Turtles/Shell rot


QUESTION: My 1 year old Mississippi map turtle I recently bought has he has maybe 4 to 5 penny sized spots. I was wondering if it is bad enough to where I should take him to a vet.

ANSWER: Hi Morgan,

A year old map turtle isn't very big, so with that much shell rot I'd advise a vet visit.  Also, make sure the tank is an adequate size and the filter is good enough to keep the water very clean. Many shell and skin issues are due to poor water quality.  Let me know if I can be of further help.  If you can post some clear pictures, I can get a better idea of the extent of the problem.

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

QUESTION: Ok thank you for answering my question. I have one more. What do they do when I take him to the vet?

Hi Morgan,

A good vet will ask questions regarding setup and diet, will. examine the turtle and determine the extent of the shell rot as well as any other issues, and then give you a treatment plan and any needed medication.  In this case, this will probably consist of topical medication and dry docking for a certain period of time daily, as well as keeping the water very clean.  

If you just bought him, you might also want to consider getting your money back.. Shell rot doesn't develop overnight, and with that much of it the store should have been aware of the condition.


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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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