Red Eared Slider Illnesses and Injury

Like cats, dogs, and all other pets, red eared sliders have a litany of health conditions which can coming up in the course of their life. In almost all cases, the best course is to immediately consult a vet. Many common red eared slider illnesses, such as respiratory or other infections, can be quickly fatal if not treated properly. As an owner, it is important to be aware of the warning signs that mean you should give your vet and call and get some professional advice. It is also good to be aware of disease carried by these turtles that can pose a risk to caretakers if proper sanitation is not upheld.


Risks to Owners


This one is actually not so much as risk to your slider as it it to you, the handler. Red eared sliders, especially those under 4 inches long, can harbor and transmit the bacteria that cause salmonella. This bacteria is especially dangerous to children and pregnant women, and can result in hospitalization or worse. After handling your slider, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly. Pay attention to cleaning under your fingernails and in between your fingers, as bacteria can hole up there.


Warning Signs to See A Vet

The following list consists of commonly observable symptoms that can indicate red eared slider illnesses such as bacterial/respiratory infection, shell rot, vitamin deficiencies, etc. If you see one or more of these symptoms the best course of action is to consult a veterinarian, especially a reptile veterinarian if available.

  • Cloudy, Closed, or Swollen Eyes
  • Swollen Cheeks
  • Runny Nose/Bubbly Mucous Around Nose Or Mouth
  • Spots Appearing On Shell Or Body
  • Lopsided Swimming
  • Abscesses
  • Soft Shell/Excessive Shedding
  • Loss Of Appetite


Shell Injury

If you see that your turtle has cracked its shell, the best course of action is to consult a veterinarian immediately. As far as first aid, you can rinse the shell with saline solution and apply povidone iodine to the affected area. Next, you should cover the treated area with sterile gauze. Once this first aid has been completed, you can take your slider to the vet for further treatment.


Keep Reading: Red Eared Slider Care Sheet

  1. Tank Size and Setup
  2. Filter and Water Temperature
  3. Lighting/Heat Requirements
  4. The Nitrogen Cycle
  5. Tank Cleaning and Water Chemistry
  6. Diet and Nutrition
  7. Illnesses and Injury – Current Page
  8. Additional Reading and Resources