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Turtles/RES not eating


QUESTION: Hello. I have two RES about 8 years old. Each of them has their own pond ( 'cause one really annoys the other) with a place to bask. I keep the ponds outside. It's always been like that. I am from Puerto Rico so the weather is warm all the time. Lots of sun and breezy. I used to live more to the coast and so did my turtles. Now I moved to an area which is higher in the mountains and close to a river, therefore is colder at night. I think it's the coldest they have ever experienced. Since I brought them to the new place (last Sunday) they have not eaten. Are they getting used to the place? or is it because the cold weather? Are they hibernating? I see them bask during the day, but they just won't eat. My husband moved their ponds to a place where they will have direct sunlight during the day. They have always been healthy turtles :( I'm very worried that they might get sick. I would really appreciate any advice.

ANSWER: Hi Christy,

It's great to hear from someone who is taking such good care of their RES!  My guess would be that they need to adjust to the colder night temperatures, in addition to the move.  How cold is it compared to where you were, and what are the daytime temps like?  If it warms up during the day, I think they will start eating again fairly soon.  If it was too cold, they probably wouldn't be basking, and you might not see them at all.  It sounds like they are in good, healthy condition, so going without food for a couple of weeks, or even 3-4 weeks, won't hurt them.  Unless you start seeing symptoms of illness (wheezing, runny nose, lopsided swimming, etc.), I wouldn't worry about it too much.  Turtles that have been kept in optimum conditions (natural sunlight, plenty of room) should be quite hardy.  Once they've adjusted to the new climate, they should go back to their normal behavior.

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QUESTION: I think the coldest it might get at night would be around 60 or in extreme cases 50. During the day it's around 80 or more.

Today they are more active 'cause the are under the sun close to some trees. So I guess I'll just have to wait. Give them their time.

Thanks a lot!

ANSWER: Hi Christy,

That's not really very cold, and it's plenty warm during the day, so I think it's just a matter of adjusting from the move and then acclimating to the cooler nights.  They should perk up and start eating within the next week.  Post back when they start eating again, and thank you for taking such good care of your turtles!

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QUESTION: Hello. I forgot to answer back. They are eating now. Just a few days after we changed them to direct sunlight. They are acting kind of spoiled sometimes because they only want to eat dried shrimp and not pellets.

But besides that, they are basking everyday and very active :)

Hi Christy,

I'm so glad to hear they started eating again.  I'm not sure if you're just feeding them the pellets and shrimp, but try to give them more variety in terms of both animal protein and greens.  You can get a list of foods from this website:  The more variety, the healthier they'll be.  And thanks so much for letting me know how they're doing!


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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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