General Care Discussion :: Dull shell??

Taking care of your turtle's overall health.

Post Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 2:24 pm   Dull shell??

Hi-
I adopted a slider from a co-worker at school several years ago. Since then, have given him better food, exercize, lights, filters, ect. He previously had no water, heat or love.

Since then however, I have noticed that his shell is dull and the scutes come off in flakes, not as whole scutes. I tried the Vitashell cream with no luck and am very concerned that something may be wrong. It seems that pictures of other RES shells show them shiney and not flakey.

Other than this he loves playing, swimming and basking and seems very healthy.

I am appreciative for any help that you have to offer.

-Nelson's new best-friend
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VaBatGirl
 
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Post Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 4:03 pm   

Sounds like shedding to me. Some turtles do not shed the entire scute, but thin layers of it. During shedding, the scutes are lifting and it become translucent, which gives off that dull coloring. But once that scute is off, it should be brighter than the last.
The Vitashell cream has a poor reputation by some keepers. Personally, I find it close to useless.
How long has this shedding been going on? Is he basking regularly?

27 Turtles. 6 Tortoises.
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JessicaTS
 
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Post Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2005 7:53 pm   

Welcome. :) I'd stay away from the Vitashell, especially if your turtle has a possible shell issue.

If your turtle was previously in less than ideal conditions, it's not surprising that his shell is not in the best of shape. With proper living conditions and diet, however, there should be eventual improvement. When you say the shell comes off in flakes, do you mean very tiny pieces? What does the shell look like underneath? Healthy?

He has both a UVB light and a heat lamp (just want to make sure)? How much does he bask?

What is he being fed? Does he have adequate calcium in his diet?

How hard is the tank water (does the water contain a lot of minerals)?

Posting a pic of the shell dry would be good...
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marisa
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Post Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2005 2:52 pm   

Just a thought---I'm also wondering about the Vitashell---how long had you used it? If it builds up over time, maybe some of the flaking is the Vitashell wearing off?
"You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." -Antoine de Saint Exupery-
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Post Posted: Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:37 pm   

I feed him dry food every other day (rotate between reptomin and Pretty Pets aquatic turtle food) and give him veggies every day. I have only used one small container of Vitashell so far, but will now avoid it.

The flakes that come off are very small. The shell underneath is healthy, but the entire scute always looks in rough shape since it is coming off in small flakes at various times. It almost seemed to look better before he was pampered as the scutes would come off whole, (although he had no light, water or heat).

He baskes alot, but irregularly. Sometimes alot in one day and then sometimes he stays in the water for days. I am thinking that he may need a bigger space to bask and walk around in as he is growing (he is 8.5 inches long:)!!

I have taken some pictures of the flakes, but do not know how to post them. Any ideas?
Thanks-Kate
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Post Posted: Sat Nov 12, 2005 3:42 pm   

His shell length is 8.5 inches not including the curve? A big boy. :) About how old is he? How big of a tank is he in? My RES will also go through days when he won't bask as much as others (at least from what I can see). Does he have proper lighting (UVB light and heat lamp)? He could, as you were thinking need a different/bigger/more accessible basking area. What is the basking area temp?

There's a sticky somewhere on this site for how to post pictures. I'd like to see some. :)
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marisa
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Post Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 2:39 pm   

Thank you so much for helping me. He really is a big dude, and full of love. I was so surprised at how much personality they have. (I have been told that he is actually a red-bellied hybrid--not sure if that makes a difference with the shell.)

I was finally able to post pictures: Image
and
Image

He does have a UVB and heat lamp. I just changed heat bulbs as the other burned out, but this shell problem has been going on since I adopted him. It pains me that his shell was better off when he was ignored.

He gets a cuttle bone for calcium. His tank is 3' by 1' with 9 inches of water for swimming and a dock which is 1' by 1'. I think he needs more room. He grew so fast!! The 8.5 inches is without the curve. I have been told that he is 14 now. (give or take a year)

His old home was less than half the size and only 1 inch of water. In the summers he has a child swimming pool and big basking area that I built in the spare bedroom, but it is too drafty in the winter months

Water temp is 80 and basking area is 85. I think the new heat bulb is only 20 watts, smaller than the previous.


PS- I have been reading through the posts and while his new (2 years) tank is twice as large as his last, it seems like it still is not big enough. Any thoughts on where to get one?? I bought the biggest I could find in town...
Thanks!
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Post Posted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 8:31 pm   

It's possible to get a used tank (cheaper) through classifieds, thrift shops (the Salvation Army in the town next to mine had a nice 55 gallon one with a screen for $50.00), garage sales. Try also www.craigslist.org or www.freecycle.org You may not find one, or it may a while, but it wouldn't hurt to be on the lookout...

My RES is almost 6.5 inches long and I keep him in a 110-gallon stock tank that I got for around $45.00. It's wonderfully roomy, easy to clean and strong. A few months ago I found a 100-gallon stock tank in the classifieds for $10.00. You might consider one of these as well. (For either a regular tank or a stock tank, you're ideally looking at at least a 90-gallon one.)

I'd try to up the basking area a few degrees, to 88-90F to see if that doesn't encourage him to bask more.

You said his shell has gotten worse since you've had him. It could be that it's looking worse because you have given him a much better habitat and now he is growing, where he wasn't before. Sometimes these things look worse before they get better...

Even though this link is directed at tortoise shells, read toward the bottom and you'll find some info about aquatic turtles and their shells. http://www.turtlestuff.com/shellcare.html Perhaps giving him an occasional "bath" would help him slough off any old scutes or pieces.

I can't see your pics from the computer I'm on at the moment, but will look at them when I can get to one where I can. Thanks for posting them. :)
"You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." -Antoine de Saint Exupery-
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Post Posted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:37 am   

THANKS!!

I really, really appreciate all of your help. I will definately check out the link and start looking for another tank. Since I have first posted he has not basked, at least not that I have seen and he isn't shy at all, so I will up the temp ASAP. I have also checked out some other forums on thermometers and will upgrade the water heater as well.

I am so glad I found this site :) Thanks again, from the both of us.
Kate
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~Ralph Waldo Emerson
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VaBatGirl
 
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Post Posted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:22 pm   

I'm looking that the pics you posted (can finally see them) and the shell actually looks worse than I had imagined. He didn't have this when you got him and this has occurred over the several years you've had him? I'm also wondering what those reddish areas are (the one in the second pic on the lower right is most visible). Is this part of his pattern since he's a hybrid?

How long has it been since you stoppped using the Vitashell? I'm also wondering what the name of the UVB light you're using is and how often you replace it.
"You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." -Antoine de Saint Exupery-
marisa
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Post Posted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:45 pm   

When I first got him, his shell was smooth and shiney and scutes came off in entire pieces. Then I added a light to the really small tank with no water and a couple of dry patches appeared (because he couldn't get underwater...my ignorance). I contacted the local pet shop and got the big tank, UVB, and heat bulb. He said to use the Vitashell. I used it every other week (maybe?? maybe less) to help him heal. And the flakes have been like this ever since he got a tank he could swim in. For the first year he was at school (city water) and for the second year at my home (well water). And there has been no difference when I changed water sources.

The light is Repti-Glo 5.0. I have never changed it. Didn't know I needed to.

This is his setup when I got him. Image

The red marks are really beautiful sunburst stripes, that you can hardly see now because of the flakes. In this picture, his shell looked that shiney and smooth naturally.

I am really begining to freakout. Is he OK? Should I go to the vet?? The shell is hard, no soft spots, but flakey all over. I stopped using the Vitashell last month, but really didn't use it often. One small container over the 2 years.
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Post Posted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 2:01 pm   

A UVB light loses strength over time as it's used, until it will emit no UVB rays, even though the light will continue to work. Most have to/should be replaced every six months. If you've been using that same light for that amount of time or longer without changing it, it's definitely time to. You're using a tube flourescent? When you replace it, get a Reptisun, a 5.0 or even better a 10.0 (they're newer). Also, I don't know if you know this, but there shouldn't be any barrier between the light and the basking turtle (no plastic or glass cover, for example).

Be wary of advice from petstores. If it were me, I think I'd have him examined by a herp vet. If you've made those good changes in his habitat and diet, perhaps the vet will also say that an improvement will take time. Or, perhaps he can pick up something from what you tell him that will help improve the shell even faster. I would have him seen, though. (There's a sticky in the Urgent Care forum as well as info on the site with links to herp vets if you don't have one for him). Let us know the outcome.
"You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." -Antoine de Saint Exupery-
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Post Posted: Thu Nov 24, 2005 12:31 pm   

Sorry to be so tardy in responding.

I finally got him into the vet. The herp vet had moved on to work with the State, but I was told that the partner had herp experience, just not certified, so I thought I would give it a chance.

He had three thoughts. The first two were just "maybe"s
1) have my water checked (prob not that since he was also at school half of the time)
2) change his diet. Doc had mentioned chicken or feeder fish. I was told that red-bellied sliders were vegetarian?? Also, I beleived that he got enough protein from his two kinds of pellets?? Any thoughts on this?

The third, he felt was most likely the culprit.
3) Not enough basking time.
He wants me to adjust the dock so that he has more "beachfront property" and it is easier to get into. And given his previous basking (actually only basking, no swimming) situation before I got him, I am also leaning toward this.

However, I am trying to figure out how to fix the dock and have no idea. I will try to post a pic. It is currently braced with a PVC pipe frame since he was so heavy, it would never really list him out of the water. He got weighed...and is over 3 pounds!!! We also found out that other than the dull shell there is nothing wrong with him. It is not fungus, bac, minerals, deficeincey, soft....Everything else is great!

I think what I ultimately need is a MUCH bigger tank, so I can build a grade or ramp for him to walk up. But in the meantime.....

Thank you SO MUCH for your help and happy holidays!
All the thoughts of a turtle are turtle.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
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VaBatGirl
 
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Post Posted: Fri Nov 25, 2005 12:59 pm   

He may need more basking time, but make sure it's under a new UVB light as well as the heat lamp. (I'd switch to a Reptisun rather than continue to use the Reptiglo.)

I'd give any chicken or feeder fish sparingly (and for feeder fish, it's better to give guppies or minnows rather than gold fish).
"You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." -Antoine de Saint Exupery-
marisa
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