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Red eared slider turtles are lethargic. They are small I've…

Customer Question
Red eared slider turtles...

Red eared slider turtles are lethargic

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Expert will know how to help the turtle. What is the turtle's name and age?

They are small I've had them only 4 or 5 weeks. Mike and Leo. They are maybe 3 inches.

Veterinarian's Assistant: What is the turtle's name?

Mike and Leo

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Mike?

He doesn't want to swim much and when I pick him up and hold him in my hand he will close his eyes and put his head down on my hand.

Submitted: 3 months ago.Category: Reptile
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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
I had the turtles for 3 weeks. Just sunlight exposure and some water in their tank and a place to climb out and bask. They get baths daily in warm water. They eat pellets. Recently they started to become lethargic. I got them a basking light and a filter for the water. They stay on the basking ramp all day sleeping under the light. If I put them in the water they will swim for a few seconds and then climb out. They are used to being handled. Now when I hold them they will close their eyes and rest their head on my hand.
Answered in 56 minutes by:
3/13/2018
Reptile Expert: PitRottMommy, Veterinary Nurse replied 3 months ago
PitRottMommy
PitRottMommy, Veterinary Nurse
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11,917
Experience: 15 years experience in veterinary medicine, special interest in reptiles and arachnids.
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Hello, JACustomer. I have been a Veterinary Nurse for over 15 years and would be happy to help you today. I'm reviewing your question right now.

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Reptile Expert: PitRottMommy, Veterinary Nurse replied 3 months ago

1) You mentioned sunlight exposure--how is this happening?

2) Where did you acquire Mike and Leo?

3) Are the pellets the only food offered?

4) What is the tank water temp?

5) Is a heater being used?

6) What is the basking temp?

7) How big is the tank?

8) When was the last water change? What percentage?

9) What bulbs are you using?

10) Do you offer any vitamin supplementation? If so, what? How often?

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
1. Their tank was set up by a window. I know now that the UVB is significantly reduced through window glass which is why I purchased a basking lamp.
2. I got the turtles from a fish market that has a lot of turtle stores.
3. They only get pellets
4. And 5. I am waiting for a thermometer and a heater to be delivered, but they were getting daily water changes at least half the water was replaced with warm to the touch faucet water.
6. The basking lamp I think is at least 8 inches away from the ramp, as that is what the online experts suggested. I will try to get a photo.
7. A picture of the tank is posted below, before I set up the basking light.
8. Water was changed daily until I got a filter, but I think they were scared of the filter, it is loud and powerful so they stayed on the ramp a lot. Water is changed daily since I don't have a heater. 50% warm mixed with old. They were getting warm water bathes in the sink before this.
8. I will find out about the bulb. I am not home right now, I thought it was UVB though.
9. No vitamin supplements as I heard they aren't always necessary.
Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Also the top of the water seemed to be warmed by the light.
Reptile Expert: PitRottMommy, Veterinary Nurse replied 3 months ago

UVB light doesn't transmit through windows at all. It is not recommended to ever depend on light unless it's outdoors and directly from the sun for this reason. If they have been without UVB lighting for even a short period of time there is an increased risk for metabolic bone disease to have started. Moreover, since your RES are so young, their dependency on UVB lighting is even higher because they are growing.

It's also imperative that they be kept at the right temperatures, as well. With no thermometer or heater available, neither you nor I can be sure their environmental needs are being met. Since they're under the weather, it's safe to assume they're likely not. The water temperature should aways be between 75 and 85 degrees. They should also be given a basking area with a temp around 85-90 degrees. The should be permitted to dock at their leisure and to have the choice to always do so. The water changes and baths may also be contributing to their condition, as well.

I am very concerned with the husbandry flaws that we've discussed that your companions are likely showing signs of early stage metabolic bone disease and possibly also early stage respiratory problems.

Typically vitamin supplementation is not necessary so long as their nutritional needs are met. Unfortunately, with a delay in their UVB access (all assuming the bulb offers UVB rays) they would have been unable to effectively process calcium in their diet.

I do not recommend feeding an all commercial diet, though it's fine for the short term. RES thrive on variable diets. Here's a snippet of options for the future courtesy of http://www.allturtles.com

Leafy Greens: romaine lettuce, kale, spinach, swiss chard, turnip greens, collard greens

Wild Plants: common plantain, chickweed, dandelion, white clover, henbit

Vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans, broccoli, squash, pumpkin

Fruits: apples, pears, berries, melon, mangos, figs

Proteins: frozen bloodworms, mealworms, earthworms, silkworms, mosquito larvae, boiled meats (shrimp, chicken, and beef), live fish, etc.

I do think that your companions would do best seeing a vet to determine the cause of their symptoms. I am very worried that without care that they may worsen and pass away. If you do not already have a veterinarian to care for them, please visit this resource to find one in your area: http://www.anapsid.org/vets/

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