Monday, May 1, 2017

3073. A 19-year-old red-eared slider has swollen limbs

Written by Intern Wong Shu Yu


A 19 year old female red eared slider was limp and unresponsive when brought in.

The owner mentioned that the slider had not been eating for weeks and that she was

gasping for air earlier that morning. As no reflexes were detected in response to

stimuli, the slider was pronounced dead. It was noted however, that the slider’s limbs

and neck were swollen. This was a possible indication that the slider had been

suffering from kidney disease prior to death. The slider’s shell was also dented

inwards in the centre, which suggests a history of shell rot in the past.

The slider was considered to have lived a long life given that the natural life span of

red eared sliders in captivity typically ranges between 15 to 20 years. It is highly

probable that the slider had died of natural causes due to old age; however, it would

not be possible to pinpoint the precise cause of death without having resort to a post-

mortem by AVA. Having discussed the various options with the owner, the owner

agreed to have the slider sent for cremation.


Date: Sunday, 30 April 2017

Attending physician: Dr Sing Kong Yuen, Dr Daniel Sing


Name: -

Age: 19 years

Weight: -

Gender: Female

Species: Terrapin

Breed: Red Eared Slider

Neutered/Spayed: NA


Patient has not been eating for weeks.

Patient was gasping for air and struggling for air at 2.30am that morning.

Usual diet comprises boiled chicken, prawns, vegetables and commercial pallets.

Patient was exposed to half an hour UV light every day and allowed to bask and dry

off completely.

Physical Examination:

Patient was limp and no reflexes detected

Neck, and limbs were oedematous

Shell was concave in the middle

Carapace measured 16 cm long x 15 cm across


Patient had passed away upon arrival. Cause of death is likely to be old age.

Potentially suffered from shell rot previously, thereby affecting integrity of shell

Edema suggests that kidney disease was also present

Procedures done:


Treatment Plan:

1. Explained to owner that likely cause of death is old age, but that it is difficult to

pinpoint the exact cause of death unless patient is sent for a post-mortem at

AVA. However, some owners find the process traumatic.

2. Owner appeared to be affected by patient’s death, and asked if the patient could

have been saved had he sought treatment earlier. Advised that (i) the patient was

considered old given that the natural lifespan of red eared sliders in captivity is

about 15 to 20 years, and that (ii) treatment options for red eared sliders were

limited. Consequently, it was likely that there would be no difference in the

outcome even if earlier treatment had been sought for the patient.

3. Provided owner with option of cremation. Owner agreed and the carcass of the

patient was left in the clinic and arrangements made for cremation.


Fig 1: Top view of patient Fig 2: Swollen limbs

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