Any tips for new box turtle?

godzilla90fan

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Hello…I understand your concerns on why you felt the need to keep a wild box turtle but if I kidnapped you and put you in 2’x4’ glass only closet, how do you think you would feel? If your going to provide a safe haven home then you better be prepared to provide all the necessities a box turtle needs or else you are no different than the “road”. I’m not trying to be mean but your enclosure doesn’t validate your emotional reasoning. To maintain these awesome creatures takes a lot of education, time, money, and space. An average adult box turtle needs at minimum of 4ft x 4ft enclosure. I realize you’re just starting out but if I was to rank your enclosure for this turtle, I would be tough to give it a 1 out of 10. If your committed to investing in a much larger space, in your education of this turtle, in the needs and care, in the financial support, in the proper diet…then I would gladly help you. Otherwise, take the turtle back in proximity to where you found it and place it in a safe location away from the road. If you have space outdoors, build a large predator proof enclosure…it will do better outdoors than indoors;) I hope you have the means to provide a proper home or at least make the best decision for it…not yourself. Best of luck!
Hey, not mean at all :) The primary reason I came was advice on his housing. We plan to double its size in the next day or two, especially if we can figure out how people combine these totes (ive seen pictures but no tutorials). I do have space outside for him, about 12 by 10 feet, but we have a LOT of feral cats around, do they eat turtles?
 

godzilla90fan

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Hello. There is a lady here on TFO that gave me some good advice about feeding named pastel tortie I think. The truth about tortoises and box turtles though is you can't tell if they are wild by how tame they seem to be. They're kinda naturally tame. On the other hand he was near a busy road and you don't see others around. It's a big decision. Good luck with whatever you come up with. Is your yard near the spot where he was found?
Yes it is, I found him while walking my dog maybe 20 yards from my house. The owner of the neighboring land decided to overexpand it, and its littered with homes, so the traffic is crazy the last 10 years.
Thank you for the good wishes :)
 

godzilla90fan

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I was going to refrain from this conversation but.....

Pay attention to Yvonne....you will cook that guy with that bulb.....at least keep is 2 ft away from any opening in his habitat to start with....he isn't going to die from ambient temps but f you allow the 450F heat from that bulb to get trapped you will be an unwitting accomplice in his demise.

And don't get defensive......I try to warn folks to wear their thick skin here......and trust me when I tell you that despite that perception of confrontation(occasionally deserved I'm sure<LOL>), the folks here are two things, wicked-smart about turtles and just as passionate and sometimes that can come across as harsh, it's NEVER intended that way, okay? Wrap your head around that little morsel, be humble and read the stickies/care sheets. I promise you will learn things. I learned & heck, I stopped learning decades ago.....a bunch of them!

Good luck
jeff
Thanks much for the advice, truly! I lurked on these forums for a while, so I know theres a lot of knowledge here :)

He has adjusted a lot better the last couple days. He even eats watermelon (his favorite, but we give it in low doses) out of my hand. Our biggest problem is that we just can't get him to eat meat of any kind, live or dead. I have tried superworms (supervised, heads cut off), red worms, earthworms, and crickets. The most I get is what looks like interest, then he walks away like hes scared of them. He eats his greens very well though. Any advice on his diet considering this?

He also stopped burying himself, which I assume is good. I see him soak in his dish, but I never see him drinking his water, is it safe to assume that if he knows where to soak that he is drinking?
 

Cathie G

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Thanks much for the advice, truly! I lurked on these forums for a while, so I know theres a lot of knowledge here :)

He has adjusted a lot better the last couple days. He even eats watermelon (his favorite, but we give it in low doses) out of my hand. Our biggest problem is that we just can't get him to eat meat of any kind, live or dead. I have tried superworms (supervised, heads cut off), red worms, earthworms, and crickets. The most I get is what looks like interest, then he walks away like hes scared of them. He eats his greens very well though. Any advice on his diet considering this?

He also stopped burying himself, which I assume is good. I see him soak in his dish, but I never see him drinking his water, is it safe to assume that if he knows where to soak that he is drinking?
Try shrimp from the grocery store fresh fish department. When I told the guy why I was only buying a few he threw in his 2 cents for free and I had to freeze some of them.☺️ The large salad if I remember correctly and take off the outer scale and tail. Then cut them up in bite size pieces for serving. Also the rescue I had enjoyed sitting on a flat rock. Don't ask me why because I don't know but she liked it.
 

godzilla90fan

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Try shrimp from the grocery store fresh fish department. When I told the guy why I was only buying a few he threw in his 2 cents for free and I had to freeze some of them.☺️ The large salad if I remember correctly and take off the outer scale and tail. Then cut them up in bite size pieces for serving. Also the rescue I had enjoyed sitting on a flat rock. Don't ask me why because I don't know but she liked it.
I'll give that a try, thank you :) In the meantime, we found out he likes cherries (we took the pit out of it)
 

Cathie G

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I'll give that a try, thank you :) In the meantime, we found out he likes cherries (we took the pit out of it)
I think the one I had did also. And red raspberries. A lot I can't remember I've since re-homed her to someone that actually wanted a box turtle. She was adorable but I really don't have the space for my tortoise and a box turtle. I did enjoy her though while it lasted. I had to carry her outside on a towel though because box turtles don't like to fly. It scares the pee out of them and you'll find out how much they actually drink if you try 😜
 

jeff kushner

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Box turtle's vision is "red centered" and they can see literally thousands of shades of red! I began reading the science but it was just too heavy for me at 4am one morning.....


Glad to hear your guy is doing well....don't forget that he will need warmer temps to digest his food....83-85F I think....

I like Cathy's method of moving them...she's right, they HATE flying! LOL
jeff
 

godzilla90fan

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I think the one I had did also. And red raspberries. A lot I can't remember I've since re-homed her to someone that actually wanted a box turtle. She was adorable but I really don't have the space for my tortoise and a box turtle. I did enjoy her though while it lasted. I had to carry her outside on a towel though because box turtles don't like to fly. It scares the pee out of them and you'll find out how much they actually drink if you try 😜
That's really clever, I'll have to try it for moving him. The only time he squirms is when he is flying as you say :p He has no issue sitting near us or even on us, as long as we bribe him with food, but those feet start going a mile a minute when hes airborne.
 

godzilla90fan

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Box turtle's vision is "red centered" and they can see literally thousands of shades of red! I began reading the science but it was just too heavy for me at 4am one morning.....


Glad to hear your guy is doing well....don't forget that he will need warmer temps to digest his food....83-85F I think....

I like Cathy's method of moving them...she's right, they HATE flying! LOL
jeff
Well that explains his love for watermelon and cherries lol interesting. And yeah, Cathy had a great point, the only time he squirms is when hes airborne, and he goes nuts, so we just rarely move him. We tend to only "handle" him when he is already out to eat.

Keeping the temp right has proven a pain :( I used to breed green anoles, and they were fairly easy to keep warm. I probably need a better light.
 

ZenHerper

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... Our biggest problem is that we just can't get him to eat meat of any kind, live or dead. I have tried superworms (supervised, heads cut off), red worms, earthworms, and crickets. The most I get is what looks like interest, then he walks away like hes scared of them. He eats his greens very well though. Any advice on his diet considering this?

...
Turtles are able to absorb water through their tail vents, so while it's most likely he's drinking, he will take up water if needed that way. As long as he is eating fruit and has damp substrate for humidity, he's fine with soaking himself.

Turtles raised on pellets may only recognize them as food (they are meat-red or -brown in color, but don't move). These are two good meat-based brands:


For a boxie, you'd soak them in warm water to soften them, then offer on a plate of fruit/veg that he already likes.
 

godzilla90fan

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Turtles are able to absorb water through their tail vents, so while it's most likely he's drinking, he will take up water if needed that way. As long as he is eating fruit and has damp substrate for humidity, he's fine with soaking himself.

Turtles raised on pellets may only recognize them as food (they are meat-red or -brown in color, but don't move). These are two good meat-based brands:


For a boxie, you'd soak them in warm water to soften them, then offer on a plate of fruit/veg that he already likes.
Ill give the pellets a try, thanks :) He is doing really well with apples and watermelon, and he FINALLY ate a dead superworm (that or it walked off with no head a day later) that I added in with his greens, so I put like 5 in with them this time to see.

I didn't know he could drink water like that, that is amazing! I spray the pen heavily twice a day, he seems to really like it (doesn't hide, so I assume).

I also swapped out the massive 100w bulb for a 75 watt bulb about half the size. It heats half the tank to 88.

The only thing I have left to do for him is double up on his pen, but I don't know how to combine them. I went ahead and bought another, just don't really know how lol
 

ZenHerper

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This thread shows two bins put together with a wooden box bridge between them...seems a good plan as you only cut holes in the ends of the bins and keep the bridge low to the surface of the substrate:

I've seen those hot wood-burning tools used to easily cut thick plastic bins.

Box Turtles love water (an exception being the Desert Box Turtle, perhaps)...and will swim if given the chance. Rain energizes them, so they do love a good spraying. lol
 

godzilla90fan

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This thread shows two bins put together with a wooden box bridge between them...seems a good plan as you only cut holes in the ends of the bins and keep the bridge low to the surface of the substrate:

I've seen those hot wood-burning tools used to easily cut thick plastic bins.

Box Turtles love water (an exception being the Desert Box Turtle, perhaps)...and will swim if given the chance. Rain energizes them, so they do love a good spraying. lol
Yeah, he absolutely loves being misted. If he is underground, just the slightest mist will have him rise from the earth (pretty cool looking), extend his head, and soak it up. I rarely see him in his pool. I experimented with a pool deep enough to swim in, but he flipped himself over in it within 2 hours. This got me paranoid that it would happen when I wasn't home and he would drown, so I reduced it to about a pie sized wading dish. I hate it though, he doesn't seem to wade much in the dish, and really seemed to like the deep pool. Maybe it needs to be larger.

My only concern now is calorie intake, beyond that he seems to have adjusted very well. He runs STRAIGHT to new food (I leave food for 2 days at a time) and seems to vastly prefer lettuce (not even close, he even prefers it over meat, strawberries, watermelon, etc). He will eat 2 or 3 pieces of lettuce (for size comparison, the amount has the surface area of his body id say) very quickly, and then just walk off. I'm worried he isn't eating enough :(

Is there a visual guide on here for how much he should be eating in a day, or something similar? As long as I know he is getting enough food, I will be confident he is happy. I'm pretty sure he comes back and eats on it throughout the day, but its hard to tell.
 

godzilla90fan

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And an added open question to anyone, would it be wise to get him a store bought mate? Maybe a hatchling to grow into one? How old would you say he is?
Or should I just keep him solitary?
 

ZenHerper

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Social needs: Turtles, like tortoises, are territorial. In confined captive conditions, a pair usually ends badly. Especially when you have so much trouble with this one eating properly...if he gets intimidated and dominated, well, not good (yep, they hatch out with a fully intact dominant/subordinate personality, so a hatchling or juvenile can be a serious bully). Reptiles do not have the social brain parts that we do - they do not get lonely and don't need company. As long as his habitat is large enough and he has a regular and stimulating routine, he'll be fine alone.

**************

Food: There's no nutrition of any kind in lettuce. Just don't offer it...otherwise he fills up on it and won't eat what he needs. Watermelon is also nutrient-poor. Stick with more deeply colored berries and overripe banana. A chunk of cooked sweet potato once a week will help keep his calories and vitamin A level up.

Dandelion greens, Belgian endive, curly endive, or edible flowers are good substitutions for lettuce - far more nutritious. Choose tender young leaves to start.

A turtle's stomach is about the size of its head...how much to put down each day depends on whether he likes to gobble an entire plate (and may need smaller portions), or does he pick off and on through the day (and can ration himself from a handful of options)?

Keep a bit of a diary ("strawberry, 2 blueberries, raspberry, 2 inch chunk sw pot, 6 Cobalt pellets") so you can figure out what he actually gets down.

***************

Water feature: so keep the small container in his habitat for safety. But let him have the opportunity to swim in deeper water under supervision. Sounds like he could use the practice. lol
 

godzilla90fan

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Social needs: Turtles, like tortoises, are territorial. In confined captive conditions, a pair usually ends badly. Especially when you have so much trouble with this one eating properly...if he gets intimidated and dominated, well, not good (yep, they hatch out with a fully intact dominant/subordinate personality, so a hatchling or juvenile can be a serious bully). Reptiles do not have the social brain parts that we do - they do not get lonely and don't need company. As long as his habitat is large enough and he has a regular and stimulating routine, he'll be fine alone.

**************

Food: There's no nutrition of any kind in lettuce. Just don't offer it...otherwise he fills up on it and won't eat what he needs. Watermelon is also nutrient-poor. Stick with more deeply colored berries and overripe banana. A chunk of cooked sweet potato once a week will help keep his calories and vitamin A level up.

Dandelion greens, Belgian endive, curly endive, or edible flowers are good substitutions for lettuce - far more nutritious. Choose tender young leaves to start.

A turtle's stomach is about the size of its head...how much to put down each day depends on whether he likes to gobble an entire plate (and may need smaller portions), or does he pick off and on through the day (and can ration himself from a handful of options)?

Keep a bit of a diary ("strawberry, 2 blueberries, raspberry, 2 inch chunk sw pot, 6 Cobalt pellets") so you can figure out what he actually gets down.

***************

Water feature: so keep the small container in his habitat for safety. But let him have the opportunity to swim in deeper water under supervision. Sounds like he could use the practice. lol
Update on his diet. He seemed a bit thin (based on pictures online) so we went out and bought two boxes of nightcrawlers. He always ignored red worms, figured he would ignore these. In hopes he would see them better, we dumped most of them in a bowl of water (to clean them and get them moving) and plopped a pile right in front of him. He instantly dove right in, and easily ate 6-8 large ones before going into his hidey bin for a nap (hes been pretty active in the hours since). We filmed some of his eating, but didnt think to record the best spectacle: An extremely large worm, and the first he ate, reacted like a python to being eaten, and wrapped itself around the turtles neck and body, creating an image of him in an epic battle. Of course, its just a worm, so he bit clean through.

Just glad he is eating meat finally. Thanks for all the advice.
 

TurtzInMyYard

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Hello, I recently found a beautiful box turtle on the road near my house. There used to be a creek here, but its long since dried up, so I have no idea where she came from. Her species is native to here (north carolina) and its legal to own up to 5 wild box turtles in NC, so we (my niece, nephew, and myself) decided to keep her rather than risk her death to the busy roads here.

We have had her 6 days, and so far we haven't seen her eat or drink. I have seen her sitting in her water dish twice, so she MIGHT be drinking when we aren't around. We have left various fruits and veggies in her crate, including carrots, cantaloupe, watermelon, lettuce, and banana. I have also tried feeding her red worms (haven't tried earthworms yet) and superworms (closely supervised and cut off heads) in a seperate crate. She looked at the red worms like she was about to snatch them up, but them would always stop before actually biting, and entirely ignored the superworms, instead just going straight to the corner of the feeding tub and sitting there.

Beyond that, she spends most of her time in her cardboard den, and/or buried underground, with either her entire head out, or just her nostrils. She seems to burrow a lot, and has an established nest (don't know if its considered a nest without eggs, and we don't know if she is pregnant or laid any, she did dig with her back legs), and is very lively when held, but seems very relaxed if shes around people and not being held, even somewhat enjoying a chin rub (extends her neck).

Thinking that maybe its just too cold for her (the room sits around 75 degrees or warmer) today I bought her a 100w UVB/UVA/heat lamp, and a 5.5 inch dome for it. We aren't leaving it on, because I noticed when I got home that while the dome says it supports up to 100 watts, the bulb itself says it needs an 8.5 inch dome. The small amount of time we used it, the dome got really hot, does anyone know if the 5.5 inch one is usable, or should I return it? Is 100 watts too hott? We currently have it hanging around the top of the tub, 8 or so inches away from the ground (unlike the picture) but its turned off.

Any advice would be much appreciated, we want her (named her Azula) to have everything she needs. We do believe she needs more room, but don't know how to combine two of these tanks together. We also plan to get her a better soaking dish. Thank you in advance guys :)
Greetings! Let me preface what I'm about to say with this DISCLAIMER; I don't know what I'm talking about.
I'm probably the newest member of the turtle voyeurs club.

Right off the top of my head, several things come to mind. Turtles are amazing hiders. They don't like to be ogled, let alone touched. Everything about the way they are built, facilitates stealth. They move slowly, with intent. They take pause every 3-6 inches, stretch out their necks a surprising distance, and as high as they can raise their heads, they survey the landscape for ANY movement. Turtles don't seem to have been gifted with keen eyesight - at very close or very far away.

Could it be, your turtle is in culture shock? Just imagine being picked up by some GIANT creature and taken to a bright and sterile looking environment, odd smells and noises. I would feel like I had been abducted by aliens....lol.

I think the poor thing is just in shock. A natural environment will calm him down immensely. Leaves, moss sticks and water. Plenty of cover for him to hide and sleep under. I have nine turtles in my backyard that I began studying this spring. They have gotten used to seeing me and I finally have two or three that will actually come out of hiding to receive the apple wedges I have given out all summer.

Your turtle needs to be comfortable with the 'earth' under his feet. He's just scared. Make him comfortable by providing him with an enclosure that includes the same elements as his natural environment and he will begin eating sooner than you think, because he is going to be HUNGRY. LOL.

If he doesn't improve. He misses his home too much and is grieving. It would be best to take him back to the area you found him. Turtles only have a home range of about a mile. I live in a residential area that is adjacent to a wooded area. Your turtle might actually have had a home in the residential area and he was just traveling to and fro -- my turtles have homes in the wooded area and they have homes right around my house and they go back and forth. I have seen them cross the street to come to my house! They are amazing little creatures, I'm learning.

There are a slew of turtle experts here you will be happy to get to know. I'm not one of them... all I know how to do is keep glued to my windows everyday getting absolutely nothing done, waiting and wondering if they will show up today. Most days they do! The great thing about it is that I don't have to groom them, take care of them or take them to the vet. They are the BEST pets as free rangers in your backyard. Any chance you have any turtles lurking around your house? Like I said, they are fantastic hiders. I have lived here five years and saw a turtle, or two. But since paying more attention, turns out, I have nine turtles. Some are travelers, meaning my yard is in their travel path to somewhere else. At least four of them are what I call resident turtles because I see the same four almost every day. Well -- now that I haven't answered your question, My name is Bev, welcome and very nice to have you here---
 

ZenHerper

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...of nightcrawlers. He always ignored red worms, figured he would ignore these. ...
Red wigglers excrete a bad-tasting toxin from their pores. Turtles with experience living wild do not even try them. Nightcrawlers are a different species.
 

TurtzInMyYard

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Thanks much for the advice, truly! I lurked on these forums for a while, so I know theres a lot of knowledge here :)

He has adjusted a lot better the last couple days. He even eats watermelon (his favorite, but we give it in low doses) out of my hand. Our biggest problem is that we just can't get him to eat meat of any kind, live or dead. I have tried superworms (supervised, heads cut off), red worms, earthworms, and crickets. The most I get is what looks like interest, then he walks away like hes scared of them. He eats his greens very well though. Any advice on his diet considering this?

He also stopped burying himself, which I assume is good. I see him soak in his dish, but I never see him drinking his water, is it safe to assume that if he knows where to soak that he is drinking?
Any chance of taking him outside when it is raining? I've noticed my backyard turtles will gather in one spot of my yard when it begins to rain. Under the birdfeeder, there is no grass as we feed black oil sunflower seeds and this had created a 'mat' covering on the ground. When it rains, the turtz come out to feed on worms coming up from the ground. Let him try to 'hunt' his own food, maybe? Or, is there some contraindication to that?
 
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