I have a red-ear terrapin, it has recently developed spot looking growths on its shell and appears to be passive in it's

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Customer: I have a red-ear terrapin, it has recently developed spot looking growths on its shell and appears to be passive in it's behaviour e.g: it is not off it's food, but just doesn't show the same level of enthusiasm before eating. What can I do to help?
Thanks,
Paul
Answered by Anna in 5 hours 10 years ago
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Anna
30+ years of experience
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17,036 satisfied customers

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

Hello,

I apologize that no one has responded to your question sooner. Different experts come online at various times. I just came online and saw your question. I'm sorry to hear that Cruella is having a shell problem. Some additional information will be helpful.

What color are the spots? Are they fuzzy in appearance?

What brand and size of UVB light do you have? How old is the bulb? (If she lives outside, this doesn't apply.)

Does the shell seem softer than usual in any areas?

Thank you.

Anna
Customer
Hi Anna,
thank you for responding, in response to your questions:

Her spots are raised and yellow-ish. They almost appear to look like hard calcium deposits that blend into her shell at the base (at the base it appears to be her normal green/black shell colour). The raised yellowish bits are quite soft (not fuzzy), although there does seem to be green algae growing on her shell (a little bit always did but later it seems to be more than usual).

I have a SunSun 9W UV-C filtration/bulb unit in the tank (in addition to a Fulval 305 filter). The UV unit (and bulb) is probably about a year old.

Her shell seems to be as solid as it usually is in all areas (apart from her spots of course).

I should mention that Cruella shares a tank with one other terrapin and he is showing no signs at all of her symptoms.

Thanks again,
Paul
Thank you for getting back to me, Paul. The algae on Cruella's shell isn't a problem. The yellowish spots, however, are. They are most likely a bacterial infection, but could also be fungal. There are two ways to treat such infections. The most effective involves what is called 'dry-docking.' You'll need to prepare a 'hospital' for her . A large plastic tote works well. It should be equipped with a basking area at 29*C to 32*C. and a UVB light. She will be kept warm and dry, except for a 30 minute bath twice a day. The two baths are very important to prevent dehydration. Feed during the bath. After each soak, scrub the shell with a clean toothbrush with povo-iodine solution (available in pharmacies) on it, but try not to get it on the skin, and especially avoid the eyes. Do this twice a day. Follow that with a coating of anti-fungal cream (the kind sold for women to use to treat yeast infections). If the problem doesn't clear up within two weeks, you'll need to have Cruella examined by a reptile vet.

The second method is less likely to be successful, but is more convenient. You can use one of the sulfa bath products sold in pet stores. They are added to the tank. Besides being less effective, your healthy terrapin will also be subjected to the treatment. With this method, too, a vet should be consulted if the infection isn't gone within two weeks. If your terrapin also has some early shell rot, the dry-dock method will help, but the sulfa bath will not. A third option would be to simply take her to a vet now. These links will take you to directories of UK vets if you end up needing one:

http://www.britishcheloniagroup.org.uk/vetscorner/vetlist.htm

http://www.livefoods.co.uk/vets.php

I looked up your UV light and it does not provide any UVB light at all. I suspect a pet store recommended it to you. Clerks in pet shops often don't have good understanding of UVB light, and they are really not a good source of information on pet care. Lack of UVB light can lead to shell and skin problems, as well as even more serious health conditions over time. It's extremely important that you buy an additional light that produces UVB rays. A Reptisun 10.0 is a good brand that does. If you choose another brand be absolutely certain it provides UVB rays. Don't take the word of pet store personnel, but read it for yourself. Full-spectrum, DayGlo, daylight, UV, UVC, and UVA are NOT the same thing. I'm putting a lot of emphasis on this because it's crucial to a reptile’s health. Without this light, Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) will develop because they 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. It often takes years to develop, but it is a certainty without UVB light. UVB bulbs must be replaced every six months as they lose their effectiveness after that, even though they may still look fine. Light that comes through a window isn't sufficient because the glass filters out the UVB rays.

Another common cause of shell problems is that the temperature is too cool. Air and water that are not warm enough can lead to bacterial and fungal infections. Terrapins 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 24*C , 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). The basking area should be kept at 29 to 32*C. 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. You'll also need a submersible aquarium heater that will keep the water 26 to 28*C.

Not all infections are contagious, so it's not surprising that the other terrapin doesn't have symptoms. Often, a terrapin that has a weaker immune system will develop health problems before one with a stronger immune system, even when conditions are identical. Because terrapins are so resilient, it often takes years of conditions that are not quite right before a problem develops. I'm going to also send along my slider care sheet, from which some of the above information is taken. In the States, this species is called a turtle, but it is exactly the same thing. I realize that you probably know much of what is in the care sheet, and you can ignore what is familiar. It simply makes a good checklist to review the proper conditions, even for experienced terrapin keepers. If you have more questions, let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope Cruella's shell will quickly return to normal.

Anna

SLIDER TURTLE CARE SHEET


Well-cared for sliders can live 30 years or more.

The Tank

It's recommended that a baby slider have at least a 15 gallon tank. By the time the turtle is 3-4 years old, it will need a 60 gallon tank, so it's best to get the biggest you can in the beginning. You can also use a large RubberMaid tote. That's not as pretty as a tank, but costs a lot less. Set up the tank so there's a land area and a water area. Put the basking light at one end so the whole tank doesn’t get too hot. You want the water to be about twice as deep as the turtle is long. If the turtle is two inches long, you'll want four inches of water.

Temperatures and Basking Area

Turtles need certain types of lighting and need to be warm. Air and water that are not warm enough can lead to fungal and respiratory infections and unhealthy shells. 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 *F (24*C) , 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 sell similar fixtures as work lights. The basking area should be kept at 85-90*F (29 to 32*C). Use a digital probe thermometer to be sure. You can adjust the temperature by raising or lowering the light fixture.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*F (26 to 28*C).

UVB Light

It's extremely important that you buy an additional light that produces UVB rays. A Reptisun 10.0 is a good brand that does. If you choose another brand be absolutely certain it provides UVB rays. Don't take the word of pet store personnel, but read it for yourself. Full-spectrum, DayGlo, sunGlo, UV, UVC, or UVA are 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.UVB bulbs must be replaced every six months as they lose their effectiveness after that, even though they may still look fine. Light that comes through a window isn't sufficient because the glass filters out most of the rays turtles need to stay healthy. To prevent MBD, turtles also need calcium. The easiest way to provide it is to place a cuttlebone in the tank. Cuttlebones are sold in bird departments of pet stores.

Filtration

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. If the tank is too small, no filter can keep up with the amount of waste that turtles produce.

Feeding

Feeding is an area where pet stores often give out bad information. Commercial food should make up only 1/4 of the diet. Animal products (cooked 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.). Hatchlings should be fed every day. Older turtles should be fed 3 times per week. Overfeeding can lead to gout and kidney failure.

For Further Reading

This is among the most reputable sites on turtles.


http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Care/caresheet-red_ear_slider.htm





Customer
Hi Anna,
thank you so much, that has been much more information than my old vet has EVER given me, your a star!
Many, many thanks
Paul
You're very welcome.

Anna
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