Common diseases in the tortoise

If the tortoises of earth have a relatively long life expectancy, they can however contract more or less serious pathologies during their existence. These last ones are often due to bad conditions of breeding, an inadequate food or an atmosphere favourable to the stress or to the anxiety. A lack of activity, a lethargic state, a loss of appetite, weight loss outside the pre-hibernation period, respiratory difficulties expressed by panting, wheezing or sneezing, intestinal disorders and diarrhea, swollen eyes, watery eyes, the appearance of spots on the scales, softening or deformation of the shell are all symptoms announcing an underlying disease.
What are the common diseases in this reptile? Consult our guide in order to be able to know and recognize the main ailments that can affect the health of this sensitive and fragile animal.

Common in turtles, they can develop on the legs, the tail and the neck. Little painful, they contain a thick pus which it is necessary to treat with a surgical intervention.


This generalized infection attacks the blood. It causes red spots to appear on the limbs and chest. A medical treatment with antibiotics is then necessary.


This viral or bacterial infection of the oral cavity affects many reptiles. It appears by a hypersalivation and lingual lesions. The tortoise has difficulty in feeding and finds itself very weakened.

The dermatosis

The dermatological pathologies of the terrestrial tortoise generally come from a lack of hygiene and light at the level of its habitat. They can be of fungal type (mycosis), infectious, parasitic or traumatic (bites, wounds). Moreover, if your animal evolves in a too humid environment, it can also contract a dermatitis of humidity which can involve infections and the loss of scales.

Beak growth

Caused by poor wear and tear or too much fruit in the diet, beak growths can lead to feeding difficulties. A filing or a surgical intervention is then recommended.

Dystocia or egg retention

Stress, malnutrition, the environment or the anatomy of the animal can explain this pathology. A medicated or surgical treatment will be able to relieve the tortoise.

The fractures of the carapace

They can be benign or very serious. Only a veterinarian will be able to judge the importance of the lesions and to propose an adapted treatment.

The diseases of eyes

The terrestrial tortoise can be prone to various ocular diseases as the conjunctivitis, the keratitis which is an inflammation of the cornea or the hypopion which is translated by the presence of pus in the eye. A clinical examination is mandatory to treat the turtle efficiently.


Due to a lack of calcium and vitamin D, this serious disease causes a softening of the carapace, a difficulty to move, a growth of the beak and an abnormal growth of the claws. The affected animal must be quickly taken care of.

The otitis

Very common in the tortoise, it is the consequence of a bad hygiene, an inadequate food and a deficiency in vitamin A.

The parasitic diseases

The internal parasitism is due to the presence of worms and protozoa. It will be necessary to treat it with adapted dewormers. Ticks and myiasis are the two main families of external parasites. If ticks can be removed with tweezers, myiasis must be treated surgically because they dig deep wounds and infect tissues.

Respiratory diseases

Also named pneumopathies, they are often of bacterial origin and cause difficulties to breathe. The tortoise keeps then the mouth half-opened to try to feed itself in oxygen. If it is about an infection, we shall observe a flow of nasal secretions, a difficult breathing and a lack of appetite. It can be a rhinitis, very frequent in the tortoise. The situation becomes worrying if the disease deviates in pneumonia, particularly dangerous for a reptile. A veterinarian must then be consulted in urgency.

The prolapse of the colon

This serious and painful disease is linked to an intestinal occlusion and corresponds to the descent of the colon. A veterinary intervention is mandatory and urgent.

In order to protect itself from these often classic but sometimes serious evils, it is essential to observe regularly its tortoise and to offer him a healthy living space as well as daily and adapted care. The tortoise is an extraordinary but fragile animal which needs a very great attention.
Finally, in case of problem or change of behavior, it is not necessary to hesitate to call a veterinarian.