How to Recognize Turtle Disease Symptoms

Learn to recognize signs that your pet turtle is sick from veterinarian Alix Wilson in this Howcast video.

So when I’m examining a turtle looking for signs of disease, there are a few things that I’m paying attention to. One would be the eyes of the turtle. A common thing we see especially in aquatic turtles would be that the eyelids are swollen and red. The eyes are actually unable to open. That’s actually what happened to this guy. That’s how he presented to our hospital a few weeks ago. This is a map turtle. You can see his eyes look much better now, but that’s because he was treated with some vitamin A and some antibiotics.

The other thing we look at, of course, is the quality of the shell. You can see his shell is peeling a little bit. It’s not completely symmetrical. So, again, this to me means that he was probably not cared for properly before coming to us. The other thing you want to look out for would be any type of nasal discharge. Any type of bubbling or liquid coming from the nose, that can be a sign of pneumonia and that is, with respiratory problems, they’re something we see fairly regularly.

Also, when you’re looking at the shell, in addition to looking for symmetry or the condition of the top layer of the shell, we’re also looking for soft or discolored areas. That could indicate shell rot or a bacterial or fungal infection of the shell. We’re also assessing the skin, again looking for red spots or any abnormalities in the color of the skin.

Some of the most common problems we see with reptiles are actually secondary to not receiving proper care at home. Again, it’s very important that they are provided adequate heat, ultraviolet light, and a proper diet, and a clean enclosure or they can get very sick.