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FAQs About Red Ear Slider (RES) Turtle Disease/Health 13  

Related Articles: Treating Common Illnesses of the Red Ear Slider (& other Emydid Turtles) by Darrel Barton,
Turtle eye diseases; Recognising and treating eye diseases in pet turtles by Neale Monks, So your turtle has the Flu? 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, AmphibiansRed Eared Slider CareShell Rot in Turtles,

FAQs on RES Health:  RES Disease, RES Disease/Health 2, RES Disease 3, RES Health 4, RES Health 5, RES Health 6, RES Health 7, RES Health 8, RES Health 9, RES Health 10, RES Health 11, RES Health 12, & 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, Social, 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,

Red eared slider turtle      4/1/19
I have 5 baby red eared slider turtles they were good but one of my turtle stop eating and it is not moving much.
<It's not a good sign when turtles stop eating and moving. Usually means they're too cold (need a heat lamp for basking); but can mean they're sick (don't forget a UV-B source). Let's have you do some reading, here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/rescarebarton.htm
Five Red Ear Sliders will need A LOT of space when mature, so be sure you understand their needs. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Red eared slider turtle      4/1/19
But I can't understand what is going on with only one All the four are good they eat & play
<So far.>
But only one is not looking good
Plzzz help me.....��
<You have not sent me any information. Tell me about their home. For example:
(1) What source of heat do they have?
(2) What sort of UV-B lamp are you using?
(3) What do you feed them?
(4) How big is their tank?
(5) Can they bask under the heat lamp easily? Same for the UV-B lamp?
READ where you were sent, and see what you ARE NOT doing right -- that is likely the answer. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Red eared slider turtle     4/3/19

I have a water heater bulb
<Not sure what you mean here. A heat lamp over a rock is traditional. The water can be room temperature. The turtle will warm up on the land, and cool down in the water.>
I don't use any uv-b lamp I provide direct sun light at least 4 hr per day
<So no glass between the sun and the turtle? That should be fine.>
My tank is 30 gallon
I have also 7 fish in it
<Not a good idea in a tank this small.>
I feed them aquatic turtles food sticks
<Should be fine.>
And I notice today it has discharge from mouth. Is my turtle dyeing?
<Hard to say because you haven't offered enough details. DO some reading, in particular the sections on eye and respiratory tract infections; here:

Dear Crew,
My name is Sanjay and I own a Red Eared Slider.
<Hello Sanjay,>
For the past week, he seems unwell and I am not sure what I must do. For a while he had stopped eating the traditional pellets, and so I started giving him dried prawns which he was okay with.
<These are okay now and again, but dried prawns shouldn't be used too often.>
Now he has started eating the pellets, but in general he is much less excited about the food and takes much longer to eat it than he would earlier.
<Do offer some variety, in case there's constipation going on. Fresh greens (such as cheap aquarium plants like Elodea) will do the trick nicely, but check they're safe for turtles.>
The other thing that worries me is that, every morning the water in his tub has a layer of mucus like stuff floating on the top.
<Is this skin? Turtles shed skin periodically, and it looks like plastic film with a scaly texture. But actual slime (bacteria) or fluff (fungus) usually indicates problems with the tank and/or filter. Check the water
volume is adequate, clean the filter out, and ensure that the filter is big enough for the job. Adding an extra filter may help.>
I'm really not sure what this is, but it looks pretty clear (not yellow/brown but fairly transparent) and thick and is full of small bubbles. Other than that, thin layers of the shell seem to be peeling off more than before. I have read some pages on the website but nothing seems to be fitting with the symptoms regarding the mucus like stuff that I am finding every day.
<Understood. If the stuff is actually in the water, rather than on the turtle, chances are it's a filtration issue. Feed less, clean the filter, change the water more often. If the stuff is on the turtle, smell the turtle, and if anything smells off ("musty", like mould) then you may be dealing with Shell Rot.>
I have owned this turtle and another one (which is doing fine) for over 7 years and they have never had any health issues, so this is quite sudden and it has me worried.
Please help me out at the earliest.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Dear Neale,
Thanks a lot for your help
<You're most welcome.>

Red Eared Slider Turtle Advice     12/29/18
I observed a small bump/lump on the left side of my red eared slider turtle's neck this morning, which didn't exist before. It is only visible when she is breathing inside the water tank with her neck expanding, but it feels like a small bone has grown in there. Otherwise, her behaviour is completely normal, her breathing and nostrils are in excellent condition and her shell is hard and healthy looking. Due to the fact that I am not aware of any veterinarians who are trained to treat turtles in my area, I would deeply appreciate it if you could inform me about what might be the case with my pet and maybe propose possible ways of treatment.
Thank you in advance for your help,
<Metabolic bone disorder, bacterial infections, goiters, benign cysts and tumours are all possibilities. If it's appeared overnight, then an infected wound or bacterial infection causing a swelling is more likely, but if the lump feels hard, it may well be it's only become obvious recently, and actually been there awhile. There's simply no way to guess from a text message. This is one of those instances where a vet is the person to speak with. If you don't know a vet who treats reptiles, a good start is to visit a local pet shop that specialises in reptiles and amphibians. Failing that, your local or national animal welfare charity may be able to help, and some charities, like the Tortoise Trust, have lists of reptile vets all around
the world:
If the turtle is otherwise breathing and feeding normally, and you are confident it isn't in any distress, then there's probably no immediate hurry. But still, the thing with reptiles is that many problems develop
very slowly because of their slower metabolism, and it's easy to overlook serious problems until they're too difficult (or expensive) to treat.
Cheers, Neale.>

Constipated turtle      12/1/18
Hey folks! I was hoping I could get your opinion on something.
<Sure thing!>
My red eared slider has/had a bit of shell rot, which I treated with iodine and an anti-fungal creme.
I took her to a vet, even though there are no herp vets here, I just took her in because they have a lab, and I wanted her poop tested. Which they did, and they told me she apparently has too much fiber and starch in her poop. They told me nothing else useful, didn't give any kind of diagnoses, just told me that's bad and that I should only feed her animal matter, no plants.
<This is, well, wrong. Red-Ear Sliders are omnivores in the wild, with adults predominantly feeding on aquatic plants. They should indeed be producing lots of faeces, which would indeed look quite fibrous. Of course starchy foods, such as cereals, probably shouldn't be given too often, as these aren't a natural part of their diet. Better to focus on cheap aquarium plants (such as Elodea) as sold for Goldfish system, alongside pellets and small bits of seafood. ReptoMin isn't bad at all, especially for hatchlings, though it is a bit protein rich, so as the turtle gets older, it should be given less often. Koi pellets are a good, cheap staple.
They're plant-based and readily taken by hungry turtles.>
I tried doing that, and now she's constipated.
Probably this just layered over the fact that I was dry-docking her because of the fungus and only put her in water for about an hour every day.
She hasn't pooped in over a week, and now she WON'T eat any plant matter.
I'm not sure what to do now.
<Turtles often can't defecate unless placed in room temperature to slightly warm (i.e., not cold!) water, so that might be one factor. A protein-rich, fibre-poor diet will cause problems too.>
Even if taking her to the vet again was in any way useful, which it probably wouldn't be, it is now very cold, so taking her anywhere is very risky, especially since I don't have a car.
Anything I can do?
<Placing the turtle in slightly warm (18-22 C) water should raise its metabolic rate a bit, and with everything ticking over nicely, its gut muscles can push the faeces out better. In cold conditions this doesn't happen because the muscles become inactive. I would check the tank has no gravel in it -- very occasionally turtles swallow gravel, and once inside them, it can cause serious blockages. An x-ray is the only way to check for this, but "prevention is better than cure", so don't combine turtles with gravel. Beyond these, simply increasing the fibre content of the food, and scaling back anything likely to cause constipation, such as dried shrimps, should be avoided.>
I've been keeping her in water mostly warmer than her usual temperature in hopes that it'll relax her insides and she'll rehydrate, and I tried putting a bit of olive oil on her food, though I'm not sure if she actually ingested any.
<Worth a shot, though!>
So far, no poop. Would human laxatives make a difference?
<Possibly, if you stuffed something like bran fibre into some small piece of seafood the turtle would swallow whole.>
Though I'd be scared of trying to force-feed anything because of the risk of it going in her lungs instead.
<Quite so. Force feeding animals is extremely risky, and shouldn't be attempted unless you've been shown what to do by an expert. With cold blooded animals, which have much lower food requirements than mammals, starvation will take many weeks, even months, to become a life-threatening danger.>
Any help would be appreciated.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

<Hello Gail,>
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 needed.>
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.>

Neale, Thank you very much for your prompt reply.
<Most welcome.>
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.
Cheers, Neale.>

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
Dear Crew
<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.
Please help.
Any suggestions?

Red Eared Slider Turtle       12/16/17
Hi there,
<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.
<no problem>
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 75 degrees.
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 pellets>
<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)
<Tina's pretty>
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
Dear Darrel,
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 side.>
<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:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

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 feed
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 about dry-docking.
As far as diet is concerned, small pieces of beef or chicken liver in his bath water is where I would start.>
Thank you

Symptoms after Vitamin A injections alarming!!     2/12/17
Dear Crew,
<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 quiet.>
<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 some advice.
<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!

Turtle      1/24/17
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>

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