Common Health Problems
Commentary and pictures by Susan Horton, DVM
So many of the health problems we see with turtles
and tortoise are related to improper environment or feeding.
Please research your specific breed's requirements
carefully. I recommend UVB light for all turtles and
Pictured here are some problems I see in
practice. If you recognize one of these problems in your
turtle or tortoise , set up an appointment with us today!
Pictured below is redness found around the edges
of the shell and where the skin and shell meet. This is a
sign of severe infection.
Pictured below is one of the more common problems
I see. It is an aural (ear) abscess. These can form
from either infection, vitamin A deficiency, or both. Fixing
the problem involves correcting the diet, treating the infection,
and removing the caseation (puss) in the ear canal.
With anesthesia and proper pain control
(analgesia) the caseation is removed. The turtles
pictured below and above made full recoveries.
Pictured below are a variety of prolapsed
hemipenes. The hemipene is a copulatory locking organ for
reproduction found in the male. In turtles and tortoises, it
does not contain the urethra. The prolapse can happen for
several reasons ranging from MBD, trauma, infection, to
cancer. Most of these prolapses can be completely fixed if
they come into the hospital as soon as it happens. If to
much time passes, as with the second picture, amputation is the
below is a turtle with a pocket of fluid under the skin. We
call this edema. This is what a burn can look like in a
turtle that has come into contact with something hot. In
this case, the turtle's enclosure was placed outside in the sun,
and most of the water had evaporated. The floor of the
enclosure became to hot.
and tortoises should always be protected from the family dog or
any other outside predators, no matter how big the tortoise
is. This poor fellow was attacked by the family dog.
See happy turtle stories
for shell repair examples.
seen a lot of Tortoise Herpes virus lately. The Mediterranean
tortoises seem most susceptible, but it can appear in many
species. There is good medicine if it is caught early
on. Pictured below is a Sulcata with tortoise herpes.
The classic sign is white plaques in the oral cavity. It is
only contagious to turtles, people need not worry about
ill turtles may need to stay in the hospital. Pictured below
is a turtle with a feeding tube placed in his esophagus.
This tube is helpful when medicine and feeding will be needed for
a long time.
will continue to post pictures here from time to time.
Please call us if you have any
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