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Turtles/Possible Cut Below Turtle's Mouth


I have a yellow bellied slider, had it for many years. Recently, there has become an orange to light pink colored mark that appears to be a cut below her mouth. It is on the front of her neck and extends from one side to the other with the odd colored tissue in the very center. It has been there just under a week and has no appeared to have gotten better or worse. I'd like to know if there are any skin conditions that cause this or if it sounds more like a regular injury. There is no chance that the turtle has been harmed by human hands in any way. There were some feeder fish in the tank with her. My only concern is her filter system had malfunctioned and had the water got pretty nasty for a short period of time, but none the less...? Any insight? Thank You.

Hi Chrissy,

Poor water quality can cause skin issues.  You didn't say how big the tank is or what kind of filter you have, but an adult YBS needs a very large tank (around 100 gallons) with corresponding filter to keep the water quality high enough.  Even if you have a big tank, the filter malfunction could be enough to cause a skin problem, or it's also possible that she cut or abraded the area on something in the tank.  What you can try doing is cleaning the area daily with something like Nolvasan or a dilute Betadine solution, then applying a antibiotic ointment and keeping her dry for 2-3 hours before returning her to the tank (make sure the tank is very clean).  Do this for a couple of weeks and see if it heals up.  It will help to feed her in a separate tank or tub to keep the tank cleaner.  If that doesn't help, post back and let me know.


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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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