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New Ornate Box Turtle owner

Sammara

New Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2017
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
New Mexico
Hi there!
I'm a relatively new Ornate box turtle owner and am looking for some advice. I have had a female Ornate box turtle for about 6ish months now, and I believe she is 2-3 years old. In her first home, the people who had her were raising several box turtles in their backyard. They are unsure what happened to her, whether is was a weed eater, a dog, or something else, but whatever it was took off one of her hind legs when she was still very young. She is missing that leg and a small part of her top shell above it. It has healed completely, and she has no problem moving around. The owner who took care of her after that took her in with the best of intentions, and got her with another tortoise. I don't know if the other tortoise was the same species or anything, but from what I heard it was sick when she got it and did not last very long. She eventually decided that the Ornate box turtle was not the correct animal for her, and wanted to give her a better home. So that is how she ended up with me. It is my understanding that her diet before I took her in was primarily sun dried red shrimp and bananas. She lived in a Rubbermaid tote filled with substrate until I finished building her new home. Due to where I live, and the fact that I have a very big dog as well as many other animals in my back yard I cannot keep her in a safe space outside. I also have limited space inside. To try to give her the space she needs I created a glass and wood box that is 72" long, 12" wide and 12" tall. She has a few inches of ZooMed eco-earth across the entire bottom, as well as a large pile of sphagnum moss on the cooler end of her home. I would like to give her more substrate to burrow but have not been able to make the trip out of the small town to buy more. She has a water dish with a ramp up to it. I'm feeding her ZooMed canned tortoise diet food, along with different leafy greens and occasional fruit. I've been trying to get her to eat another tortoise dry food that is supposed to hep give them vitamins and calcium, but she absolutely refuses to eat it. Even when I hide it inside grapes or bananas! She seems happy, is active and eating well. However, I've noticed some dry peeling skin on her neck and legs. Should I be concerned? I've done research with a lot of conflicting results. I keep the sphagnum moss damp. So, a list of questions:
Should I be worried about the dry skin?
What can I do about her dry skin?
Is there anything else I should be doing to make sure she's happy and healthy? (Heating, diet, substrate, water, habitat, etc etc)
Thanks!
 

lisa127

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2012
Messages
4,324
Location (City and/or State)
NE Ohio
My first thought and concern - you made no mention of any protein in the diet you are feeding. Protein is very important for box turtles and should make up 50 to 60% of her diet. She needs earthworms, bugs, cooked boiled or scrambled eggs, cooked chicken, etc. She needs some nightcrawlers!
As for the dry skin, can you tell me what the humidity and temperatures are in her enclosure?

It may help to see photos of her and the enclosure.
 

Eric Phillips

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2014
Messages
1,074
Location (City and/or State)
Ohio
Hello and welcome! Usually dry skin is associated with either a malnourished diet or a husbandry issue(low humidity, type of lighting, type of substrate, etc.) Ornates can generally handle drier conditions however it doesn’t mean daily warm soaks aren’t needed, especially for young Box Turtles. If your not doing it already, I would provide daily warm soaks for about 20 minutes a day for the next 2 weeks. Lose the tortoise food and try mazuri aquatic pellets or Omega one floating pellets. Start providing those during the soaks. Even if it doesn’t eat them nutrients are being soaked into the water. If you do get it to eat the pellets you then can provide soaked pellets to your greens, veggies, fruit, and protein meals to help entice it to eat the other food.

Like Lisa stated more information and photos would be helpful.
 

Sammara

New Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2017
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
New Mexico
My first thought and concern - you made no mention of any protein in the diet you are feeding. Protein is very important for box turtles and should make up 50 to 60% of her diet. She needs earthworms, bugs, cooked boiled or scrambled eggs, cooked chicken, etc. She needs some nightcrawlers!
As for the dry skin, can you tell me what the humidity and temperatures are in her enclosure?

It may help to see photos of her and the enclosure.
Thank you so much for your reply! I haven't given her any of the food you mentioned, but I will definitely start. I'm not sure the exact temperature and humidity, I believe the average temperature would probably be around 75° farenheit?
 

Sammara

New Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2017
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
New Mexico
Hello and welcome! Usually dry skin is associated with either a malnourished diet or a husbandry issue(low humidity, type of lighting, type of substrate, etc.) Ornates can generally handle drier conditions however it doesn’t mean daily warm soaks aren’t needed, especially for young Box Turtles. If your not doing it already, I would provide daily warm soaks for about 20 minutes a day for the next 2 weeks. Lose the tortoise food and try mazuri aquatic pellets or Omega one floating pellets. Start providing those during the soaks. Even if it doesn’t eat them nutrients are being soaked into the water. If you do get it to eat the pellets you then can provide soaked pellets to your greens, veggies, fruit, and protein meals to help entice it to eat the other food.

Like Lisa stated more information and photos would be helpful.
Thanks for the info! I will definitely try the pellets you recommended soaked, and she loves eating veggies and fruit. I will add the protein as well. I know that I need to get her a lamp, what specifically should I get? Currently there is no lamp on her enclosure. I try to keep the room to a good temperature, and have a heating pad that she came with on the warmer side of her enclosure currently. I'll add some pictures.
 

Sammara

New Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2017
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
New Mexico
Hello and welcome! Usually dry skin is associated with either a malnourished diet or a husbandry issue(low humidity, type of lighting, type of substrate, etc.) Ornates can generally handle drier conditions however it doesn’t mean daily warm soaks aren’t needed, especially for young Box Turtles. If your not doing it already, I would provide daily warm soaks for about 20 minutes a day for the next 2 weeks. Lose the tortoise food and try mazuri aquatic pellets or Omega one floating pellets. Start providing those during the soaks. Even if it doesn’t eat them nutrients are being soaked into the water. If you do get it to eat the pellets you then can provide soaked pellets to your greens, veggies, fruit, and protein meals to help entice it to eat the other food.

Like Lisa stated more information and photos would be helpful.
Also, her water bowl is deep enough for her to soak a bit but I will definitely start the warm soaks. It is very dry where I live, so I'm sure that she also needs more humidity. I'm already keeping the sphagnum moss slightly damp and misting her substrate, what else can I do to help with humidity levels?
 

lisa127

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2012
Messages
4,324
Location (City and/or State)
NE Ohio
She' very cute. At this point I would swap that ramp bowl for a 10 inch saucer, the kind that go under potted plants. Make sure your temps and humidity are correct. Temps from 75 on cool end to 90 under the basking spot. And give that girl some protein and worms/bugs!
 

Sammara

New Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2017
Messages
6
Location (City and/or State)
New Mexico
She' very cute. At this point I would swap that ramp bowl for a 10 inch saucer, the kind that go under potted plants. Make sure your temps and humidity are correct. Temps from 75 on cool end to 90 under the basking spot. And give that girl some protein and worms/bugs!
Okay, thank you.
 

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