Sick Turtle Symptoms and Treatments


Turtles are often thought of as low-maintenance pets, but they can actually be quite demanding. Proper care and housing are essential for keeping turtles healthy and happy. turtles need a warm, humid environment and plenty of space to swim and bask. They also need a diet of fresh, raw vegetables and high-quality turtle food. With proper care, turtles can make great pets.

The turtle is not eating

A variety of factors might lead turtles to stop eating, but the most frequent is exposure to cold water. Some turtles stop eating when the temperature falls below 20°C, and virtually all turtles stop eating when the temperature falls below 18°C. If your turtle does not seem to be hungry, the first thing you should do is check the temperature. If this is too low, you may need to purchase an aquarium heater or, at the very least, relocate the turtle tank to a warmer place.


If the temperature is not an issue, the turtle may have stopped eating owing to another kind of stress. A turtle that has just been transferred to a new tank may not eat for a few days while it adjusts. In this instance, it is preferable to disrupt the turtle as little as possible in order for it to acclimate. To begin, feed the turtle in the tank and lure it with dry shrimp or frozen bloodworms if it is hesitant to eat.
A turtle may also stop eating if it becomes unwell for any cause, such as fungus or a cold. Check the turtle for any additional symptoms and refer to the appropriate parts of this FAQ; otherwise, contact us or take your turtle to a knowledgeable shop owner or doctor. At our retail showroom, we are always delighted to evaluate turtles. Keep in mind that not all veterinarians and pet shops specialize in turtles, so we suggest doing your research beforehand.

The turtle spends a lot of time out of the water

The amount of time turtles spend out of water varies greatly, but if a turtle starts spending considerably more time out of the water than normal, or if it spends almost all of its time out of the water, it is a clue that the turtle may have fungus.


The fungus often appears as solid white lumps around the turtle’s toes and eyes, which are difficult to remove. Examine the turtle carefully for symptoms of fungus and treat it as needed. Even if no fungus is found, the fact that the turtle spends so much time out of the water indicates that it is unhappy. We propose doing a water change and adding a little amount of rock or sea salt (5g/l is optimal). A half dosage of anti-fungal medicine, if available, may also be added.
Keep an eye on the turtle to ensure that it does not acquire fungus.

The turtle never comes out of the water

Because turtles will not come out of the water if they feel threatened, some turtles will not come out while somebody is around. These should still be given a place to rest in case they need it, as well as some space out of the water since they may emerge if left alone.


The turtle does not need to spend much time out of the water, although it is undoubtedly advantageous. Take your turtle out of the aquarium for 10 to 15 minutes each week to ensure it gets some fresh air.

White lumps appear on the toes or around the eyes

If the lumps are firm and cannot be readily removed by hand, they are a typical indicator of fungus and should be treated right once. If the white stuff comes off easily, it might be lost skin, which is normal and does not need treatment. Remove what you can gently to verify that the lost skin is not concealing a fungal infestation. If the toes are pale but without visible lumps, the turtle may have bitten them while eating (a not uncommon occurrence). Make sure the water is clean and do a water change if required to avoid infection of the afflicted region. As a prophylactic measure, add 5g of rock or sea salt per liter. Injured regions may be painted with either an aquarium anti-fungal treatment or betadiene. Remove the turtle from the water for a few minutes and gently wipe it dry with a towel or tissue before painting the afflicted region. Examine the turtle for any symptoms of fungal development and treat it as needed.


If you feel your turtle has fungus but are uncertain, we suggest consulting with a turtle specialist.

The body is covered with a white flakey substance

Turtles lose their skin in pieces as they mature. The shed skin is white and may cover almost the whole body. Shed skin often resembles fungus in appearance, but unlike fungus, shed skin is readily removed from the turtle’s skin by hand. With practice, you will be able to tell the difference between lost skin and fungus by sight, but if you are doubtful, remove the turtle from the water and carefully remove what you can from the white stuff. If any lumps persist that are difficult to remove, you should treat them for fungus.


If you feel your turtle has fungus but are uncertain, we suggest consulting with a turtle specialist.

The shell is soft and bends at the edges

A calcium-deficient diet is the most prevalent cause of soft shells. It might also be caused by a turtle having difficulty absorbing calcium from its food owing to a lack of vitamin D. Feed your turtle a specialist turtle meal that has lots of calcium and typically enough vitamin D. A turtle may be unable to metabolize vitamin D from diet and must be exposed to sunshine in order to produce usable vitamin D. Proper aquarium illumination, or frequent brief periods (10 to 15 minutes every few days until the shell hardens, then once per week) in natural sunshine, should solve this issue.


Remember not to put the turtle in direct sunlight, and use caution on really hot days!

The plates of the shell are peeling off

It is natural for turtles to lose their shell plates as they mature. These should peel neatly away, revealing a fresh, well-formed plate underneath. If they do not dislodge, the shell will become lumpy and uneven, which, although not a severe issue, puts the turtle at increased risk of shell diseases.


Allow the turtle to spend some time out of the water (approximately 10 to 15 minutes) each week to allow the shell to dry off. When you observe the plates beginning to peel off the turtle, pull it out and do this. If the temperature is chilly, let the turtle out for a little longer – until the top of the shell is completely dry.


You may gently tug on the plates to assist them to come off, but do not push them.

The legs are puffy and pink underneath

This is frequently an indication of vitamin inadequacy, which may be caused by either a poor diet or the turtle’s inability to absorb enough vitamin D. Make sure to give your turtle a specialist turtle food that is high in calcium and has all of the vital vitamins and minerals. A turtle may be unable to metabolize vitamin D from diet and must be exposed to sunshine in order to produce usable vitamin D. Proper aquarium lighting or frequent brief periods (10 to 15 minutes every few days until the puffiness subsides, then once per week afterward) in natural sunshine might alleviate this issue.
Remember not to put the turtle in direct sunlight, and use caution on really hot days.

The underside of the shell is pink

This may be caused by the turtle scratching itself on the aquarium gravel or rocks, which is not a reason for worry, but it can also be an indication of an internal illness, most typically from an untreated fungal infection. If this is the case, the turtle will frequently exhibit additional symptoms, such as listlessness and a lack of appetite. Treatment is tough and not usually effective. Details may be found here. Pink beneath the shell may also indicate a vitamin shortage.

There are small dark cavities in the shell

Parasites may attack the turtle’s shell on occasion. This is unusual, but more prevalent if the water quality is poor or the shell is fragile or malformed. The parasites should be eliminated by carefully scraping out the cavity using sterilized tiny tweezers or a needle. (Pass over a hot flame or soak in alcohol) Wherever possible, water quality should be enhanced. For each liter of water, add 5g of rock or sea salt and a half dosage of aquarium anti-fungal medicine. Allow the turtle to spend some time out of the water to help with shell building and to ensure suitable food is being provided.

The turtle seems to be wheezing and having trouble breathing

Turtles, like many other animals, may acquire a cold! To check your turtle’s respiration, take it out of the water and hold it near your ear (but not too close!) while listening for wheezing.

If you suspect your turtle has a cold, get it examined by a professional.

The turtle is commonly treated by keeping it in warm (24 – 26°C) shallow water with 10g rock or sea salt per liter. To ensure that any illness does not worsen, add some aquarium anti-bacterial medicine.

The nails are missing from some of the toes

Turtles may bite their feet while feeding, or in the case of many turtles, one turtle may nip at another. Although toes may not always come back, this is not the reason for alarm. The most essential thing is to keep the wounded area from becoming infected. You may do this by using an aquarium anti-fungal medicine or betadiene on the afflicted region. Remove the turtle from the water for a few minutes and gently wipe it dry with a towel or tissue before painting. Adding 5g of sea or rock salt per liter will also aid in infection prevention. Examine the turtle for any symptoms of fungal development and treat it as needed.

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