All pets have the potential to develop health problems, whether you own a strapping St. Bernard or a couple of red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans). Some health problems frequently affect these semiaquatic reptiles, including shell rot and parasites. Captive turtles, like all pets, must receive routine veterinary checkups.
Intestinal parasites such as roundworm are relatively common in red-eared sliders, and in pet turtles in general. It's vital to never ignore cases of parasites in turtles, as an infestation can destroy your pet's digestive tract. While mild cases of intestinal parasites often don't result in visible symptoms, extreme ones do. If a red-eared slider has parasites, he might lose a lot of weight, not be interested in eating much, experience loose and runny stools and act unusually exhausted.
The name "shell rot" might sound strange, but it simply refers to infections of turtle shells. Fungi and bacteria are among the organisms that can trigger shell infections in red-eared sliders. If a turtle resides in an unsanitary setting and gets scraped by another specimen, that could be all it takes to allow bacteria to make its way in. If a turtle has serious shell rot, you might notice conspicuous sores or holes in his shell, or soft spots with foul-smelling discharge.
Respiratory infections are a common ailment. Turtles are often susceptible to these infections, especially when they're kept in overly cold conditions for long periods. Some telltale indications of respiratory infections in red-eared sliders—and turtles in general—are excessive basking, unusual fatigue, reduced appetite, rasping sounds, sneezing, runny eyes or mouth and swelling of the eyes. Bacteria is a common culprit.
Other Typical Health Ailments
Illnesses in red-eared sliders aren't limited to parasites and shell and respiratory infections. Take your pet in for annual herpetological veterinary checkups, starting within a few days of bringing him home for the first time. Intestinal parasites are extremely common in turtles, hence the importance of vet examinations of their fecal matter. Other ailments that can affect turtles include ocular infections, the digestive disorder salmonellosis and metabolic bone disease, for starters. If you look after a red-eared slider well, he might be able to exceed 40 years in age. This is why it's important to frequently take him to the vet, especially when you suspect that something might be amiss.
Health Problem Clues
Hints of illnesses in red-eared sliders are diverse, but it's important to be aware of them. They include infrequent body motion, excessive bleeding, constipation, changes in the appearance of the stools, quivering and breathing irregularities. Seek urgent veterinary help if you notice these or any other abnormal symptoms in your pet. Healthy red-eared sliders are usually vigilant, interested in eating and free of sores.
- Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics: Turtle Care
- Acacia Animal Health Center: Common Diseases of Pet Turtles [PDF]
- Alberta Turtle and Tortoise Society: Red-Eared Slider Health Problems
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Pet Turtles Diseases
- Wright Bird & Exotic Pet House Calls: Dr. Wright's Quick Guide to Red-Eared Sliders
- ReptileChannel.com: Red-Eared Slider Turtle Information and Care
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