The primary type of parasites that affect red-eared sliders are internal parasites, which typically take up residence in the turtle’s gastrointestinal (digestive) tract, although there are some that affect other areas of the body. A healthy turtle can handle low numbers of parasites with seemingly no negative effects, but most parasites harm their host in one way or another, especially when the population gets out of control.
If purchasing your red-eared slider from a breeder or adopting from a rescue, ask for documentation proving that the animal has had a fecal check and found clear of parasites. Reptiles purchased from pet stores typically carry parasites, especially if they are wild-caught.
- Appetite loss
- Unexplained weight loss
- Slimy/bloody/off-color poo
- Neurological problems
The first thing you should do when you bring home any new reptile is to quarantine it for at least 3 months to check for parasites and other signs of disease. This is particularly important if you have other reptiles in your home, especially other turtles. During the quarantine period, take a fresh sample of the turtle’s poo to a veterinarian for a parasite check and medication if needed. The turtle should have two clear parasite checks before being removed from quarantine.
Outside of quarantine, if you suspect that your turtle may be infected with parasites, take it and a fresh stool sample to an experienced reptile veterinarian for examination.