All the information listed here is based on my own experience, please carry out your own research before attempting to replicate anything on this site.
So much has happened in the past few weeks, both good and bad, but the story of one animal which has entered into my care in particular has been somewhat moving, and helped remind me why I work on the website, and why I try to help people find the proper information to care for their animals.
A large male River Cooter (Pseudemys concinna) came into my care after the previous owners decided they could no longer afford the time, space and money to look after him. The turtle had been in their care for 7 years, since hatchling size. On first seeing the turtle, my heart sank, and a brief conversation with the owners explained a great deal about its condition. This animal is now severely deformed. It has twisted, abnormal shell development resulting in a 'sombrero' shaped carapace, and a number of smaller health issues resulting from this.
This turtle has been kept in very deprived conditions, in a small glass aquarium with little clean water and no basking area. Since hatchling size, it has been fed King British (a high-protein, low nutrient choice of commercial food, which I've found insufficient as a staple diet) leaving it with a number of deficiencies; unlike a healthy domed turtle shell, this poor animal's carapace has collapsed on itself, and is now draped over the underlying skeleton. This clearly impacts the internal organs, resulting in a reduced lung capacity (and therefore breathing and buoyancy control) and squashed digestive tract.
Being a male Cooter, the turtle has also developed the pronounced front claws which are used during courtship. This is completely natural, however the previous owners mentioned how they used to frequently 'clip' the nails but it largely became a chore. Unlike human nails, a turtles claws have a supply of nerves and blood which undoubtedly made this an extremely painful practice.
For now, I have set him up with a shallow water level (which caters for his reduced lung volume), complete with filter and basking area. His enclosure is kept continuously stocked with aquatic plants to munch on, as adult Cooters are largely herbivorous, and a highly digestable, vitamin-rich wheatgerm pellet is fed in small amounts daily.
I haven't really figured out a long term plan for his care, and rehoming him in such a condition is unlikely, but for the time being I'll simply be focussing on improving his quality of life through diet and enrichment.
If you have any questions, just pop me an email!