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I have a RES turtle that is approx. 8 months old. Because…

I have a RES turtle...
I have a RES turtle that is approx. 8 months old. Because it's under shell is completely flat, I am guessing it is a male? From all that I have read, RES do not hibernate --they brumate all the while in water. My turtle, Emerald; about 3 weeks ago I took her out of her tank, as usual, to walk around and get some exercise. I lost her within the house. Finally I found her under my dogs pillow bed. She seemed pretty content there, and so I left her there. I check up on her from time to time and all seems normal. I even touch her, slightly move her to make sure she's not dead. At one time, when I went to check on her, she was gone. I freaked. I started looking for her and finally found her in my closet at the furthest, darkest back area. I have been doing a lot of reading about the RES, a couple of articles tell if my RES is brumating out of water, it is probably sick and will die. After she moved into my closet, I started to worry more. I put Emerald back in her tank, and she seemed so unhappy. Climbing up the plastic trees, seemingly trying to get out of the tank. Never appearing to want to brumate under water. I took her back out, and she went right back under the dogs pillow bed. Should I be concerned? Should I just place her in the tank and hope she brumates under water? What do I do? Thank you for your time and assistance. I look forward to hearing back from you soon. Nansea
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
I meant to say I think Emerald is a FEMALE since her under shell is completely flat. From what I've read, the males have a bit of a concave under shell. I guess this makes the fit better for when they mate?
Answered in 39 minutes by:
10/28/2017
Anna
Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11,923
Experience: Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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Hello Nansea and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I'm a biologist with over 20 years of experience keeping reptiles. I'm sorry to hear that Emerald is having some problems. Some additional information will help me determine the best steps for you to take.What temperatures do you maintain under the basking light and in the water?What types of lighting and heating equipment do you have?How big is your tank?When did Emerald last eat?Thank you.
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Dear *****a, thank you for your prompt response. Oh my goodness, I don't know that I have all the answers you ask, but will do my best at educated estimates. The basking light is about 6" from her basking shelf. If I recall correctly, when we purchased the bulb it is a white 50W. I later bought a 75W infrared spot light, but that felt too hot, light to basking shelf, so I went back to the 50W. Her tank is 50 gallons. Heating equipment? I don't have heating equipment. I would guesstimate the water temperature to be 55 to 65 degrees. I do have a filter that I change regularly. Up until 3 weeks or so ago, Emerald has been living a seemingly regular, normal turtle life, climbing up onto her shelf, basking, back into the water, eating regularly, back to basking, etc. She was eating these tiny round pellets, as well as dried shrimp. However, since she found this spot under the dogs pillow bed she has not eaten at all. Concerned about food myself, I placed some of the dry shrimp next to her but it is untouched. Last Thursday, after finding her in my closet, I put her back in the tank, thinking maybe she needed water, food, etc., but she showed no interest whatsoever in food and seemed anxious to get out of the tank. I hope this is helpful and I will await your response. Thank you. Nansea

Thank you for getting back to me. I'm working on some information for you now, and will post it as soon as I have it typed up. I appreciate your patience.

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Thank you for waiting.

I suspect you got your information on care from a pet store or a less than reputable website. 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. After months of things not being quite right, the animal becomes ill. Some of what you have been told is wrong, and I suspect that is why Emerald is having so much trouble. Even though you have been trying so hard to keep her healthy, when you didn't have correct information to begin with, things are going wrong.

An RES cannot hibernate or brumate in a totally dry spot. They will simply become dehydrated and die. The temperatures in the tank and your home are not cold enough for brumation to successfully occur. However, they are too cold to keep a turtle healthy. When chilly, but not cold enough for brumation, turtles will become stressed , lose their appetite, and become lethargic. I suspect that is what has happened to Emerald. She is probably already dehydrated, and she must be gotten back into her tank. I would put her back immediately. RES also cannot eat unless they are in water. As for hibernating under water, that doesn't mean a turtle just lies inactive in some water. In nature, turtles burrow into the mud and leaves at the bottom of a pond, and that is where they spend the winter. .Turtles do need heating equipment and they need two kinds of light. You only have one. It's very important that you correct all conditions as soon as possible.

To help you with that, and 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.

I suggest that you read it now, and then if you have questions about anything you read, just let me know. I'm happy to help.

I do suspect that Emerald is actually sick. You may want to consider a visit to a reptile vet. This link will take you to a directory of them:

http://www.anapsid.org/vets/index.html#vetlist

Let me know if you need anything else. I hope Emerald will be fine.

Anna

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!

SLIDER TURTLE CARE SHEET

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.

Filtration

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

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.

http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Care/caresheet-red_ear_slider.htm

http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Care/cs-yellowbelly.htm

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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
WOW Anna, you weren't kidding when you said pet store reps don't know diddly squat about (in this case) turtles. Stupid me. How do I not auto know this when I'm talking to a high school kid doing this job as a part time, giving out life or death advice! And again you're right. So many websites do not provide righteous, accurate information. I am only grateful that I thought to come to the JustAsk site and got YOU to guide me on the right path. Emerald is back in her tank. I introduced a little food; the small round hatchling formula pellets, and dry shrimp. She still has not eaten. 3 weeks ago, she would have been devouring her food. I'm hoping this is a re-adjustment period and soon she'll have her appetite back. Soon I will be off to get a bigger, better filter and heater for her tank. LIGHTING: You suggest the importance to buy "an additional light that provides UVB rays. When I purchased the 75W infrared basking spot light (no where does it say UVB light,) I was assured this was the only light I needed (mind you, I'm now very aware that I could not hang my hat on most of the information provided at pet stores). I did read the http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Care/caresheet-red_ear_slider.htm info, but am still a little confused about the light(s). When I first rescued Emerald, I bought a 10 gallon tank, a small filter and 50W light. Is a UVB light bulb a different color, i.e., red? and, do I need a regular white light too? Goodness, had I been asked a year ago if I would ever own a turtle, "an emphatic no" would have been my answer, but I could not bare the thought of a baby turtle being flushed down a toilet at the county fair. Again, thank you so much for your time in guiding me through this. I'll wait to hear back from you about the light(s). Thanks Anna. Nansea
I hate that county fairs use animals as prizes, and to think they would flush baby turtles is horrible. I'm glad you saved Emerald.Lighting is one of the hardest to understand areas of turtle care. You do not need an Infrared light or a 'night time' light. You do need two kinds of light. A basking light provides heat. It should be placed over the basking platform or rock. UVB rays are a special kind of UV light. They come from a separate kind of light. It will be a fluorescent light that puts out very little heat. It absolutely will not be a different color - the light will be white. We can't see UVB rays, so the lights don't look like anything special to us. The Reptisun 10.0 is among the best. The number refers to the percent of UVB that the bulb emits. So, that bulb will give off 10% UVB light and 90% ordinary visible light. 10% doesn't sound like much, but it's just right for a turtle.I hope this makes sense now, but if not, let me know, and I'll try another way to explain.
Anna
Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11,923
Experience: Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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Customer reply replied 8 months ago
Anna, yes, your explanation of the 2 lights is perfectly clear to me now. Thank you. I will keep the infrared light as her heat source @ 75W, and buy a Reptisun 10.0 for her UVB needs. I will check in with you in a couple of weeks or so to share how Emerald is doing. Had it not been for you and your expert advice, I could have had a dead turtle sooner than later.
I too dislike very much that animals are used as prizes, hence my offering this kid $10 to take the tiny turtle home with me. I have since learned that turtles that small are illegal to own, let alone sell or give away. And I understand why. Fortunately no one has become ill from salmonella, or anything else. I always wash my hands after handling Emerald. Hopefully the risks diminish the older she gets. I do not regret rescuing Emerald, and I hope she lives a very long, healthy and happy life with me. Take care,
Nansea
You're a very kind person, Nansea. I hope Emerald will thrive for you.
Anna
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Hi Nansea,
I'm just following up on our conversation about Emerald. How is everything going?
Anna
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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Anna, hello. Truly I believe you saved Emerald's life. After I placed her back in her tank, got it all set up with the right lights, etc., I did notice she was not very interested in food and was definitely less active (I don't want to say lethargic because it could have just been her brumating) so I just left her alone. A week or so later, she started to show signs of activity, a week or so after that, when feeding Violet, that's the Bata that lives with Emerald, Emerald seemed interested in eating again, and so on and so forth. She has only progressed for the better. Thank you again for all the time you took to help me through this one. Your expert advice, suggestions, and careful compassion saved Emerald.This is more a curiosity question. Since having Emerald, I look at all turtles I may come across, at ponds, the mall, pet stores, etc. I notice most RED shells are straight up bowl shaped. Emerald's shell is more scalloped around the edges. It's pretty, but is this normal? Will that scalloped flow around the bottom of her shell become the boring bowl cute (ha-ha)? Still love her no matter what shape. She appears happy and healthy. Thank you again Anna. Wishing you Happy Holidays. Cheers! Nansea
Hello Nansea. That is such good news. I'm so very happy that Emerald is thriving. Both types of shell are normal, but the shape can change as the shell grows. So you'll just have to wait and see. I want to caution you about Violet. Wild turtles do eat fish. As Emerald grows and becomes more active, she may start to view Violet as food. Not trying to scare you, but it is a definite possibility.I wish you, Emerald, and Violet Happy Holidays, too!Anna
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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Hi Anna. Honestly, I have been noticing Violets beta fins getting shorter and shorter. Oh yikes! Poor Violet. While I don't think Emerald's mouth is quite big enough yet to eat Violet, I would imagine those claws she has been growing are going to be great for sushi skewering. Sometimes I giggle at Emerald's eating abilities. While the food I sprinkle in the tank floats about, she acts a bumbling ninny trying to chase it down. She'll hit 2 out of 5 floating bits, but mostly waits for stuff to gather at the filter or dig in the gravel later.
Hmmmm, might be time to put Violet in her own little environment next to Emerald's tank. I wasn't thinking in the direction of future turtle foods. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.Emerald and Violet send their festive regards ***** *****
Take care,
~nansea~
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