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Tips for nursing a neglected turtle

PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2021 2:22 pm
by plasticookies
Hi all, I adopted a ~15 year old RES that is malnourished and was kept in a dirty tank with a couple inches of water. He (I think) is now in a 30 gallon tank (half filled, see note below), water temp 74F, basking temp 85F. I've had him for a couple days now and could use some advice:

1. He doesn't have much of an appetite for anything except shrimp. He was severely underfed with just koi pellets and his carapace is only 3.5" long. I understand what a balanced aquatic turtle diet should look like, but am wondering if perhaps I should just get some shrimp into him to start with as he's pretty lethargic. Thoughts?

2. He doesn't seem to swim very well and appears very uncoordinated. I had originally filled the tank up more but lowered it as he struggles to swim up for air and instead uses rocks or the glass to stand up. assuming he is just weak from never swimming, should I just keep raising the water slowly?

3. He is not basking. He comes about half way up the ramp and just sticks his head up. I understand that maybe he is shy and needs time to adjust, but after some length of time, should I just take him out into a dry container and dry him off completely to avoid fungal growth?

Otherwise, he seems surprisingly ok given his previous circumstances. Perhaps you may spot other areas of concern, so here are some pics:


Re: Tips for nursing a neglected turtle

PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2021 10:36 pm
by steve
Hi, welcome to the forum! You turtle looks to be female, and is quite small as a 15 yo. As for your questions...

1. If she's willing to eat shrimp, I would keep some on hand. Try some boiled chicken meat or some canned tuna fish. Both can be messy, so you might want to try a separate feeding container or be prepared to change the tank water ahead of schedule. The lethargy might just be related to a change in environment, but do make sure she's eating.

2. This could also be related to the adjustment. What kind of basking area do you have?

3. I would give your turtle more time. A couple of easy things to do to help entice basking is move the lamp a closer to the edge of the ramp so it can feel more of the warmth and cover the sides of the tank so there is more privacy. I wouldn't worry about any sort of dry-docking yet.

Re: Tips for nursing a neglected turtle

PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2021 12:50 pm
by plasticookies
Steve, thanks for the tips. I gave her some more time and she's doing a lot better already.

I slowly raised the water level up. She looked real awkward for a couple days but now appears comfortable swimming. She also started eating more and more. I even convinced her to eat red lettuce (though she only wants the fancy variety!) She also started basking, but I got a bit eager and made a egg crate topper, which she's not super excited about yet so I guess I'll give her some time.

Here's a pic of her just chilling:

Re: Tips for nursing a neglected turtle

PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2021 8:44 pm
by steve
She looks great! You must be relieved :) Even though she's eating, resist to overfeed and don't forget how good they are at begging.