OK there is alot to say. I will try to make it short. Right now my 17 yr old Wilie, an Eastern painted turtle has not

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Customer: OK there is alot to say. I will try to make it short. Right now my 17 yr old Wilie, an Eastern painted turtle has not eaten in about 3 months, lethargic but alert, swollen only in the shoulders & arms ( about 1 mo. now), 3x has irregular stools both runny, clear with some green in it, today thin stream of solid white stool came out. About 4 months ago she dropped 4 eggs and was fine for about 4 weeks then suddenly stopped eating. After dropping her eggs she got fungus which I cured with Aquarium salt. I am unemployed now for a year & cannot pay for a Vet. I am beside myself because I am sure this is the end for Willie. I just hope she isnt suffering to much. Her buddy Billy is always around her sniffing. When we both thought she was dead in the water he bit her in the face but I was sitting right there so I saved her & separated her for a few hours. He hasnt bitten her since. I was diluting in a separate tank Pedialyte and a couple of times a week diluted polyvi sol. Both of these seemed to perk her up. Is there anything I can do to help her? There are no indications of respiratory problems & she is not tilting when she swims. She can still climb & bask. I really cant take her to a specialist or any Vet. Thanks, Pam
Answered by Anna in 1 hour 9 years ago
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Anna
30+ years of experience
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17,022 satisfied customers

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

Hello Pam,

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. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a biologist with a special interest in reptiles. I'm sorry to hear of this problem. Some additional information will be helpful.

When Willie laid her eggs, did she lay them in the water?

What types of lighting and heating equipment do you use?

Do you provide a calcium supplement?

What are the temperatures in the basking area and in the water?

Thank you.

Anna
Customer

yes they were in the water, two of which I had to throw away. I have two which I caught almost immediatley & have them in soil but I doubt they are going to hatch. I have a UV bulb which is the only kind of bulb I have used for 17 years, I have some kind of calcium tablet that just sits in the water. The water is around 70-72 although in the summer it probably got warmer. Under the light it feels warm to me but I dont know the temp. Before she dropped her eggs she was fine & she has been healthy all her life except when I first got her she had pneumonia & I took her to a specialist who gave her antibiotics which cured her,

Thank you for getting back to me. I’m working on your answer and will post it as soon as I have it typed up.(I am not a fast typist). Please don’t respond to this post as that can lock me out of the question. I’ll be back shortly.

Anna
Thank you for waiting. I suspect you got your information on care from a pet store. Most people do. While we should be able to rely on such information, unfortunately, it is often wrong. They sell people the wrong lighting, advise the wrong foods, and often don't know the correct temperatures for the various reptiles. With turtles, health problems don't show up right away, but after years of things not being quite right, the animal becomes ill. Almost everything you have been told is wrong, and I suspect that is why Willie is having so much trouble. Even though you have been trying so hard to keep her healthy, when you didn't have correct information to begin with, things are going wrong. I'm going to give you some measures to take.

First of all, it's likely that the underlying problem is retained eggs. Turtles do not naturally lay their eggs in the water. They crawl out on land and dig a hole, where they lay the eggs. It would be most unusual for a painted turtle to lay only 4 eggs. A female turtle will retain eggs when she can't find a suitable nesting place to dig. This retention can cause infection, organ damage, and eventually death. Symptoms of a problem may include not laying eggs, laying only a few eggs, laying eggs in water, lethargy, pacing, lack of appetite, prolapse, digging motions, and kicking of the back legs. As the condition progresses, there can be swelling, digestive problems, and lethargy.

I hate to give anyone bad news, but I feel you deserve honesty. It may be too late to save Willie without seeing a reptile vet. However, it's very much worth trying. You'll need to provide her with a nesting site. For a painted turtle, that would be a 50/50 mix of sand and organic compost, about 12 inches deep. The bigger the area you can give her, the better. You may have to move her to a preformed pond or a child's wading pool to make room for everything she needs. Be sure that you continue to provide UVB light and a basking light no matter where you put her. This site has very detailed instructions for making nesting sites, including photos:

http://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/Nestsites.htm

At this one, you can read more about egg-laying and egg retention. It applies to all semi-aquatic turtles, not just sliders.

http://www.redearslider.com/reproduction.html

Willie (and your other turtle) need another type of light. In order to remain healthy, turtles need two types of lighting and need to be warm. Air and water that are not warm enough can lead to fungal and respiratory 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 80*F 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 sell similar fixtures as work lights. The basking area should be kept at 85-90 degrees (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. The lights that come with the covers on aquariums are not suitable for turtles.

I also suspect that your UV light isn't really a UVB light, or if it, it is too old to do any good. Lack of UVB is an important factor in being able to lay eggs. I'll explain a little more about it. Pets tore personnel often do not understand this light. Full-spectrum, DayGlo, daylight, UV, 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 turtles 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. They emit visible light, which we can see, long after they stop emitting invisible UVB rays. Light that comes through a window isn't sufficient because the glass filters out most of the rays turtles need to stay healthy. If your light isn't really a UVB, or if it is older than 6 months, it's extremely important that you buy an additional light that produces UVB rays. A Reptisun 10 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.

Calcium is another critical factor. without an adequate supply, female turtles will ahve a terrible time laying eggs. They need calcium to eat, not to dissolve in the water. The bets way to provide it is to place a cuttlebone in the tank. Cuttlebones are inexpensive and bare available in the bird department of pet stores. don't use the plastic or metal holder that comes with them - just place the bone itself in the tank.

The Pedialyte soaks you've been doing are an excellent idea. I would continue them. I would also make Willie a nice nesting site, with a basking light that maintains the proper temperatures, a fresh UVB bulb with a 10% output, and a cuttlebone in the water. She may be able to beat the odds. Of course, the very best thing to do would be to find a way to take her to a reptile vet. Perhaps a relative would give you that as an early gift for the holidays. Some vets will arrange monthly payments. If it's totally out of the question, try to do these other things for her.

It's possible that even setting up a nesting site and buying lights are out of your reach financially right now. If that's the case, you may want to consider turning Willie over to a rescue in order to save her life. Such groups often have vets who work with them to restore turtles to health. Then they place them in new homes. Painted turtles often live 30 years or more in captivity, so Willie could have a lot of life left. This link will take you to a directory of rescue groups:

http://www.anapsid.org/societies/index.html

Here is a reputable site with more information on care:

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

The eggs you caught can be thrown away. When turtle eggs are placed in incubators, we ahve to be careful not to turn them. If they are rotated or turned in any way, the embryos drown in the egg fluids. When an egg is laid in water, it almost always does turn. You may also have accidentally turned them when you placed them in soil.

If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY. I hope you'll be able to bring Willie back to health.

Anna

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!
Customer

Thank you very much for your advice. I will try to follow it but your right, even buying extra lighting is difficult for me. I will keep you informed.

Thanks,

Pam

You're welcome, Pam. I hope you'll be able to work something out. Do let me know how it goes.

Anna
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