the cost of your Red Ear Slider was small or large,
you should try to provide the best care you can give
your Slider. When providing it with a suitable aquarium,
cleanliness, healthy diet, and a warm stress free
environment you can minimize a huge potential of health
problems that they can develop. As you would with
any other pet, find a veterinarian who is qualified
to offer care and treatment of a Red Ear Slider. From
reading books, here are some of the common illnesses
and medications, which you can use if your Slider
becomes ill. Always remember that the first thing
you should do is take your sick turtles to the veterinarian
before doing anything on your own.
rules you should follow when sickness is suspected
temperature to 80 or 85 degrees Fahrenheit
the water neatly clean
offering different food items to the turtle
out for unusual stools
there are no results in a few days see a
me say this first: A cold is a serious condition for
get colds, just like people and most other animals.
They may sneeze, but sneezing is not always a sign
of a cold; dust or just "stuff in the nose" can make
a turtle sneeze occasionally. The turtle may have
a bit of a runny nose, too. Again, this can be causes
by allergies, or by a cold. If you are not sure, whether
your turtle has a cold, have a veterinarian evaluate
symptoms could also be a harmless little cold, or
they could be the only sign of the beginning of a
more serious respiratory infection, which must be
treated with medication.
a turtle doesn't get a cold from being cold, keeping
a turtle too cold, or under less than ideal conditions,
will weaken its immune system, and it is more likely
to catch the disease.
respiratory infections, and pneumonia can be caused
by bacteria or viruses. Just like in people, if a
bacterium is the agent, antibiotics are used for treatment,
and there is a good chance the animal will recover.
If a virus is the cause, which is hard to determine,
since it won't show in a culture, nothing much can
be done, except to keep the turtle warm and wait and
first measure for any cold-like symptoms is to raise
the temperature in the turtle enclosure. Raising the
temperature helps the turtle's immune system become
more active. Also, make sure the turtle has the cleanest
possible environment. How much to raise the temperature?
Maybe a few degrees for water, to around 28 - 30C
(82 - 85F). Better even, is to take the turtle, if
it is a water turtle, out of the water. Put the turtle
into a heated box, use a thermometer! make sure it
doesn't get too hot!!! You can use a heating pad or
a lamp to heat the box. Leave the turtle in the box
except for two soakings of 1/2 hour each mornings
and evenings, for eating and drinking.
your turtle gets worse, or if it does not improve
within a couple of days, you should see a veterinarian
as soon as possible.
any of the symptoms are more than minor, or if the
turtle also gasps, has a rasping breath, or swollen
eyes, is sluggish or doesn't eat, see a veterinarian
you are not sure, see a veterinarian. Colds, respiratory
infections, and pneumonia are probably one of the
most common causes of death for turtles.
for colds, respiratory infections, and pneumonia include
warmth, antibiotics (oral or injected), steaming (with
or without medication), breathing oxygen (if the turtle
has water in its lungs and cannot get enough oxygen),
and X-rays, to check for water in the lungs.
Vitamin K deficiency is almost always a result of
long-term antibiotic therapy, which causes the destruction
of the intestinal bacteria that synthesize Vitamin
K. Occasionally, it can occur without known cause.
However, lack of vegetables might be the cause. The
usual symptom is bleeding of the gums. The treatment
consists of giving the animal Vitamin K and changing
the diet to include more vegetable matter.
other animals and people, turtles carry all sorts
of bacteria on them. The same way that you should
not let your dog lick your face, you should not kiss
your turtle. Small children should not be allowed
to put the turtle in their mouth. Always wash your
hands after handling turtles. In rare cases a turtle
may carry salmonella. Often, the disease is acquired,
if the turtle is fed raw chicken. If you are worried
about salmonella, you can have your vet test the turtle
and treat it. There are several excellent articles
on turtles an salmonella in some of the herp magazines
and books mentioned below.
Red Eared Sliders and other turtles can develop fuzzy
gray and white patches that are fungal growths. One
of the major causes of this is poor water quality
and an improper basking area. Make sure you have a
good full spectrum or UVB Light that gives off some
good heat. Sliders need this for the prevention of
Acriflavan is available at most pet stores and will
often stop fungal infections when it's added to the
water. I also recommend Hagen Sulfa bath. If this
isn't working to well, Please consult your veterinarian.
on your turtle
If algae grow in your rocks and tank decorations,
unless they disturb your sense of beauty, you can
let them grow. An exception is the long, hairy kind
which also makes the water slimy. Those, you should
remove. Algae grow in healthy water with enough light.
They are a sign, that you are doing something right.
Do not use chemicals to kill algae!!! If you don't
like the algae, brush them off every time you change
the water, change the water more often, use a stronger
filter, and add a little salt to the water (see further
up). In the wild, it is normal for turtle to grow
algae on their shells. It helps them camouflage! In
captivity, the algae should be removed every once
in a while, since they can encourage growth of fungus
in a confined environment. To remove the algae, hold
your turtle under warm tap water and gently brush
it with a soft vegetable brush.
This is very dangerous to turtle and should be monitored
very carefully. Obesity in turtles can cause the functions
of liver and other organs to become impaired.
Correct the Sliders diet in both quality and quantity.
Swollen eyelids and Skin peeling
Vitamin A deficiency causes swollen eyelids, which
can result in vision problems and bloody skin patches.
Swollen and shut eyes used to be a common symptom
in baby Red Eared Sliders fed an inadequate diet.
Swollen and shut eyes can also be symptoms of a respiratory
infection and may require antibiotic therapy.
Better Vitamin supplementation and antibiotics from
your vet is mandatory for this dilemma.
Gaping can be either totally harmless--turtles do
yawn, or a sign of a serious respiratory problem,
including pneumonia. You have to watch the turtle
carefully and put all the different signs together.
If the animal gapes and yawns frequently, and if there
are any other symptoms, like swollen eyes, a runny
nose, rasping while breathing, or loss of appetite,
have a veterinarian evaluate the turtle immediately.
a veterinarian will do an X-Ray to determine whether
a gaping turtle has pneumonia and water in its lungs.
If a water turtle swims lop-sided, mention it to your
veterinarian. This is a pretty sure sign, that the
turtle does have water in its lungs.
Here are some symptoms I have run into: Clogged and
runny nostrils, gasping with the mouth open and wheezing,
excessive mucus in the nose and mouth and bubbling
at the nose and mouth. These problems indicate serious
respiratory issues. Antibiotic treatment is mandatory
but may differ on which problem it has. Sick turtles
will also show signs of decreased appetite and inactivity.
In water turtles, a frequent symptom is the inability
to maintain normal equilibrium when swimming. The
turtles appear to swim lopsided. Because lungs play
a key role in maintaining buoyancy, when one side
is congested or infected, the normal balance is lost.
When both sides are affected, a turtle will be seen
to constantly struggle to remain at the surface of
the water or to dive.
Go to the vet and get medication. Make sure your water
temperature in the tank is between 88 and 94 degrees
F. Also check for drafts in the tank. The most effective
course of treatment is to administer injectable aminoglycosides
such as Gentamicin or Amikacin. Except in the earliest
stages when the heat treatment may be effective, a
veterinarian should be consulted for safe and effective
administering of antibiotics. If caught early, the
prognosis is generally good.
It's usually of bacterial origin and has haunted keepers
for years. It usually starts off by an injury, Bruised
shell, burn or a crack in the shell surface. If your
tank isn't clean and well maintained this disease
will spread very rapidly. Clean water will also prevent
this infection from happening.
A complete sterilization of the aquarium and appropriate
medication from your veterinarian is needed. This
is one problem like I said that could spread very
rapidly. Make sure to take the Slider to the vet.
Also try a Betadine solution until the infection has
Turtles shed occasionally the outermost layer of their
scutes. They are thin, translucent scutes. If the
whole scute is shed and the bone becomes visible,
or if shedding is continuous, you may have a fungus
problem and should have your turtle inspected by a
veterinarian. As an immediate measure, remove the
turtle from the water except for a 30 minute bath
twice a day; keep it warm and dry; soak twice a day
for 15 minutes in iodine solution or sponge off with
little peeling occasionally is fine. Turtles shed
their skin like other reptiles, but more continuously.
Mine usually shed more for a while, then less or not
at all. As long as the shed skin is thin and translucent,
and you don't see anything unusual on the skin, and
the shedding is not excessive, don't worry. If the
shedding is continuous, or the skin looks sore or
red, or the shedding is very heavy, you may have to
deal with a skin fungus. Have your turtle checked
by a veterinarian. You may also soak the turtle in
an iodine solution twice a day for 15 minutes and
keep it warm and dry outside the water overnight for
spots under the top layer of shell
The silver spot is most likely air trapped under a
scute that might shed soon. (Not the whole scute to
the bone, just one layer, which turtles shed periodically.)
Just keep an eye on it. Sometimes, the spot turns
green from algae that grow on it. You may try, gently,
to see whether to scutej (just a transparent layer)
is loose and comes off.
It's basically the Slider's intestine coming out of
its anus. It usually goes back right in but you have
to be very careful that it does not bite it or other
turtles do not bite it. If they do it can cause serious
damage. If the prolapse does not go back in, take
it to the vet and they can stitch it up so it doesn't
happen again. A lot of turtles will at some point
in time prolapse, (i.e. turn inside out and outside
of their body) their cloaca or for males their penises.
Occasional prolapses are common and more annoying
than dangerous if dealt with properly. There is little
pain involved for the turtle. It is not known for
sure, what causes prolapses. Diet, stress, parasites
and intestinal infections, general disease, obstructed
intestinal tract, and weak cloacal muscles have all
been suggested, but there are no final conclusions.
And, too much sex...(no joke). So, there are no known
preventive measures, either. If your turtle seems
otherwise healthy, an occasional prolapse is nothing
to worry about. If the prolapses happen frequently
and cause too much distress to you and your turtle,
you might consider asking a herp vet to apply a purse
string suture. If you catch your turtle in the act,
watch and keep dirt away form the exposed parts. If
they don't go back in immediately, make sure, they
stay moist (you may even want to put the animal in
a pan with a little luke warm water) and massage the
surrounding area gently and make the turtle move.
For water turtles, keeping the parts moist is less
of an issue than for land turtles, but putting the
turtle into clean water is still recommended. With
water turtles, other turtles might try to bite the
prolapsed body part which can lead to heavy bleeding
and ugly consequences. Land turtles may step on their
intestine, or tear it with their hind feet when trying
to remove the 'thing' extending from their body. The
turtle is not aware, that this is a body part. Observe
the turtle, until the prolapse has gone back inside.
Purse String Suture: The suture basically keeps the
cloaca from opening too wide, and so the intestine
should stay in. The turtle can still pass feces, of
course. If the intestine does dry off, usually, the
vet will put a suture around it and eventually remove
the dead part completely. This is done under anesthesia
and can be more or less complicated, depending on
the size of the dead parts. This operation has a guarded
Some Sliders are very aggressive and territorial.
If you see a good cut on the Slider, I'd recommend
putting some Polysporn on it. Polysporn is completely
harmless to Sliders and very safe. Try not to get
it in there eyes or mouth though. This could hurt
the Slider. Always clean the cut daily with Hagen
Sulfa bath or Herpcare skin and shell treatment. I
noticed the healing speeds up too if they are out
of he water. This gives the cut a chance to scab and
You must take the proper steps to prevent shell-rot,
shell fungus and other bacteria from taking advantage
of this wound. I recommend Herpcare skin and shell
treatment and clean water. You will notice with a
wound, your Red Ear Slider will also bask a lot. This
helps the healing of the shell. DO NOT pick at the
shell or brush it with anything, this will cause slower
Shell fungus is white patchy fungus that can grow
on the shell. Shell Fungus is usually caused by bacteria
getting under the Sliders shell. To get rid of your
Sliders fungus, bath him daily in Hagen Sulfa bath,
or a salt water bath for about a half an hour each
day. You want to use a toothbrush to scrub the infected
area. Clean water will also prevent this infection.
In hatchling turtles, this used to be known as soft-shell
disease. It was one of the more common causes of deaths
during the days of the large scale sale of baby Red
Eared Sliders in the 1960's. The causes of metabolic
Bone disease are inadequate calcium and/or inadequate
calcium/phosphorus ratio and/or a vitamin D3 deficiency.
This disease used to be common at a time when worthless
turtle diets such as dried flies were commercially
marketed in pet stores. The earliest symptoms are
the softening of the plastron, underside of the shell,
and the rear marginals, back edge of the shell. When
examining for metabolic bone disease, apply slight,
gentle pressure to these areas. Applying too much
force and pressure can injure the turtles. Be gentle!
By feeding your turtles an adequate diet your turtles
will not have metabolic bone disease. Symptoms in
larger animals include soft shells, deformed shell
growth, and the inability to support themselves on
their hind legs. As long as your turtles still appear
active and are feeding, this disease can easily be
handled. If caught in the earliest stages and treated
early on, no long term effects will be present. In
severe cases, a veterinarian should be consulted to
administer injectable calcium gluconate. In more severe
cases, the effects of the disease will not reverse
and skeletal deformities and abnormal shell growth
will remain for the rest of the turtle's life.
Providing an adequate diet and treatment by supplementing
the diet with a calcium/phosphorus/vitamin D3 supplement
such as Osteoforme will stop or end the progress of
Red Eared Sliders can harbor many parasites including
roundworms, flukes, and protozoans. If your turtle
is stoolless, not feeding well, has poor weight, runny
and/or bloody stools, stools with large amounts of
mucus, stools with worms present, then you should
consult a veterinarian to perform a stool check for
parasites. A qualified reptile veterinarian will be
able to prescribe and perform the best course of treatment.
See a Veterinarian!!
or Cheek Infections
The most obvious symptom of an ear or cheek infection
is the asymmetrical appearance of the head whereby
one side will appear more swollen than the other.
The causes of these infections can include unsanitary
or inadequate husbandry, inadequate maintenance temperatures,
superficial lacerations and inadequate diets.
Treatment involves draining the infected area through
a small incision, both the site of infection and the
tool should be disinfected with Betadine and alcohol.
The area should then be flushed with hydrogen peroxide
and then with Betadine. This is a procedure that is
readily preformed by more experienced herpetoculturists
and inexperienced hobbyists should consult a veterinarian.
The turtle should then be kept relatively dry during
healing by allowing only limited periods of activity
in water once a day. Upon removel from the water,
the surface of the infected area should be disinfected
with Betadine. If these infections persist, a veterinarian
should definently be consulted for administration
of injectable antibiotics.
In water turtles, loss of appetite, listlessness,
and runny stools are often a sign of gastroenteritis.
A veterinarian should be consulted to perform stool
checks or cloacal smears to determine the causal organism(s).
Untreated, the prognosis for this disease is poor,
but early treatment is often successful. Various bacteria
and protozoa are common causes.
Salmonella organisms can make up a significant portion
of the normal intestinal flora of turtles when an
animal is sufficiently stressed, these can become
pathogenic for the hosts. In turtles symptoms include
enteritis, pneumonia, mucus-covered, blood-tinged
and discolored stools, runny stools and loss of appetite.
If the above symptoms are present, the turtles should
be taken to a veterinarian for a check-up and testing.
Salmonellosis can easily be treated with injectable
antibiotics. Salmonellosis can also easily be spread
to the rest of one's collection or infect people.
Take all neccessary precautions to prevent the spread
of the disease by quarantining sick animals, and routinely
disinfecting hands and any tools or utensils following
handling or treatment of sick animals.
Your Turtle Will Not Eat
the turtle kept warm enough? If turtles get too cool,
they will stop eatingDoes the turtle like the food
you offer? Try out different foods. Some turtles can
be very finicky eaters, especially in the beginning.
And they have definite likes and dislikes. Most turtles
will eventually take small earthworms that are wiggling
in front of their nose. Start feeding favorite foods,
then slowly introduce other items..Is your turtle
exposed to too much stress? This is often a cause
in new animals.Stress can be caused by handling, travelling,
tank mates. New turtles will often not eat properly
for several weeks. Be patient and keep trying.Is your
turtle healthy? Not eating can be a symptom of other
problems. If your turtle has been eating well and
suddenly stops, a health problem is a likely reason.
Take a fecal sample to your veterinarian. (Fecal samples
need to be no older than 4 hours, and you need to
store them in water in the refrigerator.)Don't panic!
A turtle can go without food for weeks, even months,
and when it feels well again, it will eat again. See
a veterinarian, if you thing you are doing everything
right, and the animal does not eat for more than 2
your turtle for any signs of illness:
Cloudy, closed or swollen eyes; swollen cheeks; open
mouth breathing; bubbly mucous around the nose or
mouth; runny stools; loss of appetite; listlessness;
spots appearing on plastron (bottom shell), carapace
or bode; soft shell or excessive shedding. Newly acquired
turtles are under a lot of stress and may be riddled
with bacterial or parasitical infections that may
be passed along to you or your kids. Always take a
sick turtle to a reptile veterinarian. Always take
a sick turtle to a reptile veterinarian, and have
your children checked out by their physician if they
begin to exhibit any signs (nausea, stomach aches,
is important: Eye problems can be a symptom of respiratory
infection or, any other serious health problem. You
have to watch out for other signs of respiratory problems,
like noise while breathing, floating lopsided in the
water, or if your turtle have bubbles around the nose
or mouth. Take your turtle to a reptile veterinarian
eyes incombination with any other signs of bad health
like shell rot, diarrhea, is a cause for concern and
should be seen by a reptile veterinarian. If you delay
veterinary care under these conditions, it can cost
the life of your turtle.
If the problem is not accompanied by any other symptoms,
there may by some simple changes you can do that will
clear up the minor eye infection. Puffy, irritated
or closed eyes can be an indication of poor condition
and supportive therapies can clear up the eye problem
and prevent more serious illness to your turtle.
is a short list of what you can do:
1. You have to check everything about your overall
husbandry. Keep the tank clean and well lighted. Make
sure you are providing a varied diet with lots of
calcium, a good basking area. Your turtle have to
get out of the water completely, and correct temperatures
for your turtle, 25 - 32 C (78-85F).
If you are using an undergravel filter, the water
can look clear and clean but still have too much ammonia.
You have to clean out the tank, gravel, filter, rock,
root, everything need to be clean. I regularly clean
my tank every week, and I clean out the tank every
3rd or 4th week.
Lack of Vitamin A can cause puffy eyes (swollen membranes).
Use a supplement that has Vitamin A occasionally.
Too much Vitamin A is toxic, so don't overdo it. You
can get Vitamin A supplement at your local pet store,
you can also use aquatic plants since these have Vitamin
A in them. If the eye problem is caused by lack of
Vitamin A, it will clear up very quickly with a dose
or two of Vitamin A.
Injury can cause puffy, red eyes, another turtle may
have scratched near the eye or the turtle may have
injured itself on something in the tank. Even a tiny
scratch can become inflamed. An ophthalmic ointment
might be helpful in that case, ask your vet.
Provide supportive therapies for your turtle. While
your turtle is ill, raise the water temperature to
about 35C (about 90 - 95F). This will boost up the
immune system. Turtles that are stressed by illness
can go rapidly downhill and refuse to eat.
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