What Does That Look Like - Pictures of Chelonian Diseases

You may click on any thumbnails to see a larger image.

Fish Hook

This melanistic male Red-eared Slider came to GCTTS Summer 2004 by someone who found him on a road. He was not hit by a car but we suspect he had an encounter with a fishing hook sometime in his past. His injury was healed as much as it was going to heal. We kept him a few days to make sure he could eat without problem, then we released him back into the wild.

Flaky Shell - bacteria

This River Cooter had been fed nothing but shrimp for several years. Sometimes crustations like shrimp and crawfish carry a bacteria that can infect the shells of turtles. We believe this is what happened to this turtle. Her shell was generally flaky all over. After treatment with injectable antibiotics her shell improved. She may have had a fungal infection also. Sometimes the old scutes have to shed before total improvement is seen.

Shell Rot

This Central American Wood Turtle (Rhinoclemmys pulcherrima) was kept a long time in unclean conditions and fed an improper diet. She therefore developed bacterial shell rot in her plastron. Note the unsymetrical slightly yellow spots under the text in the first photo. Shell rot can be hard to detect sometimes. Suspicious areas such as these are scraped and cleaned out by an experienced rehabber or vet and the turtle is started on injectable antibiotics. The second photo is the same turtle a number of weeks later after the areas were cleaned out and healing started to occur.



Here are some more examples of bacterial shell rot. These were all treated with injectable antibiotics from the vet and recovered.

This turtle we named Sweetie, came in with severe bacterial shell rot. After being treated twice with two different injectable antibiotics, she started to heal. She is being wintered over inside which will allow her to heal thoroughly. All the raw area has to fill back in with healthy bone.

Here is additional information from another site:

  Turtle Puddle

Click on these thumbnails to see what fungal infections look like . On the box turtles it's the whitish sanded looking areas. Sometimes it occurs in small areas and sometimes covers most of the shell top or bottom.

Here is a female 3-Toed Box turtle that had her rear margins chewed off by a dog. She was treated topically and with injectable antibiotics and recovered fine. Her margins will never look normal.

So you can recognize shell deformaties due to nutritional imbalances and/or insufficient UVB rays, here are several examples. Some are more pronounced than others. Look for lumpy areas (pyramiding) covering all or part of the shells. Some may have curled margins and beak deformaties also.

This male Texas Tortoise, not native to the Houston area, arrived with several unusual areas. We can only speculate what caused them: age, wear, old injuries, etc. Could the wear on his rear margin be from other males mounting him over the years to express their dominance?

We received this adult female Red-eared Slider in August 2005 from the SPCA. Her history was unknown. We believe she probably was an ill-cared for pet. Her shell is damaged from what looks like a long term bacterial infection. She had some areas, which were removed, that contained a layer of dead bone. Most scutes were flaking 2 and 3 layers deep. Note the two light soft, spots on her plastron where the infection is the worst. She is also pyramided from poor nutrition and/or lack of sunlight. We do not know why the one bridge is missing. In spite of all this, this turtle is very active and has a good appetite!

The two photos on the right were taken in April of 2006. Her infections cleared and haven't returned. She's doing great now.

If you have a pet snapping turtle this fat, please contact us and get some diet information! Obese turtles can develop major organ damage and have a shortened lifespan. This common snapper had been a pet for a number of years and had been fed too much too often before it was turned over to GCTTS. The ruler in the second photo is 24 inches long.

The photos of this turtle are rather graphic. They were taken post mortem.

This turtle was not with us long but we named her anyway- Sandy. She was found on Galveston beach with sea gulls pecking on her carapace. She had a crack on one bridge area that looked like an injury due to being hit by a car. It is unknown how she ended up in salt water. She only lived a couple days after coming to GCTTS.

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