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Worming treatment for turtles

Madenwürmer, Oxyuren einer freilebenden Tgi in Griechenland.
Spulwürmer, Askariden einer freilebenden Tgi in Bulgarien.

I am aware that this topic is very controversial. I want to give you some food for thought with my experiences and my opinion.

However, I would like to make one preliminary remark. Even with an excessive parasite infestation, there is no generally applicable rule, it always depends on the individual case. In my books I have described that if there is an excessive infestation of intestinal parasites, a veterinarian experienced in turtles should decide whether or not to take a wormer.

If you use my books as a guide when keeping your animals, such a decision will not be made in the first place.

Those who keep their turtles as close to nature as possible and feed them appropriately will certainly have almost no disease-related problems.

In their natural habitats, too, the turtles have pinworms (oxyurs), roundworms (ascarids) or unicellular organisms such as flagellates (hexamites) or trichomonads. So that the animals live without any impairments. Even a massive infestation of oxyurs and ascarids does not necessarily throw wild turtles out of balance. Such a mass infestation occurs preferably in spring due to an excess of protein-rich and low-fiber seedlings and also after excessive consumption of wild fruits. As soon as the turtles start eating fiber-rich food, dry plants, hay and, above all, leaves from trees and bushes, the parasites are reduced to a natural level again. See page 296 ff. In the book Forage Plants .

This also works for me and for many other experienced turtle keepers in the enclosure. Those who keep and feed their turtles appropriately will hardly provoke a massive increase in parasites. Like me, many experienced older owners have never thought of “poisoning” healthy turtles with worming agents.

A worming treatment is very harmful to herbivores for many reasons.

First of all, the drugs that are to be administered to the turtles several times in a row each year are poisonous substances (neurotoxins, i.e. nerve toxins). Even in low doses, the toxins will certainly not pass the turtles unscathed.

But that weighs even more heavily. The intestinal flora (bacteria and microorganisms) is also killed by the poison. The intestinal flora is essential for a herbivore. Nourishing, protective, metabolism-stimulating and immunological functions are ascribed to it. See page 52 and page 214 ff. In the book Natural husbandry and breeding ...

Without the intestinal flora, food cannot be broken down and nutrients cannot be supplied to the organism. Put simply, the turtle has eaten but has not consumed any nutrients.


The intestinal flora is not only responsible for breaking down the nutrients, but also protects the organism from infections by preventing the colonization of pathogenic germs. It is also responsible for the formation of essential vitamins and fatty acids.


Not only diet, but also posture has an impact on the intestines. Stress and lack of exercise have extremely negative effects.

Tortoises, as pronounced ground dwellers, are particularly connected to the ground and are extremely stressed when they are constantly picked up, carried around or otherwise harassed. Stress is considered to be a major cause of mental and physical illness.

Unfortunately you only see this negative stress and the signs of illness in the turtles when it is almost too late.

A good indicator of an incipient deterioration in health is weight.

A turtle in the wild is about as heavy as a rock of the same size. If your turtle's weight feels lighter, you should reconsider your posture.


An intestinal flora that is damaged or completely destroyed during a worming treatment can only be rebuilt extremely slowly. Especially when all animals in a herd have been dewormed. In fact, it can take several weeks to months for the intestinal flora to regain its natural balance.

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