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Joan, Veterinary Technician
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 17299
Experience:  35+ years experience as veterinary tech and 20+ years experience doing reptile rescues.
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my turtle front legs are swollen and she is not using them

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my turtle front legs are swollen and she is not using them to swim


My name is XXXXX XXXXX I am a Vet tech with special interest in reptiles and reptile rescue.

What type of diet are you feeding?
Any supplements?

UVB light? How old?Florescent Tube or compact coil, Strength, and brand?

Is it only the front legs affected?

Any swelling around the eyes?


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

we feed her Tetra ReptoMin and live worms from the garden

We are not using light. The tank is in a sunny window

Only the front legs. The appear to be swollen. She is using one to swim around but will not climb anymore.

We just moved her from a 20 gal tank to a 50 and she is move active.


First let me explain that sunlight UVB rays cannot penetrate glass, so the turtle is not getting the needed UVB rays. You should be using a Florescent UVB tube. The type recommeded is a Reptisun 10.0 tube. This should run the length of the tank and be on 12-14 hours a day. The other light should be a basking light for heat. The turtle should also have a calcium supplement which works with the UVB light to metabolize the calcium into D3 in the body. Without the UVB and supplement, we may be looking at metabolic bone disease.

I suggest getting a UVB light immediately and the calcium supplement can be a cuttle fish bone which the turtle can chew on or a calcium block.

Diet can also be part of the problem. The turtle should not be fed worms from the garden as the can carry parasites. You should get the prey items from a local pet shop. Super worms, crickets and meal worms are all good feeders. You should also offer some leafy greens. Too much prey items can cause kidney issues. This is a good care sheet for the turtle that goes over the lighting and food:

I do suggest that the turtle be seen by a Herp Vet for the leg, to be sure there is no infection or break. I can locate a Herp Vet for you with a State. I do suggest you get the UVB, caclium and basking bulb set up asap, to help with the problems and to stop any further progression of MBD. Please let me know if you need a Vet and if you have further questions. Joan

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Could you refer a vet? I live on the NY PA border south of Ithaca NY. Binghamton is to the east. Ithaca is the home of Cornell. I'll get a light and do the other items you suggest.



These are links for Herp Vets that treat turtles in NY:

in PA:

These are a list of Herp Vets in NY:

Cornell does have a Vet school and clinic that can also treat the turtle.


Joan and other Reptile Specialists are ready to help you

I'm just following up on our conversation about Gerdy. How is everything going?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I obtained a light with a uva and uvb bulb and the turnaround was almost immediate. She is doing really good. lot more active and color is better.
thank you for your advice.



Hi Stan,

Glad to hear things seem to be getting better. I am always here if you need me just ask for me by name. Joan

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Have another problem. She is now listing to one side.


Listing to one side can be a result of the gas in the intestinal tract or we may be dealing with a respiratory issue. At this point since this has started, it may be very wise to have Gerdy seen by a Herp Vet. They will be able to diagnose hands on what is happening and treat accordingly. This link explains the problem with listing to one side: You need to scroll down and you can read about the possible issues. You may want to increase the temps by 5* to try and help with this. Joan