Ear Infections in Reptiles

Turtles, especially box turtles and aquatic species, are at risk for developing ear infections. Because a turtle’s eardrum is located on the outer surface of its head, infection is trapped underneath the membrane and forms an abscess.

Symptoms and Types

  • Swelling or bulging of the ear drum
  • Thick pus may be visible through the ear drum
  • Pain when the mouth is opened
  • Unwillingness to eat



The underlying causes of aural (or ear) abscesses are not completely understood, but some cases develop when turtles are forced to live in dirty environments, are exposed to improper temperature and humidity levels, and/or do not receive adequate amounts of vitamin A in their diets.


Veterinarians diagnose aural abscesses based on a turtle’s symptoms, a physical exam and medical history.

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