Baby Eastern Box Turtle Help

ratbones7

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Hi. We "inherited" a baby eastern box turtle this summer here in NJ. I don't think this guy has been thru a winter yet (little bigger than a quarter). He did well all summer in an enclosure we built outside. Ate worms & bugs non-stop. So as October rolled around, we made decision to bring him inside for this winter (his first?) We have him in a 15-gallon tank with coconut substrate & a lil log hide. Hung a zoo med duo lamp with heat bulb & uvb over one side. looks to get maybe 80deg. We are not sure if we made the right move. He has not really eaten snice we brought him in and just stays buried in substrate now. We're not sure if he's just adapting to new tank or semi trying to hibernate? Not sure if we should put him back outside and try to hibernate him at this point. Any tips?

ETA: Also, we had a small lid from a rubbermaid container (2-3"" diameter) we used as water dish. (we also used this when he was outside with no problems). It is very shallow. Anyway, we found him upside down in it one day recently. Weird because I've seen him right himself in outside pen many times. Now were just using water bottle caps to give him water...scared to use anything bigger.

thanks
 

Ciri

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You're right, this little one is a newborn. It sounds like the warm end of the terrarium may be a little too cool. If you can get it up to about 85° there's a better chance of getting a little one eating. I have always kept them up for their first winter rather than hibernate, although they do hibernate in the wild even at this young age so you can go that route if you choose. If you want to keep him up, it's important to get him eating again. I would suggest rather than using coconut substrate which my reptile specialist veterinarian recommends against, sterilized potting soil (or baked soil from your backyard) would be just fine as long as it has no herbicides, pesticides, perlite or bat guano in it. For water, a very shallow dish with about 1/4 inch deep water in it should be fine. Yes, they can flip themselves, so if you put some rocks in the dish that the little one can push against to get upright again that can help. I know it makes me nervous also that they can flip themselves in the water. Yet they do need to soak in water as well as drink. My veterinarian has explained that they absorb water through the vent too. It also would help to upgrade to a larger container rather than a 15 gallon terrarium. You can use a large plastic bin instead. That will allow more space for a warm and cool area.

Feel free to ask if you have more questions. I would love to see pictures.
 

Eric Phillips

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70-85 degrees is fine for an Eastern. Just remember baby Easterns natural defense is to hide and sleep, being its a new environment, I'd say probably this is more the case than the temp. I would give your little one daily warm soaks to keep hydrated and introduce a few blood worms or wigglers during the soak. Eventually the little booger will get used to things.
 

johnsonnboswell

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He needs a moist substrate, and cover the glass walls so he doesn't feel observed.
 

ratbones7

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thanks all! gonna make some changes and ill try to take some pics
 

ratbones7

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changed up substrate to a organic top soil and got a nice water bowl and put rock in middle. tested him on back and he could flip right over. i think the bowl was key. i put him in it and he stayed there for a while. later that day, gave him some worms and he ate!
 

ratbones7

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Hi again,
Worried about this guy again. Seemed to have stopped eating again. Seems sluggish to me as well. Doesn't burrow as much...just kinda goes under a branch i have in there and sleeps. I thought his eyes were a little swollen and he rubs them often...a little slow opening too.. no real puss or anything though. got some zoo med eye drops that i think are helping. I brought in another ceramic heater to the mix for night time...and leaving it on in conjunction with reg heat lamp during day...so basking side is up to 85+ and night time might dip to about 65-70. i did change the tank to a lager rubbermaid. i been misting 2x a day and soaking him in tepid water 2x a day (he really just tries to get out when i do it). i been presenting different foods....worms, crickets, wet box turtle food, ground beef, blackberries, carrots. i'm sprinkle it with some turtle vitamins trying to get him some vitamin A. he did actually eat two small meal worms a couple days ago but it was almost like he did not want to. but that's all he's had in past 3 weeks or so. can he just be going thru a slowdown/non-eating period? any suggestions? not possible that it's too hot in there right?
 

crimson_lotus

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Do you have a coil bulb? It may be bothering his eyes. If you do, I would switch it out for something else to narrow the issue down.
 

Ciri

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it sounds like he could be sick. I would suggest raising the nighttime temperature to 80°F, and daytime a few degrees warmer at the warm area. If you can, get him to a reptile vet. Babies are more vulnerable to getting infections, and the swollen eyes, rubbing the eyes, and low energy could be the sign of infection. Feeding the live worms and bugs is a good idea, as he'll be more likely to eat those. Keep us posted - I hope the little one is doing better soon.
 

ratbones7

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Do you have a coil bulb? It may be bothering his eyes. If you do, I would switch it out for something else to narrow the issue down.
i thought about that...my uvb is coils. zoo med reptisun...this: LINK
i would think it should be okay? ya know he has been doing this little head twitch too. can really explain it other than like a flinch of the head to the side once in a while.
 

ratbones7

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it sounds like he could be sick. I would suggest raising the nighttime temperature to 80°F, and daytime a few degrees warmer at the warm area. If you can, get him to a reptile vet. Babies are more vulnerable to getting infections, and the swollen eyes, rubbing the eyes, and low energy could be the sign of infection. Feeding the live worms and bugs is a good idea, as he'll be more likely to eat those. Keep us posted - I hope the little one is doing better soon.
damn. i got the one ceramic heat bulb for night...but just wont get the temp up that much. any suggestions? is a red night basking light okay to use?
 

crimson_lotus

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Some coil bulbs can damage your turtles eyes, you might want to try switching it out with a tube uvb fluorescent and see if your turtle improves at all.

I would not use the red night lights either, as it can bother some turtles as well. It won't hurt their eyes or anything but it might bother them when they sleep, like if someone left a light on for you when you went to sleep.

A lightless ceramic heat emitter like you said you have or a mercury vapor bulb may be best. Just make sure the lights are facing directly down and not at an angle, as it diminishes the life span of your bulb, your UVB output, and your heat by a considerable amount.
 

crimson_lotus

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Is your chamber closed or does it have an open top? If it's open, you may want to try closing it off a bit to keep the heat in. Or you may just have to buy a higher wattage CHE.
 

ratbones7

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Is your chamber closed or does it have an open top? If it's open, you may want to try closing it off a bit to keep the heat in. Or you may just have to buy a higher wattage CHE.
yes. i been thinking about this...it's mostly open. i have the rubbermaid tucked in this shelf that has another shelf several inches above half of it and lights on other half. i should probably put something directly on top to try to keep some heat in. but if temps dont drop below 65 at night and 85+ for 14 hours shouldnt that be sufficient?
 

ratbones7

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i've been covering 2/3 of the tank now. really worried about this guy now. he's pretty lethargic. i took out his uvb 2 days ago because i read about photokero conjunctivitus. that almost seemed like the symptoms he had. i soak him in the morning in warm water. he seems to like it...eventually he'll just get out...that's when i present him with a worm and fresh food(berries, mushroom, carrot, ground beef) but no dice. he justs moves on...he'll walk around for a bit and then just settle under a branch and sleep. i don't notice any discharge or real puss or him wheezin, etc. just lazy and eyes closed more often. he actually looks pretty good. if anyone familiar with this conjunctivitus...how long before you saw improvement?
 

ratbones7

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You can drop live worms into the water dish while he's soaking.
thanks. yeah i tried that. just soaked him. tried to put some vitamin drops in water. he was asleep when i put him in. he startled then kinda just sat there with eyes closed. at one point he put head under and i wasnt sure he was going to come up for air. then i shook bowl around and he awoke. i took him out and he looked around cage for a bit, i presented him with every food in book....no interest then just burrowed back in. damn.
 

shellfreak

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Baby box turtles are very easily dehydrated. Remember they spend the first two years on the forest floor. Where it is damp and cold. With access of random sun. It is possible that he could be dehydrated. Not just bc of him not drinking, but bc substrate isn't moist enough. Misting a few times a day is good, but might not do the trick. How moist do you keep your substrate? A lot of people will criticize me for an overly wet substrate due to shell rot, etc, but I like to keep mine really wet, for at least the first two years. With access to a dry portion. But one side should be really wet. Maybe try keeping the night time temps the same for a week, but keep the hot side, the wet side.
 

terryo

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Keep your temperatures at around 80 through out the whole enclosure. Find some dried leaves (leaf litter) and put them on one end of the tank and throw in lots of pill bugs and small red wigglers. He may not eat for a few days or even two weeks. AT this time of the year they slow down no matter what you do. I would suggest a heat emitter in the middle of the tank and a long tube 5.0 UVB in back of the heat emitter. Get a screen top and put the heat emitter with a ceramic fixture on top and the long tube 5.0 UVB. Then cover the rest of the screen top with clear wrapping tape. Put a flat rock or piece of slate under the heat emitter for feeding. Spray the tank once a day, and pour some water all around. Low light, warm humidity and leaf litter to dig into. Every couple of days take him out and put him in a little tub of warm water to soak and add some water turtle pellets and any little worm or whatever you feed him. Put the little tub into the tank where it's warm and leave him there for a while so he can eat. This is how I start off babies. It's not written in stone and it's only what I've been doing for over 30 years. Hope it helps.
 

terryo

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This is a little Gulf Coast that's about a year old. He was outside for the Summer in a large Christmas Tree Storage bin, and is inside now for the Winter in a 40 gal. breeder tank that's set up the way I wrote in the last post. I don't let mine hibernate outside until they are at least 3 years old. Just what I do. 011.JPG
 
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