Baby Ornate Box Turtle-Advice

Tmichaels

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Well it looks like we've gotten a few weeks down the road with our hatchling box turtle. She still rarely opens her eyes and has not eaten at all since we got her Sept.27 . She is about the size of a quarter and stays between 5 and 6 grams. The breeder said she was about 4-5 months old but also admitted (after we received her) that she was likely too young to be shipped. Here are the details:

1.) She definitely has problems with her eyes. By the second day we had her, she had one eye that wouldn't open as much as the other. We were using a coil bulb in the beginning and have concerns that could be the problem. As soon as we realized the bulbs were bad for them, we switched it out for a non coil bulb. She rarely has her eyes open, but does open them when we give her warm water soaks.

2) The set up is a 10 gallon terrarium with a shoe box size rubbermaid. She has a shallow terra cotta water dish to get in and out of (although she never gets in on her own), and a spot to hide. There is a straight UVB bulb that runs the length of the tank and low watt bulb for added warmth when necessary. The humidity varies between 60% and 80%. The temperature is around 80-85. We keep the light on for 12 hours. The substrate is a soil sphagnum mix.

3) We giver her a warm water soak each morning. She gets a baby food carrot soak in the evening for 20 minutes, and then is rinsed off in a warm water bath. We then put her in a bowl in the terrarium with red wigglers and mealworms. We leave the room and return 20 minutes later - none of the food is ever gone. We think the baby food carrot soaks are the only thing keeping her alive. We have tried feeding her worms in the water in her warm water soaks to no avail. The worms could be right in front of her and she won't ever even try eat them (we've even set a camera to watch her).

3) We have tried tortoise food soaked in water, beef heart, and soft cat food out of desperation. She shows no interest even when the food is right in front of her.

4) She moves around her enclosure some, but not a lot, and we mist the enclosure a few times a day.

5) We have applied terramyacin on her eyes for about a week now, with minor improvement in her opening her eyes after a soak. When soaking she still sometimes "paws" at her eyes.

Now the questions:

What are we missing?

What should we do different?

We are concerned she may be partially blind and don't know how to overcome the obstacle of her not eating.
 

Yvonne G

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She (?) doesn't have trouble with her eyes, she has trouble with her care/environment. When baby box turtles aren't eating, or are being fed incorrectly, the first thing that happens is their eyes swell shut.

Soak this baby judiciously, daily, in 50/50 Gerber strained carrots/warm water for an hour or more. If you do this EVERY DAY for at least an hour each time, the eyes will be open on the third day.

In the meantime learn what a baby box turtle needs food and enclosure wise and make adjustments.

Check out boxturtlesite/breed/html
 

Yvonne G

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After re-readig your post, it does sound like it may be blind (pawing at the eyes, no interest in moving food). Sorry, but I don't know what to say about that.
 

Tmichaels

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She (?) doesn't have trouble with her eyes, she has trouble with her care/environment. When baby box turtles aren't eating, or are being fed incorrectly, the first thing that happens is their eyes swell shut.

Soak this baby judiciously, daily, in 50/50 Gerber strained carrots/warm water for an hour or more. If you do this EVERY DAY for at least an hour each time, the eyes will be open on the third day.

In the meantime learn what a baby box turtle needs food and enclosure wise and make adjustments.

Check out boxturtlesite/breed/html
 

Tmichaels

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Would you mind letting me know specially what problems you see with her care/environment? We have read and reread the box turtle hatching care sheet and have read up on the forum on lightning, substrate, humidity, temp, and feeding. Yvonne, we used the pictures you sent of your set up for your box turtles and feed her the exact same way you described. She has showed no interest in any worms or vegetable. We only tried pellets and cat food out of desperation to get her to consume anything.

If there’s something else we need to correct, we would love some advice on that. We are desperate to help her in any way we can and thankful for any advice anyone can give!

Has anyone successfully fed a blind box turtle hatchling? We feel like maybe we should be adding different purées foods into the baby good carrot bath since that seems to be the only thing she is consuming. We are heartbroken over her not eating and the concern that she may be blind!
 

Tmichaels

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I’d like to clarify that we feel terrible about the fact that we used a coil bulb for the first 4-5 days we had her. We know now it was a mistake, but we are actively working hard to do everything we can to make sure her care is the best it can be! Appreciate any help/advice we can get! Thank you!
 

Yvonne G

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The only thing I can think of would be to try stinky food. Maybe sardines? You can buy frozen sardines at bait stores, this is a fresh frozen fish all by itself, no oil or additives. Cut up a bit into bite sized (your little baby's bite size) pieces and put it on a feeding tile that's up against a wall. Put the baby in front of the food. When (if) she bites at it, it can't move away from her as it's up against the wall. If you can get her to eat this way, you can eventually start adding other things to the sardines, but go slowly, not too much at first.

My grand daughter adds a bit of Gerber strained meat to the carrot soaking water. I don't know as that does anything, but she thinks it does.
 

PJay

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I've read through all of your threads and it sounds like you are doing everything right. Your humidity and temps are spot on and you are using a good substrate. You are trying some quality foods and I would recomend following Yvonnes advice with baby food soaks for extended periods. Be sure to keep it warm throughout those soaks. Placing food items against a wall in case it is blind is a good idea and I would also recommend trying some chopped shrimp. I've had some difficult box turtles that only responded to shrimp. I'm concerned at the breeders comment about the turtle being too young but shipping it anyway. Any breeder worth their reputation would only ship baby turtles they were confident were in top notch health. I would touch base with the breeder and relate the situation you are in.
 
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