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Reptiles/juvenile painted


QUESTION: Nova ate real well for three months... mostly repto-min pellets.
Started to slow down in eating only... wanted only shrimp delight treat... got flukers buffet... still wont eat but acts hungry... just gave him 2 repto=min pellets in his tank and he ate each small piece until got totally frightened and ran off and hid. he seemed like he thought I hurt him... could he be hurting? help please.

ANSWER: I can help with a little trouble-shooting.

First, what are your temperatures?  Look up a good care sheet, such as one on Austins Turtle Pages, and check your setup to make sure everything is right.  The water needs to be very clean to keep a turtle healthy - it has to be changed very often, even if you use a good filter.  It should never be murky, or have any odor.

Be sure the turtle has a dry basking area, and a UVB and heat lamp (Mercury-Vapor are best, as they do both UVB and heat).

Check for any signs of illness or infection - cloudy eyes, frequent gaping or respiratory sounds, runny nose, fungal growth.  Loss of appetite is often the first sign of illness in reptiles.

Running and hiding is normal.  That's what they do when startled.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your response.  The setup is according to the care sheet.  
Nova is not eating like he did... and he runs after he eats a pellet or two... this behavior is unusual for him ... also I noticed a white watery substance floating and his pooping process seems to have stopped.  Please help...
Thank you Donna...

Which care sheet are you using?  (Pet store care sheets are most often wrong, so it's important to be sure you got the sheet from a reputable turtle care site).

Less eating means less pooping.  The white, chalky substance is urates, another way their body has of handling urination - both reptiles and birds process waste this way.  

If everything in your setup is correct, next evaluate stress. Have you recently moved, or given him a different enclosure?  Has he been handled?  Has anything else in his environment changed?

If the answer to the above is no, it's time to take him to an experienced reptile vet for a checkup.  You should bring a fecal sample as well, so he can be checked for internal parasites.


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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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