Red Eared Slider Shell Problems & How to Treat Them

Red Eared Slider Shell Problems

Over the last few decades, red eared slider turtle is gaining popularity as an ideal pet. When you adopt a red eared slider as your pet, it is your responsibility to take great care of it. That drives you to learn more about the diseases a red-eared slider can face.

Why you need to learn all these? Well, having a minimum knowledge will help you to avoid some critical conditions. Moreover, you can treat your red eared slider on your own if the disease is not severe.

This sector is so immense that I cannot cover in one article. So in this article, I will explain red eared slider shell problems and how to treat them. Try reading the full article, it will help you, for sure.

The General Conditions A Red Eared Slider Face:

  • Cracked Shell
  • Shedding
  • Holes on Shell
  • White Patches on Shell
  • Shell Rot/ SCUD
  • Soft Spots on Shell
  • Black Spots on Shell
  • Soft Shell

Need To Talk With A Turtle Vet Right Now?

Cracked Shell:

Cracked Shell

Turtle’s shell seems very strong from the point of a viewer. But the reality is, it can be damaged. When one part of a turtle’s shell gets snapped by massive force, this phenomenon is known as Cracked Shell. In most cases, a red eared turtle survives cracked shell situation if it is not severe.

Why Cracked Shell Condition Happens To A Red Eared Slider?

Three main points are responsible for this condition of a red eared slider.

  • If your red eared slider falls on his/her shell from a considerable height, there is a high possibility of shell cracking.
  • If a car or any massive force hits your turtle, his/her shell can get cracked.
  • Wildlife attacks on a turtle also open the possibility of shell cracking.

What Will You Do If Your Red Eared Turtle Has A Cracked Shell?

For repairing your turtle’s shell, you must take it to a vet. Don’t worry. It’s not always severe, but for healing the cracking, your red eared slider may require authorized medication.

In case you are confident about it, carefully follow the instructions given below. (Consulting to a vet is highly recommended. If you need to contact with a turtle vet, check out our Emergency Turtle Vet Directory. It will be only a matter of time before you can contact with an experienced turtle vet from your state)

Healing Material:

Many materials are available that can repair the turtle’s cracked shell. The most used materials are epoxy resin and fiberglass patch. If these two materials are unavailable, you can use dental acrylic plastics, colored polyester resins, and hoof repair compounds.

All these materials are available in the hardware or dental or hobby shops. You will also need transparent gauge and wires.

Process Of Fixing Shell:

  • Wipe the wound with a dilute suspension. You can apply 3% hydrogen peroxide, povidone-iodine solution, or Nolvasan.
  • Now let the solution dry on the shell. It is essential to dry the wound because healing adhesive or material needs a dry surface.
  • Now use the healing material to seal the crack.

The sealing method may differ depending on the kind of the burst.

For example:

Patch Method:

If the shell breaks into small parts, you have to apply the patch method. You can use dental acrylics as a patch.

  • First, you roughen the sides of the wounds with a sandpaper or nail file. Don’t hurt your red eared slider in the process. Make sure the shell dust cannot enter into any cracking.
  • Prepare the patch by following the directions written on its packet. Make a flat patch and put it on the defect. Remember not to coat the edges with the suspension, and not to fill the crack with it.

If The Cracks Are Linear:

  • Clean the lines with dilute solutions and let them dry.
  • Drill two small holes on both sides of the shell and put a stainless wire through it. Use the tiniest drill bit possible.
  • Clean and dry the surface again. Use Tegaderm as an adhesive dressing to protect the wound.
  • It will take a few weeks for your red eared slider to recover. Do not let your pet to submerge into the water.

If The Cracks Are In Bridge Area:

The bridge area is more sensible compared to any other part. You can apply both patch or wire method for this kind. If anything goes wrong, it will make your red eared slider more vulnerable.

Some Important Points:

  • Protect open shell crackings from flies, and dust.
  • You have to keep the wound clean.
  • Check your red eared slider can use his/her limbs or not.
  • For young turtles, this process is a bit tough, but not a problem for adult turtles.
  • Consult with your vet regularly. I highly recommend to perform these surgeries or steps under professional observation.


turtle Shedding
Turtle Shedding

What Is Shedding?

If you have minimum knowledge about turtles’ anatomy, you must know they have 60 bones in their shell. Epithelium, a thin layer, cover the scutes and imparts hardness to it.

Turtles tend to grow new layers of epithelium and wear off the old one. The phenomenon is known as shedding, and is common among sea turtles. Shedding can also be dangerous, but that depends on the kind of turtle and its health.

Why Abnormal Shedding Happens To Red Eared Slider?

The condition is also known as Dysecdise. It has a bad impact on your pet’s shell, which makes it look vulnerable.

  • Shell rot and other diseases can lead your pet into Dysecdysis.
  • Abnormal shedding can happen to your red eared slider if you overfeed it. Well, many think overfilling your pet turtle is a part of care. It is not correct, rather it may drive your turtle into critical health issues.
  • Severe injuries on the shell can also cause abnormal shedding.
  • If you let your red eared slider bask in a heated place, the turtle may face this medical condition.
  • Too low temperatures also cause abnormal shedding to the red-eared slider.
  • Bacterial or fungal attacks created a high possibility for the turtle to suffer this disease.
  • If the water in the tank contains high ammonia, the red-eared slider may suffer from abnormal shedding.

What Are The Possible Treatments For Abnormal Shedding?

The treatment of abnormal shedding depends on the severity and cause of the condition. If you are an amateur, I suggest you take your red eared slider to an expert/vet. It is because you will not be able to find the cause of the problem accurately.

Again, some minor changes in habit can reduce the possibility of it.

  • Keep your red eared slider away from sharp and heavy things.
  • Keep the temperature in the tank constant.
  • Maintain an excellent quality tank for your pet. Check regularly if the filter is working fitly or not.
  • Maintain a healthy diet for your red eared slider.
  • Clean your turtle with proper dilute solution, and take steps if you notice any sign of shell rot.

How Can We Prevent Abnormal Shedding In Red Eared Slider?

Well, we can only try to keep our turtles safe from any accident. There is no proper prevention of this disease. But maintaining all the steps mentioned above may help you to keep your red eared slider protected from abnormal shedding disease.

Holes On Shell

Holes On Shell
Holes On Shell

What Is ‘Holes On The Shell?’

Like many other medical illnesses, holes on the shell/scutes is a condition some red eared sliders face.  In this condition, you may notice small or big holes on the shell of your red eared slider depending on the severity. In extreme cases, you may observe red bloodlines surrounding the holes.

Why Holes On Shell Happens To Your Red Eared Slider?

We can consider two points responsible for this disease:

  • Appearing holes on the shell can be a result of any previous injury or wound. Neglecting a proper diet can also be responsible for this.
  • Bacterial or fungal attack can be another reason for these shell holes.

How To Treat Your Red Eared Slider If It Has Shell Holes?

If the condition is worse, take your red eared slider to the vet. If not, then follow the advice mentioned below:

  • Take your red eared slider out of the water.
  • Keep your turtle in a dry and warm place.
  • Soak your pet with water for thirty minutes twice a day. It will keep your red eared slider hydrated. You can use Betadine or Nolvasan solution for soaking.
  • Continue doing it for several days.
  • Put your red-eared slider on a proper diet.

White Patches On The Shell

White Patches On The Shell
White Patches On The Shell

It may not be uncommon to see white spots or patches on your red eared slider’s shell. You will notice these spots mostly on baby or young red-eared sliders. Why this happens, and how you can recover your turtle from these spots. Let’s see.

Why Are White Spots Or Patches On The Red Eared Slider?

Well, there are two reasons for this condition.

  1. Young or baby red eared sliders show white spots before shedding. So this can be a sign that they are growing.
  2. White patches can be a sign of fungal infection or scars from previous wounds.

A Way Of Recovery From White Patch Problem:

If it is an infection, you can apply home-made treatments on your red eared slider.

  • First, dry the shell carefully.
  • Apply silver sulfadiazine cream on the patches or spots.
  • You can apply betadine solution on the spots too. But make sure to dry the solvent on the shell.
  • Continue this process for a few days.
  • If you do not observe any improvement, try consulting with a vet as soon as possible.

Shell Rot/ SCUD

Shell Rot turtle
Shell Rot turtle

SCUD means Severe Ulcerative Shell Disease or shell rot. I have illustrated Shell Rot, its reason, symptoms, and treatment in my previous article. You can check it out here.

Soft Shell/Soft Spots On Shell

Soft Shell on the red eared slider is a critical medical condition. It is also known as MBD or Metabolic Bone Disease. Many people do not understand the disease. So they fail to take any practical action for their turtle.

Why Does This Happen To A Red Eared Slider?

Soft Shell is a natural process for the turtles to grow. Before or after shedding, you may observe soft shell. But if the condition comes with other symptoms, and happens to adult red eared sliders, then it is MBD. We will know the symptoms later. Let’s discuss the reasons behind MBD first.

  • Calcium is essential for your turtle. Calcium and Phosphorus ratio should be 2:1 in each diet. If there is insufficient calcium in your red eared slider’s nutrition, it will suffer from MBD.
  • Besides calcium, Vitamin D is a must, because without Vitamin D, calcium cannot work. It can cause soft shell problem to your pet.
  • Turtles need light to manufacture nutrition from its food. So if your red eared slider does not get enough sunlight, bulb light, or any light, there is a high possibility it will suffer from MBD.
  • Excess phosphorus is harmful to one’s health. If your red eared slider gets excess phosphorus from any source, it will fall in MBD disease.

Symptoms Of Soft Shell:

  • Change in your red eared slider’s movement or behavior sometimes indicates MBD. It is necessary to observe your pet’s swimming pattern and daily routine. If you know its natural response, finding any abnormal reaction will be easy for you.
  • The red eared slider looks tired all the time, and cannot climb out of the water quickly.
  • Turtle’s jawline gets floppy. It cannot bite anything easily.
  • The red eared slider may suffer constipation because of MBD.

Treatment And Prevention For Metabolism Body Disease:

MBD is not a critical situation to treat. If the condition is not dangerous, you can manage your red eared slide your own.

  • You have to improve the red eared slider’s regular diet. Add sufficient calcium and vitamin D.
  • Give it proper sunlight. If you cannot manage that, arrange UVA and UVB lights of precise wavelength.
  • Maintain the temperature of the water.

Your red eared slider will recover soon if you follow these instructions.

In severe cases, you must take your red eared slider to a vet. The vet may prescribe the turtle calcium, vitamins, or other minerals. Follow the prescription and do regular check-ups.

Black Spots On The Shell:

A red eared slider can have black spots on its shell for two reasons.

  1. It can be a bacterial or fungal attack.
  2. It can be the aftereffect of Shell Rot.

In both cases, you should follow the treatment of shell rot. Here you can check my article on shell rot.

Can Red-Eared Sliders Go In Their Shell?

You should know that not all turtles can get inside their shell. So, can red-eared sliders go in their shell? The answer is yes. Red-eared sliders can pull their head, legs, and tail inside their shell.

This important aspect of their anatomy provides them with protection from predators and other threats. The shell of red-eared sliders is a bony structure covering its back, sides, and belly. It has layers of keratinized scutes that make the shell shard.

These scutes are joined together by flexible skin and muscles. Thus, the turtles are able to move their limbs and withdraw them into its shell when necessary. When a red-eared slider turtle feels threatened, it retracts its head, legs, and tail into its shell for protection. This way red-eared sliders protect themselves from danger.


As I am still learning about more shell problems, you may find some shell conditions missing. In that case, let me know what I have missed. I tried to explain red-eared slider shell problems & how to treat them in simple words. I hope you find it helpful.

Muntaseer Rahman

I have been keeping turtles as a pet for many years now. I’ve fallen in love with these cute pets from the moment I saw them. That’s why I am writing articles to share my turtle keeping knowledge with you.

Recent Posts