Also known as: thiaminase poisoning.
Thiamine (vitamin B1) is a water-soluble vitamin involved in energy metabolism. When animals don’t get enough vitamin B1, they become sick. Over time, vitamin B1 deficiency can become deadly if not corrected.
- Muscle disorder
- Sensory disorder
- Lowered immune system
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Vitamin B1 deficiency in turtles is typically caused by the excess consumption of raw, thiaminase-containing fish and shellfish, such as:
- Rosy red minnows
- Common carp
- Fathead minnows
- Gizzard shad
- Common bream
- Common carp
If you suspect that your red-eared slider may have a vitamin B1 deficiency, make an appointment with an experienced reptile veterinarian for an examination and blood test.
Meanwhile, switch to a feeder fish that doesn’t contain thiaminase – when in doubt, livebearers (ex: guppies and mollies) are a good bet. They may be more expensive, but it’s an investment in your pet’s health! For a full list of safe fish to feed, visit the Food page of this guide.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that feeding your turtle the occasional thiaminase-containing fish is going to kill them, or even make them sick. These fish should be offered sparingly, that’s all. When you only use them as treats, thiaminase-containing fish are unlikely to cause deficiency and will in fact help increase the variety in your turtle’s diet.
Edmondson, P. (n.d.-b). What is Thiaminase poisoning? Insectivore. http://www.insectivore.co.uk/articles_turtles_Thiaminase_poisoning.html
Lunsford, R. (n.d.). Article: Thiaminase — What it is, why you care. Austin’s Turtle Page. http://www.austinsturtlepage.com/Articles/Thiaminase.htm