Do Red-Eared Slider Turtles Shed?

So, you have a red eared slider turtle at home that you love and adore. But one day, you start noticing peeling or shedding on their shells. This might seem alarming to you if you have never had a pet turtle before.

So, you have a red eared slider turtle at home that you love and adore. But one day, you start noticing peeling or shedding on their shells. This might seem alarming to you if you have never had a pet turtle before.

But is it normal for a red eared slider to shed? Or do you need to get in touch with a vet immediately?

Be assured that it is normal for the sliders to shed after a certain age. However, you need to know a couple of things about their physical features. Read on!

Do Red Eared Slider Turtles Shed?

Do Red Eared Slider Turtles Shed?

Red eared slider turtles shed, and that’s completely normal. They shed their skin in pieces and not in one go. However, it would help if you let the skin shed on its own rather than trying to peel it off. Expect the sliders to start shedding when they are two years old or four inches in size. Keep a close eye on them during this time to notice any abnormalities. In case of any abnormality, get in touch with your vet. Let the vet take a look at the shell and suggest remedies.

Do Red Eared Slider Turtles Shed?

Do Red Eared Slider Turtles Shed?

If the skin or shell of the red eared slider is peeling, you have nothing to worry about. Turtles tend to shed their skin in smaller pieces instead of in one piece, like snakes. Also, sliders shed the outermost layer of their scutes, scale-like plates on the shell, when they grow. It helps the shell become larger and hold the bigger body.

Let the shedding proceed naturally instead of giving in to the temptation of peeling off the shedding skin. Remember that peeling off excessively might make the turtle prone to infection.

Though most shedding is normal, note all abnormal signs that might indicate an illness or infection. Also, take the slider to the vet when you notice any abnormal shell or skin shedding.

Why Do Red Eared Sliders Shed?

Primarily, turtle shells consist of bones. The shell forms from the expanded and evolved turtle ribs. Solidification of the bones creates slider shells.

Why Do Red Eared Sliders Shed?

The outermost layer of their shell consists of a thinner piece of keratin (your fingernails have the same material!). Then, every individual scale is known as cute. Such scutes, consisting of keratin, help to protect the shell of the turtles from getting damaged.

When the sliders are young, their shell keeps growing with them. But when they age, the keratin and the scutes layer start peeling off in thin layers. The peeling is called shedding, which is completely normal for turtles.

However, shell peeling isn’t a good thing all the time. Younger sliders are not supposed to shed. Their shedding can be a sign of a problem. Moreover, only turtles shed the scutes, but peeling is not natural for tortoises.

It would help if you never cut, pick, or try to remove the scutes of a turtle because that is too painful for the slider.

How Often Do Red Eared Sliders Shed?

The shell of any turtle keeps constantly growing when they eat. So, the rate at which their shells shed depends on how fast they grow. For red eared sliders, the turtles start regularly shedding after about four inches in size. Typically, this is their size during their sexual maturity.

Expect to see the sliders start shedding the scutes when they are two to three years old. By then, they will begin regularly shedding at least once or twice every month. In some cases, they might shed once in two months.

Generally, the slider will lose the scutes a couple of times annually. However, the turtles that live in the wild tend to shed more often than their captive counterparts. Wild turtles find it easier to shed the scutes because of several factors, such as a natural diet and ample natural sunlight. Also, they get access to an increased amount of UV light.

The shed scutes and the peelings from the turtles are often found right at the bottom of the aquarium where these are kept.

How to Identify Abnormal Shedding

How to Identify Abnormal Shedding

You will have to monitor the red eared sliders for any sign that the shell peeling is not just normal molting. So, check the slider skin to ensure that their new and exposed skin isn’t bleeding or raw. When your turtle sheds more than the outer skin layer, it is a cause for worry. It is usually a sign of underlying fungal or bacterial infection.

There can be algal growth on the turtle shell that seems like shedding at first. If noticed on time, you can clean that green alga from the shell using a brush. Also, resolving the issue will be easier when you clean the filter and tank more frequently.

In such serious cases, the turtles need to see a vet to repair the shell and eliminate all the algae. Remember that turtles can carry salmonella. Generally, this bacteria will not make your sliders ill. But it can harm humans.

So, your prime responsibility is to keep the turtles’ habitat clean. It will lower the risk of salmonella or any other pathogen. You should always wash your hands thoroughly after handling the turtle.

How to Recognize Healthy Shedding in Sliders?

There are three common signs to recognize any healthy shedding in red eared sliders:

A healthy, shedding shell is slightly discolored. To look at

If you note that your turtle is frequently basking, chances are that they are ready to shed.

The scutes are fairly clear and thin.

Though scutes are typically clear and thin, they might be slightly thicker if they have built up scutes over time.

A healthy shedding will cause itching.

The shedding makes the turtles itch, which is why they tend to bask in the sun more often.

Treatment of Shell Rot For Red Eared Sliders

Treatment of Shell Rot For Red Eared Sliders

A couple of fungi and bacteria might lead to shell rot. It can cause SCUD (septicemic cutaneous ulcerative disease) when left untreated. Citrobacter freundii is a bacteria that is one of the common causes of SCUD.

It makes the scutes shed off and start releasing discharge. Though shell shedding might be a visible symptom, the impact of the infection isn’t limited to their shell. Some of the other symptoms are:

  • liver necrosis
  • anorexia
  • lethargy
  • petechial hemorrhages

The vet will start cleaning and removing dead tissues from the wounds. Then, they will prescribe antibiotics for the treatment of the underlying infection. In addition, improve the sanitation measures while the slider recovers and keep the tank clean to prevent another infection attack.

What Can Be Other Shell Issues Noticed in Red Eared Sliders?

Red Eared Sliders

The abnormal peeling of turtle shells can signify some injury. You need to take your turtle to the vet if there is any injury. Maybe the slider is dropped, or some other pet has nipped the turtle shell.

Though such shell injuries seem minor, their impact can run deep and cause serious internal problems. They might even have a burn from malfunctioning lights or a heater. It can also lead to shell and skin peeling.

Also, dietary problems can cause issues with the turtle shell. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to full-thickness shedding. On the other hand, calcium deficiency can lead to abnormal shell growth. In severe calcium deficiency, sliders can get metabolic bone diseases.

Talk to your vet about all shell abnormalities to find the right treatment options and dietary requirements.

If your turtle is shedding, do not get alarmed or worried right away. Keep the slider under watch for a few days to notice anything unusual.

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