FAQs About Red Ear Slider (RES) Turtle
Illnesses of the Red Ear Slider (& other Emydid Turtles)
by Darrel Barton,
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,
Amphibians, Red Eared Slider Care, Shell Rot in Turtles,
FAQs on RES Health:
RES Disease/Health 2,
RES Disease 3,
Health 4, RES Health 5,
RES Health 6,
Health 7, RES Health 8,
RES Health 9,
RES Health 10,
RES Health 11,
RES Health 12, &
Turtle Disease 1,
Turtle Disease 3,
Turtle Respiratory Disease,
Turtle Eye Disease,
FAQs on RES Health by Type:
& Sliders 1,
Red Eared Slider Identification,
RED EARED SLIDER TURTLE NEEDS YOUR HELP ASAP 9/16/18
My six year old grandson's turtles are in my care as his parents won't allow the
turtle at their house and I desperately need your advice and help. I don't know
what I am doing although I am trying.
Attached are pictures of the turtle in question.
<I see them.>
Two turtles were purchased as hatchlings in January, 2018. One grew normally and
is a 4 to 5 inches and the other is only two inches and has developed a
growth on the side of its face.
<I see this. My gut feeling is goiter -- or goiter in American English -- which
is usually caused by poor diet; specifically, a lack of iodine. Is this common
in turtles? No. But it does happen, especially if the turtles are fed
exclusively on a monotonous diet. Iodine is most abundant in sea algae, such as
the Nori sheets sold in Asian food markets for making sushi rolls, and for many
pet animals, this is by far the cheapest green food to give them if you want a
safe amount of iodine in their diet. Meaty seafood will contain some iodine too,
particularly filter-feeding mollusks such as clams, mussels and cockles. Good
quality dried turtle foods (such as ReptoMin) and good quality herbivorous fish
foods (such as Koi pellets) should contain enough iodine for pet turtles, so if
you've been using these, a goiter isn't very likely. Can I stress though that
once the goiter is apparent, simply fixing the diet is unlikely to help by
itself. At the very least, an iodine supplement should be provided as per the
manufacturer's instructions; ideally, and most effectively, a vet will prescribe
appropriate medications and/or provide injections of the right amount of iodine
I read that because they are the same species that one is dominant and the
reason for the one with the growth not growing at the same speed as the other.
<While this is (sometimes) true when you have two sexually mature adult males,
juveniles shouldn't really be causing any real problems.>
I followed the instructions and separated them immediately, new tank (one 50 gal
and one 20 gal) heat lamp on 24/7 and UVB lamp on 10 to 12 hrs a day plus
basking pad, etc. in each tank.
<This is, of course, the other obvious possibility, a metabolic bone disorder.
Provided turtles are getting a good diet (specifically, something with calcium
in it) as well as a UV-B source, then such problems are
normally rare. Calcium should be present in good quality staple foods (ReptoMin,
Koi Pellets, etc.) but may also be supplemented with a calcium-rich powder
that's dusted on fresh foods. You can even offer small bits of cuttlebone for
them to chew on. UV-B tubes are excellent, but they do have a life span, most
'wearing out' in 6-12 months. So that's worth bearing in mind when trying to
figure out what's happened here.>
Any advice and help you can provide me would be greatly appreciated.
<Realistically, it's hard to be sure if goiter, metabolic bone disorder, even
bad genes are to blame here. If the turtle is otherwise happy and healthy, and
there are no other signs of infection (such as smell shell,
puffy eyes, wheezy breathing, etc.) I'd perhaps focus on the iodine, calcium,
and UV-B angles first, and if there's a shortcoming in that direction, see if
the turtle improves once you fix the problem. But if the
turtle has other health problems or symptoms, I'd definitely go visit a vet as
soon as practical.>
<Good luck, Neale.>
Re: RED EARED SLIDER TURTLE NEEDS YOUR HELP ASAP 9/16/18
Neale, Thank you very much for your prompt reply.
I found it most helpful and will definitely follow your advice.
I do have ReptoMin but the little turtle prefers Aquatic Turtle food with added
vitamins and minerals - the hatchling formula.
<Sounds a fine staple, but I would also add some fresh greens periodically --
starving the pellets for days if not weeks if such are ignored. Goldfish weed,
sold cheaply by the bunch, is a good choice. Some cuttlebone, or even unshelled
shrimp, now and again provides useful calcium.>
It is also a fussy eater contrary to the other turtle that was obtained at the
same time. Also, the other turtle is a normal size for its age, is a good eater,
etc. Thank you again for the great service you provide.
<Good luck! Neale.>
Turtle, RES, hlth. 7/24/18
Hello I have a question about my turtle show I don't know we're supposed to look
like this it will be really helpful if you can help me and also the recent photo
I'd attached to the email.
<Looks normal enough to me. Let me have you do some reading:
Generally speaking, if a turtle is active, has clear eyes, is not snuffly or
otherwise unable to breathe normally, and has no noticeable deformities to the
shell and limbs, then chances are that it's fine! I've cc'ed a couple of our
turtle experts, in the hope that they'll chime in if something is amiss here.
My RES 7/24/18
hey wwm I've got a RES that's about 6 1/2 -7 yrs old and the past couple
of week he's started to look swollen like he's to big for his shell. he
doest move and just floats around in his tank unless we pick him up and
put him on his basking rock. i have 0 knowledge on turtles but i know
something is wrong his appetite has decreased too. what may be the
problem and what can i do to help him get back to his normal self. ty -milli
<Hello Milli. Does sound as if your turtle might have a respiratory
tract infection and/or metabolic bone disease. Both of these are
extremely grave, and without treatment will kill your turtle. First of
all have a read here:
As ever, prevention is much better (and easier) than cure, so
understanding why a turtle gets sick is very important. A lack of warmth
and especially a lack of UV-B lighting over the tank are two critical
factors here. In the short term, a trip to the vet is probable. But once
you get the turtle home again, you'll want to ensure the environment is
optimised for a speedy recovery (i.e., ensure the UV-B lamp is less than
6-12 months old, ensure the heat lamp is working). I've cc'ed our two
turtle experts just in case I've missed something. Cheers, Neale.>
RES; shells 12/27/17
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I have 2 Red eared Sliders in a 40 gallon tank- approx. 15 gallons water
to swim in. large basking areas at various distances from lamps. I have
noticed that the edges of the shells are becoming transparent.
<Wonderful. That means they are growing and the scutes become
transparent before they shed>
Water is changed about every 10 days.
Red Eared Slider Turtle
<Hiya, Zack. Darrel here after being away for a while>
I read through what seems like the entirety of your website's turtle content,
and I learned a whole lot! If possible though, I really think myself and my
turtle friend could both benefit from direct communication.
So (rather long story) I recently found a Red Eared Slider turtle on the side of
the interstate that had been hit by a car (presumably).
I know I probably should have left him alone but when I saw that he was alive I
couldn't help but "save" him.
My mother works at a vet clinic and had spoken previously of turtles that had
been hit and brought into the clinic, patched up, and sent to a wildlife rehab
facility. This sounded perfect, however when I brought him into the clinic, they
said the rehab facility was full for now, and that they would have to put him
down unless I wanted to care for him. Obviously I chose the latter option, and
here we are.
Timeline and info:
I found "Okie" Saturday November 18th. He had a crack in his shell (top and
partially bottom) right around his left front leg. The crack begins an inch on
either side of the leg and goes around in a 1/3 circle shape. He was not
moving other than his head, and had bloody puss forming a scab on the crack, but
was no longer bleeding. His eyes were swollen shut.
We immediately got him into the warm car and gave him some water.
Upon arriving home we put him next to a heater to get the temperature to around
He went to the vet that following Monday and received some sort of reptile
antibiotic and had x rays taken (no internal damage was seen).
All during this time we were working with him on eating, but to no avail,
however he has always been drinking very consistently if put in water.
I brought him back into the vet on the 24th for his second antibiotic shot, at
which time I expressed my concerns about 1) his eyes 2) his lack of appetite and
3) his desire to turn left. The vet fed him with a syringe (maybe 4-6 cc.s of a
green paste) and recommended beta carotene for his eyes (one drop from capsule
in mouth daily). She assumed the left turning was a neuro issue and said to hope
for the best.
Within a day one eye opened partially and by today (Monday) that eye is 75% open
and he has started to move forward instead of just left.
SO, things are looking up, but my two questions are:
1) I read on your site they can go months without eating. Is this true? I'm
really worried about him not eating, but I don't think he will have a desire to
eat until he can see. Also, with him being a wild turtle, how can I get him to
transfer to pelleted food?
2) Just after today's visit to the vet, he started doing this thing where he
opens his mouth and moves his head forward, about once per minute. Your site and
others seem to say this is very bad. What more can I do? He will
get more antibiotic on Friday.
<First, you're getting good care from your vet.>
<Don't worry too much about eating, they can go a long time between meals and
being hit by a car does depress your appetite>
<Water is good for a soaking, but until he has healed and the cracks have
scarred over don't let him SIT in water... keep him warm and dry with daily
bathing. What I'm saying is that when you are sick (you, me or a
turtle) warm, wet conditions are ideal for bacterial and fungal growth right at
a time when we're not equipped to fight it -- so make sure Okie dries out
thoroughly between baths.>
<The constant yawning can be a sign of many things but in reality none of them
are things you can treat so don't worry about that or about the left turning. If
they are all signs of neurological system damage or just from
the actual injury we're not going to know.>
<Keep him warm & dry and during his baths offer him tiny pieces of beef or
chicken liver (TINY pieces) because they are high in basic vitamins that he
needs. Also try earthworms (available at fishing/bait shops) to see if he'll
bite, so to speak. After he begins eating, by all means transition him to Koi
<Best of luck to you and Okie>
Red Slider; spot on chin 6/11/17
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a 2 year old red slider and today when I took her out of the tank I
noticed she had a yellowish/brownish spot under her chin. (pic attached)
It just feels liker her skin when I touched it. I wonder what it is and I don't
know if I should be worried about it.
Any help or guidance would be really appreciated.
<It's hard to tell from here. It looks like it may be a bruise -- just simple
damage from rubbing or scraping against something dull. It's clearly not a
puncture wound or something that broke the skin.>
<I'm going to suggest that you take her out of the water, let her dry off and
then coat it with something like Neosporin or other antibiotic ointment. Let her
stay dry for an hour after that and then put her back in her world>
<Keep an eye on it ... but don't worry about it for now>
Tina the Turtle
Re: Red Slider 6/13/17
Thank you so much for your reply. I have done the Polysporin treatment for 3
days and the difference is amazing. The mark is almost all gone !!
Tina and I thanks you very much ❤️��❤️��❤️
Turtle problem 6/11/17
I send you email sir.
<Hiya Bhakhar - Darrel here>
And his picture is in this mail
<Yes it is.>
<The problem is that this is one of those cases where you seem something that
isn't obvious to me, so let's see what I see>
<You're showing me two sides of his face, so the problem can't be on just one
<The eyes look clear>
<The skin doesn't appear to be swollen or gray in color>
<That looks like a healthy baby Red Eared Slider!>
<Here's everything you need to know to keep that little turtle healthy:
Sick Red Eared Slider 2/28/17
<Hiya, Darrel here>
My name is Randall. I have two red eared sliders, both about 20. They
share an indoor pond. About 2 weeks ago, one of my turtles started
basking a lot. When I put him in the water he started to float.
He can still swim but its on top of the water. He floats evenly on top
of the water, not lop sided.
<The floating is not much of a problem, Randall. If a turtle has been
out of the water for a very long time, this can be typical because air
has simply permeated his skin and into his body. In time as he swims,
this goes away. THAT SAID as we read on ...>
He also doe not eat much, if anything.
<This is more the problem, Basking a lot AND not eating is a sign that
something is wrong. Our biggest problem of course, is that
diagnostics are expensive and often inconclusive. He may be fighting an
infection or he may have become weak from a poor diet. Even when turtles
are eating well, sometimes they get sick from eating the wrong things.>
Do you know whats going on?
<Sadly, no. At this point it's a guessing game and the best answer we
have, short of having him examined by a veterinarian and running blood
tests - is to treat AS IF he has an infection. Keep him warm and dry and
him tiny bits of highly nutritious food. In other words create an
environment where he has the very best chance to heal himself. Read here
As far as diet is concerned, small pieces of beef or chicken liver in
his bath water is where I would start.>
Symptoms after Vitamin A injections alarming!!
<Hiya - Darrel here>
We've taken our son's 2 RES to an emergency vet that diagnosed
them with pneumonia saying we purchased them sick it just takes time for
them o show symptoms.
<Very true and .. sadly ... very common>
They were given injections for 30 days every 72 hours and today they
went back to the regular vet because it has been 8 days since they have
eaten do to stress of dry docking them and being sick in general.
<Not a huge concern assuming that had been eating prior to getting sick>
The vet today gave them Vitamin A injections and now they keep biting
and won't stop moving the leg they were given in as if they are
irritated and they haven't done this after the medication injections
we've been giving them. Will this go away or do they need to go back to
emergency vet since our normal vet is now closed??!!
<Not at this point. I'm not sure what injections they were given for 30
days, and I would have given calcium and D along with the "A" -- but at
this point my suggestion is to STOP treating them.>
<At this point the stress from the treatments is a negative affect on
the over-all course of recovery. Keep them dry docked except for their
daily bath of luke-warm water. Make sure that the water is not over
their eye/nose level so that no water accidentally gets in their lungs.
Other than that, keep them warm and dry - and allow them some peace and
<Pay attention, of course, that they open their eyes and will move when
necessary (such as during their bath) but you're treated the infection
and now it's time to de-stress them>
About my red eared slider; not eating 1/24/17
Hi there I have had my turtle for about 6 years now. She has always been a good
eater until recently she's been being fussy and refusing food she has eaten for
quite some time. She is only eating one specific type of food but less of it.
She is also less active then she was and she is sleeping a lot. She still basks
during the day in natural sunlight but whenever she seems to go in the water she
seems to always want to sleep. The water is not too cold as I know that could
have been a possibility. She tends to do a strange thing with her mouth
sometimes as if she is grinding her teeth(although she has none) She does not
seem to have any abnormal breathing though. Please let me know if you could give
<Sorry for the delay replying. I wonder if she's egg-bound? Quite common in
female turtles. Male turtle not required! See if a tray or box of warm, dry sand
attracts her attention. Place it in her habitat, so she can climb onto it
easily. Exercise is also important to get things moving, in much the same way
that lack of exercise promotes constipation in humans.
If this doesn't help, and you can rule out diet, temperature, and lack of UV-B
light, then a trip to the vet will almost certainly be required. Egg-binding is
serious, and if it doesn't fix itself (as it usually does) then the eggs die,
decay, cause septicaemia, and the turtle dies. Yikes!
I'd like to know if this is mbd?
I have 2 red eared turtles. Both with soft shells and some white spots. I
tried to gently scrub it but it wont come off. Also, I only got them two
days ago. They were fine. However, I started to worry when I noticed the
white spots on the shell. I also noticed that the shell is soft. What is
this? Is this mbd? I already bought Reptomin and fed them about 6 pellets.
I emptied the tank bc that's what some articles say. Please help me. I don't
know what to do.
<Let me have you do some reading first:
Almost all problems with turtles come down to improper care and diet.
So the questions to ask are (a) are you providing calcium-rich food; and (b)
are you providing access to UV-B. Calcium comes from their diet, such as by
dusting their food with finely powdered calcium carbonate. Reptomin is a
fine staple, but I'd still ensure they have access to small bits of
something calcium-rich, such as small bits of cuttlebone, to chew on. As for
the UV-B, that normally comes from a lamp. Some people use combined heat and
UV-B lamps that are very convenient. Otherwise you need to have a
UV-B lamp alongside your heat lamp. Turtles kept outdoors will get UV-B from
the Sun, and rarely develop metabolic problems in hot/sunny countries.
Unfortunately, UV-B isn't available indoors from normal house lights or from
standard heat lamps, is one of the commonest reasons for metabolic <? RMF>