We have a mud turtle that has spots that have appeared on her shell. What is this and can it be cured?

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Customer: We have a mud turtle that has white spots that have appeared on her shell. What is this and can it be cured?
Answered by Anna in 10 mins 9 years ago
30+ years of experience

17,040 satisfied customers

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


My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a biologist with a special interest in reptiles.There are a couple of possibilities for what these spots are. Some additional information will help me narrow it down.

Do the sots look fuzzy at all?

Are they raised from the shell or even with the surface?

For how long did you dry dock? Did you use any kind of treatment during dry docking?

A photo would also be very helpful. If it's possible for you to get one, you can upload a photo by clicking on REPLY, then at the top of the area where you would type is a tool bar with icons. Click on the little paper clip icon (it's right next to the YouTube icon). Instructions will pop up. On some browsers, this doesn't work. if that happens, you can put your photo on one of the free photo sharing websites, such as www.photobucket.com. Then come back here and paste the link to your picture in a REPLY.

Thank you.


Hello anna

they are not fuzzy and they are even with her shell...she has been on dry dock for a couple hours...

Thank you for getting back to me. From what you have described, I suspect that what you're seeing are mineral deposits from the water. More of them would show up on the shell when it is dry, than when wet. They are not harmful. You can try brushing them with a clean toothbrush, while in water, to remove part of them.

The only problem with these spots is that some bacterial infections look similar. Only a vet can be sure by doing a test for organic material. Often with these infections, you'll also see some pitting of the shell in these cases. If you suspect infection rather than mineral deposits, you can scrub the shell with Betadine (available in the first aid dept. of discount stores and pharmacies) on the toothbrush. Don't rinse it off.

If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY. I expect you'll find these are mineral deposits.


My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Please remember to rate my service only after you have all the information you need. Thank you!

sheel spots

Thank you for the photo. It's not fungus, but neither does it appear to be deposits. The photo raises some more questions.

What brand and size of UVB light do you have? Is the bulb a spiral/coil type or a straight tube? How old is the bulb?

Do you give a calcium supplement?

Do you have any rocks in the tank?


  • The light is a "repti glo 5.0 uvb 20w" I believe it is a straight tube.. I change them about every 6 months..the changed it 3 weeks ag

  • I use "repto Guard" for a calcium supplement


Yes I have rocks in the tank they came with the turtles when I adpoted them


fyi...I have male mud turtle in the same tank...with none of these issues

Thanks. This particular turtle's shell is not healthy in a number of different ways. Here is what a healthy shell looks like on a razorback mud turtle:


The most common cause of such problems is a lack of calcium and/or UVB light. some turtles are better able to tolerate less than perfect conditions, and that is probably why the other one looks fine. Reptogard isn't a calcium supplement. It's a water conditioner. Turtles need a source of actual calcium supplement. The easiest way to provide it is to place a cuttlebone in their tank. cuttlebones are sold in the bird department of pet stores. Don't put the metal or plastic holder in with the turtles, just the cuttlebone itself. Both Reptogard and Vitashell are not worth the money. They are products created to make money, not to help turtles.

The 5.0 on your UVB light tells us it has an output of 5% UVB rays. Turtles need 10% to maintain healthy shells and bone. I recommend the Reptisun 10.0 in the straight tube style. Studies done on the 5.0 lights show they are only good for about 3 months, while the 10. 0 is good for 6 months. After 3 months, the 5.0 lights are actually putting out less than 2.5% UVB.

The white spots themselves look like the shell has been scarped. The turtle may be rubbing on rocks or other objects int he tank. Another turtle could also cause them with their claws. This would be most likely during a mating attempt.

I recommend getting a cuttlebone and a 10.0 UVB light as soon as you can. It wouldn't be a bad idea to ahve the turtle examined by a vet, too. These links will take you to directories of reptile vets:



If you need anything else, don't hesitate to ask.



I got the new light and the cuttlebone....do I let the cuttlerbone float on top or did I but the wrong one?


FYI...thank you for all your help on a sunday

You're welcome. I love turtles and am always happy to help them. You can let the cuttlebone float on top. If you see the turtle having trouble 'catching' it, you could weight it with a rock on the tank bottom.

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