Pets & Animal Reptiles

Common Diseases of Aquatic Turtles

    • Aquatic turtleturtle 5 image by cherie from

      Aquatic turtles are prone to several common diseases, especially if their diet or habitat is not kept as similar to what would have been their natural environment. Turtles require a lot of physical care to prevent the growth of microorganisms that cause illness. If a turtle is sick, it needs to be isolated from other turtles and possibly treated by a veterinarian.


    • Septic cutaneous ulcerative disease, or SCUD, is a bacterial disease that is common in aquatic turtles. The turtle will have skin ulcers in various places on its body. The bacteria Citrobacter is usually present in the water and should be treated.

    Abnormal Tomium

    • Aquatic turtles may develop an overgrown beak, also known as a tomium, caused by eating unnatural foods. When a turtle is fed improperly, it may develop the disease abnormal tomium. Changing their diet and grinding down the too-long beak with a dremel tool can remedy it.

    Hypovitaminosis A

    • Hypovitaminosis A is the most common disease of aquatic turtles. The symptoms are swollen eyes, runny nose, skin abscesses and, in extreme cases, respiratory distress. Change the turtle's diet to include vitamin A or give it a vitamin supplement in the form of cod liver oil added to its food.

    Fungal Infection

    • Fungal infection is a common turtle disease. The fungus will be noticed as white or gray spots on its shell or flesh. You may also notice flaky skin. Some fungal infections can be treated with the same fungus remedy used for tropical fish. Another remedy is painting the shell with 5 percent iodine. Clean the water frequently to prevent fungus.

    Shell Rot

    • Shell rot is another common disease of aquatic turtles that live in tanks with poor water quality. Treat and clean the water and give your turtle a stone to dry out on.


    • Aquatic turtles can get pneumonia, often caused by drafts or abrupt changes in water temperature. Acute pneumonia can show up quickly and cause death. The symptoms of acute pneumonia are difficulty breathing, gasping or open mouth breathing. The turtle may cough continually and become very active or disoriented. This type of pneumonia should be treated within hours of noticing these symptoms. Chronic pneumonia can take weeks to develop, but you will notice an increased amount of nasal discharge and breathing difficulty. Both types of pneumonia are treated with antibiotics.

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