Many people believe that turtles don't have ears, but this isn't true. Your pet turtle lacks the outer ears that you have, but it still has an inner ear, and this inner ear can get infected. Ear infections in turtles are also known as aural abscesses. Here are three things turtle owners need to know about ear infections.
What are the signs of ear infections?
If your turtle has an ear infection, the area around their eardrum will be swollen. You may also see dry, firm tissue that looks diseased in the area. When turtles have ear infections, they usually experience pain when they open their mouths, so your pet may stop eating.
How do turtles get ear infections?
A number of different bacteria can lead to ear infections in turtles. If the water in your pet's habitat is dirty, bacteria from the water may enter their ear canals while they swim, leading to an infection. Poor husbandry, including keeping your pet's habitat at the wrong temperature, has also been linked to ear infections. A diet deficient in vitamin A makes the cells within the ear canal slough off and build up in ear canal, and this blockage of sloughed cells can also cause an infection.
How are ear infections treated?
Your vet will need to drain your turtle's abscess. The area will be numbed first so that the procedure doesn't hurt your turtle, and then the vet will use a scalpel to open the abscess. The vet will let the pus drain out, and then they will wash out the inside of the abscess with antiseptic solution to get rid of any remaining bacteria. The area will then be coated with an antibiotic ointment. Usually, the abscess is left open so that pus can continue to drain.
At home, you'll need to continue treating your turtle. Your vet may send you home with some antibiotics or painkillers to give your turtle while they heal. These antibiotics may be oral, topical or injectable; if your vet wants you to give your pet injectable antibiotics, they will show you how to give the injections first.
While your turtle's ears are healing, make sure that the water in their habitat is kept very clean. This is important because bad water quality can slow down the healing process. A stronger water filter can help you keep the water clean.
If your turtle's eardrums are bulging, they may have an ear infection and should be seen by a clinic like St Laurent Animal Hospital.