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FAQs About Softshell Turtles

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

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

Softshell Turtle Fungus       7/16/19
<Hello Kai,>
I have a spiny softshell given to me recently by a friend who got it at the market intending to keep it as a pet but realizing he could not really take care of it (not sure if this is a common occurrence everywhere, but where I live people tend to eat Softshells, not care for them).
<Understood. Spiny Softshell turtles, if by which you mean Apalone spinifera, are members of the Trionychidae, a group of long-necked, fast-moving, and rather vicious turtles that can be dangerous to keep. They also get rather big, shell lengths up to 50 cm or so in some cases, making them not only dangerous but demanding pets.>
I keep him in a 40gal tank with a Penguin 75gal filter, currently only river pebbles as substrate but once I found out sand was needed I ordered it online and it should be coming soon, and a basking dock and UVB light.
<Good. While Softshells don't come out onto the land much, particularly when they're adult sized, they do like resting on sloping banks with their back flippers and tail in the water, but the top half of their shell, and their head, under the basking lamp.>
I also keep some Marimo moss balls in the tank. Since it was such a sudden request for me to take him in, I had no choice but to put the softshell (Pancake) in the tank with my two young red eared sliders.
Fortunately, so far there has been no visible aggression and they seem to get along well, but I'm aware this is a risky living situation - I'm working on being able to buy another full set of tank, lighting, filter,
etc. for him.
<Indeed. Depending on how big the Softshell is, you might be fine for the time being. But when they get bigger, Softshells can become problematic (i.e., aggressive and territorial, not to mention well-armed and fast) so are best kept singly.>
Pancake has been doing badly from day one - his rough treatment at the market led to several wounds along his spine which are healing, but very slowly.
<Good clean water essential here, even addition of a little salt might help (2-5 gram/litre) since Apalone do occur in mildly brackish water.>
A few days ago he started developing a soft, slimy, white kind of gunk all over his shell. At the very edges, his shell is VERY soft and pliable, and almost completely white. This condition developed very rapidly. I began dry docking him as soon as I realized the fungus was an issue (I assume it's fungus rather than shell rot; it seems like it's primarily affecting the surface, and he certainly smells bad but I'm pretty sure this is just what Softshells smell like).
<Do scrub, clean gently. Turtle shells may smell wet, like a well-maintained aquarium, but shouldn't smell bad.>
However, I began the antifungal treatment with vinegar today, and despite the fact that I was barely touching him with the toothbrush + vinegar, he seemed to be in great pain and now there are small localized spots of dark red on his shell.
<I would not use vinegar then!>
They look like blood to me, though I've read they can also be bacteria, and they appeared almost immediately after the vinegar treatment. Should I continue the treatment, buy better antifungal meds, or take him to the vet?
<Do see above. Salt may help, but certainly regularly changing the water and giving the turtle time to recover will be the important things.>
Also, do you have any extra tips about dry docking a softshell turtle?
<Dry docking Softshell turtles isn't really necessary or useful. Bear in mind these turtles dehydrate much more quickly than Sliders or Box turtles, and their shell is more leathery skin than dry scutes. In some ways they're more like amphibians -- they're super-sensitive to poor water quality, and scratches and bites can become infected if the water isn't clean enough.
The use of salt can help in this regard, but to stress, clean water and the opportunity to bask _when it wants to_ will be the aim here.>
I currently keep a cold wet towel in his tub so as to try and prevent dehydration, since I've heard Softshells are much more readily dehydrated than hard-shelled turtles, but I'm not sure if this is enough.
<Dry docking while wrapped in a wet towel is a bit pointless, I think.>
Thank you so much for your help!
- Kai
<Have cc'ed Darrel in case he has a second opinion here. Cheers, Neale.>

Unresponsive Turtle need help immediately       5/2/19
I have a Indian Flapshell turtle named Snappy. Last night I noticed he wasn't moving much and he suddenly stopped to eating any piece of his food.
<First thing is check his environment. Is the water clean? Is his heat lamp working? Is the filter working? Is the water too cold or too hot?>
Today early morning when I got up he was laying at the bottom of the tank oppositely and wouldn't moving. So carried him out and he was limp but kind of moved his head. So I immediately gave him a sunbath in a bucket without water.
<Good. All freshwater turtles need some sunlight (or UV-B light) each day.
Turtles living outdoors use sunlight, but turtles kept indoors need a UV-B lamp (glass blocks the UV-B light, so a sunny window won't do if the glass is there!). Without some UV-B they tend to get sick over time.>
After an hour, when I put him back in the tank he just floated at the top and has been just floating all day occasionally lifting up for air. He hasn't eaten anything all day. Now I took him out again and put him into a Tub. He is not in a good condition. There is no veterinarians here. Please help him and suggest me what I should do now.
<Virtually all diseases we see in pet turtles are caused by environmental or dietary problems. Usually people NOT doing something they should have done. Let me direct you to some reading first:
Respiratory Tract infections are extremely common in turtles not kept correctly, and being internal diseases, may present few external symptoms.
Such turtles may be lethargic and disinterested in food. Over time they weaken and eventually die without treatment.
Hard to know your precise problem here, but double-check the UV-B lamp is working (or get one if you don't have one) and remember the lamps often only work 6-12 months. A vet really is your best bet for identifying the problem, and none of the symptoms you have here are characteristic of just
<<End of resp...? RMF>>

Indian Flap Shell Turt.; hlth.         5/31/16
<Hiya – Darrel here>
I have an Indian flap shell turtle, her name is Jennie. A couple of weeks back I saw this lump near her right eye. I took her to the vet, he prescribed two eye drops and said that it was nothing to worry about she just got herself hit somewhere in the house. But it’s been almost 15 days and there has been no change in that lump. That popped out thing is not
going away.
<15 days is not a lot of time for a turtle to heal, Addi. Their metabolism is much slower than ours, so a healing that can take a few days in humans can take several months in a turtle>
I even changed the vet. The other vet said it can be due to heat. He prescribed different medicines. But still no sign of healing.
<Both those sound like odd diagnoses but then they have examined Jennie and I haven’t. In most cases a even an experienced herpetological veterinarian would do a biopsy … since all WE see is a bulge in the skin and what’s UNDER the skin is important. I assume both vets felt the bump by hand and found that it wasn’t hard like a rock but soft like liquid. The reason I suspect that is because hard lump, like a tumor, won’t shrink. The diagnosis of ‘heat’ is interesting to me, as I’ve never seen an excess of heat cause a skin condition or lesion.>
I don't know what to do now. I don't want it to get serious. Can you please suggest me what that thing can be and what should I do that will help her heal as soon as possible.
<The first thing I would do is see if there is a Turtle and Tortoise Society or club in your area. More than anything we want to have Jennie examined by someone that is familiar with the species. Perhaps we’ll find someone who has the same or similar species and has experienced the same condition. Beyond that you’re only real choice would be an expensive one – take Jennie back to the first Vet and ask for a biopsy.>
<From the pictures you’ve sent my guess is that it’s a simple infection and that underneath we’d find a gooey lump of puss and the typical treatment would be a course of subq (injection) Baytril.>
<Do keep one thing in mind – when a turtle is sick and we’re trying to help her heal, warm and dry (we call it dry docking) is the way to go (read this article) http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >
<Lastly, I would remind you that water quality is very, VERY important to the health of Flapshell turtles. When we examine the water in which they naturally exist it seems that they are tolerant of water quality but in captivity that does not turn out to be the case – the clearer and cleaner and more sterile water you can provide Jennie, the healthier she will be>


Re: injured Indian flap shell turtle please help      8/22/16
Hey, I know I should have messaged earlier but I wanted to let you know he's almost perfect now!! I fed him the calcium block (i broke it into pieces) he really enjoys it ... also because you said he needs vitamin A I gave it to him orally through an eye dropper for 3 weeks and I gave him plenty of direct natural sunlight (which I still do) and he got much better
his limping reduced a lot and the swelling went down completely !!! he still has a slight limp in his leg still which I think will get better!! I don't know why but he loves prawns without their shell XD
<Just remember that will be a high fat diet, so feed them sparingly>
<We're all happy we could help!>

Softshell turtle. need help asap      1/6/15
<Hiya – Darrel here>
I have a Florida soft shell turtle named Carl. Last night I noticed he wasn't moving much but he ate a piece of his food. This morning when I got up he was laying at the bottom of the tank and wouldn't move. So I picked him up and he was limp but kind of moved his head. When I put him back in the tank he just floated at the top and has been just floating all day occasionally lifting up for air. He hasn't eaten anything all day.
<when a turtle is limp and unresponsive, the most important thing to do is remove him from the water and place him somewhere warm and dry, because a turtle, like any air breathing thing, can drown>
<once he’s one of immediate danger refer to this guide to see if you can determine what is wrong and how to treat him: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >

Re: injured Indian flap shell turtle please help      7/27/15
Hi I am sorry it took so long to get back to you but I was waiting for the wound to heal before I let you know and tell you the rest of the problems.
But there is no good news to give ....... I did take him to the vet but the doctor didn't know much about turtles and had never treated a turtle before but she said to soak his leg in a solution of water and absent salt (not sure how its spelled)
<Assume you mean Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate, MgSO4). Can help reduce swelling, but has no antibacterial properties.>
so that she could find out whether there was a stone lodged in or if it was a scab and also after this was done she said to apply a diluted solution of iodine to the infected area.
<Iodine tincture; also called povidone-iodine. On its own iodine will do nothing to help.>
There was a lot of improvement until it came to a stop and just recently he started scratching below mouth so when I put him in water the area starts to swell up so I decided to continue with the dry docking until he got better but it gets worse the leg on which he got the wound on, developed another lump slightly above it (when he is placed on his back to the ground) I have been applying iodine to it ever since ....... and today I noticed on the other leg small pink spots which are barely noticeable ........... now to get to the injury he got when he was a year old (may be less or more I am not sure) he was placed in a small tub with a small stone which was not placed properly so he swam underneath the rock and the rock landed on his back (it was a flat rock which was kept inclined to the tub ) so he got a big depression in his back (he is 9 now so its been a many years) I was told that it would pop back up it time and that it can take 10 to 15 years to get back to normal!!!
if you can help me get him back to normal I will forever be in your debt !!!
Thank you!
<Let me direct you to some reading:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/RESTraumaF.htm
I'm also going to direct you to a specific Red Ear Slider forum that is a good place to get help on turtles:
To be honest, your turtle needs consistently good care at home (hence the articles I've linked you to) and appropriate medical care (the articles help cover some aspects, but veterinarian care would be a major plus).
Assuming you offer good care, employ dry docking while medicating the wounds, and ensure adequate calcium and UV-B, your turtle may well heal.
I'd expect a turtle to heal much faster than "10 to 15 years" which sounds
<<End of post....? BobF>>
Re: injured Indian flap shell turtle please help     7/28/15

Also He is an Indian flap shell turtle which is an aquatic turtle so is the procedure of dry docking the same as dry docking for red ear sliders ?
<Not sure, but probably, yes. We are fish experts here, not reptile experts. You need to find a reptile/turtle forum, join it, ask your questions there. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: injured Indian flap shell turtle please help     7/28/15

Thanks for the quick reply
but is there any thing I can do for his mouth which is swelling up and could there be a reason as to why he keeps scratching it ........ he also keeps biting his hand !!!!
<Do read those articles... do find a vet able to help with pet reptiles.
Swellings in the mouth go beyond first aid... they are not something I/you can fix easily. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: injured Indian flap shell turtle please help     7/30/15

My turtle keeps biting himself very violently so much that the skin has come out and the inside flesh is visible ....... I had taken him to the vet they gave him two shots i.e. taxim 250
<Taxim-O is a trade name for Cefixime; I assume that's what was used here.
I have never heard of this being recommended for turtles/reptiles.>
and an avil injection yesterday and today now he keeps biting himself so I called up the vet and the doctor said it could be a reaction to the injection and that I should give him half and avil mixed in water !!! I'm not to sure of any of this so I need help urgently plz!!!!!!
<"Avil" is a trade name for Pheniramine, an antihistamine. While useful for treating allergic reactions, I'm not at all clear why your vet is using this on a turtle. I honestly can't give you any more advice here.
Presumably the vet knows what he/she is doing, and your discussions should be with the vet, not with me.>
I've tried looking in every corner of the internet for help but nothing I cant understand any of the forum I don't get how to post !!!! plz help me its gotten really serious!!!
<Sorry I can't offer any more help. I am going to direct you to the RedEarSlider.com forum, here:
These people are much more expert with turtles than I am. Sign up (it's free!) and post some photos there for people to comment on. I have cc'ed our resident turtle expert, Darrel, but he doesn't seem to be around, and truly I'm at the limits of my knowledge. Good luck, Neale.>
Re: injured Indian flap shell turtle please help; Darrel chimes in from the road     7/30/15

I've been traveling a great deal lately and I don't have access to emails.
This is a truly puzzling situation, made worse by the fact that a trained medical professional is closer than any of us and seems unable to find the source of the problem. In reading the emails I keep wondering if the turtle has acquired a parasite through the open wound and now the affected area has become so damaged that the irritation won't stop. In this situation I would take extreme measures about just dry docking: I'd soak the limb in a salt water bath (perhaps as much as 50 grams of salt to a liter of water) for 10 minutes and then remove him, dry the limb and warp it in gauze and tape -- essentially
immobilize the limb so that he simply can't bite at it. I'd repeat this process once a day for a week. If another trip to the vet is possible I'd ask for injections of calcium gluconate and vitamins A, D & E -- as I've seen in Softshell turtles that a vitamin deficiency can inhibit healing of skin lesions.
Re: injured Indian flap shell turtle please help      8/8/15

could you let me know when Darrel is around ??
<Oh! We forward queries, input to him specifically. BobF>
Re: injured Indian flap shell turtle please help      8/8/15

is this Darrel?
<Nope.... Send your msg. and we'll send it on. B>
Re: injured Indian flap shell turtle please help        9/4/15

hi! its me again I wanted to let you'll know that continued putting any medicating and his leg wounds have completely healed !!!! May be it was taking time to heal cuz of the dry docking (because I read somewhere aquatic turtles are not supposed to be dry docked)........
<Quite the opposite. A HEALTHY turtle doesn't need to be dry-docked because it doesn't benefit him but a sick turtle is a different story. Infections are, by nature, opportunistic. Once they get a foothold the grow and continue to debilitate the host, so once any animal is sick we try to make conditions that are UNFAVORABLE to the infection or fungus so that the animal has an easier time fighting back.>
<The problem that you face is simply the metabolism of the turtle. For example an infection in a human will have bacteria that have a life cycle of, say, 40 hours. That means that an antibiotic (which kills bacteria by making them unable to reproduce) will start to have an effect in 20 hours, show actual improvement in 40 hours and have the bacteria on their way out in 80 hours. But that's a human at 98.6 degrees. That SAME bacteria in a turtle kept at 88 degrees has a slower life cycle and may live for a month. That means that interfering with its ability to reproduce can take three months - or more. So by keeping the turtle at 92 degrees in dry-dock you not only take away the moist environment that encourage bacterial growth but you shorten its life cycle to perhaps 2 weeks.>
but what concerns me the most is his mouth swelling up (the tiny flaps on the lower part of the mouth (not internal)
<Be patient. He's healing, but remember ... he was GETTING sick a very long time before he was sick enough for you to notice and he'll start looking and feeling better quite a while before he is completely better.>
I tried joining sum forums like you said but almost nun of them allow you to post if you're a new member !!
<But as time goes on you become an older member. Part of the reason the forums are a mixed blessing is that you are often getting information from people who don't have as much experience or wisdom as they think they do. By now you must have noticed that in life - even people who have no clue what they are talking about seem to have no problem telling you all about it.>
<<Heal Thyself -- editor>>
thank you for responding all this time much appreciated .... ☺:-)
<we wish you and your turtle the best of luck>
Re: injured Indian flap shell turtle please help      10/4/15

HI! its me again (sadly).......
<Hiya – Darrel here again as well>
I noticed yesterday that my turtle had red patches on his skin I am a bit concerned about it I have a couple of pictures (not good quality) they are the best I could get I have circled
the areas (they look brown in the picture because of bad camera)........ his behaviour is normal his eating and basking fine there are no other signs of distress !!!
<Well, we’ve been through a lot here and there’s been tremendous progress. On one hand I don’t want to dismiss a possible symptom … but a turtle that is acting normally, swimming, basking, eating … active and alert … especially one that has been very, Very sick … I’m tempted to leave it alone. The stress of diagnosing and then treating what appears to be a small symptom is harder on him than the treatment may be worth.>
<Soft Shell turtles are very susceptible to water quality issues and thus skin infections, so if the spot gets bigger or more of them, take him out, let him dry off, dribble a topical antibacterial (such as Povodine or Betadine), let THAT dry on the patches … meanwhile make sue his water is really clean.

Re: injured Indian flap shell turtle please help      11/29/15
The thing is the bottom of his tank is empty (I haven't put any sand or stone) ...... I to assumed he was hungry but after his done eating he gets back to biting the bottom no matter how deep it is he goes to the bottom and keeps biting the bottom of the tank, it appears as if his mouth is itching !! ... I'm quite careful about his water I change it everyday unless its unexceptionally clean ....... today all of a sudden I noticed his shell is swollen and is soft just above the tail .... after doing
research every where online and I think it could be metabolic bone disease ..... also when his dry docking where is the safest place to keep him in the house on the ground so he can roam or in his tank without water ( he tries to come out and keeps tapping on the tank )........ I don't no why he keeps falling sick ...
<The purpose of dry-docking is to confine him to an area that is warm and dry. Usually a box or container (or his tank) will do just fine. When I dry-dock a turtle, I put him in a cardboard box with a heating pad like this http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31BVQGEWTKL._AA160_.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.amazon.com/b?ie%3DUTF8%26node%3D3763871&h=160&w=160&tbnid=FkXc74olBK1FIM:&docid=UDV6xefwWe-V7M&hl=en&ei=IsxZVsGYHsisoQSVzZ7gBw&tbm=isch&ved=0ahUKEwjBseWYu7PJAhVIVogKHZWmB3wQMwgyKAAwAA  so that wherever he moves he’s still at a warm temperature>
am I so bad at taking care of him?
<Not at all. When a problem like this starts… it starts slowly and it usually takes months and months before someone notices and by then the condition is quite advanced. This is, sadly, something we learn with experience.>
<If you believe he has MBD then the treatment is either calcium injections from a veterinarian or a high calcium/vitamin diet while in dry dock>

Re: injured Indian flap shell turtle please help    3/3/16
Hey! its me again(depressingly) ............. my turtles leg is now in bad state I'm now 99% sure its MBD ...I tried dry docking add changing his diet, and gave him cuttle fish bone but there was no improvement, he just got worse to the point where he doesn't move much and when he does he drags his left foot
<I'm sorry things have gotten to this point. One of the problems with sick reptiles is that, due to their slow metabolisms they can take months and months of treatment to heal.>
<Also, the problem many people face, is that the delivery system of any medication is often very inefficient. If it IS MDB and if it IS still time to arrest it, he needs Calcium and vitamins A & D immediately. To get a high concentration into his system the efficient way to accomplish this is a direct injection which means trying to find the time and money to go to a doctor and even that assumes that you can FIND a veterinarian that knows what to do. By contrast, trying to get those same supplements into his system via food is a long, long, long and inefficient process>
<What I'm saying is that sometimes we do the right things; We do everything that can be done ... but the turtles doesn't survive long enough for the treatment to work -- too little, too slow>
... he stopped eating cuttle fish bone some days back he just nibbles on it and spits it back out almost like it's too hard !
<It may be that simple>
I bought calcium block so will try adding that to his water ......
<Unfortunately unless he EATS it that is otherwise just a waste of money>
He seams to be eating and basking fine except his not been eating shrimp lately(he bites it and then spits it back out) he eats only the inside soft part
<Shrimp has no nutritional value for him -- that kind of diet is what got him in this condition in the first place>
He also still bites the floor when his in water to the point where he injures his mouth(external skin)!!
<Then limit his time in the water>
I really want him to be alight and back to his normal self!! And I don't like giving him injections as none of the vets seem like they know what
they are doing !!
<I think he needs an immediate injection of Calcium Gluconate along with Vitamins A & D. Any vet that has the products and access to the internet can calculate the dose>

Florida Softshell help      6/21/15
I have a Florida Softshell, Tyrion, whom I found when he or she was a hatchling in the road in front of my house last August. I am unsure of the sex at this point, however think that "he" may actually be a female due to the size of the tail and how large he/ she is quickly growing.
Tyrion is now around 4-5 inches in shell length and has been in good health up until of recent. I have a 20 gallon long tank with the only other tank mate being a common Pleco named Meryl who is a little larger than Ty.
<And will eventually be killed by the Softshell Turtle. Please do understand that these turtles are exceptionally predatory, highly territorial, and insanely aggressive. The Plec will need to be moved, and you will need to learn how to handle these potentially dangerous animals as well.>
There are several things concerning me, the first and foremost being the most concerning- Ty has begun having what I can only identify as neck spasms in which his neck becomes fully extended and thrusts back and forth in spasm uncontrollably with his mouth open and his neck bulges out as if something were in it or he was going to throw up but does not expel anything.
<To some degree this may merely be stretching. Softshell Turtles do need to exercise their neck muscles in preparation for hunting strikes and defensive manoeuvres.>
It looks like it is completely out of Tyrion's control when this happens and it just occurs at random times. He is normally a very avid eater and as of late has not been showing much if any interest in his normally favorite foods such as shrimp and mealworms and seems very lethargic.
<Would vary this some. Worried that shrimps aren't a great staple, or even much use at all. Crustaceans contain Thiaminase, which breaks down vitamin B1, and that in turn has been linked by many reptile keepers to a whole variety of problems. At most, limit crustaceans to 10-20% of their diet.
Earthworms are an infinitely better live food because they come gut-loaded with plant material (vitamins and minerals galore) as well as fibre (soil).
Aquatic snails are a natural part of the diet of Trionyx species, and could be used, but do collect them from a turtle-free (and ideally, fish-free) body of water to avoid contaminating your turtle with parasites. In other words, breeding some Apple Snails bought from the pet store would do the trick nicely, using the offspring, not the original snails, as the food.
Otherwise a mix of terrestrial insects (mealworms, crickets, etc.) combined with some plant material is recommended (floating Indian Fern or Duckweed would be easy to add to the tank and he/she could then graze as/when needed).>
This evening he began eating feces- his and the Pleco's, or at least that's what it looked like he was eaten from my vantage point.
<Likely so. Animals will, to some degree, experiment with novel food items if they're starved or vitamin deficient.>
He may have been eating sand and not feces, it was hard to tell. I had tried to feed him earlier and left his favorite foods up on his dock where I always leave it and he looked up there several times but was not interested in the food, instead spent his entire time surveying the ground for the feces or sand or perhaps both. He did have a past problem of eating rocks, and once realized I immediately took them all out of his tank and replaced with sand. The last thing is that the only feces that I have seen him produce have been white or light in color and much more stringy and less bulky than normal. I am worried he could have worms or some form of internal parasites causing this strange behavior and illness but looking at pictures of intestinal parasites in aquatic turtles online they do not quite appear the same as what he is producing. I keep my water temp between
75 degrees and 80 with a thermometer, have a strong filter, basking dock, hiding rocks and plants, as well as driftwood. I try to keep the tank as clean as possible, a difficult task due to Meryl the messy common Pleco.
<Easily fixed by rehoming the Plec, which WILL get damaged, probably killed eventually.>
I do water changes/ tank cleanings once a week and daily cleanings to remove waste and left over food multiple times a day. Lately Meryl has been acting very aggressive toward Tyrion, to the point where he sometimes will follow him around the tank and try to get on top of him and suck his shell or kick sand up with his tail or slam into him trying to push him out of the way.
<Plecs will graze at the shells of turtles given the opportunity. Small turtles may be ignored, but as the turtle gets bigger, it makes a more viable target for "latching" onto. While this behaviour probably doesn't do any harm, and may indeed have some small cleaning benefit by removing algae and detritus, it can be stressful for the turtle.>
This usually only occurs when Meryl's food is being introduced, or when Ty tries to use his claimed hidey-hole. It makes me really mad when Meryl does this and I am afraid he may hurt Ty, but also makes me wonder why Ty does not just take a big chunk out of Meryl as I have seen him do with so many fish before.
<To some degree territorial aggression and predation can be linked to new fish turning up in the turtle's environment, whereas the Plec has always been there, so the turtle views it as part of the scenery. But as you suggest, there's no reason to expect this to last forever.>
I am currently working on finding a new home for Meryl, but until then do not have a separate tank that is large enough to hold him. I tried putting him I. A smaller tank and he once before and he somehow escaped and jumped almost 5'feet back to the floor in front of the turtle tank in the middle of the night. Upon finding him half dead on the floor the next morning I
quickly put him back in Tyrion's tank where he was obviously trying to get back to and he has remained there ever since.
<I wouldn't anthropomorphise this too much... it's stretching credibility (and neuroscience!) to imagine a Plec could/would leap out of one tank with the intention of getting back into another some distance away. But yes, fish do leap out of "poor" environments in the hope (and that's all it is) that they land in a better body of water nearby. In evolutionary terms, it's a worthwhile gamble if you know the pool of water you're in now is drying up. A 5% chance of living beats a 100% chance of dying.>
I am very concerned about Ty's alarming behavior and have been up all night worrying and trying to find anything that might shed some insight into what is happening with him or how to treat him, but have come up empty handed.
Any information or idea you may have would been so helpful to me as I am completely distraught and in the dark about this. I am looking for a herp vet in my area but have only found one that won't be open until Monday and I am too worried to sit here and wait while he continues to have these bizarre and upsetting spasms/convulsions.
<Hit the nail on the head here. My gut reaction is dietary shortcoming, which the vet will put right quickly with a vitamin shot and advice on further feeding. In the meantime optimising diet may help, depending on the severity of the problem.>
Thank you so much for taking your time to read my jumbled most likely incoherent ramblings, and any advice or thoughts would be so greatly appreciated.
<Have cc'ed this to our turtle expert, Darrel, in case I've missed anything. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Florida Softshell help      6/23/15

Thank you so much for your fast response to my e-mail. I am going to go out today after work and get him the new foods and am putting an ad up to find a new home for my Pleco. He was swimming around today and ate some worms so
I am hoping changing his diet will help. Thanks for all your help!
<Most welcome. Good luck! Neale.>

injured Indian flap shell turtle please help     1/19/15
can you please help me my 8 year old(or could be 9 year im not so sure) on my Indian flap shell turtle i noticed small brownish lumps on both his legs the previous week i applied diluted antiseptic to both the wounds and forgot about it i now noted one leg is healed but the other become what seems to be a brown wound on the underside of his back leg the area has
become swollen and turned pinkish, he also walks in a way trying not to touch it to the ground im really worried none of the vets in my state take turtles please help me ill do anything to get him well and happy !!!!!
<Sounds like a secondary infection has set in. A vet will provide an appropriate, injectable antibiotic which is what's needed to get into the blood system of your turtle. Without a vet, treating this sort of thing is very difficult. "Dry docking" a turtle can help though. Do have a read here:
What you need is to provide him with somewhere clean, dry, with suitable heat and UV-B, but not so hot he'll overheat. He'll also need to be placed in room temperature water for 5-10 minutes a day so he can "freshen up" a bit. Dry skin heals faster than wet skin, and bacteria don't like dry air. This is why dry docking is so useful. You can also use some medications on the skin, Povidone-iodine (often simply called "iodine") of the sort used on human skin is very useful for this. Cheap, widely available, stings like heck, but kills pretty much everything it touches. It won't treat septicaemia (that's why antibiotics are useful with this turtle) but it will clean up the surface wound nicely. Try dry docking the turtle for a few days and see if it gets any better. But if the wound smells, that's a very sure sign septicaemia and/or gangrene have set in, and you really do
need a vet for that. If the wound doesn't smell of anything apart from wet turtle, you may be lucky, and dry docking alone will help.>
i really love him his like a member of our family !!! please help him ..... if anything happens to him ill never forgive myself !!!!!! so please help!!!!
thank you!
<Cheers, Neale.>
P.S. please excuse my grammar/ spellings as im mildly dyslexic!! Thanx again!

Spiny Softshell with shell fungus      1/14/15
Dear Crew
<Hiya Darrel here>
I have a 9 year old male spiny Softshell who has never been seen to take advantage of his basking dock. He has always lived in a 20 gal tank with a fine sand substrate for burrowing, a basic filter and a regular light in an elementary classroom 10 out of the year. Eats ReptoMin voraciously, and feeder fish maybe 1-2 times a year. No heater. Has always been very healthy & VERY active under these conditions. Students NEVER touch him. The basking site was removed this summer because we thought he never used it…. possible big problem. But I really thought over 9 years we would have seen him slide off it SOMETIME if he were using it. Janitors never have seen it used in evening(light off then anyway) and I have never seen it used during summer months when he was home in a quiet room!
<Softshells can be very skittish in strange ways. The same turtle that appears to be willing to climb out of the tank and follow you down the street IF FOOD IS INVOLVED - may be shy about just being out of water and being observed. Perhaps it's because he's in his skin and humans are judgmental … ?>
He now appears to have a fungus on his carapace and food consumption has dropped…not stopped. I love this turtle….please advise. I am reading mixed info about iodine, betadine, salt in the water, vinegar, dry docking… etc. Cleaned tank as a start, but obviously need to take further steps. Thank you for any help you may give.
<Yes, I understand the mixed advice. Some comes from people not knowing, but some comes simply from mixed experiences. So let me try to make sense of it for you>
<First, water is a fungi's friend, so dry docking is absolutely indicated. Now Shelbourne (if that's her name) won’t like it, but it's in her best interest. Warm and dry works against the fungus. The write up here covering fungus in the hard shelled turtles describes the basic treatment … http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm >
<The difference with a Softshell is that it's easier for a bacterial infection to start so we try to prevent that with the addition of betadine after she dries off from her bath. Then wait an hour and apply the antifungal and described.>
Re: Spiny Softshell with shell fungus       3/28/15

Hi Darrel,
Thanks for the reply. Pannekuchen (Dutch for pancake, as he looks like one) seems to be doing very well. Started the vinegar, betadine, dry-dock (about I hour total) regime once a day, 7 days ago. His shell looks great. I did not use any anti-fungal other than the vinegar , as I was not sure where to get it… one article indicated a ‘scrip was needed.
<Any athlete's foot cream has the require anti-fungal.>
Still a slight pale “shadow” but that's it. Gave him a few feeder fish this weekend to boost him up a bit. Today he seems quite interested in his ReptoMin again. Looks like he will be heading back to school soon. I returned his dock to his tank just in case he really has been using it all these years secretly! Hard to imagine we would never have seen it, but stranger things have happened.
I have also read about adding a little aquarium salt to the tank. Is this a general maintenance regime? Would it help stave off further problems? I hate to mess with a system that has been so successful for 9 years except for this one incident.
<Some people do. I don't. The idea is that a tiny bit of salinity might stem the growth of certain bacteria, but then it may stimulate the growth of others.>
Another strange thing, I have NEVER seen any feces from this critter in his tank. I mean never! His tank stays incredibly clean with only a small Whisper filter. He is 9 years old, typically eats voraciously, and his tank never even gets an odor. Seems odd. The slider & painted turtle tanks get filthy in no time. Obviously he is as secretive about his excretions as he is about basking!
<Let's hope he doesn't suddenly explode when he's 17!! -- LOL>
<He probably lays it IN the substrate, where it breaks down quickly>
Thanks for your help.

Softshell Turtles... juv. in w/ other turtle species young?      8/16/14
Dear Wet Web Media,
I hatched five "Yellow Bellied Sliders" three years ago. I still have them and they currently live in a very large baby pool. A couple hours ago, a few friends brought over a newly hatched "Soft Shelled" turtle. He is about an inch wide and an inch long. My other turtles are about six inches long and 5 inches wide. For tonight, I'm keeping the soft shelled turtle separate from my other turtles. Would it be safe and okay for me to sometime soon put him in the same pool as my other turtles?
Thank you!
<Hello Madison. Easy one this. NO! Softshell Turtles (Trionyx spp., for example the Florida Softshell Trionyx ferox) are sensitive to water pollution AND extremely aggressive. They cannot be kept with Sliders because Sliders produce a lot of pollution (do a water quality test for proof!) and are generally much more peaceful animals. They also have completely different dietary requirements. Sliders are omnivores that become mostly herbivorous as they age, which is why you feed them more and more plant-based foods (such as Koi pellets) when they grow up instead of meaty foods (such as floating turtle sticks). By contrast, Softshell Turtles are out-and-out carnivores that snap at anything that moves, including human hands and turtle feet. They need to be fed things chopped seafood and white fish fillet (though to be fair they should be offered greens from time to time). Giving Sliders too much meaty food is bad for them, so you'd find it very difficult to feed Sliders and Softshells in the same tank without someone getting the wrong food! Finally, Sliders are amphibious and like to bask on flat rocks under their UV-B and heat lamp(s), while Softshells are more or less entirely aquatic. They will haul themselves out a bit, often onto a sloping sandbank or similar construction in the aquarium, but they rarely come out of the water completely. So you need to position the UV-B and heat lamp(s) over that sloping beach bit of
the tank so they can bask while still having their back paws and tail in the water (which seems, to me, what they like best). Because their shells are softer than those of Sliders, they're more easily damaged and infected by fungus, which is partly why water quality needs to be better, and also while mixing them with other turtles is risky, in case they damage the Softshell somehow. Do also bear in mind Trionyx spp get very large, Trionyx ferox for example can get a shell length of just under two feet, and even the smaller species will be around twice the size of the average Slider.
The British Chelonian Group has a nice summary of their basic requirements, here:
As I mentioned earlier, they're much more sensitive than Sliders, so unless you want to rack up vet bills, you want to keep your Softshell properly from day one. Set up an extra-wide, but not especially deep tank
specifically for your Softshell, and plan ahead for the long-term care of a big, aggressive turtle that is hugely rewarding and very attractive (I think even cuter than Sliders) but not "easy" as such. As usual, I'm cc'ing our turtle guru Darrel in case he has further comments to make. Cheers, Neale.>

Softshell turtle      6/11.5/14
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a baby Softshell turtle, maybe about an inch and a half wide shell. This morning I realized he couldn't just sit on the bottom, he would always float up to the surface. I realized as I kept watching, that to keep himself down he was sticking his front legs in the sand to hold himself down there. Is there something wrong with my turtle?
<He may have gas>
My last Softshell died on me about a month ago and I really don't want to lose another!!
<Sorry for your loss, Mike>
<Softshell turtles are fascinating creatures but their care and keeping is often misunderstood.
First, they require exceptional water quality - Crystal clear and clean - because they tend to develop bacterial infections on the shell and skin.>
<Second, they DO bask and they require the same heat lamp and UV-B source as any other turtle would. They are more … nervous that most of the hard shelled turtles so they will usually not bask when they are being observed or when there is any activity nearby. This makes many people mistakenly believe that basking resources are not needed. They are.>
<Now in the case of little Willie, he could simply has gas in his digestive system, which will pass -- or he may have gas pockets in his thoracic cavity from an infection of some sort. Keep an eye on him for a few days to decide which it is. Make sure he has basking ability immediately.>
<The basic treatment is the same. Dry-dock him as the enclosed instructions say and allow the warm dry environment to assist his metabolism in healing. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm 
The difference is that he should be given water up to the top of his shell to swim in twice a day rather than once a day. In a couple weeks - when he DOES get a chance to go into deep water, he will tend to float for the first few hours and his shell absorbs the water, but then his balance should be restored>
Re: Softshell turtle
I will keep an eye on him to see if its gas or an infection of some sort. Thanks for the quick response and showing you care. Just to clarify, I am decently experienced and would not take in an animal i don't trust myself to provide a good home for. The softshell's water is good, he is a baby so lives in a 10 gallon tank with drift wood (some parts out of water to bask) a UV strip light and a 75 watt heat light. I do 10 gal water changes a week and the 10 gal drains into a 30 gallon sump tank.
Re: Softshell turtle

Im beginning to get a bit un-easy. I just got home from work and my turtle was again floating but this time stuck against the intake pipe to the sump. Not actually stuck but just seems like he lost energy to swim away and is just letting it hold him. Im dropping the temp from 85 to 75 to see if this helps. He seems very round, not like circular, like his shell is almost like a balloon. The center is about an inch higher then the outsides. I will send pics in a minute when i get a chance
Re: Softshell turtle     6/14/14

Im beginning to get a bit un-easy. I just got home from work and my turtle was again floating but this time stuck against the intake pipe to the sump.
<I'd be uneasy as well.>
Not actually stuck but just seems like he lost energy to swim away and is just letting it hold him.
<That is likely what's happened>
Im dropping the temp from 85 to 75 to see if this helps.
<85 is way too high anyway. A turtle would live in room-temperature water unless you live north of the Arctic circle>
He seems very round, not like circular, like his shell is almost like a balloon. The center is about an inch higher then the outsides. I will send pics in a minute when i get a chance
<If I were to guess, I'd say he has an infection that is causing internal gas. It's very tricky to treat because by the time we notice it has fairly progressed. My Suggestion is as before - dry-dock him for a while and hope that the rest will give him a fighting chance to beat whatever it is>

Re: Softshell turtle      6/19/14
So he can go overnight in the dry-docking tank, as long as he gets to go in the shallow shallow water once a day for a few minutes?
<Correct. Long enough to drink, poop and then eat if he desires.>

Re: re: Soft shell or not ??    7/1/14
Thanks Darrel...
I had one more question... Do turtles die of dehydration ?
Because I had kept them under sun in my tank which was not covered from glass on top it was open.. They were playful but after a while I saw one of it just got stiff while the other half paralysed... Immediately I brought them inside and left them in my other tank ... The one which was half paralysed recovered within 2-3 hrs but the other one which got stiff didn't improve... Then with some help of wikihow I got to know that she was already dead ... Phoebe is no more but Leo is doing fine now... Can you give me some information regarding this situation so that I can prevent it happening to Leo again... And can turtles live alone ? Or should I adopt another one ?
<On behalf of Bob, Neale, Sue and the entire Crew, we're sorry for your loss>
<Phoebe died from overheating, nit dehydration. Even if kept in a pool of water -- if that water gets hot enough in the sun, the turtles in the water will succumb. Care must always be taken that they can find a cooler place out of the sun.>
<Turtles can live very happily alone, so I wouldn't worry about Leo. If you do decide to get another turtle or two, please check, check and RE-Check all your environmental conditions to make sure the same thing can't happen again>

Spiny Softshell Shell Lump, HELP!    1/27/14
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My step son "rescued" a spiny soft shell turtle about 7 years ago from a sandy river in southern Louisiana. Ever since, I have been taking care of her. I have done a lot of research and believe she is a female Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle.  I keep her in a tank with about 4 inches of fine, smooth gravel with about 8-10 inches of water. I use spring water to fill the tank and use a water filter. Any deeper and she doesn't seem happy.
<yes, they like to be able to bury themselves and stick their necks out like a snorkel>
We try to keep her water temp between 70 and 75 degrees F at all times. In the dead of summer (and it can get to 100 degrees around here) her tank MAY get to 77 - 78. But that isn't the norm.
<That's OK for short times>
She eats aquatic turtle pellets and, every few months, when it's time for a full tank cleaning, she gets her fill of feeder fish. These are the only two things she will eat. She has grown steadily and hasn't had any health problems, cuts, bumps or anything up until now.
<If by turtle pellets you mean Repto-Min or a high quality Koi pellet - that's what I feed all my turtles, including the soft shells.   As for fish … I'd MUCH rather see her get an earthworm or two as a treat.  Feeder fish are notoriously poor food and prone to carrying parasites>
I have been searching all day and can not find anything on her new problem.
<Well - let's see what we can do>
Her pump went out a few weeks ago. I've been adding fresh water but I could not physically bring the tank outside to clean it until my husband was home. When we went to clean the tank, I place her in the sink filled with fresh water.  When I placed her in the sink, I noticed that she has a lump on her body. I was not around for her last tank cleaning and my husband would not have noticed anything abnormal. The lump isn't obvious unless you're looking at certain angles. It covers about 1/4 of her shell. She's about 7 inches across. There doesn't seem to be any cuts or infection. She's acting normal. The lump is about as raised in the highest spot as her spine is.
<OK - a lump THAT size is unlikely to be a tumor.   That sounds more like what I'd call, for lack of a better word, a malformation.  In a perfect world I'd like to see an X-ray from the top and from the side, but the next best thing would be a physical examination and a really detailed description.>
I'm hoping you can shed some insight on what this may be and how to treat this if it is something that isn't a normal occurrence.
<It's not>
Please help.
<Sure -- let's start with this.  Take Turdi out of her tank and let her dry off.  Next what I want you to do is pick her up and feel the entire shell.   This is not the easiest thing in the world because Soft Shell turtles have short tempers, long flexible necks and painful bites.   An assistant would be a really good idea here.   The assistant has something like a rubber kitchen spatula in his hand and his ENTIRE JOB is to use the spatula to continue to block Turdi's head from moving in you direction - pressing the neck down, pushing it to one side, etc. whatever it takes to keep the mouth away and occupied.>
<Start with the rear flap.  Flexible and leathery?  Then move around the edge toward the lump area how flexibly is it?  Does it feel hard under the leather?  Or mushy?   Use as many words and as many ways to describe the entire shell.   This will narrow down the possibilities and we'll try to decide what it is and then what to do about it.>
Turdi's Mom 

Sick turtle needs help   12/8/13
Hello sir,
<Hiya, Darrel here>
This turtle was doing well since months but when winter came and maybe because of old water it developed some infections and rashes, Please look at attached images and tell me how to heal the turtle. The turtle is acting normally like before.
<This is a very common condition in Soft Shell turtles when they are kept in substandard water, so your guess as to the cause is probably accurate.>
<Treatment is fairly easy.  Remove him from the water and let him dry completely.  He won't react well to that, but it's best for him.  Swab the affected areas in iodine.  Let the iodine dry and remain on for at least an hour.  The longer you leave him out of water the more chance the skin has to repair, but at least one hour. Then you may place him back in perfectly clean water.  Repeat this every day until the conditions disappear.  Since he's behaving normally and we assume that means he's eating well - make sure his diet is complete.  If you can, feed him some small pieces of beef or chicken liver, but do that in a separate container of water, since the liver will foul the water in his tank.>
<Finally, people don't associate sunlight with the Soft Shell family, but they do need to bask and they do need access to unfiltered UV-B light>
Thanks a lot

Sick turtle needs help   12/8/13
Hello sir,
<Hiya, Darrel here>
This turtle was doing well since months but when winter came and maybe because of old water it developed some infections and rashes, Please look at attached images and tell me how to heal the turtle. The turtle is acting normally like before.
<This is a very common condition in Soft Shell turtles when they are kept in substandard water, so your guess as to the cause is probably accurate.>
<Treatment is fairly easy.  Remove him from the water and let him dry completely.  He won't react well to that, but it's best for him.  Swab the affected areas in iodine.  Let the iodine dry and remain on for at least an hour.  The longer you leave him out of water the more chance the skin has to repair, but at least one hour. Then you may place him back in perfectly clean water.  Repeat this every day until the conditions disappear.  Since he's behaving normally and we assume that means he's eating well - make sure his diet is complete.  If you can, feed him some small pieces of beef or chicken liver, but do that in a separate container of water, since the liver will foul the water in his tank.>
<Finally, people don't associate sunlight with the Soft Shell family, but they do need to bask and they do need access to unfiltered UV-B light>
Thanks a lot

My turtle was bitten, and incomp. f's     10/16/13
I really hope you guys are still answering peoples questions!
Last Thursday 10/10/13, My yellow bellied slider had his penis bitten by our soft shelled turtle when he was fanning... it bled for a few minutes and then stopped.. this isn't the first time it's happened and usually it just goes right back in after a few hours but today is 10/15/13 and it's still out.. there is swelling and the skin around the cloaca is all ripped... I called around today and could not find a vet in the area that takes turtles... I'm really worried about my little man.. i tried the honey trick I read online but that didn't work.. and there's no way I could manually try to put it in because it's just too swollen.. is there anything I can do?? I really don't wanna lose him :(
Thank you,
<Angela, you really need to get this guy to a vet. If it's still bleeding some hours after the damage, then there's a very high risk of bacterial infection (e.g., septicaemia). Chances are he'll need to be kept out of water for a while until he heals. The vet will fill you in with the details here. Also, and I cannot stress this too strongly, Softshell Turtles (Trionyx spp.) should only ever be kept alone. They are extremely nasty animals that bite first, ask questions later. They're dangerous to their owners, let alone any other poor animal trapped in the same glass box as they are. There's a pretty useful summary here:
Cheers, Neale (bcc'ed Darrel, our turtle expert).>

please help this sick turtles Sir     6/1/13
Hello sir,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I found a wild turtle at highway and brought it to home , when I found it then it had no problem but after sometime in my home it got problem in its shell , please have a look and tell me what could be cause of this and how to medicate this?
<First, that's a Softshell turtle.  By nature their shell is flexible and leathery, but it almost means that their shell is easily scraped.  It looks from the pictures that he simple has some scrapes to the edges of his shell.>
 In the meantime my other cousin also found the turtle at other highway and that turtle also developed same problem but its problem is more alarming than below mine one.
<I'd like to see pictures of that one, as well>
 I am putting turtle in a tub with water to its legs only and keeping in room temperature having 30celcius since this is summer going on , I do not keep in it sunlight because this is summer going on and temperature gets to 40Celcius.
<Softshell turtles absolutely REQUIRE water deep enough to submerge their entire body.  I'd suggest a minimum of 12 inches of water above 6 inches of sand.   The water should also be kept very clear.  Unlike most of the hard shell turtles like the Red Eared Sliders, the Softshell Turtles of the genus Trionyx are quite susceptible to skin and shell damage that will lead to infections if not treated>
<Another aspect of this family is that they have very long necks, dangerous bites and short tempers.   It's not a turtle I suggest for a beginner.  
The amount of work and skill required to successful keep one is usually beyond a beginners capability>
<My first and best suggestion is that you find a turtle or tortoise club somewhere near you and see if you can find a home for him with an experienced keeper.>

Re: please help this sick turtles Sir   7/17/13
Hello Sir,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
Many many thanks for your precious advices and treatment directions. The Indian flapshell turtle shell above turned back to new shell and now only the bottom side rashes remains and those rashes are also fading and getting disappeared day by day.
<That's what we're here for!  Well, that and for the free food!>
I need another help please tell me what to do?
I have got a tank at my roof which is 15 feet long and 3 feet wide and is 15 centimeters deep, ( I know its less but for now I have no other option ), the tank have a big 3feet x 3 feet area to hide under for turtles. It have basking area too an area outside the tank where the turtles can get out and sit. The whole tank is exposed to sunlight for 4, 5 hours in a daytime depending on sun's direction.
<Yes, the water is a bit shallow but for now my first thought is are your sure that they turtles can't escape?>
1. in summer the temperature goes as high as 45 degrees Celsius (113f) in daytime and in night it goes to 30 Celsius (86f) low then also I have to keep the turtle at roof in same tank?
<The problem, which you already suspect, is that sunlight heats shallow water faster than deeper water, so sunlight will heat that water quickly and with evening temps only to 30, the water will never really cool.  
POSSIBLY you can help this by covering a good portion of the tank (at least 50%, maybe 75% with something opaque - so the water that does not see sunlight will not absorb the heat.  This doesn't solve the problem but if the sunlight is only 4 or 5 hours  it may help>
2. in winter the temperature goes low up to 10 degrees Celsius (50f) in Night and in day it goes up to 32 degrees Celsius (89f) then also I have to keep the turtle at roof in same tank? (the tank at roof will get sunlight even in winter season)
<This is not so much of a problem.   The daytime temperatures will allow the shallow water to heat up and 10c (50f) is cold, but for an overnight that reheats to 10 this is not an issue.  Make sure they can bask during the day -- and watch their feedings.  As soon as the overnight temps drop below 16 degrees reduce their feedings and when it becomes 10 - discontinue completely until the weather warms.   Non-digested food in their gut is the only problem I'd worry about>
Many thanks

Nothing but a shell, YBS, Soft Shell incomp.     9/2/12
Good afternoon.
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I was out of town for 10 days and had a friend look after my 7" yellow belly turtle. When I arrived home, the water in the 100 gallon outdoor pond was too green. I took the water out and found three baby soft shell turtles, and it remains a mystery as to how they got in there (the pond is ten inches in height from the ground).
<Unless someone put them there, I agree>
They have lived together just fine over the last 3 weeks. So, after finding more soft shell turtles in my pool, I transferred them to the pond.
<OK, a mother laid her eggs somewhere close by>
But today as I went outside to feed the turtles, one was dead! He was missing his arms and head, and was only a shell with legs. Would my yellow belly do this, it seems quite vicious.
<Yes he could>
 I do believe this little soft shell turtle may have been sick because he was basking on top of the water for the entire day. Does being sick or dead change anything in the turtle world, or did my turtle just get annoyed by the little guy?
<It could have been either.  Turtles are what are called 'opportunistic feeders' which mean that they will eat anything that doesn't fight back or run away>
 I have now removed the soft shell turtles and put them in the lake (I didn't want to take any chances), but there are still two more in the cave area, hopefully alive, that I cannot get to. Should I be concerned?
<Softshells make very interesting pets.  As they grow they develop short tempers and with their long necks it's best to have them where they don't have to be handled very much.  Also, they need much cleaner water that a Yellow Belly or Red Eared Slider would need>

plz Diagnose what happened to my Indian Flapshell turtle    7/22/12
Respected Authority,
<Hiya - Respected Authority has the day off - Darrel here>
I have a problem regarding my Indian Softshell turtle ( Lissemys punctata)
. He has lost nails of his one of  front legs , a white patch has been developed between fingers, and both fingers have been swollen. He can't swim with both the front ones.
<Not good signs>
Please help I am in deep trouble.
<Yes you are - well the turtle is>
<Softshell turtles are extremely sensitive to skin issues.  They require unusually clean water, particular attention to diet and vitamins -AND- although this is not commonly considered for a turtle that is so aquatic - they need basking time under UV-B lighting.>
<Read here and treat as fungal infection: 
<The tricky thing with 'dry-docking' a Softshell turtle is keeping the skin hydrated and dry at the same time, so the daily bath should be twice-daily.
  Our BIG concern is that the fungal infiltration has turned into a bacterial infection, which might explain the loss of the nails.   Keep the front leg/nail areas moist with the anti-fungal agents described in the article for at least two weeks.  Feed liver of some sort if possible at least three times a week>
<Keeping the turtle dry helps fight the conditions that give the fungi and bacteria their best breeding grounds>
Thanking you in advance.
<You are most welcome>

Softshell turtle with fungus   10/13/11
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a 6 yr old Asian Softshell turtle (I believe she is a Pelodiscus sinensis) recently she developed a whitish spot on her back that was smaller than a penny which I suspected was fungus. Her water is clean with a filter/waterfall that she hauls out onto, but she had broken apart her turtle-safe heater so she was without a heater in the tank for awhile.
<Shouldn't be a problem>
Since it was summer I didn't think it would be necessary, but I'm wondering if this may have contributed to her getting the fungus.
<Probably not. If anything fungi grow in wet WARM places, not cooler places>
I removed her from the tank, and kept her in a plastic bin without water to dry out. I put the bin in the sun (with half in the shade in case she didn't want to bask) and then put Betadine on the fungus. When the Betadine was dry I put Silvadene over it. I would put her back in her tank for a couple of hours to eat, etc. and then do the Betadine Silvadene regimen again.
<That's what I'd do>
On day 2 I read that she shouldn't be completely dry so I put just enough water in the bin to cover her limbs which perked her up a bit, and I also read that Betadine can be toxic to some Softshells so I wiped it off her shell, washed it, and just used straight Silvadene. Do you know if it's safe for her species?
<I've never heard that before and have used plenty of Betadine on soft-shelled turtles. The important thing is to apply it and let it dry>
Anyway, on day 2 when I put her in her tank for exercise/feeding/pooping I noticed she was PALE all over. It's just like all her coloring has faded. I'm worried that being out of the tank really stressed her out.
<Yes, it does, but it's not like we have a choice>
She looked pretty miserable in the plastic bin, and would either sit with her head completely I also noticed a dark spot on her back foot that is where her foot bends (I wonder if when she was dry her foot was bent and that spot stayed wet?) there's a slight dark area almost on the same part of her other foot, but it looks on her left foot that it's almost a callous or scab or something. Also on the leg with the dark spot some of her skin is coming off. It's not a lot - just a little piece, but I'm worried it's because I let her dry out completely.
<In the wild they haul out and sun themselves until they get completely dry, so the act in itself isn't the cause>
I decided it was too stressful for her to be in and out of the tank, so I let her stay in. I have since gotten a turtle sulfa block, and added a little aquarium salt and got a new heater for her. Anyway, I think the fungus got kicked for the most part. There's a "ghost" area on her shell where the fungus was.
<That is likely to never go away completely, but don't worry about it.>
Is the sulfa block enough to fight the remainder of the fungus under the skin?
<I have no faith in the sulfa blocks at all. I've never seen one actually work>
Also, she now refuses to eat her ReptoMin pellets. She loved these for years until the other day. Now she's only eating earthworms and frozen beef heart cubes (very voraciously, I might add). Is she ever going to eat pellet food again?
<in time, probably. But she's not likely to eat the pellets while she's getting the better-tasting treats '¦ and you should continue the treats until she's a bit more back to normal. Once we feel she's well healed, we can go back to tough love and offer the pellets with the "eat these or go hungry" mentality for a week or so. Right now, it's not a battle worth fighting>
I'm so worried that she got so pale.
<It's a combination of physical factors and stress '¦ please don't feel like you broke her.> Do I need to call a vet?
<Not yet. But here's the thing. As you already know, Softshell turtles need pristine water conditions and once a skin problem starts, it's very hard to heal. What I suggest is this: Take her out of the water and into the empty tub. Allow her to dry for a half hour, then douse the shell and leg areas with white vinegar. Let that dry just a few minutes and then wipe with Betadine. Let that dry a half hour and then put her back in her tank. Repeat every third day for two weeks until you're sure that the skin is healing.>
<Our goal here is to BALANCE the healing & protective properties of the treatment with the stress factors. User her appetite and general alertness & activity as your first indicator that the stress is getting to her>
My fiancé© and I love this turtle and we're hoping to have her for the next 20-100 years.
<I understand>
Please advise.
Thanks so much!
<Hope it helps>

Re: Softshell turtle with fungus 10/20/11

Thanks so much Darrel,
<Yer welcome!!>
My turtle is doing MUCH better since following your advice.
<It's an amazing thing, Mona. EVERYONE seems to do better when they follow my advice! From turtles to cars to water heaters and relationships -- I' the guy with the answers and I'm right almost 22% of the time!!!>
Her coloring is back and she has a bit of a scar from the fungus but it's not spreading and
it's pretty much gone, otherwise. I've been withholding food her to get her pellet appetite back - especially after you wrote me she was just playing with the worms and not even eating them! I didn't feed her for 2 days and on the third she was back to pellets.
I hadn't thought of vinegar as a fungus killer (I use it all the time though for household cleaning) - so smart! thanks so much again!
<No charge, Mona -- but if you ever get the urge to donate money, the web site has a donate button on each page!>
- Mona
<Lastly, Mona. There are 6 special things to look at with a Softshell turtle. The first FOUR are water quality!!! Pristine conditions keep them healthy. The next two are basking: They DO bask and they DO need UV-B lighting when they bask, so make sure you have a light for them. Lastly, they like to burrow in the substrate, so make sure that the substrate is small enough particles and soft enough particles to allow this. What I used to do was make a small "box" on the floor of their tank where I could put 6 inches of sand (rather than the 1" that covered the rest of the bottom) and since I only had 8 inches of water, they would bury themselves completely and then just shoot that long next up to the surface like a periscope. That's their way in nature and it makes them feel more secure>

Sick Florida soft-shell turtle    9/12/10
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My daughter found a Florida soft-shell turtle the other day but it's not healthy. It has a lump on one cheek, will not eat (that we have noticed), stays in one spot most the day but will swim some if pushed and is very thin. There is also what looks like some skin shedding on all limbs. Is there any hope of bringing it back to good health?
<There is some, yes>
We can not afford a vet.
<I understand>
Should we put it back where it was found?
<No. That's the one thing not to do. He won't heal any better where you found him, since that was the environment that allowed him to get sick in the first place, and he'd likely just become prey to some predator. Even for healthy animals, we never suggest that they be released into the wild>
I will be thankful for any help.
<Lots of things. First, the lump certainly sounds like an abscess and of course that's not good and will have to be treated, but he also sounds like he may have a fungal infection on his skin. Here is a link to an article about treating common illnesses in turtles. It's written more for Sliders and other hard shelled water turtles, but the basics will work for a Soft-shell as well. May a place for him that's warm and dry. Like even a cardboard box with a towel in the bottom and an ordinary incandescent bulb over part of it. The drier he is, the harder it is for the fungus to grow. Also, the direct warmth will stimulate him so that when you put him in shallow water (just barely covering his shell - no deeper!) every day for a few minutes, he may decide to try to eat something. One problem is that a wild caught soft-shell in a weakened condition may not recognize food when he sees it. In your case I'd go to my local pet store or bait shop even - and see if I could buy a small package of earthworms. I'd place the turtle in the water, give him 2 or 3 minutes to drink and hydrate, and then I'd place a worm in the water a few inches in front of him. The remainder of the worms will keep for a few days if you keep them dark and cool (refrigerated is best) and then you can put them out in the garden or lawn where they'll do wonders for the plants>
<After he's been dry and warm for a few days and maybe eaten - starting to gain any kind of strength at all, then you have to address the abscess.
Not something to do on a soft-shell especially if you have no experience.
The good news is that if you've found a Trionyx ferox - the Florida Soft Shell Turtle -- there is a turtle and tortoise club near you!! There are plenty in Florida and the internet is a perfect place to find one. I'd suspect that you can find an experienced "old hand" that can examine your turtle and see if it is an abscess or something else and give you some real 'hands on' help with him>
<Here is the link: please read the whole thing - and best of luck to you!!>
< http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm>

Turtle Questions   9/6/2010
Hi! My name is Lindsey
<Hiya - Darrel here>
-- and I have a soft-shell turtle named Vinny (who, according to your sexing tips, is most likely a female) that I have had for about 3 years now. She seems very healthy and happy, and has grown from about the size of a half dollar to a 4" diameter. I had originally set up a basking area with a "natural sunlight" lamp, and she pushed all the big
rocks over so that she could burrow in the sand.
<Their favorite resting posture is to be buried in the sand with only their nose showing, and then when they need to breathe, they extend their necks up like a periscope to the surface. A soft-shell's neck is almost as long as their body and it's amazing to see this in action>
I have since taken all of the big rocks out- I still have the lamp on a timer but I am not sure if it does any good. I'm guessing this is normal behavior for soft-shells- if not please let me know.
<It's pretty normal. They DO haul out and bask occasionally however, so you should make the effort to structure something for her to be able to do this. The problem is that you may never see her actually doing it -- Trionyx (the soft-shelled turtles) are usually shy and easily frightened just in general, but they are EXTREMELY private in their basking. They'll leave the hauling out spot at the first NOISE, let alone movement.>
My main question is this- my dad found a very tiny (maybe the size of a quarter) snapping turtle that looked near death and was no where near water, so he asked me if I wanted it. I can keep them separated, but would it be okay for me to put them in the same tank?
<No it wouldn't. They're both attack-based predators, both have short tempers and both will try to eat the other. The bigger one will win. If they're the same size, the snapping turtle will take bites out of Vinny's shell and she'll die>
I will rebuild the basking area for the snapper if I need to --
<The same rules for soft-shells apply to the Chelydridae - they bask infrequently and rarely when anyone is watching.>
-- and we are planning on moving Vinny from a 30 gallon tank to a 50 gallon tank soon. I just want to make sure that they would not hurt each other, and that if they turn out to be of opposite sex, that they cannot crossbreed. I don't want any eggs or baby turtles, that is way beyond my level of expertise in turtle care and I don't want to try to take it on. I am planning on keeping them separate at first, until I can make sure that the snapper is healthy and will not put Vinny at any health risk.
<I keep both, Lindsey and the way I do it is with a plastic tank divider. I arrange the basking areas against the divider so that one heat lamp and one UB lamp shines on both "sides." What you have going for you is that they both enjoy the same water, water temps, water levels - gravel substrate, and even food -- and they're typically not upset to be in each other's view.>
After that, can I move them in together?
<no, sorry>
Vinny currently lives with a sucker fish that is approximately 3-4 inches long, and she doesn't harass the fish as far as I can tell. Can I put more fish in with them? My dad raises Cichlids and they are constantly having babies that he usually sells back to the pet store- obviously the babies would be eaten by the turtles, but once they are a couple inches long, can I put them in with one or both turtles? Our tank is a little boring with just Vinny and some sand.
<Both snapping turtles and soft-shelled turtles are serious predators, Lindsey. Both will sit in wait and if the sucker fish gets too close, will suddenly lunge forward, attack and eat, so the only fish I'd think of putting in their tanks would be food items and, if you've read these columns enough, you'd find that we rarely do it that way. Fish is a more balanced diet for both Trionyx and Chelydridae than for the Emydid (hard shelled) turtles, but even so a better diet is Koi pellets and an occasional earth worm.>
<Other things these two neighbors share, Lindsey: They both have VERY short tempers and sudden NASTY bites. Both have extremely long necks and the ability to strike anything close to the entire front half of their bodies. Both are safely handled ONLY from their rear half - and even that with extreme caution. I very much enjoy keeping them but it terms of handling them they're right up there with my alligators: Drop your guard for just a second and you're nickname will be Lefty, Scar or Stumpy.>
Thanks for all your help!

Florida Soft Shell Turtle, party animal  -- 8/21/10
Dear Crew
<Hiya ! Darrel here>
During the hurricanes in 2004 we rescued 2 baby box turtles, about a year later another box turtle, then the following year my husband scooped up a baby soft shell turtle right before a big bird swooped down on it. We have had our soft shell since he was about the size of a half dollar in a 20 gal tank with 3 box turtles, yes box turtles. Somehow they adapted to being in a water only tank, we did not know they were land turtles only when we first saved them.
<I hope you corrected that as soon as you found out.>
<That said, I used to have a combination turtle & tortoise pen. Have was planted dirt, very much like a garden and the other half was a turtle pond. The sliders and Cooters stayed near the water except to bask and lay eggs, and the box turtles and Russian tortoises stayed in the garden except to drink. But I had this one Florida Box Turtle named Clara that was ALWAYS in the water '¦ swimming around with the turtles. She even ate the Koi pellets I fed the water turtles! Every so often I'd fish her out and carry her to the far side of the garden and place her with the other box turtles. She's stay for a while - anywhere from an hour to a day -- but sooner or later I'd find her basking on a log with the sliders and diving into the water and swimming to me when I came to feed them. After a couple of years, I just gave up and let her be herself. That was years ago and she's long since passed, but he son Clem is wandering around my house as we speak and if I were to guess '¦ he thinks he's one of my cats.>
So for about 5 years all of our turtles have been together in a water tank with a floating deck. Our Softshell is now about 8 in long and 5 wide, it was in the corner of the tank this morning and I thought he was sitting on top of one of our other turtles.
<Again -- I'm sincerely hoping that you've made proper homes for the Terrapenes -- maybe a fenced in outside garden during the spring, summer and fall? Just remember, they are INCREDIBLE climbers>
I went over to the tank to investigate and his tail was stretched almost to his neck along the underneath of his body and at the tip something had come out, it was dark and had like three tips, very alien like. It appeared to be coming out of the very tip as if the tip opened and this alien thing tried to come out. Do you know what that was??
<Why yes. I do happen to know what that is>
Since then it has went back into the tip of his tail but I've noticed that his tail is larger than usual. I have searched all over the web but not sure what it was I am looking for. I tried looking for the way turtles reproduce and eventually found your website. Your website seems to have the most info but no info on what was coming out of my turtles tail. If you could help I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you in advance.-Natasha
<Natasha -- what you have is a male Softshell turtle that has reached maturity! What you see there coming out of his tail is his '¦ um '¦ party animal. Unfortunately you won't find many pictures of turtle's reproductive organs on the internet (except perhaps for a few really twisted pay sites maybe "Honest honey!!! I was just doing research for an article I'm writing on turtles!!!") but that's what it is.>
<The important thing to realize is that even sometimes when it appears swollen, it can always go back in on it's own. Never try to force it back in>
<On another note -- always remember that your soft shell (Trionyx ferox) has a nasty bite and short temper '¦ so keep your fingers away from the his entire front half!>

Soft-Shell Turtle Dying!!!! pls help.  11/22/09
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My Turtle is FAMILY: TRIONYCHIDAE (Softshell Turtles) Indian Flapshell Turtle (Lissemys punctata andersoni). My Turtle's age is 4-5 years old & its Single Female.
The problem is since last 1 month my turtle eats very small amount after 2-3 days only & sleeps whole day (is this because of winter season?)
<That would depend entirely on the conditions and temperature in her situation>
And also its shell & skin has started pealing off, & its bottom shell is breaking also...I'm really worried now...because since last month they are getting worse.
<Yes, these pictures show a turtle in distress>
Here you can see current now Skin** pealing off**,Shell & bottom shell breakage pictures pics( its Hands & Feet Skin is getting Extremely Dry day by day): http://yfrog.com/j793125143jx
<Yes. These pictures show a long term care issue, either diet or water conditions - or both>
what do I need to do, to help my soft-shell turtle?
<The immediate care is to get her warm and dry. Cover her sores and skin tears with iodine twice daily and allow them all to dry thoroughly. I am enclosing a link for care of common illnesses in Read Eared Sliders and what you should do is follow the same treatment as for FUNGAL INFECTIONS -- except you'll need to hydrate her more often.>
<The Trionyx Family are fairly hardy animals, Rehan, but once they contract a skin disease the outlook is not good. If you can keep her dry, the ulcerations (sores) washed in peroxide and then covered in iodine, the skin may have a chance to start to heal ... but unlike an Emydid (hard shelled water turtle) your Softshell shouldn't have her skin completely dried -- so you'll need to put her in water twice daily, while at the same time allowing the iodine to dry over the sores.>
<By keeping her warm & dry (around 80(f) / 27(c)) and then twice daily into water about the same temperature, you might stimulate her appetite - which brings us to the other half of the problem. She appears to be obese ... meaning she's eaten too much and gotten fat, which can lead to internal organ deterioration which in turn leaves them open to skin infections.
Give her a light diet or Koi pellets or Repto-Min food sticks and very little protein and perhaps after a month or so we might see improvement.
Best of luck to you>
waiting for your help.
thanks in advance.
<here's the link:

My turtle laid 4 eggs. how to take are of them????  11/22/09
<Hiya - Darrel again>
My Turtle is FAMILY: TRIONYCHIDAE (Softshell Turtles) Indian Flapshell Turtle (Lissemys punctata andersoni).
<Another one?>
my turtle laid 4 eggs on 20th September 2009. so I 1st keep it rapped in towel & cotton cloth after 5 days. then I got sand from the river & put it the box , which I filled with moist river sand. what other things I need to take care of it? do I need sun, water, room, rooftop & what else location & things for it???
<Well, we have a link here for freshly laid turtle eggs>
< http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/TurtleReproArtDarrel.htm>
it has been 3 months now how do I check the progress of my Turtle Eggs or they wont hatch now?
<But it's a little late for this care>
- 1st I kept them(in plastic box with river sand) in a Normal room with normal room temperature.
- Then later for 3 week I kept it on my roof top where it got direct sun light in morning & cold temperature at night(that might be same situation in its natural place/habitat right??)
- since last 2 weeks I brought it back to normal room temperature, because of extreme cold season at night & a lot of rains last 2-3 weeks.
<That's a lot of change and stress on the eggs, Rehan. My GUESS is that they're not fertile or they would have hatched by now -- HOWEVER, we have a saying "incubate until they go rotten" because stranger things have happened to eggs that did indeed hatch.>
<Unless the eggs look black or smell rotten, you have very little to lose by continuing to try. Treat them as stated in the article for 90 more days before giving up>
thanks in advance.

Problems/Questions with Florida Soft-Shelled Turtle 10/25/2009
Hello there,
<Hi Abi.>
I found a Florida Soft-Shelled Turtle on my sidewalk the other day, and since it is a baby (a little less than two inches long), I decided to keep him for a few days.
<Yep, have a bunch of them around my house as well.>
One of the problems I'm having is that he doesn't eat at all.
<Could be a number of things, stress, illness, or you aren't providing what it sees as food. These turtles are carnivores.>
I've tried everything. And recently he's developed "hiccups".
<Not a good sign. This usually means a respiratory infection of some sort.
The turtle will need to be taken to a vet.>
I'm not sure if he's doing that to try and scare me or if its because he hasn't eaten. Any advice would be appreciated.
<If you want to keep it You can start by reading here:
also here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/turtlesysfaq2.htm >
<One thing to keep in mind as well, soft shell turtles can give a nasty bite>

Re: Problems/Questions with Florida Soft-Shelled Turtle  10/27/09
Hi again.
<Hiya - Darrel here>
Thank you for responding to my message and for giving me some advice.
<your are welcome!>
I've tried feeding him cooked chicken, ham, bologna, lettuce (I've read that some do eat vegetation), and turtle pellets. I'm not too interested in keeping him. I just wanted him to be off the sidewalk for a bit. I don't
think I'll be able to take him to a vet either. I've come in contact with a fully grown soft-shell, but it didn't bite me. It bit the woman carrying it. And yes, the bite seemed terrible. I've held my turtle many times, and
he doesn't seem aggressive or scared. Obviously he does hide is head in his shell, but he warms up after a bit. As for the "hiccups", there's no coughing or sneezing, nothing coming out from his nose, nothing out of his mouth, he still has balance while swimming, and looks to be breathing normally.
<Abi - Softshells can be interesting pets, but yes they can and do bite and they are not for everyone. I commend you for wanting to get him off the sidewalk and to help him. Unfortunately the one thing we should never ever do is release an animal that we're kept, even for just a day or two, into the wild again.>
<What I suggest you do is look on the internet for a turtle and tortoise club in or near your town. The little guy you have will probably require more care than you can give him without making a permanent commitment to him, but your local turtle and tortoise club will probably have someone that would like to have him and has the facility and experience to care for him.>

Spiny soft shelled turtle  05/27/09
Dear Crew,
<Hiya Angie... Darrel here>
We found a spiny soft shelled turtle at the creek.
<How big?>
Will straight tap water hurt him?
<Not a bit. In fact the clean, chlorinated water is better for him than stagnant water.>
Also, what kind of habitat do I need to set up for him?
<Soft shell turtles are one of the most interesting of all the turtles.>
<WATER QUALITY: They're a quite bit more sensitive about water quality than what a Red Eared Slider will tolerate, so you need to have good filters and change the water/clean the tank more frequently. The water should look clean and pure and have ZERO odor of any kind.>
<LIGHTING: Contrary to popular notions, soft shells ( the genus is now called Apalone but it used to called Trionyx) DO haul out and bask and DO require heat and UV lighting just like a Red Eared Slider would .. it's just that they are shy and nervous creatures and will retreat to safety
(the water) almost any time someone is around. Even after they are accustomed to humans, many still find 'sunbathing' to be a private thing and will slip into the water even as they swim up to the glass as a human approaches.>
<FOOD: Again, they are a bit more carnivorous than a Slider, but I've raised them from hatchlings to breeders on nothing more than high quality Koi pellets and the occasional (once a month) night crawler/earthworm.>
<HOUSING: The same basic instructions for Red Eared Sliders apply here (link enclosed) with just a few reminders (1) Water Quality is critical to their long term health. (2) Care must be taken that their bottom, basking area, etc. be free from sharp or rough objects because their skin is much more sensitive to abrasion.>
<HIDING: This is one thing not strictly REQUIRED, but your Spiny Soft shell (Apalone spinifera) will love you for it: Take a glass or plastic dish around 4 inches deep, fill it with very fine aquarium sand and place it in such a manner as to be now more than an inch below water level in the tank or pond. Usually this means placing it on top of rocks or even upside down garden pots. The soft shell finds security in burying his entire body in the sand and sticking only his very long neck up to the surface (very much like a snorkel). The more security they find in their ability to hide, the more secure they will be when they're out and about where you CAN see them.>

Turtle question, RES, Softshell incomp.   4/5/09
Hi, I have a red eared slider and a Softshell turtle together in an aquarium.
<Mmm, not compatible>
They've peacefully coexisted since I got them both as babies last July, but for a couple of weeks now the slider has been taking bites out of the softshell's shell!
A man at the petstore suggested I buy a bigger tank so I upgraded from a 10 gal to a 29 gal,
<Still too small>
but the slider is still doing it! What should I do?
<These two need to be kept in separate systems>
Thanks so much for your help,
Brandi Davis
<Welcome Brandi. Bob Fenner>

Florida Soft Shelled care, and turtle sys. period  8/30/08
Dear Crew
<Hiya Tina - Darrel here today>
I am going to do my best and keep this short...
<Let's see how you do>
A few weeks ago my boyfriend surprised me with two baby turtles from the reptile show that he had gone to, 1 Florida Soft Shelled
<Trionyx ferox!! one of my all time favorite turtles>
and a Spiny Soft Shelled
<Trionyx spinifer - virtually identical care & needs in every respect>
We are reptile people and have had many snakes and lizards over the years, some of which we bred, so the turtles are a new venture for us!
<Welcome to a bigger world, Tina. At the risk of hurting the feelings of my 4 iguanas, turtles and tortoises are my favorite reptiles. While not possessing the intelligence or personality of the iguanids, chelonians are fun, active, personable and generally fun to be around ... come to think of it .. that also describes my last girlfriend. Hmmmm>
They are in a tank together right now and seem to be getting along just fine.
<Soft shell turtles are not particularly social, Tina. In the wild, they tend to live singly like the snappers, mud & musk turtles as opposed to the Emydids (Sliders, Cooters, etc). They can be housed together and usually will get along fine as long as there is enough room for them to get away from each other when they need to. Make sure you feed them separately as well. Try to entice them each to a different corner of the tank at feeding time so they don't even APPEAR to have to compete for food.>
The tank air is at about 80 to 85 degrees normally and the water ranges from 72 in the early morning (before the lights turn on) and 76 by time the lights turn off for the night. They have been eating a pellet food that he got from the breeder and occasional frozen brine shrimp (which the Florida loves!)
<Not bad. I use a high quality Koi Pellet for all my aquatic turtles and I "treat" them with an occasional earthworm (night crawlers which your local tropical fish store should carry) Brine shrimp are OK, but there is very little nutritional value and the uneaten shrimp foul your water ... which is an important consideration. Pellet food and one worm per week per turtle is more than enough. The worms will keep in the fridge for about a week and then you can dump the rest in your garden, which does wonders for the plants.>
I have a filter and I am attempting to grow vegetation in the tank presently.
<Item #1 and Item # VERY important, Tina. Our soft shells require MUCH higher water quality than almost any other kind of turtle. We're talking almost tropical fish-tank water quality. Crystal clear and charcoal filtered. Skin/shell infections are serious conditions for the Trionyx and VERY difficult to treat... so keep it clean>
<**********General Note to Turtle Keepers Everywhere********>
<Please, abandon ALL hope of having a mature biological filter system for your turtles the way you do for your fish tanks. Chelonian dietary needs, combined with a fairly primitive digestive system (aquatic turtles, at least) provide such a high output of .. um ... raw materials for the biofilter that it has virtually NO hope of catching up and keeping pace. Change the water regularly, siphon the bottom every time you change, add lots of activated charcoal to the filter and change it regularly.
<Thanks for listening>
I noticed today that the Florida has a white tint to his shell and I am growing concerned, Why would this happen and is it dangerous to him. I would like to know what to do to fix this problem now so that I can keep him for a long time to come. Please let me know if you have a clue as to what it may be. It doesn't appear to be filmy, just white-ish.
<Difficult to say Tina, for a number of reasons. First, fungal infections down IN the skin (as opposed to on the surface) will appear whitish yet not slimy. Second,. as T. ferox matures and loses that dark shell with the beautiful orange band, one of the first things that happens is that the shell starts to "fade" by looking slightly whitish. My suggestion for the moment is that you attend to the water quality issues and then make sure that the tank lighting provides UVA and UVB and then see that he (both of them actually) get plenty of natural sunlight. 15 to 20 minutes a day of direct sunlight. Now that doesn't mean COOK them of course. Put them in a box with side high enough that they can't climb and place that box where sunlight can hit the bottom directly and then cover half the top so that there is shade. Even if they choose the shade, the unfiltered light that reflects around the inside on the box is still "direct enough" to be beneficial.>
<Here are some tips on keeping the Trionyx family: they DO bask just like the rest of the water turtles and they NEED the UV light, same as the others. Being somewhat shy about it, they do it carefully and away from eyes (often in the weeds, reeds or tall grasses) in the wild. As they grow, they spend much of their time buried in the sand where they only need stick out their long snorkel-like neck to breathe. Now this is the part that people miss, when the water is shallow enough that they can be UNDER the sand and still stick their heads out of the water, a LOT of that hot Florida sunshine is reaching them.>
<This brings up another tip: In every instance where I keep soft shelled turtles, I have shallow water with small grained sand as least 3 times deeper than their shell so that they can engage in this natural behavior. Sometimes that can be as simple as a small clear plastic shoebox filled with sand and set inside a bigger "normal" aquarium atop some rocks so that it's 1 inch under the surface.>
<Check the water quality issues, Tina. Provide the daily sunshine and write us back in 14 days -- Darrel>

Re: Turtles... mixing species  -- 4/15/08 thank you for the info, we now have them in different tanks and the soft shelled turtle is very interesting and likes to bury himself into the sandy bottom. <I love it when people don't write to say "thanks" until they want more information... gives me a nice warm glow knowing that good manners are still a part of the modern world.> But recently the red-eared slider stays on the turtle dock and does not swim and has not eaten in a few days is she sick or what should we do? thanks <First tell me about the vivarium and care. How are you supplying UV-B light? What foods are you using for the 50% plant material portion of its diet the Red Ear Slider needs? How are you filtering the water? How much water are you changing per week? What temperature do you keep the water at? The reason I'm asking these questions is that virtually all problems with Red Ear Sliders come down to people not providing UV-B, not feeding them a plant-based diet, not filtering the water, and not changing the water regularly. If you aren't doing ALL of these things properly, then your first "thing to do" is fix them. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Turtles, WWM, manners/normative beh.   -- 4/15/08 Are you always an ass when people ask you for information? Because your the one with the website so if you don't like people writing to you with questions then maybe you shouldn't have one. Oh yeah and by the way thanks for the info! Amanda <Hello Amanda. Good manners cost nothing. Simply because you're getting a service doesn't mean your manners should be neglected. When you get a drink at a bar, or pay at the checkout at a grocery store, I'm sure someone as well mannered as yourself would always use those magic words "thank you" at the end of each transaction. When you're getting something for free, such as the expert advice from volunteers like me trying to help you care for your animals, then being polite is even more important. I enjoy helping out here at WWM because most of the people who write are fun to communicate with. Humour, good manners, and a shared interest in animal welfare are the things that keep me coming back. Cheers, Neale.>

Turtles, RES and Soft Shell incomp.  4/5/08 Would it be ok to stick a red eared slider and a soft shelled turtle in the same tank? LOVE AMANDA!!!!!!! <In a word, No. These turtles have different needs and different temperaments. Soft-shell Turtles get big (the Florida Soft Shell Turtle for example has a shell length of 60 cm/24", and the Spiny Soft Shell is only a bit smaller) and are very bad tempered. They bite at everything, including their keepers and any animals unfortunate enough to be placed in the same tank. They are not a suitable species for the home, and if you haven't bought this animal yet, think very VERY carefully before you do so, because you will likely regret it. Red-ear Sliders are generally fairly easy going and don't get nearly so big, so provided you have a heater, UV-B lamp, filter, lots of green foods, and space for the 55 gallon aquarium adults require, are quite easy to keep. If you don't have these things and don't want to buy them, please don't bother with turtles at all. Cheers, Neale.>

Pig Nosed River Turtle Questions, sys.   4/16/07 Hello guys, I hope you can bear with me and try to answer my questions, I am really sorry I have so many questions and taking up your precious time. Really appreciate your help and time and efforts! Thank you in advance! My pig nose turtle has been really restless for the past month, swimming from one end to the other in the tank and flapping water furiously but stopped once I go over or pat it on its head. Last time it (I am still not sure of its gender, I know a long tail and long nails at front flippers should indicate a 'he' but I am not sure how long exactly is considered long enough.) used to calm down after I fed it but food doesn't work anymore so I really don't know what my turtle is asking for now. I have seen similar questions posted in the forum but the replies did not directly explain this behaviour. I have varied the diet but it didn't help. I have kept the turtle for years and this hasn't happened before. There's no hiding place for my turtle and I will try to get one because it's difficult to find a cave-like structure big and light enough for the glass tank. My turtle is about 22cm from head to tail and 17cm in width.. Do you know how old it is?. < They grow very slowly and no literature is available on the growth rate of this turtle.> When I bought it, I believed it was just a hatchling, no bigger than about 10cm from head to tail. And is it also 80F for the water temperature for Pignose turtle? < That sounds like it is in the range for this species.> Can you tell me how many Celsius degree is 80F? <Around 27 C.> Should the basking area be higher in temperature? < Generally the basking areas are always higher so the animal can increase its body temp to fight disease and to aid in digestion.> And aside from the basking light, do I also need another lamp for the tank? < You need heat and another lamp to provide the proper lighting spectrum for vitamin development.> Are these two kinds of lamps different? < Usually yes although some lamps can provide both heat and some UV radiation.> And should I keep the lights on during the day and off at night? < Yes.> I also don't have a basking area for it, because the water level of the tank is about three quarter full and I have no idea how to build a basking area so high above the water. If I keep the water level lower, will it deprive my turtle in terms of swimming space? < Yes try and build a shelf on which the turtle can get out on. ZooMed makes a Turtle Dock for just such a situation but it is not big enough for a turtle like yours.> If I put it out in a tub for basking, is half an hour enough? < Only the turtle itself knows how long it needs to bask.> It doesn't really get a lot of direct sunlight because I stay in a flat and have no garden or porches or anything in kind. Do I need to add a bit of water in the tub? < This is a very aquatic turtle that in the wild would spend hours swimming around in a big river. If you are going to confine it to a tube then I would still and try to provide as much swimming are as possible.> So sorry I have so many questions. I hope you can answer to them all. So sorry to take up so much of your time and efforts, really appreciate any help given!.. Thank you soo soo much! Lost and frantic owner, Jaz Singapore < This is a very rare turtle and I believe on some CITES lists too. Very scarce and very expensive in the U.S. The cool thing about these turtles is they look and act like ocean sea turtles but are found in fresh water instead. They get pretty big for a pet turtle. The shell can get up to almost 20 inches and they can weigh up to 35 lbs. There is very little known about these turtles and literature is scarce. Since they get soo big and are very aquatic I would try and give them as much swimming space as possible. They may come out to bask occasionally but I don't think they will use a basking spot very often. Some people in the US that are fortunate enough to have this turtle have told me that they are totally aquatic and don't require a basking spot. But I would still provide UVB and UVA over the basking site to cover my bases. The basking site should still be around 85 to 90 F. The water temp should be around 80 F. The diet may need to be modified for minerals that it may not be getting. Try adding a few vitamins to the food to see if that helps settle him down.-Chuck>

Floating Soft Shell Turtle    10/6/06 Hello, My Florida Soft Shell is buoyant. He can't seem to stay down no matter how hard he tries... He keeps floating up to the top of his tank. Usually he acts starving when I feed him and is very vigorous and tonight at dinner time he didn't even budge. Finally I got him to eat 2 brine shrimp cubes (he normally eats 3), but he is just floating at the top of his tank. Could he be dying? Also, our power   went out the other day and I had to add water to the filter area to get the pump to stat pumping again.... when I did this, it added the pump debris in to his water. Could he have gotten sick from this if he ate it? Please help answer my questions if you can. < Could be sick from something he ate, but the problem is the water is too cold. Put a quality water heater in the aquarium and turn it up to 80 F. Soft shells really don't bask so the water needs to be warm all the time for them.-Chuck>

Re: Burping Turtle   10/5/06 Thanks.  Any reason for the big air bubbles (burping)? <Gas is usually a associated with food  being decomposed by microbes as opposed to being digested by the stomach juices.-Chuck>
Re: Burping Turtle II    10/6/06
I'm assuming that food decomposed by microbes as opposed to being digested by stomach juices is bad? < It means that the bacteria are breaking down and digesting the food and not the turtle.> She spends a considerable amount of time under her basking lamp, which is at the correct temperature, so I'm not sure what else to do. Thanks, Matt < Check the basking spot with a thermometer. It should be at least 85 F. If it is too cold then increase the wattage of the basking light or move the source closer to the spot.-Chuck>

Small Soft Shell Turtle   8/30/06 Hi I have a soft shell turtle I have had it for nearly a year now and its  still about 5cm long is this normal? < Soft shell turtle actually require some warmth. Your turtle should be close to twice that size. Get a heater for the tank and set at 75 to 80 F. Feed foods that are high in protein like fish, insects and worms.-Chuck>

Chinese Soft Shell Turtle in a Pond?  6/9/06 Dear WWM Crew, <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have a female Chinese soft shell turtle that I love dearly. I am moving into my boyfriend's house and he doesn't want her. :( <Guess you love the boyfriend more?> I don't want to give her up, so I am trying to find a compromise to keep her with me. I live in the UK, so its pretty warm here at the minute, but as you know the winters can be bitter. So, my boyfriend has a pond, with nothing in it. I was wondering if I could build an enclosure that was kept at a constant temperature to house her in? I'm a designer and he is an electrician - I'm sure we could come up with something! Do you think so long as the temperature was controlled and the water filtered she'd be ok? Are there any other considerations we should take into account? <Would work but very expensive to heat, IMO.  ~PP> Thanks guys, I look forward to hearing from you

Soft Shell Turtle Throwing Up  - 5/11/06 Hi, I'm located in Singapore, and the general attitude here towards reptiles are that if they are sick, throw them away and get a new one. Which means that.. there are no vets who can treat my Softshell turtle! I'm not sure what type it is, but I am pretty sure its a breed that's from southeast Asia. I keep it outdoors, in a tank where it can get sunlight from 7am till 12noon.It is roughly 3 years old, and 6 inches long. Problem is, for the past 3 weeks, it have been throwing up. Not immediately after feeding, maybe 5-6 hours later. It's eating Tetra ReptoMin, 8 sticks per feeding. I tried feeding it iceberg lettuce, the only vegetable it will eat. But that comes out too, after 12 hours. It used to be very active, but its just lying around these days, don't even try to bite me anymore. What can the problem be? I really don't want to lose it.. I can't tell if its male or female either.. Thank you for your time, Tasha < Too bad you have no access to a vet. Clean the tank and move it to where it gets some warm afternoon sun. The peak UV period is between 10 and 2. You turtle may not be getting warm enough to digest its meal and it has begun to rot in its gut and cannot pass it.-Chuck>

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