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Turtles/Eastern painted turtle w/growth problem


I have had an Eastern Painted turtle for several years. He was very small when I got him and he was already pyramiding. His shell now measures only 3". I saw tonight that his body seems to be bulging out of his shell openings. Could he be outgrowing it because of his deformity or are there other explanations for a swollen body? He is eating and appears to be active enough. I would like to know your thoughts on this. I like him a lot and would not want him to be in a lot of pain. Thank you,  Sarah

Hi Sarah,

Could you post a clear picture or two?  Turtles don't typically pyramid the way tortoises can, so it sounds like there is actually some kind of shell deformity/stunting that has gone on.  This is often caused by improper diet and/or lack of UVB, which will cause improper growth.  Can you give me more information on how you have him set up--tank size, filter, temperatures, kind of UVB bulb, and complete diet.  I can help better if I have more information.

If the shell hasn't grown properly, that can cause the body to appear to be bulging out of the shell, but turtles can also become obese if overfed (so information about his diet/feeding would help).  Obviously an overweight turtle isn't good, but it's something that can be corrected.  Shell deformity can't be fixed, but the tank conditions can be improved so it doesn't get worse.  If you could post back with additional information (and pictures if possible), I can give you better advice on what to do.


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Questions regarding husbandry of Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean species, sulcata, and redfoot tortoises; general tortoise and turtle care; box turtle care. If I can't answer a specific question, I can provide sources for further research. Disclaimer: My advice is not a substitute for vet care. If I think your tortoise/turtle has a specific medical condition or injury that warrants a vet visit, I'll tell you so, and if possible I'll help you locate a vet. It is neither legal nor ethical for me to provide veterinary advice.


I have kept and bred Russian tortoises for over ten years and have other Mediterranean species plus redfoots and box turtles. I've worked with other tortoise and turtle species while doing volunteer rescue work; mostly sulcata but some leopards, California desert tortoises, yellowfoots, all box turtle species, red-eared sliders, etc. I don't personally keep aquatic species, but have access to a wealth of information and research to help you with any questions you might have.

My knowledge is based on hands-on experience keeping, breeding, and working with tortoises and turtles.

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