Caring for Your Turtle Pet: Common Health Issues in Pet Turtles

If you don’t have much experience with chelonian ownership, you might not even know that your turtle has a health issue. Your pet turtle does a good job of masking the initial signs and symptoms of illnesses and diseases, which is the main reason why you might miss them. In the wild, turtles must do this to blend in with their surroundings and not stand out to hungry predators that go for the weak and sick. It can be challenging to recognize when your pet may not be feeling well because of this defense mechanism. When you finally notice a problem, your turtle has likely been suffering from the disease or ailment for some time.

First Signs of a Health Problem

These are the most typical warning signs of a health issue:

  • Strange behaviors that aren’t typical of your pet turtle
  • Excessive soaking or pacing
  • Green feces, urates, and/or diarrhea
  • Anorexia or loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Discharge from the mouth or nares
  • Partially closed or puffy eyes

What are the common diseases or illnesses of pet turtles?

Common conditions of pet turtles include:

  • Vitamin A deficiency

When turtles are fed an unsuitable diet, they develop vitamin A deficiency, a condition also known as hypovitaminosis A. The most common causes of hypovitaminosis A in turtles fed on an all-meat diet, iceberg lettuce, and low-quality commercial diets. The epidermis, or the top layer of skin, as well as the membranes and glands that produce mucus and line the eyes, mouth, upper respiratory tract, and kidneys, undergo changes as a result of vitamin A deficiency. Lethargy, a lack of appetite, swollen eyelids (usually with a pus-like discharge), swollen ears (from the development of an ear abscess), respiratory infections, and kidney failure are some of the symptoms of this condition.

  • Abscesses

This condition causes infected and pus-filled swellings in body tissues to appear anywhere on the skin or inside the body of the pet. Reptile pus typically has the consistency and texture of cottage cheese and is extremely dry and thick. Abscesses frequently form in the turtle ears, and they manifest as obtrusive swellings behind the eyes. A vitamin A deficiency is often responsible for turtle abscesses.

  • Gastrointestinal parasites

Roundworms and other parasites are frequently found in pet turtles. In several cases, parasitic infections go undetected until a routine fecal examination reveals them. Parasites may result in weight loss or diarrhea in cases of severe infection and may need to be treated.

  • Infected shells

These are frequently observed in turtles and are brought on by parasites, fungi, or bacteria. The infections frequently develop as a result of bites, burns, or trauma. Some of the infections have the potential to extend deeply into the bone below, leading to ulcers, pitting of the shell, or deep penetration into its layers.

If you suspect that your pet isn’t feeling well, you should seek the services of a vet for a proper assessment and treatment.

Do you need a turtle as a pet but have not yet acquired one? Let Allan’s Pet Center help you acquire one for yourself. Please talk to us so we can help you get a healthy pet.

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