ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Metabolic Bone Disease in Baby Softshell Turtles

Updated on March 2, 2018
My turtle at about 4 months old.
My turtle at about 4 months old.
My turtle at about 10 months old. Noticeable difference in shell shape. The last half of his shell is still bent slightly upward, but it has come a long way from looking like a misshapen bowl.
My turtle at about 10 months old. Noticeable difference in shell shape. The last half of his shell is still bent slightly upward, but it has come a long way from looking like a misshapen bowl.
Payoff: around 12 months old. The rear is flat as a pancake.
Payoff: around 12 months old. The rear is flat as a pancake.
 At 18 months, the rear has started drooping  downward as I have seen with some softshell turtles.
At 18 months, the rear has started drooping downward as I have seen with some softshell turtles.

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) is a result of not enough calcium and Vitamin D3 for animals, causing the loss of bone density. MBD can also be caused by too much phosphorus and/or too little protein in the diet. Cold temperature can even play a role, but the usual culprit of MBD among pet owners is the lack of sunlight and calcium. This is a serious disease that can claim the lives of animals through broken bones, misshapen skeletons, and blood clotting. This disease is too common in captive reptiles and should be treated immediately once symptoms surface.

For typical hard-shell turtles, the most noticeable symptom is the softening of the shell, along with unusual curves and deformities on the shell. For softshell turtles (whose shells should be flexible and leathery), the most common trait of MBD is the rear of the shell curving upward, creating a bowl-like shape.

My turtle seemed to have been born with MBD. When he was handed off to me a week after he hatched, I noticed he had a kind of "hunchback" look on the upper portion of his shell. The lower back curved upward slightly and there seemed to be a shallow dent in the center of his shell (midway of spine). Because I did not see any of his siblings, I did not think anything of this until his shell progressively worsened after several months. Most pictures of baby and adult spiny softshell turtles have "pancake" backs. I have seen pictures of spiny softshells with the dented spine and arched back, but their lower halves are either flat or drooped downward slightly.

Regardless if he was born with it, this disease is reversible and my turtle is living proof. All it takes is changing a few things concerning diet and environment.

This disease takes months before showing signs, and it takes the same amount of time to revert back, so have patience. The worse the curves are, the longer it will take to undo the damage.

UV-B

Firstly, turtles need UV-B radiation that gives off Vitamin D3. The most common source of this is the sun. However, there are UV-B bulbs that can be purchased in just about every aquarium/pet store. For softshell turtles, twelve hours of UV-B is the minimum daily requirement. These bulbs last anywhere from six to twelve months (UV-B wise), so just remember to change your bulbs according to the box's instructions.

Calcium

Your turtle should have plenty of calcium in his/her diet. In the wild, their calcium comes from the bones of fish they swallow whole, among other animals. Even if your turtle is eating minnows or guppies, there is still a risk he/she may not be getting enough. Pellets catered to baby softshell turtles are usually packed with calcium among other nutritional needs. Fish flakes are equivalent to our potato chips; they give us nothing for nutrition, and the same goes for turtles. Reptiles cannot live off of fish food, so make sure your pet is getting a varied diet. And if there is still doubt, a calcium sulfa block is a popular way to give your turtle calcium without having to feed him. Sold at a lot of pet stores, just drop the white block into the water and it will gradually dissolve for days, adding calcium into the water.

Phosphorus

This mineral is found in most foods, especially for turtles. Too much phosphorus can prevent calcium absorption. Processed meat has very high amounts of this stuff, and that may very well be the reason why turtles should not eat cooked foods like sausage or hamburger. Meat should be raw and natural for reptiles (the only exception are pellets meant for this species). But because phosphorus is in nearly all foods, this would suggest overfeeding if your turtle's food is healthy and natural. These turtles can die by having too much to eat, so watch your turtle's amount.

Protein

Protein, like Vitamin D3, helps absorb calcium in the body. There are plenty of foods that have great amounts of protein, such as fish, worms, krill, and almost all insects. Crickets are the only bugs I know that don't have much nutritional value, especially in protein. That's not to say feeding crickets to your turtle is pointless; turtles enjoy eating live prey regardless. Just know there's no nutritional value in the cricket, so make sure to add another animal or pellet to fulfill that nutritional requirement.

Tempereture

Cold water can slow down your turtle's metabolism, delaying absorption of calcium. Turtles also stop eating at a certain temperature, preparing for hibernation. So self-starvation or a slow metabolism can be the result of cold temperature, preventing your turtle from getting his nutritional needs. This leads to Metabolic Bone Disease. For baby softshell turtles, mid to late 70's Fahrenheit seems to be the best range in temperature. As a newborn, my turtle would stop eating once it got as low as 72 degrees.


Your turtle should be in top condition if you provide it UV-B (Vitamin D3), calcium, protein, and the right temperature for its habitat. Vitamin A is also an important part of a turtle's diet (it helps their eyes). Special pellets and frozen red bloodworms have a good amount of Vitamin A in them.

Beware of overfeeding. Before you stuff your turtle with as much protein as you can (if he/she is suffering from MBD), too much protein can also damage your turtle and can even deform his/her shell as well. What it all comes down to is a balanced, varied diet. Feed it regularly, but not in large quantities. Meals should be more like snacks, especially if they can hunt for his/her food without your assistance. Just be patient and by following these guidelines, your turtle's shell should change in time and it will be healthy again.



Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      acarr727 

      10 months ago

      Please help my spiny softshell turtle is about 2 years old and he or she is suffering from MBD and I need help treating it I do not know what to do she has a basking dock zoo med natural turtle diet calcium blocks heated water and a filter I really need someones help.

    • mariekbloch profile imageAUTHOR

      mariekbloch 

      4 years ago

      You're most welcome.

    • profile image

      Nicole127@gmail.com 

      4 years ago

      , this is exactly what I was looking for. Our baby soft shells shell is beginning to curl up at the edges. Thank you for this information

    • mariekbloch profile imageAUTHOR

      mariekbloch 

      7 years ago

      Thanks JT.

    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 

      7 years ago from Florida

      Good Hub well written.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)