My red-eared slider's head is stuck in the shell. I heard him splashing around a lot. Came in the living room to see,

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Customer: My red-eared slider's head is stuck in the shell. I heard him splashing around a lot. Came in the living room to see, and then he stopped. He sank to the bottom and didn't move. I took him out, put him on the floor, and he hasn't done anything yet, dispite encouragement. Any ideas?
Answered by Jav917 in 1 hour 6 years ago
Pet Specialist

27,324 satisfied customers

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


My name is ***** ***** I have been a Vet tech for 30+ years with special interest in Reptiles and Reptile Rescue.

Can you tell me what that turtle is doing now?

Is it cold where you live?

Has the turtle ever Hibernated?

What type of UVB bulb do you have, strength and age of bulb?


Hi Joan,
I didn't realize you'd replied. It seems the emergency is over. Leda is running around the apartment. It took a while. I put him in front of the radiator, then brought him away from it as he hadn't moved. His huge head is out. There was a problem a few days ago that my wife just told me about. A few days ago, when I was out of town, Leda's neck got tangled in the filter pump's wire. She found him strugglling to get out of it. She doesn't know how long this went on, and he may have been drowning. It sure sounds traumatizing to me.
The apartment isn't cold, and might be considered over-heated. He's never hibernated, that I know of.
The bulb is an Aquaviva, full spectrum, 17 Watts, and probably about 2 years old. What do you think happened, and do we need to worry about it happening again?

Thank-you for the info. One problem I see is Full spectrum bulbs do not offer UVB rays and UVB bulbs need replacement every 6 months. I suggest a Reptisun 10.0 linear tube. This offers the maximum of UVB to help keep your turtle healthy. You also need a good calcium supplement like a cuttle bone available at all times. The Diet should be 50% leafy greens, 25 % live prey or cooked meats and 25% pellets. The Diet, Calcium and UVB are all part of good maintainence for the turtle. Without The UVB and calcium you may be looking at Metabolic Bone Disease. The Diet is also important because turtles are prone to kidney disease. It is possible he got too cold which threw him into turpor which is a semi hibernating state and thus going to the bottom of the tank. If this happens again put him in a small dishpan of warm water and Pedialyte 50/50 mixture. It should help him because the pedialyte is electrolytes and the warm water will warm him up. You also want a basking lite beside the UVB light. I think that if you update the set up and diet you shouldn't see any problems with MBD or Kidney disease and hopefully this was a fluke incident.


Thanks for all that. We'll try to do that stuff. Are you saying that if we'd been doing all that, he wouldn't have semi-hibernated? Is hibernating or semi-hibernating bad? Should I have left him alone? Right now he's lost in the apartment somewhere. Typically he runs around for a while then disappears somewhere, frequently hard to find. Should we worry if he's under the bed for several days, or is he hibernating? We tend to worry if he hasn't had any water for a while.We also have a box turtle who's running around right now, following my wife around. They live in separate tanks. He generally hides for a few days, then comes out [looking for water? or pancakes?] He's usually easy to find. Leda's shape can make him harder to find. How long can he be out and about before we need to put him back?
Thanks very much,

I suspect he is trying to hibernate and has found a cool dark place. This is not unusual as it is instinct. In the wild they will usually go to the bottom of a pond and sleep or find some leaf litter or under logs. This is some information about their hibernation:

If I am correct, he can stay out of water until he awakens. I would rather see him back in the tank to do that. Many people will hibernate them in a box safely on a shelf. I would continue to find him because in a home with the added heat in the home he could dehydrate. Please take a moment to Rate my service 5 stars when I have addressed your concerns.


We found him. Not hibernating, just hiding. One last question: He's big. The tank is about 14" x 30"x 15" deep with an island big enough for him. His partner died about 3 years ago--a female red-eared-slider. They co-existed well, but seemed perhaps a little cramped. We don't have room for a bigger aquarium. Should we get him a friend? Thanks so much.


I am so happy you found him and he is doing well. In all honesty they do not need any companions and in many cases they will fight another turtle and become aggressive. It sounds like he does well alone, so I would just allow him to the enjoy the tank alone on his own.

Please take a moment to Rate my service 5 stars when I have addressed your concerns.


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