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Turtles/Red Eared slider in shock


QUESTION: I just cleaned my turtle cage today with Clorox. I rinsed it out well, so we'll that I was able to drink the water I put in to when I was done. When I was done fixing his cage back up I put my turtle in his cage. I left the room when I came back he was at the bottom not moving I picked him up and poked him he still wouldn't move. I ran cold water on him and still nothing. Then his nose started bleeding, I called petco they said my water was too hot it was at 86 degrees. My turtles nose his still bleeding and he won't move...I just got him in June he's not even a year yet and I don't know what to do

ANSWER: Hi Randa,

If you use bleach to clean a turtle tank, you should only use a solution of 10% bleach/water, then rinse very well.  Don't use straight bleach.  However, if you put him into water that was 86 degrees (I suspect it was probably hotter based on his symptoms, possibly much hotter), he may have become overheated.  At this point, what happened doesn't really matter, but a turtle with the symptoms you describe is in serious trouble.  All you can do is wait to see how he does.  I would remove him from the tank, put him in a small box with a folded towel, and then put him in a warm (NOT HOT--about 75-80 degrees), dark area and see if he perks up.  I'm afraid chances are he won't make it, but he could recover if given some time.

For future reference, tank water should be about 78 degrees.  Turtles can and do become overheated and can die.  They need a basking area where they can warm themselves, but the water isn't it.  If you can give me more information about how you have your turtle tank set up, I can help you make sure you have all conditions correct.  Also, pet stores aren't very good places to get turtle care advice.  In this instance, they were probably right about the water, but in general they will tell you to keep a RES in a 20 gallon tank, feed pellets only, etc.--none of which is correct.  Let me know how your turtle is doing in a few hours.

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Turtle cage
Turtle cage  
QUESTION: Ok thanks, I will do that. A big blood clot just came out of his nose and now he is tucked in his shell.his eyes are shut but I've noticed his skin like on his eyes are a purple color and same with on his legs.  If I put him  in the water he swims back to his rock and sits there, My tank has a rock area where he claims up on and sun basks, then I have a heater and then a thermometer . I have a filter and then two different lights. What are the chances that he/ she will live? What can I do to help it, and is his nose going to be ok? And then what should I do so this doesn't happen again.

ANSWER: The blood clot is a little concerning, but if there's no ongoing bleeding that's a good sign.  It's also a good sign that he's actually swimming and able to climb on his rock.  So I think he will be OK--before I thought you meant he wasn't moving at all.  I still would put him in a box out of the water for now and see how he does.  If you put a folded towel in he'll crawl into the fold and hide.  If for some reason he gets worse there's a chance of him drowning if he's in the tank, and that's why I'm suggesting the box.  

Your tank size looks more or less adequate for now, although I'd try to get him a bigger tank when you can.  RES need a lot of room, and an adult will need about a 100 gallon tank.  The filter should be able to handle twice the tank's capacity.  If your filter is undersized, it won't clean the water well and you'll need to do more cleaning, plus the turtle can develop skin/shell fungus or infections.  Your basking light looks OK, although a bigger basking area is better.  Is one of the lights a UVB bulb?  You don't need to have a basking/heat bulb over the water, just in the basking area itself.  Check to see that the basking temperature is 88-90 degrees, and then water temperature around 76.  

Let him rest in the dark for a few hours, and let me know how he's doing.

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Ok so I put him in a towel cuz I didn't have a box and I shut off the lights and I've been leaving him alone, he has been sleeping this hole time. But he still isn't very active or moving very much when I try to touch him or try to get him awake. When he opens his eyes he doesn't open them all he way. His nose has stopped  bleedingTomorrow I have school should I put him in his tank over night and tomorrow or not ? And do I try and feed him or not

He needs to be in some kind of enclosed area in case he recovers and starts crawling around--a plastic bin, cardboard box, drawer, anything like that.  If you don't have anything at all, put him in the bathtub (in the towel).  I would not put him back in the tank until you know for sure that he's OK, or at least much better.  Just make sure he's reasonably warm (not hot).  Don't even try feeding him--he won't eat in this condition anyway, and turtles have a lower metabolism than we do and don't have to eat every day.  He may not eat for several days to a week, so don't worry about that.  If you get a chance, let me know how he's doing in the morning or later tonight, but don't keep poking him to see how he's doing.  Checking every few hours is enough.  


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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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