38 Box Turtle Diseases & How To Treat Them

box turtle diseases

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Like other reptiles and animals, box turtles fall sick too. Determining the disease and providing proper treatments to a box turtle becomes easier if you acquire minimum knowledge about these diseases.

A box turtle can suffer from many diseases throughout its life, for example, eye disease, respiratory disease, shell disease, and so on. Determining the disease is not hard if you are a good observer. And the good news is most of the disease have its cure.

In this article, I will try to talk about all the diseases that may occur to your box turtle. To know everything, read the article till the end.

Why Does A Box Turtle Fall Sick?

A box turtle may fall sick for many reasons.

  • Genetic complexion
  • Unhealthy environment
  • Imbalanced diet
  • Accident
  • Organ failure

These are the main reasons why a box turtle may fall sick. Many diseases can happen just because of one disproportion of these factors.

What Are The Common Diseases Of A Box Turtle?

Several diseases may occur to a box turtle. Most of these diseases are not severe. But if you ignore a minor condition at an early stage, it could be life-threatening later. Here I am going to talk about several diseases of a box turtle.

Some diseases of a box turtle are,

  1. Vitamin A deficiency or hypovitaminosis
  2. Respiratory infection
  3. An ear abscess
  4. Shell rot
  5. Shell peeling
  6. Internal parasite
  7. Scratches
  8. Insects on the skin
  9. Irregular shell growth
  10. Overgrown nails
  11. Turtle doesn’t eat
  12. Closed eye
  13. Swollen eye
  14. Mouth rot
  15. Lumps on cheek
  16. Cracked shell
  17. Abnormal behavior
  18. Paralyzed leg
  19. Overgrown beaks
  20. Organ disease
  21. Organ prolapse
  22. Ear abscesses
  23. Overgrown upper jaw
  24. Foreign body ingestion
  25. Blood parasites
  26. Intestinal parasite
  27. Intestinal protozoa
  28. Bot fly infestation
  29. Maggot infestation
  30. Organ failure
  31. Dry flakey skin
  32. Pyramiding
  33. Scratched eye
  34. Bloody eye
  35. Closed and puffy eye
  36. Eye rot
  37. Eye infection
  38. Closed and sunken eyes

Vitamin A Deficiency Or Hypovitaminosis

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. It works as an antioxidant and helps in the growth and repairing of tissues. It plays a vital role in the proper functioning of eyes, skin, mucous membranes, and ducts of the box turtle. So if a box turtle’s body does not get enough vitamin A, many complexions start occurring.

Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency or hypovitaminosis of a box turtle

  • The eyelids of the box turtle get swollen
  • The box turtle loses its appetite
  • The pet loses its weight
  • The skin gets infected with bacteria
  • The box turtle may experience a runny nose
  • A medical condition called necrotic stomatitis can occur to the box turtle.
  • You may notice an abnormal development of the eyes in embryos

The main symptom of Vitamin A deficiency is swollen eyelids. This situation can be severe and sometimes the box turtle can not open his eyes because of the swollen eyelids.

Treatment Of Vitamin A Deficiency Or Hypovitaminosis Of A Box Turtle

The most effective treatment of this disease is a nutritionally balanced diet. You have to take your box turtle to the nearest vet and follow his instructions. The vet may suggest vitamin A shots or supplements to the box turtle. You need to provide a balanced diet to the box turtle, and if you provide commercial foods to the box turtle, make sure the food is fresh and nutritious.

If you do not know which foods are rich in Vitamin A, I am adding a list here.

Foods that are rich in Vitamin A:

  • Liver
  • Apricots
  • Whole fish
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli leaves
  • Broccoli flowers
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Dandelion greens
  • Yellow squash
  • Turnip greens
  • Mango
  • Mustard greens
  • Papaya
  • Nectarines
  • Parsley
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peaches

Foods those are not rich in Vitamin A:

  • White potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Lettuce
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Summer squash
  • Corn
  • Grapes

These foods in your box turtle’s diet will help him to prevent Vitamin A deficiency.

Respiratory Infection

Box turtles have lungs, and they use air to breathe. So like other animals, they can catch a cold or experience respiratory infections or illness. Sometimes respiratory illness can be observed because of vitamin A deficiency too.

What Can Cause Respiratory Infection Or Illness To A Box Turtle?

  • Bacteria
  • Virus
  • Fungi
  • Cold air
  • Cold environment
  • Unhealthy enclosure
  • Lack of Vitamin A
  • Lack of nutrition

Any attack of bacteria, virus or fungi can cause respiratory illness to the box turtle.

Symptoms Of Respiratory Infection In A Box Turtle

  • The box turtle will seem tired.
  • The turtle will not move much.
  • The box turtle will find difficulty in breathing.
  • It seems afraid of water.
  • The box turtle will experience a runny nose.
  • You may notice mucous around the box turtle’s nostrils.
  • The box turtle will suffer from puffy eyes.
  • The pet will keep its mouth open most of the time.
  • Whizzing, gasping, coughing, snoring, or persistent sneezing can be observed.
  • The box turtle will lose appetite.
  • The box turtle will spend a lot of time in the basking area or on the warm side of the enclosure.

Treatment Of Respiratory Infection Of A Box Turtle

You have to take the box turtle to a vet as soon as possible. The vet may take an x-ray and other tests of the box turtle to make sure the cause of this disease and the box turtle does not have pneumonia. The vet may suggest antibiotics in the form of injections, shots, nose drops or liquids to the box turtle.

  • At first, if you have more than one box turtle, separate the sick box turtle immediately, and put it in a hospital tank.
  • Keep the temperature of the tank between 83 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Increase the temperature of the basking area. Maintain the temperature between 93 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wipe the mucous from the box turtle’s mouth and nose.
  • Provide a balanced diet to the box turtle. Make sure the diet is enriched with all vitamins and minerals.
  • If the box turtle does not want to eat, you have to force it to eat.
  • Besides a UV and heat lamp, you have to provide an infrared light to the enclosure. It helps the box turtle to fight the bacteria.
  • When the box turtle is sick, you have to keep the light on 24/7.

An Ear Abscess

If you are looking for external ears of a box turtle, then you would not find one. Box turtles do not have regular ears like use, but they have middle ears. So they have a chance of getting an ear infection.

Ear infection of a box turtle is called abscess in-ear. Ear abscess can cause pain to the box turtle. Big lumps can start growing on the side of the box turtle’s head because of it.

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Unlike humans, a weekly dose of an antibiotic won’t help your box turtle. In most cases, the box turtle would need minor surgery to clean the lump. Experienced box turtle owners can treat ear abscess of the box turtles by themselves. But if you are new, or do not know much about it, you should take the pet to a vet.

How Would You Recognize An Ear Abscess In A Box Turtle?

The abscess in the ear of the box turtle is a soft and cheesy looking lump. It is a collection of pus, dead tissues, and bacteria.

Lumps are quite visible. You may notice a lump on one side of the turtle’s head or both sides. So you do not need to look for other symptoms.

If an ear abscess is not treated timely, it starts swelling. If the lumps get big enough, it will burst into pieces. It may create a worse situation for the box turtle. And also, it causes much pain to your pet box turtle.

Why Does Ear Abscess Happen To A Box Turtle?

  • Infection in the middle ear of the box turtle.
  • If the respiratory treatment gets untreated, it may cause ear abscess of a box turtle.
  • Vitamin A deficiency can also cause ear abscess.

Treatment Of Ear Abscess Of A Box Turtle

You have to open up the lump to clear the gunk. If you are inexperienced, you should not take the risk. Take your box turtle to a vet for better treatment.

The vet will give anesthesia to the box turtle so that it does not feel any pain. Then he will cut a small hole to drain the gunk. The vet will not close the hole because it opens a chance for the abscess to come back.

The vet can give a shot of antibiotics for farther protection from an ear abscess. You have to maintain the medication the vet suggests. After the minor surgery, you have to clean the wound regularly.

Can You Prevent An Ear Abscess In A Box Turtle?

It is obvious that no one can guarantee the full prevention of your box turtle from an ear abscess. But you can try some advice to prevent as much as you can.

  • Give proper treatment of a cold as quickly as possible.
  • Provide nutritiously and a balanced diet.
  • Maintain 60% to 80% humidity inside the enclosure.

An ear abscess is a common disease in a box turtle. It is not life-threatening, but ignoring the condition can cause harm to your pet turtle.

Shell Rot

Shell rot indicates shell infection of a box turtle. It is a common disease in a box turtle.

Why Does Shell Rot Happen To A Box Turtle?

Shell rot is a fungal or bacterial infection of a box turtle. If your box turtle’s shell is damaged in an accident, there is a chance that the box turtle may suffer from shell rot.

Any scratch, crack or open wounds on the shell can be infected by bacteria or fungus. When the number of bacteria or fungus increases, the shell begins to rot. The rot can even reach the bone and causes the cavity to the turtle’s body, which is a severe condition.

If you are thinking that the condition occurs only because of heavy damage on the shell, then you are wrong. It can happen just because of a simple cut or scratch.

Symptoms Of Shell Rot In A Box Turtle

  • Pitting of scutes
  • Soft spots on the shell
  • Fluid under the shell of the box turtle
  • Discharge of nasty smell
  • Shell plate falling off
  • Tissues are exposing

Treatment Of Shell Rots In A Box Turtle

The treatment of shell rot is not hard. You can do it at home or you can take your pet to a vet.

The first step of the treatment is debridement. It means the removal of the dead tissues from the shell. You can do this in two ways.

  1. Scrape the dead cells with a scalpel blade
  2. Cut the dead areas

Prepare a betadine solution, and soak the sell with it. Let the solution dry on the shell or wait for at least ten minutes. Now scrub the shell with a surgeon hand brush to clean the leftover flakes or debris.

You can use a toothbrush instead of a surgeon’s hand brush. Rinse the shell with fresh water. Make sure the solution dry on the shell. Repeat the process for several days.

If your box turtle is suffering from shell rot, make sure it is not getting into the water source. You can soak its body and shell with a clean towel. After soaking, keep it in a warm area to dry.

In this situation, you have to make sure that the box turtle is getting sufficient UV rays and heat. You have to maintain the perfect temperature in the enclosure.

The vet will suggest some antibiotics for the box turtle. Antibiotic is a must in this condition. Silver sulfadiazine cream or any other topical antibiotic cream can be applied on the rot. You must ask the vet for proper medication.

The injection can also work for shell rot. If you use cream or dilute solutions on the shell, make sure it dries on the shell. Otherwise, it will have no effect on the shell.

Sick turtles have a tendency to avoid food. But it will make them weak and vulnerable to more diseases. So you have to provide an appropriate diet to the box turtle. If the box turtle is not eating, you have to feed it forcefully.

Shell rot is not a severe disease, but it can harm the box turtle if it is not treated immediately. The healing may take some time, but take care of the box turtle and provide proper care to it.

Shell Peeling

Shell peeling or shedding is a natural process for the box turtles. A box turtle whole body is covered with numerous scutes. These scutes are made of keratin. If the scutes of a box turtle’s body start falling off, it is called shell peeling or shell shedding.

Why Does A Box Turtle Peel Its Shell?

  • A box turtle is not made of rubbery skin. So when the box turtle grows larger, its shell accommodates into a bigger size by peeling off the old shell.
  • If the bones get bigger, the old shell falls off.
  • A box turtle peels to keep the shell clean and germ-free.
  • If a box turtle gets an injury or shell damage, it tries to heal itself by peeling off the old scutes.
  • A box turtle sometimes peels off its shell because of medical conditions.

How Would You Recognize If The Shedding Is Healthy Or Not?

In most cases, the shedding or shell peeling is healthy for a box turtle. But sometimes it can be unhealthy or indicates a disease. You can know it by examining the old scutes that have fallen off.

The fallen scutes have to be transparent. If it looks thick, then it indicated unhealthy peeling. Unhealthy peeling occurs if the box turtle is sick or its shell is damaged.

Reasons For Unhealthy Peeling Of A Box Turtle

  • If the box turtle is overfed, it may experience unhealthy peeling.
  • Fast growth rate
  • It the basking area temperature is too hot for the box turtle, unhealthy peeling can happen.
  • Fungal infection.
  • High ammonia in the environment and in the water source.
  • Several diseases.

Can We Prevent Unhealthy Peeling?

Sometimes you may observe that the box turtle is not peeling at all. It is as dangerous as unhealthy peeling. In both cases, you can follow some instructions.

  1. Maintain the temperature of the enclosure.
  2. Make sure the box turtle is getting enough UV lights.
  3. Provide sufficient calcium, vitamin D in its daily diet.

I can not assure you that your box turtle will not experience any premature peeling if you follow these instructions. But by maintaining these, there is a high possibility that both your problems will be solved.

Bone Disease

Metabolic bone disease or MBD is a condition that develops when a box turtle does not get enough calcium in its diet or absorb enough calcium from its diet. It can affect the box turtle’s shell, beak, and nail. It also affects the box turtles internal organs. This can shorten the pet’s lifespan.

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What Causes Metabolic Bone Disease In A Box Turtle?

  • When there is insufficient calcium in the box turtle’s diet, it may suffer from metabolic bone disease.
  • The wrong ratio of calcium and phosphorous can cause metabolic bone disease to a box turtle.
  • Insufficient Vitamin D in the diet can cause this condition to the box turtle.
  • Lack of UV rays can also cause this medical condition.

Now you have to understand that the lack of UV rays does not cause metabolic bone disease to a box turtle. This ray helps your box turtle to absorb vitamin D and calcium. It means no matter how much Vitamin D or Calcium you provide to a box turtle, it won’t work unless it is absorbed.

The calcium and phosphorous ratio should be 2:1 in the diet. This proportion is important because if the ration goes wrong, the box turtle may suffer from MBD.

Treatment Of Metabolic Bone Disease

You have to take the pet to the vet as soon as possible. The vet may do some tests on the box turtle to identify the main problem. Follow the instructions and prescriptions the vet recommends.

The box turtle may need vitamin shots. Provide the box turtle proper diet, and provide a high-quality UV light. UV light will help the box turtle to absorb vitamin, phosphorous and calcium.

Prevention of metabolic bone disease of a box turtle

Any inexperienced and sometimes the experienced turtle owners can not determine this disease. So often this disease shortens the box turtle’s lifespan. It is why you should try to prevent the disease.

  • Provide a balanced diet to the box turtle.
  • Make sure the box turtle is getting a sufficient amount of calcium and phosphorous.
  • Set up a high-quality UV light.
  • Give it a proper meal that contains Vitamin D.

Symptoms Of Metabolic Bone Disease Of A Box Turtle

  • You may observe soft shell condition
  • The box turtle will have trouble walking
  • The pet will drag its hind legs
  • Its legs will be splayed
  • The shell will have an abnormal growth
  • The scutes will look bumpy
  • The box turtle will fail to hide inside the hinge
  • The box turtle’s nails will curve outward
  • Its beak may grow bigger

Young box turtles suffer from a deformed shell more than the adult box turtles in metabolic bone disease. If you can not determine the disease from these symptoms, you should take it to a vet.

Internal Parasite

Internal parasites mean tiny, microscopic organisms. These creatures live inside the body of another animal and sustain their life inside the host animal. The host animal’s body is the main source of their food and life.

The animals who have worm blood can not host parasites, but reptiles like box turtles are cold-blooded. So they are very welcoming to these internal parasites.

Most common parasites are:

  1. Flukes or tapeworm
  2. Nematodes or roundworms
  3. Protozoa

As these parasites live inside the box turtle’s body and eat the minerals, the box turtle gets weaker. The box turtle will also get vulnerable to diseases. It may suffer from shell rot, fungus, and respiratory diseases and so on.

How Does A Box Turtle Become Infected With Parasites?

  • The box turtle may eat unhealthy food that contains parasite eggs.
  • It can spread from the water bowl.

In most cases, the box turtle gets it from food and an unhealthy environment.

Symptoms And Treatment

As it is an internal issue, you can not determine for sure. That is why I suggest regular worm checking. The vet may run some tests and can tell you if your box turtle is growing any parasite inside or not. On the other hand, you may observe weight loss, regular vomiting or diarrhea.

You have to follow the prescription of the vet. The vet may suggest some medicines or shot to the box turtle.


A box turtle may get scratches or cuts on its skin or shell for many reasons. If the box turtle meets an accident, it may get scratches or cuts. Again, if it involves fighting with another turtle, or any predators attack the turtle, it can get scratches. The scratches can occur from the sharp edge of the enclosure.


If the injury is minor, you can treat it with a first aid kit.

  • You would need disinfectants for this. Some disinfectants are chlorohexidine, betadine solution, triple antibiotic ointment, cotton-tipped applicators, surgical tape, and gauge tape.
  • Clean the cuts with disinfectant. You can use chlorohexidine or weak betadine solution.
  • You have to continue the cleaning until the wound heals.
  • If the wound is deep, cover it with a gauze or band-aid.
  • If you see any types of infections, like redness, pus, foul smell, you have to apply ointment on the wound.

If you see no progress, you have to take the box turtle to a vet for strong medications.


  • You have to soak the box turtle twice a day if it is on an antibiotic.
  • The box turtle should not be fully submerged in water.
  • Provide ample hydration to the box turtle because many antibiotics contain toxic elements. Ample hydration can eliminate toxic elements.

Insects Or Fly Eggs On The Box Turtle’s Skin

Insects or fly eggs on the box turtle’s skin is not a usual phenomenon. It happens after a fatal accident. If the wound of the box turtle remains open, it can attract insects. This type of case should be treated immediately.


  • Remove insects or fly eggs from the wound. Use tweezers to do it.
  • Clean the area with a disinfectant. Chlorhexidine, betadine solution, triple antibiotic ointment, and cotton-tipped applicators, surgical tape, and gauge tape can be used.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment on the wound.
  • Make sure the enclosure is free from any type of insects or fly eggs.

You can wash mites with soapy water. Do not forget to move the box turtle to a different enclosure.


  • Do not keep any food inside the enclosure for too long. It attracts insects.
  • If the box turtle has any open cut or wound, clean and protect it immediately.

If you do not treat this condition immediately, it can cause more complexions. If the condition is severe, you have to visit a vet.

Irregular Shell Growth

Irregular shell growth is an indication of metabolic bone disease. It can have an adverse effect on the box turtle.


  1. The shell of the box turtle may look bumpy.
  2. The head of the pet may look abnormal.
  3. The beak and nails may grow larger than usual.


You have to follow the same treatment and prevention as metabolic bone disease.


It is a common eye disease for a box turtle. You may observe that your box turtle is not opening its eyes if it has shut-eye conditions. The disease is not severe as long as the eyes are not puffy and swollen.

Why Do Shut Eyes Happen To The Box Turtle?

  • If the environment of the habitat is dry for the box turtle, shut-eye conditions can happen.
  • If the environment is unhealthy and unhygienic, the box turtle may suffer from shut eyes.
  • If the diet lacks Vitamin A, the box turtle will have a shut-eye condition.
  • Bacterial conjunctive.

Treatment For Shut Eyes

  1. You have to maintain the humidity level in the enclosure so that the box turtle does not find it dry.
  2. You can use the triple antibiotic or artificial tears to soak the shut eyes.
  3. You have to provide fresh water to the box turtle.
  4. Make sure the box turtle is getting a proper and balanced diet regularly.

Swollen Eye

Swollen eyes can be severe if you do not give proper treatment to the box turtle. In many cases, the box turtle goes blind due to a lack of care and proper treatment.

Why Do Swollen Eyes Happen To The Box Turtle?

  1. Dirty and unhygienic water
  2. lack of vitamin A


  • Eyelids of the box turtle will be puffier. It will get puffier with time, and the condition will get worse.
  • The orbital glands and conjunctiva of the pet will become red and puffy.
  • Fluids can flow from the turtle’s eyes.
  • The turtle will lose appetite.
  • The box turtle will lose weight.
  • The pet will not able to see anything.
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I have mentioned two reasons for swollen eyes of the box turtle. How would you know which one is responsible for the condition? If the Harderian gland of the turtle starts swelling, it is because of the lack of vitamin A. If the glands are not swelling, then dirty water is responsible for the condition.

  1. You have to provide a balanced diet to the box turtle.
  2. Try to add vegetables and fruits to the diet.
  3. Provide fresh water to the water source.
  4. Wash the water source regularly.

Closed And Puffy Eye

We often get confused between closed eyes and closed and puffy eyes. These two conditions are not the same.

Closed and puffy eyes occur to the box turtle because of respiratory illness and vitamin A deficiency. It is hard for us to determine the condition. You have to take the box turtle to the vet.

The vet would suggest some medicines. Try to follow that. Moreover, you have to provide a nutritious diet to the box turtle and make sure the enclosure is clean and hygienic.

Scratched Eye

A box turtle can get scratches on its eyes for many reasons. If the box turtle involves in a fight with another box turtle or it gets attacked by any animal, or in an accident. If the case is severe, the box turtle can go blind.

You can apply some home remedies to the condition. You can apply some human eye medicine to the box turtle’s eyes, but make sure the medicine is free from steroids. Let the medicine dry for thirty minutes. Make sure the enclosure or habitat of the box turtle is clean.

If the condition is severe, the turtle may need some professional help.

Eye Rot

It is a serious eye problem of the box turtle. The surroundings of the eyelids start rotting if it happens to the box turtle. In case of a bacterial or fungal infection, this condition can happen.

Eye rot is a very serious condition, and if you find any sign of eye rot, take your box turtle to the vet as soon as possible. The vet will give some medicines which you should follow strictly.

Moreover, this condition is contagious. So you have to isolate the sick turtle from the other pets.

Eye Infection

It is a bacterial infection. It is rare for the captive box turtles. Wild box turtles mainly suffer from eye infection after coming out from hibernation.

Swollen and shut eyes are the main signs of eye infection. Mucous or fluid can be discharged from the turtle’s eyes.

The best you can do for the box turtle is to clean its habitat. You have to take the pet to the vet, and follow his prescription.

Bloody Eyes

Bloody eyes condition is not dangerous for the box turtle. You may observe blood inside the eyeball of the box turtle. There is no home remedy for this condition.

In many cases, the box turtle heals itself in this condition. You can consult a vet for more advice.

Click here to know more details about the eye problems of a box turtle.

Mouth Rot

Mouth rot indicates that the box turtle has a weak immune system. That is why many call this disease as an opportunistic disease. Fungus and bacteria are mainly responsible for the condition.

If the box turtle is suffering from mouth rot, it will show some signs.

  1. White cheesy stuff will grow on the turtle’s palate.
  2. These will look like hardened pus and dead skin.
  3. These can spot the tongue with red blisters.

Take the box turtle to a vet as soon as you see any signs. You have to make sure that the box turtle is getting a nutritious diet. Try to develop its immune system.

Lumps On Cheek

This condition is similar to an ear abscess. The treatment is almost the same.

Cracked Shell

The shell of a box turtle can be cracked by fatal accidents. You have to take the box turtle to a vet immediately. The wound needs proper cleanup.

The vet will push injection to the box turtle. The box turtle can get peritonitis septicemia if bacteria enter the blood from the cracked shell. You may notice the pooling of blood under the plastron in this condition.

You have to keep the box turtle under the vet’s observation as long as the wound does not heal.

Paralyzed Leg

Box turtle with a paralyzed leg can be a problem for the owners. This can happen for many reasons.

  1. Vitamin A deficiency
  2. Mineral deficiency
  3. Injury
  4. Tumor
  5. Birth defect

Sometimes the condition can be treated; sometimes there is nothing you can do. You have to take the pet to the vet, and he will decide what can be done with the paralyzed leg.

Overgrown Beaks

In this condition, the beak of the box turtle grows abnormal. It is a symptom of metabolic bone disease. The condition simply indicates that the box turtle is not getting a proper diet.

You can consult a vet for the condition. Besides, make sure that the box turtle is getting enough calcium and vitaminD3 in its diet.

Overgrown Of Nails

It is not actually a disease. In wild, box turtles have many things to do. But in captivity, a box turtle gets everything. So due to the lack of exercise, the nails of the box turtle may grow longer. Sometimes overgrown nails make it difficult for the box turtle to walk properly.

You can trim the nails with an electric trimmer. Do not make the nails too short.

Organ Disease

Organ disease or organ failure is the same thing. Kidney failure and liver failure are the two most common organ diseases. Kidney failure happens if the diet contains too much protein. Liver failure causes if the calcium is not properly absorbed by the body.

A box turtle’s life can be damaged because of many reasons.

  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Overdose of medication
  • Parasites
  • Prolonged ill health

There is nothing you can do in these conditions. You can consult a vet to lessen the pain of the box turtle.

Organ Prolapse

It is a life-threatening problem for the box turtle. It can occur for many reasons and different are involved in this condition. Intestine, cloaca or penis is the most common parts that are affected because of organ prolapse.

Symptoms Of Organ Prolapse

  • The box turtle will avoid food.
  • It will spend a lot of time straining prior to the prolapse.
  • The turtle may suffer from constipation.

In this condition, the box turtle needs proper care and treatment. You should take your box turtle to the vet, and do as he says.

Many of these diseases have similarities between them, which makes it difficult for us to determine the real reason behind the disease. I will try to put a comparison between the common diseases.

Shell Rot And Shell Peeling

Shell rot Shell peeling
Shell rot is a common disease for the box turtle. Shell peeling is healthy if it occurs because of the growth.
If a scratch or wound on the shell gets infected by bacteria or fungus, this condition occurs. If the box turtle is overfed or lives in an unhealthy environment, unhealthy shell peeling can happen.

Internal Parasites And Insects On The Skin

Internal parasite Insects on the skin
This condition occurs because of Flukes or tapeworms, Nematodes or roundworms, Protozoa. This condition occurs if any insect starts living on the open wound on the box turtle’s skin.
The parasite enters the body through mouth and food. This happens because of an unhygienic enclosure.

Closed Eyes And Closed And Puffy Eyes

Closed eyes Closed and puffy eyes
Closed eyes occur because of a dry environment. Closed and puffy eyes occur because of an unhealthy environment and Vitamin A deficiency.

Can We Prevent Most Diseases?

We can not prevent many diseases, but if you are careful enough we can reduce the loss.

Here are some tips I would like to share which can help you to prevent diseases of a box turtle.

  1. Make sure the enclosure is clean.
  2. Provide a healthy and balanced diet to the box turtle. To know about the box turtle’s balanced diet click the link.
  3. Set up high-quality heat lamps and UV lamps in the enclosure.
  4. Make sure the water source is clean.
  5. Do regular check-ups of the box turtle.
  6. Clean the enclosure regularly.

How To Set Up A Hospital Tank For The Box Turtle?

The hospital tank is not a must, but you should build one if you house multiple box turtle together. You can use a 20-gallon tank or a 31-gallon tank for this. Make sure the tank is spacious enough for the box turtle.

Set up a heat lamp, UV lamps, and other heating accessories. You have to cover the tank with a sheet. You have to use a thick, clean towel as a substrate. You can use moist sphagnum moss if you want.

You have to add a waterproof hiding area. Make sure the heating lights are on for 12 to 14 hours. Readymade hospital tanks for the box turtles are available on the pet shops. You can buy one if you want.

How Would You Know If Your Box Turtle Is Sick Or Not

  • Change in behavior
  • Change in food habit
  • Spots on the shell or skin
  • Soft shell
  • Dry shell
  • Dry skin
  • Red spots on the skin
  • Runny nose
  • Lumps on skin
  • Swelling eyes
  • Discharge from mouth edge
  • Wet, sticky eyes
  • Avoid water
  • The box turtle can not submerge in the water
  • The box turtle wants more heat
  • Cottage cheese stuffs in mouth
  • Pale mouth
  • Bad smell
  • Organ prolapse
  • Puffy tissue
  • Abnormal shell
  • Abnormal organs

If you notice any sign from above, your box turtle may be sick. If you can not find the disease by yourself, take the box turtle to a vet.

Euthanasia To A Box Turtle

We are familiar with euthanasia. But when comes to a box turtle, we have to be more careful while applying euthanasia. You should never apply euthanasia by yourself to the box turtle as you are not an expert.

In some severe conditions, the vet may give euthanasia to the box turtle to lessen its pain. There are some other ways of lessening the pain, but it is the safest method.

That is all for now. I have tried to explain each disease as much as I can. I hope it will help you guys to take care of your box turtle.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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