I was wondering if RES can transmit viruses, other than salmonella, to humans. My RES appears healthy and happy. I have

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Customer: I was wondering if RES can transmit viruses, other than salmonella, to humans. My RES appears healthy and happy. I have had him 3plus years. I have immune deficiencies, so I need to know if I have to get rid of him.
Answered by Anna in 7 hours 14 years ago
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Anna
30+ years of experience
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17,044 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Reptile Veterinary, Herp Veterinary, Exotic Animal Medicine, Amphibian Veterinary

Hello,

According to the CDC, salmonella is the only major concern. However, they do recommend that people with compromised immune systems not keep turtles for this reason alone. You can read more about that here:

http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/animals/reptiles.htm

As far as care goes, it sounds like you have a pretty good start. I'll give you a summary that will help you as you improve the turtle's habitat and diet. Turtles need certain types of lighting and need to be warm. Air and water that are not warm enough can lead to infections. Turtles must have a basking area where they can get out of the water, dry off, and bask in very warm light. The ambient air temperature in the tank should be around 75 degrees, with the basking area warmer still. Over the basking area there should be some sort of lamp that will take a 40-60 watt incandescent bulb (or you can buy a ceramic light fixture made just for reptiles). If you live in an area that has farm stores, you can buy a metal light fixture made to keep baby chicks warm for just a few dollars. Don't buy the accompanying bulb, however. You need an ordinary incandescent bulb in the basking light.Hardware stores carry similar fixtures. The basking area should be kept at 85-90 degrees. Use a thermometer to be sure. You can adjust the temperature by raising or lowering the light fixture. If your tank is small, set up the basking area at one end - you don't want the entire tank to become too warm. A lack of a basking area also leads to infections. The lights that come with the covers on aquariums are not suitable for turtles. You'll also need a submersible aquarium heater that will keep the water 78-82 degrees.

It's extremely important that you buy an additional light that produces UVB rays. Be absolutely certain it provides UVB rays. Don't take the word of pet store personnel, but read it for yourself. Full-spectrum is not the same thing. I'm putting a lot of emphasis on this because it's crucial to your turtle's health. Without this light, Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) will develop because your turtle won't be able to produce vitamin D. Vitamin supplements are not a good replacement for the proper lighting. MBD causes a very slow and painful death. UVA/UVB bulbs must be replaced every six months as they lose their effectiveness after that, even though they may still look fine.

A 15 gallon tank is usually the minimum recommended for babies, and they quickly outgrow that. You will want to get a bigger tank as soon as you can. One adult turtle will need a 60 gallon tank (larger tanks are needed for multiple turtles), so you may want to get a large one so you don't have to keep replacing it. If you watch the newspaper classified ads, local shoppers, and perhaps Craig's List, you can often find used aquarium tanks for reasonable prices.

Turtles are very sensitive to water quality. Even if you change the water every day, it can still contain harmful chemicals. A good filtration system is essential. Water changes are also needed even with a filter.

Your turtle certainly doesn't need to eat every day. Several times a week is adequate. Commercial food should make up 1/4 of the diet. Animal products (meat, earthworms, canned cat food) should make up another 1/4. The remaining half should be plant foods (dark lettuce like romaine, bits of strawberry or melon, etc.)

Since you are a new turtle owner, you may want to look at these sites for additional information on care and feeding.

http://www.anapsid.org/reslider.html

http://www.turtlecare.net/

http://www.turtlecare.net/food.htm

You and your doctor will have to decide if the turtle poses a health risk to you because of salmonella. I hope not, because I can tell you're really enjoying this turtle. If you have further questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY.

Anna



Customer
Thanks! I am very happy with the links you provided, and your answer simply verified what I have learned so far. He is currently in a 33 gallon tank, so I am glad to know what size to upgrade. the information on diet is critical, as is the info on light. I have read about MBD, but didnt know how crucial lighting is. I have a ceramic fixture with the proper bulb, no glass on top (wire top) to let the rays from the UVB light in. But now I know when to replace that bulb. Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX right-- I so enjoy this quirky, unusually social terrapin, as do all my friends, who come over just to see him!
You're welcome. I do hope you get to keep him.

Anna

There's no need to click on accept again. Thank you.
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