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Denver ER Doc
Denver ER Doc, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 1478
Experience:  Small Animal Medicine and Surgery Internship, Veterinary Acupuncture trained, Wildlife and Exotics
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I have a 20 year old painted turtle, that has been sharing

Customer Question

I have a 20 year old painted turtle, that has been sharing a tank with an aquatic turtle the past couple of weeks. Yesterday I noticed the painted turtle was moving slow and floating lop sided.... Today we check on her, and her tail is missing some skin and her foot (around the nails) look brown and crusty. Kinda like her skin is scabbing...
What should I do.. The local Vet's do not see turtles. Can anyone help?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Veterinary
Expert:  Denver ER Doc replied 6 years ago.
Hi there,

Sorry to hear that your turtle is having trouble.

Any time a turtle is floating lopsided, there is concern for the health of their lungs. Turtles that have fluid or other debris in their lungs, i.e. pneumonia, can float lopsided because a portion of the lung tissue does not contain air and therefore causes them to float unevenly.

This, accompanied by the skin wounds, would make me worry about some sort of systemic disease that may be affecting multiple organ systems, e.g. skin and lungs.

That, unfortunately, means that he should be seen by a veterinarian who is familiar with exotic animals, because if pneumonia is the suspicion, an x-ray might be needed to confirm it so that the turtle can be started on appropriate therapy (antibiotics, etc). This should happen soon, if possible. It doesn't sound like this is something that is likely to be cured with home care, in my opinion.

In the meantime, keeping the wounds clean with warm water and a mild soap is fine. Is he still eating and drinking?

Dr. Paul
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I don't know if she is eating, since they were both in the tank when feeding time occurred. But she didn't seem too interested. I tried the local vets, but they won't see her. So I have to keep trying.

I didn't know if her skin will grow back or if this is something I should try to keep bandaged.. Not like she would let me anyway..


Thanks for the help.

Expert:  Denver ER Doc replied 6 years ago.
Bandaging a water turtle is always a very tricky thing. it can be done, but typically what you need to do is apply the bandage to clean, dry skin and then keep the turtle out of the water. The bandage can be removed once or twice per day to let them soak in some water (otherwise they will dehydrate), then the wound is cleaned and the wound is re-bandaged. Because turtle metabolism is so slow, healing can take weeks to months, so this is a tedious process. They often benefit from systemic antibiotics to speed healing in this case.

From your description, I would be much more worried about lung compromise than the skin wounds.

What area of the country do you live in? Maybe I can help you find somebody as I'd hate for your turtle to be refused the medical care he needs.

Dr. Paul
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I live in Munster, IN in the US. I would think it would be easy to see a vet. But, no. I called all the local Animal Hostpitals.. I will look some more today.




Expert:  Denver ER Doc replied 6 years ago.
Yes, you will probably need to look a bit farther out than that. I will see what I can find for you.

If all else fails, I have a colleague in Chicago who specializes in reptiles. I know that is a bit of a trip for you, but might be worth it as a last resort. Let me do a bit of digging for you.

Dr. Paul
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Expert:  Denver ER Doc replied 6 years ago.
Hi Carol, so sorry for the delay.

I have found what I think are your three nearest exotics vets, but unfortunately all of them are about an hour from you and in IL:

Chicago Exotics
3735 W. Dempster
Skokie, IL 60076(NNN) NNN-NNNNbr />
Ness Exotic Wellness CenterXXXXXbr />Lisle, IL 60532(NNN) NNN-NNNNbr />
Natural Pet Animal Hospital
711 Almar Parkway
Bourbonnais, IL 60914(NNN) NNN-NNNNbr />*Dr. Karen Becker is a personal friend of mine and is well worth the drive*

How is your turtle doing?

Dr. Paul