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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11430
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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I have a 2 and a half inch red ear slider that won't move or

Customer Question

I have a 2 and a half inch red ear slider that won't move or eat or even open her eyes she acts as she is sleeping unless I put hey in water she will open here eyes and look around and seem to go back to sleep
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Veterinarian will know how to help the slider. What is the slider's name?
Customer: No name yet I just got her
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about yet?
Customer: She hasn't eaten sense I got her
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Reptile
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Now she seems she can't open them at all
Expert:  Anna replied 12 months ago.
Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I'm a biologist with a special place interest in reptiles. I'm sorry to hear of this problem. Some additional information will be useful.What temperatures do you maintain under the basking light and in the water?What brand of UVB light do you have? Is it a coil type or a straight tube?How long have you had your turtle?If you are asked to rate my service, please don't do that just yet since we are just beginning. Thank you.
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
The water is 75 degrees and the basking is 80 I use a exo Terra coil I've had her for a few days now she was ok at first
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
She just refuses to open. Her eyes and crawls under her uvb light and stays there all day 24 hrs if I don't touch her
Expert:  Anna replied 12 months ago.
Thank you for getting back to me. I'm working on your answer now, and will post it as soon as I have it typed up. I appreciate your patience. I'll be back shortly.
Expert:  Anna replied 12 months ago.

Thank you for waiting. It is possible the turtle was sick when you bought her, but there are a couple of things you can try. The coil type UVB lights

were implicated in cases of an eye problem, which is called photo-kerato-conjunctivitis.

I would shut off the UVB light completely for a couple of days. Two days won't hurt anything and it may help the eyes heal faster. Be sure to leave on the basking light, though. If her eyes heal and open after a couple of days, then you'll know the UVB light is the problem. I recommend the Reptisun 10.0 in the straight tube style. Also, get some saline solution (the kind made for contact lenses). Put a drop in each eye several times a day. Even if the eyes are shut, some will seep in around the lids.

The basking area is too cold, and is probably also a factor in the problems. I suspect you may not have a basking light. Turtles need UVB and a heat lamp. The basking area should be 85*F to 90*F. The water should be 78*F to 82*F.

If she isn't better in a couple of days, it would be best to see a reptile vet. It is always recommended to have a new turtle examined shortly after purchase. When symptoms are present, and exam is even more important. This link will take you to a directory of vets:

Because there is so much misinformation available both online and from pet stores, I’m also including a care sheet I’ve written for slider turtles. It takes months to years before incorrect conditions result in health problems, so even a turtle that has seemed to do well, will eventually become ill. You can use the care sheet as a checklist to make sure everything is right. If you have more questions, let me know in a REPLY. I hope Tiny will be fine.


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 after you have all the information you need. I will greatly appreciate a positive rating as that is the only way I am compensated. Thank you!


Well-cared for sliders can live 30 years or more.

The Tank

It's recommended that a baby slider have at least a 15 gallon tank. By the time the turtle is 3-4 years old, it will need a 60 gallon tank, so it's best to get the biggest you can in the beginning. You can also use a large RubberMaid tote. That's not as pretty as a tank, but costs a lot less. Set up the tank so there's a land area and a water area. Put the basking light at one end so the whole tank doesn’t get too hot. You want the water to be about twice as deep as the turtle is long. If the turtle is two inches long, you'll want four inches of water.

Temperatures and Basking Area

Turtles need certain types of lighting and need to be warm. Air and water that are not warm enough can lead to fungal and respiratory infections and unhealthy shells. 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 75 *F (24*C) , 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*F (29 to 32*C). Use a digital probe thermometer to be sure. You can adjust the temperature by raising or lowering the light fixture.The lights that come with the covers on aquariums are not suitable for turtles. You'll also need a submersible aquarium heater that will keep the water 78-82*F (26 to 28*C).

UVB Light

It's extremely important that you buy an additional light that produces UVB rays. A Reptisun 10.0 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. Full-spectrum, DayGlo, SunGlo, 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 turtle 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. To prevent MBD, turtles also need calcium. The easiest way to provide it is to place a cuttlebone in the tank. Cuttlebones are sold in bird departments of pet stores.


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. If the tank is too small, no filter can keep up with the amount of waste that turtles produce.


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 (cooked 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.). Hatchlings should be fed every day. Older turtles should be fed 3 times per week. Overfeeding can lead to gout and kidney failure.

For Further Reading

This is among the most reputable sites on turtles.

Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Thank you I'll try that should I soak. Her in something I heard pedialight becouse she won't go in the water ?
Expert:  Anna replied 12 months ago.
If she won't go in the water, she will become dehydrated and die. You can soak her in a bath of 1/2 Pedialyte and 1/2 water for 30 minutes twice per day. It would be better yet to take her to a vet to have fluids administered. You may also want to let the pet store know what is going on. If she was sick when you bought her, they should refund your money. This turtle is in terrible shape, and in spite of everything you are doing, may not survive.