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FAQs About Turtle Babies, Young: Foods/Feeding/Nutrition

Related Articles: My Turtle Laid Eggs. What do I do? by Darrel Barton, Turtles, Shell Rot in Turtles, AmphibiansRed Eared Slider Care

FAQs on: Turtle Reproduction & Young, RES Reproduction & Young,
FAQs on: Young Turtle Identification, Young Turtle Behavior, Young Turtle Compatibility, Young Turtle Stocking/Selection, Young Turtle Systems, Young Turtle Disease,
Related FAQs:  Turtles 1, Turtles 2, Red Ear Sliders, Turtle Identification, Turtle Behavior, Turtle Compatibility, Turtle Selection, Turtle Systems, Turtle FeedingTurtle Disease, Shell Rot, & by Species: Cooters/Mud Turtles, Softshells, Snapping Turtles, Mata Matas, Tortoises, & AmphibiansOther Reptiles


Baby RES won't eat- really worried!       8/13/17
Dear Crew,
<Hiya, Darrel here>
Ok- so we got (2) baby RES about 3 weeks ago, They are only about 1.5 In. Have tried different types of pellets, live crickets, lettuce and tiny pieces of ham (read on website somewhere baby res like that).
<Not really. As hatchlings they tend to be carnivorous and become more omnivorous as they get bigger>
Take them out and put them in separate feeding container and leave them alone for about 30 min. Have not seen them eat anything- EVER- talked to pet store people, researched online and getting nowhere! Temp of tank is about 78
<A bit warm – tank water should be room temperature and requires no heater at all>
with good basking area (day and evening bulbs) and UVA/UVB bulb as well.
<They don’t need evening bulbs. They wouldn’t have one in the wild, would they?>
Also- now one of them has a little reddish tint/buildup and looks like couple small bubbles on edge of shell that were not there yesterday.
<It’s hard to say from way over here. The reddish tint can be a sign of sepsis, which is a technical term for an infection that has spread to the whole body -- but I’ve seen that from a tank that had a red brick in it too – even though the water stayed perfectly clear, so it may not be serious at all.>
<For feeding, I’d take them out of their tank and put them in a bowl with just a bare covering of water, not even up to their shoulders … and place a small amount (and I mean just barely enough to be picked up with a toothpick) and place it in the bowl. I usually don’t place it in front of them … if they are active I place it somewhere else and let them discover it.>
<Here is the explanation of light, heat and food. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>

4 baby Red Ear Sliders    6/23/12
Hi there.
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My name is Adam, and my Wife and I recently bought four baby RES. I've only had them for about a month now. They are very slightly larger than a quarter (25 cents). I bought a 50 gallon tank, filled it 1/3 with water, using the appropriate amount of ZILLA aquatic reptile water conditioner. I then put in an AQUEON water pump/filter. Filled the bottom of the tank with very smooth rocks from the local pet store, and on the end farthest from the pump, I made a slope coming out of the water right under the ZILLA 75watt / 120volt heat lamp. Right next to the ZILLA 13watt / tropical25 UV lamp. I also put in a TETRA FAUNA aquatic reptile water heater preset to at 78'F. The have two little fake floating pieces of land which they thoroughly enjoy hiding under if they get nervous.
<So far, so good>
There is also some fake plants for privacy that they all 4 seem to recognize and use often when coming up for air... I turn the lights on every morning at exactly 8am. And off every night at exactly 11:30pm. I feed them once every other day, but sometimes I'll see one or two digging at the rocks at the bottom of the tank, searching for bloodworms, and I'll give 'em a snack. Right now, I honestly don't know what to feed them besides BLOOD WORMS. I threw in a couple small pieces of store bought LETTUCE one time, but they didn't even nibble at it. So far there doesn't seem to be any problem with competition for food or light or anything, but they are still all the same size.
<Go get a bag of SMALL sized Koi pellets or Repto-min floating food sticks.  That's your primary food from now until they double in size - then go to regular-sized Koi pellets for the rest of their lives.   These pellets/sticks are highly plant-based and fully balanced for raising turtles.>
When they get a little bigger, I'm sure I'll have to separate them eventually.
<Not necessarily - turtles can be very social.  Don't worry about that until you see serious aggression.  The males will stop growing at the size of a closed fist and the females will continue to grow>
They are very friendly, and it seems they are becoming more comfortable and not as nervous when I go to feed them or clean their tank. We handle them whenever I clean the tank, which is once, maybe twice, a week. Although I don't ever handle them when I feed them. I turn off the water pump/filter and do my best to give them privacy while they eat. These 4 little guys are the first RES turtles my Wife and I have ever owned. I think I'm doing good so far... But I need a professional opinion. Please help with what to feed them, what I'm doing wrong, or if I can do anything to make them happier... And should female and male (brothers and sisters) be raised together? Should I separate them? And if so which ones, and when? Thank you for all your help!
<I think you’re doing fine already!!  I wouldn't bother with the water conditioner though - save that money and add it to the replacement UV light fund, etc.>
<Make sure they have basking heat AND UV-B, 72 degree water (room temp NEVER a heater if they're indoors and 88-92 degree basking area.>
<read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<Also: Name one of them Herkimer and never EVER let them near your Checkbook or Debit cards - Red Eared Sliders have absolutely NO sense of money or restraint!>
Sent from my iPhone

RES refusing to eat and not growing.   1/8/12
<Well actually, girl.  Hope that will suffice!  Sue here with you.>
So I am in a predicament. I purchased 2 RES for my wife for our anniversary back in September. (In hindsight, I realized that adoption was an option here in PHX but was ignorant to this at the time).
<Nice of you to consider that at least; sounds like youve learned about the unfortunate turtle plight!>
She has been a lifelong turtle lover but had never before had her own as a pet.
<So far its sounding just like my story!  My father refused to buy me one when I was little and in hindsight just as well given what happened to all of them back then!>
She was very happy with the gift and we love the little guys dearly. Beings that we were both illiterate to turtle care going in, we had much to learn.
<Yes, though always preferable to do this kind of research BEFORE you buy a new pet, as you soon discovered!>
Although, as a somewhat smart individual, I figured I would be able to figure it out and give them a good life.  At first it was just the one, Kiwi. Kiwi seemed to be very timid at first and still is to this day. However, from the beginning, he would eat when we fed him albeit reluctantly sometimes. We then soon decided to add another to the tank. Again, being ignorant to the situation we assumed that he would be better off with a tank mate.
<And especially before buying your new pet a friend as well!>
Someone to play with someone to be social with. I now know that RES dont really need to have another buddy around.  So we then added Seymour to the tank. We had bought an initial setup from the local Petco that included a 20 gallon tank (MUCH TOO SMALL we soon realized) as well as a pathetic little filter and some other junk.  After just a few days we quickly
realized that everything in the kit was not only junk, but wasnt anywhere remotely adequate for the needs of 2 turtles (Like they show happily on the box!).
<Yes, kits of any sort are unfortunately often just another marketing gimmick companies use to bundle up all their *junk* so that they can sell even MORE of it at a cheaper price! >
Seymour was/is much more social than Kiwi. Although he spooks like any turtle does, he will eat out of our hands and even sometimes stays in his basking spot while we are right there staring at him.
<In time, Kiwi will probably do the same!  But theyll always have a tendency to be on the nervous side because of their natural instincts.  In the wild, they are the PREY!>
We ended up upgrading almost immediately to a bigger tank, better filter, etc. After about a month, we realized this was not going to work, either.  After doing some research on the best habitats we can give them, we happened upon a few people who were using a spare bathtub to house their turtles. Since we have a spare bathroom that we never use, this idea was intriguing. The thought of just pulling the plug and refilling the tub was much better than having to do endless water changes and endless upkeep.
<Yeah, unfortunately turtles are such poop factories that theres really no such thing as ever cycling a turtle aquarium the way you do for fish!  A filter/media is of some help though with odor, water clarity, and general circulation so the water doesnt become stagnant.>
We decided to do it. We made a trip to Home Depot for supplies,
<Yeap, been there more times than I care to count! >
then to our local pet store for some more.
<Ditto for this too!>
After 4-5 hours, they were set up with a complete habitat including an above water basking area, 2 hanging lamps, a full jungle look complete with river rocks, plants and a covered hiding spot at one end of the tub. The rocky path leading up to the basking area also has a trail leading down one side of the Roman tub to an above ground area where they can roam around to stretch their legs. In a nutshell, we have really went out of our way to give these kids (theyre gonna be with us for 20+ years)
<Or longer!  They can live for 40 years or more.  You may need to make arrangements for them in your wills!>
a great life and a natural looking habitat to grow in.
<Yes, you sure have!  Wow, youve accomplished a lot in a short period of time!  Those are lucky turts!  Sounds like a place even ID want to live in.  Send us some pics, would love to see it!>
<Since you like the idea of a more inviting and natural habitat, another possibility to consider in the future should you ever wish to reclaim your bathroom (or have them within easier viewing range without having to go to the bathroom!) is an indoor pond.  Theyre not terribly expensive, especially when comparing them to a glass aquarium of equal size.  Lowes carries a line of different size and shape preformed ponds made by MacCourt (available through special order).  I have a simple rectangular shaped one I use indoors thats 60 x 36 x 12 deep, and has worked out well.  Mine is set up to drain through a filter to a sink using an auxiliary filter output hose, so nearly as easy to drain as a bathtub!>
<And if you tack on a quiet waterfall and park bench to the set-up, you can have your daily moment of Zen (i.e. enlightenment; not the Jon Stewart translation!)>
Now we get to the problem... Soon after they moved in to their new digs, Seymour (the more social of the two) began nipping at Kiwi.
<Oops, trouble in paradise.  Looks like the honeymoon is over!>
He started with biting at his feet, which over time, then progressed into biting at his head. Kiwi got to the point where he seemed like he was in constant anxiety for fear of being bitten.
<I dont blame him; I would be too! >
We tried to separate them when the biting would happen, but it was to no avail. It wasnt feasible to keep them apart as we were told to do. Luckily, it was only a phase and after a few weeks they went back to getting along again. 
<Its fairly common for turtles to initially be nippy toward one another when theyre marking their territories, and also common that one turtle emerges as the dominant one.  The nippiness is also something that may come and go periodically.  For the most part, turtles of the same species are compatible, but they can all have their days just like people!>
Kiwi started to slowly get back to sleeping with his legs out of his shell again! The problem I am having is this- basically, ever since this behavior started, Kiwi refuses to eat. 
<This is probably due to a combination of factors, not just Seymour.  As you mentioned in the beginning of your note, Kiwi had a very timid personality right from the start and was sometimes a reluctant eater even then.  So hes timid by nature and as a result, will likely react more dramatically than Seymour to ANY change (you; a new *roommate*; getting bitten and intimidated by his new roommate!; and/or suddenly be placed into a completely new environment).>
When they were purchased in September they were both nearly identical in size. Both were about the circumference of a softball.
<The best way to describe the size of turtles is by holding a straight ruler above them and measuring the length of their carapace (top shell). >
I do not know the age of these guys as I have been told it is nearly impossible to tell without physically knowing their actual birth date.
<Yes this is true.  All you can do is make a general estimate based on their carapace length. From your basic description they sound like young adults.>
I do know they are both males. I know this from their features (tails, claws) and from their habits (fluttering of their hands at each other). I also know that Seymour has shown dominance and has taken over the tank based on his actions. Again, they live peacefully together now, however, it is clear based on their past actions toward each other and the present fact that Seymour eats all the food that he is the dominant one.
<Likely true.>
Now, 3 months later, Seymour has grown to be noticeably bigger.
<Again, not uncommon.  Whats more important, though, is whether Kiwi IS in fact eating, growing, and thriving; not so much whether or not theyre the exact same size.  Even if NEITHER was dominant, turtles just like people have individual rates of growth (even if theyre the same sex).>
When feeding them, Seymour starts devouring all of the food and Kiwi just lays back and will not even eat anymore. The food can be right under his nose and he wont touch it.  I have tried to take him out and feed him separately in another tank but he still will not eat.  I dont know if it is the anxiety of taking him out and putting him somewhere else or what.  I even have tried to take Seymour out to run around outside and leave Kiwi in the tank by himself with food. My thought process was that maybe he would eat if he was in a more comfortable setting without The Terminator hanging around.  Still, he wont eat.
<As above, its likely too many changes happening to him at once given his naturally timid nature.  Turtles (especially Kiwi) are creatures of habit.  He should do better if you give him a predictable routine that he can consistently count on every day no matter WHAT that routine is. You may just need to give your ideas more time to work with him than only a few days.>
<Though having said that the routine itself doesn't matter as long as there IS a routine, it does seem clear that Seymour IS playing a significant role in Kiwis level of stress.  >
<So Id eliminate anything that could trigger Seymour to become aggressive.  And two of the most common things that create aggression in turtles (besides competing for a mate!) is competing for food and competing for prime basking *real estate*!  So if it was me, Id make it a habit to feed them separately and eliminate at least one of the two things!>
I know he is eating a little at least, because he isnt dying, obviously, and he doesnt seem to be sick or anything. His shell is nice and hard, no discoloration, he is still active, still basking, etc.
<Again, thats whats most important.>
The tub they are in is plenty big for both of them. We are feeding them every other day and sometimes every day...basically 4 days a week.
<Well, besides feeling stressed, feeding too much or too often can also affect a turtles appetite.  I would definitely NOT feed them every day only every other day at MOST.  Even just 3 times a week is all they need.  Over-feeding is the most common mistake people make and it can lead to a variety of health issues.  Better to err on the side of hungrier.>
Each feeding we give them enough food to eat and we clean out what they dont eat at the end of the day.
<Another thing to change!  Besides feeding them separately, feed each of them ONLY what they can eat in 5-10 minutes NO longer AND remove the uneaten food right away.  Dont leave it in there until the end of the day for a number of reasons.  Besides encouraging over-eating, it also doesnt allow you to monitor their appetite and whos eating what or how much.  It also encourages aggression by leaving it in there for both of them to potentially fight over.  And after a few minutes, it also starts to decompose in the water which makes it harder to maintain good water quality.  Even the best filters can only do so much!>
They both basically refuse to eat pellets unless they are starving in which case they never are allowed to get to that point.
<You nailed a key problem here youre not allowing them to get hungry enough to want to eat the pellets, which should be the main staple of their diet!>
We feed them crickets occasionally, but their diet is mostly shrimp.
<NO!  Better to feed them NOTHING than to feed them these!!  Neither has any nutritional value.  Besides over-feeding them, letting them get filled up on junk food makes it even less likely that theyll eat the healthy food!  If they continue to eat this way, they will develop vitamin deficiencies check out another query that I replied to earlier today that should get posted in the next day or so on the *Todays FAQs* link.  It was about this very thing.>
We have tried to incorporate Greens and some fruits, but they both will not eat them.  I know they are young and need greens but they wont eat them. Can you recommend anything to try that they may take to?
<Trust me, though they may balk for a while because youve spoiled them, theyll eventually *take to* ANYTHING eventually when you allow them to get hungry enough!  If they refuse to eat the pellets, remove them and wait a couple of days, then offer again.  Healthy turtles can go days and longer without any food at all.  When they get hungry enough, theyll come around!>
<As I wrote in the other query, their diet should be simple but complete.  The more things you offer  them, the more likely theyll get hooked on one thing that shouldnt be their staple.  A Koi or good quality pellet (like ReptoMin, which most turtles love) should be their staple.  Then just give them an earthworm or two every few weeks (which they love AND are nutritious).  These two things will give them a balanced enough diet, but if you want you can also continue to offer them some dark leafy greens on their *off* days from the pellets so they get used to seeing them.  Theyll become more and more interested in them as they get older.  No iceberg lettuce though it has no nutritional value.>
We keep their habitat very clean and we drain the tub and refill it about once a week.  Each time we add the proper amount of water conditioner
<No need for this, tap water is fine.  It wont harm your turtles, and in fact its better for your water quality if your water does have a little bit of chlorine in it.  And its one less expense you have to worry about!>
and we clean out one level of filter media. The filter we are using is a Fluval 205. It does a pretty good job of keeping their tub clean and with the weekly change of water, frankly, they live in a very clean habitat.
<I use Fluvals myself and have had very good luck with them.  I do as you do, however, and change the media every week or two instead of their monthly recommendation which is geared toward fish (who are MUCH less messy than turtles!)
I dont know what to do. Do you guys have any suggestions??
<Besides the suggestions Ive already made above, if you see any more aggression or notice that Kiwi isnt basking, you may also want to consider adding a 2nd spot for basking.  You might also want to set up your tub with plants or other décor that are strategically arranged in such a way that they allow each of them to have their own *space* to go to where theyre visibly out of range of the other.>
Again, they both seem otherwise healthy, but Kiwi is not growing like he is supposed to be. I am concerned that Seymour is going to eventually get much bigger than him and we will then have other problems to contend with.
<Yes, thats astute of you.  The bigger Seymour gets, the more he may throw his weight around (literally!) with Kiwi.>
<I had a similar problem once when I rescued *twin* baby turtles.  One literally climbed on top of the other to take the food away from him.  When I saw it getting to the point where the less dominant one wasnt really growing and was becoming visibly smaller in size, and that the big one was growing too fast because he was stealing all the food, I immediately started to feed them separately AND put them on different feeding schedules.  I fed the smaller one every other day, and the larger one 3 times a week.  I gave the smaller one 10 minutes to eat; the larger one 5 minutes. >
<Its important to note that BOTH these schedules can be OK but you also need to use your judgment, watch their individual growth rates, and make adjustments accordingly.  In my case the smaller one eventually did start to catch up in size WITHOUT growing too rapidly or becoming fat.  And the larger ones growth rate slowed down but did NOT become underweight.>
<They are now very close in size, and neither one is overly dominant of the other and even when one does occasionally try to act a bit dominant over the other, the other one holds his ground!>
I am sure you guys have encountered this before, any help would be great. Thanks for your
time and keep up the great website!!
<Youre welcome, Brian.  Hope this was helpful, and let us know how everything turns out!  Send us a pic if you can of your set-up too; it sounds interesting! >
<Also, since youre relatively new to the *world of turtles*, here is a link to our basic care article read it all and see if there's anything else you need to correct
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<One thing in particular that I didnt see in your description of their set-up was a UVB light, but assume youre providing that based on everything else youve done so far!  Another important thing with their basking spot is to make sure the temperature is high enough (in the 88-90 degree range). >

My baby Red Eared Slider Turtles will not eat   1/2/12
<Hi Kristal, Sue here with you.>
I have 2 baby red eared slider turtles and I have had them for around 1 month but they won't eat anything I try feeding them pellets,
<We recommend either a Koi pellet or good quality turtle pellet such as ReptoMin.>
carrots, lettuce and other vegetables but they still won't eat anything.
<Im not surprised.  Turtles become more herbivorous when theyre a little older.  Its fine to keep offering them so they get used to seeing them, but if youre offering lettuce, stick to the leafy red or green leaf lettuce and avoid iceberg lettuce as it has no nutritional value.>
I'm don't want by babies to die so can you please help me solve a way to have my babies eat?
<Well its pretty rare that turtles die from starvation, but I agree that one month is a long time for them not to eat, especially since you say youve never seen them eat since youve gotten them.  They should have adjusted to their new surroundings by now.>
<Are you absolutely sure theyre not eating?  Possibly theyre still nervous if they see you near them and may be waiting until you walk away before taking some nibbles.>
<However, if you see the same amount of food remaining as when you left, and assuming that theyre otherwise healthy, then its more than likely that something is either lacking in their environment or care and/or is otherwise causing them to feel stressed.  What kind of a set-up do you have?  How large is it?  Does it have a dry basking area for them with a UVB light and also a heat lamp above it?  And if so, whats the temperature under the lights (and also the water temperature)?  Do they get out of the water and bask for several hours a day?  How is their other behavior besides not eating?  Are they active and swimming about, or do they seem either frantic or lethargic?  How do they act toward each other?>
<Without seeing or knowing any of the specifics about their other behaviors, your set-up or the other care youre giving them, its hard for us to comment on what the problem may be from where were at.  So heres what Id suggest you do as a start Completely read over the following care guide in the link below and see if there is anything youre doing (or not doing!) thats different from whats recommended in this guide.  If there is, make the corrections and see if they start eating:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm  >
<Hope this helps, Kristal!  If not, write us back with the details on your set-up, care, and their other behaviors (such as the ones I noted above) and well try some other things.>
Re: My baby Red Eared Slider Turtles will not eat    1/4/12

Thank u very much I started to feed them what it said and they love it and now I can tell there happy
<Youre welcome.  Glad to see it helped and thanks for letting us know!  ~ Sue >

Baby RES not eating :( 12/29/11
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My roommate bought a couple of baby Red Eared Sliders from outside the metro here in Moscow (Russia) about two months ago which was a big mistake to begin with as she didnt know about the responsibility of keeping them.
<Sad, but very common>
They were around an inch in diameter. We set them up in a new 20 gallon tank, a heating lamp and a Reptiglo 5.0 above the basking spot. Water temperature is at a constant 82 degrees. I dont know exactly how hot the basking spot is, but they bask everyday so I am guessing it's fine. It even feels warm when I place my index finger on the basking rock.
<The water is a bit too warm.  Normally it shouldn't be higher than room temperature, which is to say - 68 to 73 (f).>
Our rooms air temperature is at around 75 degrees.
<Then no heated water is necessary here.   The idea is to give them a CHOICE between cooler water and a hot basking area.>
The trouble started five days ago when one of the babies stopped eating completely. He wont eat Gammarus (his favorite), pellets of any kind, tiny live snails, bloodworms or fresh fish meat. I checked his shell and its soft towards the end on the top side and soft all over the bottom. Both of them used to love eating Gammarus coated in Tetra ReptoLife so I never worried about calcium or vitamin deficiencies. We tried feeding him in a separate bowl too but that didnt help either. The only activity he shows now is basking intermittently throughout the day and going into the water at night when we switch off the bulbs after a period of 12hours. He sleeps in the water at night. Today I noticed he opened his mouth and a tiny amount of white powder like substance floated out and dissolved into the water. Ive read that they can go two weeks without food but the other baby seems to have grown already and is visibly stronger. This one is still the same size and has frail feet. I am considering calling a vet because I dont want to travel with the baby as its already freezing outside.
<The little one needs a vacation.   We're going to take him out of the tank and place him somewhere warm and dry.  Any time a turtle is debilitated, the warm wet natural environment becomes their enemy - an invitation to fungal infections and worse>
<In the enclosed link, you'll find how to isolate a turtle in a warm, dry world (I'd take BOTH turtles on this vacation so that you can use the Reptiglo lamp.   A Perfect setup would be an ordinary heating pad from a pharmacy, set on 'low' under the box running 24/7 and the Repitglo bulb shining down on top, running 18-24 hours a day.   In a setup like that, you can keep the entire box warm and under UV-B without creating a hot-spot that could literally 'cook' them.>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm  >
<Keep them like that for three days, then off a VERY small bit of food (Koi pellet or maybe a piece of beef or chicken liver) in a shallow bowl of water (separately!) - give then 3 minutes to decide to eat then back in dry-dock until the next day>
<With some rest a recuperation time, the little one should perk up in a few days>
Thanks for your help and you have a great site going!
Regards from Russia, Neil
<Back at you!>
Re: Baby Red Eared Slider not eating :(  1/3/12

Hi Darrel!
Thank you so much for your advice. Well, the good news is that the little chap started eating a day after I wrote to you (so he took a break of about 5-6 days without food I guess). But again, he's really picky and now I have another issue with their food. Both of them never eat any type of pellet! They like raw salmon though. I even got frozen blood worm which they like too. So since they only eat the "junk" I started mixing a little defrosted blood worm with the Tetra ReptoLife powder and feed it to them using tweezers once everyday.
<Sounds like a good idea>
Every other day I coat the fish in the powder and feed that too. They readily eat that mix. I read that pellets can be dipped in cod liver oil to add flavor. Here cod liver oil is sold only in the form of pills for human consumption. Is it ok to break open that pill and use the stuff inside?
I am confused on what to feed them as I don't think this is a good daily diet idea after reading on your site. As you suggested, I have set the thermometer to 75 degrees as I think my room could get cold sometimes.
<Turtles will often 'fixate' on a given food and refuse all other foods.   If you accidentally get a Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)  fixated on strawberries, you can spend YEARS fighting to correct the problem.  The answer is to sneak healthy foods into the junk (just as you are doing!) until you feel you have an active and decently fed turtle and then you withhold food.  For a week at first.  Then offer the pellets.  If they don't eat, withhold food for another week and offer again.   It becomes a contest of will, Neil and one of you will win.  I had a Box turtle that went without food for NINE MONTHS before he finally gave in and ate the good stuff.  All you can do is watch for signs of weakness, lethargy, etc. and gauge HOW BAD it may be getting before deciding if it's necessary for their immediate condition to give in.  In my experience WHEN THEY GET HUNGRY ENOUGH they will eat the good stuff!>
The healthy turtle has grown a little fat I think. How can gauge his fatness?
<When he retracts his head and limbs, there shouldn't be any significant amount of tissue "spilling out" around the edges.>
He also seems really scared of me nowadays and hardly basks.
<If this has been going on for a week, don't worry.  If it's been a month or more, we'll take action>
He is extremely active in the water though . He seemed to bask more often earlier when we had just got him. He seems to have some sort of white slimy stuff growing on his skin too. Is it from not basking enough?
<It's hard to tell from way over here.  Natural skin shedding CAN look like white slimy stuff at times and that's not serious - but the start of a fungal infection IS serious and can look the same way.   Try dipping a Q-Tip (Q-tip Brand cotton swabs on a stick! Accept no substitutes!) in some vinegar and wipe the white slimy stuff off.  Does it come off easily?>
I hope its nothing serious. I am sorry to bug you with so many questions but you are the only source of information I can trust!
<That I have become a reliable source of information is a sad, sad commentary on the state of affairs!  LOL>
<read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm  >
Wishing you and everyone in your team a very happy and prosperous new year if you are reading this in 2012!
Regards, Neil
<Back at you, Neil!!>

Turtle stopped eating  10/25/11
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My Red Eared Slider is a month old and he was eating well until two days ago. Now he won't eat. Is he sick?
<Well Kristi - there's really no way to tell from JUST that information, but generally speaking if everything else is normal they usually don't stop eating.>
<The first things to ask are the basics. Clean, cool water? Warm basking area? UV-B lighting? Proper veggie-based diet? When a turtle stops eating for no known reason, you can almost bet that one of the above is not adequate and causing the problem.>
<Here is a link detailing basic turtle care - EVERY aspect of their requirements must be met one way or another, so read the article and compare how you're keeping him to what he needs correct what is wrong and he'll probably perk up again in a few days>
Also, he has dead, white skin hanging from his neck. Is that fungus?
<Not necessarily. If he doesn't have a warm basking area where he can haul out and get REALLY dry then it's possible that fungus can start to grow. But what you PROBABLY have is just dead skin, which naturally sheds. When the shedding is in such large sections that you can see it, that is often due to poor environmental conditions which goes right back to reading this article:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<Hope it helps!>

Re: Newly Hatched Red Eared Slider   8/25/11
Thanks for the tips.
<Uh - we don't accept tips, but we DO accept donations (see bottom of main page) should you ever be so inclined>
Can you also give me tips on what to feed them at this age or when to feed them.
<For hatchling water turtles, I go to my local fish store and buy small-sized Koi pellets -- I was actually surprised that they came in sizes, but it you look you can find a small size. I feed them all they can eat in 5 minutes, 4 times a week. One of the biggest danger to our pets is that we over-feed them>
Thank You again
<No charge!>

My Red Eared Slider doesn't seem to eat!    7/5/11
Hi, the crew of WWM!
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have two baby Red Eared Sliders, and I think they're still hatchlings, because one has a little front teeth between his/her mouth and his/her nostrils.
<Hmm - that 'egg tooth' business is often exaggerated.>
I keep them in a small aquarium, which is about 8.5cm by 15cm.
<That is extremely small, Chrystal.>
I have another one exactly the same size, I use that one for feeding them.
<Always a good idea>
And the water temperature is usually around 27 oC.
<WAY too hot. Water temp should be between 20 & 22c. That is one problem with such a small container - not enough water to keep from heating under any kind of light>
I let them bask about five to six hours a day on two bricks, and they swim when I feed them.
<As long as they can get into COOL water when they feel overheated, that's fine. Confining them to only a basking spot could accidentally cook them>
So what I wanted to ask about is that they both seem to be shedding their skin.
<That's normal>
The RES without the little teeth is almost done shedding, only his/her front and back paws(?) are left. But the one with the little front teeth didnt seem to make any progress.
The skin around his/her eyes dont seem to peel off, and its blocking his/her view.
So, (s)he is rubbing its eyes whenever I put him/her in the water.
<I think we have some environmental issues to clean up here>
And Ive read that Red Eared Sliders only eat things that they can see.
So Im worried about my RES.
The one without the teeth seems to be eating, because whenever I walk off after dropping some dried shrimps in the water and come back later, a few seem to be gone.
But the one with the front teeth would just swim around a bit and rub its eyes.
Im really worried, is this normal RES behaviour?
<Not really>
<Chrystal, I like the idea of feeding them in a separate container. It keeps the mess down and, if you feed them separately, you can also track how much they each eat. That said, dried shrimp is NOT a good diet for them. And basking for 5 to 6 hours a day is good, provided they get actual UV light which means the sunlight can't come through glass, plastic or even window screen. Chicken wire or hardware cloth is OK>
<I strongly suggest that you read this article COMPLETELY and you will find a number of things in your setup to adjust. Once you adjust them and everyone settles in, the skin problems should clear up quickly. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >

Food gets stuck in baby turtle's mouth   3/12/11
Hi there again,
Thank you for your advice last time.
<Yer welcome>
After 6 weeks isolation a few months ago my baby turtle recovered and he has been doing fine, quite energetic, has an appetite however for a while now I've noticed he seems to have more and more trouble eating his food. At first I thought it was cute the way he tried to tear at the food in his mouth with his hands, but now I see that the reason why he does that is because the food seems to get stuck in his upper mouth. The food now just gets stuck then floats away after he unsticks it with his hands. Today he tried so hard to eat but could not. He eventually gave up trying. :( I looked through your web but I'm not sure what the problem is?
Looking forward to your reply and thanks in advance for your time.
<I've experienced that a few times, too. Not ME but baby turtles, I mean. The problem is just the shape of the food and therefore the size of the bite he takes>
<The thing to do, for now, is change foods for a little bit. If you're using Koi pellets, they come in smaller sizes. If you're using Repto-min food sticks, change to Koi pellets for a while. (Don't buy a huge, expensive bag, just a small bag).>
<Also, visit your local pet store or bait shop and buy a small container of earthworms or night crawlers. Offer the turtle one worm and see if he's interested. You can dump the rest into your garden if it's warm enough>
Re Food gets stuck in baby turtles mouth  3/26/11
Hello wet web media,
I feed him Zoo med aquatic turtle food, which is the smallest turtles food I know out there,
<Here's what I'd do: try mashing some of the Zoo Med pieces with a fork. Some will break into almost dust - and you can just toss those away, but a few will break into smaller pieces. Place him in a shallow bowl of lukewarm water - just up to his shoulders and after a few minutes (for him to get over being freaked out) place the pellet pieces in the water and let him eat. This way you'll be able to closely see what he eats - AND the small pieces wont foul up the water in your main tank>
my baby is around 1 inch shell big, some days he can eat some days he can't, how often are baby turtles suppose to eat?
<I feed mine all the can eat in 5 minutes, every other day. When they are about a year old, I change that to 3 times a week.>
I've also noticed that his under shell is a bit soft in the middle, is this normal? Or some sort of vitamin deficiency or shell rot?
<Hard to say from way over here. Remember, Turtles need UV-B light. They can't get that from sunlight that goes through glass (even going through window screen blocks some of it) and the bulb has to be within 8-10 inches of the basking area for a UV-B bulb to be effective>
<read here to make sure youre covering all the basics: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
Many many thanks you once again for your time and advice!

A Mystery turtle and some turtle help, fdg. young    5/24/07 Hello,    I'm Jessie. <Nice to meet you Jessie, I'm Darrel> Recently, my mother found a baby turtle roaming around while at work. So she brought it home (mainly because our family has a need to care for animals... and it was cute). It's a bit larger than a quarter and has intricate yellow markings. These markings include 2 swirls near the back of its shell and black spots on the underside of the shell (these are just main markings I'm trying to point out it has yellow stripes everywhere). The spots are on the underside of the rim of the shell, other than that it has an all yellow underbelly. Oh, an it has this little ridge on its back. Now I've been doing research, and I think that it is a baby River Cooter. <That what I was thinking, too.> She found this turtle kind of out of its area. You see, it says that this turtle lives in the northern part of Florida, but we live in Sarasota.  I'd be happy to send pictures of it... when my dad comes home with the camera. <many different cooters live in Florida, Jessie and I'd guess this one lives in your area.  You don't have to send pictures> I HAVE been trying to find out what I could about Florida turtles and about baby river cooters. Unfortunately, I find myself in a very difficult situation. 1. I don't know how old it is so I don't know if its still using the yolk for food. <I doubt that it is, so it's time to start feeding it> 2. I am lacking the foods that the sites I have visited suggest feeding to this turtle (cut up minnows or lettuce) <a small cotter would like Koi pellets that are available cheaply at your local pet store> 3. I'm not completely sure if this turtle will be a permanent pet. Seeing a show it's a baby, it's cute, we love animals, and my Dad seems to have taken an interest in it, I'm guessing it will be. <let's hope so!  They make fun and interesting pets> Can anyone help me? And or does anyone have suggestions? <first, make sure it has a place to get wet and a place to get dry and warm and is safe from any other animals like dogs or cats.  They like sunshine, but direct Florida sunshine can get that little guy overheated quickly, so never leave him alone out under the sun.  Here is a link to a care sheet that will tell you a lot more  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/redearsliders.htm  Good luck to you, Jessie, and thank you for writing us!>

Tough Love Is Needed When Feeding Turtles  - 04/20/07 When feeding my hatchlings in their feeding tank I put assorted food in their feeding tank (pellets, shrimp, krill, and micro size pellets for hatchlings), in the tank they live in I put red and romaine lettuce for them to munch on as well as a cucumber slice every few days which they love. The problem is that since I introduced the shrimp and krill about 4 weeks ago both hatchlings have stopped eating all the pellets and only eat the shrimp and krill. I just read on another website that this is not a healthy diet and the shrimp and krill should only be a treat - how can I get them back onto pellets? I tried today to get them to eat the pellets and they wouldn't - I weakened when they seemed to be begging for the shrimp and I gave in and gave them some! Help... how do I break the cycle and get them back on a healthy cycle? I'm also afraid I am overfeeding my larger turtle's shell is definitely pyramiding and the smaller one's shell is starting to pyramid - I want to stop it now before I cause too much damage. Thanks Jen <Your turtles have you well trained. Larger turtles need more vegetable matter in their diet. Too much protein makes their shells very hard and thick. As the turtle grows the shells stops growing and the turtles are trapped in their own straight jacket. I have seen turtles suffer this slow death before. Once you see it you never forget it. Hatchlings really need a varied diet to get all the vitamins and minerals they need. They can get imprinted on shrimp and never eat anything else again. Do not feed your turtles anything for three days. Offer the hatchling turtle food for 5 minutes. Remove any food after 5 minutes. Next day do the same thing. Eventually they will start to eat the pellets. Feed the pellets for a week before offering anything else.-Chuck>

Cucumbers for Hatchling RES's   4/19/07 My RES Hatchlings LOVE Cucumbers they float on them and then when they get hungry they munch on them and eat the center out of them. After reading some sites about which veggies are good and not good for them - none mention cucumbers... I was wondering if these are good for them or not. They sure seem to love them. Jen < Usually young turtles prefer a meatier diet when they are younger. The cucumbers are fine as long as they are getting plenty of protein in their diet from commercial hatchling food, insects and worms.-Chuck>

Baby Turtle Being Overfed   4/2/07 My hatchling RES, about an inch long, must have possibly eaten a whole pellet (about a centimeter and a half long) usually I break them up into smaller more manageable pieces, but I came home yesterday to find a huge poop in the tank, usually they are about 2-3 millimeters long and small, this one was larger than the pellets, in both length (about 2 cm) and diameter. I noticed Fred's cloaca (I think that's the right term) was huge and looked stretched out.  Should I be worried? (I know gross question, but I'm really worried it was like an organ or something) < A prolapsed colon is caused from an extreme bowl movement that has traumatized the area.> They have everything they need and are happy and healthy otherwise. 20 gallon tank (for now, while they are babies, I will upgrade as they grow), ZooMed turtle dock, basking light w/ UVA/UVB at 90 degrees, water temp at 75, filter, etc. I feed them guppies (which they are not very good at catching. any suggestions on slower feeder fish?), < Feeder fish are not great food for little turtles.> tiny Ramshorn snails, < They may have a problem passing the shells and contributing to the condition you are so concerned about.> occasional red meat, Gammarus pellets, and offer leafy greens although they don't even recognize them as food.  They've got fake plants to hide in and a cuttlebone for calcium. Am I missing anything?? Thanks in advance, your site has helped with so much already. < I would recommend ZooMed Hatchling Aquatic Turtle Food as a base diet and add the other things as treats. The vegetables will be more important in their diet when they get older. The key to feeding turtles is to watch them while you are feeding them. At first they act like they have never eaten before. Soon they slow down as their belly begins to fill up. You should stop feeding them when they start to slow down. Never leave food in the tank for them to eat later. When they start to move around and hunt for food then they should be fed again.-Chuck>

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