3 toed box turtles

Anthony Hill

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Jun 7, 2014
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Im thinking about adopting my cousins 3 toed box turtle and i am wondering what you guys think about this garden for housing, it is a 5x10 ft plot with another 3x3 ft area it also gets morning sun im also going to turtle proof it. Im wondering if i could possibly hibernate him outdoors next year he is in good condition ,would a 3 toed be able to hibernate outdoors in northern illinois? Im going to also clear out some of the plants.
 

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KevinGG

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5 x 10 is plenty big for a single box. Ya I would clear out the non edible plants. You can check if they are edible at thetortoisetable website. Also go to our enclosure section and look at the ideas for outdoor enclosures thread for some good examples. Not sure about weather in Illinois but if it is at all similar to Staten Island, I know terryo hibernates her boxies outdoor every year with no problem. Good luck.
 

TurtleTab

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Aug 11, 2014
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I live in Missouri. I'm sure Illinois isn't very different than Missouri weather. Last year we had a horrible icy long winter and my box turtles did awesome hibernating outside. This is what I did for mine. I built a rough estimated 14 x 4 foot turtle garden two years ago. The dirt here is thick and hard to dig in, maybe it's clay, not sure, not a dirt expert but I know my turtles don't dig in it. So I dropped a large plastic container into the dirt, like 12 inches or deeper, however deep the container was. I filled it with mulch from the park's free mulch supply...it's black, thin and loose, and not wood chips. It keeps good insulation and the turtles absolutely love this type of dirt/mulch. I filled a top layer of the dirt with leaves and outdoor debri, like dead grass, etc, then I placed a tree log over it, more dead grass debri, and then, using the brick borders of the garden, I placed a wooden board over the bricks to provide shade. When the turtles dug in for the winter (I was very excited to see them do this in late October/ early November) I covered the entire thing with a tarp, leaving only a small section open if they were to come out. The snow fell, insulating it more and every now and then, I'd untarp it, dig a little and check if ice or snow was making the den cold. It wasn't. It was dry, it was warmer than the dirt outside, and they survived perfectly!! They came out in middle of May. I untarped it late March. Took away the dead grass and debri in April. Kept taking log away in May...until finally....they decided it was time to wake up. So if the conditions are set right, hibernation can and will occur. But I checked on the tarp daily, worried hourly, and dug around in there constantly...like every two weeks or once a month. It drove my husband crazy. But it worked!!
 

TurtleTab

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Aug 11, 2014
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When constructing my turtle garden, I try not to make it fancy because it's not me who has to live there. I try to think of what the turtles would naturally live in. They like a lot of hiding spots. But they also like to bask in the sun preferrably on logs or rocks (mine do). They don't like sitting in the middle of open areas. They will walk from one hiding spot to the next, only stopping in the open areas for food. I cut plastic flower pots in half and dug burrows into the ground, using flower pots as the border of the burrow. These are their favorite. They go from one flower pot to the next. I also made a small creek from one drinking hole to the other drinking hole at the other end. When I put waterhose in the beginning water hole, it travels down to the other one, letting the turtles follow the trench for water. They use this trenchway to walk in most of the time...like following the path of a river. I think they like that. It gives them a sense of direction. I still need to improve my turtle garden though because as of last week, all my turtles escaped. I have no idea what happened. I went on vacation and they disappeared. Apparently, there were horrible thunderstorms while I was away and they must have panicked. believe it or not, they hate thunderstorms and being drenched in rain. They will seek high ground and if high ground is not provided, they are determined to run away from their home (like mine). I keep the walls twice the length of their shell and no rock or brick was out of place. I have no idea what area they climbed out of but they are gone. I spent two days hunting them in my yard but they are just gone. I can usually find them and track them. I know where they hide, how they hide, where they walk and climb, etc. No luck. So....I just hope they come back to me. So keep that in mind. Provide high ground away from storms. Keep walls 2xs the length of their shells. They are excellent climbers and very determined/stubborn at what they want and like. If they want out, they will get out.
 

Anthony Hill

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Jun 7, 2014
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37
Sorry for your loss:( hopefully they will come back home maybe they dug out. Well I cleared out most of the plants except the ferns, dandelions, chickadee, and American violet, the garden is looking a lot nicer.
 

lynnedit

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So sorry, TurtleTab. So heart breaking. Your enclosure sounds wonderful.

Anthony Hill, looking forward to seeing your set up!
 

TurtleTab

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Aug 11, 2014
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I plan on taking pictures soon. Somehow my turtles got out so I want to redo all the walls and clean it up alittle. Still waiting for my turtles to return....at least my turtle I had for 21 years. I leave bananas around my yard borders every night hoping they will follow the smell home. Makes me believe someone came in my yard and took them since they haven't returned.
 

Saleama

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That area looks nice, however, that fence will not hold a box turtle for long. If you want to use that for looks, I would strongly urge you to place some chicken wire or construction cloth along the inside perimiter and also some sort of sight obstruction, like a 2 x 8 so they can't see out.
 
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