I made a timeline on the problems i’ve discovered with Dumbork.
|Area of Concern||Possible Causes||Solution||Result|
|Slimy Carapace (June 12-16)||May be due to water, suspected fungus or algae||I’ve consulted it in a forum; the solution is to brush his shell by a soft toothbrush.||The carapace is now not slimy; you can define the patterns on his shell|
|Blurred spots on Plastron (Since a hatchling)||Rough surface, irritated plastron due to rough, abrasive material||Change the substrate on his tank||Well, you can’t get back to the clear pattern on the plastron. Some RES owners commented that this is just a sigh on growing. Still, I’m using marbles as substrate ever since.|
|Brown Black Spots on Carapace (June 5 – present)||Suspected scute retention, fungi, algae, Shell rot, MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease)||Monitor the changes and give him as much light as possible.||I can’t confirm the reason of the presence of these spots. It was difficult to confirm water retention in scutes. I will keep researching on this topic.|
|Suspected impaction (June 17, 2012)||I found small pebbles on the bottom of tank (serves as “weight” for the corner canister)||Quarantined him for 1 week. Changed his water daily. Monitored his feces.||No cause for concern. Poops normally, stools are regular, activity normal.|
|Different Stools/excessive pooping (June 22-23, 2012)||Suspected constipation. The food is not processed; you can see carrots, veggies, and papaya bits. He pooped 4 times on June 23 (am) with the same content. Before, his poops are just long brown things.||Switch to pellets firs, prevent giving him other veggies.||He pooped normally (long brown stools). No signs or worms/irregularity.|
|No UVB light (Since a hatchling)||Unavailable supplies||This is a main problem for me, because heat and UVB is important for a growing RES. Without these, the RES can have complications from RI (respiratory infections), MBD, and shell rot.||I will try to get him these fixtures as soon as I can. In the meantime, the sun is our friend.|
Dumbork should receive at least 30 minutes of pure unfiltered morning sunlight every day. Problem is, I have work and I cannot assign others to do this task. I’m still monitoring the temperature around the tank. Before, Dumbork’s tank sits on the table with a fiberglass roof directly on top. Now, we moved Dumbork to a table near the wall because of the tank upgrade. He only gets unfiltered sunlight every weekend. His shell now has dark brown splotches, but we’re thinking that it could be shedding.
I’m measuring the normal room temperature for 1 week to get the average temperature in our room. I’m also computing the basking temperature set by a 60 watt incandescent bulb. The ideal basking temp is 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit.
I wanted to create an Above Tank Basking Area or ATBA, but I still need some supplies. The idea came from the various turtle forum I’ve been visiting in the past weeks. The basking area is set above the tank, with the ramp hanging/suspended so that Dumbork can have access to it.
Credit to the owner of the picture above, taken from http://www.redearslider.com
The basking area is composed of four square barbecue grill, connected by cable ties. I will soon decorate the 3 sides, while the floor will be covered with a green carpet.
These are still just plans because I’m still waiting for some supplies. I’m hoping to get the zoo med’s Mini Deep Dome Combo lamp fixture, and a 2-in-1 UVB +heat lamp. This set-up will be suspended above the ATBA, positioned carefully so that Dumbork will receive the correct and optimum heat from the lamps.
Our first basking area includes a grass-like anti slip mat cut into two. These 2 parts became the basking area and the ramp. We connected one mat with the other (the other part connected vertically to serve as a hanging ramp). At first I’m having trouble using it because the grass seemed rough. If pressed into the skin, it will leave red, allergy-like patches. Also, even though made in strong plastic, the mat can be easily torn off. This is my other concern; because Dumbork can eat whatever thing he got in his mouth. Later on, Dumbork managed to get the hang of it. He will stay long moments on the ramp with his shell submerged and his head peeking out into the surface. Still, I’m thinking of other materials to use as a ramp. Usually, the other RES owners use driftwood, cork, or piled stones.
I’m not big on decorations. I’ve seen setups complete with sand at the bottom of the tank, aquatic plants, and elaborate basking areas. I’m aiming for simplistic and accessible. First, sand and other substrate may be harmful to a turtle. Second, aquatic plants are difficult to find here in the Philippines. And third, as long as Dumbork gets enough light, proper diet and care, there’s no need for an elaborate (and costly) basking area. Of course, to each its own. I’m not criticizing the way other RES owners decorate their tanks (sometimes I’m even jealous), but because of the limited supplies of tank decorations here, there’s simply no choice but to innovate.
I used Php 70 worth of round and flat small marbles, bought at the “Lahat Sampung Piso” Store (a store that sells items all at Php 10.00). I also have 6 big marbles and 3 medium stones (those usually found in the beach). I want to acquire some river rocks which is good for basking, but I can’t seem to find one. I’m having difficulty in getting driftwood too, because the driftwood sold here is too small to be used as a basking area.
Since the Philippines is a tropical country, the temperatures do not drop to that of winter temperature of those abroad. Even during the rainy seasons, the temperature drops by only 5 or so degrees (in the month of September to January). Therefore, a water heater is not needed. During summer, the temperature can rise to up to 96 F. However, I still put Dumbork in warm water as much as I can, especially when his stools are irregular. When I feel cold, then I will increase the temperature of Dumbork’s water.
The water I usually use is purified drinking water, provided by the water refill stations on the country. This is the main source of potable and clean water. The water is put in a 5-gallon blue container delivered to your home. At first, you have to buy the container itself (Php 150 – 200), then you can just ask the water station for a refill. The price for the water refill ranges from Php 20.00 – Php. 50.00. Tap water is also available.
created a pro and cons list for these two types:
|Type of water||Pros||Cons|
|Purified drinking water||No chlorinePotable water
Filtered and clean
|-May include minerals used in the process that can cause mineral deposits for turtle.-Difficult to pour since it comes from a blue container
-Costly at Php 35 (average) per container
-Supplies is not always available
-water stations sometime don’t deliver (pick up only)
|Tap water||Easy to getAccessible
No payment needed since it comes from faucets
|-Presence of chlorine-Tap water is not recommended for drinking because of possible bacteria
-Ph levels not sure
-May contain harmful chemicals
-Sometimes water is not clear
-Also may have funny taste and smell
I’ve purchased a corner filter that can run 2500 cubic centimeter per minute powered by an air pump. I’ve learned that you need an air pump that can power a tank at least 2 times its capacity (e.g. air pump that can filter 50 gallons for a 15 gallon tank). There are two settings for the air pump: hi and low. The filter medium is coarse white foam designed to trap the particles, food and wasted suctioned by the air pump. The said filter medium is to be replaced every week, but I’ve replaced mine after two days because the filter turned orange quickly. We have plans to upgrade the filter in line with the upgrade of the tank; a better option is the motor powered-pump or overhead filter.
At first Dumbork was housed in a 2.5 gallon used tank. After realizing that this is way too small, we upgraded to a brand new 15 gallon tank. I know that this is still very small for Dumbork (Male RES can get into 10-12 inches in length, fully grown). When he reaches 4 inches, we will try to upgrade to a 50 gallon tank. The dimensions of the tank are 24 x 12 x 12 (L x W x H). The ideal gallon size for a male RES is 90 gallons.
We were told by the Vet in UP Vet med to feed Dumbork 3-4 pellets in the morning and 3-4 in the afternoon (because I have a work schedule from 8am-5pm). Sometimes he would appear very hungry and we would cave in by feeding him green veggies. We are trying to incorporate live prey in his diet but it seemed like he became friends with the fishes (we brought 3 fish). At first he tried to chase them but later on he would simply look at them and not bothering to follow. Since my standards on the nutrition and food are based on other countries (mainly US), it was difficult to choose which diet to follow: the one given by the Vet med seemed a little extravagant compared to the RES owners abroad (they would feed their RES every other day). I also have conflicting information, wherein one website discouraged the use of pellets everyday and encouraged greens, while some said that pellets can be substituted for greens and live prey.
Dumbork already became sick once, where his shell is very slimy and the water in the tank smells quickly. The amount of pellets was reduced and there was a vitamin (drops) to be incorporated in the water. The said vitamin composition is unknown because it was purchased in a small pet clinic near our home.
Recently, we also suspected an impaction due to eating of gravel. We filled the corner filter with small marbles so that it won’t move around the tank. When I went home one afternoon (June 17, 2012), the corner filter was moved from its original place and several marbles were scattered on the aquarium floor. I immediately quarantined him for two days and counting, checking if his stools are normal, whether they appear firm or runny, and whether the tank or Dumbork himself is getting smelly.
Another variation is that the vet mentioned that we should feed him as much as 10 pellets per day, varying the number depending in the amount of pellets he will consume. At first it seemed scary – feeding him 10 per day? The issues of overfeeding, constipation and other digestive problems cropped out. I will try to seek second advice regarding this, since the rule of thumb abroad is feed the RES as much as the size of the head..
Now, it seemed like Dumbork is healthy once again. He is basically eating whatever food we gave him, has bowels once a day (usually every morning), and most of the times playful and active.
Some follow a usual 25-25-50 proportion on greens, pellets, and live prey interchangeably.