Red-eared sliders are prone to fungal infections, which is why it’s important to regularly monitor your pet for signs of fungus and other infections. The good news is that fungal infections are relatively easy to identify, which means you can provide speedy treatment to get your pet back to health in the fastest period of time.
If you are worried your red-eared slider may have a fungal infection, then continue reading to learn more about the symptoms, causes, treatment, and any preventative measures you can take to reduce your pet’s risk in the future.
There are two common symptoms you can quickly identify if you think your red-eared slider may have a fungal infection, these include:
- Raised patches of green on the shell or skin
- White or yellow fuzzy and soft patches on the shell or skin
Note that both of these symptoms can be part of the natural shedding process. Fungus will always return if it is brushed off, where shed won't.
Poor Living Conditions
One of the most common causes of fungal infection in red-eared sliders is a dirty habitat. Captive sliders live in a small space for years and need proper cleaning and care to ensure that they remain happy and healthy. A dirty enclosure is a breeding ground for dangerous fungi and bacteria, both of which can cause health complications for your pet.
Not Changing Water Often Enough
It's really easy to take a look at the water in the tank and if it looks clean, avoid doing a regular change. This is not the case. Even if the water looks clean, it will have higher PH levels than normal, it will have bacteria, feces, and urine in it, all of which is unhealthy for your pet.
Basking Temperature Too Low
Your red-eared slider needs a hot basking area, where it can climb out of the water and soak up the sun. This helps to dry out the shell and skin for a while but also helps fight fungal infections.
Not Sufficient UVB
UVB is essential to your red-eared slider, helping it maintain its calcium balance. When your pet doesn't have sufficient UVB light, or there is no UVB light, in the enclosure, it could result in a variety of metabolic shell diseases, including fungal infections.
Poor Quality Filter
Your red-eared slider will spend a large majority of its time in the water, releasing toxic substances into the water, which is why you need a reliable and durable water filter. Not being able to filter the water adequately can result in a fungal infection.
Before you panic and rush your pet to the vet, take a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently sweep any white or green patches on the shell. If they come back, then changes are that it is a fungal infection. Retained sheds and algae will not return.
The minute you identify fungal infection in your turtle, you want to isolate it. Especially if it is sharing its enclosure with another turtles. Isolation, while it heals, can reduce the risk of the infection spreading among its tank mates.
Dry docking has proven effective in helping fight fungal infections in red-eared sliders. Dry docking involves placing your pet in a dry enclosure for around 2 hours at a time, allowing the skin and shell to dry out. They must be allowed to short swim in freshwater every thirty minutes. Dry docking sometimes needs to be done over a few days to achieve the desired results.
Use Betadine Wash
Mix Betadine with water and apply to the shell. You can use a Q-Tip and gently apply. Once applied allow your pet to dry out completely, then give a gentle sweep using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Rinse in freshwater before returning your pet to its enclosure.
A salt bath can be very effective, ideal when you don't have betadine at your disposal. Sea salt is something most people have in their homes, which means you can provide a fast treatment. Using a 10 gallon tub, sea salt, and a clean sponge, you can treat your pet effectively. Simply add 5 gallons of water and a quarter cup of salt to the tub. Use a warm water temperature of between 75ºF and 85ºF. Let your pet soak and then gently scrub the area with the sponge.
Only allow your pet to soak for around 30 minutes. Then remove it from the water and allow to air dry under a heat lamp before you return it to the enclosure. You will need to carry this treatment out daily for a few weeks. If you have betadine at hand, once your pet has soaked, you can apply the betadine to the affected areas before allowing your pet to air dry.
There are a number of things you can do to help prevent your pet from developing a fungal infection. These include:
Regular Shell and Skin Inspections
Keep a close eye on your pet and inspect them daily. Take note of any injuries or damage to the skin or shell. The sooner you identify a problem, the sooner you can put a treatment plan in place.
Spend the money on a good quality water filter that will remove any impurities from the water, helping to keep the water cleaner for longer and reduce the risk of your red-eared slider developing a fungal infection. Remember that the filter needs to be cleaned properly every two to three weeks, you can usually do this at the same time as a thorough tank clean.
Quarantine New Plants and Pets
If you are introducing some new plants or a new red-eared slider to the enclosure, ensure you quarantine them for two weeks first. This reduces the risk of bringing fungal infections into your pet’s habitat.
In order for your pet to remain healthy, you will want to provide it with adequate lighting. This includes a day bulb for daylight hours and a UVB bulb, ensuring it soaks up the UV rays to assist with calcium absorption. Create a day and night cycle, place the lights on for twelve hours and off for twelve hours. The easiest way to achieve this is to use a timer, which you can set, so you don't have to worry if you are not home to turn the lights on or off.
Do Regular Tank Cleans
It is important to keep the enclosure as clean as possible. This means regular tank cleans. Remove and add some fresh, clean water to your pet’s tank at least once a week. Do spot daily cleaning to remove any dirt or debris that you can see. Every two to three weeks, you want to remove everything from the tank, clean it, disinfect it and return it to the enclosure. Remember to always clean your water filter/s at the same time.
Ensure you maintain the optimum temperatures for your red-eared slider. Monitor the temperatures using a digital thermometer, which is easy to read and provides accurate data. Choose one with a remote waterproof probe, enabling you to place it where you need to, reading the desired temperatures at a glance.
While fungal infections are common, they can be time-consuming to get rid of. In order to provide your red-eared slider with the best health, provide it with a clean habitat, good water filtration, optimum temperatures, and quarantining new pets.