Painted turtles are a common species of turtle in North America. They inhabit freshwater ponds and are often seen basking on logs or rocks. These animals are often sold as pets, but they have shorter life spans in captivity than they do in the wild, according to the Lee & Rose Warner Nature Center. As pets, painted turtles can develop a number of serious health problems because of improper care or poor nutrition.
Metabolic Bone Disease
Soft shell syndrome, also known as metabolic bone disease or MBD, is a fatal disease among aquatic turtles, according to the Turtle Puddle website. The disease is caused by poor nutrition, especially a lack of calcium in the diet. A turtle's shell should be rigid to the touch. Turtles with MBD will have soft, weak shells. Turtles with MBD may suffer weight loss, show a lack of energy, and have signs of shell deformities, such as a carapace that curls up around the edges or begins to grow upward in a pyramid shape, according to the Veterinary Network. MBD can be treated by adding a cuttle bone to the turtle's water or by using a prepared turtle diet that contains calcium. In addition, young turtles should be fed live creatures such as snails and earthworms.
Painted turtles can develop respiratory infections if their water is dirty or contaminated or if the turtle has a nutritional deficiency, according to the Bird and Exotic Clinic of Seattle. A turtle also can contract a respiratory infection if the environment is too cool. Symptoms of respiratory issues include bubbling from the nose, a lack of energy and wheezing. An veterinarian who specializes in exotic pets will need to examine the turtle and can prescribe or administer an antibiotic.
Shell rot, or ulceration of the shell, is caused by poor nutrition or unsanitary living conditions. The symptoms of mild shell rot, according to Turtle Puddle, are dry wounds that are not oozing pus and a crusty deposit inside the affected areas. If the disease is left untreated, the lesions can get infected and may become filled with blood or pus. Shell rot can eventually lead to the turtle's death if it goes untreated. The Turtle Puddle website recommends treating mild forms of the condition by cleaning the turtle's habitat and shell and by using a disinfectant to clean the shell. Severe cases should be treated by a veterinarian.