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CarynP625
CarynP625,
Category: Vet
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I have a terrapin and I think she is egg bound, She is

Customer Question

I have a terrapin and I think she is egg bound
JA: I'll do all I can to help. How long has the terrapin been egg-bound? How is her appetite?
Customer: She is eating small amounts and this started today
JA: And what's the terrapin's name and age?
Customer: Tank age 8
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know?
Customer: No
Submitted: 25 days ago.
Category: Vet
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Customer: replied 25 days ago.
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Expert:  CarynP625 replied 13 days ago.

I am sincerely ***** ***** there was a delay in someone responding to your question. (Experts are independent contractors and as such are online based on their own schedules.) However, I am available and can assist you if you still need veterinary advice.

Hello and thanks for posting your question on JustAnswer.com. My name is***** and I have been a licensed and accredited veterinarian in the US for over 22 years, specializing in aquatics, reptiles, amphibians, avian and other exotic species. JustAnswer is a question and answer service, not a veterinary telemedicine or emergency service. On this platform veterinarians can provide insight and advice based on the information you provide, but as this is not considered a legal client-patient relationship and we cannot examine your pet, we are unable to provide definitive diagnoses, prescribe medications, provide medical records or sign documents for your specific pet. For any of those you would need to make an in person visit with a local veterinarian. If your pet has a serious illness or life-threatening emergency, I strongly recommend you obtain hands-on veterinary care with a local veterinarian or veterinary emergency service as soon as possible. I am happy to chat with you via the JustAnswer app via text. For US based clients, if you are interested in a phone call instead that is an option you can choose for an additional charge. In the meantime, I am putting together some questions and/or suggestions to help with your pet’s concern.

Expert:  CarynP625 replied 13 days ago.

Thanks again for posting your question, I’m sorry that your terrapin Tank may be under the weather and you are concerned she might be egg bound. I have some questions that will help me get a better idea of your pet’s environment and what may be going on with them:

-What kind of terrapin is it?

-What signs are you seeing that suggest she is egg bound?

-When did you first notice this current problem?

-What is the current enclosure set-up, e.g.,

What is the air and basking spot temperatures?

-If it's a semi-aquatic turtle:

What is the water temperature?

Is there a basking spot of sufficient size for them to fully haul out, dry off and warm up?

What are the most recent water quality parameters (specifically ammonia and nitrite, though pH is also helpful as well) and what type of filtration do you have on your tank?

-Does she have a location or nest box to lay her eggs into?

-Do they receive any access to UV light? When was the UVB bulb last changed?

-Have they been eating normally?

-What do you normally feed them? Do they receive any calcium or vitamin supplements?

-Have they been pooping regularly and has it looked normal?

-Any other signs such as weakness or lethargy, straining, bloating, etc.?

Thanks very much for providing additional information, it is very helpful for me to try and figure out what is going on with your turtle and the history information will help me to do that.

Expert:  CarynP625 replied 13 days ago.

With any sick turtle, it is always a good idea to start by checking that their environment and husbandry are proper for their species. Taking a physical measurement of the temperature gradient within the enclosure (air temperature in the main enclosure and warmer basking spot temperature) and measuring water temperature for semi-aquatic turtles is also recommended. Double check that the basking area is at the appropriate temperature and is large enough for the the turtle to fully haul out, dry off and warm up. Making sure the UVB bulb is appropriate for the size of the space and has been changed regularly. Even if they are still producing visible light, UVB bulbs have a limited lifespan and need to be changed every 6-12 months, depending upon bulb type. Making sure diet is varied and nutritious and appropriately supplemented with calcium and multivitamins is quite important. Therefore, I am attaching a care sheet about your pet’s species for you to review at your convenience, in case any of their husbandry parameters need to be amended.

For example, if the environmental temperatures are too low, since turtles are cold-blooded, this will negatively affect their metabolism, appetite, digestion and immune function. So start by checking the air, basking and water temperatures in the enclosure and, if it's too low, adjust your basking light or submersible aquarium heater to achieve the proper environmental temperatures.

In the meantime, I will give you some information about egg binding and some suggestions for home care and support of your ill turtle or while you are awaiting a visit to the veterinarian.

For a sick turtle, I would keep the air and water temperature at the upper end of their proper range. I don't know what type of turtle you have, but here are recommended temperatures for commonly kept pet turtle species:

Box Turtle

Daytime gradient of 75-85F and a warmer basking site of 85-90F. Nighttime temperature range of 65-75C should be provided.

Central American Wood Turtle

Daytime gradient of 72-80 F (22-26C) and a warmer basking site of 90-95F (32-35C). Nighttime temperature range of 70-75C should be provided.

Red eared slider:

Air temperature 75-80F (24-26.7C) with warmer basking area on rock or log out of the water at 85-95F (29.4-35C) where they can fully haul out. Water 75-85F (24-29.4C). Water requires a heater.

Yellow bellied slider:

Air temperature 75-80F (24-26.7C) with warmer basking area on rock or log out of the water at 90-100F (32.2-37.8C) where they can fully haul out. Water 75-80F (24-26.7C). Water requires a heater.

Painted turtle:

Air temperature 80-85F (26.7-29.4C) with warmer basking area on rock or log out of the water at 90-95F (32.2-35C) where they can fully haul out.

Water 75-80F (24-26.7C), water requires a heater.

Diamondback Terrapin:

Air temperature low 80s (80-85F, 26.7-29.4C) with warmer basking area on rock or log out of the water at 85-88F (29-31C) where they can fully haul out. Okay if night-time temperatures drop to the low 70s.

Water 76-78F (24-26C), water requires a heater.

Map Turtle:

Air temperature 75-85F (24-29.4C) with warmer basking area on rock or log out of the water at 90-100F (32.2-37.8C) where they can fully haul out. Okay for air temperatures to go down to 70F at night when the basking lights are off.

Water temperature 72-76F (22-24.5C) for adults and warmer for hatchlings and juveniles 77-80F (25-26.5C). Water requires a heater.

Eastern Mud Turtle

Air temperature 78-82F (25.5-27.8C) with warmer basking area on rock or log out of the water at 85-90F (29.4-32.2C) where they can fully haul out. Water 75-80F (24-26.7C). Water requires a heater.

River cooter turtle, Pseudemys concinna

Air temperature 75-80F (24-26.7C) with warmer basking area on rock or log out of the water at 85-90F (29.4-32.2C) where they can fully haul out. Water 75-80F (24-26.7C). Water requires a heater.

I do have a care sheets for some of the more commonly kept pet turtle species. If you let me know what type of turtle you have, I can share it with you. Thanks.


Expert:  CarynP625 replied 13 days ago.

Egg-binding, or dystocia, occurs when a female turtle is unable to lay her eggs normally. This can be caused by a number of reasons such as sub-optimal husbandry (improper temperature, humidity, nutrition and calcium supplementation, lighting, inappropriate nesting material or nesting site) or disease (abnormality in GI or reproductive tract physically obstructing passage of eggs such as adhesions or constipation, infection, or oversized or malformed eggs.) Turtles which are egg-bound may at first make multiple attempts to lay eggs but may stop as they begin to feel sick. This may progress to depressed or absent appetite, low energy, and lethargy.

Egg-binding is potentially life-threatening and if you suspect your turtle is egg-bound I strongly recommend you make an appointment for her to be evaluated by a local reptile veterinarian. The veterinarian will perform an examination on your turtle and may perform tests such as x-rays or ultrasound to visualize the egg size, number and location and bloodwork to check for calcium levels and signs of secondary infection or inflammation. Treatment may involve fluids, calcium supplementation, hormones to stimulate egg laying, manual manipulation of eggs or aspiration of egg contents with a needle and, potentially, even surgery to remove the eggs and/or the reproductive tract.

If your turtle does have dystocia (the term for difficult or obstructed labor), then it is not something that can be effectively treated at home. She should receive hands on veterinary care. But here is how you can support and help her at home while you are waiting to take her to a local, reptile-experienced veterinarian for care.

-Warm bathes area a very good idea, 15-30 minutes, warm water (85-90F), shoulder depth once to twice daily, can help keep them hydrated. If they are lethargic, it's important to monitor them while bathing/soaking so that their head doesn't submerge.

-Making sure her environmental temperature gradient and humidity are appropriate as this is needed for optimal metabolism and immune function. With any sick turtle, it is always a good idea to start by checking that their environment and husbandry are proper for their species. Taking a physical measurement of the temperature gradient within the enclosure and measuring humidity with a hygrometer are a good idea. Making sure the UVB bulb is appropriate for the size of the space and has been changed regularly. Even if they are still producing visible light, UVB bulbs have a limited lifespan and need to be changed every 6-12 months, depending upon bulb type. Making sure diet is varied and, if fed insects, the insects have been gut loaded with a nutritious gut-loading diet and protein sources dusted regularly with calcium and multivitamin powder.

-Temperature: Temperature is very important for keeping your turtle healthy with a gradient of temperature from cool or warm. This is particular for your species of turtle, as each species has their own optimal temperature zones.

-Making sure she is receiving adequate dietary calcium as low blood calcium can interfere with the ability to lay eggs. If she is not currently eating and thus is not ingesting her powdered calcium supplements on her salad mix or dusted on her protein sources, then you can buy a liquid calcium supplement at the pet store and give them a few drops into their mouth once a day and this should help, but this isn't a replacement for a veterinary evaluation and treatment. (Note that it is very hard, if not impossible to force feed a turtle, unless they are extremely ill.)

Fluker's Liquid Calcium Reptile Supplement

-Keep them warm. If your turtle is not moving around much on their own, or are unable to move around at all, place them in a location in their enclosure where the temperature is warm but not super hot. This will ensure proper metabolism but they won't overheat or chill at this temperature range. Do not put them on a hot rock or under the basking light hot spot if they cannot move off by themself, as they might get overheated or burned.

-Limit handling. If they are gravid, limit handling and limit time out of her enclosure to avoid injury to herself or the eggs inside of her. If you must lift or remove them from their tank, go slowly and support their weight from underneath with your palm.

-Provide her with an adequate "lay bin" or nest box. Sometimes reptiles will retain their eggs too long if they don't have an adequate place to lay their eggs. You can have a smaller bin inside her enclosure if the tank is big enough (and that's nice because the environment will be warm/heated already) but I also recommend having a larger, separate plastic tub set up outside of her enclosure. You'll need to add basking lighting to warm the enclosure (clip lighted to the top of the enclosure so the surface is warm). Minimum size for the in enclosure lay bin, depends upon her size and the type of turtle, but substrate should be at least 4-6 inches deep to help stimulate her laying instinct. She'll need an opening or ramp to get into the lay bin in her enclosure. It's really best to have a larger lay bin set up to move her to when she starts digging and showing interest in laying. The larger lay bin would be something like a 30 gallon plastic tote (e.g. Rubbermaid or Sterilite) filled with 9-12' deep of the same, moistened substrate mix. Use a 50:50 mixture of play sand and organic top soil, mixed well and moistened with water until it can hold its shape when squeezed (it needs to be able to hold the tunnel she will dig to lay her eggs). The substrate should be moist enough to mold or tunnel, but not soaking wet. Humidity in the lay bin should be around 50-60%. And I recommend keeping the larger lay bin heated with the basking bulb so it is ready to go and the substrate won't be cold when she's ready to lay.

But if she doesn't lay any eggs and remains lethargic even for another day or so, I do highly recommend you get her to a local veterinarian for care. Dystocia can become a life-threatening emergency and may require medical or even surgical intervention to treat.

Expert:  CarynP625 replied 13 days ago.

To help find a local veterinarian with reptile experience, here is a useful website you can use to search for a local reptile veterinarian. These veterinarians are active members of the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians, which means they have interest and experience in treating reptile patients:

https://arav.site-ym.com/search/

(please note this site may not work on older browsers like Safari)

Please note that since you are outside the US, you will need to choose Advanced Search.

Advanced Search: Step 1 of 2, Member status

Select/toggle honorary member, life member, new grad, active veterinarian, and associate.

Press Continue.

Advanced Search: Step 2 of 2

Use the drop down menu in Country to select your country. Press Search.

I will be notified if/when you respond with additional information or questions so we can connect about your terrapin Tank but, in the meantime, I hope this information is helpful and I wish you both the best. Thanks again for posting your question to JustAnswer.com. Sincerely, ***** *****