Ask The Vet: Why is my turtle's tail swollen?

PHOTO: CHEN SHAO YANG

SINGAPORE - In this fortnightly column, veterinarians from the National Parks Board answer questions about pet health and behaviour.

Is slider's swollen tail a sign of poor health?

I have a red-eared slider which is almost two years old. It is my first pet. About a month ago, I noticed that my turtle's tail was swollen. I thought it was nothing to be concerned about until my mother contacted her friend, who is a vet and who advised that we take the turtle to a vet immediately.

I Googled and read that swelling in any area is a sign that the turtle is dying. What should I do?

Cheng Shao Yang

Unexpected swelling in any part of the body may be significant. Swollen tails in red-eared sliders can be caused by local trauma, inflamed cloaca (a common outlet into which the intestinal, urinary, and genital tracts open), or part of a more generalised health issue.

Many problems in house reptiles can be attributed to nutritional and environmental factors as they are very easily affected by basic changes in areas such as temperature, water quality, exposure to UV light or minor nutritional deficits and excesses.

If you observe your turtle behaving abnormally, such as being more lethargic than usual, it could be due to pain or discomfort caused by swelling. You should take it to a vet and also discuss necessary steps on caring for such pets.

Concern for rabbit's eye condition


PHOTO: JANE LIM

I recently adopted a rabbit which is around three months old now. I have discovered some abnormality in its eyes. There seems to be a transparent film covering the eye, which is more visible in the right eye.

Is there any cause for concern? I have Googled this and read that this condition is common among young rabbits. Should I take my rabbit to the vet?

Jane Lim

Normally, a rabbit's eyes should have a moist, clear layer and appear symmetrical on both sides.

Rabbits' eyes are very exposed. This is part of their natural anatomy as they need the additional vision for spotting predators and navigating in the wild. However, this also makes their eyes more susceptible to injury and trauma.

Abnormal-looking films over the eye could indicate a problem, which may be caused by issues such as trauma, infection or abnormal developments.

If your rabbit starts pawing at the eye or tearing excessively, it could be experiencing discomfort and should be taken to the vet as soon as possible.

Answers by Dr Shawn Chia Shawn, a veterinarian at the Animal & Veterinary Service. He has owned a dog, a bird and fish.

Have a query about your pet? E-mail it with clear, high-resolution pictures of at least 1MB, if any, and your full name to stlife@sph.com.sg. We reserve the right to edit and reject questions.