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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11417
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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RES Turtle has stopped eating and has very little energy.

Customer Question

RES Turtle has stopped eating and has very little energy. Only dips feet in water and barely opens its eyes.
Had to put in separate tank... other inhabitant were eating much faster. Same turtle has not grown a cm since purchase and I have had it for almost 2 years.
I'm not sure as to gender either.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Reptile
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also shell is very soft and arms are often at side in closed manner ... also limbs appear to have shrunk
Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I'm a biologist with a special interest in reptiles. Some additional information will help me figure out what your next step should be. Have you noticed any bubbles coming from the turtle's mouth or nose? Has she been yawning a lot? What kind of fish are in the tank? Do you provide a calcium supplement? What brand and size of UVB light do you have? How old is the bulb? What temperatures do you maintain in the basking area and in the water? Thank you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'd have to say no on bubbles. I haven't seen it swim in a while, it mostly floats on the surface and only to attempt to catch some food.Yawning, it is a possibilty. Yet, from what I've seen it sits on its basking area and both mouth and eyes are closed.
Basking area light I'm not sure to temp, all living thing uvb bulb and white fluorescent for heat / at night all living things night blue bulb. Water temp is set at 79F
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I sometimes break off pieces of cuttle bone from time to time, but it doesn't really do much to it
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry, the bulb is probably 3-4 months at most 5.
Expert:  Anna replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for getting back to me. Your turtle doesn't have symptoms of any common diseases, but from your description, she is near death. We'll do what we can. Don't soak in carrot juice. There's nothing in it that will help. Instead, buy some Pedialyte (yes, the kind for human infants). Prepare a shallow bath consisting of 1/2 water and 1/2 Pedialyte. Soak your turtle for about 20 to 30 minutes twice a day. Reptiles can absorb the electrolytes and fluids through their vents (where droppings pass out), so make the water deep enough to cover the vent. Be sure to supervise closely.

Some of her symptoms sound like she is suffering from Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). It's too bad she won't eat the cuttlebone. Your UVB light is fresh enough, so that isn't the problem. A calcium deficiency may be responsible.

I also suspect this turtle may have been born with a genetic condition of some sort, since the problem has been going on so long. This is called failure to thrive, and little can be done about it.

I wish I could give you a home remedy, but this is a situation where there isn't one. The Pedialyte soaks will help with dehydration. Beyond that, all you can do is make sure she is warm enough. Your water temp is good. The basking area should be 85*F to 90*F in the daytime.

If your budget allows it, I recommend a visit to a reptile vet. These sites have directories:

In the meantime, check your temperatures and provide Pedialyte soaks. This is a very difficult situation. The soft shell and shrun***** *****mbs are very bad signs. I'm sorry not to have better news, but I believe you deserve honesty. If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY.


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 1 year ago.

Hello again. How is your turtle doing? Do you need any additional information?