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wood turtle hatchlings dying


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#1 RachelDBT

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 08:45 AM

Hi everybody.
I've been keeping RES and spotteds since forever and never even had a sick turtle. In the past couple of months I have gotten some hatchling NA wood turtles. I kept them in a 20L tank with 3 to 4 inches of water that is just for hatchlings including 2 painteds, 1 RES, and a couple of musks. All those guys are doing really well.
I have a bask platform, UVB light, and a good filter. The water is clean, clean, clean. It is a water tank, not land with water.
My first two woods were active and eating and doing well and then after a month they died within a week. The breeder person who is a friend of friend gave me another one and it was active and happy, too. After about 3 weeks it died. All the other turtles are still active and eating well.
Can someone help me to know what I'm doing wrong. Do they need land? is the 78 degree water too warm? Do they need something special that the others do not?
please help.

#2 BoxTurtleLover

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 09:26 AM

Hopefully others with Wood Turtle experience will chime in for you shortly but I suspect you are putting new Wood Turtles in with your established turtles too quickly and something in your environment is killing off the woodies...It is a basic rule of thumb amongst turtle keepers to keep all incoming new turtles separate and apart from any other turtles at least for three months before introducing to try to offset incidents such as which you just experienced. Many new incoming turtles could have viruses or parasites that can make all turtles ill if introduced to quickly and the problem not caught in time. In your situation, it may have had the opposite effect on the incoming wood turtles being introduced so quickly with the new turtles. I am not a water turtle expert but what I state above is true basically for all types of turtles, whether land or aquatic.

There are knowledgeable wood turtle folks in this forum and hopefully they will be on here soon for you.


#3 clemmysnut

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 02:03 PM

I've raised many NA woodies and I've always kept them in a terrarium setup with a shallow bowl of water. Others raise them aquatically and don't seem to have problems.

#4 RachelDBT

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 03:41 PM

I've raised many NA woodies and I've always kept them in a terrarium setup with a shallow bowl of water. Others raise them aquatically and don't seem to have problems.


Can you tell me some specifics about general diet, how the terrarium was set up, temperature? I feel horrible. These were beautiful turtles, they ate from my fingers and were so very active and then suddently, they were dead. One person at the nature museum said they need cooler temperatures. Another person said they have to have fruits and vegeteables and not just protein in their diet. I'm terrified of getting another until I know what was wrong.

#5 Cheloniphile

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 06:47 AM

Rache Ė

Iíve been doing some heavy thinking about your dilemma and did some asking around to some of the turtle folk I know from off the forum. Iíve worked with some biologists and herpetologists on turtle conservation projects in the wild and can pick some pretty experienced brains.

I definitely agree with BoxTurtleLover and keep all new turtles isolated from community populations for at least a month. I should go 90 days, but donít always. So thanks, BTL, for the reminder to become more cautious again.

Because of the very short period from health to death, though, I donít think that a parasitic infection would be the problem, and maybe not even a bacterial infection.

Some questions: 78 degree water temp Ė is that monitored or are you using one of those fixed temperature heaters? Iíll guess youíre using a heater and not keeping your home at 78 degrees.

Some of the pre-sets are not altogether that accurate and may range from 75 to 80+ degrees; some of the less expensive ones donít always shut off and in a shallow, low volume hatchling setup, water temps can get to the high 80s or low 90s. That water temp is definitely too warm for a hatchling woodie.

Youíre using UVB, what kind of bulb? If itís a heat generating, 100w bulb, that can also continue to heat the water and air in the tank. If youíre using a fluorescent for UVB along with an incandescent bulb for heat, that could have the same effect. I suspect the reason was overheating in the water with the only rest area being a heated basking area.

Woodies are forest floor turtles that live mostly on land, usually in the area of vernal pools and shallow runoff streams. They function well in water, but probably spend up to 80 or 90% of their time on land. Woodland ground temperatures are usually 10 to 15+ degrees cooler than open area, sunny air temps at any given time so even a 90 degree day on your deck might translate to 75 degrees in the deep woods. In my experience, cooler temps are good for woodies and shade is critical.

Iíve kept Woody hatchlings in half land, half water environments, approximately Ė land can be a plastic container just large enough to allow water motion and not trap the woody between the plastic and the glass, or you can divide your tank. Dried oak and maple leaves (boil and dry them) along with sphagnum moss on the land is good for giving them a place to burrow around Ė and look how their brown coloration blends right in with the forest floor colors. For shade, regular lawn grass in a couple of small peat pots will grow a few inches tall. Iíd grow it from seed in potting soil to avoid insecticides, fertilizers, and trematodes. I donít heat the water for them; I keep it at room temp, about 72 degrees.

My basking light for woodies is a UVB compact fluorescent placed so that light only hits part of the land area, no heat bulb. I float one of those small basking platforms or a piece of wood in the water part of the tank under the UVB bulb. Hatchlings will find the light both on land and the platform.

If you really want a community tank instead of keeping your woodies separate, eastern painteds and common musks can do well in a cooler environment. Could look nice with a mostly land turtle, bottom dwelling turtle, and swimming / basking turtle.

I canít know for sure that temperature was your enemy here, but that would be my first suspicion. Hope this helps.

Paul

#6 Cheloniphile

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 07:00 AM

It is a basic rule of thumb amongst turtle keepers to keep all incoming new turtles separate and apart from any other turtles at least for three months before introducing.[/size][/font]


BoxTurtleLover, good morning!

As I mentioned in another post on this thread, I have to thank you for the reminder to properly isolate and monitor new acquisitions before mixing populations. I used to go 90 days and treat newcomers in isolation with anti-fungals (Pimafix) and anti-bacterials (erythromycin)the first month. The "meds" thing is a leftover from my experience working at a large public aquarium. I'm a mostly aquatics keeper so acqueous treatment is relatively easy. I have become a little lax in shortening my isolation time and not treating.

It is an important aspect of turtle keeping so I thought I'd do well to vote your comment up and to expand a little in this separate post.

Again, thanks.

Paul

#7 dtc

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 07:50 AM

I've hatched out and raised a number of NA wood turtles over the years. Temps in the high 70's are fine and actually are preferred to help prevent respiratory infections. Raising them in a largely aquatic environment is also OK, as the hatchlings are good swimmers. I think your problem is either pre-existing health issues or -- perhaps more likely -- problems caused by mixing species. In my years of taking care of them, NA woods are fairly hardy with regards to temperatures, but are susceptible to illnesses by coming into close contact with other species of turtle. I once lost several semi-adult and adult woods after I housed them with Eastern box turtles. The NA woods developed a strange swelling and paralysis of the front legs that did not respond to treatment and died fairly quickly. I subsequently heard that other experienced keepers who have experienced similar problems with NA woods falling ill and dying after being housed with Eastern box turtles, even though both species have overlapping habitats and ranges.

So, don't mix NA wood hatchlings (or yearlings or adults) with other species.

By the way, NA wood hatchlings are overwhelmingly carnivorous and really don't need fruits or vegetables. They begin eating fruits and vegetables once they become yearlings.

Edited by dtc, 26 October 2011 - 07:52 AM.


#8 RachelDBT

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 08:14 AM

Thanks Cheloniphile and DTC for the replies. I love the wood turtles and I'm determined enough to learn enough to succeed with them. On the day after my turtle died, the water was really warm to the touch, like bath water to that may have been a piece of it. I had to unplug the heater and change out about 50% of the water to drop the temperature. We have Poland Springs water in the house so I didn't worry about chlorine. My other turtles in the tank are still OK, though, but like you and the person at the nature museum said, maybe they can't take the heat as much.

DTC's experience mixing different turtles makes me think, too. I might do a setup like Cheloniphile describes and just not mix the turtles. DTC, do you think it's actual contact between the turtles or just sharing the same water??

I hope some other people chime in too. I'm learning a lot. Thanks guys.

#9 portsample

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 09:56 PM

I kept the water in my wood turtles terrarium in the low 60's when they were really small by putting the tank low and away from heat sources, here is a picture of the 55gal tank that my woodies were in for their first year,
Posted Image
...we also lived in a chilly house in the Pacific Northwest, this helped to keep things cool.
Later I moved my turtles to a "turtle table" which also stayed fairly cool,
Posted Image

Last spring we moved to a warmer house and temps in their pond went up to the low to mid-70's, so I started running a "Coolworks Ice Probe" chiller in their water and this has pulled the water temp down to about 57 degrees F.

Keep in mind that these are cool water turtles, found from Quebec south to Maryland and Virginia. Wood turtle populations that occur at the southern extent of their range are generally found in cooler spring fed rivers and streams. Good luck.

#10 Cheloniphile

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 10:14 AM

Nice photos of your setup for woodies. So you also keep them on the cooler side. I'm not familiar with the Ice Probe device - I will google it, but can you add some more info about that?

Paul (Cheloniphile)

#11 RachelDBT

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 03:09 PM

so -

I have put my 2 new woodie hatchlings in a new setup with more land and lower temps. After 3 weeks they are doing fine. I haven't put any other turtles in with them and I don't think I will, at least not until I hear some more info from some more people.
I can't believe that turtle table that PortSample built. I have no skills even approaching what that would take but it is beautiful.

#12 portsample

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 10:25 PM

Cool is way better for this species than warm. I tried to keep just enough water in the tank for the turtles to be able to roll over easily in the water using it as buoyancy. Another good measure is that they should be able to just reach the surface when standing on their hind legs. Good luck!

#13 RachelDBT

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 02:40 PM

Portsample and Cheloniphile
Thanks for the input. I've had two new woodie hatchlings for almost 7 weeks now. I haven't posted about them because I was afraid of trying again. I have kept them on the cooler side and took some examples from Portsample's photos and some of Cheloniphile's descriptions in other posts. They are doing really really well. I have a spottie hatchling in with them also. The water is in the center of the tank with a basking light on the left side. The spottie goes to the basking side mostly and the woodies go to the more shaded side of the tank more often than the basking side. They eat blood worms and pieces of shredded chicken. None of them seem to like strawberries or shavings of squash. The big thing is that they are alive and well. The tank is 48 inches long and about 12 inches deep, the same base size as a 55 gallon but shorter. Only about 17 inches tall. I think it helps to have different temperature zones in the tank and for the turtles to have a choice about which zone to go to. The water temp seems to stay at about 70 degrees or the tiniest bit cooler. the basking temperature gets to the high 80s and the non basking land zone stays at about 72 degrees. I am happy and not worried about coming home to dead or sickly turtles again.
Thanks so much everybody
Rache

#14 RonBlue99

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 08:52 AM

I would keep the woodies in a very shallow 10 gal aquarium slanted with 2 -3 inches on one end and nearly dry on the other. Put lots of plastic plants or live plants in the water so they have a place to hold on to. Keep it cooler. Feed them bloodworms, baby worms and reptomin...should be fine.




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