New eastern box turtle mom - possible respiratory infection, HELP!

SammyTurtle20

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Hi everyone! I recently adopted an eastern box turtle, Sammy, from a family member. He has been much less energetic than usual the past few days and I think (but am not sure) that his breathing may have changed. I'm not sure if I need to be concerned about a possible respiratory infection or if this is normal behavior and I just feel like there is a change because I'm working from home (due to COVID-19) so I am watching him all day instead of just evenings and weekends.

He is in the same habitat that he came in, but I'm in the process of improving it. It's a 36x18 in glass terrarium, with 1 half-log hide, substrate that is too dry, a pie dish for water that I clean at least daily, and a UVB light that is probably too old. I'm in an apartment right now, so I can't do an outdoor enclosure or anything significantly larger yet, but I'm definitely planning for the future. New substrate (eco earth and peat moss), a new UVB bulb/2nd lamp, and vitamin A and calcium supplements are all ordered, but haven't arrived yet. He has been eating some fruits and veggies since coming out of hibernation, but not very much. I know I need to give him more protein - Advice is appreciated, especially ways to prepare 'people food' proteins that would be healthy for him.

Within the last week I covered 2 walls of the tank so the glass doesn't stress him out, bought a 100w Exo Terra® Daylight Heat Lamp bulb (on for ~12 hours during the day only), got a slate feeding stone, and have been soaking him and experimenting with different water dishes/set ups to see if he likes more water and if there is a way to lessen the amount of substrate he gets in it. I don't think he had been soaked at all and I still am concerned that he is probably dehydrated due to the current substrate, so I got a larger and deeper water dish (plastic tupperware), built up the substrate around it and added pebbles to make an incline so he can get in and out by himself and the water isn't too deep. I did clean the pebbles well before adding them to his water dish and I've been rinsing it and replacing the water multiple times daily recently.

Since making all of these changes, his behavior has been different than what I have grown to expect. I sometimes let him walk around the room I am working out of while I am there and watching him and he is usually quite active - he will patrol the exterior, find hiding spots behind potted plants, etc. and only occasionally stop at his water dish. The past few days, he has not tried to walk around much at all, and spends most of his time just laying on the warmer side of his cage, partially or completely pulled into his shell, barely even raising his head up. He'll sometimes go to a different part of his cage for a little while, and then come back out to bask more. When he is out of his cage, he walks around much less than he used to. I've notice his head/neck moving in and out of his shell a little as he is breathing sometimes (I can't figure out if this is normal and he does this all the time or not), and 2 or 3 times he has 'yawned' in a way that looks like videos of turtles trying to clear their lungs of mucus, and I've never seen him do that before. I've been putting him in his water dish with lukewarm water, also under the heating lamp, and he'll stay there much longer than usual before he gets out. He will rub his face a lot when he is in the water, and before now I've only seen him do that when he is eating. He has no mucus in his nose or mouth that I can see, and his eyes are not noticeably swollen.

Any thoughts or advice? Is 'yawning' and rubbing his face while in his water normal? Is this normal behavior for a turtle that just had a heat lamp turned on and is coming out of hibernation, or is basking partially/completely in his shell a warning sign? Should I go back to the pie dish for his water? Could this be because he needs more protein or vitamins? Or is all of this normal? Any help and advice is much appreciated!

Thank you all!
 

mark1

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how did he hibernate ?outside ? a fridge ?
 

SammyTurtle20

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how did he hibernate ?outside ? a fridge ?
Clarification: I spoke with family, it sounds like he didn't really hibernate. His heating lamp was turned off in the late fall, but he stayed in his normal enclosure indoors, next to a window, so likely just a little colder than room temp. He burrows under the substrate in his cage and comes out less often (a few times monthly on average?) for food and water. I just got a heating lamp for him this week, but he has had a (probably old) UVB light on intermittently for a week or two before that. He has been active daily for at least a few weeks, and possibly over a month at this time. I noticed activity level drop when I got the heating lamp a few days ago.
 

mark1

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that wouldn't be hibernating , , to hibernate properly they need kept around 35-40 degrees , the conditions you describe would be like stressing him out for a couple months ……I would be surprised if he wasn't at minimum somewhat sick from that …. I would keep him at 80-85 degrees constantly , bright lights for 14hrs a day , keep him warm humid and the substrate damp , soak him everyday in warm water , make sure he has someplace to hide to relieve stress …….. get him to eat some protein , nightcrawlers , some soaked/softened pellet type fish food , turtle food ……… might be a tough time to find a vet , but if he doesn't turn around , I think a round of antibiotics wouldn't hurt , fortaz ……… a b complex injection , possibly ade injection depending on how he looks ……….. just because he has no discharge doesn't mean he doesn't have an ri ……...
 

SammyTurtle20

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I can do all of that. I'm going to need to make some changes to keep him at 80-85 day and night. Should I consider a CHE that stays on 24/7 plus UVB during the day? Does he need daytime light other than UVB? And if a daytime heat lamp+UVB for day is better, what type of bulb is usually used for nighttime heat?

How much time should I give him before I need to get a vet involved? Is a couple weeks too long? And how do I gauge if he's improving? I don't know how much daytime basking is typical for an eastern box turtle. Should I expect his activity level to increase?

Thank you for your advice!!
 

mark1

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they do bask under cover outside ,, I don't keep them indoors , when I find babies in the fall I bring them in for the winter , they always spend they're time hiding ..... i'll also bring in an occasional adult that I suspect isn't well , they're pretty much stressed from the change in environment ,they spend the winter hiding too , they are either soaking eating or hiding ……….. definitely a che on 24/7 , don't keep him too warm that's just as bad …... a temp gradient is really what you want , just not for an ill turtle , they tend to get too cold …….you need to be vigilant on the temp you keep them , a couple thermometer probes placed in a couple places , if he hides in one spot all the time , place a probe there and make sure the spot is 80-85 …….. as long as he's eating , his eyes are bright and clear , and he's alert , I wouldn't worry too much …….. if he don't eat , is not alert to what's going on around him , and/or his eyes don't open ,seem stuck shut , i'd say he's not getting better ………. I believe you'll know if he's improving or getting worse …..
 

SammyTurtle20

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I'm happy to report that Sammy is doing well! I think I may have been a little quick to freak out. He's been alert, active, eating like normal, etc., and I haven't noticed anything odd with his breathing so far this week. I'll keep a close eye on him though, just in case. Thanks for your help Mark!!
 
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