42 Map Turtle Health Problems & Their Treatments

Map Turtle Health Problems

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

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Are you observing something unusual with your map turtle? Do you think it is sick but can not find out the disease? Then this article will be a big help to you. Well, we all want our pet map turtle to be healthy and have a long life. But due to some mismanagements, the pet often suffers from life-threatening diseases.

2 of the most common health problems of a map turtle are:

  • Hypovitaminosis: It happens when your map turtle does not get enough vitamin A. Antibiotics, or vitamin shots are the best treatment for this disease.
  • Respiratory infection: Lack of vitamin A and bacterial disease are the main reasons for this disease. The pet turtle will recover with rest and meds.

In this article, I will discuss all the major health problems that can happen to your map turtle. I will also include the causes and treatment of the conditions.

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Major Health Problems of Map Turtles

Map turtles can suffer from various diseases. For your convenience, I have categorized each disease. In this section, I will discuss only the major health conditions of a map turtle.

Shell Problems

  1. Shell rot
  2. Pyramiding
  3. Shell peeling or shedding
  4. Soft shell
  5. Soft spots on the shell
  6. White patches on the shell
  7. Black spots on the shell
  8. Holes on the shell
  9. Red lines on the shell
  10. Mussy stuff on the shell
  11. Shell fracture or cracked shell
  12. Irregular shell growth
  13. Algae on the shell

Parasitic Diseases

  1. Internal parasite
  2. Blood parasites
  3. Insects on the skin
  4. Foreign body ingestion
  5. Intestinal parasite
  6. Bot fly infestation
  7. Dry, flaky skin
  8. Maggot infestation

Eye Problems

  1. Swollen eyes
  2. Eye rot
  3. Closed and puffy eye
  4. Bloody eye
  5. Scratched eye
  6. Closed eyes

Overgrown of Organs

  1. Overgrown nails
  2. Overgrown beaks
  3. Overgrown upper jaw

Other Diseases

  1. Vitamin A deficiency or Hypovitaminosis
  2. Respiratory infection
  3. An ear abscess
  4. Mouth rot
  5. Lumps
  6. Abnormal behavior
  7. Map turtle not eating
  8. Paralyzed legs
  9. Dystocia
  10. Organ diseases
  11. Organ prolapse
  12. Cystic calculi

Map Turtle’s Shell Problem

As you know, I have discussed the map turtle’s shell problem, their causes, and home treatment in one of my previous articles elaborately, so, I will give a short description of each one. (Click here if you have missed the article)

Shell Rot

The medical term of shell rot is severe ulcerative shell disease or SCUD.


  • The main reason for shell rot is fungal or bacterial attack.
  • If the shell of your map turtle is damaged and you keep it in a dirty enclosure, the bacteria may enter into its shell. These will start spreading all over the shell, and the scutes will start rotting.
  • Low-quality water helps the bacteria and fungus spread faster, which can lead to shell rot.
  • If your map turtle’s enclosure does not have any basking dock, the pet will not come out of the water to bask. Staying overtime underwater can cause shell rot.


  • You will observe rotten shells around the turtle’s scutes.
  • The shell will become soft and mushy.
  • Fluids will discharge from the place, and it will spread a bad smell.


  • Isolate your map turtle.
  • Clean the infected area carefully with a toothbrush.
  • Apply chlorhexidine or hydrogen peroxide on the area and let it dry on the shell.
  • Now rub any healing lotion such as Neosporin, SIlver sulfadiazine in the area.
  • Repeat the treatment twice a day for 7 days.

You can prevent shell rot by providing a proper house to the map turtle. Click here to learn about the perfect housing system for a map turtle.


This is the most common shell problem of a map turtle.


  • Overfeeding protein is the main reason for pyramiding.
  • Low humidity inside the enclosure can sometimes lead to this disease.


  • The scutes will look abnormal.
  • Each scute will look bumpy and rough. And eventually, the domed shape shell will look like a pyramid.


  • The vet can suggest some medicines.
  • You have to provide the turtle with a balanced diet. Click here to learn more about a map turtle’s proper diet system.

Shell Peeling or Shedding


  • Overfeeding protein and calcium can make it grow faster. This can lead to unhealthy shedding.
  • If the basking temperature is too hot for the pet, it will start shedding.
  • Low water quality can cause shedding.
  • Fungal or bacterial diseases can lead to shell peeling.


  • Always feed the map turtle a healthy diet.
  • Make sure the habitat is perfect for the pet, and the captive environment is suitable for it. Click here to learn about the perfect captive habitat system of a map turtle.

Soft Shell


  • Poor diet
  • Low-quality UV light


Soft Spots On The Shell


  • Lack of vitamin and calcium in the diet.
  • Low-quality UV light in the enclosure.
  • Unhygienic water and improper temperature.


  • Make sure the map turtle is getting a balanced diet. Provide calcium and vitamin supplements with each meal.
  • Provide the map turtle with a proper habitat and a suitable captive environment.

White Patches on The Shell


  • Fungal infection
  • Poor water filtration system inside the enclosure


  • You may observe soft mussy areas on individual scutes.


Black Spots on The Shell

This is no health condition. Often after recovering from any severe diseases, you can observe these marks.

Cracked Shell or Shell Fracture


  • If the map turtle falls from a height or meets an accident, its shell can get cracked.
  • Low humidity or dry environment can cause a cracked shell on a map turtle.


  • You have to take your map turtle to a doctor for better treatment.

Holes on The Shell


  • Poor diet
  • Shell rot
  • Cracked shell
  • Improper housing


  • Keep your map turtle out of water.
  • Soak its body for 30 minutes so that it can stay hydrated.
  • Sponge its body with Betadine every day.
  • Make sure the map turtle is getting a balanced diet.
  • Look into the housing system and make a suitable environment for the pet.

Parasitic Diseases

Internal Parasite

Internal parasites are microscopic organisms that enter into a map turtle’s body with food. Once the parasites get into the host’s body, they start spreading. Those organisms totally depend on the host’s body for food.


  • Diarrhea
  • Abnormal poop
  • Foam discharging from mouth


You have to take your pet turtle to the vet. He will do a stool test to determine the type of parasite your map turtle is infested with. Then he will prescribe some deworming meds, which you should strictly follow.

One more thing, the parasites mainly enters into the map turtle’s body via food or first in the enclosure. So, never keep the habitat dirt and unhygienic.

Eye Problems

Swollen Eyes

The swollen eye is the most common eye problem for map turtles. This disease happens more to the aquatic and semi-aquatic species. The condition is not life-threatening, and you can treat the map turtle at home.


  1. In most cases, swollen eyes happen due to the water quality of the enclosure. High concentration chlorine in the water can cause eye irritation to the pet.
  2. Another reason for swollen eyes is vitamin A deficiency.
  3. If your map turtle is suffering from any eye infection, it can lead to a swollen eye condition.


  • Eyes of your map turtle will be puffy. Those will get puffier if the situation gets worse.
  • You will notice dead tissue around your map turtle’s eyes.
  • Fluids will discharge from the pet’s eyes.
  • The pet can not open its eyes.


The best way to treat swollen eyes of your map turtle is to detect the cause first. If it is because of vitamin A deficiency, make sure the meals are all rounded. Also, you can give the pet vitamin shots if the vet prescribes.

On the other hand, if water quality is responsible for the disease, ensure a good quality water filter inside the enclosure. Never fill the tank with dirty water.

Eye Rot

Eye rot is a severe eye disease for map turtles. This condition happens due to a bacterial or fungal attack. In this disease, the cell and tissues around the map turtle’s eyes start rotting. Bad smell spreads from the area and fluid discharges from the eyes.

If you observe this condition, take the map turtle to the vet. With proper medication and diet, the pet will recover soon. Ignoring the disease can often make the pet blind for life.

Closed Eye

The closed eye condition is common among the map turtles. This disease is curable and not life-threatening.


  • Bacterial attack
  • Unhealthy habitat
  • Improper temperature and low humidity
  • Poor diet


The first thing you need to do is providing the map turtle with a proper habitat. Then ensure the temperature and humidity are suitable for the pet. Also, feed the turtle a balanced diet. You have to soak its eyes with triple antibiotics until it recovers from the disease.

Overgrown of Organs

Overgrown Beaks

This is mainly a metabolic bone disease. If you observe abnormal jaws in your map turtle, it means the pet is not getting a balanced diet. So, as a responsible turtle owner, make sure the pet can get enough vitamins and minerals in each meal. You have to feed the map turtle calcium and vitamin D3 supplements.

Overgrown Nails

This is not any medical condition, and you can only observe this in captive map turtles. In the wild, the turtles need to fight to survive. But in the captive environment, they get everything. So, the pets do not need to use their toenails for fighting or searching for food. And that’s why these nails grow longer.

You can use a clipper or nail trimmer to make those nails short. But do not hurt the turtle while doing so.

Other Diseases

Vitamin A Deficiency or Hypovitaminosis A

Vitamin A plays a significant role in keeping a map turtle healthy. Here are some of the importance of vitamin A:

  • It helps in the growth and repair of skin and tissues.
  • For proper eye functioning, vitamin A is necessary.


  • The map turtle will have swollen eyes.
  • It will stop eating and lose weight.
  • Runny nose and fluid will discharge from its nose and eyes.
  • You may notice abnormal embryos around their eyes.

How to Diagnose Vitamin A Deficiency?

Hypovitaminosis A can be severe, and if you are a beginner, you may not be able to determine the disease. To be sure, a visit to the vet is a must. The vet may do some lab tests to detect the condition.

Sometimes other medical conditions like ulcers, phenomena, secondary infections also occur due to vitamin A deficiency. In that case, the vet will suggest some other tests to observe the health of the internal organs.


The main treatment of this disease is to feed your map turtle a balanced diet. You have to make sure that the meal contains sufficient amounts of Vitamin A. The food items that are high in Vitamin A are:

  • Carrot
  • Capricots
  • Kale
  • Mustard green
  • Spinach
  • Parsley
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion green
  • Turnip greens

Sometimes this disease can come with other malnutrition too. So, you must follow the vet’s prescription. The vet can prescribe vitamin supplements, meds, or shots. Strictly stick to the prescription.

Respiratory Infection

Respiratory illness is most common in semi-aquatic turtles like map turtles. Runny noses syndrome or RNS and Mycoplasma agassizii are also known as respiratory infections.


  • The infection mainly occurs due to the attack of a germ or bacteria.
  • The secondary reason for respiratory illness is vitamin A deficiency.


  • The pet will be too tired to move.
  • It will have trouble breathing. The pet will start breathing with its mouth.
  • The turtle will sneeze continuously, and you will observe a runny nose.
  • Mucus or fluid will discharge from the nose and eyes.
  • The pet will have puffy, swollen eyes.
  • It will lose its appetite.
  • You will find your map turtle in the basking area most of the time.


  • Respiratory illness is contagious. So, first of all, isolate your sick turtle from other pets.
  • Make sure the water is not too cold. Maintain the accurate temperature for your map turtle species. The average temperature in the water area should be around 72 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Click here to learn how to maintain the perfect temperature inside the map turtle’s enclosure.
  • Raise the temperature high in the baking dock too. The average temperature in the basking station should be around 85 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit depending on your species.
  • Check if the basking light and the UV lamp is working fine or not. You have to set up a night infrared light for the betterment of the pet.
  • If your turtle is too sick to swim, put it in a dry enclosure. Soak its body for 30 minutes to keep it hydrated.

Though your pet should be recovered if you follow the instructions, I suggest you visit a vet first. Sometimes, RI conditions can be severe, and the pet can die without meds.

An Ear Abscess

Ear abscess is an aural infection for the map turtles. It occurs due to a bacterial attack. Sometimes the mouth infection can reach up to the ear canal and cause ear abscess.


As I have mentioned above, this is a bacterial infection. Some conditions make map turtles vulnerable and cause ear abscess. For example:

  • If the captive environment is too dry or too wet, it can cause ear infection to the map turtles.
  • Sometimes a viral infection can lead to this condition.
  • Traumatic injury and poor diet are other reasons for ear abscess to the map turtle.


  • You will notice a pocket of pus in your map turtle’s ears. The pus will be firm and fill with cheesy consistent liquids.


The only way to treat an ear abscess is to take the pet to a vet. If the pus is hard, it may need surgery. In normal cases, the vet will prescribe some antibiotics and meds.

You may have to swab the infected ear with a proper solution after surgery. Ear abscess is not a life-threatening condition and can be cured easily. When you notice any sign of this condition, take your turtle to a vet immediately. Also, keep the map turtle under the vet’s observation until it gets fully recovered.

Mouth Rot

It is an oral health condition for map turtles. If you notice it in an early stage, the disease can be totally cured.


Mouth rot occurs due to the attack of a bacteria or fungus. If your map turtle gets a small cut in its mouth, bacteria can enter and start spreading. Without proper treatment, the situation will start getting worse. Mental stress and dirty habitat can accelerate the health condition.

Another reason for mouth rot is abnormal jaw alignment. If the food gets stuck in parts of the map turtle’s mouth, the side can get sore and attract bacteria. This eventually leads to mouth rot.


  • You will notice cheesy white growths around the turtle’s mouth.
  • There will be pus and dead tissues.
  • If you check the pet’s palate, you will notice red and black blisters on it.


Depending on the condition, you can treat the turtle at home or take it to a vet. If you are planning to give home treatment, then follow the instructions given below:

  • First of all, move the turtle to a clean habitat.
  • Wash its mouth with antiseptics twice a day.
  • Then apply some anti-fungal healing cream on the infected area.
  • Provide the map turtle with a balanced diet.

Before taking any steps or applying any meds, consult with your vet. Sometimes in severe cases, the pet may need surgery to get recovered. If the condition gets much worse, there is no guaranteed recovery from this disease.

Map Turtle Not Eating

If your map turtle stops eating, that means your map turtle is probably sick. When your turtle loses its appetite alongside the signs I am going to mention, take it to the vet as soon as possible. The signs:

  • Runny nose
  • Fluid discharge from mouth and eye
  • Mouth breathing
  • Lopsided swimming

Two other reasons for losing appetite are:

  1. Low-quality water filter
  2. The improper temperature inside the habitat

How To Make Your Map Turtle Eat Again?

If the pet stops eating due to any disease, you have to give it the proper treatment. If not, then you can do the following things:

  • Make sure the water is clean, and the pH is suitable for the map turtle.
  • Ensure the accurate basking and water temperature inside the enclosure.
  • To boost the pet’s appetite, offer it live food like worms or feeder fish.
  • Cichlid pellets, dried shrimp, fresh greens can increase a map turtle’s appetite.


This problem only occurs to the gravid map turtles if she refuses to lay her eggs. It is a common problem in captive situations and can be life-threatening.


  • Poor husbandry
  • Improper environment for laying eggs
  • No proper nesting area
  • Poor diet
  • Health condition


It is quite hard for a beginner to determine the situation. If you notice that your gravid map turtle is not eating but still active, she might be suffering from dystocia. There is nothing you can do except take it to a vet. The vet will perform lab tests and do surgery to remove the eggs.

If you do not take any immediate action, the map turtle may suffer from some other conditions too. Such as:

  • Tumor
  • Low calcium

Organ Prolapses

If any organ of the map turtle, such as intestine, uterus, penis, cloaca, or bladder, falls out from the vent, the situation is marked as organ prolapse. In male map turtles, generally, the penis protrudes, and the female map turtles suffer from oviduct organ prolapse.


  • Infection
  • Forceful separation of male and female map turtle during copulation
  • Swelling
  • Neurologic dysfunction
  • Egg binding


Any kind of organ prolapse is life-threatening, and you should immediately seek help from a professional. The vet may perform surgery or give medications depending on the health condition of the map turtle.

Cystic Calculi

In simple terms, cystic calculi refer to bladder stone. It happens due to malnutrition. The minerals from the map turtle’s diet usually form a crystal, and then it becomes a stone.

The stick turtle will drop blood with its poop. If you find out this condition, take the pet to the vet. Depending on the situation, the vet may suggest surgery or meds. Cystic calculi can be life-threatening if you ignore it at the early stage.

We have discussed almost all the major diseases of a map turtle. Now let’s talk about the general things you should know regarding diseases and preventions.

Organ Diseases

Liver and kidney failures are the two most common health problems for a map turtle.


  • Over protein in the diet
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Paralysis
  • Prolonged illness
  • Medication overdose


There is nothing much you can do except taking care of the pet. You have to keep it under the medication and regular check-ups. This way, the sick map turtle may live a little longer life.

Why Do Map Turtles Fall Sick?

There are several reasons why map turtles fall sick. Such as:

  • Poor husbandry
  • Lack of vitamin, calcium, and minerals in food
  • Improper captive environment
  • Accident
  • Injury
  • Genetic

How To Tell If Your Pet Map Turtle Is Sick Or Not?

Unlike humans, map turtles can not express their health conditions in words, but they show some signs. For example:

  • Starts behaving weird
  • Stops eating
  • Start losing weight
  • Do not swim much
  • Bad smell coming from its body
  • Fluids discharge from the nose, mouth or eyes
  • Skin and shell get dry

These are some of the signs that your pet will exhibit if it is sick. However, I have discussed the specific symptoms of each disease that you can follow. The best way to know if your turtle is healthy or sick is to observe it.

Prevent Map Turtle Diseases with 10 steps

Maybe it sounds surprising, but you can prevent most of the map turtle diseases. How? Follow the instructions given below:

  1. You have to set up a perfect housing system for the map turtle.
  2. After putting the pet inside the enclosure, make sure that the captive temperature and humidity is comfortable and accurate for it.
  3. You have to keep the habitat clean.
  4. As map turtles are semi-aquatic species and spend most of their time underwater, you have to set up a water filter.
  5. A good UV light, heating bulb, and infrared bulb are must for the map turtle’s habitat.
  6. When it comes to food, you have to ensure a balanced diet. You can sprinkle calcium and vitamin supplements on the meal.
  7. Protect the enclosure in such a way that the pet gets no injury.
  8. If you notice anything abnormal in the map turtle’s health and behavior, take it to the vet.
  9. Always do regular check-ups of the pet.
  10. Keep a hospital tank ready. If a map turtle falls sick, transfer it into that enclosure. This way, healthy turtles will not get sick.


If your map turtle is sick, do not worry and make the right choice of treatment. Remember, you can make your turtle’s health better by providing proper housing, diet, and on time treatment. In this article, I have covered almost all major map turtle health problems and its treatments. I hope the information will help you to take great care of your turtle’s health.

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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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