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Joan
Joan, Veterinary Technician
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 15242
Experience:  30+ years experience as veterinary tech and 15+ years experience doing reptile rescues.
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I have two very large, rescued sliders who live in our pond

Resolved Question:

I have two very large, rescued sliders who live in our pond in southern Ontario. As expected, they disappeared to the bottom of the pond in the fall. We had a heater on all winter, and a bubbler, to make sure it never froze over completely. One hasn't come up yet, but the other has, and I am very worried about her. I discovered her in the shallow part of the pond last week, as the last of the ice was melting. I thought she was dead...her head and limbs were out and she wasn't moving. I lifted her out and noticed a leg move, so I put her on her favorite basking rock in the sun for a couple of hours. When I returned her to the pond she moved a bit more and swam to a deeper spot. The next day she was back in the shallows, still looking limp and dead. She has stayed there ever since. She moves a bit if I nudge her. Should I bring her in? Push her back to the deep end? Or is this just normal brumation? I can't find much on the internet about what a brumating turtle looks like. I imagined they would draw into their shells. She looks so dead...what should I do?
Thanks for any help.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Joan replied 1 year ago.

Hello,

The turtle will need to see a Reptile Specialist. There is a possibility that the lack of oxygen to the brain from problems during brumation. This may have caused some serious issues. If you would like a Herp Vet, I can locate one for you if you supply the area you live in Canada. I am sending this as an information request. Joan

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I live in Orangeville, Ontario, just over an hour away from Toronto, Guelph or Barrie, which all likely have reptile vets. But I have no vehicle today, which is why I contacted you.


I just checked on her and she had climbed part way onto a rock, so I have brought her into the unheated sunroom on some newspapers. She moves a foot every couple of minutes. It is still cold outside...almost freezing. Her eyes are closed, but she still moves a bit, so must be alive.

Expert:  Joan replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

We can try a little first aid and I will also give you a link for Vets in the area. Please give her a soak in a 50/50 warm water and Plain Pedialyte soak for about 30 mins. The Pedialyte is an electrolyte solution that is used for infants. It help rehydrate the turtle, which will also give her some energy. Once you give her a soak, please put her in a rubbermade tub with a little water at the bottom and a rock for her to climb on. You need to add a basking lamp which can be a light hanging over her rock to give heat. It should be between 85*-90*F for her to get warm. This should help, because turtles that have been hibernating need to warm up slowly and the heat from the bath and then the light will help her and should strengthen her. It may take her a day or two, but bringing her in was brilliant where we can try and help her. This is a link for Herp Vets in the area: http://www.triciaswaterdragon.com/canrepvt.htm#ont

She needs a UVB bulb which supplies artificial sunlight, but since you cannot go out to get one today, we will use what you may have around the house to help her.

If you do not have Pedialyte, you can make your own:

Homemade Pedilayte:

  • 1 quart sterile water
  • 1TBSP sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Please let me know if you have further questions and I will be happy to continue with you. My goal is to help Lily and give you Excellent Service. Joan

Joan, Veterinary Technician
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 15242
Experience: 30+ years experience as veterinary tech and 15+ years experience doing reptile rescues.
Joan and 2 other Reptile Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Okay...I made 3 quarts of solution, diluted it with another 3 quarts of very tepid water, put it in a clean, huge Rubbermaid tub and put my plant grow lights (2 tubes...but they are over a year old) over top. I put Lily in. She lifted her head and moved her legs, then flopped her chin back down. I have tilted the tub so that it is only chin deep at the front, but most of her back end is submerged.


What do I do when I take her out?

Expert:  Joan replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

You can put he in a shallow rubbermade tub with a little water to keep her wet if she wants and a rock to climb on. Place a light above the rock and use it to supply heat and

allow her to warm and bask. This should help to warm her and keep her comfortable. This should hold her until she she can see the Herp Vet. She should have a UVB light less than 6 months old. if you can get one which will supply artificial sunlight which will also perk her up. The Reptisun 10.0 is the best and hopefully she will continue to improve. it ususlay takes a bout a week after coming out of hibernation for a turtle to eat. joan

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

She is not moving at all now. I am wondering if the handling shocked her, although she has always been very tame and used to ask to be picked up. I have her in a small room with a heater keeping it warm until I can get her a light. She is either dead or unconscious, I think.

Expert:  Joan replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

Are her legs out and flacid?

If you poke at her tail, will she respond at all?

I am hoping she is just in a torpor which is a semi brumation state. I will be away from the computer for dinner, but will be back in about an hour.

Joan

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Everything is out and flacid. Her head goes in if I tip her back, but comes out again if I tip her forward. Nothing happens if I poke her tail. She is totally non responsive. I think she is dead. I will wait until tomorrow before disposing of her. It should be obvious by then.


I can't understand what happened. She must have woken up during a warm spell we had and then got too cold in the shallower water. The deep part is over 5 feet deep and her friend hasn't come up yet. Do you think, in hindsight, I should have pushed her back into the deep water?

Expert:  Joan replied 1 year ago.

Hello,

It does sound like she is gone. I suspect that she was ill and that as you said she came up when it warmed up and never was able to dig back in. The winters are the hardest on these turtles. I usually will suggest hibernating them inside during the winter months as well as a Health exam before putting them down for the winter sleep. All reptiles carry parasites and if they get stressed, they can overtake the turtle and weaken them. I do not think it would have made a difference if you put her back in the deeper water. You did all you could to help her. I am sorry for the loss. I wish we could have gotten to her sooner and I could have saved her. Joan

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for your help, anyway. I feel so sad...I loved her. She used to follow me around and eat out of my hand. The joke was that she'd show up in the house one day. At least she had a fabulous last summer in the pond. She was very happy, having spent years neglected. The other turtle we have, Lucy, was rescued from a waterway where she had spent a few years as an invasive species. She knows how to hibernate. I really hoped Lily would, too. The first thing she did when I got her was dig a hole and lay eggs. I hope she didn't suffer.

Expert:  Joan replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

I feel so bad. People do not give these wonderful animals credit for how smart they are. They wrap our hearts around their little feet and never let us go. Please accept my sincerest condolences. joan

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I'll let you know tomorrow if, somehow, she is still alive. My husband thinks I caused her death by interfering with nature. My son's best friend since he was 14 dropped dead of a brain aneurysm last week at 32...I feel guilty for mourning my turtle.

Expert:  Joan replied 1 year ago.

Hello,

Lily was a part of your life and you have every right to mourn her. As far as interfering with nature, you did nothing wrong. If anything you tried to save her and there is nothing wrong with that. You did well and she knew she was loved and animals even need that feeling in their final hours of life. Please do not let anyone make you feel guilty because you a a good person with a big heart. joan

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks so much.

Expert:  Joan replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

It is the truth. Never let someone make you feel guilty for doing something good. Joan

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