Help Needed! Several questions!

JordynNykoleee

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Apr 28, 2021
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Location (City and/or State)
Kansas City, Missouri
Hello! My name is Jordyn and I live in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. I met my partner 2 & a half years ago, & she had a box turtle named Tuck. She’s had him for 8 years now, and he was wild caught. Not ideal I know, but she was young and he was captured by a family member and gifted to her. So she’s stuck with him now! Lol. We aren’t sure what breed he is so if someone knows that would be great! Well, she wasn’t very knowledgeable about proper care of a box turtle and I had never had a reptile before, only cats and dogs, so I had no idea either. Over the last 2 years i’ve tried my best to do research and do what I could to help. She was feeding him a pretty bland diet, iceberg lettuce and some fruit. Not ideal at all, we know that now. But he recently fell ill and I took him to the vet and he has an infection and is just generally unwell. The vet gave him a vitamin booster shot and sent us home with antibiotic shots for a week to kill the infection. The vet told us to also start feeding him live food, which my partner had never done for him. So we bought some night crawlers and I gave him them today for the first time and he’s eaten 4 already! He loves them. He’s already perked up so much and is super alert and active, versus being dormant and lethargic just yesterday.

So my question is what I could do to improve his indoor habitat? He has reptile bark as a substrate, we purchased a UVB bulb yesterday, have been misting his enclosure to maintain humidity and I also gave him some kale, spinach, sweet potato and jackfruit chopped up to munch on inbetween feeds. Any and all critics are welcome! I just want to do better for our little baby.
 

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Lyn W

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Hi and welcome,
This is the caresheet I found in the species specific section that may help you, with some of the basics so read that to start with, but then ask as many questions as you like. There are several members who keep box turtles and they'll be happy to help.


*The MVB bulb that is mentioned isn't recommended anymore for most species of tortoises because they have been found to dry and damage shells so most members use a tube type for uvb - a BT keeper will suggest other options.

You may find more info just by looking through the other threads in that section.

I don't keep box turtles but just from looking at the pics I think he needs a bigger enclosure. The caresheet will advise you on diet, substrate and temps etc.
 

maggie3fan

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Oh he is sweet lookin...nice! Here's some reading for you...
 

Maro2Bear

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Greetings & welcome to the Forum. In addition to everything elsw, you can start with giving ur Boxie Tuck a nice soaking in warm shallow water every few days,

Slugs, snails, worms are all good!
 

Yvonne G

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Hi, and welcome to the Forum!

It looks like you have a male three toed box turtle there (Terrapene carolina triunguis).

I don't think he's warm enough. Do you have a laser type thermometer? Those give you the best readings. Box turtles can't digest their food if they're not warm enough.

Another thing I see that you could improve upon is the space he lives in and his water dish.

If you could see your way clear to get a bigger enclosure, it would give you more room to add lots of plants and sight barriers (it doesn't have to be a glass aquarium, as they are very expensive. A plastic tub would do fine). Box turtles usually don't live out in the open line you have him. Lots of plants would give him a safer feel. Imagine yourself waking up in the morning and looking outside and being able to see your whole world. How boring that would be. But if you look out and realize you're going to have to do a little wandering in order to see past all those sight barriers, it would make your life a whole lot more interesting.

Wet the substrate. I mean WET the substrate. I'd pour a whole pitcherful of water over the substrate then stir it up with your hand so all the particles get wetted.

Trade out that unsafe waterer for a large, clay plant saucer, and sink the saucer down into the substrate. Find a saucer large enough for the turtle to be able to climb in and sit (another reason for a larger enclosure). Box turtles really, really like to sit in the water. The bowl you have is unsafe for a hard body animal to navigate.

What kind of lights/ heat are you providing?

Here's an example of an enclosure with plants:

1619704678106.png
 

Relic

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Are you married to the idea of keeping him indoors? They naturally range into your area and would be just fine living outdoors. You would need an enclosure, but no electricity, lights, heaters, etc. would be required. Just a thought...
 

JordynNykoleee

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Joined
Apr 28, 2021
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
Kansas City, Missouri
Are you married to the idea of keeping him indoors? They naturally range into your area and would be just fine living outdoors. You would need an enclosure, but no electricity, lights, heaters, etc. would be required. Just a thought...
We do plan on building him an outdoor enclosure very soon! But he would need an indoor one for the cold months correct?
 

JordynNykoleee

New Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2021
Messages
4
Location (City and/or State)
Kansas City, Missouri
Hi, and welcome to the Forum!

It looks like you have a male three toed box turtle there (Terrapene carolina triunguis).

I don't think he's warm enough. Do you have a laser type thermometer? Those give you the best readings. Box turtles can't digest their food if they're not warm enough.

Another thing I see that you could improve upon is the space he lives in and his water dish.

If you could see your way clear to get a bigger enclosure, it would give you more room to add lots of plants and sight barriers (it doesn't have to be a glass aquarium, as they are very expensive. A plastic tub would do fine). Box turtles usually don't live out in the open line you have him. Lots of plants would give him a safer feel. Imagine yourself waking up in the morning and looking outside and being able to see your whole world. How boring that would be. But if you look out and realize you're going to have to do a little wandering in order to see past all those sight barriers, it would make your life a whole lot more interesting.

Wet the substrate. I mean WET the substrate. I'd pour a whole pitcherful of water over the substrate then stir it up with your hand so all the particles get wetted.

Trade out that unsafe waterer for a large, clay plant saucer, and sink the saucer down into the substrate. Find a saucer large enough for the turtle to be able to climb in and sit (another reason for a larger enclosure). Box turtles really, really like to sit in the water. The bowl you have is unsafe for a hard body animal to navigate.

What kind of lights/ heat are you providing?

Here's an example of an enclosure with plants:

View attachment 324161
We are providing him with a heating bulb and a UVB light, one on each side. And would an outdoor enclosure be better? And does it need to be covered on top to protect them from predators? That’s my partners biggest concern with leaving him outside, is him getting out or being taken by a predator.

Should we add peat moss to his enclosure? I also heard they’re supposed to have a wet side and a dry side, so wouldn’t wetting his entire substrate not be a good idea? Not trying to question your knowledge just trying to understand!!!
 

Relic

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Not after I learned to put a latch on the gate! A couple of them learned to climb up on the gate step and nudge the metal gate open and vamoose...but the yard is fenced and I always eventually found them...(notice the green carabiner and screw it holds onto.) They have everything their little reptilian hearts could desire provided for them: food, water, and abundant sex mates... L3TjrQ4bQyOBfHbGDiEOvQ_thumb_124c5.jpg
 

jeff kushner

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OP...everyone here seems to be saying the same thing, some directly, some through gentle guidance......get it wetter, get it warmer....and kudos for the great way you are reaching out for him! I've been to your city in Aug....Hell is one of the few place hotter so as long as you provide 24hr available hides/shade, tons of water and hide-able vegetation, you'll be off to a good start but as suggested, RTFM--read the suggested care sheets. You will gain information, promise.

No predation Relic? By the way, that's a beautiful place that you've given them!! I would have them disappearing the first night to racoons/fox!
 

Relic

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My biggest worry in the "predation" category is the pernicious fire-ant. As you can see from the photos, it's hard to spot all the nests, unless they pop-up in the limited open areas. Then using Orthene poison powder sparingly, and then laying a heavy flagstone over it until the poison dissipates, I can usually keep the tiny beasts under control. But I worry about hatchlings being attacked, killed, and eaten by these guys...I'd rather have a King Cobra loose in the pen over the ants, any day.
 

maggie3fan

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I keep numerous box turtles. All day they are outside in a pen, but I bring them all in at night as we have many predators. Inside the turtles each have their own tort tables, so I take them all out every morning, and bring them all in at night.
Here's Ginger, she's an Eastern box turtle, she will swim out to this board and she'll bask on it all day...
100_4261.JPG
I feed them fruit, melons, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blue berries...
100_4263.JPG
Here's a group when I put them out in the morning. They will go to the other side where there's lots of cover for them.
100_4232.JPG
Yes, it's a hassle taking 15 box turtles in and out daily, but I shouldn't keep them if I can't provide what they need...
100_4232.JPG
 
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