Intro and help needed with hatchling eastern box turtle

Middlchild2000

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Greenville SC
My neighbor found this little guy after she accidentally ran him over with the lawn mower! Thankfully he was not injured, but we would like to take care of him. We have a large outdoor enclosure and have cared for adult box turtles in the past, but we are not sure how to care for a hatchling. Can we built him an outdoor enclosure in a plastic container with a chicken wire covering to allow for sun? I’ve read some other threads and know he needs moisture, sunlight and shade, but what would be a simple outdoor set up to keep him safe from neighborhood dogs and such until he is big enough for the large open outdoor habitat? We are in upstate South Carolina and he seems to have come from the small patch of woods between our house and the next door neighbor - thanks!
 

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Maro2Bear

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My neighbor found this little guy after she accidentally ran him over with the lawn mower! Thankfully he was not injured, but we would like to take care of him. We have a large outdoor enclosure and have cared for adult box turtles in the past, but we are not sure how to care for a hatchling. Can we built him an outdoor enclosure in a plastic container with a chicken wire covering to allow for sun? I’ve read some other threads and know he needs moisture, sunlight and shade, but what would be a simple outdoor set up to keep him safe from neighborhood dogs and such until he is big enough for the large open outdoor habitat? We are in upstate South Carolina and he seems to have come from the small patch of woods between our house and the next door neighbor - thanks!

Cute little guy. Glad it escaped certain death from a mower blade. Theres an entire section on Box Turtle husbandry. Take a look over in that section. Right now, you could set him up in a nice large aquarium. Easier to keep track of, feed, & maintain proper temps, etc.

good luck
 

Armadillogroomer

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Imo, native turtles should be released. But captive-bred reptiles are not hard to find on our side of the map if you're interested in joining us turtle nerds.
 

Middlchild2000

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The laws of your state say, "It is unlawful to possess, barter, sell or trade . . . species of native turtle . . ."

So you should check into the legality of keeping that turtle.
My understanding is that it is perfectly legal, even with the new laws put into place last October - could you please cite your source for that info? I certainly don’t want to do anything illegal, but this seems perfectly within the bounds of what is allowed based on the source below.
 

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Yvonne G

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My understanding is that it is perfectly legal, even with the new laws put into place last October - could you please cite your source for that info? I certainly don’t want to do anything illegal, but this seems perfectly within the bounds of what is allowed based on the source below.
I was quoting the second paragraph in the document you attached.
 

Middlchild2000

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The laws of your state say, "It is unlawful to possess, barter, sell or trade . . . species of native turtle . . ."

So you should check into the legality of keeping that turtle.
On the SC DNR website, Eastern box turtle is listed as one of the species of native turtle that may be possessed in a personal collection as long as the number does not exceed 2, or 10 turtles total of any legal native turtle type. I doubled checked with a DNR officer in the upstate and he confirmed. Thank you for your concern though!
 

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m irwin

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My two cents - release it in the wild where it came from. As suggested earlier, buy captive bred or adopt from a rescue facility, etc. Eastern's are not hard to find. While you no doubt mean well and I'm sure could take care of it well, the simple fact of removing it from the wild goes against all that is recommended. The turtles parents and their parents parents (and on an on) all survived neighborhood dogs. Turtles have a hard enough time with road mortality, habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, human helped predators (racoons, ravens, opossums, etc...), that with even small wild removal numbers, it greatly hurts the local population. Then people wonder why there are no more turtles around! All zoological and animal conservation groups agree - our North American box turtles are under extreme pressure and need protection from us. While you can't really un-develop the local mall that paved over Old Man Smith's farmland, you can and should let wild populations alone. Or better yet, help them by allowing leaf piles to build up for hiding places, hibernation areas, etc... Heck, you may even see more turtles if you did. Just because you may be able to lawfully possess the youngster doesn't mean you should. Scan the Fauna.com and Kingsnake.com classifieds and you'll come across Eastern's and Three Toed's regularly.
 

mark1

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i'd keep him and head start him for a year or two ....... south carolina is one of the states that allows folks to take wild box turtles , eventually they'll come to realization it's not a good idea , every state use to let folks take them , reality eventually becomes apparent ...... as far as this guy , the odds of him making it to 10yrs is slim to none ...... the fact he just escaped death once , is one less bit of luck he's got ....... he's never hibernated , he has zero survival habits , keep him outside , don't handle him , give him a proper hibernacula for his first year or two , help him learn some habits to keep him alive , and then release him properly in an optimum location to give him the best chance for survival , which will be better than the chance he has now ......... as far as removing easterns from the wild , the breeding age adults are the one that do the damage , fauna classifieds is full of wild caught adult easterns every spring ...... taking one breeding adult has to be like taking a hundred hatchlings , if not more ...... head starting hatchling turtles is a common practice to help failing populations ......... jmo
 

Middlchild2000

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i'd keep him and head start him for a year or two ....... south carolina is one of the states that allows folks to take wild box turtles , eventually they'll come to realization it's not a good idea , every state use to let folks take them , reality eventually becomes apparent ...... as far as this guy , the odds of him making it to 10yrs is slim to none ...... the fact he just escaped death once , is one less bit of luck he's got ....... he's never hibernated , he has zero survival habits , keep him outside , don't handle him , give him a proper hibernacula for his first year or two , help him learn some habits to keep him alive , and then release him properly in an optimum location to give him the best chance for survival , which will be better than the chance he has now ......... as far as removing easterns from the wild , the breeding age adults are the one that do the damage , fauna classifieds is full of wild caught adult easterns every spring ...... taking one breeding adult has to be like taking a hundred hatchlings , if not more ...... head starting hatchling turtles is a common practice to help failing populations ......... jmo
This is what we were thinking honestly - to help him get past the most vulnerable time and release - so far we have only given him food that he has to "hunt for" so to speak - slugs and worms from our back yard. We will add in some local plants too as we learn what is best. We are working on a habitat that could be outdoor - a low sided plastic tub with a partial coverage area and partial chicken wire is what we are thinking. Most of the posts recommend indoor for hatchlings so it's hard to find advice for hatchling outdoor habitats - can you give some suggestions for outdoor habitat for a turtle so tiny? Would drilling holes in the bottom of the tub allow enough drainage when it rains? Will he get enough heat outdoors without a lamp and stay warm enough at night? Is handling an issue if it's less frequent? I'm trying to figure out the best way to set him up for success and would appreciate any suggestions - thanks :)
 

mark1

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i use small pens in sunny locations , i can tell you without doubt , you don't want to use a tub , they need access to the natural ground , they use the ground to thermoregulate ...... a 3foot by 4 foot pen is plenty big enough to raise a hatchling box turtle for 2 yrs ...... there is no reason in south carolina this guy needs a heat lamp or kept in the house ....... sink some pressure treated lumber 6" into the ground , 10"-12 " would be better insulation .... as far as him escaping 3-4" would prevent that , eastern box turles are not great diggers , they dig forms where the top of their shells are usually still exposed ....... in the fall in a sunny side of the pen , loosen and break up the dirt down 12" and put some lawn clippings over the loose dirt , as the leaves fall cover the clippings with leaves , he'll be fine ........... provide him access to the sun , shade , cover , the ground , water , food he can find and it's amazingly simple just needs done right , and releasing them needs done right also .......

here's a couple pens i have small box turtles in ...... i prefer the small pen for the really small ones , they're easier to find , and they find their food , water and hibernacula more easily ......

this pen is probably 3x4 , it's not covered , i have fences dogs and electric wires , you might want a lid if you don't ...... the hatchling in this pen hibernated on the left hand side in the bottom corner ..... the whole left side was loosened down a foot and covered with grass clippings , sticks and leaves .......

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this pen is something like 8x3 , these guys hibernate in the far upper corner

DSCF7269.jpg
 

Middlchild2000

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Wow that is amazing! Thank you so much for your suggestions and pictures. Do you do anything special to get them ready to hibernate or just loosen the dirt and provide cover materials like you mentioned?
 

Middlchild2000

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Do you think we could section off a part of this larger (empty) habitat for the hatchling? Could this be modified to work? There is a painter's tray for water on the other side (not pictured) but other than that and more coverage, what would it need?
 

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mark1

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looks fine as long as it's sunny , you can always provide shade , you can't make sun ...... and it can't be a spot that floods ......... lots of weeds/plants , box turtle love to burrow at the root of bushes or under clumps of grass ..... the more hiding spots the more protectced from predators .... everything eats baby box turtles .....

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this is a pen for adult easterns

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pile of grass clippings will draw them to where you want them to hibernate

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jeff kushner

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Welcome to the club!! Little Matilda is one year old now....due in large part to help received here!

If you take a bit of time to slide over to the "Turtles" section, you'll find a great section just for your little guy! Also.....MOISTURE....lots of moisture!!!

Most folks think of turtles and tortoises as liking dry, arid climates...box turtles do NOT! They will die.....

Not to this extreme of course but think more "swamp/boggy" instead of "desert climate"

jeff
 
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