Signs of Illness: Sick water turtles may exhibit a wide variety of signs. The signs noted by the turtle owner depend on the specific organs affected. Listlessness, lethargy and in appetence are common in sick water turtles. Weakness is often manifested by reluctance to enter the water. A runny nose, swollen eyes, coughing, gasping and open-mouth breathing are common with respiratory disease. Swollen eyes may also be noted with vitamin A deficiency.
Water turtles that tend to tilt or tip to one side may have pneumonia or air sac. A soft shell is most often the result of a serious mineral imbalance. Defects involving the shell constitute "shell rot". Excessive straining may indicate bowel obstruction or egg-binding. Redness of the skin, often accompanied by bleeding, is usually the result of overwhelming internal infection. It represents an ominous sign. Except in the case of slow-moving or easily frightened or defensive species, healthy water turtles usually make strong swimming motions when held out of water. Healthy water turtles have bright, wide-open eyes, clear, dry nostrils, and no abnormalities of the skin and shell.