Eastern Box Turtle - Very Questionable Care

Rosemary M B

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Joined
Apr 6, 2019
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2
Location (City and/or State)
North Carolina
Hi all! This is going to a bit long, and unfortunately it may be a bit upsetting because I'm detailing a not-so-great situation with not a lot of room for improvement (from what I can tell), so readers discretion is advised and I'm so sorry if this is frustrating.

So I'm petsitting for a friend's younger sibling (8th grader) while they leave the state for a week to attend a funeral, and here's the run-down of what I have on my hands now:

- 5 inch long Eastern Box Turtle, female(?), caught in the wild (here in NC) and kept for a couple of years (2-3?).

- kept in an old, rusty guinea pig cage (30 x 18 in., 5 in. deep plastic tub) with a layer of newspaper.

- as far as I can tell, fed exclusively ReptoMin Baby formula Floating Food Sticks (1 large pinch twice a day) and the ends of tomatoes as occasional treats.

- a roughly 2 inch wide plastic cap for a water dish, frequently tipped over.

I get the impression the turtle is a bit of a free roam pet, as her owner (8th grader) is homeschooled and can close the room off and keep an eye on her for most of the day.. But the cage is completely free of hides, there isn't any suitable substrate (just newspaper to burrow in), and I'm doubtful that she has much else in her owner's room.


I don't see the family being able to afford to keep up a good/great setup, unfortunately, and I can't imagine asking this kid to rehome her. (They're on an elementary teacher's salary for three kids and a dog, newly a single income household, grieving, etc.. It's a rough situation.)

But I've been looking into minor improvements to suggest over time, so I was hoping I could get a bit of input from some actual experienced tortoise/boxie keepers. (Though of course I plan to devote a good chunk of my free time to reading through existing threads and other sources when I have the time to spare.)


So here's my list of things to look more into..

- This pellet/worm mix, also available at Walmart for a cheaper unit price than the current feed.

It's still an aquatic turtle formula, and I'm getting the sense boxie's are supposed to have whole ingredient diets to begin with (maybe with vitamin supplements?), but I'm thinking it may be a better bet than the current feed?

- This reptile feeding dish, to be reused as a water dish.

I don't know if it would be big enough for her soaking needs / if I'll be able to find something cheap and large enough for her.. But it would be a great alternative to the plastic cap, as she wouldn't be able to tip it(?). So I'm thinking this suggestion might be taken up.. Unless there is a better DIY option out there?

- Some sort of hide.. Maybe a modified plastic storage tub? I've seen people cut little doors in tubs for reptiles. Are there any significant downsides / dangers to watch out for her, perhaps?

(For this one, I would probably have to be openly Very Strange and include a little DIY turtle house in a Christmas gift to the family haha. I'm really not sure how that would be received. o_O)


Anyway, so sorry for such a long and probably redundant post. It's a bit of a shot in the dark and I completely understand skipping it. Lord knows what I'll be able to do in this situation.. But it's great to have found a tortoise forum no matter what happens with this little gal, because I just love loading up on pet care information in my free time.

Thanks for stopping by! :<3:
- R
 

Rosemary M B

New Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2019
Messages
2
Location (City and/or State)
North Carolina
quick little update, I managed to snap some (admittedly poor quality) pictures of the little gal after posting this:

a4kg9Y9.png

RKPwcEx.png


(hopefully imgur is an acceptable image sharing method here.. I'm not the most worldly when it comes to forums haha)
 

Relic

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Sep 8, 2018
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543
Location (City and/or State)
Here
Here's where you need to start: https://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/box-turtle-care-sheet.93937/
The turtle looks relatively healthy from the pics, but that set-up is not good. Box turtles are tough, but lots of changes should be made to keep it healthy. Changing the diet as soon as possible. A new enclosure with heat and lights, etc. when they can. It's too late in the year to release it back into the wild, especially since the diet has been poor and body weight may be light. Good luck to you - hopefully, after reading the box turtle care sheet, the owners will be enthusiastic about doing all they can to upgrade both the diet and habitat.
 

Maro2Bear

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Messages
12,255
Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA
Wow, so nice of you to jump in and try to help out.

Quickly - for a food & water dish - a trip to WalMart garden center and pick up a few terra cotta plant saucers. They are low, don’t tip over, easily cleaned, and are cheap.

Some nice leaf litter for substrate too - one bag of cypress mulch from the garden center ($3.00) goes a long way. Throw in a few handfuls of leaves that have fallen - oak, maple, etc. and all is good.

Hide - yes, again, a simple tub flipped upside down with a entrance cut inside works well. Cheap WalMart.

The front & back claws could use a trim ( i think from the pix ) - the beak might as well.

Definitely need a much better enclosure other than the guinea pig cage...


Good luck. I’m sure others have ideas.
 

ColleenT

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Jan 19, 2016
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Location (City and/or State)
Lehigh Valley Pa
my signature has a link of how to feed them. This poor turtle.

Another option is to report them to fish and game or another animal rescue.
 

Maro2Bear

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
May 29, 2014
Messages
12,255
Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA
Wow, so nice of you to jump in and try to help out.

Quickly - for a food & water dish - a trip to WalMart garden center and pick up a few terra cotta plant saucers. They are low, don’t tip over, easily cleaned, and are cheap.

Some nice leaf litter for substrate too - one bag of cypress mulch from the garden center ($3.00) goes a long way. Throw in a few handfuls of leaves that have fallen - oak, maple, etc. and all is good.

Hide - yes, again, a simple tub flipped upside down with a entrance cut inside works well. Cheap WalMart.

The front & back claws could use a trim ( i think from the pix ) - the beak might as well.

Definitely need a much better enclosure other than the guinea pig cage...


Good luck. I’m sure others have ideas.


Ps - I looked again st the beak. It looks pretty good. No trim needed (now).
 
Last edited:

Sue Ann

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Joined
Mar 19, 2019
Messages
409
Location (City and/or State)
chapin , South Carolina
quick little update, I managed to snap some (admittedly poor quality) pictures of the little gal after posting this:

a4kg9Y9.png

RKPwcEx.png


(hopefully imgur is an acceptable image sharing method here.. I'm not the most worldly when it comes to forums haha)
Because the girl is home schooled make this a fun lesson. Print out the care sheets and study with her. She is 8 and can understand. Maybe go shopping together for dish and some supplies.
Let me know if I can help, I’m in SC.
 
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