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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11511
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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I have three turtles (RES) that are 1.5 inches in length. I have them ten d

Customer Question

hi, I have three turtles (RES) that are 1.5 inches in length. I have them for almost ten days by now and all they do is sleep.. I've got a 20 gallon tank with 65w heat lamp and a uv light which spreads throughout their tank and feed them in a separate tank.. but I don't get why all they do is sleep. i tried to put them in a surface and make them exercise or something but then they try to squeeze into my clothes and sleep -_- I mean its cute but Is it normal? or should I go to the vet? Also, one of them ,Boo, is the youngest among them and the most shyest. I never saw him eat.. His shell is starting to lose color.. what should I do?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Anna replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome. Thank you for requesting me. These behaviors are not normal for turtles, but some additional information will help me figure out what's going on.
What are the temperatures right under the basking light and in the water?
What brand and size is your UVB light?
Did you buy the turtles from a pet store?
Thank you.
Expert:  Anna replied 2 years ago.
It appears you went offline without seeing my request for information. I don't want you to have to wait any longer, so I'll answer without knowing those things. 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. Some of what you have been told is wrong, and I suspect that is why your turtles are having some trouble. Even though you have been trying so hard to keep them healthy, when you didn't have correct information to begin with, things are going wrong.
First of all, stop putting Boo in hot water. Water that is too hot can actually cook a turtle. Even if it's not that hot, a sudden temperature change can be fatal.
Turtles need certain types of lighting and need to be warm. Air and water that are not warm enough can lead to appetite loss and 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 wattage of the light bulb isn't key, the temperature is. You will need a digital probe thermometer to measure the temps. The ambient air temperature in the tank should be around 75 (24*C) 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. 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 78-82 degrees (26 to 28*C). The main cause of lethargy is being too chilly.
Make sure your UV light is a UVB.It's extremely important that you have a light that produces UVB rays. A Reptisun 10 is a good brand that does. If you have 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, 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. Light that comes through a window isn't sufficient because the glass filters out most of the rays turtles need to stay healthy.
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.
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 (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 this site for additional information on care and feeding.
As for Boo's color change, that could be due to the hot water you've been putting him in. If your light is not UVB, that can account for a color change, too.
If you have further questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. There's no additional fee for such follow-up questions, and I'm happy to help. I hope you enjoy many years with your turtles.
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!
Expert:  Anna replied 2 years ago.

I'm just following up on our conversation about Boo, Tooty, Sushi. How is everything going?