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Box Turtle Care


Congratulations, you have a new box turtle. But how do you take care of your precious new friend? Taking care of a box turtle can take some work, but there are simple steps to ensure that your box turtle is happy in his new home.

First you must decide housing for the turtle. Will you keep it indoors or outdoors? If you decide to keep the turtle outside, make sure that the area is similar to the turtle’s natural habitat. There should be plenty of sun since box turtles are reptiles, but also shade in case the turtle becomes overheated under the constant heat of the sun. Provide water for your turtle so that it is deep enough for swimming. The home should have weed-like plants and insects for consumption. An outdoor setting is probably the home a turtle would choose. However, an indoor home properly made will keep your box turtle just as happy and safe.

If you build your turtle a home indoors, use a container like those made by Rubbermaid. The best option is to have a large, dark container that the turtle cannot see through. A turtle can become perplexed and frightened looking out of a clear container. One of my box turtles constantly tried to climb through the wall of his clear container, so I had to move him. The container should be large and filled a few inches deep with a substrate such as “Bed-a-Beast.” Then provide a hiding place for the turtle such as a hollow log. You should make a pool for the turtle since that is where a turtle usually poops. I used the plastic lid of a container for food. Make sure that the pool is not too deep. Every day, keep the entire tank moist by spraying the surfaces of the home.

Inside the home of the turtle, keep the temperature fairly warm in the lighted area- about 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Use UV-B light to keep the turtle healthy and active all day. Another option is to take your turtle outside to soak in the sun for about an hour a day. The natural sunlight is tremendously healthy for your turtle, although he may not enjoy it at first. Just remember, you know what’s best for your turtle. Keep an area away from the light so that the turtle can rest there when he’s had enough light. This is why it is important to have a container that is large enough for two distinct areas.

The food a turtle eats is obviously very important to its health. A person must watch his or her own diet. It is your responsibility, however, to feed your turtle healthy foods. A turtle will eat almost anything, from fruits and vegetables to insects and worms. Another factor you should consider is providing edible materials with high calcium levels such as boiled eggshells or a cuttlebone that you can buy at any pet store. One final hint to feeding your turtle- have fun with it. Be creative in feeding your turtle from day to day because you do not want to create an addiction to one food by feeding it the same thing each day. Keep the turtle’s diet balanced with half plant and half meat.

I have a few final hints below on how to take care of your new box turtle.

1. If your turtle does not eat, try soaking the food in water first. Or, if you are constantly there watching your turtle, he may never come eat the food. Unfortunately, you can easily frighten turtles, so leave your turtle alone to eat peacefully.

2. Change the water in an indoors home every day to keep it clean since that is the most likely place a turtle will defecate. When coaxing a turtle to do this, use warm water to help him.

3. If a turtle burrows deep into the substrate and does not come up for a few days, don’t worry. This is completely natural since turtles enjoy being in tight spaces. However, make sure that your turtle gets enough food.

4. Feed your turtle on a rock because this will help him scratch away extra-long toenails.

Just follow the easy tips above, and you will be an expert caretaker for your new turtle. Do not neglect your turtle since it is helpless without you. Be responsible and enjoy your friendship.
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