If you observe that your red-eared slider has an open wound, take the following steps to treat it and restore your reptile friend’s health:
Red Eared Slider Open Wound Care
To care for a red eared slider’s wound, dry dock your turtle, set up a hospital tank, prepare a basking light, soak twice a day, and clean the wound.
Step 1: Dry dock your turtle.
Dry-docking a turtle is the practice of forcing your turtle to bask. This means your turtle is kept under a basking light for an extended period of time. You can block off the water with rocks, or you can put your injured turtle in its own tank that doesn’t have water.
A great cheap option is the Exo Terra Faunarium. It is 18 inches long and 12 inches wide, and only costs around $30.
Along with treating open wounds, this technique is also used to cure respiratory infections and turtle bacteria infections. To learn more, check out my article on how to quarantine a turtle.
When you dry dock your turtle, it accelerates the healing process of an open wound due to the presence of air.
Step 2: Set up a hospital tank.
It is important to keep your turtle separate from other turtles while it heals its open wound. When the turtle is separated, it will have more time to rest and won’t be pressured to move around with the other turtles.
You can set up a “hospital tank” to put the injured turtle in. A basic setup consists of a 20 to 40-gallon tank or one large enough to house your pet. It must be both large and small enough to allow you to control the variables. These include lighting, heat, and humidity. If you use a glass turtle tank, cover the sides with paper to prevent your turtle from becoming stressed or attempting to walk through the glass.
Step 3: Prepare a basking light.
It is important that you install a heat lamp and UVB light in your hospital tank. Many retailers sell reptile light bulbs that serve as both a heat source and a source of UVB rays. The heat lamp will dry your reptile while also maintaining its body temperature.
UVB rays will assist in the healing of your turtle’s wound by allowing its body to synthesize vitamin D3. You will also need a thermometer to monitor the turtle tank temperature and adjust the environment accordingly.
Step 4: Allow for two 30-minute soaks each day.
While your turtle is quarantined, it is important that you soak them in water for 30 minutes twice a day. Your turtle may become dehydrated if you do not allow it to soak. Dehydration is a major issue for turtles because it can cause serious medical problems and death. If you don’t let your turtle soak, you could end up with a much bigger problem. You can also feed your turtle while it’s in the water.
Step 5: Clean the wound.
After each soak, you should clean the wound with Vetericyn Plus Reptile Wound and Skin Care.
If you followed the steps correctly, you should notice a significant improvement in your turtle’s open wound in just a few days. If you believe there have been no changes, it is time to take your turtle to a reptile veterinarian. When a turtle’s doesn’t improve, it might mean that your turtle has an infection. If this is the case, prescription antibiotics are required to treat it.
If your turtle’s shell is cracked, you should read my article on how to heal a turtle shell.
How do Red Eared Sliders Get Open Wounds?
The shell of a red-eared slider is remarkably strong, but it can be injured. Open wounds in turtles can occur due to being attacked by other animals, dangerous tank decorations or setup, shell fractures or traumas, and other factors.
If you have multiple turtles, they might get in a fight or bite each other, which can cause severe damage to the shell (or legs and head). You can learn more in my guide on how do turtles fight?
It is not uncommon for a turtle to injure itself and have an open wound. This is especially true for turtles that are kept outside or when multiple male turtles are kept together. Taking your injured pet to the vet every time it gets a cut is impractical, not to mention expensive in the long run. However, as a responsible owner, you must treat these wounds before they become infected and create an even bigger problem.
I hope this article was useful in teaching you how to care for open wounds in your red-eared slider. I’m sure your reptile friend will appreciate all your efforts to learn how to care for it properly. Good luck!