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Rescued Turtle- Won't Eat

Discussion in 'Turtles' started by Pintomare11, Dec 23, 2014.

  1. Pintomare11

    Pintomare11 New Member

    How long have you owned the animal? 4 days
    · What is the enclosure size? 55 gallon tank
    · What type of substrate are you using (shavings, bark, paper towel, etc.)? Sand
    · What type of lighting are you using and at what distance(s) are they from the animal? (UVB and Basking) Basking only.
    · What are the temperatures within the enclosure and how are they being measured? Unsure
    · What is the humidity within the enclosure and how is it being measured? Unsure
    · What are you feeding (or attempting to feed) the animal? Red Shrimp, feeder minnows, earthworms, commercial pellets
    · What exactly are you concerned about?
    I got this turtle from a lady in PetSmart who was just giving it away. She had it in a 10 gallon aquarium (his shell is about 4 inches) without even a basking light! I'm more of a horse person, so I don't know a ton about turtles, but I know those are terrible conditions for a turtle. I had a 55 gallon aquarium in my basement, so I filled it up halfway and plopped him in. and figured I'd do the best I could for it, but I think I got in a little over my head! It has this white film on its back, but all the research I've done (Which is a lot, trust me) says its from calcium which makes sense since I have hard water. My problem is that he/she (I'm calling it a he) will not eat. I know it can take a couple days but it's been more like 4. I've even tried earthworms. Now, I do not have UVB lighting yet, or a water heater or a filter. I don't think I will get a heater because I live in an area where yellow bellied sliders are native, so I think it will be okay but that's why I'm here, I don't know. He also won't really swim, he climbs on the stuff in his aquarium instead of swimming on top of things and he walks along the bottom rather than swimming. I'm not sure if that's normal. He also won't bask, but that might be because it's not hot enough. Any tips, especially on getting him to eat? Is he too small for his age (2 years, or so I'm told, in the 10 gal his whole life))? Is the fact that he doesn't swim normal? Sorry about the length, I was trying to be as descriptive as possible.
  2. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    First things first, your turtle does need a basking spot. Reptile metabolism is heat dependent. if he does not have a basking spot, he cannot digest his food. That may be why he is not eating.

    If his tank is in a room that is not too terribly cold (average room temp) he should not need a water heater. If he is in a cooler area, such as a basement or garage, he may need one.

    You will also need a digital thermometer to make sure his basking spot is warm enough - aim for around 90ºF. (the kind with a probe works best - check the garden section of your local department store for an indoor/outdoor thermometer w/probe. they run about $10-$15 for the good ones.). If his basking spot is not warm enough, you can fiddle around with moving the bulb closer (which can be risky with turtles, because they tend to splash, and can cause bulb explosions...) or getting a better bulb. If all you need is heat, you can simply use flood lights from the lighting section of your local department store. It does not have to be 'reptile specific' to provide heat. Just a standard floodlight (like many people use to light up their porches or sidewalks) will work fine to project a warm spot onto his basing area. Ceramic socket fixtures are recommended. The plastic ones break down over time.

    It is totally normal for them to 'walk' along the bottom of the tank, and climb their underwater furniture thus.

    Once you have a basking spot, you could try to coax the turtle to eat some fruits and vegetables as well. Check this list for suggestions: Diet - Fruits Information

    You can also offer crickets, mealworms, wax worms, etc.

    If the calcium on his shell is just hard water buildup, don't worry too much. the next time he sheds the shell scales, it should vanish. If it feels spongy, or soft, be worried - it could be shell rot.
  3. Pintomare11

    Pintomare11 New Member

    He has a basking light, but he doesn't bask. It's a uvb light I haven't been able to get him yet. I'm sure I can find a thermometer to measure with. I'm a college student so my funds are rather, uh, limited but I'm trying to do what I can for him. The lady I got him from said she hasn't seen him eat in several months, so could it just be from being too cold? Is the fact that he's not swimming normal? I've had an array of pets but never a turtle so I don't know :(.
  4. Dragoness

    Dragoness Elite Member

    He also may be not basking if he feels too exposed. Is the place where his tank is located high-traffic?

    You do need the thermometer - even if he has a basking spot, he may opt not to use it if temps are inadequate.

    do you have any pics of your turtle?

    What do you mean by 'he isn't swimming' ?

    Turtles usual mode of locomotion is to walk or crawl along the bottom of their enclosures. They aren't like fish where they prefer to always be moving about in the middle of the tank. That requires energy, and if there is no benefit to them, they usually won't do it. Many spend a lot of time in the bottom of their tank (or lake, or pond) they come up to breathe, bask, etc. Most are also foragers, and will eat whatever they find while trudging along the bottom of their habitat - snails, insects, fish, weeds, crustaceans, etc.

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