Box Turtle Eye Problems & How To Solve Them?

box turtle eye problems

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Raising a box turtle is more like raising a baby. You have to take care of your box turtle’s health properly. A box turtle can go through many health issues, and eye problems are one of them.

Eye problems are very common to box turtles. Shut eyes, closed and puffy eyes, closed and sunken eyes, eye swelling, eye rot, and eye infection are some of the conditions a box turtle can experience.

The eye is a sensitive body part, and so treatment in any major or minor case is a must.

In this article, I will talk about the eye problems of a box turtle, and how to solve them. In some cases, you can do the treatment by yourself.

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Box Turtle Eye Problems

Eye problems are considered normal to the box turtle. The environment of the box turtle is mainly responsible for any kind of eye problem.

So what types of eye problems does a box turtle experience?

  • Shut Eyes
  • Swollen Eyes
  • Closed And Puffy Eyes
  • Scratched Eyes
  • Vitamin Deficiency’
  • Eye Rot
  • Eye Infection
  • Bloody Eyes
  • Closed And Sunken Eyes

Shut Eyes

Shuteye problem is the most common issue for a box turtle. If your box turtle has shut eyes, you will observe that it is not opening its eyes for a long time. Now shut eye problems can be of many types. If your box turtle’s eyes are not puffy or sunken, then it is not a severe condition.

When the eyes can not be opened without soaking the turtle’s eyes, it indicates that the box turtle has shut eye problems.

Shut eyes can happen for many reasons. The most common reasons are,

  1. Bacterial conjunctive
  2. Vitamin A deficiency
  3. Unhealthy environment
  4. Dry environment

Treatment for shut eyes

As the condition happens mostly for an unhealthy environment, you have to manage that first. You have to take care of some additional points too.

  • Maintain a high humidity level so that the box turtle does not find it dry.
  • Use triple antibiotic or Artificial Tears to soak or wash the pet’s eyes.
  • Provide fresh and hygienic water.
  • Give him a proper diet.
  • For an outdoor enclosure, you can place more plants. Plants help to hold the humidity.
  • Always be careful while choosing the substrate for bedding.
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Also, if you are using a low class bulb, replace that. Maintaining these steps would help your turtle to heal. If you do not notice any progress, take your box turtle to a vet.

Swollen Eyes

Though swollen eye is a common disease for box turtles, but it needs to be treated as soon as possible. Ignorance of this disease can lead the turtle to blindness.

Reason For Swollen Eyes Of A Box Turtle

There are two main reasons for swollen eyes of a box turtle.

  1. Unhygienic water.
  2. Vitamin A deficiency.

Symptoms Of Box Turtle’s Swollen Eyes

  • The eyelids of the box turtle will be puffier than usual.
  • The puffiness will increase and get worse.
  • The orbital glands and conjunctiva of the box turtle will become red.
  • In some cases, fluids can flow from the eyes of the turtle.
  • In severe cases, the box turtle will go blind. It will not eat properly so it will lose weight in a very short period.

Treatment for Box Turtle’s Swollen Eyes

Swollen eye condition is a major problem. If you observe any of the symptoms, you should consult the vet immediately. Swollen eye mainly occurs because of two reasons. So before getting into the treatment, it is necessary to know, which one is causing the problem.

If the Harderian gland of the box turtle starts swelling, be sure that it is because of Vitamin A deficiency. If the gland is not swelling, then it is because of the unhygienic water.

For Vitamin A deficiency

  • Provide your box turtle a nutritious diet.
  • Try to add more vegetables to their diet.
  • Younger box turtles turtle prefers protein, and adult one prefers vegetables. Make sure each turtle gets the food according to its needs.

For Unhygienic Water

  • Provide fresh water to the box turtle.
  • Change the water regularly.

These are some minor changes you have to perform. You can not recover your box turtle all by yourself in this case. You have to take it to the vet.

The vet may suggest some Vitamin A injection for the turtle. In severe cases, the vet prescribes eye drops and other medicines. Try to maintain the routine. Do not apply any medicine on your box turtle without the vet’s advice.

See also  Are Box Turtles An Endangered Species?

Closed And Puffy Eyes

Most of the time, we think dryness is responsible for closed eyes. But if the turtle’s eyes are closed and puffy and fluid is discharging, it may not because of the dry environment.


  • Respiratory disease
  • Vitamin A deficiency

With naked and inexperienced eyes, you can not identify the proper reason behind this condition. It would be better if you take your box turtle to the vet. The vet would run some tests and come up with the proper treatment.

Besides, following the vet’s instructions, you have to make some husbandry and diet changes.  

Scratched Eyes

We know that adult box turtles tend to fight with each other. In any case, if a box turtle gets scratches on the eyes, it could give rise to new issues. Scratched eyes can lead the turtle towards blindness if it is not treated properly.

Consulting with a vet is always a better option, but you can do some home remedies if the case is not serious.

  • Apply some human eye medicine on the box turtle’s injured eye.
  • Make sure the medicine does not contain any steroids. Steroid is harmful to box turtle’s health.
  • Let the medicine dry for 30 minutes.
  • Provide fresh water to the box turtle.
  • Keep the environment hygienic. Unhygienic environment can spread germs, which may cause more problems to the injured eye.

If you see no progress, it means the case is more complicated. Take your box turtle to the vet in any severe case.

As scratched eyes occur mostly because of accidents, you can not prevent the condition.

Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A is one of the most important vitamins for a box turtle. It works as an antioxidant and helps in the growth and repair of tissues. It also plays a significant role in the proper functioning of the eyes. Vitamin A deficiency is known as hypovitaminosis A.

Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency

  • Swollen eyes
  • The box turtle will lose appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Runny nose
  • Abnormality around eyes

Swollen eyes are a sign of vitamin A deficiency. In most cases, the box turtle can not open its eyelids.

Treatment of Vitamin A deficiency Of A Box Turtle

  • The key treatment of this condition is to provide a properly balanced diet to the box turtle.
  • Green leaves, yellow vegetables, carrots are the main sources of vitamin A. Make sure your box turtle is getting enough of these.
  • Sometimes, vitamin A deficiency is deficient with other nutrients too. So you have to come up with a proper balance chart.

You can take help from the vet to make a balanced diet chart for the box turtle. The vet sometimes suggests Vitamin injections or other medicines. Those are effective and work faster.

See also  How To Breed Box Turtles In Captivity?

Eye Rot

Eye rot is a serious problem for the box turtles. In this condition, the eyelids or surrounding areas start rotting. This condition can happen because of the bacterial or fungal infection.

If you observe any sign of eye rot, take your pet turtle to the vet immediately. The vet would suggest some medicines or will keep the box turtle under observation.

Eye rot conditions can spread from one box turtle to another. So you have to isolate the sick turtle and take proper care of it. Without care and medications, the box turtle can go blind.

Eye Infection

Eye infection is mainly a bacterial infection. If your box turtle is diagnosed with an eye infection, it means its diet is totally okay. In the wild, box turtles often suffer from eye infection after hibernation.

Symptoms of eye infection

  • Glued or shut eyes
  • Swollen eyes
  • Mucous can be observed

Treatment of eye infection of box turtle

  • Taking the box turtle to the vet is the best decision in this case.
  • The vet will suggest some antibiotics and eye drops.
  • Maintain the prescription.
  • Make the habitat of the box turtle germ free.

Bloody Eyes

If you can observe blood inside the eyeballs of the turtle, it is suffering from bloody eyes condition. You can not do much in this condition except cleaning the eyes of the box turtle.

You can use prescribed eye drops or medicine to wash the box turtle’s eyes. This condition heals by itself. So you don’t have to worry about anything.

Closed And Sunken Eyes

Closed and sunken eyes of a box turtle indicate that it is suffering from dehydration. It may not be a serious problem, but the situation should be handled promptly. You should take the box turtle to the vet as soon as possible.

The vet would suggest some medicines to rehydrate the box turtle. In most cases, this condition occurs because of the irresponsibility of the owner. If you are not providing the turtle enough freshwater, it will suffer from dehydration.

If the condition is not handled immediately, it can harm the box turtle’s health.

Apply Medication To Your Box Turtle’s Eyes

Applying medicine on the box turtle’s eyes is always a challenging task. Here are some tips that can help you.

  1. Select a spot on the floor. Avoid height because the turtle can drop anytime.
  2. Gather the supplies and medicines.
  3. Pick up the turtle gently.
  4. Give it some food to make it easy.
  5. Gently position the box turtle. Make sure it is comfortable.
  6. Apply the eye drops in its eyes. While giving medication to a box turtle, always take another person’s help.
  7. Now put the box turtle back in the habitat.

In most cases, eye problems occur because of the unhygienic environment, an unbalanced diet. You have to be careful about these two factors if you want to prevent any eye conditions.

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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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