Puddle is not eating.
The red-eared terrapin, a type of aquatic turtle, is showing the universal symptom in reptiles when something is wrong: anorexia.
There may be obvious visible causes, but commonly there are none, so this makes an anorexic reptile a challenge to diagnose.
From Darren's description, Puddle's environment is excellent and does not appear to offer any underlying possible cause as to why the 6-year-old is not eating.
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When presented with a case such as Puddle's, I like to begin with a fecal sample to check for the presence of parasites. This may be easier said than done, as an anorexic turtle is not likely to produce much stool. Next up would be a whole-body radiograph, which tends to yield the most information because it provides an inside look at the patient. A blood sample would provide clues to any underlying metabolic problem.
Because of this type of turtle's ravenous appetite, it's not uncommon for them to eat things normally not considered food, such as the rocks that litter their habitats. A radiograph would show any obstruction of the digestive tract.
Another possible cause for Puddle's anorexia is egg binding, which would show up on a radiograph and which is fatal if left untreated. This is the time of year for egg production and, in captivity, if a female turtle does not find the right environment for nesting her eggs, she will not lay them. Incidentally, turtles and most female reptiles produce eggs without the influence of a male participant.
I have offered some possible reasons for Puddle's lack of appetite. I hope Darren will get Puddle to a vet experienced in reptile medicine and find out the underlying cause.
Jeff Kahler is a veterinarian in Modesto. Questions can be submitted to Your Pet in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352.