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Box Turtle Hatchling Care Sheet

Discussion in 'American box turtles' started by StarSapphire22, Jul 23, 2014.

  1. breosaighit13

    breosaighit13 New Member

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    Oh, man, do I feel your pain. We live in Illinois, and in September my father-in-law in Mississippi gave my 10 year old daughter a couple month old three-toed box turtle. Down in ruralish Mississippi, they would frequently keep turtles in an enclosure outside during the summer and then release them back into the wild. We live in the suburbs of Chicago, so keeping the turtle outside, even in summer, is not a good option. I love this turtle, but it's been like being a new parent all over again.

    She ate fairly decently the first month or so and then slowed down in October. Took her to the vet for a wellness checkup just before Halloween, and the vet (who was over the moon to see such a little baby) said even though we have the heat lamps and UV, said they can sense barometric pressure changes which will cue them to try to brumate. He said they can go into a low energy state that isn't true brumation and can slowly waste away and just keep soaking and trying to get her to eat.

    After the first vet visit she started eating even less often and even started refusing all food but banana. I was a wreck while my mom was taking care of her when we went to Mississippi for Thanksgiving with my husband's family, but she ate daily while being hand fed by my mom, but only banana. Once we got home, she then refused to eat for a whole week, so I took her back to the vet.

    They said her plastron was red (we hadn't noticed because she has a lot of brown and tan markings on it, and the change to red was very subtle), which is an indicator of systemic infection. We upped the wattage of our heat lamp and began using an infrared lamp at night, hooked up to a Willhi thermostat to keep nighttime temps between 70 and 75 degrees while convalescing, per the vet's advice, and started a 7 shot round of Fortaz antibiotic, which was completed Christmas Day.

    She is eating daily for the most part, but only will eat the Zoo Med canned box turtle food and occasionally banana or red pear. I bought nightcrawlers from PetSmart and cut a piece off for her because they are huge, but she has no interest. She stopped eating egg and chicken back in November. I'm hoping the disinterest in protein is either because of the recovery and/or low activity level for this time of year, but it's always a worry. An online friend who has had a boxie for two decades assures me that as long as I get her to nibble at stuff here and there during the winter, she should do fine, but it has been exhausting.

    The vet said to wait minimum a week after the last injection before bringing her in for a recheck, so she will be going in sometime after the new year. I think her plastron is a little less red, but it's so hard to tell. She is definitely more active when we take her out. Still staying burrowed all day, but I expect that will remain the case until spring.
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