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Bad case of retained scutes. Advice needed please!

PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2018 3:23 am
by cheesyturtle
Hi there, a newbie here, this is my first post! :D

First of all, I would like to thank the creator and everyone who has contributed to this forum! You have no idea how much you all have helped us understand more about red eared sliders!

I have two RES who have been with me for more than 10 years. They were absolute cutie pies when they were young :D


On the right, we have Cheeky :mrgreen: and on the left, Cheesy :msgreen: . This picture was taken in 2007!

Over the years, they have lived in a small plastic aquarium with some rocks in it for them to dry themselves out. Their water got changed every day or every other day as there was no filter. They were fed only turtle pellets every other day and that's it really. They live by the window, but they never went outside for sunbathing. Today, they still live in a plastic aquarium, just slightly bigger, and the rest is the same. However, they look very different now, not in a good way... :(

This was taken a few days ago when I brought them out to play in the garden.

Their shells have been looking white-ish and silvery for a while (several years), but no one really knew what it was all about, so nothing has been done about it. They are behaving normally, eating and basking as usual, and their shells are hard. On visible inspection, everything seems normal so we take that they are healthy.

Earlier this month, I began some researching about turtle shells and realised that this is not normal!!! So now, I am determined to restore their beautiful shells to their old glory. We do not have much resources, so we are unable to make any big changes but we will do what we can!

I have read about wheat germ pellets helping with scutes shedding, so I have started feeding them, since the beginning of the month, Hikary Goldfish pellets almost every day or every other day along with their usual turtle pellets. Usually 2/3 Hikari and 1/3 turtle pellets.

This is the wheatgerm pellets they are having:
Hikari wheat germ copy.jpg
Hikari wheat germ copy.jpg (46.04 KiB) Viewed 4554 times

and this is the turtle sticks they eat:
sanyu copy.jpg
sanyu copy.jpg (55.51 KiB) Viewed 4554 times

Apart from pellets, I have started introducing green and red leaf lettuce on their pellets off-days. They angrily refused the vege on the first day, but they gave in on the second day :D . They still refused the red lettuce though. When they see me, they come crawling hoping for pellets :roll: , and when I am gone they went back to munch on the green lettuce lol.

Also, I have been bringing them out for some direct sunshine in the mornings for 20-40 minutes whenever I can. I remove them from their aquarium and place them in a shallow container and make sure the plastic does not block the sunlight. I try to give them at least 5 sunshine sessions a week. For extra doses of UVB, I have ordered a heat+UVA+UVB bulb, which will be arriving soon. :D

It has been two weeks, and I hardly see any improvements on their shell condition :cry:

Only tiny bits of their shell have come off in the past week in papery fragments, not the whole scute. Some of their retained scutes seem to have glued together, especially the ones in the middle, while the ones on the sides are thickly stacked.

This is Cheeky's :mrgreen: carapace and plastron:



and this is Cheesy's :msgreen: :



I really want their shells to be beautiful again. What should I do? Do you think they need to see a vet?

Any advice or opinion is greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Re: Bad case of retained scutes. Advice needed please!

PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2018 8:32 am
by steve
They have fungus. Alone, it isn't a huge problem but it does make retained scutes much worse. Those retained scutes take longer to come off, leaving moisture and debris trapped for longer periods of time, possibly leading to all sorts of infections. Carefully check to see if any are loose or lifting up, you might be able to help remove them first. Actual improvement against fungus usually requires medication (like silver sulfadiazine) and lots of basking time. RES kept outdoors usually don't get this type of infection.

Re: Bad case of retained scutes. Advice needed please!

PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:33 am
by litefoot
Agree 100% !
Do you have picture of their setup along with the basking area ? Maybe we can recommend some easy fixes so they can use basking area more to dry off and warm up on. This is while you treat for the fungus. A good basking site will help prevent the fungus from coming back once cured.

Re: Bad case of retained scutes. Advice needed please!

PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 3:22 am
by cheesyturtle
^Thank you for the replies!

This is my current tank set-up:
Tank setup.jpg

For the past few days, they have been spending an hour in direct sunlight in the mornings and 3-4hrs of basking under the 25W heat+UVA+UVB halogen bulb in the evenings. Right before bed time, I turn off the lamp and they like to return to the water to sleep.

I have noticed the unhealthy scutes are receding and healthy shells are starting to form where the carapace meets the plastron.

RHS plastron.jpg

LHS plastron.jpg

The old scutes are starting to come off in bigger chunks but there are still papery fragments. However, the bigger chunks don't come off naturally. I had to prick and pull them off with my fingernail. The 'new' shell underneath is not pretty (=silvery and spotty but not as white) so I believe it is just a newer layer of retained scute.

It is such a slow process and it is only happening to Cheeky :mrgreen: who likes to stay on the stone all the time. I have been rubbing Betadine on their carapace during the morning sunshine routine but it did not seem to make a difference, so I might stop that soon. Silver Sulfadiazine is a POM here, so I will try to get them to see a vet in the new year.

Also I noticed they tend to shut their eyes or blinking more than usual when they are under the UVB lamp. I have tried my best positioning the bulb right on top of them so that it doesn't shine into their eyes. Is this a cause for concern?

Re: Bad case of retained scutes. Advice needed please!

PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2018 10:02 am
by litefoot
This will be my last post for awhile going to spend time with the grandkids up north. Both Piggley and I are going. Only a six hour drive and Piggley does very well in his traveling two story hotel I made. It even has a picture window for him to look around. Not his first trip driving he does very well . Just two totes with a ramp but works.

That light is not good very inadequate , sorry ! There's only a very few that produce both good UVA and UVB for turtles. "Solar Glow" is one in the middle and must be placed by there recommendations to work. Myself , use Mega Rays.

Solar Glow : ... =solar+glo

Good read : ... report.pdf

Watch this video too: ... ORM=VRDGAR

Don't wait to long to treat the fungus , longer you wait harder to get rid of . Lots of time starts under the old scute were it's loose and trapped dirty water is and affects the new scute also.
Use header at top of the forums page and give more time and attention to there habitat or fungus will just keep coming back.

Re: Bad case of retained scutes. Advice needed please!

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 1:08 pm
by Into_the_Mystic
Those turtles are not being cared for properly. They need 10 gallons of water per inch of shell size. You need at least a 100 gallon tank filled to the top with water. Also, you need a UVA/UVB light bulb along with a 65 watt light bulb for heat. Please do some research on what a red ear slider habit needs are.

Re: Bad case of retained scutes. Advice needed please!

PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 1:03 pm
by cheesyturtle
^Thanks for the tips! It's not easy to get good equipments for reptiles in my country but I will look into it.

Some updates:
I have been dry docking them for about 8 hours a day and making sure they get at least 30 minutes of direct sunlight everyday. They also get 3 quick baths and feeding time within that dry-docking duration. I noticed that they just love to poop in the sun!

Here they are, chilling in the shade after some much-needed sunlight therapy.


They didn't like the sun very much, both of them race for the shade most of the time. I have to 'force' them to sunbathe by not providing a shady area, but I watch them so that they don't get too hot.

Apart from that, I have been using Betadine on them (few drops, then cotton-bud the whole shell, let it dry out). It did not seem to make any difference at all, so I don't use it much anymore.

Around the New Year 2019, the first few silvery-white layers of ancient scutes had started to come off. It started by peeling at the sides, and when I tried to lift it off, the whole big piece came off together.


The shell underneath was still retained scutes, but without as much fungus, but the shell malformations like the pits, the vertical raised edge, were very noticeable. The extent of damage on her shell was quite shocking to me, so I am determined to make her better!

The fossil. XD


Cheeky had started to shed around NY too. However, his shell condition was not as bad as Cheesy's. The patterns of his shell were starting to show. :)


A few days after New Year, I brought them to a general vet. There is no herp vet in my area. She said the turtles lack calcium, which is why their shells are not smooth, and they are dehydrated. She recommended sunlight, Betadine/salt bath soaks, and miconazole cream as the treatment. She also gave me some ExoTerra calcium powder for dusting the pellets and some liquid vitamin, which I had to hand-feed them. I could not open the turtles' mouth to hand-feed like she did, so I just coat the pellets with the vitamin instead. I did not do the bath soaks as I was not sure if it would irritate their eyes & skin etc. I did try miconazole but it did nothing.

For their diet, she said pellets (She asked me to get Mazuri) should be fed daily, introduce some greens and fruits with high water content, like watermelon. So far Cheeky and Cheesy have furiously refused greens and watermelon..... they only like their pellets :(

I will be getting some Mazuri Aquatic Turtle Diet soon, and I also ordered ZooMed's ReptiSafe water conditioner as the tap water here is very high in chlorine. Tomorrow, I am getting silver sulfadiazine cream from a clinic. Hopefully all these will help a bit!

Here is how they looked few days ago:



They are a lot more energetic now - they don't bask anymore outside their dry-docking period and they have been doing lots of 'courtship dances', haha :D

The edges of those thousand layers of compressed retained scutes are increasingly drying off and ready to peel as well, I think that's a good sign. Still a long way to go though!

Re: Bad case of retained scutes. Advice needed please!

PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 1:51 pm
by steve
Is the miconazole cream prescribed or OTC?

Re: Bad case of retained scutes. Advice needed please!

PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:39 pm
by cheesyturtle
^ It's a miconazole 2% cream prescribed by a doctor for human fungal nail infection.

Re: Bad case of retained scutes. Advice needed please!

PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:24 am
by cheesyturtle
Some updates. These pictures were taken in mid-end of January.

Before and after just two applications of silver sulfadiazine (SSD) cream. Almost all the fungus had been cleared up.





Their shells are still not clear as of now. Plenty of fuzzy dark spots the SSD cream could not get rid of under the retained scutes.

Now they are shedding thin keratin fragments instead of the whole scute. Still so much to go through though, I can flip the keratin layers like a dictionary!

Their plastrons are not showing much improvement. How can I get sun on their belly? haha

I am trying out Saki-Hikari Turtle pellets on them at the moment. Once this finishes (only 45g) I will be starting them on Mazuri Aquatic Turtle Diet. They seem to love both. :D

Re: Bad case of retained scutes. Advice needed please!

PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:04 am
by steve
Looks great, glad to know they're doing much better.