A QUICK FACT SHEET
BY: JILL M. PATT, DVM
ENVIRONMENT: Are land animals
Although the do like some humidity especially in their bedding.
LIFESPAN: Up to 100 years
SEXING: Males have a longer tail and the cloaca extends beyond the plastron and flatter shell shape.
HOUSING: A large aquarium can be used with a flooring substrate of a preservative and chemical free soil or mulch. Those with high amounts of coconut bark and sphagnum moss will allow the turtle to burrow and will also help to maintain high humidity levels. Artificial plants can be placed around the enclosure and will provide the same feeling of shelter and security for the turtle.
OUTDOORS? In some areas of the US they can be kept year around in outdoor pens. These pens must be fully enclosed to prevent predators from getting your turtles and should have a deep footer to prevent them from digging out. Peat moss and mulch work well as a substrate. Shelters can be made out of ceramic pots or stacked brick or flagstone. I’ve found that a paint tray works well for their water allowing easy access and exit and is inexpensive allowing for frequent replacement.
LIGHTING: Sunlight is always the best, but if kept indoors the enclosure should have a full spectrum (UVA and UVB) light within 18in. of the floor and a basking light to allow for additional warmth.
TEMPERATURE: Average indoor temperatures are usually appropriate, but again a basking light should be provided to allow for additional heating up to about 85F
WATER/HUMIDITY: A shallow pool of water should be kept in the enclosure and should be cleaned daily. Turtles will drown in deep water so the pool should only be about 1in deep and should have easy access for entering and exiting. Again, it is very important to keep the pool water clean to avoid bacterial build up and infections.
DIET: Box turtles should be fed a mixture of vegetables and protein. Their diets are often deficient in vitamin A so a vegetable rich source should be fed daily such as squash, sweet potatoes and peppers. A variety of greens should also be fed daily and a limited portion of fruits and berries. All food should be finely diced when served. Cat food should never be fed to your box turtle.
SUPPLEMENTS: Food should be sprinkled with a phosphorus free calcium supplement.
MEDICAL CONCERNS: The most common problems we see in turtles are always related to an inadequate diet and environment. The best way to keep your pet healthy is to practice preventative medicine which is really just providing a good diet and environment.
FURTHER INFORMATION: Dr. Jill M. Patt’s web site at: www.littlecrittersvet.com
Melissa Kaplan’s web site at: http://www.anapsid.org/