Sorry, no photos. Last night I saw Rex, my male red eared slider, have a penile prolapse / fan himself.
He was standing under water in a strange way, so I went to look closer. He had his four feet stretched out underneath him and it looked like he was taking a giant dump. A huge dump, bigger, thicker, and more oddly shaped than anything before. I started panicking in my head thinking, “oh no, he’s having an intestinal prolapse! What do I do!?!?”
I reached for a camera, but the commotion must have alerted him, as the entire prolapsed ‘thing’ went back inside his cloaca. I observed his cloaca (read: butt-hole) for a few minutes as he was swimming around normally and noticed the opening going smaller and smaller. I’d read that turtle penises are weird and oddly shaped, but I didn’t expect it to be so weird and so odd.
So doing some research, I conclude that it was a penile prolapse, not intestinal and that I have nothing to worry about.
Here’s a summary of my findings online on turtle prolapses:
Prolapse: generally when an organ sticks out of a turtle’s cloaca (butt-opening). The organ that sticks out may be intestinal or the penis.
Intestinal prolapse: Thought to be caused by a turtle eating gravel, improper diet, constipation, parasites, being egg-bound or other reason. The consensus is that it’s not really sure why they have prolapses. An intestinal prolapse should go back in by itself and heal, but it also may not go back in, get injured, and require the services of a vet. If this happens, immediately put the turtle in a container with a smooth bottom, clean water, and away from other turtles or animals that may bite it.
Penile prolapse: A male turtle ‘fans’ his male organ and it goes back in. This isn’t a problem and there’s nothing to worry about.
And, since I didn’t get to take any photos of Rex’s prolapse, here’s some I found online: