Eastern Box... Thoughts?

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Floof

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I'm an admitted Craigslist addict. Okay, now that's out of the way. I found an ad for a "male eastern box turtle" on CL a week or so ago, and decided to email on it. I didn't expect anything to come out of it, but I still ended up bringing her home yesterday afternoon. (By the way, I'll be referring to the turtle as a female from here on, as that is what she looks like to my untrained eye.)

As it turns out, they were doing a horrible job of caring for her. They were housing her in a small acrylic aquarium with 18x9 inches of floorspace, dry coir for substrate, no water dish in sight, no heat (or UVB) lamp, and, of course, nowhere to hide. So far as I know, they only fed her lettuce and "T-Rex Box Turtle Dry Formula" pellets (though they did moisten them, according to the woman we spoke to.. it was her kid's turtle). Of course, no surprise that the poor turt was taken care of so terribly... They took all their care advice from a cousin who works at Petco. Or Petsmart. Whichever. :rolleyes:

This turtle is in terrible condition. I'm still a newbie with shelled critters, and even I can tell that much. She weighs in at 471 grams at just under 5 1/2 inches... I wouldn't know if that's a good weight for a boxie her size, but her back legs and tail are quite literally skin and bones, so I'm thinking it's not. She has spent almost every minute awake, except that time spent basking under her heat lamp and her trips outside this morning and afternoon, drinking from her water dish, and has excreted large puddles of gooey, somewhat yellow-ish urates three separate times in the last day. Considering both of these, and the lack of a water source in her habitat, I'm guessing she's pretty dehydrated. Her beak also looks to be somewhat overgrown.

She has shown no interest in eating so far... I have offered small Dubia roaches, earthworms, and slugs, and have a plate of sliced strawberry, mango, and tomato, a small turnip green leaf, a portion of a collard green leaf, a dandelion leaf, and several butterworms sitting in her enclosure. She has shown some interest in the Dubias and briefly chased a pillbug while outside this morning, but that's the extent of it.

The good news is, she seems pretty lively, and her eyes look to be in good shape. I haven't seen any obvious signs of respiratory illness. When she defecated this afternoon, it was solid and didn't contain any visible parasites. She has been regulating her body temperature: moving under the heat lamp periodically in between trips to the water dish, which I take to be a good thing.

So, I need your guys' opinions. Any ideas on how to get her to eat? Is her beak so long that it needs to be trimmed, or should it be able to wear down on its own? If trimmed, how do I go about doing that? What else should I be looking out for in the time being? Any other general advice?

And, of course, pics... These are all from this afternoon.
This one should give you a good idea of the state of her eyes and beak:
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Overhead shot, after a light rinse:
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She also seems to have some shell damage. It looks old and healed, but one spot (first pic) looks to be right along the new growth line?
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Since I'm completely DIY-incompetent, Zoom's new table is far from done (whereas it would have been ready for paint yesterday if I knew anything about this stuff), and, by that same token, Zoom's current table can't be emptied and disinfected for the boxie. For now, I have her housed in a spare 40 gallon breeder aquarium (about 36x18x18 inches) with a 75 watt bulb, two hides, a water dish big enough for soaking, and a cream cheese lid serving as a food dish. Substrate is organic garden soil, kept moist. It's not great, but it'll do for the moment.
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Drinking from the water dish:
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Thanks in advance for any and all input! :)
 
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Maggie Cummings

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I love her hide...So have you offered her any worms? Nightcrawlers or superworms? I think water, water, and more water. Have you soaked her? Her shell looks like an Ornata but the color isn't right. I have a 3-toed that has that exact shell pattern. If I was forced to guess, I'd say 3-toed even tho she has 4 toes. But we must wait for our resident expert for a positive ID. Sorry I can't call it. I'd offer her lots of protein and some trout chow. Try worms and you can get some trout chow either at the feed store or a fish store (I can't come up with the correct name...fish house, fish aquarium) anyhow that's what I'd do...offer her moistened trout chow and soak her in bird vitamins...
sorry I missed when you said what you were feeding her. So you need to feed her what they fed her to get her eating. Or you have the starvation way, she'll eat after you starve her. You can trim her beak with real sharp toe nail clippers and just trim a little bit then next week trim somemore. That's how I would do it. Good luck with her I like her face and she looks healthy and curious...
 

Floof

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Thanks so much for the input, Maggie! I soaked her first thing after getting her home yesterday. I forgot to soak her today, but will be soaking her daily and keeping her water dish full. :)

I'll try offering some of those pellets and a bit of spring mix, then; it's probably the closest I can get to what they had her on.

Trout chow? Do you mean fish store like pet store? Maybe the local department store carries it... They're the closest we've got to a pet or feed store around here.

Maggie, I've heard you recommend soaking sick baby torts with baby food. It so happens I have a few jars of chicken baby food (ingredients are ground chicken, water, and corn starch) in the fridge. Would soaking her in a mixture of this and water be a good idea, since she's refusing to eat?
 

Itort

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Some fruit you may want to try is strawberry or raspberry. She appears to me to be an eastern. I noticed a plant saucer on her tank, you may want to put in her habitat as a wading/bathing pool. She also benefit from more substrat to burrow in (about depth equal to height of shell).
 

moe890

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99.9% sure it is in fact a female eastern box turtle.


Greg
 

Floof

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Itort, the plant saucer was in her tank, but I removed it because she kept sticking her entire head under water and forgetting to come up for air. Maybe that's nothing to worry about, but it terrifies me so I put in the shallow saucer for now and will be giving her back the plant saucer once she's a bit less keen on drinking every drop of water in sight! Duly noted on the dirt... And I'll try to get some raspberries... So far, she hasn't done more than sniff the strawberries.

Thanks for the input, Itort and Greg! :)
 
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Maggie Cummings

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That's how they drink. Their whole head underwater and long very slow gulps. I'd give her back the deeper saucer...let her drink the way she wants to, she won't drown I promise....
 

Floof

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maggie3fan said:
That's how they drink. Their whole head underwater and long very slow gulps. I'd give her back the deeper saucer...let her drink the way she wants to, she won't drown I promise....

Oh! Okay, good to know. I'm glad I was wrong about that being a serious problem, lol. Thanks, Maggie. :)
 

terracolson

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There is so much to talk about on this thread and i am not a well organized writer.

SO i will pick her beak. You can try to trim it on your own. I have been able to trim my Russians beak after a hour soak, with a brand new pair of finger nail clippers. Now i did a tiny bit at a time and it didnt work on every one. But if its still then and after a good soak, that might work. (assuming you can hold the head)

also you can get a pair of diagonal trimming pliers. Just get a fresh good pair.

I suggest having some one hold her while you trim.

Of course you might find some one that has a tool, (dremmel) i forgot the name.

a good file can be used as well. but it would take lots of repeat trips.

I always have help from the local rescue, so i dont do this alone...you might see if you have a local person to help
 

Floof

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Would a dremel tool work, then? I have one of those dremel nail files for the dogs... And I'd definitely be more comfortable using that than trimmers of any sort... Thanks for the advice, Terra. :)
 

dmmj

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A dremel would work quite well, and I personally prefer it over clippers, that is just me though. I would say female because I did not see red in it's eyes amd red eyes usually = male. Did you think maybe it was suicidal since it was holding it's head under water? like they said that is how they drink, I am sure it can be a little unusual seeing it for the first time.
 

HLogic

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Taylor,

You may want to defer the beak trimming to someone that has experience doing so. An alternative is to allow it to wear down to its normal size. Once back on a normal diet, it won't take very long - in TST (Turtle Standard Time). It may take as long as a year to do so but the existing overgrowth is not that extreme.

Just my $0/02
 

Itort

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Some ideas on the beak, you can feed her on a ceramic floor tile or flat rock. Also let the worms go in substrat, so when she hunts she wears it through abrasion. I have a RF right now with a slightly overgrown beak outside and it is wearing it down just from day to day forageing.
 

Floof

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dmmj--No, not suicidal, lol... I was kind of worried she didn't know how to drink from a water dish without drowning herself. Heh.

I've never trimmed a turtle or tortoise's beak, but I've always preferred the dremel for trimming my dogs' nails because, with clippers, I tend to take too much and hit the quick. I don't know if turtle/tortoise beaks have blood vessels like a dog's toenail, but I would hate to find out whether they do the hard way.

I would MUCH prefer to let her wear it down herself. Do you think that's still possible, then, at its current length? I'd rather not risk injuring her with my inexperience... I have switched her plastic lid out for a chunk of slate tile to use as a feeding plate, and her worms have a habit of disappearing under the substrate with or without my help (argh, dang butterworms), so all she needs to do now is decide food is good.

Which reminds me, she hasn't shown interest in what they were feeding her, either (the pellets and lettuce/spring mix). Other than trampling it to get to her water dish. :rolleyes: I'm going to go try hosing up some fat 'n juicy earthworms from the yard now. See if those get her attention...
 

terryo

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Boxies can go a long time without eating as long as they have water. I would keep offering her food, and eventually she will eat. I put food on a flat piece of slate which helps with the beak. I keep my boxies, when not outside, in planted vivariums. Try to mimic their natural habitat. Lots of plants, low light, warm humidity, and a soft substrate to dig under. I also throw in lots of leaf litter in the fall. You could also get a cuttle bone and that helps with the beak also. They also like to sit in the water, so a bigger water dish would be good. Mine live to swim and will sit for a long time in their pond. This is just what works for me.
 

Floof

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Thanks for the input, Terry!

Cuttlebone.. I knew I was forgetting something! I always keep a chunk in the Russians' enclosures, but it didn't even occur to me to put one in the boxie's. :)

Hmmm... Maybe the feeding problem has something to do with heat? I put a piece of tile under the heat lamp last night to help bolster temps and just measured it with the temp gun (after having the lights on for about 8 hours), and it came back at 77*F... I've read it needs to be in the upper 80s? I'll get that fixed, and, hopefully, she'll start showing more interest in food once her basking spot is warmer.
 

Floof

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MUCH better! Two hours ago, I switched her 75 watt bulb a 100 watt Powersun MVB (it's Zoom's; I was going to be taking it off Zoom's enclosure, anyway, as we come into summer, since she goes outside daily), and the temp of her basking spot is creeping into the mid- to upper-80s. The turtle herself, who has been basking under the light the entire time, is measuring 91-92*F at the top of her shell. Now to see if she will change her mind about food now... :)
 
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Maggie Cummings

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Have you tried night crawlers or super worms yet? Guess it's time to try the baby food. I would use strained carrots for the Vit A in it. Use a small container so you don't have to dilute the stuff too much. Bring it up to her bridge and soak her for a long time. I put a light on'em so the food mixture stays warm. I don't have any other advice for you, I'm sorry...
 

Floof

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I haven't been able to scare up any earthworms (are they and night crawlers the same thing?), and didn't even think of superworms... I'll start the baby food soaks tomorrow, then. Thanks again for the advice.
 
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Lovemyboxies

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I have soaked baby boxies in Pedealite (that stuff you give children when they are sick and need to be hydrated) when they wouldn't eat. Just a suggestion.
 
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