If you take a look at your turtle and see that there is white gunk floating at the top of his or her tank, then you might start to panic and wonder what it is.
Fortunately, it is not a cause for concern – though it can be.
The white stuff is just mucus that the turtle has secreted from their respiratory system to keep themselves clean and moist.
Whilst this is normal, it could also mean that they have an infection.
Let’s take a look at what it is in more detail, and how to spot an infection.
What Is The White Gunk Floating In My Turtle Tank?
The white gunk that you see floating in your turtle’s tank is mucus. Like we stated above, it is from their respiratory system.
Whilst normal, it can be a problem if they have an infection, or if they oversecrete the stuff.
Once you see it, scoop up the gunk out of the water using your fingers (or a clean wooden spoon if you prefer).
You need to do this regularly, otherwise it will build up and block the airways of your turtle. This would then lead to drowning.
So as you can see, it is easily avoided!
What Are Some Signs That My Turtle Has A Respiratory Issue?
Some common symptoms include:
- Lethargy (lethargic)
- Dry skin
- Redness around eyes
- Increased urination
- Decreased appetite
If any of these symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, contact your vet immediately.
How Should I Stop My Turtle From Getting An Infection?
As mentioned above, if you notice any of the symptoms listed above, then it is important to get your turtle checked by a vet.
They will be able to tell whether your turtle has an infection or not, and give advice on how to treat it.
In the meantime, here are some tips to help prevent an infection in the first place:
- Keep your turtle well hydrated. Make sure that there is always fresh water available for them to drink.
- Make sure that they are kept warm during winter months.
- Keep them away from other turtles, especially those with colds.
- Do not feed your turtle anything that may contain antibiotics.
- Never use human medicines such as paracetamol or ibuprofen on your turtle. These medications can upset their stomach and make them vomit.
- Never leave your turtle alone when they are ill.
How To Look After A Turtle That Is Unwell
It is important that you monitor your turtle’s health closely.
If you notice anything unusual, such as lethargy, coughing, sneezing, dry skin, redness around the eyes, increased urination or decreased appetite, make sure to get them checked by your vet straight away.
You may want to consider keeping a record of all your turtle’s health issues so that you know exactly when they were last seen well.
If you think that your turtle is unwell, you should try to isolate them in a safe place where they won’t be disturbed.
Try to avoid handling them too much, especially if they seem to be struggling to breathe.
Keep them warm and comfortable, and give them plenty of fresh water. It is best to leave them alone until they recover.
Do Not Overfeed Your Turtles
Overfeeding can result in obesity, which can have a negative impact on your turtle’s overall health.
Obesity can lead to other problems including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, kidney failure and even cancer.
Try to feed your turtles once a day, and only offer them small amounts of food each time.
Ensure that you provide enough variety in your diet so that they don’t become bored with their meals.
Remember to always check the temperature of your turtle’s water before feeding them. Make sure that it is between 70°F-80°F.
Always use a UV filter in your tank to protect your turtle against sunburns.
Make Sure They Have Enough Space To Move Around In
Turtles like to move about, but they need space to do so. A large aquarium is ideal for this purpose.
However, if you have a smaller tank, ensure that there is sufficient room for your turtle to move around freely.
Ensure that your turtle has somewhere to hide during the day.
Some species of turtle enjoy basking in the sunlight, whilst others prefer to stay under cover.
Don’t Leave Them Alone For Too Long At A Time
Turtles are social animals who thrive off interacting with one another.
Therefore, it is very important not to leave them alone for long periods at a time.
If you must leave your turtle unattended for longer than 30 minutes, keep them in a separate area from the rest of your household pets.
Never allow your turtle to sleep near an open window.
Avoid Excessive Heat
Heatstroke is a serious condition that can kill your turtle within just a few days.
The heat generated by the sun can cause your turtle to overheat, leading to a rapid rise in body temperature.
This can happen quickly, so you need to act fast if you suspect that your turtle is suffering from heatstroke.
The first thing to do is to remove any items that could potentially increase the amount of heat trapped inside your home.
This includes curtains, blinds, carpets and furniture.
Next, turn down the air conditioning or heating system, and lower the thermostat setting.
Finally, place your turtle in a cool location for 24 hours.
If your turtle does not improve after this period of time, contact your vet immediately.
Check Their Water Regularly
Regular testing of your turtle’s water is essential.
You should test the pH level every week, and make sure that it remains between 6.5-8.0.
You should also monitor the ammonia levels regularly.
Ammonia causes stress in your turtle, and can lead to behavioral changes such as aggression towards other animals.
You should also be checking the oxygen content in your tank, and ensuring that it stays above 15%.
If you notice that the oxygen levels drop below this figure, then you should add more aeration devices to help boost the oxygen levels.
Keep Your Turtles Safe From Predators
Predators can pose a threat to your turtle’s wellbeing.
It is therefore important to take precautions to prevent these creatures from attacking your pet.
One way to avoid predators is to build a predator proof enclosure.
These enclosures usually consist of wire mesh cages, which are designed to keep out larger predators such as foxes, cats and dogs.
Another option would be to install motion activated lights in your backyard.
Motion activated lights only come on when something moves into their range, meaning that they will not disturb your turtle while it is sleeping.
What Kind Of Food Should I Give My Turtle?
There are many different types of foods that you can buy for your turtle. Some popular choices include:
- Fish based pellets
- Commercial diets
- Fruit & vegetables
You can mix and match between all of these options depending on what your turtle likes best.
You can even try making your own diet using ingredients like fruit, veggies, chicken, fish, etc.
Is There Anything Else That I Need To Know About Turtles?
Yes! Here are a few things that you might want to know about turtles:
- They require lots of space. A good sized tank is essential.
- It is recommended that you provide a substrate made from peat moss, sand, wood chips, or gravel.
- Turtles love basking in the sun. If possible, let them bask outside of the tank.
- Turtles can live up to 30 years old.
Hopefully, this article has given you some helpful information about caring for turtles.
Keep an eye out for signs of illness, and seek veterinary assistance if necessary.
They can live for around 30 to 50 years, so it is always better to be safe than sorry.