FAQs About Red Ear Slider Turtle
Related Articles: Treating Common Illnesses of
the Red Ear Slider (& other Emydid Turtles) by Darrel
Care and Keeping of the Red Eared Slider, Trachemys scripta
elegans by Darrel Barton, Turtle eye diseases; Recognising
and treating eye diseases in pet turtles by Neale
Monks, So your turtle has the Flu?
Recognising and treating respiratory infections in pet
turtles by Neale Monks, The Care
and Keeping of the Red Eared Slider, Trachemys scripta
elegans by Darrel Barton, Red Ear Sliders, Turtles, Amphibians, Red Eared Slider Care, Shell Rot in Turtles,
Related FAQs: RES Disease/Health 1, RES Disease/Health 2, RES Disease 3, RES
Health 4, RES Health 5, RES Health 6, RES
Health 8, RES Health 9, RES Health 10, & Shell Rot, Turtle Disease 1, Turtle Disease 3, Shell Rot, Turtle Respiratory Disease, Turtle Eye Disease,
FAQs on RES Health by Type: Diagnosis, Environmental, Traumas, Nutritional, Growths/Tumors, Infectious, Parasitic, References,
& Sliders 1, Sliders 2, Red Eared
Slider Identification, RES
Behavior, RES Compatibility,
RES Selection, RES Systems, RES
Feeding, RES Reproduction,
Please help my RES turtle! 9/2/12
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My name is Jean and I need advice of what to do for my RES Buddy
which recently got bitten by another Red Eared Slider that I
own, Mr. Turtle. I have read various articles about other turtles on
your site that have been through fungal infections in their feet/legs,
but I could not find one specifically about their toes.
<What seems to be the problem?>
I own 7 RES turtles and they never have had an issue like this before in
the past 2.5 years that I have owned them. Buddy and Mr. Turtle are the
same age, in fact, I bought them together when they were only the size
of a quarter. Their shells are about 3-4 inches long now, so they're not
that big. The other 5 I bought a year later and they get along fine with
Buddy and Mr. Turtle. They all live in a 25 gallon (I'm not sure of the
exact size because it was a gift from a friend) tank together.
<That's very small for 7 turtles. It's an invitation of unsanitary
They don't have any of the equipment to keep the water warm or have any
heat lamps because I leave them outside of the house. Living in southern
California, it's quite warm and very sunny all day and slightly cool at
night. It never gets below 65 during summer/spring and is usually around
72-75 degrees at night. The turtles seem fine living outside.
<As long as they don't get attacked by dogs, cats or raccoons>
My mom and I have been raising them outside of the house for over a year
and it didn't cause any issues. When it's really cold during the fall
and winter I bring them inside so they stay warm and I put them in warm
<Room temperature water is just fine>
I feed them ReptoMin turtle pellets and maybe once in a while leftover
chicken/duck from dinner (this isn't often, maybe every other month).
<No more than that - an occasional treat should be something like an
earthworm - but once every other month won't hurt them>
My mom cleans the tank almost everyday when the water gets really dirty
after they eat food. They often poop right after the tank gets cleaned
<In a tank that small, they should be fed separately: In something
like a Tupperware tub with 2 inches of water. Let them eat in
there and then poop a few minutes later and THEN back to their tank -
which needs to be bigger!>
The water is at about an inch and a half high because we only have small
rocks/shells where they can go sunbathe on.
<They need a much bigger enclosure. Maybe you can use a big
plastic tub from a building supply store>
Anyway, yesterday, I witnessed Mr. Turtle picking on Buddy's foot and
noticed that one of his nails were gone. I am not sure if he ate the toe
nail off or if Buddy already had an issue beforehand. I doubt that Mr.
Turtle just had a sudden appetite for other turtles because I feed them
every other day and he would have probably nibbled on the other 5
turtles by now, ha-ha.
Buddy was fine the day before yesterday so I do not believe that
anything happened before that. I took him out of the water about an hour
or so later because I Googled about foot infections for turtles. I then
immediately took him out of the water because every article stated that
you should take out the turtles from water ASAP and keep them dry to
prevent any fungal infections.
At first I let him have a little water and stayed in a small bucket by
himself. This morning I took out the water and let him stay under the
sun for most of the day so he can get as many vitamins from the sun as
Buddy still eats, but not as much as before. I find this a bit normal
because whenever I put him in another bucket he becomes afraid of eating
food for a while, then as he settles in, he eats a little.
<It's just the sudden change that scares him - don't worry>
After maybe an hour or two, I put him back in water for half an hour so
he has time to eat, poop, and drink. (I noticed he seems to be very
thirsty when I don't leave him in water like I usually do). Then I
repeat. I make sure he is dry when I take him out of the water. I should
also make it clear that I do put him in a bucket separate from the tank
because I am afraid Mr. Turtle might nibble on him again. He still moves
around like he normally does, but it really looks like he feels pain
when he tries to stand on his tippy toes because he always slides back
down to his right.
<He should stay dry for a few weeks to heal. Keep him warm and dry
and just put him in water (alone) each day to drink, eat and poop.
So, I've been doing all the things I mentioned all day today and I'm
wondering if I'm doing the right thing?
There are no vets around this area, well, I don't think I have ever seen
a vet office/building in my whole life... Even if I were to find one
around here, my Mom wouldn't allow it. She actually doesn't believe that
there's anything wrong with Buddy and I know for sure that she does not
want to pay for the vet fee (I hear it is quite expensive).
<Yes - and I don't blame her>
I don't know if we have any medicines that could help treat a turtle.
<Read the article above. Treat him with dry conditions and topical
betadine and he should be fine>
We mostly have moisture creams and cough medicine. That's about all we
have in our home, or at least that I know of.. I also send
some photos because I believe me describing his foot may be inaccurate.
I circled the abnormal toe just in case you can't really see it.
<Hope - you described it just fine>
In the attachments are photos of Buddy:
IMG_1661: how he normally looks (just in case you needed to know how he
looks) it's also him not in water
IMG_1660: back right foot (the foot that got bitten, top view)
IMG_1655: back right foot (bottom view)
IMG_1653: back left foot, which looks pretty normal, just in case you
needed to compare it
I'd really love it if anyone can help by giving any advice on what to do
and what to not do! Thank you so much for taking the time to read
my e-mail! I look forward to your reply!
<Jean you are doing well. These turtles need more room, something
MUCH bigger - but that does not have to be expensive - think about all
the kinds of plastic tubs you can buy at the building supply or home
Sores/Scabs on RES arm – 8/13/12
<Hiya - Darrel here>
Thank you so much for your fantastic and informative site.
<You're welcome. When you win the lottery, please remember
the "donate" button on the home page>
My wife and I have written you before regarding our RES' ears not being
very red. We were so impressed with your quick response and help.
<That's why we're here. Well that... and the free food>
Sadly, we now have a more pressing question. We went on vacation
for a week, and left Horace in his tank with an automatic feeder.
<For future reference, that wasn't necessary. Any trip less than
two weeks, just don't feed him>
We came back and he had knocked his ramp down, as well as dislodged his
<Turtles can be little wrecking crews. Things have to be settled
and secured. I use plastic wire ties even on my rock work.>
We don't know how long he was in the water without the ability to bask.
It couldn't have been more than 3 days. When we came home tonight,
we noticed three sores/scabs (not sure which) on his arm. They are
about the size of the head of a q-tip and brown. This has never
happened before! Could it be caused by the prolonged water
<No. Most likely he scratched or injured himself in the scuffle
and then the wound succumbed to some sort of infection>
There are no other turtles or animals in his tank. His water was
very clean and clear when we got home, as his filter had been running
the whole time. Perhaps he cut himself when he dislodged his ramp
What should we do to help him heal? Will this kill him?!?!??
<Not if you treat it>
We have some skin and shell conditioner we put on his wounds to
discourage him from biting them.
<Read here and treat. Dry-dock him for a few days, iodine and
hydrogen peroxide and Horace will be just fine.
Sidenote- in the past, we have sometimes seen him biting this same arm
on occasion. We figured he just had an itch as he never broke the
skin or even caused redness to appear in this area. Could these
wounds be related to this biting behavior?
Should he never have been biting his arm in the first place?
<They do lots of things that shouldn't do, but habits are hard to break.
Our job is to see that his water is clean and cool and his basking place
is warm and dry and his food is a balance diet. Beyond that if he
wants to bite himself or sing country music, indulge him>
Thanks again! Horace is much appreciative!
All the best,
Ricky and Jacqueline
Red ear slider turtle with bitten off
I have a question.
I recently put a female red ear slider into the tank of my other female
<These are not social animals and can be aggressive.>
The newer turtle is smaller. They seemed to be getting along well
except at feeding time the larger turtle seemed to try to eat all of
the food before the newer turtle could get any.
<I see. Possibly bullying; are you sure the larger turtle is a
she got food anyway. They were fine even after I came home from work
until that evening when I went to check on them. The smaller turtle had
blood all over her head. When I finally was able to see what was going
on after all the blood was washed off, I realized the larger turtle
completely bit the smaller turtle nose off.
It is no longer bleeding but it seems as though when she puts her head
out of the water, she opens her mouth now for air and water shoots out
of her nose holes. I know she must be in pain.
Being that its the weekend, the veterinarians who care for turtles
office is not open.
<Does need veterinarian help.>
Is there anything I should or can do?
<Needs a vet; at the very least, its nose will need to be patched up
a bit and the turtle treated with antibiotics to prevent infection.
Keeping the turtle out of the water will help. Provide drinking water,
but that's it; warm, damp conditions foster infections, while warm,
dry conditions will help the wound heal.>
Will she live?
She seems as though she doesn't want to eat now as well.
<Eating is the least of her worries.>
<You're welcome. My apologies about the reply being a bit late;
for some reason the turtle people didn't check in over the weekend,
so you've had to make do with me, a fish person! Cheers,
Injuries on my RES's tail and legs... incomp. w/
their own kind of diff. size 2/9/10
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I'm a Red Eared Slider lover from Singapore. I had two
sliders, one was about just 3/4 size of another and I placed them
together till today when I finally discovered something! Just few
days ago, my smaller RES could be found swimming frantically once
in a while, I really had no idea what was going on and I simply
ignored it. Just when I was feeding them, I noticed that the
smaller ones was just swimming with it's front legs and it
just withdrew it's both hind legs and tail. Then I finally
found out that it's tail and both legs were injured; it seems
to be bitten off a little on the legs while the tail.. I do not
know how to explain but I do have a few pictures.
<Sliders are strange that way. They can live in peace and
harmony for years and then one day get into nipping matches and
sometimes terrible fights. The size difference you mention -- one
is 3/4 the size of the other -- is right on the margin of
The injuries is around the end of it's tail while the
injuries on it's legs were at the hind toe nails.
Currently, I have separated them and the injured ones are placed
in salt solution and I changed it twice. I could not afford for
veterinarian so hope to ask for your professional guidance.
<I have an article that will help you and as long as the feet
and tail don't get infected, you can treat them at home. Here
is the link:>
<The big concern is that, like the rest of us, you now have to
have multiple homes for your turtles -- or a big tank with a
Thank You and pardon my grammar errors. :)
<You are welcome -- and your grammar is as good as mine! :)
Red Eared Slider Question
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have had my turtle for about 4 and a half years. I bought him
when he was the size of a quarter, he is now between 5 and 6
inches long. After having him for a year in a shared tank with
another turtle the same size (my roommate's turtle) I moved
him into a larger tank by himself and then I adopted him a
girlfriend. His girlfriend, who started of the same size as him,
is now double his size and I suspect that she took a bite out of
him. I noticed he had a large cut at the base of his nail and
immediately separated him. He is now in a smaller tank with
shallow water, a heat lamp and basking spot. He seems to be in
better spirits, is eating and basking, but I'm not sure that
the wound is healing quick enough. Is there anything you would
suggest to speed up his recovery?
<Please read this:
and check out your treatment options>
His girlfriend seems a little lonely (maybe she shouldn't
have bitten him!)
I would like to reunite them as soon as possible so they
don't become aggressive towards each other. I have tried
applying Silvadene ointment that the vet gave me last time his
girlfriend injured her self, I have also tried some regular
antibacterial ointment, neither seems to be doing the trick. I am
being too impatient?
<Probably. Healing takes time. It's a much longer healing
process in reptiles than in humans. Make sure the wound gets time
to be completely DRY each day as he basks. If not, take him out
of the water for a week or so - as the illness article
I have also attached a picture of him, you can see the big red
spot. (I hope it was the right file type and you don't have
trouble opening it)
<It opened perfectly and shows a nail lost at the root.
<The healing will go along find, Natalie, as long as it
doesn't develop a secondary infection. As long as he's
eating, basking and otherwise healthy - and you're keeping
his tank nice & clean, this shouldn't be a
<The problem will be when you try to re-introduce them to each
There are three possibilities here
1- It was just "one of those things" that won't
2 - The tank is too small for them and he doesn't have enough
room to get away from her when she's in a mood.
3- She's just plain mean and it WILL happen again.>
<You'll have to consider those options, make changes as
needed. #1 is the easy one, #2 is a big harder (but it's my
guess the RIGHT one) and #3 requires rehoming one of them and
trying to find a suitable replacement>
Thanks in advance for your words of wisdom,