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I rescued a box turtle and need some help.

Discussion in 'American box turtles' started by Calderburton, Dec 24, 2018.

  1. Calderburton

    Calderburton New Member

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    hello everyone, I should start out with saying most of my experience with turtles is very limited. Anyway, I work at a pet store and at work last week someone brought in this really rough looking box turtle. He was a principal at one of the local schools and one of his teachers retired and left the class pet box turtle. He didn’t know what to do with it do he brought it and the enclosure to the pet store. According to him this turtle had been kept in the classroom without lighting, humidity and only eating lettuce. It had been this way for 40 years! I have it now currently I have it in a setup with proper lighting and high enough humidity. I was wondering if any of you know what species this is and any age guesses? Also how do I go about trimming it’s beak?
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  2. Maro2Bear

    Maro2Bear Well-Known Member

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    Greetings..

    If you can take a few pictures of your new turtle and upload them here it will really help with proper ID.
  3. Calderburton

    Calderburton New Member

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    Here are some photos

    2321C569-6B5A-46B4-871C-BB4BA7B05122.jpeg B06B1452-2A10-4C76-BAF9-B0C0402A1B4F.jpeg 2B67B8C8-7983-4463-B87B-274A497879F2.jpeg D37B26B3-98DD-4C0C-982F-6A0836A73B56.jpeg
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  4. Maro2Bear

    Maro2Bear Well-Known Member

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    Wow...that beak really does need a good trimming. It’s REALLY overgrown - I’ll defer to others. Not sure if that is something thst should be trimmed by a new owner. @Yvonne G or @ColleenT might be able to provide some guidance.
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  5. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Supporter

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    This is an old, male Terrapene ornata. This particular sub species used to be called luteola, however "they" have since done away with that name.


    And this folks (the above quote) is why I'm dead set AGAINST adopting a turtle or tortoise out to be a class room pet.

    That long tip part needs to be clipped off. Because of the length and shape of that overgrown part, it might be easier to grind it off with a Dremmel instead of clipping it.
  6. Calderburton

    Calderburton New Member

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    I’m amazed it’s still alive. I have him setup like an eastern. The setup has 60% humidity, is 75 degrees and has a hot spot of 85. Is this okay?
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  7. LaLaP

    LaLaP Well-Known Member TFO Supporter Platinum Supporter

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  8. Calderburton

    Calderburton New Member

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    I read the care sheet I es wondering if there is anything specific for the desert box turtle?
  9. LaLaP

    LaLaP Well-Known Member TFO Supporter Platinum Supporter

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    I'm sorry I don't know the answer I read on the caresheet that care is similar for all box turtles but that's all I know. Hopefully some turtle people will have an answer for you. Good luck!
    I'd really love to see a before and after shot after you get that beak trimmed. It'll be quite a transformation!
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  10. ColleenT

    ColleenT Well-Known Member

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    Poor Guy. Remember he needs to be soaked on occasion. They are turtles and not tortoises. they like water. My signature provides an article on the proper feeding for box turtles.
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  11. Grandpa Turtle 144

    Grandpa Turtle 144 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I would give the poor old guy a bath and 1-2 earth worms to eat . But no more cause they will eat earth worms til they come back up ! And maybe a strawberry. Good luck with your new friend.
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  12. Pastel Tortie

    Pastel Tortie Well-Known Member

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    You might even need to cut up the earthworms for him, until that beak is back in biting shape. Or start with smaller size earthworms. If he's never had a live earthworm before... Well, it does take some practice for box turtles to get proficient at subduing and eating them. :)
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  13. Calderburton

    Calderburton New Member

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    I have attempted to feed him some earthworms but he wouldn’t take them. He only wants romane lettuce
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  14. Pastel Tortie

    Pastel Tortie Well-Known Member

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    If the turtle is at least 40 years old and spent much or all of that time as a classroom pet, it may be worth your time and effort to do some research. You might turn up more about the turtle's age and past living conditions.

    It's possible this classroom box turtle made a feature story in one of the local newspapers... and more of those old newspapers are being put online and made searchable.

    Also, there are students, parents, and grandparents (who used to be students) that knew this turtle. Approach it from a curiosity standpoint (not a "bad husbandry" standpoint).

    Two of the most innocuous questions you can ask... "Did you ever know this turtle?" and "Does this turtle have a name?"
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  15. Calderburton

    Calderburton New Member

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    I talked to the principal said that his name was speedy otherwise there wasn’t much information
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  16. Pastel Tortie

    Pastel Tortie Well-Known Member

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    The time of year may factor in, too. Even if they don't hibernate, many box turtles slow down during the winter months.

    When you soak him, aim for water in the high 80s to very low 90s. See how he reacts, how he handles it. Keep in mind, box turtles CAN swim, but he may not know that yet. :)

    Try floating a few pellets of a good commercial diet in his soaking water, along with some romaine lettuce. Let him hide under the romaine if he wants to. If he seems comfortable, you can try putting a small earthworm or piece of an earthworm in his soaking water to investigate. No guarantee, but it's worth a try.

    If he isn't all that interested in the earthworms, that's okay. Try again every couple weeks or so. He may be more interested as spring arrives.
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  17. Calderburton

    Calderburton New Member

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    Thank you. Should I try to feed him other food items?
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  18. Calderburton

    Calderburton New Member

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    So I have him currently in a 55 gallon Rubbermaid tub with a peat and sand mixture as a substrate. I want to give him an outdoor enclosure for the summer. I live in Michigan will the weather be okay for the turtle? Should I be worried about him giving illness to the wild easterns or vice versa?
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  19. Pastel Tortie

    Pastel Tortie Well-Known Member

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  20. Pastel Tortie

    Pastel Tortie Well-Known Member

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    Yes, definitely try to feed him other food items... Just don't be too surprised if he isn't keen on eating any of them. Box turtles can be notoriously picky, devouring an item one week and refusing to eat it the next. I have better luck trying to get my juvenile to expand her culinary horizons during the spring.

    If Speedy eats romaine reliably, you can gradually mix other items into it. You can even soften (by soaking) commercial turtle or tortoise food pellets and smear it on the romaine.
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