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Ask Anna Your Own Question
Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11463
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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I have a red slider who is about 20 years old. He lives with

Customer Question

I have a red slider who is about 20 years old. He lives with a friend in a 100 gallon tank with a raft and a light and a big filter. (s)he seems happy but has developed black edges on his mouth. I don't know what the mouth looks like normally inside. I did get him to open his mouth...and i did see one black area just behind the beak...but it was a line and did not look wrotten. I took him out of the tank today, and let him dry off. The black area is not spongy but solid. I read it was mouth rot and I should scrape of the tissue and wipe with betadine. It isn't loose, and I don't think it would scrape off easily. I wanted to see what you thought. I could lightly scrape with a one edge razor blade.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.


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 ***** ***** I’m a biologist with a special interest in reptiles. would like to help with your question.

Don't try to scrape any tissue off. That can spread infection, or even introduce it where none was present to begin with. If this is not mouth rot (and it is doubtful) scarping or debriding could would the turtle and cause bleeding. These things are jobs for a vet to do under sterile conditions.

Symptoms of mouth rot include drooling of excessive saliva, appetite loss, a white, cheesy appearance to the inside of the mouth, redness of the mouth, and, as it spreads, lethargy, swelling, bone mass loss, and even death. Black on the mouth could indicate mouth rot, but it is more likely to be something else. It could be necrotic tissue, cancer, or simply an old age related change. Only a vet can tell you. These links will take you to directories of vets who treat turtles:

If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY. I apologize again for the delay you experienced. I hope this will turn out to be nothing.