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Reptiles/Need advise on sick hatchling turtle (treatment)


I have a diamondback terrapin hatchling turtle less than 1.5 inches SCL.  Yesterday I noticed the turtle breathing heavily while basking for a few moments.  Otherwise the turtle appears healthy, swimming and eating normally.  From my experience these symptoms could be early signs of a respiratory infection.  Before I take the turtle to a vet, do you know if a turtle this small can be successfully treated with antibiotics?  What risks are involved?  Survival rates?  I did increase temperatures within the enclosure, are there any other remedies I can do before seeing a vet?  Thank you Donna.

Tiny reptiles can be successfully treated with antibiotics - just seek out an experienced reptile vet.  I don't specifically know survival rates for baby turtles, but a reptile RI caught and treated early is almost always survivable.  If the vet is experienced and uses the correct meds in the correct dose, risk is low.

If the turtle is swimming and eating normally, a respiratory infection is much less likely.  I'd just keep an eye on him. :)  If you see the throat looking swollen, and the mouth open behavior is repeated, take him in.

You've already done everything you should do at home.  Take care that temps are not increased TOO much - overheating is stressful.


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Donna Fernstrom


My particular focus is on snakes and lizards, but I have a decent smattering of knowledge of turtles and crocodilians as well, plus the experience to get relevant information quickly if I don't have it on hand in my brain. I can answer questions on captive care, diet, breeding, incubation of eggs, starting hatchlings, and more. I am particularly experienced with ball pythons, Lygodactylus geckos and other small lizards with similar care requirements, leopard geckos, and garter snakes.


I am a professional breeder of ball python morphs, Lygodactylus (dwarf) geckos, and mourning geckos. I have begun working with Irian Jaya carpet pythons, and plan to expand to include more gecko species in the future. I also have a background breeding leopard geckos, and have kept several other species of small lizards, snakes, and a water turtle.

Nebraska Herpetological Society (

I have many care sheets published on my own website.

High School Graduate. Extensively self-taught due to high interest in wildlife and reptile care.

Awards and Honors
Fauna Classifieds board of inquiry Good Guy Certification

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