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Basic health check ups 


There are two Parts of this page:

  • PART 1 - below, containing overview of the basics;
  • PART 2 - click here to read the description & treatment
    of specific common diseases;

PART 1

The turtles should be examined by their keeper everyday.

Having a bunch of baby snapping turtles together, it is possible that one
of them will get bitten, and when that happens the other turtles just start
looking at the unfortunate one as nothing more than food and keep on at biting.
The injured animal should be removed from the tank right away and put
in a seperate enclosure - not only for the purpose of treating it, but
simply life saving.

Having just minor wounds , it should be soaked in the solution called
Sulfabath for about one hour, dried, have Rid Rot applied to the injured
areas and then dried again before being put in the seperate tank again.
( the Sulfa Bath and Rid Rot made by Tetra can be easily bought at the
local pet shop ).
This procedure should be done daily until the wounds become totally healed.

In case of infection , leaving the animal in the tank might
cause spreading of the desease onto other turtles.
There are two commonly acuring infections: the shell rot and the fangus infection. In both cases, the turtle should be promptly removed and closely examined. The infected with shell rot areas ahould be cleaned and the turtle treated the ame way as with minor wounds.

The same rules apply to the fungus infected animals.

The snapping turtles are very hardy animals, and in fact the mentioned above problems don't happen often.

Having noticed major wounds , there is nothing more for an average hobbyist to do but remove the turtle from the tank right away and take it to the knowing his ways around reptiles doctor.

It is a good idea to find the address of an animal clinic dealing with reptiles before buying your pet turtle.It might be handy
in case of emergency.


SHORT REFERANCE of COMMON TURTLE DISEASES

  1. Shell Rot
    • SYMPTOMS - parts of the bone of the shell deteriorated, often leaving the overlaying scutes intact;
    • DIAGNOSIS - shell rot;
    • REASON - poor quality and chemical unbalance of the water;
    • TREATMENT - the infected turtle should be removed from the tank and kept separated from other turtles. The damaged, cheese like, soft part of the shell removed and the area cleaned and dried. The turtle should be then soaked for about 1 hour in Sulfabath, dried, and after applaying Rid Rot full strength, dried again before returning to water.
      The procedure should be done once a day for about one week, after which the shell should slowly regenerate and eventually grow back to its original shape.
    • PREVENTION - keeping the water clean by installing proper filtration system and removal of waste. Check the Ph balance on a weekly basis, and correct it to the level between Ph6.6 and Ph6.8.
  2. Fungus Infection
    • SYMPTOMS - Whitish blotches on the skin;
    • DIAGNOSIS - fungus infection;
    • REASON - poor quality ( dirty ) and chemical unbalanced water, unsufficient basking;
    • TREATMENT - similar as the treatment for the shell rot. The infected animal should be removed from the tank at once and kept separated from other turtles. The turtle should be then soaked for about 1 hour in Sulfabath, dried, and after applaying Rid Rot full strength, dried again before returning to water.
      The procedure should be done once a day for about one week, during which the whitish patches should disappear and get gradually replaced with healthy skin.
      There might be scars left for a while, but the skin should regain its original color and patterns after a while. Only in most severe some scars might remain.
    • PREVENTION - keeping the water clean by installing proper filtration system and removal of waste. Check the Ph balance on a weekly basis, and correct it to the level between Ph6.6 and Ph6.8.
  3. Hypovitaminosis D
    • SYMPTOMS - deformed shell, like the haunchedback condition of soft-shelled turtles );
    • DIAGNOSIS - Hypovitaminosis D;
    • REASON - lack of Vitamin D3 resulting from not enough exposure to natural sunlight or its substitute ( full spectrum basking light ) which leads to The the turtles body not being able to produce needed quantities of this vitamin;
    • TREATMENT - if only possible, assure the turtles exposure to direct sunlight for at least an hour a day.
      Supply the turtle with alternative source of Vitamin D3, such as bone meal ( rich in Vit. D3 and calcium phosphate ). Sprinkle given to the turtle food with commercially available vitamin & mineral supplement for reptiles.
    • PREVENTION - give the turtles the vitamin & minerals supplement for reptiles with food regularly, like for example once a week. If basking not possible on an everyday basis, take the turtles outside " for a walk " on a sunny day now and then.
  4. Hypovitaminosis A
    • SYMPTOMS - swallen eyes, runny, " bubbling " nose; the turtle makes rasping noise when breathing; ubnormal skin peeling;
    • DIAGNOSIS - pneumonia, Hypovitaminosis A;
    • REASON - the turtle kept in damp cold environment, colder than its natural habitat; Vitamin A deficiency.
    • TREATMENT - move the turtle to a warm environment, supply the tank with submersible water heater. Supply the turtles food with vitamin & minerals supplement for reptiles and enrich it by giving some extra Vitamin A ( around 5000 Units per pound of body weight ) served with cod liver oil ( rich in Vit. A ).
      For tortoises, rinse the eyes with boric acid or weak solution of warm salt water. The infections around eyes should be treated with antibiotic ointments like Neomycin, 4 times a day.
    • PREVENTION - always check what is the turtles real natural environment like ( dry, moist, water temperature ), and maintain such environment in captivity. Supply the turtle with vitamin & minerals supplement for reptiles on a weekly basis.
  5. Salmonellosis
    • SYMPTOMS - the presence of Salmonella does not have an impact on the turtle itself, which is a carrier of this bacteria, but the symptoms in humans, if exposed to and infected, include fever, upset stomach and intestants, nausea, general weakness etc..
    • DIAGNOSIS - Salmonellosis;
    • REASON - if a turtle had been exposed to Salmonella it is likely to get infected. The carriers of the bacteria, Salmonella, include mostly other infected turtles, but also cats, dogs, birds and other animals kept by us as pets. The Salmonella can be also present in variety of raw foods sold at supermarkets, primarely raw chicken, but also beef, pork, fish, salads, cheese, ice cream etc., but also coins and banknotes. Once we become sick, it does not necesserily mean we've acquired it from our pet turtle, and having turtles as pets means not much more as only increasing the risk of becoming infected by Salmonella.
    • TREATMENT - the Salmonellosis can be serious or even fatal in children or elder people. Once having diveloped the simptoms similar to those typical to Salmonellosis, a person should seak help from a doctor who will test the petient for the disease and make a proper diagnosis and suggest treatment.
    • PREVENTION - on the turtles side, the best way to prevent Salmonella from spreading is maintaining their enclosures clean and refrain from feeding them with raw meats, especially chicken, of which the source and freshness are uncertain ( very fresh, raw or half cooked chicken meat is considered a delicacy in some countries, like Japan for example, and served on the dinner tables without any problems related to Salmonellosis ).
      For us, the best way of protecting ourselves from getting infected with Salmonella, is washing our hands whenever after the contact with our turtle pets ( no matter how much you love your turtle - don't kiss it ! ).
  6. Proteus infection
    • SYMPTOMS - turtle has trouble sinking in water or floats with one side much higher than the other, swallen feet.
    • DIAGNOSIS - Proteus infection;
    • TREATMENT - this condition is serious and if not treated fatal to the animal. The turtle should be taken to a doctor and given professional treatment.
  7. Hypovitaminosis B
    • SYMPTOMS - paralysis of the legs;
    • DIAGNOSIS - Hypovitaminosis B
    • REASON - Vitamin B12 deficiency;
    • TREATMENT - Supply the turtle with alternative source of Vitamin B12, such as bone meal ( also rich in calcium ). Sprinkle given to the turtle food with commercially available vitamin & mineral supplement for reptiles.
    • PREVENTION - give the turtles the vitamin & minerals supplement for reptiles with food on a regular basis ( once a week for example ).
  8. Lumps & Tumors
    • SYMPTOMS - hard, swallen lumps under the skin of the neck or limbs;
    • DIAGNOSIS - lump or tumor;
    • REASON - one of the reasons could be presence of pockets of maggots or other parasites;
    • TREATMENT - when close to the surface, the lumps can be often squeezed out. For the lumps situated deeper in the skin, an incision witha scalpel might be necessary, and then the content removed with forceps. The area should be cleaned and treated with Gentian Violet, or in other words treated like regular minor cuts or wounds.
    • PREVENTION - the enclosure should be maintained clean, covered with mesh to prevent any insects from entering and lying eggs. The turtles should be monitored and periodically examined for presence of any abnormalities in their skin, and treated promptly.
  9. External parasites
    • SYMPTOMS - presence of ticks, etc. attached to the turtles skin;
    • DIAGNOSIS - Infection with parasites;
    • REASON - turtles exposed to parasites infested environment, which could be the turtles dirty enclosure itself;
    • TREATMENT - the parasite should be treated with methylated alcohol and as soon as weakening their grip removed with tweezers. Any of the parasites shuld not be pulled away from the surface forcibily. In such case, a part of the insect might break off and left remaining in the turtles skin couse an infection.
    • PREVENTION - the enclosure should be maintained clean, covered with mesh to prevent any insects from entering and lying eggs. The turtles should be monitored and periodically examined for presence of any external parasites on their skin, and treated promptly if detected.
  10. Internal parasites
    • SYMPTOMS - usually hard to detect, but the turtle might pass visible worms;
    • DIAGNOSIS - Infection with parasites;
    • REASON - turtles exposed to parasites infested environment, which could be the turtles dirty enclosure itself;
    • TREATMENT - most of the internal parasites are not harmful to the turtle, however turtles passing visible parasites should be treated with piperazine addition to their drinking water. Infected freshwater turtles should be seperated from the rest at once and soaked in water containing the piperazine in daily sessions for a week.
    • PREVENTION - the enclosure should be maintained clean, covered with mesh to prevent any insects from entering and lying eggs. The turtles should be monitored and periodically examined and treated promptly if any parasites detected.
      Newly acquired turtles should be kept for a while in a seperate enclosure and soaked in weak water solution of piperazine in few sessions, before being introduced to the rest of the turtles. There are also commercially available " dewormers " and they also can be used.
More reading & related links:
 
        Basic snapping turtle info in one file - Introduction to snapping turtles.pdf (116 Kb)  

 


          
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