Why Is My Turtles Head Swollen? (2 Reasons Why + What To Do)

Swelling in humans usually means that there has been trauma in that area and the body is trying to remedy it, but is this the case for turtles and turtle heads?

This article looks into why your turtle’s head is swollen 

Why is my turtle’s head swollen?

A swollen head, in any animal, is cause for concern, this change in your pet’s head may make you wonder about the animal’s overall health and wellbeing.

Understanding why this is happening will guide you on what steps to take to remedy this situation. 

Here is why your turtle’s head is swollen:


One reason why your pet turtle’s head may be swollen may be because the animal has an aural abscess, also called an ear abscess. 

These abscesses usually develop in turtles who are deficient in vitamin A, low levels of this vitamin cause abnormalities in the lining of the turtles ear and this leads to bacteria entering and forming abscesses.

Ear abscesses cause swelling of the inner ear cavity, this looks like swelling on both sides of the head from the outside. This may be what you’re seeing. 

Other signs of this condition in your turtle include an uneven head shape because of the abscess, a loss of appetite, difficulty opening the mouth, and the animal won’t be able to bring its head into its shell   

What to do:

You can diagnose the animal yourself by looking at the animal’s ears and the rest of its symptoms, but the recommended approach would be to take your pet to the vet. The vet will analyze a sample of the material in the swollen area to determine what is happening with the turtle. 

If your pet does have an abscess in its ear then the vet will open the swollen area and remove the hardened pus from your turtle’s head, once this material has been removed the vet will flush out the animal’s ear canal using antimicrobials. 

You can keep these growths from developing in the future by making sure that the animal gets enough vitamin A from its diet.

Swollen lymph nodes: 

If your pet does not have an ear abscess, then the swelling at the animal’s ears may be because the animal’s lymph nodes are inflamed. The lymph nodes may have become inflamed if the animal previously had a respiratory infection

What to do:

Take your pet to the vet for an examination and diagnosis. If it is found that your pet has swollen lymph nodes then your vet may opt to lance them off under anesthesia.

Your vet may also not choose to lance off the swollen lymph nodes because giving anesthesia to these animals may be a bit tricky, but the final decision is up to your vet’s discretion.  

When choosing a vet make sure that you’re having your pet seen by a specialist herp vet, these vets know how to care for reptiles like turtles.

If there are no herp vets in your area then your local vet may take a conference call with a herp vet to administer care to your pet. 

If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other turtle/tortoise  related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: Why Are My Turtle’s Eye Blue?Why Is My Turtle’s Mouth Orange?Why Is My Turtle Nose Red?Why Is My Turtle’s Nose Bleeding?Why Is My Turtles Nose White?Why Are My Turtles Eyes Sunken In?Why Are My Turtles Eyes Watery?, Why Is My Turtle’s Head Twitching?Why Is My Turtles Head Shaking?

Why Is My Turtles Head Swollen? (2 Reasons Why + What To Do)
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