of
water. That meets, in fact exceeds a wide range of care sheet recommendations
and in my mind has a much better footprint than the common 6' 125GAL tanks often
used. I still consider it minimal. Even if i built to 5'x4'x20" - the biggest my
floor could support - i would consider this to be at best a compromise or
<And a good deal better than that experienced by most ‘Sliders’ in the aquarium
hobby, I’m sure!>
I priced up making a tank of the smaller size from 12mm acrylic, i doubt 10mm
would suffice. Works out around £750 +/- depending on the exact method i use,
which i will pay readily. The larger tank needs thicker acrylic IMO, probably
15mm, the price jumps up significantly and i would still consider it a
compromise. This begs the question, how many owners could afford to build that,
or even know how to? Keep in mind that tanks like that don't come off the shelf
and custom tanks are huge money. I doubt the percentile of owners than can is
above single digits. I further doubt there is any realistic hope of the majority
of buyers ever providing a good home. The way i see it right now is people are
making do with the bare minimum to survive and kidding themselves. In my current
frame of mind a 6' 125GAL is in no way acceptable as a permanent living space
for an adult female, unless you happen to be trying to make the best of a bad
situation and acknowledge it as such. Yet according to many, this is ideal, i
have even seen the word perfect used. Do you agree with me on these points?
<Do see above. Your goal is admirable, and to be recommended for sure.
Zoo-quality situations are always better than those at the bottom end of the
cheap pet trade. On the other hand, I think there’s some diminishing returns
here. 90% of what’s needed for a happy, healthy ‘Slider’ will be provided by the
right food, a heat lamp, a UV-B lamp, room temperature water, and basic
filtration. Such a system could work in, say, a 40 or 50 gallon tank. Might not
be pretty, but the turtle would be basically happy, if not basking in luxury.
Such a shopping list could be priced at under £100, which is doable for anyone
even half serious about keeping these animals properly. Spending many hundreds
of pounds will of course provide a better environment, but I’m not sure the
turtle will be 5, 6, or 7 times happier or healthier.>
So i thought about building a pond. I live in the UK. The instant thought
process is: 'warm water+cold air=evaporation=humidity=respiratory problems'
'cold air+wind=a whole host of problems, including improper basking temps and
potential pneumonia / hypothermia' Cats... Birds…
<Quite so; while there are some Red Ear Sliders living feral in the UK, I’m sure
their mortality is high and reproductive success close to zero… basically, such
populations are topped up by more specimens dumped in such city ponds by people
who no longer want to care for these animals at home.>
There is far more potential for freedom of movement in an outdoor pond but it is
arguably a bad choice here. Would you agree?
<It is possible to keep these and other chelonians outdoors in the UK during
summer… there’s a solid body of experience with regard to thinks like Spur-Thigh
Tortoises. Perhaps of interest, and likely to be similar so far as protection
against cats, escapes, and so on goes. I agree though, you’d want to bring them
in when it gets colder.>
Ultimately, i have concluded not only is it not possible for me to ever provide
a GOOD home for her, but since most owners no doubt have more restrictions than
me (im a single home owner with disposable income), few ever could. Would you
agree? It seems to me they are destined to a life of compromise, especially in
the UK where it is cold outside and houses are typically small.
The only peace of mind i have is that at least she doesn't live in a tub and is
going to get a better tank than most could ever hope for. Right now i am feeling
rather appalled that it is legal to keep these without licence and that the
RSPCA seem to not want to enforce, or even stipulate enclosure sizes for aquatic
animals. They claim at the local rescue they are inundated, yet when asked said
they don't legislate to control sales or enclosures. We have natural ponds full
of them that kids have dumped locally, it's appalling, but i can understand why
this is happening.
<Animal cruelty to release any domestic pet into the wild. No discussion. Anyone
who does so is, frankly, behaving no better than those people who let their
horses starve to death or use dogs for fighting. Most pets dumped in the wild
die a miserable death, in the case of reptiles, usually from exposure to the
cold and subsequent infection, assuming they don’t get eaten by a fox, run over
by a car, or whatever else might happen.>
Ultimately the main point is this: I don't think they should be sold without
licence and i think legislation is needed on enclosures. Enclosure requirements
need to be advertised on stock tanks and vocally stated to potential buyers by
law (for all animals tbh). Do you agree?
<It’s a tricky one. In a sense, yes, pet animals operate in a weird situation
where the government assumes potential pet owners will do their research and
treat their pets properly. Quite obviously a big number of such pet owners don’t
do that, and one way or another allow “lower” animals especially (fish,
reptiles, frogs) to die for no other reason than the pet owner can’t be bothered
to feed or house them correctly, let alone provide (often expensive)
veterinarian care. There’s a strong case to make that wild reptile and frog
collecting is extremely harmful to wild populations, and that wild-caught
lizards, snakes and so on simply shouldn’t be traded. But the flip side to that
is that those species that have become established in the hobby and bred by
hobbyists have a bulwark against extinction that wouldn’t otherwise be there.
Garter Snakes, Bearded Dragons, and Red Ear Sliders are all likely to be around
for as long as humans are, and that’s a good thing. The unpleasant reality
though is that before species can become established as breedable at home they
have to be collected from the wild, and before someone has the skills to breed
reptiles, fish or frogs, there has to be a time during which they’re learning
those skills. If governments wanted to regulate the hobby, they’d have to find a
way to balance things such that new species could be imported, albeit
sustainably, and that potential hobbyists weren’t priced out of the hobby before
they got started or blocked by too much paperwork.>
Ultimately i feel not only am i unable to provide the animal with the space it
deserves, but realistically it never even had a chance, that this is common and
this needs to change. I sincerely hope for the sake of many terrapins out there,
including this one, that i am mistaken. Thanks for taking the time to read this
and for any information and criticism that may follow.
<And thanks for the thoughtful email. Regards, Neale.>
And Her Dock 12/15/14
<Hiya - Darrel here>
Recently (literally yesterday), I got my 3-inch yellow-bellied
turtle a basking dock. She adapted to it right away. The entire
day she sat on it, that's it. She never moved off the dock as soon as
she learned how to get on.
Is this normal?
<It's not AB-normal>
I heard of turtles not wanting to get on their dock, but my turtle
doesn't want to get off. This morning, I nudged her a little to get her
to swim in the water and she did for two minutes.
As of now, she has found her way back up the dock. I'm worried, is she
supposed to act that inactively? Or am I just a typical worrying pet
<Tut, tut, tut don't worry so much. LOL HA HA HAH -- see how I made a
joke? "tut tut tut" is an old way of minimizing someone's concern, sorta
like "pfft" is today … but since your turtle is named Tut ….. LOL
sometimes I crack myself up!>
<Ahem. If Tut is on a basking dock, she either wants to be out of the
water or she wants to be warmer than the water. Your water should be
room temperature (69-73 degrees or so) and your basking dock should be
under a heat lamp (88-93 degrees or so) and so Tut gets to choose to
warm up or to cool down. If you aren't offering her that heat gradient
then he may just stay wherever she is>
<another possibility is she doesn't like the water. If it's too hot?
Sometimes a heater will 'leak' electricity and they feel a little tingle
when they are in the water. She shouldn’t have a heater if she's
<The most important thing is this: Is Tut bright and alert? Her eyes
follow you when you come into the room? She eats well? If this is the
case, don't worry too much. Also, read this: >
Kat and her turtle, Tut
Yellow Bellied Slider; sys.
Yesterday, I found a Yellow Bellied Slider hatchling. It is very small.
Since it is very nice, I’ve decided to take it home with me.
<Almost never a good idea. The BEST thing when you observe wild reptiles
is to leave them where they are. If they're in immediate danger (e.g.,
from dogs, cats or motor vehicles) then coaxing them (or even carrying
them) somewhere safer is also a good idea -- provided it is safe for you
to do so (manhandling snakes or snapping turtles isn't recommended!). If
you aren't an expert reptile keeper, or don't have reptile care
equipment ready, then LEAVE THE REPTILE ALONE. No good will come from
adopting a wild reptile. They are quite difficult to care for, and most
"spur of the moment" pet reptiles end up dead.>
I don’t have any food for her/him yesterday, so i waited until the next
morning and buy Floating Turtle Pellet. When I give it to her/ him, her/
him did not eat any. And has been staying the shell quite awhile. What
should I do?
<Let's recap the basics. You're going to need, at minimum:
(1) A large aquarium or similar container
(2) A filter
(3) A heat lamp
(4) A UV-B lamp
None of these are negotiable. None of them. You must have all four.
Feeding pet turtles is the least difficult aspect. Turtle Pellets are
okay as treats, but must not used as a staple. Koi Pellets plus various
green foods and very occasional seafood treats will work nicely. Do read
Darrel's excellent article here:
If this all seems too complicated or too expensive, contact your local
Fish & Wildlife Service office, and ask them where would be the best
place to rehome/resettle your turtle. Please trust me on this -- keeping
a wild turtle if you can't provide for their needs will end after a few
miserable weeks or months with a dead turtle. Have cc'ed Darrel Barton,
our resident turtle expert, in case I've missed anything. Cheers,
Re: Yellow Bellied Slider 11/23/14
My mistake. Can you explain more on the heat lamp and UVB lamp?
<The easiest approach is to buy a combination heat-UVB lamp fitting that
can be positioned over the vivarium. Here's an example on Amazon.com for
It even comes with the lamps! The heat lamp warms the reptile up
(essential for it to digest its food, among other things) and the UVB is
used by the reptile to make its bones. Without heat reptiles starve, get
sick and then die, and without UVB, they become deformed and then die.
You can also visit your local reptile pet store to buy vivaria specially
tailored to the needs of reptiles such as turtles. These should include
sockets for a heat lamp and a UVB bulb (but check first, not all do).
But as Darrell explains in the article I linked to before, you can
improvise your own lamp fittings.
Make no mistake though, except for a very short term (maybe a week or
two) you can't avoid using heat and UVB sources. So while you do have
time to go online to buy the right sort of lamps for your needs/budget,
don't hang about. Note also the lamps need replacing periodically,
typically once or twice a year. So they're an ongoing cost. Turtles are
much, much cheaper pets than, say, cats and dogs, but they still have
some expenses you need to budget for. Cheers, Neale.>
College YBS turtle; sys. 3/10/14
I am a college student and have a yellow bellied slider that a friend
gave me a couple years ago because "I needed a turtle".
<As a general rule, I don't favor the idea of pets as gifts … but hey,
when you need a turtle, you NEED a turtle!>
I have had her set-up in a 10 gallon tank (largest size I can have, I
was lucky enough to get permission to even have her in the dorm) with a
floating dock, canister filter, UV light and heat lamp. She has been
doing well, but she is now 4" long and I'm pretty sure she needs to be
in a bigger tank.
<Nice, but not critical>
Next year, I'll be in a different living situation on campus and I
should be able to get away with a 20 gallon tank.
<She'll like that!>
Will this be ok for her?
I would love to be able to keep her with me for my last year, especially
since college has been her home since she was about a month old, but I
would rather do right by her.
<Well I sure don't want her to drop out of college at THIS point - not
after all she's accomplished!! Too many turtles barely make it
through High School and just try to get by - which is why we call them
I already have access to a 20 gallon tank and I have access to a
55 gallon tank that I can use after I graduate.
Thank you for any helpful hints you have!!
<Keep her clean, make sure she doesn't over eat. Let her
walk around the dorm room every once in a while for exercise and
<But most importantly…. And I can't stress this enough …
DO NOT let her hook up with some loser-turtle, OK? Turtles
come home from college with boyfriends that have so many piercings that
they look like they fell head first into a tackle box. Usually the
male turtle has his ears stretched so far that they're RED EARED and
they have a dragon tattoo on their neck… and yet can't for the life of
them figure out why no one will hire them!>
<She's a good turtle who worked hard to get where she is - and it's your
responsibility to see that she doesn't throw that away!>
My Yellow Bellied Slider, sys./beh.
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a yellow bellied slider that is about 9-10month old. I'm not sure
of the sex yet but I know Sheldon as he so :).
<It doesn't seem to matter to them, either. They show no signs of
distress if given a name of the opposite sex. Dressing them
up in clothing of the wrong sex is touchy … but hey, that's a different
Anyway, he's been fine up till recently, a few days ago I was going to
sleep when I heard a banging noise and got up to investigate and he was
trying to climb out of his tank, for the next 3 hours we played his nice
fun game where he doesn't do anything when I'm watching him then tries
to do it again when I want to go to sleep.
Anyway, so he stopped doing it for two days so I thought it was just a
phase, about an hour ago I heard it again and jumped up and he was
upside down on his ramp because he'd tried it again.
I don't want to take the ramp out because I want him to be able to rest
but I don't want to leave it in and not be able to sleep because I'm
scared he will turn upside down again or get out, what do you suggest I
do and why do you think he's doing this?
<I'm not sure what goes on in their tiny brains, Katie. You
have to remember that their average brain size is just a tiny bit more
than your average town Mayor's brain.>
<Two things come to mind. Are there any sort of filters, pumps,
fans or anything near Sheldon's tank that could be giving off a strange
vibration? They are very sensitive to such things and something
that you or I may not even be able to notice may seem like an earthquake
<This could also be seasonal. I often find that, at the seasonal
transitions (longer days, shorter days) that some turtles seem to feel
"antsy" and stir-crazy for a few weeks.>
And also one last thing after he did thing he went to the bottom of his
tank and starting trying to eat his own arm? I think it was just the
skin of his arm but he was acting like I never feed him, when in actual
fact I think I feed him a little over his recommended amount, why do you
think he did that?
<He's not hungry. He's likely stressed - OR - perhaps he has
the beginning of a fungal infection. Think of how you’d feel if you
suddenly developed a rash or something that wouldn't go away.>
<Here's my two suggestions for you:
1) Read this article and treat Sheldon for a fungal infection.
I'm reasonably certain he doesn't have one … but it can't hurt.
Keeping him warm and dry for a week or two with lots of exposure to UV-B
lighting will be a therapeutic thing for him just in general.
<Meanwhile, examine his tank and setup for anything that might be
causing his distress and then ... change things around.
Make it seem different when he gets back after his two week vacation>
<Lastly, when you do 'dry-dock' him, he'll also try to get out, climb
out, etc. because it will be a new and unfamiliar environment for him …
don't let that worry you.>
Sorry for the long message,
<If was fine!>
please help Shelly :).
<I hope we did!>
yellow slider basking
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I recently acquired a small yellow slider from a co-worker that
didn't want it any more and only minimally took care of it.
I think it is still young as it is only about 3 inches long. The turtle
was never provided sunlight access or any type of basking. I have
it in a 10 gallon aquarium for now with a filter. The tank sits
directly in front of a south window and gets tons of sunlight, plus I
take it out and put it in a small container with a basking rock and a
little water for cooling off for about 15-20 minutes a day in the
direct sunlight. It doesn't seem to have any interest in
<Well, if it's had improper care, any number of physical and
environmental factors may be at work. The first thing is that
sunlight through glass - or even through window screen is basically
just a heat source, not a source of proper UV lighting. Also it
tends to heat the water -- and if the water is warm the turtle will not
seek a basking area in which to warm up.>
In the tank, although it does swim in the sunlit water while feeding
and tentatively exploring (it's very shy), it seems to prefer to
hide in the shadowy rocks. When taken outside to bask, it doesn't
get on the rock and only seems interested in getting out. As it's
never had the opportunity to do so, does it just need time to figure it
all out and realize it might actually like it? It was only fed bites of
lunch meat, but I've got it on the ReptoMin sticks and some fresh
It doesn't eat the veggies yet, but I let them float around for a
while hoping it will get curious enough to try them.
<Switch to Koi pellets. They're cheap - they're a
COMPLETELY balanced diet, too>
It loves the earthworms & grubs I dig from the flowerbed for
<Great treats. But just once a month or so>
As I've only had it less than a week, do I just need to be patient
and let it learn to be a proper turtle? Thanks!
<Sheila - as soon as you learn to be a proper Turtle Mom, little
Specky will shape right up.>
<First, read here: This is ALL the basics: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm
<Note especially that you don't have to waste money on
dechlorinators or water treatments or sulfa blocks …. Water
filtration is optional since you'll be changing water every so
<Give Specky cool water to swim in and a warm basking area and let
him CHOOSE what he needs. All the food he can eat in five
minutes, 3 times a week. OK 4 times a week if he tugs on
your heart strings>
<I'd rather he NOT be near natural sunshine if it comes through
any form of glass or screen because the benefits are small and the heat
is great. A plain old ordinary 75 watt incandescent bulb right
next to a Repti-sub UVB CFL bulb for the basking area would be the best
way to go. The water should be 63-73(f) and the basking
YBS, sys. 10/4/11
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have spent a long time looking online to see if I could find the
answer to my question but haven't thus far.
<Well, let's see what we can do>
My brother and I recently got a Yellow Bellied Slider and we are
constantly arguing about the lighting.
<I have found that they look best under a soft-light, red filter
back-light from an overhead light-box and filmed without a
I have done a lot of research and have found that the UVA/UVB lamp
needs to be on for 10 -14 hours a day (like a typical natural day).
<Oh, wait '¦ you're not taking about shooting a
turtle movie '¦ let me read on>
My brother claims that because he is by the window he only needs it
<You're right & your brother is wrong. Now '¦ go
lord that over him>
Now, our YBS gets less than an hour of pure sunlight and then because
of the building around us the light never hits the basking area. I have
read that glass block UVB rays which worries me for my YBS.
<Not only does glass filter it out, but so does ordinary wind
My question is, is it alright to have the heat lamp and the UVA/UVB
light on even though the tank is by the window? We've had this
argument for the last 2 weeks so any clarification would be greatly
<The Slider requires HEAT from a basking lamp or a basking light.
For this purpose I often just use an ordinary incandescent light bulb
'¦ like a floodlight sold for home lighting. The other
requirement is UV-B lighting. UV-A, which is essentially black light,
is only important if the turtle is throwing a party where glow sticks
and slam dancing are occurring. Natural sunlight is best, because it
carries both heat AND UV light '¦ but it's hard to
control. If the sunlight from the window doesn't cause the tank
water to heat up too much, then it isn't a factor.>
<Many companies offer UV-B bulbs, some long tube florescent and some
are typical screw-in bulbs. This is the one thing that we really
can't come up with an inexpensive solution. They need the UV-B.
Thanks in advance,
HELP! Yellow Bellied Slider Turtle
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a full grown male yellow bellied slider turtle in a 55 gallon
fish tank with a couple of med. sized goldfish.
<Did the goldfish start out as feeders that the turtle never ate?
And now they're additional pets to worry about & care
I put some driftwood I bought from the fish section at Petco into the
tank about a week ago. Ever since then I've been having to do small
water changes every couple days cause the water would turn a light
caramel color. Well I noticed both today and yesterday my turtle
wasn't eating and had red streaks in the bottom of his shell. He
has also been basking out of the water a lot. At the times he IS in the
water, he sometimes has his legs spread out and acts as if he's
going to throw up. I ended up taking the wood out this morning, and it
smelled bad and had white moldy spots on it (the wood not the turtle).
I threw it away, cleaned out the filter, did a big water change, like
40%.. and put the turtle out to bask in the sun for a good 45 minutes.
He's acting a bit better but still not good. What's wrong with
him and how can I help??
<He may simply improve with time. At the very least do another water
change, but what I'd REALLY recommend doing is to sterilize the
entire setup. Put the goldfish in a temporary tank, take the turtle out
and put him somewhere warm and dry for the. Fill the water to the
regular "full" level and maybe even an inch more. Add 1 cup
of chlorine bleach per approximate gallon of water. Even a bit more is
OK as long as you can ventilate the room so no one breathes the fumes.
It's important that you leave the filters on and running during
this process. What we want to do is kill the mold & fungus
everywhere -- inside the tubes, down in the impeller -- all the places
you'd never reach with even the most thorough cleaning. After 2 or
3 hours, you can drain the water, break the system down and clean
everything. Rinse, use soap and water, rinse again & then set it
Turtle in a Fish Tank?
Hello, my name is Reba
--Reba, I'm Darrel
and I went to a pet store today and got a baby yellow bellied
-- it's pretty
I also bought a mini size floating dock. The lady in the store said it
would be fine for the turtle until it got bigger. I have a 30 gallon
I also have two algae eaters. My turtle isn't going on the floating
dock (the basking platform) I put a picture of the turtle in the bowl
that she came in. As soon as I got home I put her in the tank.
-- tropical fish tanks are usually not good for
turtles, Reba. The water for a turtle should be 68 to 73
degrees (no heater) while tropical fish like it warmer.
-- the turtle will not bask on a floating log unless it wants to get
warmer and there is a heat source above the log.
-- read the article. Read and understand all of it, then write back if
you have more questions:
Re summat to do w/ chelonians recently... 6/23/11
The lady at the pet store said I didn't need a lamp? Just water, a
basking platform, and food.
-- I'm sorry, the lady at the pet store is wrong. Reptiles, which
include turtles, regulate their body temperature by swimming in cool
water and then basking in the warm sun, or the heat of a basking lamp.
It is absolutely NECESSARY that the turtle have a place to haul out,
dry off and get warm - otherwise all kinds of health problems will crop
up. The lady at the pet store is not giving you correct information.
EVERYTHING that I gave you in that link to the article on basic care is
Yellow Bellied Slider, sys., fdg...
Dear WWM crew;
<Hi Carla, Sue here with you.>
Two months ago a small Yellow Bellied Slider was walking on my
drive way and I took her in. She is about the size of a
<They're pretty hard to resist, aren't they?
That's exactly the same way I first became a 'turtle
I fully believe that I have provided all the needed requirements
including: UV light, a Heat lamp, basking stone, a plastic plant
and a live plant, Turtle calcium bone, moss ball, and filter
system, and she seems to be otherwise healthy.
<The most critical of what you mentioned are UV (though has to
be UVB specifically, double check to make sure), heat lamp,
basking area and good filtration system. The latter becomes
increasingly important the bigger she gets, and no matter what
type of filter you get, you'll always need to do frequent
I think she is shedding her shell plates because of lighter
spaces that seem to be growing in between them, however, I
recently noticed that the top of the shell seems to be growing
upwards in a pyramid style, am I feeding her too much?
<If you've already seen this much of a noticeable
difference in her appearance after only 2 months, it's likely
you are. How much and how often are you feeding her?>
<Over-feeding is one of the most common mistakes people make
with turtles, and it can lead to a whole host of medical problems
including, but not limited to, shell deformities. Turtles (like
people!) often don't know when to stop eating, but unlike
people they have the added disadvantage of not being able to
expand their bodies to accommodate the excess food because of
their shell. >
When I originally found her the only thing she would eat were
trout worms and a small amount of organic carrots. I fully
cleaned her tank this morning and fed her another worm at noon
like I do everyday. I'm worried about her because she has not
yet eaten her worm except for biting it a few times, she usually
gets very excited about her worms and will play with it and eat
the entire worm in about an hour. She has eaten about five
floating turtle pellets. I'm wondering if she tired of eating
worms, and should I start feeding her mostly pellets?
<The pellets, not the worms, should be her staple, so it's
good she's starting to become more interested in them. Also,
I'd feed her earthworms instead of trout worms, and ONLY as a
treat; just one or two a month.>
<I think the problem is that you're over-feeding her. 5
floating pellets (without worms!) every 2-3 days is more than
plenty for her! You should be feeding her only as many pellets as
she can eat in 5 minutes, 3 times a week.>
<Besides the health benefit to her of feeding her less, a side
benefit for you is that you hopefully won't have so much
clean-up to do! I'd also suggest waiting until AFTER
she's done eating and pooping to clean her tank, rather than
cleaning it beforehand like you're doing now. It will make
your life easier, and will be much healthier for her. Any uneaten
food (and poop!) should be removed right away, filter or no
filter. Don't let it sit and break apart in the
The pellets are a mix of vegetable pellets and shrimp pellets,
but she seems to hate the shrimp ones.
<I'd leave out the shrimp pellets. She will get all the
protein she needs in a good quality pellet like ReptoMin. Koi
pellets are also fine. They have the same nutritional value and
are much less expensive.>
<Also, if there are days she seems ravenous and you're
feeling guilty about not feeding her pellets, you can try
offering her some greens like red or green leaf lettuce or
dandelion leaves (some grocery stores do sell this). If she truly
is hungry enough, she'll nibble at some greens. The fiber
they contain will help her feel full and you won't have the
worry about overfeeding as you would with pellets and
I have also been worried that she might be bored or lonely; is
there anything that I can provide for her to keep her busy or to
<Though turtles should be getting all the calcium they need
from their normal diet, for my turtles (purely for their
entertainment and also for a little exercise!), I'll
occasionally cut off a couple of small chunks of the turtle
calcium bone (that you have), and toss them in the water. They
love to chase the blocks all around the tank and peck at them!
However, the fun only lasts for them while they're floating;
once they eventually sink, the game is over!>
She is also spending a great deal of time on her basking stone
but she seems to be tired as her head keeps drooping, she is
usually very active and will follow my finger along the
<If in fact she has been eating too much, she might be feeling
like all of us do when we are over-stuffed from a meal - tired!
One of the main reasons turtles need to bask is to get enough
heat and UVB to digest their food. They typically bask for
several hours each day, so that's normal behavior (and they
often do fall asleep!) However, the one important thing to check
is her basking temperature. Get a suction thermometer from the
pet store and place it above the basking area. It should be at
least 88-90 degrees F in order for her to digest her food
properly; otherwise it will sit and eventually rot in her
stomach. Particularly if you're concerned that you've
been over-feeding her, this is one thing I'd check first.
It's possible she's got a lot of food stored up in her
stomach. Also -- don't forget to make sure your UV bulb
specifically SAYS it's UVB; UVB is also essential for
<Carla, I'd suggest you check out the link below. It was
written by a crew member who has kept all kinds of turtles his
whole life. It covers feeding and all the important aspects of
<Good luck with her! Keep us posted on how she's doing,
and don't hesitate to write us back if you have any more
Re: Yellow Bellied Slider 6/9/11
Hello Sue thank you for helping me so much.
<You're welcome, Carla (and Lil!); glad I was able to
I fully know now that I was in fact feeding her way too much.
Today I broke up her calcium bone and didn't feed her
anything. She will finish 5 pellets in about two minutes, should
I feed her more until the 5 minute mark?
<Sure, that's fine; just toss in a few pellets and remove
whatever she hasn't eaten after 5 minutes.>
She also relaxed under her basking light most of the morning and
was much move lively the entire afternoon.
<That's great to hear that her energy level is
I left her alone for a few hours and she tore apart her plant
though. I don't believe she ate any of it, most of it was
floating in the tank but, she did pull it out of the gravel.
<It's possible she took a few pecks at it. She'll
become more and more of a 'vegetarian' as time goes on!
It's fine to start exposing her to some plants now,
I did find out that both of her lights are UVA and the basking
light is extremely too hot. I will be buying a new one
<That's good you discovered her light was not UVB. Not
having UVB would have definitely caused her to become
<No need to get a 'specialty' basking light as the
heat bulb. Your basic light bulb will work just fine. Just
experiment with different wattages until you get the basking
temperature in range.>
<Also, on the topic of temperature -- you want to keep her
water temperature on the cool side; around 68-70 degrees F. If
the water is too warm, that will also make her hungrier, speed up
her growth and metabolism, increase shedding, etc. The cooler
water temperature is also what will encourage her to get out of
the water to bask.>
Thank you again for all your help, we will use the worms to go
<Actually, an earthworm or two every month or so is a
nutritious treat, and she'll appreciate it; just toss
whatever are left into your garden!>
Carla and Lil
Yellow belly female 15 months old... hlth., sys...
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have two female yellow belly which I have had for around 15months.
Both are kept in a large tank with uv lamp heater etc and have regular
water changes. There on a mixed diet of fish, meal worms and peas.
<Right here we have some problems - but I'll talk about them
One of my terrapins had a growth spout around a month ago and almost
doubled in size then two weeks ago started to refuse to eat.
I have taken both of them to the vets and he can see any problem with
either of them. But l have treated them with antibiotics which has made
<You should never treat with antibiotics unless a specific bacteria
has been confirmed.> My vet also told me to put the temp up by
degrees and put the tank in the window as sunlight is a different type
of uv, to my uv lamp which I have also done.
<OK - let's stop right here and discuss a few things.>
<First, a turtle tank doesn't need a heater. If the tank is
indoors, the water should be no higher than room temperature!! What
we're trying to do is offer the turtle nice, cool water to swim in
and a nice hot basking area to warm up in. If the water is warm enough
the turtle will not choose to bask very often and without the basking,
they don't dry off and they don't get exposed to the UV. So --
no heater please. Water temp should be 68-73(f) and the basking area
should be 88-93(f)>
<Second - Fish is, believe it or not, not part of a turtle's
typical diet and meal worms are the junk food of the feeding world -
very little nutrition. So right here, you have nutritional problems.
Start with Repto-min food sticks or a quality brand of Koi pellets
(which is exactly the same thing for less money) and then supplement
with an occasional earthworm. Like perhaps one worm one or two worms
per month per turtle.>
<Third - UV light does not pass thru ordinary glass. In fact, even
WINDOW SCREEN can filter out certain beneficial wave lengths. The UV
from the sun must reach the shell directly. UV-B from a bulb
doesn't travel very far, so the bulb must be of the right type AND
usually no more than 6 inches above the basking area. Sometimes
it's quite a fight to get the basking (for heat) lamp shining on
the same spot as the UV-B lamp. So first, forget the window or through
glass. All that will do is heat up the entire tank, including the
water, which is a bad idea. Then make sure the UV is the proper kind.
UV-B for reptiles, not a plant-Gro or aquarium bulb>
<Please read this article that covers the basics of turtle care and
make sure that you understand it and that you measure everything in
your setup against the instructions and correct anything that needs
I asked the vet for a calcium injection but he said they don't do
this as its not very effective but l have noticed the terrapin that is
refusing to eat is starting to get a soft shell.
<A calcium injection can be some help if the turtle is able to
metabolize the calcium.>
It doesn't matter what l try and tempt her with she still wont
<NOW let's talk about treatment>
<For openers, since both turtles are subject to the same care,
let's treat them both. What we're going to do is beneficial for
<Try to get them some actual sunshine. Take them outside for 15
minutes twice a day if you can. Place them outside on the grass and let
them wander - if you can watch them non-stop (don't leave them
alone even for a second). If not, place them in a container - like an
ordinary cardboard box - make sure there's plenty of direct
sunlight but also some shade too.
Direct sun can cook them if they can't cool down. Natural sunlight
is the best source of Vitamin-D which is necessary for them to
metabolize the calcium>
<For the next two weeks, keep them warm and dry. When a turtle is
sick or debilitated, the wet, warm natural environment that is good for
them becomes their enemy. Here is an article that explains basic care
and describes the warm, dry isolation:
<While in this new, warm & dry environment, you should take the
UV bulb from your tank setup and arrange it so that it shines on them
in this new setup.>
<As part of this new arrangement, you soak them for just a few
minutes each day (it's all in the article) and as part of that you
offer them a tiny bit of food. After a few days even the most stubborn
turtle will at least
take a nibble or two>
<Zoe - read BOTH the articles completely and you'll find the
resources you need to treat them, stimulate their appetites, correct
their diets and their environment>
yellow bellied slider, sys., 3/6/11
<Hiya! Darrel here>
I have a question about a 2" female yellow bellied
slider. I recently set up a turtle tank on the advice of pet
store personnel who seemed to have extensive knowledge on turtles.
First I will tell you of my set up, I have a 55 gal. tank with a Exo
turtle island Lg, Exo turtle cliff filter and rock Lg, Hair Grass,
Gravel cleaner, MOSS BALL, 26W UVB lamp, river bed sand, a dissolving
calcium thing, and a Day Glo Basking lamp 100 W.
<Sounds basically good. I have no idea what a moss ball is, but it
sounds fun. The dissolving calcium thing is the only thing that's a
waste of time & money. Turtles don't eat them and they
don't absorb calcium through the skin. To concentrate enough
calcium in the water to get any via drinking, it would be a thick soup.
So when that one dissolves, don't bother replacing it>
In the tank are two 4" Red eared sliders and two 2" yellow
bellied sliders, the one female has been very lethargic and has not
eaten in a week (how long I've had the tank) she has gone swimming
twice but mostly just sits under the UVB light with her eyes closed
(she is still alive as I check to make sure every day.). when we bought
her she was swimming and seemed full of life at the pet store.
<That tank is none too big for that many turtles. When the Yellow
Bellies grow few inches you'll be a bit crowded.>
She has no visible external injuries and the pet store said she needs a
few days to adjust but beyond that have no answers, and I am extremely
worried that she wont make it another week. Any advice would be greatly
<It may simply be stress. At the moment there aren't enough
symptoms to go on. So here's what I suggest you do. Even though the
process itself is stressful, take her OUT of the tank and keep her
separated. Someplace warm and dry. (Don't go loading yourself up
with expensive stuff - this can be as simply as a plastic storage
container from the building supply store and a cheap heating pad from a
drug store - if you can find one without that evil 'auto-off'
feature.) Give her a week alone, being placed in water for just 15
minutes daily - a shallow bowl with water just up to her shoulders. Let
her drink, poop and maybe eat (offer her just one of two Repto-min
sticks or Koi pellets) and then back in her box. Read here for more
yellow slider terrapin, beh., sys. 8/5/10
hi, sorry to bother you - I had a read through the other questions and
couldn't find anything quite right.
basically we have a yellow slider terrapin, a black knobbed sawback and
a dwarf musk terrapin in a very large tank.
<An interesting collection.>
(not quite sure of the gallon amount but its over three feet long, two
foot deep (water level) and nearly three feet wide)
we have a large fake rock thing attached to the one of the long sides
which is about eight inches directly under the lamp for basking. as
well as a floating bit of driftwood so that they can climb out if they
don't want to be under the light.
there are lots of rocks, caves and bits and pieces under the water
since the little one likes to explore.
<Yes they do.>
obviously we have a heater, two filters (one hang-on - very powerful,
one smaller one on the other side) and clean the tank out every week or
okay the yellow slider has started acting out of character, he's
sitting on the basking rock pretty much all the time, he's not
lethargic in himself but he doesn't instantly dive into the water
like he used to.
<I see. Well, not really a problem in itself.>
I've checked him over and he's eyes, tail, arms, legs and shell
<Good. Also check he isn't "wheezy" at all, and that
he feels a good weight. Have a smell too, to check that there's
nothing "foul" about the shell or skin. If you can, examine
his faeces to check they're normal.>
he's eating okay and there are no problems with the other terrapins
- they all seem quite friendly with each other.
also he seems to be sleeping out of the water more than he used to - he
used to sleep hanging in the water with his claw on the wood.
<To a degree, turtle behaviour changes with age, so again, I
wouldn't worry too much unless the turtle stops feeding or
otherwise exhibits aberrant behaviour.>
another thing is that he lets us stroke his head without retracting it
- not all the time but quite a lot, he doesn't bite or seem in any
kind of pain and he's swimming fine but I don't know why
he's doing this - I was wondering if its a maturity thing?
<Could well be.>
like now he's big enough to defend himself from predators maybe so
he's enjoying the rock more?
<Certainly possible. Juvenile turtles are food for all sorts of
animals, but as they mature they become less and less vulnerable, so
react nervously only to things likely to harm them.>
or if its just that he's more tame than he used to be?
sorry, you probably think I'm worrying unnecessarily but he's
quite grumpy by nature and this is slightly odd.
<Indeed. There's a difference between lethargy through disease
and simple changes in personality. If he's sick, he'd likely be
eating less and when he swims, he'd be weaker at it. The eyes and
nose are usually give-aways when turtles are sick. But if he overall
seems completely normal and happily eats his dinner, then I'd not
if I thought there was anything seriously wrong with him then I'd
take him to the vet but I'm thinking that it'll be extremely
stressful for him if I'm worrying about nothing y'know?
<I don't think there's a problem here.>
anyway thank you for reading this.
<No problem. Cheers, Neale.>
questions re-my yellow bellied slider. Fdg., sys.
I came about upon your page and found the information quite helpful but
I still have a few questions:
First, about my yellow bellied: - Jude (not sure if male or female) is
still a baby,
<Males have longer claws and longer tails, relative to body
Furthermore, the vent, or "cloaca", will be about one-third
the distance along the tail from the base in the case of females,
whereas on males the vent will be about two-thirds of the way from the
base of the tail.>
got her about 2 weeks ago so my guess is that she is about 6 or 8 weeks
old. - She is 1-3/4" shell length - For what I can tell; healthy
and happy, for now she is in a small tank (about 6 gallons) with
basking area, a plant friend she hangs around often, a mother of all
filters and UV light.
<Good. Do read though to make sure you've covered all the
Questions: - First of all re-feeding, we have been
giving her the Repto-min floating baby food (smaller than the adult
version) we started the first week with about 5 pellets, but she seems
hungrier each day, today I gave her 9 in the morning and she gobbled
them in less than 5 minutes.
<Do augment this with much plant material, or else something for
herbivorous fish; Koi pellets appear to work well. The fibre will make
the turtle feel more "full". Pellets alone tend to be
nutritional in terms of
vitamins and minerals, but lacking fibre, and do seem related to
constipation and other problems. Feeding these turtles isn't really
difficult, and needn't be expensive either, since much greenery in
your salad bowl is good for them. Cheap aquarium plants such as Elodea
are also good.
Fed this way, leave pellets for use a couple times a week.>
In the late afternoon we give her a second feeding but much smaller,
perhaps 3 pellets. Is this too much food?
<See above, and linked article/s.>
she seems hungry, the first week she would shy away from our fingers
but now she stares at them and even yesterday bit our fingers a couple
of times. - Second, I read in your page to not give yellow bellied
<Correct. Never, ever give a pet reptile meat from
"warm blooded" animals unless you know such
food forms part of its natural diet. Pythons for example can,
do eat mice, and have evolved the enzymes to deal with the fats in warm
blooded animals. Your terrapin naturally eats mostly plant
material and small invertebrates, and cannot digest fats from warm
blooded animals. End result is the fats that are oils when warm inside
a chicken or whatever become congealed in the colder bodies of your pet
terrapin. Obviously, that's bad.>
I have a couple of days given her instead of pellets in the afternoon,
2 or 3 tiny pieces of kielbasa sausage about the same size of the
pellets, is this not good for her either?
<Very, very bad. I'm sure he/she will eat all sorts of stuff,
but mammal/bird meat is bad to begin with, and the spices, additives
and who-knows-what they add to processed foods will make things even
Want to give your turtle a treat? Add a clump of Elodea/Canadian Pond
Don't feed him for a few days, and let him graze away healthily at
Alternatively, small morsels of seafood or white fish fillet would be
good, since these don't contain the sorts of fats that would set
solid inside a reptile. Humans eat all sorts of garbage, which is why
we in Europe and the US tend to be fat and suffering from diabetes and
all kinds of other problems caused by bad diet. Pet animals can't
make sensible choices, they eat what's in front of them, so you
have to be much more disciplined about feeding them than you might be
I did it more as a treat than as actual food, in the morning I give her
nothing but the pellets and she has not refused to receive those. - At
the pet shop they sold us a calcium stone that is meant to dissolve
slowly into the water, but reading your site I found that it is not
good to add those, does that apply to yellow bellied sliders as
<Correct; calcium isn't taken up through the water, and needs to
be part of the turtle's diet. Something called metabolic bone
disease (MBD) is very common when these reptiles don't get enough
calcium in their diet. If you give them a balanced diet, including a
good quality calcium-enriched turtle pellets such as ReptoMin, this
shouldn't be a problem. By all means break off a bite size piece of
calcium-rich cuttlebone and let it float about the tank: the turtles
will crunch on this if they feel the need.>
or was that specific to that other turtle? should I remove the calcium
<It is pointless, doing no harm or good, so do what you
- Is my tank the appropriate size? it is about
16" long x 8" deep x 10" high, my guess is about 6
gallons or so, she is small and has swimming room but when should I get
a new tank? or do I have to do that immediately?
<Will need a bigger tank within a year, most likely; do read above
- Lastly, she was quite bitey yesterday, snapped 2 or 3 times at our
fingers even stared and chased them as if they were preys, I thought
maybe because I had added the kielbasa sausage to the diet? :( will
their behavior change upon a diet change? what "meat" food
other than the processed stuff is safe to feed her?
<All terrapins can become "snappy", but there is some
variation between them. Regular, gentle handling can minimise this, but
this needs to be done carefully so the turtle feels secure. If it's
flailing its arms and legs about, it's not feeling secure! Handle
for short periods initially. Reward the turtle afterwards with food.
Understand that stressed turtles common defecate when handled, and all
turtles -- indeed, all reptiles -- can carry Salmonella so appropriate
washing/hygiene is essential.>
Thank you very much in advance LaVRA
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>
Turtle AND husband in some hot water?
<Hiya Kelly -- Darrel here>
I have a yellow belly slider that is not doing well. It is a female in
a 65 gallon tank with another female yellow belly slider. Its shell is
about the size of a small woman's palm. I was gone for two weeks
while my husband watched them.
<uh oh - make him pay for that!>
The water got pretty dirty so I emptied all the water out, cleaned the
entire cage, including the filters and added new water.
<That's a good idea. Also, you should sterilize the entire setup
Here's a link I've written in the past:
The temp is currently set at 82 degrees.
<WAAAAAAAAAY too hot!>
<WAY too hot>
<The water temp should be between 65 and 73 -- usually it will take
on the temp of the room it's in, but we NEVER heat a turtles water!
The whole idea is they choose between the heat of their basking area
and the cool of their water. Do whatever you need to do to get that
They have a large basking spot with turtle lighting.
<that would be both a heat generating lamp making the basking area
85-93 degrees and also a UV lamp?>
I have two in tank filters and an under gravel filter. Since changing
the entire water it seems as if the tank might be recycling so I added
some stress zyme. The parameters are all zero (nitrate, nitrite, and
with the pH being 6.6 to 6.8. Normally the pH of my tap water is 7.6 so
that is why I am thinking it is recycling.
<In normal circumstances it's not really possible for a turtle
tank to reach a balanced biological filter cycle like a fish-type tank.
There is simply too much waste and too RAW a waste for any reasonable
achieve stability. Rather than additives and Ph tests, etc. you're
far better off to invest your energy in frequent water changes and your
money in activated carbon for your filters. The Ph, chlorine and
ammonia/chloramines from any normal tap water is well within their
tolerance and it's really not worth your time and money to try to
correct something that is already just fine for them>
Anyway, to the turtle. She is not swimming and when I put her in the
water she is leaning towards one side. When she is basking she is
putting her front legs turned in like she is resting on her knuckles
(if that makes sense). She has some reddish brown spots under her shell
by her back legs and a little bit by her head. She is very lethargic
and won't go in the water to eat, but if I put her in a bucket with
some ReptoMin she goes after it right away and eats it. She has trouble
getting all the way out of the water to bask but if I lift her up and
set her down to bask she will stay there. She does seem to move her
front legs when in the water but obviously with the leaning she is
having trouble controlling her movement.
My other turtle seems fine as she is very active and alert.
<I agree she's sick and likely has a skin fungus. It's good
that she's eating well>
What do you suggest I do? If you think she needs to go to a vet, can
you suggest the best way for me to find a qualified one? I live in
Racine WI which is in the southeast of WI.
<We're not there yet, we can treat this at home>
Any advise would be greatly appreciated!
<Here it comes>
<I recently wrote someone with essentially the same problems and
gave them the same advice. So I'm enclosing a link to what I wrote.
NATURALLY you should hang on my EVERY word from EVERY letter I answer,
but the first letter in this link contains all the advice I would be
giving to you here if I weren't too lazy to copy & paste the
entire letter rather than just the link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/resdisf4.htm>
<Now that's the advice for treating the turtle. By the way, take
them BOTH out and treat them BOTH for the possible fungus. Meanwhile,
here's a link to a BRILLIANT article that covers all the basics of
their regular housing and care should be. Check your care against these
standards and correct whatever is not in line.>
Re: Turtle and husband in hot water? 07/13/09
Thanks for answering
<Happy to do it!>
My main concern was that she was listing to one side when swimming and
very lethargic to the point of barely moving (and sitting with her
front legs curled so her knuckles are towards the ground, if that makes
sense). The only time I see her move is when the other turtle knocks
her off the basking area or if she is going for food. She still has an
appetite, so that is a positive. The person I talked to said that based
on the listing and lethargy it is probably a respiratory infection. Do
you agree that this could be the case?
<Not necessarily. Lethargy comes from almost any kind of illness
that is debilitating and respiratory infections are usually accompanied
by bubbles from the nose AND loss of appetite. So far I'm betting
fungal based on the reddish brown spots>
If so is there anything else I should be doing?
I haven't noticed any sneezing or coughing or discharge from her
<A contra-indication of respiratory infection>
Interestingly enough I received some advice and already started a
similar regimen. I have her in a spare tank with a basking lamp on her
24/7. I also treated the reddish brown areas with Povidone/iodine and
it already looks better after two treatments.
<Again. Get her out of the water and keep her out except for feeding
& drinking time -- just like in the link I sent you. What we're
trying to do here is give her a break ... make her life EASY, no
swimming, no hauling out, no WARM, MOIST ENVIRONMENT THAT FAVORS FUNGAL
GROWTH, ETC... Whatever she has ... will heal better if you follow my
advice and keep her warm and DRY for the next two months while her
immune system kicks this>
Every person I talked to at a pet store and everything I have read on
the internet said the tank should be heated.
<Unless you live in the Arctic circle ... everything you read on the
Internet or heard in the pet stores is wrong. Period. The turtle will
enjoy room temperature water -- any room temperature that YOU would
feel comfortable in ... and then CHOOSE the warmth of the basking lamp
when SHE decides to warm up.>
I normally have it at 75 degrees but turned it up when she got sick. I
have since turned it back down to 70 degrees.
<You have to HEAT the tank water to 70 degrees? In Wisconsin in
Do you think I should take the heater out all together?
<YES!!! Unlike fish, turtles have a habit of accidentally breaking
heaters (assuming it's a glass heater) and then cutting themselves
on the shards of glass (or biting the electrical wires). They don't
need it, it's not good for them, so yes, please remove it>
Also, ever since I totally cleaned out the tank (siphoned all the water
out, cleaned the filters, cleaned the inside of the glass, and added
more water the water kind of smells (sort of like my fish tank did when
it was recycling). Is this normal?
<No it's not normal. But fungus is very often smelly ... so
there ya go>
<Please sterilize the tank & equipment as I described in the
first link, keep BOTH the turtles warm and dry (watered & fed once
daily) for a minimum of two weeks before you put the asymptomatic one
back in her normal tank ... and the one with the known problem .....
around 6-8 weeks: AT LEAST 3 weeks after you see NO skin discoloration,
NO lethargy and NO other symptoms. At least.>
Re: Turtle and husband in hot water? 7/14/2009
A couple of questions regarding the treatment regimen:
On your link you posted the following, "After her daily bath, let
her dry completely and then clean the affected area(s) with hydrogen
peroxide on a cotton swab, then soak or dribble some Povidone (any kind
of iodine) on the affected area. Do this for a week and note the
healing." After I dribble the Povidone on the area do I rinse it
off or let it dry on there? When I have been doing it I have been
leaving it on for a few minutes then rinsing the turtle. Please
<Nah -- let it stay on and dry. The thin film covering the affected
area helps it just a tiny bit>
Also, with the healthy turtle there aren't any affected areas so
where should I put the Povidone?
<The healthier turtle doesn't need to have the peroxide/Povodine
treatment ... just to be out of the warm/moist world for a few weeks to
nip any fungus or infection before it has a chance to catch
With the sick turtle she has some reddish brown spots under her shell
by her head. How do I treat with hydrogen peroxide and Povidone without
getting it on her face or in her eyes?
<A Q-tip swab might help. Hold her upright and let a drop fall off
the end of a spoon. I always keep a box of insulin syringes around to
be able to specifically place drops in tight places.>
Finally, the sick turtle's front legs are very limp. When I lifted
one to try and straighten it out (very gently) I noticed some yellowish
spots. I am assuming some kind of fungi like you suspected. I am going
these spots along with the reddish brown spots directly. Is this
Thanks again for your help. I hope she gets better and doesn't
<We hope so, too!>
Yellow Bellied Slider, sys, fdg.
<Hiya Cherie, Darrel here this afternoon>
I have a young (5 months) yellow bellied slider that I house indoors,
in a 15 gal. tank. Recently he has been acting very restless. He has
always been an active little guy, he loves to climb anything as high as
he can, and because of this I made him a long ladder/hill with a
basking site on top, so that he can see out the window that his tank
sits next too. I have been searching online for possible reasons for
his sudden restless behavior (scratching at the tank, pacing back and
forth), and have found that if turtles are not getting enough UV light,
they sometimes try to go looking for it. I don't have a lot of
money, (although I am willing to spend whatever I can to make sure my
turtle is healthy), and when I was buying supplies for him I was told
by the pet store owner that a plant light from home depot would provide
the right amount of UV light, and is a lot cheaper than the expensive
lights sold at places like Petco. So, I bought the plant light, and
have been using it for 3 months, do turtles require more intense UV
light as they are growing?
<Not higher intensity as they grow. Remember UV A & B comes
naturally from the sun and (hopefully) the sun doesn't get more
intense as they grow. What's important is that they need the right
kind of UV and most Plant-Gro bulbs don't have the right spectrum.
While I appreciate the Pet Store guy's logic .. and yes I'm
going to say this -- It's better than NO UV light, it's not
optimum for him and I urge you to save up if you have to and buy a more
specific light for him. Normally I don't endorse products by brand
in this column because there are many good products out there, Google
is your friend, and I want people to do their research and learn. That
said I'll tell you that back when I started, I used Vita-Lite by
Duro Test because they were the only UV Bulb supplier that actually
published their scientific research rather than just "trust me
it's a reptile bulb." I did a quick search online and found an
18" Vita-lite fluorescent for around $15 that fit's in a $9
fixture from Home Depot or Lowes.>
I have been feeding him Gammarus (aquatic shrimp), along with water
plants, and lettuce, and he has been eating more, but I assume that is
because he is growing. I try feeding him when he is restless, but it
only calms him down about 1/2 the time. I also tried giving him toys,
but he doesn't show much interest in them. Is he sick, bored, or
other? Does a plant light really supply enough UVB light?
<If he's eating and active ... swims and basks, we'll assume
he's not sick. Please read the attached link and check your care
against the article.>
<The next thing is diet. The pet store will have Repto-Min sticks.
They're good but a bit expensive. HOWEVER ... on the same shelf at
the bottom will be commercial Koi pellets that contain the exact same
food for mush less money. Plants are good, lettuce & shrimp ... no.
Actually ... NO! Switch him to the Koi pellets as the staple and a
weekly or every other week treat of an night crawler earthworm (also
available at the pet store.)>
Thanks so much for your help!
<Make these changes over the next month and then please write back,
Yellow bellied scum does not HAVE to be fightin' words!
Turtle... sys. 9/13/07 Hi, <Hi Lois! -- There's a joke there
for those of us that are very old> My daughters each have a yellow
bellied slider, about 2 years old. They seem to be doing fine. Last
summer we got a baby pool and started putting them out there filled
with well water (sulfa water). They seem to enjoy being together and
more swimming room. Recently I noticed their shells have green on them.
I scrubbed them with tooth brushes to get it off but it doesn't
seem to get it all. Their tanks are kept clean and there are no green
algae in them. How do I get the green off of their shells and will it
hurt them? <It's algae. While the turtle shell looks smooth to
you and I .. it has lots of micro pores that certain filament-algae can
really sink their roots into. It's not harmful too them at all,
Lois and the solution, beyond simply keeping the tank clean and the
water cool -- is to increase their basking time. The more they can haul
out & dry off in the warm UV rays ... the more that pesky stuff
will just fade away. But if it stays, it's merely a nuisance.>
Thank you <You're welcome -- Darrel> <http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>Yellow
bellied turtle, UK... Sys. -- 07/26/07 Hi <Hi right back! --
Darrel here> We have 2 yellow bellied turtles and they have started
to get white patches on the top of their shell. The water temp is 27
degrees and the basking light temp when on is 30 degrees. <Well,
it's a good thing that your email address tells us that you're
across the pond (as we say) in Britain, otherwise you'd be having
frozen turtles.> <Come to think of it, Across THE POND is a
pretty good pun for a fish & water web site, huh?> <For us
yanks, as they call us, who don't read Celsius, their water temp is
80.6 and their air/basking temp is 86 degrees> We also have 2
fluorescent strip lights which we keep on all the time, we feed them in
a different tank to keep the water clean in the main tank, we have a
floating basking area we have a Fluval 2 plus water filter in the tank,
we feed them on dry shrimp and occasionally blood worms and live worms
as a treat. Could you tell me why and how they are getting these white
patches and what we can do to prevent this happening? <For one
thing, you're certainly making a good effort! Feeding in a separate
tank is a neat way, but very laborious one .. so congratulations on
your efforts. The white patches sound like fungus and my guess would be
that with the water being HOT (should be around 73f) and the air being
COOL (should be around 92f) you've accidentally set up a perfect
growing environment for shell fungus. Not to worry, easy to fix! Search
this web site (see the search bar below on the main page and put in
"Darrel" and "fungus") and you can see what
I've written before. www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/turtlefdgfaqs.htm
There are just three -- and there's more. In fact, I'm now a
bit depressed that I talk about fungus as much as I apparently do.>
Could you also tell me anything else we can do to keep them happy, and
how long should we keep the basking light on for and how long can we
keep the UVA and UVB fluorescent strip lights on for? <Sounds like
you're doing very well. I'd have both lights on for around 12
hours a day, but turtles are VERY forgiving about that: If the light
sources are shorter, they'll just bask more during the
"on" hours. The only thing I'd do is increase the
temperature difference between water and land.> They both feed ok
and swim about without any probs. <Here's a link with all MY
Other than THAT .... I think you're doing GREAT!> thanks tink
<Hmm, yesterday I was called Putzakitty .. and today Tink.
Basking Light For Turtle - 4/8/07 Hi, I have a 1 and a half
inch long yellow bellied slider. We have a 60 watt basking spot lamp. I
don't know if it's UVA or UVB. Anyway, how long do I keep it
on? How does he sleep if it's on all night? Please get back to me
ASAP. Thank-you, Emily < You should have a lamp for heat. It should
heat the basking site up to at least 85 F. The other lamp should
provide both UVB and UVA. Check the writing on the lamp and look it up
on the internet to see what you got. They should both be on during
normal daylight hours, about 10-12 hours every day.-Chuck>
Hibernating Turtles - 10/11/06 Dear Turtle Expert,
I have a Yellow-bellied Slider that last year I hibernated in my
unheated garage. I was told that I was lucky she survived. Should this
species not be hibernated? A heat lamp was applied during the very cold
months so the water didn't freeze. If it can be, what would be the
optimal temperature. Thanks! Brian < Last year was a very difficult
year for hibernating turtles. Early warm spring temperatures brought
turtles out of hibernation early. Then cold spells left them out in the
open with nothing to eat any many got sick and died. Make sure that
your turtle is in good health and has good body fat to carry him over
the winter. Place him in an aquarium with a heater set at 45 to 50 F.
Don't feed him for awhile so the gut is empty and will not foul the
water. When the nighttime lows are in this range you can bring him out
|Useful turtle care info. A personal odyssey
11/21/05 Dear Bob, I wanted to comment on the request you had
on your website for help with the pond slider. <Thank you for
this> A few years ago, my husband spotted a newly hatched
Peninsular slider crossing the road. It was only about the size of
a silver dollar. It had likely come from a clutch of eggs deposited
in the soft mud in a ditch months before when we had experienced
torrential rains. The little thing would have had to travel at
least 1/2 mile before finding any water so we took it home. I
didn't intend to keep it but for just long enough to make sure
it was healthy and eating. I had a 5 gal. aquarium that I set up
for it. I put some nice flat rocks in one end and water deep enough
for him to swim about in. I used a small wattage light bulb in a
clamp-on reflector over the rocks. I tested the amount of heat
generated by the lamp with my hand on the rocks to make sure I
didn't have it too hot. I wasn't sure what to feed him and
at the time we didn't have a computer (the window to all
information). But I figured that in the wild he would likely eat
green plants, snails and small fish. So I chose the next best
thing, tuna. I took canned tuna, rinsed it and drained it. I took
him out of the tank and placed him in a small dishpan filled with
water. I pinched off small pieces of tuna and hand fed him. He ate
vigorously. He also ate bits of raw spinach, lettuce, green beans
and grapes. After a few days I figured he was doing well. But in
the mean time I had found several books on turtle keeping and one
of them said that once a wild turtle is handled it should never be
released in the wild. He would be contaminated with bacteria that
if he was released in the lake down the street, might compromise
the health of other turtles in the lake. It sounds rational to me
so my husband & I decided to keep "Cooter". We
continued with the same care, the only draw back to such a small
tank was the fact that even though I fed him in a separate
container (every other day). I had to change the water in the tank
every other day as well. So I built a large tank, designed with a
"Cooter" in mind. Wide and long and fairly deep. I also
constructed a filtration system. Using a large plastic jar that I
perforated around the bottom with rows of holes about halfway up
the sides of the jar. I filled it with activated charcoal and
filter material. I drilled a hole in the lid and took the end of a
hose from a small water pump located at the other end of the tank
and stuck thru the hole. I had to add more holes in the sides of
the jar to make sure that the water filtered thru and out the holes
as fast as it went it but once I had accomplished that it worked
extremely well. (Only once did Cooter in his active swimming
dislodge the hose and shoot water out of the tank onto the floor!!
LOL) At one year old he was nearly 6" in length. Here is a
photo of him at about 1 year. <Outstanding. Thank you for
sharing. Bob Fenner>
Aquatic Turtle Housing 7.21.05 I have a baby yellow-bellied
slider turtle. I was just hoping that you'd be able to tell me if
my turtle's tank setup is adequate. Well, his shell is about 2 1/2
inches long. I've had him since late last July. He has a 10 gallon
tank. I've been told that that size tank is good for a baby turtle.
<Yes> When should I consider buying him a larger tank and how
many gallons? <The sooner the better, a nice size for another year
or so would be a 20gallon long, they make them for turtles with a
cutaway on the side to hang a filter on, not the biggest tank, but a
good option for a while.> I bought a Whisper 10i filter. Will I have
to get a larger one when I get a larger tank? <Probably, as your
turtle grows it will get messier.> I bought aquarium pebbles for the
bottom of the tank and for the land area. I put a brick inside the tank
and piled rocks up on it so it would be easier for him to climb up on
and bask. <Good, make sure it is under the light bulb.> The size
of the land area is 3 in. by 7 in. Is that a big enough area for him to
bask? <So long as he can fit on it comfortably without falling
off.> The rest of the tank is filled with water. He has no hiding
places. When he gets frightened he tends to hide by the filter and face
the other side of the tank. So I figure he doesn't need any hiding
places such as plants, because I'm afraid they would take up too
much of his swimming room. <I would not do live plants, maybe some
fake ones. You could also build a cave type of thing with bricks, rock,
slate, etc. I've found animals that have places to retreat when
they are scared are much better off.> The basking bulb is 50watts
and it's the ZooMed brand. <You might also look into getting
some full spectrum lighting.> The air temp in the tank is 75 degrees
and the water temp is 77 degrees. Should the temps be higher or lower
or are they fine the way they are? <That is within the correct
range, no need to adjust it.> I turn the lamp on about 10am and turn
it off about 11pm. <That is a long day, I might cut the light cycle
down by an hour or 2, but its up to you.> I change the filter
cartridge and clean the tank once a month. <Good, this may need to
be changed more often as the turtle gets larger.> Everyday the water
depth seems to go down, so I add more water. <Evaporation.> I
have well water, so I don't treat the water, because it doesn't
have chlorine or any type of chemicals in it. I'm so sorry about
all of the questions, but I just want my turtle to have a long and
healthy life. I included a picture of a turtle that looks like mine.
<Sounds good, I would eventually look into getting the turtle into a
55gallon tank, but for now a 20gallon long would be good. BTW, you did
not mention what he eats? Turtle pellets are good, the occasional treat
of earth worms is always good. Best Regards, Gage In case we left
anything out here's a link to an aquatic turtle article http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/redearsliders.htm>
Ammonia Problems in a Turtle Tank 7/16/05 I have a yellow
belly slider. We have had it for about 1 1/2 years. About six weeks ago
we cleaned the filters and the water all in one day. since then we have
had trouble with the water. It has too much ammonia. We are doing 10%
water changes daily. We have 2 canister filters in a 90 gallon tank. I
also have put some Zeolite granules in the filter that I have been
changing weekly. The water is mucky and a dirty brown. The water did
have a smell to it but that is gone. We tested the water and it just
shows that it has to much ammonia. Today I notice the area around the
turtles mouth was yellow and his shell looked a little yellow. Any
suggestions? < When you cleaned everything you removed the good
bacteria that breaks down the waste from ammonia to nitrites and then
nitrates. The ammonia is the worst. It gives off the smell and odor.
Bio-Spira from Marineland will put it all back together in no time at
all. To prevent this in the future I would recommend a 50% weekly water
change and change each one of the filters every month two weeks apart.
So clean one filter on the first of the month and the other on the
15th. Try this and see how it works out.-Chuck>
Turtles and Plants Hello! I just wanted to ask you if you
knew what kind of plants I could put in my turtles tank. <None,
turtles enjoy eating or otherwise wrecking everything. I have two
Yellow Bellied Sliders and have resorted to leaving their tank bare
bottom.> I wanted to put bamboo in but my Mom said to ask someone
who knew first. And I wanted to ask you something else, if I could put
some of the fishes that keep clean the tanks the ones that are always
sucking in everything. <It is better for the turtles if you just
keep the tank clean with regular water changes versus trying to use
fish. Turtles are known to eat fish, so anything you put in there may
become lunch. I have my turtle tank located near the laundry room so I
can drain the tank water using a Python water changer into the floor
drain and so I can fill it right back up using the faucet on the
laundry tub. It works extremely well and keeps the tank clean and
smelling fresh.> Hope you answer me fast. <I hope this was fast
enough.> California P.S. I know a lot about turtles but I don't
know what plants I can put in their tank that are not toxic for them.
They are only hatchlings, and they are red-eared sliders. I am 13 years
old so I am not an expert that's why I am asking you. <We have
archived a bunch of other turtle Q&A's. These may be of
interest to you. They can be found here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/turtlefaqs.htm>
Thank you! <You are welcome, my young friend. -Steven Pro>
Aquatic Turtle Care I have 2 yellow bellied sliders. I am
contemplating putting them in an outdoor pond. We live near the
Virginia coast and I wonder How to set up this pond (supplies, plants,
etc.). Also, can they stay out there year around? <I do not keep my
turtle outside because of the predators, but outdoors is definitely
best for them if you can meet all of their requirements. The link below
is to an article on ponds for turtles, it should be a good place to
What kind of plants do I have to have in order to make a outside pen
for them? <most pond plants should be fine> And what kind of
foods do they eat beside night crawlers and lettuces? And where do I
find powder vitamins and calcium's to sprinkle on their foods?
<Here is a good article on feeding aquatic turtles http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/aquaticdiet.htm
If you have a local reptile shop you can get the vitamins from them, or
from an etailer like our wonderful sponsor http://www.drsfostersmith.com/ Best
Regards, Gage> Thanks Julia Rk
Turtle Habitat and Pool <Hi, Mike D here> I was
wondering if I could bring my yellow bellied slider in the pool which
has chlorine in it.<If you're asking if you can take it into
your swimming pool with you, occasionally, for short periods probably
wouldn't do any harm, but long term exposure to higher amounts of
chlorine will eventually do eye damage and possibly cause intestinal
problems as well.> I was also wondering if it was ok to have the
fish rocks that are at the bottom of the fish tank in the cage with the
turtle and I have one last question will my turtle be ok without having
another turtle in the cage with it- can it be alone??<Regular
aquarium gravel would probably be alright, with sand being a better
choice, and as to keeping it alone, that often the best way for the
animal to stay the healthiest, as it can't fight with other turtles
over food.> Thanks!! please reply soon!!!! and how am I going to get
your reply can you email it back to me thanks so much !!! PS. How deep
should the water be and what should I feed him?<The depth of the
water isn't overly important as long as there is a good basking
space where it can easily get out to sun itself. You'll also need
to invest in a good broad spectrum reptile light, aimed at the basking
area only> I found him in lake Travis-- is it ok to feed him store
bought food<Yes and no...there are some commercial turtle foods that
are satisfactory, with the old fashioned dried insect type completely
useless. Adding occasional pieces of lean fish or chicken will help,
and even better, try to dust it with a good reptile calcium
supplement.> and how big does the tank need to be?<That depends
upon the size of the turtle. A small juvenile can be housed in a 2-5
gal. tank, with an adult animal needing an enclosure large enough to
allow plenty of movement.> Is it ok for the tank to be bare with
just gravel and water or does it need something else? If using a
regular aquarium, it will need a float or piece of wood large enough to
allow it to get completely out of the water, thus the basking light.
Keep in mind as well that reptiles need to be kept warm, with a minimum
of 72 degrees f and never allowed to exceed the high 80's.>
please please reply soooonnnn!!!!!! thanks soo much