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Box turtle substrate question

Discussion in 'American box turtles' started by kjturtlegirl, Nov 29, 2011.

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  1. kjturtlegirl

    kjturtlegirl New Member

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    I have been reading a lot of posts on here saying not to use reptibark in enclosures. That is all I've used for my box turtle for the past 10 years! I have never had a problem with it but if there is something else I should/could use that's better for her I would rather be using that. I'm going to attach (try to) a picture if her home....

    image-2567402525.png

    I just got her back from a relative who was taking care of her, for the past year, and she's not in the best shape. We have a vet appointment tomorrow. I want the BEST for her so any input would be helpful. Also, what is the best diet for an adult box turtle? I have been giving her mostly veggies, some fruit and some worms.

    I also want to get another boxie but I worry about putting it in the same enclosure. Do I get another girl or can i get a boy? I would like to get a baby but I'm not sure how my Daisy would react. Any advice would be great. Thanks
  2. terryo

    terryo Well-Known Member

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    (These ads do not appear for registered members.)
    Most box turtles live in wooded area's with sun filtered through the trees. When I set up an indoor enclosure...for any that can't go outside for some reason.....I try to mimic the forest floor. Low light, high humidity. I use a mix of soil, and peat moss, or coco coir. I put lots of plants for them to sit under and also to hold humidity. Leaf litter to dig and bury under. I never use reptibark. If you are thinking of getting another one, I would get one that's the same size. If you have a female, another female would be good. If you get a male, he will spend most of his time pestering her, and making her life missereable.
    This is a set up I have for 5 hatchlings. It's a 40 gal. with a heat emitter on one side and a UVB 5.0 on the other side. It used to be devided in two, but now I took away the devider, and have to do more changing around. Low light, warm humidity is best. Hope this helps. And it's not written in stone, it's just what works for me.
    [​IMG]
  3. fbsmith3

    fbsmith3 Member

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    Yea, Three toed are the best. I also use soil as a 3 inch base but I use Sphagnum moss on top for about 4 inches. They love to bury themselves and it absorbs a lot of heat so they can stay warm when the light is off. If your turtle was alone for 10 years, she might not react well for a few days to a new visitor to her territory. Mine took a few days since her new guest was persistent and very passive.
    They are both old and set in their ways, but so passive and curious that they are always fun to watch.

    Terry (above) will give you the best advice, but I will be very happy to help in any way.
  4. kjturtlegirl

    kjturtlegirl New Member

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    What kind of soil is best? And where do I get the coco choir stuff? I'm in Illinois, right outside of Chicago so she has to be indoors for winter. Usually she hibernates but because of her current health, I'm not letting her this year. How often do
    you change the substrate when using soil and the choir? Because she's in a wood enclosure, any ideas of what I can use to waterproof it? Right now I mist often to keep the humidity up but with the soil & other stuff I'm sure it will stay way more moist in there. I would love to have real plants in there also, what are some good ones?[hr]
    Thanks Terry & fbsmith for any and all advice!!! I REALLY appreciate it.
  5. terryo

    terryo Well-Known Member

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    I've never used a wood table for an enclosure, but maybe you can line it with a plastic shower curtin. The coco coir comes in brick form and you just put it in a bucket of water and it hydrates. It also comes in a bag. You can find both in any pet store. I just but little tropical plants in home depot and plant them in the substrate right in their little pots. I use any cheap soil from home depot or a garden center.
    This is a great site for safe plants that I use all the time with my indoor and also outdoor enclosures.
    http://www.africantortoise.com/edible_landscaping.htm
    If you spray the plants, you will find that you don't have to water them that often. Just don't put any plants directly under a heat sauce as it will burn.
    I make this mix once a week for my boxies.
    In a food processor, I put a cooked sweet potato, some raw carrots, mushrooms, greens (escarole, dandelion etc.) some water turtle pellets (reptomin) or mazuri , some grape leaves, rose of Sharon leaves...(any greens, or veggies you have) and a few pieces of fruit..strawberries, melons etc. Each week its something different....anything I have on hand. I only mix it so it's tiny small pieces...not mush. Then I put it in a bowel and add some canned venison or white fish (it's high quality dog food). I keep it in the refrigerator and they get a little every morning and then in the late afternoon they get some worms, butter worms (they love them) night crawlers, wax worms...anything I can find.Can you see the consistency in this picture. It's tiny pieces, not mushy. I give this to my Cherry Head's too, without the meat. It will last longer if you don't put the meat in until you're ready to feed them. Or....don't add any meat...just the greens, veggies and fruit.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
  6. kjturtlegirl

    kjturtlegirl New Member

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    Thanks again and what cuties you have!
  7. Saloli

    Saloli New Member

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    I use a mix of wood humus, leaf mold, and coco peat or peat moss. then add a little starter fungus and bacteria (these can be bought through garden or nursery supply companies they are to are the main part of the bioloical system in an established system). Then add some leaf litter or dead grass for cover (depending on species or subspecies). The plants woud ideally be of the same origin as the turtle. Hey Terry you really should clean the plants if you get them from home depot because the are grown using artifical fertilizers, and fungicides as well as insectacides. (I used to work at a commercial green house and the chemicals that are used are very toxic). Also most potting soils have artifical fertilizer aadd to them and some have wetting agents which can cause some problems. Also alot of tropical plants prefer higher temps then boxers though most will do fine at lower temps. [hr]
    oh Terry I took a look at that list it is pretty good though they mixed up the origins of some of the plants.
  8. SailingMystic

    SailingMystic New Member

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    Hi there! I have a box too. From looking at your pen, it looks like the lighting may be too bright in the center of the pen. Can you move it more to the side?. They love more shade and humidity or moisture. Box turtles love worms :) they may not eat a lot of lettuce- but keep trying. They are very picky eaters. Mine loves water and she explores a lot. When you say yours is not feeling well, what seems to be wrong? Keep her warm :) I put a heating rock in with mine-- as an option in a shaded area with a towel (half of a hand towel- washed with organic soap) over it and she loves it!! She seems to be eating better for me too...
  9. kjturtlegirl

    kjturtlegirl New Member

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    I ended up going to the pet store and getting some Eco earth. I also got some coco husk. I have already cleaned out all the reptibark and put in the Eco earth. I have not yet put the coco husk in yet. I took a better picture of her enclosure so you can see that it's divided into 2 areas. The area on the left is where she hangs out under her hide most of the time. The area on the right is where her water is, where I put her food, her basking light and her UVA/UVB light. I also took a picture of the coco husk I got to make sure it's the right stuff, before I put it in the enclosure. It says it has to soak in water for 30 min first. I was wondering if I should ad this all over or just on the side where her hide is? Thoughts and ideas appreciated :)


    image-3082443516.png



    image-1370569884.png
  10. terryo

    terryo Well-Known Member

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    If the hide side has a cover and is enclosed, I would take out that half log. It's just taking up much needed space. I would put lots of leaf litter (which they love) in there for her to dig into, and get rid of that log. I don't even use a hide any more, as they just dig under a plant.
    This is the tank with the 5 hatchlings. They are all dug under a plant. Sometimes I see them sitting under there looking out. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    As for the plants....I wash them as best I can, and let the water run through the soil, but that's it. I know some people wait for months and change all the soil, but I don't do that. Not saying it's right.....just how I do things.
    Just keep in mind, that every one does things differently and you have to do what works best for your Box Turtle.
  11. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer Staff Member

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    Coco husk and eco earth/coconut coir are not the same thing. Well, they're actually the same thing, but coco husk isn't ground up into tiny particles likr the eco earth/coconut coir is.

    I would not add another box turtle to that enclosure. Its barely big enough for the one turtle. Also, box turtles are pretty carnivorous and a bigger turtle might bite the legs, etc. off a smaller turtle.

    When I bring my babies in for the winter, I dig up some clean dirt from the box turtle pen outside for their habitat, then I spread some fine grade orchid bark over the top of it.
  12. kjturtlegirl

    kjturtlegirl New Member

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    I will take the coco husk back. I thought it looked too big, similar to the reptibark, which is why I didn't put it in yet
  13. Saloli

    Saloli New Member

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    Terry rinsing the plants unfortunally doesn't remove the chemicals. What I do is take them out of their pots then remove all the soil, then I rinse the rest off. After all the soil is off then I run the plants through some soapy water (hand dish soap not the antibacterial type) for about 30 seconds. Then rinse the plant off with some clean water to remove the soap. Then if it is to be potted I pot it in new non contaminated pot with either organic potting soil or my own mix depending on species. I do the same for house plants I don't want my daughter around those chemicals. I know what they do to humans so I wouldn't risk it. Though if you let the plants outside for atleast a few months some of those chemicals will be broken down by uv and rain.[hr]
    Hey I just thaught I'd let you know that orchic bark is the same as reptibark they are both fir bark
  14. kjturtlegirl

    kjturtlegirl New Member

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    Here's the update.....
    Daisy got her beak trimmed, a mani-pedi and a clean bill of health! She's a healthy weight and the vet complimented her on how well behaved and beautiful she was :)
    I finished her enclosure finally too. She has a layer of Eco earth, a layer of organic topsoil (can I just say that it was nearly impossible to find, here in Chicago, in Dec.) and a layer of moss to top it all off. I also put some live plants in there for her. I hope they stay that way! She's digging her little heart out <3
    Thanks for all your great advice, those who gave it. I so appreciate it!!!
  15. SailingMystic

    SailingMystic New Member

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    Awesome news!! :) I know how happy you feel. Your doing the right thing. She sounds like a happy girl :)!!
  16. zesty_17

    zesty_17 Member

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    i use a variety of things depending on the season & availability, including top soil-sand mixture, sphagnum moss, variety of grasses, rye, bermuda, etc... I have used reptibark in the past, usually mixed with the above, also tried coconut bark but i stopped this when one of my ornates got a piece stuck in her femoral cavity(hind leg area). that coconut bark seems to be the perfect size & shape to stick and get stuck all over box turtles.
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