Let me say this first: A cold is a serious condition for a
Turtles get colds, just like people and most other animals. They
may sneeze, but sneezing is not always a sign of a cold; dust or
just "stuff in the nose" can make a turtle sneeze occasionally.
The turtle may have a bit of a runny nose, too. Again, this can
be causes by allergies, or by a cold. If you are not sure, whether
your turtle has a cold, have a veterinarian evaluate the animal.
These symptoms could also be a harmless little cold, or they could be the
only sign of the beginning of a more serious respiratory
infection, which must be treated with medication.
While a turtle doesn't get a cold from being cold, keeping a
turtle too cold, or under less than ideal conditions, will
weaken its immune system, and it is more likely to catch the
Colds, respiratory infections, and pneumonia can be caused
by bacteria or viruses. Just like in people, if a bacterium is
the agent, antibiotics are used for treatment, and there is a
good chance the animal will recover. If a virus is the cause,
which is hard to determine, since it won't show in a culture,
nothing much can be done, except to keep the turtle warm and
wait and hope.
The first measure for any cold-like symptoms is to raise the
temperature in the turtle enclosure. Raising the temperature
helps the turtle's immune system become more active. Also, make
sure the turtle has the cleanest possible environment. How much
to raise the temperature? Maybe a few degrees for water, to around
82-85 degrees. Better even, is to take the turtle, if it is a
water turtle, out of the water. Put the turtle into a heated
box--use a thermometer! make sure it doesn't get too hot!!!--you
can use a heating pad or a lamp to heat the box. Leave the turtle
in the box except for two soakings of 1/2 hour each mornings and
evenings, for eating and drinking.
If the turtle gets worse, or if it does not improve within a
couple of days, see a veterinarian immediately.
If any of the symptoms are more than minor, or if the turtle
also gasps, has a rasping breath, or swollen eyes, is sluggish
or doesn't eat, see a veterinarian immediately.
If you are not sure--see a veterinarian.
Colds, respiratory infections, and pneumonia are probably one of the
most common causes of death for turtles.
Treatments for colds, respiratory infections, and pneumonia include
warmth, antibiotics (oral or injected), steaming (with or without
medication), breathing oxygen (if the turtle has water in its lungs and
cannot get enough oxygen), and X-rays (to check for water in the lungs).