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Home Page / Health Directory / What To Do When You Suspect An Illness

Unusual Behavior and Symptoms

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Be alert and recognize signs that might require immediate medical care. Red Ear Sliders may exhibit unusual behavior and develop a wide range of illnesses. Despite their shell, they are susceptible to injuries and other trauma. Signs of illness or irregular behavior should be carefully monitored and never ignored. Some symptoms may be normal behavior and require no action. Others may be easy to treat with an adjustment in diet or habitat while other symptoms should be brought to the attention of a herpetological vet. It should be noted that a majority of illnesses and injuries could be avoided with a proper diet and environment. Prevention is always the best course of action to take.

Look for signs of illness, physical injuries and make sure you are offering the correct habitat and diet requirements. Some of the behavior and symptoms that should be of concern are loss of appetite, lack of energy, mobility, excessive mucus, erratic swimming, soft shells, spots in shell or skin, cuts and scratches on skin, swollen eyes, bleeding and swollen limbs. Please check the other pages and articles of this section for more details about specific symptoms.

What To Do When You Suspect An Illness

Should you expect an illness, the immediate action you can take as a basic measure in most cases is to increase air and basking and water temperatures about 5-10 degrees F (water is already expected to be around 78F for hatchlings and around 75F for older turtles). Turtles are cold-blooded (ectothermic) and their body temperatures are the same as their environment. Their bodies, including their immune systems, will be more active and more efficient with the increased heat. However, temperatures that are too high can result in hyperthermia and can cause serious harm. Make sure that the water is clean since poor water conditions contribute to diseases and infections.

If your turtle is having difficulty swimming, you must make certain there is neither danger of drowning nor dehydration. It may be necessary to have shallow water or a dry docked area to prevent possible drowning. Different types of erratic swimming can be different symptoms of illnesses or injuries. It is often very serious and you need to get your turtle proper veterinary care. Always separate and quarantine a sick or injured turtle from other turtles you may have. Diseases and parasites can easily spread and there may already be aggressive behavior present. Make sure habitat conditions are correct and continue to offer food and keep an eye out for other symptoms.

When To Take Your Turtle To A Vet

Medications and veterinary service may bring you unexpected expenses. Because sliders are inexpensive and free in many cases, that does not mean they should be denied medical attention or dumped. If you cannot pay for medical help, you are probably withholding other expenses that are necessary in providing an adequate habitat. If you are unable to make payments, consider asking for credit. It is inappropriate to keep sick animals without the ability of helping them.

Delays serve no benefit and would likely only make treatment more difficult. Contact your vet immediately and let them know of the situation and urgency. Answer all questions and volunteer any relevant information. You may want to ask for a referral to an emergency veterinary facility if your vet is not available. Be aware of what tests and treatments the vet wants to conduct. If you suspect a parasitic infection or there is unusual waste, then you might want to collect a sample for examination.

Serious physical trauma and drastic changes in behavior should always be a cause for alarm. You should immediately seek out veterinary care in any of these situations. Delays in treatment can significantly worsen the situation. Guessing with over-the-counter treatments and concoctions could also easily worsen the situation. You could be introducing stress, delaying the appropriate treatments, masking symptoms and making lab tests inaccurate. Simply do not delay proper and professional treatment.

Additional Article
Why see a reptile vet? - anapsid.org/vets/whyseeavet.html

Bringing Your Turtle To A Vet

Arrange the appointment in advance. If it is an emergency, still call ahead to make sure your vet is there and let them know the type of emergency. This will allow them time to prepare themselves if necessary. For instance, a drowned turtle may need oxygen and an injured turtle may need surgery.

Prepare a clean box or plastic container that your turtle would be unable to escape from. If the weather is cold, be prepared to cover the top to keep out the cold air. Line the bottom with newspaper and paper towels (or something similar, like an old T-shirt or towel). Bring additional paper towels since this may be stressful for your turtle and it might leave an unpleasant mess in there. Dry off your turtle and place it on the box. Make sure you are on time. Again, honestly answer all questions and volunteer any relevant information. Ask questions if you do not understand what is being talked about. Make sure the information you give and receive is perfectly clear. If there is medication offered, make sure you understand its function, dosage and treatment time. Ask what reaction you should expect from your turtle. If medications need to be administered in a specific way, make sure you are educated and capable of that task.

If you did not feel satisfied or comfortable with the experience you can always seek out for another vet. Options may be limited, but our turtles are worth the extra effort.

Preventive Medicine

Having the correct habitat and diet conditions is a major aspect of keeping your turtles healthy. Large volumes of clean, filtered water, a basking area, UVA rays, UVB rays, regulated water temperatures and a varied diet fortified with calcium are essential for your turtle’s health. The best of these efforts will minimize risks and yield the best results.

Even though not everything is preventable or predictable, you can elect to take your turtle for regular checkups (which is strongly recommended when you acquire a new turtle). Don’t crowd your tank by taking in more turtles than you can realistically care for. Consider the financial, time and space commitments.
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This page updated: 2011/01/28 Copyright © 2005-2011 Red Ear Slider. All rights reserved.