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History of Curing a Turtle's Shell

PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 12:20 am
by SpotsMama
I'm going to post a complete history of the shell problems Spot has had and how they were eventually cured because it is such a common problem. I hope it helps turtles in the future.

For the past several years, starting long before I joined this forum, I worried about Spot's shell since it was obvious something was wrong. Until I got on this forum, it just slowly and steadily worsened. I think the problem was fungus and retained scutes caused by poor diet, inadequate lightening, never drying out, high ph and water not clean enough. It started with a few white spots on his carapace and they spread and spread. He never shed scutes.

I corrected all the habitat and diet problems and lowered the ph last year. I saw small improvements last summer and early fall when he basked outside in natural sun, then progress pretty well ceased when I brought him inside.

In January, he got a better light and I started dry docking him periodically and washing him with hibiclense and he started improving again. By improving, I mean thick layers of white shell peeled off and healthy shell was underneath. It was very very slow.

This summer, while he basked again under natural sun, most of the remaining fungus and retained scutes peeled off. But new white patches appeared that looked very much like the beginning of fungus as it had started years ago. The white patches were as visible when the shell was wet as they were when it was dry.

Spot had been living in his outside pond for around six weeks when I found that he had slightly injured his plastron. There were a half dozen small red dots on it. His basking rock was apparently too rough and the problem was exacerbated by extremely wet weather - he wasn't able to dry off for days at a time.

I took him to a good herp vet two weeks ago (JULIE CHABIRA, PRESTON ROAD ANIMAL HOSPITAL, DALLAS) and she prescribed Nolvasan soaks, Silver Sulfadiazine salve and lots of dry docking (much more than I had done in the past). Not only did the treatments cure the problems on the plastron - BUT THE SILVER SULFADIAZINE COMPLETELY - COMPLETELY - CURED THE NEW FUNGUS INFECTION ON HIS CARAPACE. Any turtle with a fungus infection on the shell should get this stuff. It's a miracle drug and it's fast.

Here's a photographic history:

January 2007


March 2007


May 2007


May 2007


June 2007 (retained scutes around margin)


June 2007 (some signs of recurring fugus infection)

August 2007 (perfect carapace - not fugus, no retained scutes)


August 2007 (perfect plastron except for remains of red dot injuries)


PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 12:28 am
by Tenodera
WOW! Big Spot is looking so much better!!

What a dramatic change!!

PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 12:37 am
by SpotsMama
It IS dramatic! I'm going to get a better photo of his carapace in the morning. I accidently got a video this afternoon instead of a photo and it really doesn't do his beautiful carapace justice.

PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 7:16 pm
by Turtle_Turtle
his shell looks soo much better and nice looking

PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 8:39 pm
by Safdar
Wow that looks wonderfull
What an improvement

PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 3:27 am
by steve
He looks great! The rocks must be going crazy over him! Can you post some close ups, similar to the June pics?

PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 3:37 am
by Tenodera
Thinking of using those photos for the benefit of turtle kind? lol

PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 3:44 am
by steve
I've gone through something similar but a bit more severe. And those closeups really captured the thin keratin layers well, I'd like to see how looks.

PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 2:34 pm
by industrial_girl_2000
Wow Spotsmama, he looks REALLY good!!! All that TLC has helped him make a wonderful recovery.

I have seen similar positive changes in Sheba's shell since I joined on this website 1.5 yrs ago & started feeding her veggies/fruits, less protein, & a better UV light. She didn't have the fungus issues like Spot did, but her shell had the calcium spots & the belly portion of her shell didn't peel very well. Within a year, the entire top part of her shell had shed, revealing her lovely copper/brown shell underneath.

Just yesterday, her entire belly part of shell shed *completely* (pieces of shell just lifted right off!). It was like 10 layers all came off in THICK pieces, and now her belly is it's perfect black color (Sheba is completely black pattern like some of the other turtles on this board). I was really happy about that.

The right care really makes a difference! :)

PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 4:38 pm
by SpotsMama
Aren't they BEAUTIFUL when their shells are healthy? I can't stop looking at Spot's glossy carmel rippled shell, and I love his papaya plastron.

(I must be hungry)

You'll have to post pictures of Sheba's black plastron! it sounds very pretty! I thought she looked like a giant polished pecan (again, the food allusion) in those pictures of her carapace that you posted a little bit ago.

PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 11:14 pm
by oobie58
The results are amazing. you take really good care of your turtle. the shell is just outstanding.


PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 11:23 pm
by kaimarion
Nice work SpotsMama , thats some improvement in his shell :) hes well looked after.

PostPosted: Mon Aug 13, 2007 11:50 pm
by haimish321
how did u get ur turtle soo healthy and pretty

PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 1:43 am
by SpotsMama
Haimish, it took over a year. Everything had to be corrected - water cleanliness, diet, light, basking. Then came washing him down with antiseptics and lots of dry docking. Finally, the remaining fungus was knocked out with silver sulfadiazine, which is a perscription salve. I'm convinced everything has to be right to make a healthy shell, and then it takes time.

PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:04 am
by Kallistos
Gosh for a year there's such gradual improvement. Then, bam in 8 weeks it's like a new shell!