How to tell: What is "normal" weight for a 1 year old Eastern Box turtle?

jeff kushner

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Help from the "experienced" here?

Since few of us are Veterinarians or professional animal keepers or whatever today's term for it is, what is a "normal" weight for a 1 year old?? We all check bright, clear eyes as a huge indicator and general temp/activity ratio , good clear solid breathing, good shell tone/color and muscle strength but I never have known the metric for weights. We all know what "empty shell" feels like but is there anything more definitive?

I don't know what my turtle "should" weigh. I've had turtles since I was very small but I never weighed a turtle until little Matilda came home with us last June. I suspect she was born in May I'm guessing. So she's coming up on a year old next month and her roughly 2 ounces. according to the anecdotal stuff on Google say she's running around 14 ounces light! LOL

I really don't know whether to scoff at that suggestion that she should weigh nearly a pound because looking at her, she's a beast......but maybe their right?


jeff
 

Relic

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I've had box turtles for a long, long time and I usually judge their weight just by holding them. A box turtle should feel "heavy." (Actually, going only by feel, I suspect ALL turtles and tortoises should feel heavy.) But, using only weight from a chart and disregarding size (length, width, height) is a fool's errand. They can all grow at surprisingly different rates, even on the same diet, environment, etc. Your best bet might be to do weekly weigh-ins and look for consistent gains.

Here is a photo of some 9-month old three toed box turtles (from several nests) that all hatched within 3 weeks of each other, fed the same diet, and housed together in the same set-up. As you can see, the growth rates vary quite a bit.
 

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ZenHerper

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^ great photo

Well, there's a lot of variability in box turtles, and a lot of variability in captive care. I'm not familiar with a reference that targets 16 ounces at 1 year.

This is a post on That Other Forum - with photos - of animals across a growth continuum (spoiler: the captive yearling weighs 47 grams = 0.1 pound):

What specific species is your turtle? What is your turtle eating? How often? What size habitat does it roam? Does it swim?
 

Turtulas-Len

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Help from the "experienced" here?

Since few of us are Veterinarians or professional animal keepers or whatever today's term for it is, what is a "normal" weight for a 1 year old?? We all check bright, clear eyes as a huge indicator and general temp/activity ratio , good clear solid breathing, good shell tone/color and muscle strength but I never have known the metric for weights. We all know what "empty shell" feels like but is there anything more definitive?

I don't know what my turtle "should" weigh. I've had turtles since I was very small but I never weighed a turtle until little Matilda came home with us last June. I suspect she was born in May I'm guessing. So she's coming up on a year old next month and her roughly 2 ounces. according to the anecdotal stuff on Google say she's running around 14 ounces light! LOL

I really don't know whether to scoff at that suggestion that she should weigh nearly a pound because looking at her, she's a beast......but maybe their right?


jeff
I just went outside and brought a male and a female adult eastern box in and weighed them. The male weighed 15.4 oz and the female weighed 1 pound 7.2 oz. When I picked them up the male felt lite but not to the extent that concerns me since he just came out of hibernation. The female felt like she has eggs. I didn't see another male to get another weight from. Thinking back in my many years of keeping eastern box turtles I only ever weighed one before and that was a very tiny hatchling that hatched here years ago. So I would say a yearling at a pound is not normal or average. Also not saying that one pound in a year isn't possible.
 

Relic

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I just went outside and brought a male and a female adult eastern box in and weighed them. The male weighed 15.4 oz and the female weighed 1 pound 7.2 oz. When I picked them up the male felt lite but not to the extent that concerns me since he just came out of hibernation. The female felt like she has eggs. I didn't see another male to get another weight from. Thinking back in my many years of keeping eastern box turtles I only ever weighed one before and that was a very tiny hatchling that hatched here years ago. So I would say a yearling at a pound is not normal or average. Also not saying that one pound in a year isn't possible.
The first few weeks after hibernation I would expect "lighter than normal" weights, obviously. They will usually drink deeply the first chance they get; the females seem more likely to eat than the males. The boys seem totally fixated on finding a sweetheart, and initially will generally expend most of their time and energy in this endeavor. Perhaps we need someone to create: "Tinder for Turtles"
 
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This is a great question. I know there are lots of care sheets on here but do we have a growth chart per species? An age breakdown would be helpful as well. Is a hatchling a hatchling until its a yearling at 1 year? How old is an adult or sub adult? Enclosure suggestions to help muscle strengthening and enrichment ideas for neurological health. Also, I weigh in oz not grams is that acceptable? Thank you!
 

jeff kushner

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Wow, thanks guys for clearing that up. Maybe it meant a adult was 1 or so pounds as Len showed, even after they used up their fat stores at the end of winter. Relic's tortoises show a huge delta in the bookends of the size range. Matilda is probably around your smallest...right there center/right.

That 47gms sounds right on target for her then. She weighed 44gm on March 18 '21 and has been eating so many of her friends from her "worm colony" in the Bsmt that I began wondering if she might have contracted a parasite from the worms and was compensating. She actually chased my hand down 4 times in a row the other day with each chase worth one 3-4" worm. That's a lot of wormage for her little self! Afterwards she ate part of a rasaberry for desert.


I have kept a growth chart for her since she was around 6 months old. I think I weighed her when we brought her home last June and think her first recorded weight was 14gms b/c I remember when Maggie posted Grumpyface' s initial weight at 9gm, I recall think how small she was.
The 18th of each month is her Weigh-day each month. I'll post it next week but you may find past weights listed in her thread.

Mother-of Turtles.....thanks. I considered water turtles hatchlings until they took their 1st live goldfish but that isn't very scientific, is it? A lot of the stuff you mentioned is already written....you are still new here like I am. Browse around and you will find the most complete info assembled for our guys in one place, period. Any education level, for kids to those actively working to prevent some extinctions. We got folks here caring for some of the last of a species....that isn't for plebes. Highly talented group, very.

I forgot, not everyone on this huge forum and outside this folder know who Matilda is...sorry Zen....Baby Eastern Box turtle.


Here's a couple pics, recent and the first day she came home last year. For ref, the PVC fitting is approx 2.5" at the opening. My finger is like your finger...not in good focus but it works<LOL>!
4-21.png 6-26-20.png
 

ZenHerper

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Super cute!

One of the complicating factors for wildlife species is that they are being selected naturally for Fitness, not appearance, size, etc.. We've gotten very used to breeding dogs and cats and horses, etc. to suit specific needs and artificial standards. We can keep those chosen animals alive regardless of whether they'd be suited to life away from captivity, so the narrow standards can be rather easily maintained.

Another complicating factor for reptiles is that while adults are generally sexually dimorphic for size, they are all born apparently female. For most hobbyists there is no certainty that they are comparing apples to apples even within a species or sub-species for quite a number of years.

So while weight can be a supportive indicator of health and thrift, and is useful for helping us track "Is THIS one animal healthy?" it cannot be relied upon alone...keepers must employ other observational data such as species-and-age-appropriate activity levels and orientation toward light/heat/humidity/moisture, feeding response, and so on.

It is important for hobbyist keepers to share such observations since animals are not monolithic...even though Vietnamese Leaf Turtles are terrestrial turtles, their behaviors and lifestyle are significantly different from Box turtles.
 
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