1. AFT is Celebrating its 16th Consecutive Year of Helping Freshwater Turtles & Turtle Keepers Online and 22nd Year providing the AFT Care Guide. AFT is a not-for-profit charity administered 100% by voluntary staff only.

I made the same mistake again... sunbathing

Discussion in 'Common Health Problems, Injuries and Treatments' started by kerryf88, Sep 10, 2017.

  1. kerryf88

    kerryf88 Sub-Adult Turtle

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2015
    Messages:
    167
    Likes Received:
    8
    Mad at myself yet once again. I took Max out in a Tupperware with a mesh lid to sunbath (no water in container), I usually do it 1-2 times a week, but recently the weather had been very windy and cold so haven't taken him out in like a week already. So today there's very little wind and I decide to take him out to sunbath, the outside temperature is about 19 degree Celsius. I put him in partial shade, mostly direct sunlight, and I went inside to make lunch... I set my phone alarm to remind me in 25 minutes. And then about 1.5 hours later I realised I haven't put Max back in the tank yet and my phone alarm didn't go off! Quickly went outside and saw Max under direct sunlight, the shaded part had moved so the whole container is under direct sunlight, he's just laying there, head and legs stretched out, staring at me. I quickly picked him up, he still had a lot of energy as he wiggles around when I picked him up but he does feel quite warm. Put him back on tank dock and he went directly in water (water temp about 26 Celsius). He seems normal, swimming around fine. Went back to see why my phone didn't go off and realised it ran out of battery and turned off... I guess I was lucky that it was a cool day so even though he was under direct sunlight at least the temp is cool enough to prevent him from overheating. Now hoping that he doesn't have any long term effect or any sunburn. Might have to use the kitchen's oven alarm next time.

    Anyone know what sunburn look like on turtles? His skin looks normal from what I see, when I got him inside there's white salt residue on his shell and skin from the salt in tank water, that's gone once he's back in water. Other than that his skin looks fine.
     
  2. Craig

    Craig Owner/Administrator/Public Officer
    Staff Member Platinum Level Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2001
    Messages:
    11,649
    Likes Received:
    938
    Hi Kerry, please don't rely on any alarm!

    Can I suggest that if you take your turtle outside that you love very much, as he is dependent on you for his survival, that you make it 10 minutes and stay with him at all times and DO NOT LEAVE HIS SIDE. If you need to go inside for lunch, an urgent phone call, answer the door or use the bathroom or any other reason you take him with you.

    You wouldn't leave a baby outside by himself in the sun for that long and a pet turtle should not be treated any differently!
    If you can spare another 10 minutes with your undivided attention then repeat the procedure because if you keep doing what you are doing you will lose him and will have no one to blame but yourself.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 2
  3. Aussiepride83

    Aussiepride83 Administrator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2012
    Messages:
    8,047
    Likes Received:
    825
    Oh boy...
    I have to agree with Craig here... I can't understand why anyone would put a turtle outside in the sun and then leave it unattended. Mine have all grown up now and are all around 16cm SCL and I still sit by their side in the sun and watch for ANY signs of heat stress. It's just not worth it. To lose a turtle, something you've put all that time and effort into for so long by simply leaving it in the sun to dehydrate, overheat and die is a hard pill to swallow, especially if you've done it before already.

    As the weather begins to warm as the season changes, you have to be overly vigilant now. What feels warm and tolerable to us outdoors (ambient air temp) is irrelevant. Take your laser thermometer and point it at the ground... Then you'll see the reality of how warm your turtle gets.

    Currently says it's a 22°C today here right now at 3:45pm... quite pleasant, sunny no wind.
    Look closer...
    20170907_150021.jpg

    20170910_153722.jpg

    Almost 40 Degrees C. virtually double the ambient temperature. A turtle isn't going to take long to overheat, I gave mine 15 minutes then put them back in their aquarium.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  4. kerryf88

    kerryf88 Sub-Adult Turtle

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2015
    Messages:
    167
    Likes Received:
    8
    Thanks for the replies. Yeah I was supposed to stay with him outside, I almost always do stay with him, and rarely if I can't then I'll set phone alarm, but today I was distracted by family members inside the kitchen so I set the alarm, didn't see the phone's battery power. Won't happen again, lesson learned.

    So far he is alright, swimming around normally. I had the container put on grass so at least the surface the container is on isn't hot compared to tiles or concrete, otherwise I'm sure the container is going to get hotter. The grass felt cool when I stepped on it probably because it was still morning. Forgot to measure the temperature of the container he was in as I was in a hurry to get him back to the tank, but the outside of the container itself doesn't really feel hot when I went to grab him, but from the feel of his shell it was pretty warm. Hopefully there's no long term damage.
    --- Double Post Merged, Sep 10, 2017, Original Post Date: Sep 10, 2017 ---
    By the way I've never actually left him outside under the sun. When I say I've done it before is that I left my other turtle (who had passed away from another cause) on his dock inside the tank under the heat lamp (partially) for dry docking a long time ago, I almost always supervise Max when he's outside sunbathing.
     
  5. Squirt4

    Squirt4 Juvenile Turtle

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2017
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    5
    I have to agree also, I sit vigilantly by my little guy for 10 minutes. Just for reference, what would the signs of heat stress be to look out for?
     
  6. Aussiepride83

    Aussiepride83 Administrator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2012
    Messages:
    8,047
    Likes Received:
    825
    Crying, turtles expel water from ducts in their eyes and wipe it over their face with their front feet in an attempt to cool down. They will also begin to wave all 4 feet around and start to act erratically.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. kerryf88

    kerryf88 Sub-Adult Turtle

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2015
    Messages:
    167
    Likes Received:
    8
    Will be on the lookout for the crying in the future. However mine starts acting erratically waving his 4 little feet the minute I put the mesh lid on, trying all his mighty effort to escape through the little mesh gaps... and believe me he won't stop trying.
     
  8. Aussiepride83

    Aussiepride83 Administrator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2012
    Messages:
    8,047
    Likes Received:
    825
    Here's some video footage of wild turtles basking that I took on Friday. The turtle on the right has reached its maximum preferred temperature and is starting to get uncomfortable.