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FAQs About Turtles in General 2

Related Articles: Turtles, Shell Rot in Turtles, AmphibiansRed Eared Slider Care

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

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Release of turtle to wild       4/30/15
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I recently I inherited my fathers turtle. The turtle is over twenty years old and sickly. It has brown crusty spots all over its upper and lower shell. The lower she'll has a pink colour to it in the middle of the shell. And white discolouration in patches on upper shell. What do you suggest to fix this?
<Assuming this is a Red Eared Slider (or similar) their shells do get dark, dirty and mottled-looking as they age. The discoloration could be from certain dyes they put in certain turtle foods. Once I had someone bring me a turtle and the dark red discoloration turned out for be from the red bricks the turtle scraped on to climb out of the water>
Its legs and skin area have a continual slime sloughing from them. In the tank the slime appears white and translucent. I used a tooth brush to gently scrub the slime off and noticed it is brown in colour. What do you suggest to cure this?
<Better hygiene, clearer water and UV-B/Sunlight.>
The turtle's right side of its nose and mouth were worn off when my dad got the turtle because the previous owner kept it in an ice cream bucket that was too small. The turtle could only move in one direction and that is how it damaged its face.
<I'm glad he rescued it!>
Once we get the turtle healthy my husband wants to release it to a turtle sanctuary. I am worried that the turtle will starve after living in captivity for over twenty years. Can turtles this old be released to outdoor ponds? I live in Victoria BC. Our winters are mild but I still worry.
<The answer there is … No.>
<and NO!!!!!!!! We don't EVER return an animal to the wild unless we are a biologist who has designed and implemented a specific transition program.>
<Not only will the turtle most likely fail to thrive and die, but he is very likely to introduce new pathogens into the native environment that will affect and possibly kill other wildlife as well.>

<I have three suggestions: First, read here about how to treat various conditions: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm  >
<Read HERE for everything it takes to keep him healthy: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm  >
<Last - if you're not interested in keeping your dad's turtle, use the Internet to find a turtle and tortoise club in your area and see if someone there is willing to commit to him>
Thanks Pam
Want to give turtle a happy life
<I'm glad to hear that, Pam - and to do that we HAVE to rule out 'release to the wild' as a possible option.>
<Write back if you have more questions>

WWM turtle HELP!      3/27/15
Darrel; am hoping you have time to look at, respond and clear the accumulating Chelonian matters on WWM mail.... AND if you know of someone who might help us.... To refer them to me. Again; am sorry to prevail so much on your time and expertise. BobF
Re: WWM turtle HELP!       3/28/15

schedule has been so damned chaotic.
Am leaving in 45 min until Sunday - will do what I can
<Ah; I thank you. B>

Giant Vietnamese freshwater turtle    3/15/13
 <Hey Per!>
Just came back on a short trip from Hanoi. There is this lake near the old quarters that is steeped in legend. There is this story that a turtle took back to heaven a Heavenly sword that a Vietnamese Emperor used to defeat the Chinese. Hence the lake was called the lake of restored sword. There are still turtles living in the lake. The Vietnamese would gasp with joy whenever they catch sight of one coming up for air. They have a specimen in the local temple and I did not realised that freshwater turtles can be as big as the ones from the ocean!! According to the notes pasted on the museum this one was about 200kg. It is called Refetus leloii
 <Wow! Thank you for sharing. BobF>

Baby Brown Roofed Turtles, sexing, fdg.     12/10/12
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I recently got two baby Brown Roofed turtles. One is slightly larger than the other. I believe the difference in size helps you determine the sex of the turtle.
<Not if they are babies.  While turtles become sexually mature with size rather than age and females usually continue to grow bigger than males, a size difference in two babies is usually just an indication that one is thriving just a bit better.  In other words, all things being equal - a female does not grow FASTER than a male … she just keeps growing after the male stops.>
Is there any other sign specific to this type of turtle which determines the gender?
<At this phase - not really>
This species is rare, so it's eating habits and living conditions have me confused. I have fish pellet which has a tiny grain. Is it good for them? It usually however disintegrates and falls to the bottom like sludge, which leaves me wondering if they ate it at all.
<They're suspected of being primarily herbivorous in the wild…  I'd be feeding them Koi pellets which are primarily vegetable matter.>
When I take them out of the water, they tend to hide in dark places. Does this mean they don't like basking?
<No, it means they're frightened.   They should have access to a clean, dry and warm place to bask.  In the wild they spend a great deal of time basking on sandy river banks.>
I gave them a few pieces of banana. Is that good for them too?
<A few pieces every once in a while is not bad, but it's not part of a balanced diet for them, either.>
<Start with the same basic care instructions as for the Read Eared Slider http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<Make sure they have unfiltered UV-B light and a basking area where they can get completely dry and warm.  If they are scared and shy, you might place a few barricades around their enclosure (just like ripped pieces of cardboard, etc.) to shield them from the movements of the giants around them.  In time, they will settle down>
Any guidance will be appreciated.

Characteristically Reptilian (from the Gk. meaning slow) responses on WWM  6/27/12
D, S, N, RSVP re Herp Qs getting olde. B
Re Characteristically Reptilian (from the Gk. meaning slow) responses on WWM  6/27/12
Hi Bob-
<Hey Sue>
Thanks for letting us know.  I guess I must be the slider and Darrel the tortoise in this scenario because I beat Darrel on this round! :)  I hadn't been checking WWM as frequently the last couple of weeks because for the last few months we've only been averaging 5 queries a MONTH, so was surprised to see 5 in the queue from just the last couple of days! 
I took 4 of the 5 queries, but am running out with my kids right now and won't be able to get to them until later this afternoon.  Darrel - I gave you 1 of the 5 because they were referencing an email you had replied on and was a more involved health issue.
~ Sue
<Thank you both. BobF>
Re Characteristically Reptilian (from the Gk. meaning slow) responses on WWM  6/27/12
Thanks Sue!!
I check on Sunday and Wednesday mornings, usually - but you beat me to it today.
The good news is nothing in my box was time sensitive.

WWM - A query about two queries!  Now AKA the 'tail' of 3 queries!   3/1/12
Hi Bob, How’s things?!I just want to touch base with you re: the Turtle FAQs.  I know some of the FAQs over the last few weeks have been sitting for several days or more, and I don’t want you to think that I’m *malingering in my duties* by not replying to them! :)I’ve been trying to field the ones I can while Darrel is tied up working on the WWM database, including ones that go a bit *beyond the basics* and involve giving some (general advice) on (the most common) illnesses (based on a set of actual symptoms they describe).However, I don’t feel comfortable with queries (like the 3 that are in there now) that are asking me to do things like –  ·         decipher their photos and provide them with either an ID (unless obvious – which for me it never has been!) or with a diagnosis (or even with my *diagnostic impressions*!);·         provide a definitive or “differentiating” diagnosis (as a recent one that came in was asking);·         recommend a specific antibiotic or medication (that also implies giving dosage recommendations), especially when it’s in lieu of taking their turtle to a vet (as is the case with the 3rd query in the box right now  – The person who sent this query lives in Russia where they apparently sell prescription antibiotics over the counter, and he won’t/can’t take his turtle to a vet because he doesn’t speak Russian).  Neale graciously offered to help as his time permits while Darrel is tied up, but I know Neale’s time is also a bit limited right now so I just wanted to let you know what was happening on my end! I wish I could be of more help with all the FAQs, but I’ll continue to help out/respond to the ones I can!  Thanks Bob-Sue From: Sue Garrett
Thank you for your note Sue... I don't think/consider that there is much more we can do. Appreciate your diligence. BobF

Mauremys japonica, gen. care    10/30/11>
Dear turtle expert,
<??Looking around for such a person nope. It's me, Darrel. Hiya>
I am living and working in Japan (possibly for the rest of my life)
<I was out working in my garden yesterday and I thought I was going to be working there for the rest of my life!>
and this week I was given a baby turtle that only lives in Japan.
<Well that's because he's young yet. You have no idea where he'll be living when he gets older.>
It's called ishigame or Mauremys japonica.
<That's the fancy name for the Japanese Pond Turtle>
It is a pain trying to find information on it, especially about how to care for a baby.
<Same with human babies, as it turns out. But baby turtles are more fun, they cost way less money and they'll never borrow your 4Runner and return it in the morning with both front fenders inexplicably dented.>
The shell is about 2 inches long and I currently have it in a large sized plastic beetle tank with a water dish for it to swim in and rocks to climb on. I'll be getting a heat lamp tomorrow when I'm off work. Don't worry, I plan to get a bigger tank put together soon.
<I wasn't worried, but thanks for asking - but be sure to get a UV-B lamp as well>
On a side note, this turtle has been injured prior to my receiving it. It has two little pieces of the edge of its shell missing (one by its right arm and one by its tail) and its tail is also gone. I have no idea what happened to it.
<That, coincidentally, is exactly what my son said about the 4Runner!>
It seems to be healthy and runs around the tank and swims in the water. I bring it out daily to run around on the floor.
<As long as there are no dogs or cats that might eat it, kids or adults that might step on it, or floor vents or balcony railings it could fall over>
It really seems to like me and it will walk up onto my hand
<That very well may be. Turtles do have interesting personalities. Or it may be like my kid . He routinely walks up to me because I possess food, money and car keys and for no other reason on Earth>
(is it possible to over-handle?).
<It's POSSIBLE but here's the thing: If you over handle an animal it will feel stressed and the stress will cause it to behave differently. Less active, Too active, not eating, too much eating, etc. You'll notice a difference, but again - not something to worry about. I have some tortoises that will ignore food until after I scratch their necks (unlike my son who apparently cannot ignore food at all)>
I'm feeding it one pellet a day. I was told to put it in the water to feed.
<That's correct>
I'm also changing the water daily.
I read that other turtles like meat when they are young. What would you recommend I feed it?
<D'Vonne, the Mauremys genus is found from Spain to Japan and all throughout Africa. They are an aquatic species with a naturally carnivorous diet. Worms, snails, fish, New York Strip steaks, etc.>
<Although they are quite different, they will respond to the same basic care as the Red Eared Sliders, Cooters, etc. so that should ease your mind a bit. The basic care here is everything you need: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<You should try to provide him a larger land area than just a basking log. Individuals are quite different - some stay within 8 inches of the water while others like to roam on land. Give him the choices and see what he does with those choices over time.>
<As far as diet is concerned, he can subsist quite well on the basic Koi pellet diet that I feed all my water turtles (including soft-shells, mud/musk & snapping turtles) because vegetarian-based is probably better for all of us. Feed him all the pellets he can eat in five minutes, 2 times a week. Then, twice a week, give him some meat (beef or chicken lever is best) - a piece about the size of your fingernail - and allow him to eat as much as he can in that same 5 minutes. I suggest that you feed the beef in a separate, shallow bowl because of the oils and mess it makes in his home.>
Thanks a ton!
<Yer welcome in bunches!>
Re: Mauremys japonica   11/1/11

Dear Darrel,
Thank you so much for your quick reply.
<Happy to do it>
Sorry but I have a few more questions. I am soooo babying this turtle.
<It's fun, isn't it?>
I bought a 50W infrared heat lamp and a UVB/UVA 13W lamp both by Repti Glo yesterday and he seems to be doing fine. I left the infrared light on at night as I probably will do until summer returns. Japanese houses are poorly insulated.
<Here's a suggestion that might be better: When you get the next set-up ready, place it on a plain-old ordinary heating pad (like we use for sore joints, etc.) The trick is to fine one that doesn't have an 'auto-off' feature, and then set it down, on LOW and set the tank or container on top. Now, during the winter, the entire setup will maintain a slightly than room temperature and the lamp can go on just during the day. It's a bit more 'natural' and usually a cost savings too!>
He does have space to run around (actually larger than his water pool/dish), but he swims in the dish pretty well. I am having trouble finding a tank in Japan that's large enough and not glass. I haven't found any polypropylene tanks and the small sized fiberglass one was about 70USD. I'm thinking I may have to go with a large plastic storage tub.
<Some of the very best turtle habitats start out as plain old plastic storage tubs! Good idea. You ONLY have to watch that the heat bulbs don't rest too close to the plastic - and by too close I mean 1-4 inches.>
Would that be okay even with a 90 degree basking area?
<Sounds perfect>
Also, I bought the Koi pellets by Hikari (the type is Hikari Staple, not wheat germ) and it has vitamin D3 and calcium pantothenate listed. Is that still the calcium he needs?
<That will be fine. Hikari also makes a type of pellet that is high in fat (for the growing and competition seasons) and you don't want that one>
I am thinking about boiling some eggs. I can eat the inside and he can eat the egg shell. Is that correct?
<No need. He'll get all the calcium he needs from a good basic diet. If you're going to eat the eggs anyway, then you can grind up the shells using a mortar and pestle until it's a fine powder and add that as a coating to his beef or chicken. PERSONALLY I'm way too lazy for that, so I just buy a ground oyster shell calcium supplement at the pharmacy and sprinkle that>
I'm worried about his shell because the injured part on his rear is becoming more jagged.
<Once we fix what needs fixing that shouldn't be a problem>
I'm hoping the UV light can stop that. From what I've read it's caused by vitamin deficiency and temperature problems.
<Diet and Lighting (UV-B). The latter you have corrected and the former you are working on. Make sure you get him going on the beef or chicken liver with or without the calcium sprinkles>
About the 5 minute feeding- I put 7 little Koi pellets in the water and he greedily ate them in about a minute. I'm worried about giving him more because he's so small. Since he's still a baby, shouldn't I feed him less, but daily?
<If he ate 7 pellets in a minute, he doesn't have an appetite problem!! 7-8 pellets is fine and maybe every day - JUST for a month until we get the vitamins on-board - but after that you should still feed him a total of 4 times a week (which, D'vonne - we BOTH know will turn into FIVE times a week because you're a softie and he has you wrapped around his little claw. LOL>
<Seriously, Devon (that's his name, isn't it?) SHOULD go hungry a bit. Actually we ALL should. In the wild he's have to hunt and expend energy for every morsel he turned up while here Mom is just like Room Service. So try to skip three days a week (then when he looks at you with those eyes and you can't help it - sneak him that extra feeding just like we all do>
Thanks again! :)

Re: Questionnaire for queries, draft form for turtles - another thought 9/21/11
I like the idea -- one way or another the Ask Us has subject matter links so that IF they ask about turtles, for example, they do get Sue's page admonishing them to read three different links before writing and then a short lust of things almost always necessary.
I bet we could come up with similar pages for Fresh/marine/brackish/inverts/hardware/repairs .. etc.
<I'd bet>
If some of the 'older timers' could give Sue & I a list of the
We could knock out the Ask Us Pages in a week.
What say, RMF?
<Let's see what others on the Crew and outside say okay? B>
Sue Garrett wrote:
Bob & Darrel,
Addendum to my email below: To Darrel's concern about the form not addressing outlier questions, maybe we could divide up the draft page I just sent this way:
1) 1st tier: If your question has to do with either (Basic Care, concerns about behavior changes, or possible illness or WHATEVER constitutes 75% of the Goldfish, Freshwater fish, etc. questions!**), please read the following (article/s regarding Basic Care and Common Illnesses). (This will hopefully weed out the first 75% of most commonly asked questions, at least for turtles!)
**Again, don't know if this tier would work for fish given how many possible Basic care/Common Illness articles there might be for fish are there general guides like this written for broader groups of species of fish, rather than species specific?
2) 2nd tier: If your questions are (the same as above) BUT you didn't see your question answered in the article, please tell us ( the key things we need to know about their set-up). (This will hopefully weed out the next 10% of the inquiries)
3) 3rd tier: If your question is OTHER than a question about (the above), please click on the link below and email us your specific question. (This would take care of Darrel's concern about the remaining outlier questions.)
Again, Im addressing this only from the turtle perspective. Have no idea whether this would also work for the other categories on WWM!
Re: Questionnaire for queries, draft form for turtles - another thought 9/21/11

Bob & Darrel,
Addendum to my email below: To Darrel's concern about the form not addressing outlier questions, maybe we could divide up the draft page I just sent this way:
1) 1st tier: If your question has to do with either (Basic Care, concerns about behavior changes, or possible illness or WHATEVER constitutes 75% of the Goldfish, Freshwater fish, etc. questions!**), please read the following (article/s regarding Basic Care and Common Illnesses). (This will hopefully weed out the first 75% of most commonly asked questions, at least for turtles!)
**Again, don't know if this tier would work for fish given how many possible Basic care/Common Illness articles there might be for fish are there general guides like this written for broader groups of species of fish, rather than species specific?
2) 2nd tier: If your questions are (the same as above) BUT you didn't see your question answered in the article, please tell us ( the key things we need to know about their set-up). (This will hopefully weed out the next 10% of the inquiries)
3) 3rd tier: If your question is OTHER than a question about (the above), please click on the link below and email us your specific question. (This would take care of Darrel's concern about the remaining outlier questions.)
Again, Im addressing this only from the turtle perspective. Have no idea whether this would also work for the other categories on WWM!
<Aye yi yi... more circuitous than the crappy roads here in Labasa! B>
Re: Questionnaire for queries, the Ask us page 9/21/11

Hahaha! Yes, the Top Ten list of repeats that are taking up 90% of the storage space ... that's EXACTLY what IM talkin about!! If Bob/crew agree it will also help them and send us their top 10 lists, Ill be happy to help out however I can with the Ask Us pages, Darrel.

Diamond backed terrapin- 8/20/11
Hello Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I recently received a Diamond Backed Terrapin as a result of hanging out in questionable beer and shot bars.
<That's how I picked up my girlfriend - you probably got a better deal>
Anyway..Atticus is a male with about a 5 inch carapace and is approximately 4 years old. He was picked up as a hatchling by his previous owner
<Atticus is beginning to sound like a Floozy>
and had been living in a 20 gallon long freshwater tank. I have read conflicting information about his need for a brackish set up and hopefully Darrel can steer me in the proper direction.
<Me??? wow you spent WAY too much time in that bar>
Currently he lives outside with my female RES in a 2000 gal pond, well filtered and plenty of basking sites for both. Mona, my RES was adopted by me a couple years ago and has settled into her outdoor life perfectly, thanks to your help and knowledge. As Mona is an adult slider and Atticus is a Diamond Backed, I realize their dietary needs are practically polar opposite. I have been feeding him Hikari pelleted food for Carnivorous Cichlids and I feed her Omega One algae wafers and they both will get ReptoMin sticks. Am I on the right track and is there a way I can keep both of them in my pond? He really is a lovely turt, but if I can not properly care for him, I will be forced to give him to someone who can. I wouldn't want him to become ill because of my selfishness.
<The Diamondback Terrapin is enigmatic, Laurie, for the very reasons that you're concerned about. One thing to remember about Atticus is that he's built to live in conditions that swing wildly: his natural habitat will tend to be brackish but can become virtually fresh in the rain/runoff seasons and then virtually marine in the dry seasons. They've been found in the ocean and even far upstream in fresh water apparently doing fine either way. As far as captive keeping is concerned, we have conflicting information because we have conflicting experiences. For all we know it may even come down to individual specimens- where one is simply more "suited" for a life of fresh water.>
<That said, not to panic yet. Atticus' natural diet would include crustaceans and mollusks that are not easily obtainable (or practical to feed in a pond setting) HOWEVER they are reported to do well on a supplemented vegetarian-based diet.>
On another note...
<Actually it's the same note>
I read on so many sites that ReptoMin can be used for both types of turtles, how can this be when their dietary needs are so vastly different?
<Remember the movie where the one character says "My girlfriend is a vegetarian, so that pretty much makes ME a vegetarian." -? Same thing here. Just because we're carnivores by nature doesn't necessarily mean that meat is the healthiest for us. The diet-base of the Repto-Min and those of hi quality Koi pellets is well suited for a general diet>
Thank you in advance and I appreciate the time devoted to answering my seemingly endless questions
<No charge!>
Laurie from NJ
<In the short term, as long as Atticus is alert, active, eating, basking and doing all those things turtles do, don't worry. Long term -- I'm tempted to suggest small amounts of salt in the pond. Small meaning 1.008 - 1.010 spg. That's well within the tolerance of Mona and might remind Atticus a bit of home. But even though fresh water conditions are a concern, but like I said, not a BIG concern. MY money is on "Atticus doesn't care: He's got a big pond, a Red Eared Cutie, all the food he wants and an owner that hangs out is trash bars!">
Re: Diamond backed terrapin  8/27/11

I always anticipate your replies, Darrel.
Chock full of humor
<I've been told may times that I'm full of it>
which is greatly appreciated and as always, very good advice.
Should I continue with the Cichlid Gold pellets for him and the Veggie wafers for her? I switch each of them out while the other is eating their respective foods.
<Keep it simple. Feed what you have, then as you run out, replace with Koi pellets and an occasional earthworm as a snack>
And dive bars are awesome places to meet odd people...case and point.
<Laurie, I used to own a dive bar in Key West -- not a Scuba Dive Bar but the kind of bar where you um well Lets just say that some of the most fun I've ever had came from some of the worst decisions I'd ever made!!!!>
<Best of luck to ya!>

Spreading the word about the "Year of the Turtle"    6/30/11
Hi Bob & Darrel-
See 1st link below - I just found out that it's the "Year of the Turtle"!
State and federal wildlife agencies and several conservation and turtle organizations have partnered up with PARC this year to conduct a year wide campaign with the goal to increase U.S. involvement in the plight of the turtle as well as public awareness; and by hosting various local and national events throughout the year.
What do both of you think about publishing this and the PARC link on WWM to help spread the word about the campaign? The only thing is - we may want to wait until after PARC fixes its link to "Events" as it doesn't appear to be working at the moment.
<Thank you for this. Will post/share on WWM>
Re: PARC's campaign this year: http://parcplace.org/news-a-events/year-of-the-turtle.html
An example of events and activities that are taking place in Connecticut as part of their campaign

700 Responses!!   5/22/11
Hi my names Sophia
<Hiya - I'm Darrel>
<Guess what???>
<This is my SEVEN HUNDREDTH LETTER on the WWM crew!!!!!>
<Imagine that!! 700 people have written in and had the fortune to get ME as their letter-answer-person!! 700 people!!>
<700 times I've given people advice on turtles, fish, aquariums. Illnesses, investments, relationships and car repair. The law of large numbers says that I must have been right at least a few of those times!!! LOL>
<Then again, every time I get proud of answering 700 letters over 4 years, I remember that Bob Fenner and Neale Monks answer that many every month>
<Anyway enough about me!>
I have a red ear slider that is 4 1/2 inches wide and 5 1/2 inches long. He lives in a 100 gallon tank and has a great basking shore. We have a heating lamp,
<Great. The temp under the lamp should be between 88 and 93 degrees>
-- the water is in great temp,
<Should be between 68 and 73 degrees - normal room temperature>
and he is right by the window so the sun is always shinning down on him.
<Well, there's a problem. UV/B radiation, the kind that reptiles need for good skin and bone health, does not easily pass through glass - or even window screens. By the time that sunlight passes through the window glass and then the tank glass, I'm afraid that almost all the healthful UV/B radiation has been filtered out.>
<There are two ways to go here. Companies like ZooMed make UV/B bulbs that screw into normal lamp sockets, just like his heating lamp. You can count one right next to his heat lamp. There are also florescent bulbs that produce a bit more of the same UV/B and mount lengthwise across the tank. These are generally a bit more beneficial, but more expensive as well.>
My dad knows more about this than I, and my mom doesn't want to go to a vet so you are my only resource please help me!
<Yes, a trip to the vet is expensive, especially when we have such general symptoms>
My red ear slider turtle seems to have some type of white clear slime all in his shell that floats out when he is in the water. Also his skin is bulging out of his hind legs and a little on his tail. What is wrong with him? Does he need some type of surgery?
<No surgery, Sophia.>
<We have two separate things here. The floating white slime sounds like the beginning of a fungal infection. This is easy and inexpensive to treat. I'll tell you how to do it a little later.>
<The bulges are more concerning but then without seeming him or knowing more detail, there is also less I can help you with. Bulges can be a sign of edema, which is swelling of the soft tissue. That's very serious, but then again it's not usually general either. Edema usually presents as ALL the soft tissue looking bloated. If he's being over-fed, his soft tissue would look um ... pudgy every time he retracts - back AND front. In any case, we need to treat what we see and correct any conditions that are not optimum>
<Here's a link to basic care. I covers UV lighting and diet. Make sure you read and completely understand both topics (as well as the rest of it) and do further research here on WWM (Google search box on the bottom of the home page - check "search WWM") to get more information>
<Now as far as the slime and the bulges, I'm going to start with the basics. He needs to be kept warm and DRY for a few weeks -- and treated for a fungal infection exactly as described in this article:>
<If you're Dad knows more about these things, you might ask him to scan the articles, too. They're short and hopefully to the point>
<During this time, see that he (the turtle, not your dad) gets some direct sunlight EVERY day. That means taking him outside for a walk. Let him sit on the grass or sidewalk under direct sun. Hell want to walk around you cant take your eyes off of him for a second (you'd be amazed how fast these guys can be when we're not looking!) so you may need to follow him, or keep bringing him back from wherever he wanders. You can put him in a box that he can't crawl out of, but you still can't leave him alone. If you can, I'd like him to get 15 minutes of sunlight, twice a day, while he's in treatment.>
<Meanwhile, fix the UB/B problem in the tank, read the articles, attend to whatever's wrong - and see how he does.>
<Write back if you need more help><<Congrats Darrel. B>>

Turtle dis. SubFAQs cat.s/WWM   4/6/2011
D, S, N, howsit? Am wanting to subdivide our numerous gen. turt. and RES dis. queries/responses into useful sub/subjects... as Nutrition, Infectious, Parasitic, Traumas, Genetic, Troubleshooting,
Can you think of others? B
Re: Turtle dis. SubFAQs cat.s/WWM   4/6/2011
Sounds good to me.
Perhaps something on Social Behaviour -- problems here do seem to crop up repeatedly.
Cheers, Neale
<Ah yes! Will def. add. B>
Re: Turtle dis. SubFAQs cat.s/WWM   4/6/2011
Is the attached file I put together for you last year of any help? May have too many categories for what you're looking for, but at least some ideas.
Ah yes! Thank you Sue. B

IS MY SNAPPER OK?   9/18/10
<Hi, Sue here with you.>
<Before we can help you, what we first need to do is to confirm what species of turtles you actually do have. Red-eared slider turtles are not the same thing as snapping turtles; they're a completely different species of turtle with very different care needs. Red-eared slider turtles typically have a very dark green top shell (carapace), yellow shell underneath (plastron) and red stripes on each side of their head. Snapping turtles are almost all brown or black in color with a row of spikes running down the midline of their back and a long serrated tail. See the attached photos showing both species. If you do in fact have one red-eared slider and one snapping turtle, these two turtles should not be kept together in the same enclosure. Snapping turtles can harm other turtles, even other snapping turtles.>
<Pool water is not appropriate for turtles as it can have chlorine and other chemicals added. They need regular tap water.>
<Turtles make a hissing sound when they're startled, scared.>
<Sometimes turtles occasionally blow bubbles while they're swimming for no apparent reason, but if they're doing it constantly and especially if they're doing it when they're out of water as part of their normal breathing, then this can be a sign of a possible respiratory infection. You would have to be a little more specific about this for us.>
<Well be happy to offer you some advice, but first need more specific information from you re: the bubbles (as above). We also need to confirm what kind of turtles you really do have so we can better advise you as to their proper care needs. There can be significant differences in care amongst certain species. Either email us back some pictures of them or take a look at the photos I sent you to see if you can make any positive IDs. Please next time you write us, though, follow the instructions for submitting a query, i.e. don't use all caps, make complete sentences with correct punctuation (such as putting apostrophes in contractions, periods at end of sentences, etc.), do spell check, etc. The FAQS all get stored on this site and people from many countries need to be able to get at this information through the search facility.>

Imp question   6/30/10
Hello Darryl,
Thanks for your previous advise.
<Yer welcome!>
One important question came up and I don't know who to ask.
<Any question come to me first. If I know, I'll tell you. If I don't, I'll make something up!>
My fiancé who lives in California - San Jose is adopting my two turtles to his privately owned pond which he wants to convert into a dedicated turtle pond.
<OK - make sure it has a fence around it -- turtles outdoors are well known for talking long walks>
Now the question his do you know of any airline who will be willing to carry them?. We called several airlines and no one is willing to let us bring them as carry on with us.
<No need. Put dry towels in an inexpensive Styrofoam ice chest with several holes cut in the top and sides. Get two heat packs like hikers use for their boots (small ones) and wrap them in 2 layers of paper towels. Place them on top of the towel bottom, lay one more towel over that layer, then the turtles. Next, crumple up newspaper into very light balls (not crumpled tight but the opposite of that) and fill the container. Tape the lid shut, place that in a properly fitting cardboard box and ship them checked baggage or air even air freight. They'll do fine on trips as long as 36 hours.>
They are asking us to check them in. I am afraid they may die in the cold under cabin cargo of the airline. Is there any way to transport turtles from Canada to California?. Btw my fiancé© has checked with the wild life authority and we know he has to fill out appropriate forms to bring them to California. It's just the transportation part we are worried.
<Then you're set!>
A road trip from Toronto to San Jose would be too long.
<I don't know about that, Samta, my Sulcata tortoise Doris loves to go for rides with the top down.>
Your advice would be appreciated.
<No problem. Just make sure the carton is properly marked "Live, Harmless Reptiles">

Drafts of 1st two turtle topics 5/29/2010
Hi Bob,
<Sue, Darrel, Neale>
I finally have a couple of turtle topic drafts for you to look at! (I sent them to your personal email because of file size). The items highlighted in red are things I asked Darrel in particular to look over. I left them red here so you could see what they were. They included a couple of FAQs where I had questions about the replies given; and also Key Notes and informational bullets within each species section to make sure I didn't misstate anything.
<Have read over... looks mighty fine>
Darrel's feedback primarily concerned the two FAQ questions I highlighted. The suggestion he asked I run by you is whether or not, for these FAQs (and any others we come across where the person writing in didn't provide enough information to be able to definitively answer the question), would it make some sense to edit or rewrite the question into a related question that we can answer?
<I'd rather that this "additional writing" be obviously added by us... Nothing wrong w/ elaborating, responding to ones own such "additions" if they're instructive>
We thought this might make it a more useful FAQ (for the FAQ library) rather than just saying we don't know or making wild guesses. On the flip side, though, it makes the question less authentic and has the potential to become a slippery slope. We would need to draw the line somewhere and limit this to the more obvious outliers. Whats your thought on this?
<As above. This practice is fine, even recommended for clarification, completeness>
Other than Darrel's suggestions, I had a couple of notes/questions for you:
· Re: the Stocking & Compatibility topic:
§ I only included FAQs under this topic that had to do with questions about buying new stock, or (re)/integrating existing stock NOT FAQs dealing with problems/concerns people were having with existing stock. Those I put under a separate topic name/page called Compatibility Concerns (to follow later). Do you have any problem with me splitting them up like this?
<Not at all>
I did it this way #1, to reduce the overall length, and #2, I thought it might make some sense to have the more general questions separated out from actual problems & concerns (I attached above my most recent outline showing how I've currently got the topics named and organized).
§ I also didn't include a couple of FAQs that had to do with turtles and plant compatibility; those FAQs I thought might be better placed under Care Requirements/Substrates, Plants & Decor. Any thoughts there?
<Each person must decide "what to leave out", "what to leave in"... Again, I think your choices are fine>
· Re: photos: I thought, especially for the turtle ID topic, that it might be helpful for people to have photos of each of the species that they can compare to. The ones I brought in were just samples I pulled off the web to give you an idea. Some may be copyrighted. If you think this is a good idea to include, and any that I sent are of interest to you, I can forward you the links in case you'd like follow up on whether you need permission to use. Let me know!
<I will have to omit these as they're not my/our property, but will (hopefully in time and w/ help from folks offerings) be able to place images that we do either own or have express consent/permission to use>
· Species Links:
§ I only highlighted them in blue to show that these could be set up as direct links if you think it would help people navigate better.
<I will try to link in time>
§ I only included links for species that had FAQs associated with them; others species/links may need to be added later.
<Ah yes... I see much evidence of intelligence here on your part Sue>
§ You may want to double check the species links I highlighted in Red to make sure I categorized them correctly.
· Question re: how you're going to incorporate these two topics into what you have now on the site? Its possible you may want to temporarily *add* these two topics rather than *replace what you have with them right now.
One reason is that as I mentioned above, many of the FAQs under your current Compatibility links contain FAQs that I didn't use for the Stocking & Compatibility topic but will put under a separate topic of Compatibility Concerns later (again, let me know if you agree with this).
I also wanted to know if it would help for me to put together some sort of legend for each of your original topics that tells where I relocated all the FAQs (as a cross-check for you to make sure they're all accounted for?)
<Mmm... I don't know how we might go about this; and am dubious as to its utility for our readership. Likely the date stamps or addended posting dating can/will suffice for updating (... should we ever get about this)>
I think that's it for now! Please let me know your thoughts on all the above, including Darrel's suggestion.
Thanks Bob,

Re: Help with Turtle FAQ's 02/14/10
Sue -- I like the organization and the format, so please feel free to get started.
I'll glance over each section as you mail it to me and make any obvious comments -- a perfect example is the answer about the Zoo-Med Sulfa block in the tank. Most veterinarians will tell you that it's a virtual impossibility to build up enough of any drug in the water like that. They say, and I agree, that it just gives you the world's most expensive tank water in which the still-sick turtle now swims. BUT WITH THAT SAID .... It's difficult to say that without contradicting the original responder -- or at least making him look bad -- and even more important .... you could very easily find yourself spending the rest of your life rewriting the responses. As other crew members will attest ... once you start rewriting the responses, it's only one small stumble until you're rewriting the questions too!! Once in a while I get so deep in restructuring language and procedures -- in the interest of clarity -- that I wonder if the person who wrote in will even recognize their own question.
The biggest service we can offer is to more logically group the questions/subjects than we currently do, and that's what you're doing. I'll backstop by being on the lookout for the obvious bad (outdated) responses and the ever-dangerous dangling participles.

A few questions concerning sliders... 1/27/10
Hello, my name is Sarah.
<I'm Darrel>
I happened upon your forum tonight.
Finding a seemingly legitimate source of info on reptile care is a bit challenging. I couldn't exactly figure out getting onto the forum but found this email address.
<We are nothing if not seemingly legitimate!>
I sincerely hope this gets a response!
<You got it!>
I have 3 aquatic turtles. The first of my crew (I have no idea what you call a group of turtles)
<A BALE of turtles>
<A DOLE of turtles>
<A TURN of turtles>
<Or in my personal case 'hey look! A bunch of turtles!">
was rather dubiously announced to be a Red eared slider(by a Pet Depot employee). The ears are very faintly tinged (possibly red), and the older it gets the less red the ears seem to be.
<No other turtle has any reddish color there at all, so let's go with that>
He/she is named Percy Shelley, is about 8 months old, and came to me by way of an unlikely gift (from my 50 lb mutt). He was about the size of a quarter when I got him, and I had a hard time finding a place to let him go.
<Good. We never let reptiles into the wild - no matter how certain we are that it's a good thing. Besides his chances for survival being very low, we run the risk of introducing disease and parasites into the local population. So thank you for not doing it.>
I am kind of a sucker, and felt terrible about the incident with my dog, so (probably against my better judgment) I brought him home. He is about 3 inches long and adapted very immediately to being fed in a 30 gal. tank all to himself, complete with a heat lamp two platforms, two filters, and lots of rocks to explore on the bottom of the tank. I did a lot of research into the care of an RES, and was fully prepared to do upgrades of aquariums to accommodate my growing friend (I already had a 55 gal tank lined up to be the next step up for Percy).
This is where the plot thickens...Not too long ago, a friend of mine decided she wanted to throw her two baby turtles back into the wild (she had one for about 2 yrs and another for close to a year). Her husband had picked them up outside and brought them home as novelty pets for their 7 yr old daughter. Like most people, the novelty wore off with time and the amount of work required to care for them.
<Sigh - happens all the time, sadly>
The two turtles had been sharing a 10 gal tank sans heat lamp or filter as long as she had them. I, being quite the sucker for animals, took in the 2 turtles (who have grown by leaps and bounds since in my care) and I am a bit at a loss how to keep them happily housed. I came into the first turtle a short 8 months ago, and this sudden addition has thrown me for a loop (my husband is a saint for helping me with all the trouble I get myself into).
One is beyond the shadow of a doubt an RES, it is about a year old and about 3 inches long. The other has been named (again rather dubiously) a yellow eared slider.(Maybe I should send you guys pics of my little pretties)This one is about 5 inches long and LOVES to bask more than the other two. They all seem to be sliders as far as I can tell.
<Yellow & black skin is a Cooter -- a member of the Slider family. Care and personality are identical>
It was not love at first sight for the turtles (esp. my spoiled little Percy) but they seem to have worked the kinks out.
<As long as the sizes are relatively the same, they can usually get along very well>
They all seem to be happy and doing very well, but I was wondering what suggestions you may have for a young woman, with slightly too many animals and slightly too few resources to immediately build a big pond for 3 rapidly growing aquatic turtles. I feed them turtle pellets designed for babies, and the occasional shrimp or cricket treat. I have acquired 4 dogs, and 4 cats - I am sure you can imagine how that happened- that I have to be sure stay away from my turtle tank (which is quite safely on a top dresser in my bedroom).
I would like a link or some form of advice about how to (cheaply, if possible) house all of the turtles, or if you have a link to someone near the north Alabama region who can rehabilitate wild animals (if it is even possible at such a young age) back into the wild, that'd be fantastic.
<There's really no way to rehab them back into the wild, but I'm sure there are local turtle and tortoise clubs that have people always on the lookout for new acquisitions.>
<Building an outdoor enclosure is easy. And hard. First, remember that it has to be covered (raccoons, cats & crows, etc.). Second, it's a fun project. For me, I'd build an above-ground pond. You can use sandbags to make a berm around a pond area and plant grass around the outside - or you have make a rectangular box with regular old cinder blocks and make a garden around the perimeter. Or dig a hole. Then get a pond kit from your local home supply store.>
<The big thing it that it needs to be covered with something like poultry netting.>
Any help would be TREMENDOUSLY appreciated!

A further request... for your writings (Chelonian husbandry)  4/20/2009
Darrel, howsit?
Am continuing to wonder re how I might induce your compiling your thoughts, facts re Turtle/Chelonian, and even species coverage of general topics,
and much more...
For RES, Soft Shell, Musk/Mud...
What say you?
BobF, who can envision syncretizing all into feature length tomes...

Quick Question About Turtles and One Comment.  5/18/08 First off right now I have a 75 gallon tank set up with a Jebo canister filter for up to a 250 gallon aquarium as well as Jebo UV Sterilizer to keep the water nice and clean. <Sounds great.> I have 4 sliders, 2 musk, and 1 mud all are under 4 inches. When they get a bit bigger I will be moving them into a larger tank. Right now they all get along great although in the past few days I have noticed the 3 larger RES have begun to flutter their claws sometimes in a triangular formation all three at the same time - since they are not sexually mature yet - I wonder if they are just playing or trying to see who will be the dominant turtle of the aquarium - from reading a lot of your questions and answers on here I fear that may change - before going out and purchasing the huge stock tank that I was going to get them for all of them to grow into I was wondering if I should at some point think about separating them. <Males do this "fluttering" thing with their front flippers. You can sex Red Ear Sliders by looking at their front flippers: males have dramatically longer claws. Males also have a longer/thicker tail.> I don't want to yet since the sliders especially seem to be such buddies as well as the 2 musk turtles - the only one who seems to be a loner is the mud turtle he or she seems to hang out in a corner by a side of the tank where he can see his own reflection which makes me feel bad and almost makes me want to get him a companion. <Juvenile reptiles may well coexist, and may indeed stick together on the basis of "safety in numbers". After all, juvenile turtles/terrapins are often easy prey for water birds and other predators. It's doubtful whether they form "friendships" as we know them, but there may well be an instinct that keeps them together. That said, captive turtles of all ages do fine on their own.> I can tell for sure that one of my sliders is going to be a boy his tail in the past few months has gotten extremely long - the other two are still up for debate. <OK.> I don't want to bring any more slider hatchlings into the world so would it be the smart thing to do when they get to be mature to separate the males and females for good or only during mating season? <No risk of unwanted babies. Reptile eggs are difficult to rear without an incubator, so if you don't want the babies, then simply collect and destroy the eggs. The females can become egg bound under certain circumstances, so it isn't all easy going, but that's a discussion for another day.> I also had a comment about a question sent to you in 2005 about a turtle that wouldn't grow (see: Two Turtles One Problem 12/5/05). <Indeed?> I have a red ear slider that I got in July 07 at the same time as another turtle here is a picture of my 4 sliders basking - they are all around the same age - Squirt to the left will not grow is just over an inch. <Sometimes happens in animals just as with people -- for whatever reason (diet, genetics) the animal fails to grow normally. In fact there's often a lot of variation in adult size among animals, particularly "lower" vertebrates that don't have a fixed adult size (as mammals and birds do) but grow continually through their life. Maximal growth is during the early stages of life, and if for some reason the animal doesn't eat enough during that phase, it may never "catch up" with its peer group even if it otherwise lives a long and happy life. Bullying is actually quite common when juvenile animals are kept together, with males (being more aggressive) often monopolizing food to the detriment of the females. This happens with fish a great deal, but can be observed with many other animals too. Anyway, assuming it is healthy, I wouldn't worry too much.> I have had him to the vets and tested for parasites and everything else under the sun which cost a fortune. And nothing is wrong with him. <Good!> He is not being bullied in the tank - I feed in a separate feeding tank and he is fed first so he gets all the choice food and usually if they pyramid on the other basking site he will climb on top of the other guys and be the top of the pyramid. <All sounds fine.> In fact as I am writing you right now he just climbed up on the basking ramp and squeezed in next to the larger one. So I don't think he is not growing from bullying. I know at some point I will have to remove him from the tank for his own safety because I will be afraid they will crush him as they get bigger but right now he seems to be doing okay and they are not aggressive towards him at all. <See how things go. In a large enough enclosure there may never be problems, but too keep an eye out for trouble. Making sure everyone has easy access to a basking spot will help, for example.> My vet said that although she has never come across cases like this she assumes that it may happen in the wild and that some turtles like people just don't grow and that in the wild he would have just been eaten by now by a predator. <Indeed.> I just wish I could find him another little mini turtle to keep him company. <Not required; reptiles generally are not gregarious and do fine kept on their own. Indeed, by forcing them to live together in small containers *because we think they need company* we're more likely stressing them.> Jen <Thanks for writing, and all very interesting. Cheers, Neale.> Here is one of squirt alone you can see he is a nice looking little turtle - nice and healthy - trust me he goes to the vets. <No photographs came through at this end!>

At long last... Chelonian Articles!   6/5/07 This is generally what I'd write for a keeping & care article without any editorial guidance. Please use it if it meets your standards or tell me what to change and I'll get on it. D <It's outstanding Darrel! Would you be willing to accept our standard $150 for the one-time non-exclusive posting of this work? Do you have graphics you'd like to include (for the big-bongo-bucks of some fifty plus?). I cannot encourage you enough to 1) Keep writing! this series... 2) Make pix to accompany... 3) Consider selling these into the print mag. market (I will gladly help you make these presentations... easy to do over the Net), and 4) Keep in mind the possibility of accruing all for a tome-length opus... BobF>

Re: At long last... Chelonian Articles!   6/5/07 Bob -- I'm not easily offended as long as you're not offended by the suggestions. <Ah, good... am sure you and I both carry thick plastrons!> I'm 99.8% sure that this one is (a) allowed and (b) has no effect on the AdSense/AdWords because I've done it a dozen or so times before .. but since you've brought it up I need to clarify that with Google just for my OWN needs and liability -- I'd hate to find that I've advised other people badly. And I understand the desire not to change things that work fine or fix things that aren't broken. But what I'm having trouble with is the threshold of where I stop becoming helpful and start becoming a pain in the XXX. For example, 1) If I double check the legitimacy and find that it's allowed ... and if I email back to tell you ... am I being helpful ? or a pushy XXX? <Mmm, very helpful in this case> 2) I just sent you a Turtle care article asking for editorial oversight. Do you have that kind of time? Or does it become more trouble than it's worth? <Is VERY worthwhile... I really am unable to express just how important I consider our helping others here to be... AND the greater help that having COMPLETE, straight-forward, simple (yes) -understandable-for-our-intended-audiences that such articles (that super-bonus can be referred to) serve to inform and inspire... My friend, you have very likely saved several thousand chelonians and their owners (including impressionable youngsters) great harm, or alternatively greatly improved the lives of these animals, the richness/quality of the experience of their keepers. I thank you. BobF> D

College Student Wants A Turtle   1/4/07 I want to get a turtle, the only problem is I live at my college during the week but come home many weekends.  Would a turtle be alright over the weekend if I cleaned the cage before hand and left it some food?  Or would it be better to bring it back and forth?  Also are there certain turtles that would deal better with either of these than others?  If it will hurt my turtle I will just not get one.  Thank you. < If you have the time to take proper care of him he would be fine over a weekend while you are at home. I know college can be hectic. In a year he may be 4+ inches and need a 40 gallon tank. Bigger turtle means bigger messes to clean up. Not that easy to break down a turtle and move it around. I would really recommend that you finish college, get a job and get settled in before getting any animal.-Chuck>

Painted Turtle Care While On Vacation   12/24/06 Hi crew! I read almost your entire website and learned sooooooo much.  But this question I did not see...In September, my first and second grade class inherited a painted turtle from an environmental educator.  He is adorable and the kids love him.  We are on winter vacation and I gave him 5 minnows in his tank to hold him for a week. After I put the fish in,  I realized his basking light was out so I went to get a new bulb.  By  the time I got back, 30 minutes later, he had killed, (but not eaten) almost all of the fish!  He had eaten about 3.  Bert is about 4 inches. Will keeping the dead fish in the tank for another week be harmful? Did he over eat?  Will I need to feed him again before the week is out?  How long can painted turtles go without eating. Thanks so much. Lenae < Clean out the tank and remove the bodies. Instead of fish, place some live Anacharis aquarium plants in the tank with him. The plants will live as long as there is some light on them so the won't rot. The turtle will eat them when he gets hungry. The are actually good for him and will fill him up until you get back from vacation.-Chuck>

Wise Parent Needs Turtle Knowledge   12/17/06 I want to buy a turtle for my daughter. However I want one that will stay fairly small. Are there any breeds that make fairly good pets and stay under 6 inches at full growth? Also what supplies will I need to purchase up front to provide good care for a turtle? Thanks Abby Michl < First let me compliment you on checking in BEFORE you buy the turtle. Too many times we get questions on turtle after they buy them. Check out painted turtles. They don't get as big as red eared sliders, and only get about 7 inches long. Red eared turtles get aggressive too. A painted turtle will go well in a 40 gallon aquarium that is half filled with water. They need to come out of the water and bask to get the proper lighting and warmth to digest their food and develop vitamins. They do well on a diet of commercial aquatic turtle pellets, insects ,worms and green vegetables. Here is the check list: 1) 40 gallon aquarium for one adult turtle 2) Hood/Top with fluorescent fixture to keep critters out. 3) Porcelain Clamp light fixture to provide a heated basking spot 4) UVB fluorescent light to light up the aquarium and provide the right light wave lengths 5) Basking Spot Lamp to provide heat for the basking site. Needs to be at least 85 F. 6) Water conditioner to remove chlorine from the water. 7) Water filter to keep the aquarium water clean 8) Basking site 9) Thermometer 10) Aquatic turtle food 11) Hand sanitizers Turtles can carry bacteria that is harmful to humans. It is very important to wash your hands and or sanitize them after handling turtles or cleaning the cage. If this sounds like a lot of money and equipment just think that this turtle may live for another 20 to 30 years! There is a very good book on water turtles titled " The Proper Care and Maintenance of Water Turtles" by Phillipe De Vosjoli. ZooMed distributes this book along with almost all of the items you will need.-Chuck>

Re: Turtle Expert Needed   12/19/06  Chuck, Thank you so much for your answer.  I know your time is  valuable. I wonder if I could buy some "turtle consult" time?  I am worried  that her behavior is not normal, about how long her "laboring" behavior will go  on and what are signs of distress I should know. I do not have the sand medium  she will want and this is her first "beach" I have crafted in a  135 gal  tank, as she is easily 8 inches across and needs swimming and basking  space. Anyway, I have lots of concerns and will be happy to pay you  privately if you would consider some time for me. Thanks, Penny < Go to tortoise.org and you will come upon the California Turtle and Tortoise Society. They have care sheets for general turtle care and there you will find headings for turtle egg incubation can that can be done either naturally or artificially. While your offer is greatly appreciated I feel that these people are the real experts in this field because they do this day in and day out and are up on the latest techniques for hatching turtle eggs. I have hatched turtle eggs artificially many years ago but I really feel you be best served. In the meantime, get a rectangular plastic container from the hardware store. It should be about 12 inches wide, 15 inches and 6 inches deep. The important thing here is that it will fit in one end of the aquarium. Dimensions, except for depth are really unimportant. Fill the plastic container with sand, not gravel. Any kind will do. Get the sand damp but not soaked. It should stick to your hand when you touch it. Lower the water level in the tank to the top of the plastic container and place the container in the tank. You want the female turtle to be able to swim up to the edge of the container and crawl in. There she will excavate a shallow depression and lay her eggs. Remove the nosy male because he may jump in and eat the eggs are at least disturb her. After she lays her eggs you can remove the container. Refer to the Turtle and tortoise club website for hatching techniques. If you have any questions you can always write back anytime. The crew is here to help.-Chuck>

New Turtle Questions  11/16/06 Hi, I was given a turtle a few weeks ago, they had no information on the background of her. I have a lot of different types of animals but I had no clue about turtles.  Her shell is almost 7 1/2 inches & I was wondering around what age she might be? < Hard to tell. Females get up to 12 inches long after 6 to 7 years. Could be stunted from poor care.> And also when I got her, her shell was all scaly looking & peeling & wasn't very active.  Since I got her, I have her in a 100 gal. aquarium with a heater & filter system.  I made a basking area out of flat smooth rocks & have a basking light & a heat lamp.  I feed her live feeder goldfish, crickets & turtle pellets.  I have tried lettuce, apples, grapes, earthworms, hamburger, and a variety of other meats, fruits & veggies.  I was told that you can just put the feeder fish in with her & she will eat them when she gets hungry.  I put about 25 feeders in with her & she ate them all within minutes.  Is this normal? < Turtles are pigs and they will continue to eat as long as you put food in there.> How much should she be eating? < Feed as much as she will eat two to three times a week. Don't give in to her constant begging.> Also she has a slimy film on her skin, all of a sudden, what might this be? < With the new influx of food she could be shedding her skin.> She is very active & enjoys getting out of her tank & exploring around the house & climbing up on things.  Am I taking care of all of her needs? <Make sure the basking spot is at least 85 F. Don't make the water too warm. I prefer 65 to 70 and keep her on the cool side.> Is there anything else that I should be doing? < Keep the water clean by doing lots of water changes and clean the filter often too.> Also her shell around the edge has changed to a yellow color, is this normal? < Sounds like she is getting ready to shed the scutes of her shell. No problem.-Chuck>  
Sorry for all the questions, I just want to know if I am caring for her appropriately.  Thank you Lori

Clipping Turtle's Nails  10/11/06 Greetings from Michigan! <Greetings from Chicago!  Pufferpunk here> We have a painted turtle and his nails are getting really long.  Should I clip them? <You can, with conventional cat or dog nail clippers.  Look for the quick & try not to cut it.  Have Quick-Stop on hand, just in case you do cut the quick.  You may want 2 people to do this--one to hold out the foot (the turtle will try it's hardest to retract it) & one to clip.  ~PP> Thanks for your time. <No problem!> Carol

Articles on turtles and more! By the inimitable Chuck Rambo!  7/30/06 What kind of turtles do want articles on? See Attachments-Chuck <Mmm, well, domestic species more than non (like the Chelonia mydas)... General survey pieces as well as Foods/Feeding/Nutrition, Habitat, Disease... BobF>

Turtle Going For a Ride  6/21/06 Hi.  I have an RES.  I have had her for a few weeks now. I will be going out of town for a few days this weekend and would like to take her with me due to not having someone to feed and watch her.  The car ride is about 4hours. Do you have any suggestions on what to keep her in for the car ride and what I could use temporarily to keep her in over the weekend while I am staying with family.  Hope you can help, I really want to take her!! < A turtle would be fine for up to a week without eating. But If you want to take her then get a Styrofoam box. One used at the pet shop for transporting fish. Punch some holes in the lid for air. Put some wet clean rags in the bottom of the box. Place the turtle in the box and you are on your way. When you get to your destination you can rinse out the rags and fill the box with a few inches of water and place a stone in the center for her to get out. Keep her in the box until you are ready to go home and repeat the process to bring her back.-Chuck>

Little Turtle With Big History  - 06/07/2006 Good Day to the Crew, I have a yellow bellied slider approximately 4 years old (by the vet's estimation). My question relates to an odd condition with his shell but I should give you a brief overview of his history so you have all the facts.... My children brought this turtle (I named Myrtle before I knew he was a boy) to me a year ago telling me that "a lady was putting him in the creek because she didn't want him anymore." I have never owned a turtle before so I immediately went to the local pet store and bought the necessary gear....ill advised by the PetSmart staff. We found out the hard way that every bit of advise they gave us was wrong. The tank was not being effectively filtered, the water not deep enough or changed often enough, no UVB was recommended, the pebble substrate held too much bacteria and fecal debris and the recommended diet was incomplete. Myrtle was never a great eater but stopped eating altogether later in December of 2005. He was also spending all of his time under his basking light, his shell was peeling and his plastron was reddish, and if it's possible, he looked skinny to me.  I finally located a veterinarian who would treat reptiles at the end of January. Her diagnosis was that Myrtle was septic because of the poor filtration in his tank and his general care was not up to par. Myrtle was put on a Baytril regimen and his living conditions were altered significantly.  He is still housed in a 20 gallon long aquarium but now it's 2/3 full, has a suspended basking bridge (instead of one supported with stones which hold debris) a heat lamp and separate UVA & B light (no additional heat). Basking area temp is 85 degrees and water temp is 76 degrees. Filtration is provided by a Fluval 104 canister filter plus an additional 20 gallon submersible filter. The substrate is large polished stones. I do a 75% water change at least once a week and treat his water with Stress Coat. To keep the amount of debris in the tank to a minimum, I feed Myrtle in a separate plastic tub and wait for him to defecate before I return him to his aquarium. I completely disassemble the tank and filters, scrub the basking bridge, climbing structure and substrate stones with hot, hot, hot water every other week. Myrtle's diet of floating Repto sticks has been supplemented with shrimp, rosy reds, guppies and calcium powder...he still does not like vegetation yet but I keep trying periodically.  To make a long story even longer, after 4 rounds of Baytril, 9 trips to the vet, and about $500 in money that I don't have to spare... he was doing really well. His weight went from 103 grams in January to 118 grams in April. I was very relieved because I have grown to love this little guy! Now, you have the old history. Let me tell you the current events.... Several weeks ago, I noticed that his skin was shedding. Shedding to the point that he looked almost furry! There were skin patches floating all over the tank and everything. I researched it on the internet and figured it could be all the Baytril or the amount of fish he was eating. I cut down on the amount of Rosies and guppies that he got per week and waited to see what would happen. His appetite was still ravenous and activity level was still high so I was not really worried yet. I asked the vet about it and told her that we had a water softener for our well water and she recommended that we add Stress Coat to the water because it might still be too hard for Myrtle to tolerate. That seemed to stop the profuse shedding after a while. However, I had also noticed that in our goldfish aquarium, guppy aquarium and Myrtle's aquarium, the algae was no longer green but had changed to kind of a reddish brown color. Couple this with the fact that my own skin and hair felt really dry. I called our water softener company with the question and they recommended that we change our softener salt to one that did not include the "Iron Out" because it may be too harsh. We did that a month ago and most of the algae has gone back to green except for the goldfish tank and my own hair and skin are softer. But I am wondering if that Iron Out could have damaged Myrtle's shell. This is where my real question begins.. After the bout of sepsis, Myrtle's shell peeling was slowing down but not before one of the marginal scutes had come off completely to the bone. The vet said to not worry too much about it because it would grow back with time. Then, within the last month or 6 weeks, it looks like there are air bubbles within or between the keratin of the scutes. I can't feel them, they don't peel off and they don't feel squishy. When he is under water, these bubbles look almost luminous. Like he has tiny lights in his shell. When he is out of the water and completely dry, they look dull and sort of obscure the patterns on the scutes underneath. I scrub his shell gently with a soft toothbrush and an iodine solution, remove really loose scutes and apply shell conditioner about once a week or so. More often if his shell is looking bad, less often if he is looking good. Have you ever heard of anything like this? I have a call in to his vet but she is out of town for a while and I just don't want to take any chances. I wish I had a digital camera so you could see what I am talking about. If I can find one, I'll send pics. I thank you so much for your time. I know I have been long winded with this explanation and I apologize for that. I hope you can help because I really want to provide the best care for my little buddy so I can have his company for many years to come. I look forward to hearing from you, Sincerely, Julie Parker < As the turtle sheds its skin the lose material is attacked by aquatic fungus and mold. It really does the turtle no harm. It just looks bad. Get your water for the turtle from the garden hose before it goes into your house and before the water softener has a chance to treat it. Water softeners replace much needed calcium with sodium and potassium. If your turtle does not get enough calcium then they develop shell problems. Add a Dr Turtle to the tank and do a Repti Turtle Sulpha Dip. Watch the areas closely. The gases under the shell are caused by bacteria. It may be shell rot. This is a bacterial infection in which each area needs to be surgically cleaned out and antibiotics applied.-Chuck>

Rare Wood Turtle Needs Proper TLC  - 06/07/2006 Hello Crew, I just saw Brandon Heuyard's  turtle pix  & post of 4-11-2006 post . It is a woodland turtle,...rare,  possibly threatened. It is semi aquatic, lives near stream & rivers. Needs a lot of good care, fresh water for soak immersion which must be changed daily suggest & right after defecation, food is berries fruit, earth  worms, fresh lean beef cut up small. If one wants  to keep  one, I suggest  reading up on them, food, habitat & very important hibernation requirement for continued well being. Not a child's fun pet , but a serious custody only. I do not know how to reach  & am not figure out how to access  forum. Please post & you may share email address with him. Ellen < eplanner(AT)ix(DOT)netcom(DOT)com <<Replace the (AT) with @ and the (DOT)s with . - just trying to avoid someone getting spammed.  -Sabrina>>> < Thank you for your concern and we will post on the site for all to read.-Chuck>

Old Box Turtle  5/26/06 My name is Stacy I am 14. Hi Stacey, Pufferpunk here.> My sisters boyfriend found this box turtle on the side of the road on a rainy day.  When he got home he gave me the turtle.  I noticed that my turtle has 2 holes in her shell.   <This is common with older turtles.  Had some shell damage in the past but should be fine & be able to live a long life with this.> On his right back leg that he only has 1 nail on it and the other has all 3. <Yes, you have a 3-toed box turtle with 1 deformed foot.  No issues there.> I was wondering what I could do to fix everything that's wrong with her. <Nothing to fix.  Just things that happen to a turtle in the wild.  Be sure to give it at least a 20 gallon tank, with a shelter on one side (an overturned box with the side cut out will do & a water bowl large enough for it to bathe in on the other side.  Be sure to change the water daily, or it will be drinking poop water.  Mulch is a great substrate for them.  It's cheap & you can buy large bags even at most gas stations during gardening season. Just make sure not to use cedar, it poisonous!  Change every 2 weeks & hand clean any poop daily (most will be in the water).  You will also need a reflector lamp for warmth.   Food: dark green veggies (no iceberg lettuce--mostly water), any fruits.  Frozen mixed veggies (defrosted 1st, of course) work well.  So do fruit cocktail, well rinsed, for quick feedings.  They love red foods.  Canned dog food or dry soaked in water.  Crickets & earthworms (found in wild-box turtles tummies when dissected), are a favorite treat.  Dust the food with reptile vitamins (be sure they have calcium in there, for the shell). If kept properly, a box turtle can live over 30 years!  ~PP> Thanks a lot, Stacy Cline

Wood Turtle Info  - 05/15/06 Where can we go to get info on how to take care for a jeweled woodland turtle ?? Juli < I could not find any specific info on a "Jeweled Woodland Turtle", but I suspect that you have a wood turtle. Go to woodturtle.com for specific info on keeping these turtles and maybe see a photo of you turtle species.-Chuck>

Keeping Yellow Bellied Sliders  4/6/06 Hi Bob, < Chuck, this time.> Recently I bought 2 yellow belly sliders and at the moment they are approx. 1 1/4 in long, I have them in a 27 litre tank with a floating island and they seem to be happy enough. My only fear is that I am feeding them dry shrimp and I'm afraid to give them any fruits or small vegetables because am not too sure whether or not they are too young for this type of food. Also do I need to give them any additional nutritional pellets or vitamins? If you could tell me what age is ok to be feeding them different types of food I would greatly appreciate it. I'm not too sure of the sex yet because they are still quite young but just in case will I need to prepare for breeding or incubation? Thanking you Tommy < Young turtles are more meat eaters. When they get three or four inches then they start to eat more vegetable matter. Veggies can be offered at any time and won't hurt them. Try spinach and kale. Zoo Med makes a commercial aquatic turtle food that can be supplemented with insects and worms. Proper lighting with UVA and UVB, will provide the turtles with the means to produce their own vitamins. females get bigger than males and males have longer tails.-Chuck> Poor Painted Turtles  - 03/22/06 I have 2 red eared sliders that I've been raising for about a year now and their doing awesome but now my sister brought to me her 2 painted turtles she got this summer and they have not grown at all! Their probably the size of a quarter still. She never had a light or warm water or anything for them and now I have to take care of them. I have no clue what to do with them and I feel bad for them! All I have right now is one cage, so I put them in with my red eared sliders. They're probably 3-4 inches and their a male and female but I don't think their even one yet? Can they reproduce? < Probably not until next year.> Is it okay for the baby painted turtles to be in the tank with them? < No, red eared sliders are very aggressive turtles and will hog all the food and intimidate the smaller turtles to the point to they will not eat.> What should I do to help them grow? < Start treating them like you RES's when they were small and give them the TLC they deserve.> When I pick them up I can actually feel their legs moving through the center of their shell on the bottom in the center. I think their not in good shape? What can I do? Help me please! < Start by giving them their own tank. Set up a basking site that gets at least 85 to 90 F. Start to give them ZooMed Aquatic Turtle food for hatchlings along with some small washed earthworms. Basking and proper diet with start to harden the shell and get them back on track.-Chuck>

Adding Things To A Turtle Tank     2/8/06 Hi, again, what other things can I in put with my turtles like plants and vitamins? I already have a calcium block and am getting the Zoo Med stuff so what other things? thx! < Live plants will eventually be eaten or torn apart and become a mess. Just try and feed a varied diet.-Chuck>

Don't Buy Turtles From Street Walkers Hello experts! < The definition of an expert is someone who realizes how little they know.> Long time listeners, first time callers. < Thanks for dialing in.> I think my husband and I have gotten in over our heads.  About four months ago we thought it would be fun to get a small hobby aquarium.  We started with a 20 gallon tank, which we cycled for about 6 weeks and have since had a pretty good success with our fish.  About a month ago, we were walking in the city, and a woman on the street was selling baby turtles.  We asked her if we could keep it in a tank with our tropical fish, and she said it would be ok.  (I realize now that buying a turtle on the street was a huge mistake, but it seemed so small and harmless.)  We brought the turtle back to our tank, set it up with an appropriate basking island, and everything was okay.    He even learned to take food from my husbands hand. After a few weeks, we decided to add some silver dollar size angels to our tank.  They died within a few days of each other, and we saw the turtle (and the other fish) eating the remains.  We figured our tank just wasn't suitable for angels, and thing were okay again for a while.  Currently, we have the following in our tank: 2 zebra Danios, 2 black fin tetras, one iridescent shark, three guppies, a molly and a red tailed sword, one catfish and (my favorite) a very small elephant nose fish.   We haven't had any real illnesses - one case of Ich a month ago.   We just added two Plecos, who have been producing really long, stringy white feces.  Really long (inches).  But, I  digress. Last night, we looked up to see the turtle with the elephant nose's face in its mouth!  We were shocked, and didn't know what to do  - I  was practically in tears.  The elephant nose had not been sick - he was attacked unprovoked.  We put the fish net in the water and tapped the turtle until he let go.  Dazed, the elephant nose headed back into his ship for cover.  We immediately removed the turtle to a quarantine tank.  We decided not to return the turtle to the tank that night. < Good idea.> We did some research, and read online that goldfish (large) and  turtles can live together peacefully.  We bought an inexpensive 20g setup (filter, gravel, heater) and put turtle and three large shiny goldfish in.  Well, about a half hour ago we saw the turtle grab onto one of their tails!  The goldfish shook him off, but now we don't know what to do!  We don't want to keep a small turtle alone in a twenty gallon tank. Meanwhile, in the original tank, the elephant nose came out to eat earlier, and his nose is shredded to bits! I feel awful, and totally unprepared to handle this situation. Here are my questions: Can we keep anything with a turtle, safely? <No> What about crawfish, <No> fiddler crabs <No>, or frogs? <No> Is there anything I can do to help the elephant nose heal? < Keep the water clean and watch for any infections. Redness indicates a bacterial infection while a whitish cottony growth around the attacked area is a fungal infection.>  
Will he make it? < If the wounds heal and the mouth is still functional then he will probably live. If the mouth is too damaged and it cannot eat then probably not.> Do you think our Plecos are sick? < No, Plecos are vegetarians with pretty long digestive systems. While they are eating it is not too unusual to have long sting fecal matter following behind them.> I really appreciate any help you can give. Thanks Rebecca (and Sal) < In the wild, turtles eat everything you suggested. The crustaceans may have a hard exoskeleton now, but when they shed their new skeleton with be soft for a few hours. In this time the turtle could easily have them torn to shreds and eaten.-Chuck>

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> 

Outdoor Turtle Enclosure  9/2/05 Hello again, You guys have been a great help to us, from GSP's, Cichlid tanks, to keeping a gold fish tank. ONE MORE...  we have the opportunity to adopt 2 red eared slider turtles... we want to build an outdoor pond, could you please steer me in the right direction  to the proper construction, plants, protection, and feeding needs. We live in North Carolina, hot summers, some freezing, but not deep freezing cold winters. Thank You again  for all your help. You Have a great site.. Mike Berresford <Small turtles under 4 inches should be kept indoors. Larger ones can be kept outdoors in mild climates like yours year round. Go back to the WWM homepage and check out articles on turtles, pond construction and pond maintenance. Turtles are very messy feeders and water quality via filtration or water changes is very important. In general the area should be surrounded by fencing buried at least a foot deep. If you live in a rural are then the pond needs to be protected from predators like raccoons. The pond should be at least 2 feet deep. When the weather gets cold the ponds get less attention because you are spending less time outside , you turtles will probably bury themselves and hibernate.-Chuck>

Red Eared Turtle Shedding  9/1/05 I only have one more question.  How often do red eared slider turtles shed their shell?  I think mine is shedding his shell right now but am not sure.  I hope it is not a fungus also. <When a turtle is shedding pieces of the shell peel off. They are about as thick as a fingernail. Underneath should be a very vibrantly colored shell with fresh colors. They can shed a few times a year depending on the conditions and the temperature.-Chuck> Turtle Sick?  8/30/05 First of all thanks for the quick reply. My baby turtle does eat but it doesn't eat very much. Maybe one little bite of the bread
< Bread? Really? Try earthworms an insects.> and that's it. And it doesn't seem to like the commercial turtle food that I'm giving him. I've noticed that when I put my turtle in the water it blows a lot of bubbles and it's trying to wipe its face with its claws. And if it is some kind of respiratory problem do you think only raise the temperature of the basking area to 90 F will work? < Heating him up will definitely help.> What other measure do I have to take? < Get a book on turtles and read it.> Also you said to clean the shell first before applying antibiotic, what do I use to clean it? < Use a Q-tip to get all the infection out and try and get down to the flesh or shell, then apply the antibiotic.> I don't see the shell is rotting, it's just that on the surface of its shell I see black marks. Thank you and please reply. < Could be variable coloration but you never know.-Chuck>

Two Turtles Too Many 7/26/05 Hi I'm a 1st time turtle owner, About a month ago I purchased 2 red eared sliders in Florida and brought them home to NJ, one is bigger then the other.  The small 1 is the size of a half dollar and the larger 1 is a little smaller then my palm.  I have a 10g tank set up for them: basking area, light, heater, filter.  The smaller 1 would never eat while the bigger 1 was in the tank and would never go into the water while the big 1 was swimming.  I would just take the bigger 1 out to give the smaller 1 a chance to eat and swim. ( But while they were basking they seemed comfortable together and the small 1 would climb up on the big 1's back.)  I didn't think this was a problem until about a week ago when the big 1 got aggressive and went after the little 1 and nipped his foot.  Will the big 1 eat the small 1? < Turtles will eat anything, even each other. The little turtle knows that the bigger turtle feeds in the water , so it stays away from the larger turtle while the bigger one is in the water.> Since then I divided the tank in half with a piece of pollex glass and they each have there own basking area but still 1 light,1 filter,1 heater and the lil 1 still seems afraid to swim as if he was still in danger of the big 1. If the small 1 goes into the water it gets frantic to get out, so this causes another problem, the small 1 hasn't eaten in a few days.  Last night it finally ate a little when I took him out and feed him in a smaller carry tank.  Is there something else that I should be doing? Will the small 1 get more comfortable and realize it's safe of the big 1?   Does the small 1 miss the big 1?  Am I just too paranoid and should I put them back together?  Thank you for your time and hope to hear from you soon.. < Do yourself a favor and help the little turtle out too and give him away to a good home. The bigger one will always be after the little one. They don't get lonely and will do fine on their own. If the bigger turtle bites off a limb of the little turtle then nobody will want it. you will be taking care of two turtles in two separate containers for many years.-Chuck>

Turtle Trauma 7/27/05 Thank you for your response.  So you don't think the separation wall I created is a good idea? < Eventually you will have to keep them permanently separated. They will get big in a couple of years and the damage from bites will become more severe.> Will the smaller 1 never feel safe on his own side of the tank? < Turtles are pretty smart creatures. When the smaller one gets hungry it will eventually go back into the water to feed and figure the other turtle will not bother him.> I haven't put them together since the nipping incident.  I don't really want to give 1 up yet. < Good Luck-Chuck>

Mixing Turtles and Fish 7.24.05 I just got 2 hatchling turtles last week. When I got them, the guy told me that I could put them in my aquarium with my fish as long as I had something for them to dock on. He gave me a floating rock that goes in my tank allowing them some where to dock. My question is WILL THEY EAT MY FISH? I ask this because I saw on the net while I was trying to do a little search on them, that they eat worms, fish, shrimp, etc. <Yes yes yes, if they can catch your fish they will eat them.  The other problem is that the turtles will foul your water in a bad way.  You will need to do water changes weekly to bi-weekly as your turtles grow.  For more information on aquatic turtles please read the following article.  Best Regards, Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/redearsliders.htm >

Sick Turtle 7.24.05 I just caught a baby Painted turtle and he was fine for a couple days but now half his eye is red and I don't know what is wrong I can't take him to the vet and I don't want to put him back. I have had many other Painted turtles and they were fine but this is my first baby turtle. He also just sits around all day with his eyes closed. I am concerned please get back to me soon. <If you cannot take him to the vet all you can do is make sure his environment is setup correctly.  I would not release him unless he was in the same condition as when you found him.  make sure he has clean warm water around 78F.  You can find more information on the care of aquatic turtles in the following article http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/redearsliders.htm >

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>

Turtle in too Deep 7/20/05 Hi again, I'm so sorry to bug you again, but I forgot to ask you another question. I was just wondering if the depth of my turtles tank is too deep or too shallow. He's about 2 1/2 inches long an 2 1/2 inches wide. He's probably about 1 year old. I found him in an in ground pool. Well anyway, The depth of the water is 2 inches. There's a slope that leads up from the water onto the land, so he has like a shallow end and a deep end to swim. Is that fine, or should I make the water deeper or shallower?  Also, I'm not exactly sure if my turtle is a male or female. I'm thinking it's a male because, it's tale is quite long and kind of wide. Its front claws are pretty long also. So please, answer my questions as soon as you can. Thank you so much! Sincerely, Tiffany < I like to make sure that the water covers the turtles back by at least a couple inches of water so it doesn't dry out too much. Longer front claws and a long tail would indicate that you turtle is a male.-Chuck>

Turtle with Spot Problem 7/17/05 Hi!  I hope someone can help with our problem.  Our turtle recently visited grandma's house.  He  had the same diet , lights etc. the only thing different was the water.  He is over one year old and has been very healthy with a beautiful shell.  When we got home from our vacation we noticed a couple of gold spots or patches that seem to glow or reflect light when he's in the water.  They are not really noticeable when he is basking on his rock. They also seem to be spreading.  The spots are not soft nor have any different texture or anything unusual other than the gold color and sheen.  We have spent hours looking on line for a diagnosis, but cannot find anything that describes this unusual problem.  We will take him to a vet, but I have a feeling that the vet may not know what it is either and will just tell us to treat it like shell rot or something.  Please help us with our beloved pet.   Thank you!  Mom and Daughter < Take your turtle out of the water and gently scrub his shell to see if the gold patches go away. It may be some goldfish scales stuck to the algae on the shell. After scrubbing the shell the spots may still remain. Look at them closely with a magnifying glass to see if there are any true holes in the shell. If there is then you turtle may have some shell rot. Get some Repti Turtle Sulfa Dip and a Dr Turtle Sulfa Block and follow the directions on the package.-Chuck>
Turtle with Spots II    7/18/05 Chuck- Thanks for the quick reply.  We have scrubbed the spots.  Nothing happens.  He is kept in an aquarium alone, not in a pond.  There are no holes in his shell.  The spots appear brownish when he's out of the water. Could this have something to do with the minerals in grandma's water?  Her water is very "hard" with a lot of mineral content.  He did bang around a lot and fall off his rock at grandma's house.  He was in a ten gallon tank > instead of his usual twenty gallon long tank.  Can a shell get bruised > from falling, tumbling and hitting the side of the tank?  Thanks!  M & D < Turtle shells are pretty tough.  I doubt these spots are from any physical trauma. Shell rot has been associated with hard water but it is not certain why. If the spots are symmetric al then I would think it is a color pattern and not a disease. If the spots get bigger then take a very close look at one of them and see if there is a bacterial infection growing under the scutes. This would require cutting a small hole into the shell to get to the brown material under the shell. I would not attempt this unless I was very sure that there was a problem.-Chuck>
Turtle With Spots being Treated 7/20/05 Hi again!  We talked to a vet on the phone yesterday.  She suggested that it probably is a mineral imbalance caused by water with a high mineral content. She said that turtles are pretty sensitive to environmental changes.  She also said left untreated he would probably be ok once we got him back in his water for a period of time.  Just incase he's got a fungus, she thought it would be a good idea to treat the spots with an iodine solution at least once or twice a day.  One cup of water with 2 teaspoons of iodine.  She said it could take a month or more to see any results.  The iodine won't hurt him in any way and is just a precaution incase it s fungus which could lead to shell rot.  The vet also said that any unusual spots on a shell could be treated this way.  If we treat him and it gets worse or we don't see any improvement in a month, we should take him in to the vet.  I hope this helps anyone who has a similar problem with a turtle.  Thank you for your help! We'll let you know if the treatment works!    M & D < Thanks for the follow up. Hope this will help others with the same problem-Chuck>

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>

Old Turtle Needs Help 7/16/05 Hello, we have a pond in our backyard about 12 feet by 7 feet and have several red ear sliders. The oldest turtle is sick! When she hisses it sounds like she's gurgling. Her shell is peeling on top. And she stays out of the water all day even when we go outside. We want to save her, what can we do? Teresa < I would recommend isolating this turtle so it doesn't make the others sick. I think your turtle has come down with pneumonia. It needs vitamins, heat and antibiotics. The turtle knows heat will help and that is why it stays out so long. Set up a basking spot so the temp gets up to 100 F. Give him vitamins orally though an eye dropper. Get him to a vet for some antibiotics. You should see some improvement in a week.-Chuck>

Turtle Getting a Wound From Bucket 7/16/05 Dear Chuck. I have soaked my turtle in the Sulfa Dip and cleaned the tank several times now.  He certainly is appearing more active than before. < That is a good sign.> However, when soaking him in the sulfa dip in a bucket not much bigger than he is (as per instructions on sulfa dip), he has now developed an abrasion from trying to get out of the bucket.  This abrasion bleeds when he gets onto his platform to bask.  Currently I have left it so that it can dry out and I am conscious of the fact that I may actually create problems while trying to fix them.  I have the Repti Wound Healing Aid, but am unsure that if I apply it whether I will have to keep him out of the water for any length of time.  As always, your advice is sought on this problem.  Regards, Farah Dwyer < Go to the dollar discount store and buy a plastic tub that is not so abrasive. Use this to soak the turtle. You can use a bigger tub. The only reason they recommend the smaller container is so you won't have to use so much dip. Apply the healing aid and allow it to dry before putting the turtle back in the water.-Chuck>

Turtle Bites 7/16/05 Hello, For the past couple of months my male 2 ½ year old has been nipping at his left arm (about midway up)  He eventually stopped and the sores started to heal but he has now started again to the point where it looked infected (an open wound) and I took him to the vet.  He gave him an antibiotic shot and now I have to give him 1 shot every 3 days.  I am really nervous about sticking my turtle with a needle and the vet had a hard enough time doing it himself.  Any tips?  He is in a 40 gallon tank with UVB, the Fluval 204, a ceramic heat lamp, and a spot lamp in the middle with some nice basking rocks.  His diet consists of ReptoMin sticks, Anacharis, and about a half dozen feeder fish once every 2 weeks.  (Sort of a treat for the 2 week period)  What would cause him to bite himself to the point of causing this wound?  Should I lower the water level because he only seems to bite himself while in the water?  Is there any chance this infection could have permanently damaged his potential for a long and healthy life?  It is not massive, but proportionally, if this injury was on a human, it would look like a 6" gash on our arm.  I do love the little guy...Please help. Jay   < The fact that he only bites his left arm makes me think that he has a bacterial infection on that arm and biting it is his only way of scratching the irritation. I would include vitamins, kingworms, crickets and earthworms to the diet. Increase the temperature of the basking spot to 100 F. Get a Dr Turtle Sulfa Block for the water and dip the turtle in Repti Turtle Sulfa Dip. Use the Repti Wound Healing Aid to quickly heal the wounds. I think this bacterial infection is brought on by waste products staying in the water too long. I would clean the tank more often especially if it smells. That is ammonia and it feeds disease causing bacteria.-Chuck> Russian Tortoise with Chalky Fecal Matter 7/9/05 Thank you for your response.  I should have told you that it's a Russian turtle.  Does the same rule apply? < Somewhat. They like more vegetable matter in their diet but they can still eat the worms.-Chuck>

Russian Tortoise Problems 7/11/05 Thank you.  Last question... I promise!  The Russian Turtle has white, chalky diarrhea.. same solution?  (Sorry.. I'm researching this for a friend who didn't give me all this information at the same time.  Again.. last question.) Thank you Chuck!!!! < A Russian tortoise with diarrhea is not good. Unlike turtles that are in the water the entire time you don't have to worry about them getting dehydrated. If is a different story with land turtles. Diarrhea can quickly kill a tortoise if it lose to much fluid. I would recommend that your friend take the Russian turtle to a vet for a complete check up. Your friend has no idea on how to care for this animal and this little info I have given you really isn't enough for long term success.-Chuck>

Turtle Question 7/9/05 My turtle has white chalky feces.. what could this mean? < This is the result of diet. Sometimes the binder of some prepared turtle foods have clay as a binder. Add some live food to your turtles diet like kingworms, crickets and earthworms and you should see a change.-Chuck>

Pink Skinned Turtle 7/7/05 Hi, I'm really worried about my turtle.  She is a two year old red eared slider.  She has recently had a decrease in appetite and her skin on her front and back legs have turned a very slightly pink color.  She lives in a 50 gallon tank, complete with basking platform and sunbathing lamp, and two Fluval filters (one very large external, one small internal).  There is some algae growing on the side of the tank.  Could this be contributing to the problem?  We feed her once a day, turtle pellets and dried shrimp.  Please advise! Thank you. < This sounds like a bacterial infection. Change the water and clean the filters. Wipe down the algae. Clean the filters and change the water every week. Place a ZooMed Dr. Turtle Sulfa Block in the water. I would even use the Repti Turtle Sulpha Dip too.-Chuck>

New Turtle laying Eggs 6/31/05 Hi, We found a turtle about 6 weeks ago and now it has started laying eggs. It has been exposed to another turtle-the sex I am not sure of yet- What do I do? She has backed her bottom literally into a pile of dirt and will not move. Earlier today, she laid an egg out in the open. Do I remove her from her eggs after she lays them or keep her in the same aquarium? I'm trying to get in touch with a turtle rescue team near me for answers but have not heard back from them yet. I really want someone to be able to help these eggs survive if in fact they are fertile. I do not have a basking lamp. Should I get one and put it shining on the eggs? Help please. I'm very uneducated about turtles and hope to put her in safe hands after all of this. Thanks < If this was a wild native turtle then you probably caught her moving between bodies of water and should have released her. The eggs are probably fertile. If this is a red eared slider then it is probably an escapee and the eggs may or may not be fertile. Either way, if you really want to try and hatch these eggs then here is what you need to do. Within 24 hours after the eggs are laid they can be gently transferred to an incubator. This can be any device that keeps the temperature between 75 and 80 degrees with keeping the humidity relatively high. Keep the eggs in the same position they were in when you picked them up. The embryos attach to the side of the egg shell within 24 hours. Twisting or turning the eggs can sometimes shear the embryo from the shell and kill the embryo. Direct heat from a basking light will dry the eggs out and kill them. In the wild turtles bury their eggs in the warm sand were the temperature varies little and there is always some moisture so the eggs don't dry out. I use to fill a 10 gallon aquarium with about 4 inches of water and place a submersible heater set at 78 degrees in the bottom. I would then place a brick in the center of the tank and place a Tupperware square bowl on the brick. In the bowl I would put about an inch of coarse sand place the eggs on top of the sand. In 8 to 10 weeks some would hatch. Leave her alone until she has laid all her eggs then make your move.-Chuck>

I have a yellow belly slider  which I think is a year old or so (he is about 2 1/2 inches by 2 inches). I feed him 4  pellets of food and dried shrimp fish treats. The bottom of his shell has pinkish areas that his previous owner said was from the owner before her not taking care of his water. They look to me like they are slowly going away. I wondered if this was possible? < Turtles may suffer from vitamin deficiencies or poor sanitation. These problems reflect on the turtle's shell. In many cases the shell can show signs of improvement when conditions are favorable for the turtle.> Also his shell is constantly peeling not badly but a little here and there. Is that normal? < The shell should shed in stages over a few weeks. If you turtle is growing fast then it could happen fairly quickly and seem like it is continuously molting.> Today I noticed his skin on his front legs and neck was peeling a lot but it didn't seem to bother him. So I cleaned his tank which was already clean but I did it anyway just in case. I put him in a dry area under a lamp because he was acting very strange. He is starting to act normal its been an hour or so and he is getting back to himself. Do you know what caused this ? < This shedding is probably caused by the turtle's rapid growth. This is to be somewhat expected in a young turtle.> I bought a shell conditioner that I put on him once a week is that good for him? < Probably can't hurt as long as you follow the directions on the package.> I just wanted to say that my turtle is the best friend. I never knew they could have such personality! I take him to work with me he  has a small one gallon tank on my desk. He has started to like going and swims happily all day. He lets me know if he wants less water and to bask in the light by scratching on the  tank wall. he is so sweet and loves to be petted. I want to make sure he's happy and healthy. please email me back as soon as you can . thanks again-Nikki ''she's a wonderful wonder, she crash down like a ball of thunder '' -The Exies - Genius < With proper care your turtle should live for many years.-Chuck>

South American Wood Turtle I am having trouble finding anything on the Suriname wood turtle. Is it the same as the North American turtle? <No, totally different species.> And also what type of habitat, food they need to have for a long healthy live. thank you for your time < Your semi-aquatic (Rhinoclemys punctularia) will need an area that is partial aquarium and partial terrarium. They can be kept like regular wood turtles except that they need to be kept between 75 and 85 degrees. North American turtles are sometimes cooled down for hibernation. Do a Google search on the scientific name or South American Wood Turtle and you will find lots of info on your turtle.-Chuck>

Aquatic Gardens

Ponds, Streams, Waterfalls & Fountains:
Volume 1. Design & Construction
Volume 2. Maintenance, Stocking, Examples

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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