New 3-Toed Box Turtle Questions

lindaisturtling

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Hello, sorry in advance for this lengthy post!

I have a three-toed box turtle named Bowser Flamel that was given to me by a colleague (her turtles had hatchlings). I believe it was born in October, so it is about 5 months old. I’ve had it since mid-December. I’ve been reading up different care sheets, forums, etc., and my local Petco has two workers who seem to know a lot about turtles. I get a lot of conflicting information and just want to make sure I’m doing things correctly.

Set-up: 10-gallon tank, coconut fiber substrate. Day/Night heat lamp and UVB light. I usually leave the day heat lamp and UVB light on for about 12 hours daily. Then I turn the night heat lamp on overnight. My household temp is set for 70-75 degrees day and night, since I’m always cold myself. I spray the tank once or twice a day. The tank came with a temperature/humidifier gauge but I don’t know how well it works. I have a hard time keeping the humidity between 50-60 (if the gauge can be believed). Also, the temperature on the gauge usually says 70 degrees even though my house is a little warmer.
Questions:
1. Do I need the night heat lamp?
2. How often should I change the substrate? I’ve only done it once since I’ve had him.
3. Is my coil UVB light okay? I hear a lot of absolutely NOs and wondered what to use instead? The light is 13W and made for tropical aquariums so I thought it was okay to use.

Feeding: He is inconsistent. He was eating tiny mealworms from about one month old. My colleague made sure he was eating well before giving him to me. I fed him 10-15 tiny or small mealworms almost daily for a couple of months. I sprinkled worms with the calcium and herptivite supplements. I introduced blueberries, red-leaf lettuce, carrots, apples, cantaloupe, spring greens in Jan/Feb. No ice-berg lettuce or spinach. He nibbles occasionally on the apples and blueberries. He loves the red-leaf lettuce. I usually feed him in a separate dish for the worms but will leave the fruits and veggies in his tank. Most often, the fruits and veggies seem to remain untouched. When he is in his separate feeding dish, he is like a cute puppy, staring at me or coming towards me as if begging for worms. I gave him rolly-pollies from my yard last week and he ate those (he ate about 10 small ones). I tried giving him an earthworm which I cut up. He tried to eat it but then spit it out. Then he tried a different piece and spit it out too, then backed away from the wriggling pieces. Last night I put about 10 rolly-pollies in his tank and couldn’t find any this morning. He loves the mealworms and once ate 25 tiny/small ones in one sitting. But then I read that turtles shouldn’t be given mealworms except as an occasional treat, and I was feeding them as his primary diet. I will also be getting cuttlebone to keep in the tank.
Questions:
1. Can I continue to feed him mealworms regularly? How many worms is “too many?”
2. Can I mix the two vitamin supplements? What happens if I mix the two powders in a little baggie?
3. Should I buy him any other kind of protein like wax worms or superworms? Boiled chicken? Scrambled egg?

Water: He has a small wading pool which is cleaned once per day, more if needed. He used to get in it every day for about two months. I could tell because it was filthy in the mornings when I woke up and again when I got home from work. When I first got him, I used to soak him in warm water in a separate dish for about 5-10 minutes daily, as hatchlings dehydrate easily. But I stopped since he seemed to be soaking himself in his wading dish regularly. I use my local tap water to fill his dish and spray the substrate. Recently I became concerned with the quality of the water, so I’ve been adding a drop or two of the tap water conditioner I use for my fish aquarium. Now I’m paranoid that the conditioner is not good for the turtle.
Questions:
1. Can I use tap water?
2. If I use tap water, do I need to add the conditioner to it?
3. Can I use regular bottled water or distilled water instead?
4. When is he no longer considered a “hatchling?”

Behavior
: Every day for about two months, I would wake to find him roaming his tank after having used his wading pool. However, the last month he hasn’t been coming out and stays burrowed. I don’t know what changed. I will lure him out with a worm but he drags it back to his little hole to eat it. His wading pool is also clean now every morning, where it was obviously used before. I know burrowing is usual for baby turtles but it was just a sudden change from his usual routine. I hardly ever find poop in his water or in his substrate, so I don't know what's going on there. He's growing faster than I thought he would.

Shell: His shell seems to be growing with a ridge around the entire rim and then drops flat from there. It doesn’t seem normal, but I have no idea if it is or not. Also, I actually don’t know if it’s a male or female.

Here are pictures of him, set-up, lights used, supplements, water conditioner.

Sorry for this long novel-like post. I appreciate any help and advice!!
IMG_2998.JPG IMG_3023.JPG IMG_3063.JPG
IMG_3022.JPG IMG_3060.JPG IMG_3058.JPG IMG_3059.JPG IMG_2915.JPG IMG_3023.JPG IMG_2998.JPG
 

ColleenT

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I don't have babies or keep mine indoors, so someone else will have a lot to add, but Scrambled egg is a wonderful way to give protein, and my guys LOVE it.

Bernadette with egg
berneggs_zpskbdydmr2.jpg


Wolowitz with egg
woloeggs_zpszehcvwub.jpg
 

Yvonne G

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You've given us a wealth of information for us to give you our help. We usually have to pull info out of new members worse than pulling teeth.

THE ENCLOSURE
1. Do I need the night heat lamp?
2. How often should I change the substrate? I’ve only done it once since I’ve had him.
3. Is my coil UVB light okay? I hear a lot of absolutely NOs and wondered what to use instead? The light is 13W and made for tropical aquariums so I thought it was okay to use.

Yes. He needs to be kept at 80-85F day and night
I change the substrate about once a year, spot cleaning and picking up old food daily
No. We don't use the coil-shaped bulbs. When they first came out they damaged young turtles' eyes. They've since been improved,
but the old ones were never pulled from the shelves, so you don't know if yours is a good one or not. They don't really provied
that good of UVB anyway.


FEEDING
1. Can I continue to feed him mealworms regularly? How many worms is “too many?”
2. Can I mix the two vitamin supplements? What happens if I mix the two powders in a little baggie?
3. Should I buy him any other kind of protein like wax worms or superworms? Boiled chicken? Scrambled egg?

I don't like to feed mealworms that often because their hard exoskeleton is difficult for babies to digest
You only need to sprinkle a tiny pinch of vitamins over the food two or three times a week. I wouldn't mix them
Wax worms, blood worms, night crawlers, small bits of chicken, scrambled egg - all good choices, as are greens, fruits and veggies


WATER
1. Can I use tap water?
2. If I use tap water, do I need to add the conditioner to it?
3. Can I use regular bottled water or distilled water instead?
4. When is he no longer considered a “hatchling?”

Yes, tap water is all I use
No, I use water straight out of the faucet
No, he needs the minerals, etc. in regular water
Hatchling for all the first year, then yearling, then juvenile after the second year
 

Yvonne G

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(The ridge may go away if you add quite a bit of water to the substrate. )
 

lisa127

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Okay, I’ve soaked his substrate and will watch the ridge on shell.

What is a good UVB light to get?
You want a long tube flourescent uvb, like the reptisun 5.0 or reptiglo 5.0

I cover my enclosures to create high humidity. I keep my substrate damp st all times but not wet. I keep temperatures at about 75 on the cool side to 90ish at the basking site. You really need a temperature gun for accurate temps, not those dial things.

Nightcrawlers and black soldier fly larvae are great foods to feed. Mealworms only occasdional.
 

Eric Phillips

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Okay, I’ve soaked his substrate and will watch the ridge on shell.

What is a good UVB light to get?

If you can get him outside a couple hours a week, you don't need a UVB bulb so long as you are providing a varied diet. I will be honest, mealworms are like eating junk food to us. I am a firm believer the sooner you can get it on Mazuri Aquatic Turtle food, Hikari, or Omega pellets the better off you will be on transitioning the diet as it gets older.
 

Rover15

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You want a long tube flourescent uvb, like the reptisun 5.0 or reptiglo 5.0

I cover my enclosures to create high humidity. I keep my substrate damp st all times but not wet. I keep temperatures at about 75 on the cool side to 90ish at the basking site. You really need a temperature gun for accurate temps, not those dial things.

Nightcrawlers and black soldier fly larvae are great foods to feed. Mealworms only occasdional.


sorry to steal the thread, but do you have a picture of your enclosure and how you covered it? I'm battling humidity so I'd love to see how you increased yours
 

Rover15

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Did you build a table or is that an aquarium? My three toed is in a terrarium with a screen lid and one small strip of venting on the side.

I mist 2 or 3 times a day, but i assume my box turtle stays in his hides burrowed in because its dry. That or he is still adjusting only had him a week.
 

lisa127

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Did you build a table or is that an aquarium? My three toed is in a terrarium with a screen lid and one small strip of venting on the side.

I mist 2 or 3 times a day, but i assume my box turtle stays in his hides burrowed in because its dry. That or he is still adjusting only had him a week.
It' a Rubbermaid stock tank.

For your situation just cover your screen lid with heavy duty foil.
 

Rover15

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It' a Rubbermaid stock tank.

For your situation just cover your screen lid with heavy duty foil.

I covered half the tank with foil. It helpped keep the humidity up to 50% consistantly during the day, i can mist and get it above 80 for an hour.

But now my cool side is around 24-25 c 75-77f, (i used to have my cool side roughly 21c and 70f) my basking spot is 33c or 91-92f

He has a humid hide that has a heat matt under it and it is 95-99% humidity, and temperatures are high 20c 80f.
 

lisa127

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I covered half the tank with foil. It helpped keep the humidity up to 50% consistantly during the day, i can mist and get it above 80 for an hour.

But now my cool side is around 24-25 c 75-77f, (i used to have my cool side roughly 21c and 70f) my basking spot is 33c or 91-92f

He has a humid hide that has a heat matt under it and it is 95-99% humidity, and temperatures are high 20c 80f.
I cover my entire top. Not just half. Of course that holds in heat as well as humidity so I only use very low wattage heat bulbs. My temps run from mid 70s on cool side to 90ish basking spot.
 

Rover15

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I'm worried if i cover the whole top that it'll get too hot in there. Also if i use a smaller wattage i might not get 90 on the basking spot. I might try and turn off the heating pad. and cover the top to see if that makes a difference.

I'll just have to keep tweaking it here is what it looks like right now.

23tl40g.jpg


2i6nl93.jpg


the foil only covers to the right half of the doors on top, i have 3 dome lights, the large is just a regular light bulb, the double has a uvb bulb and a 100w basking bulb.

on the left side under that hide, there is a heat mat which is why in that hide its like 95-99% humidity

there is also a vented panel on the right side of the tank when i bought the tank the heat matt was already on that side or i would have focused on making the non vented side the warm side and the vented side the cool side. Also, the water dish is on the cool side does anyone put it on the opposite side?
 

Eric Phillips

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I'm worried if i cover the whole top that it'll get too hot in there. Also if i use a smaller wattage i might not get 90 on the basking spot. I might try and turn off the heating pad. and cover the top to see if that makes a difference.

I'll just have to keep tweaking it here is what it looks like right now.

23tl40g.jpg


2i6nl93.jpg


the foil only covers to the right half of the doors on top, i have 3 dome lights, the large is just a regular light bulb, the double has a uvb bulb and a 100w basking bulb.

on the left side under that hide, there is a heat mat which is why in that hide its like 95-99% humidity

there is also a vented panel on the right side of the tank when i bought the tank the heat matt was already on that side or i would have focused on making the non vented side the warm side and the vented side the cool side. Also, the water dish is on the cool side does anyone put it on the opposite side?



The key is the humidity in the substrate not so much the air humidity. If you keep the substrate moist and turn it every so often you shouldn’t have too much of a problem. Live plants can help retain some air humidity without covering the enclosure completely. I do not recommend heating pads as they are hard to regulate the heat and can cause more damage than good. I’ve never used a heating pad for any of my indoor enclosures, too much risk involved in cooking your turtles insides. If your comfortable with it that’s fine but I want to let you know there is risk. Your temps are fine. Mist the enclosure and keep the substrate moist and turned and you should be fine.
 

lisa127

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I'm worried if i cover the whole top that it'll get too hot in there. Also if i use a smaller wattage i might not get 90 on the basking spot. I might try and turn off the heating pad. and cover the top to see if that makes a difference.

I'll just have to keep tweaking it here is what it looks like right now.

23tl40g.jpg


2i6nl93.jpg


the foil only covers to the right half of the doors on top, i have 3 dome lights, the large is just a regular light bulb, the double has a uvb bulb and a 100w basking bulb.

on the left side under that hide, there is a heat mat which is why in that hide its like 95-99% humidity

there is also a vented panel on the right side of the tank when i bought the tank the heat matt was already on that side or i would have focused on making the non vented side the warm side and the vented side the cool side. Also, the water dish is on the cool side does anyone put it on the opposite side?
It may not work for your situation. I had to start covering the enclosures because I had to move all turtles to the basement. In order to keep the cold air out, I had to cover. When upstairs I did not cover completely. So it really depends on your situation. That being said, my personal opinion is that humidity is very important for all box turtles. And I agree with no heating pads.
 

Rover15

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okay, thank you both. I have unplugged the Heat mat (I liked it because any extra water that might accumulate in the terrarium would be heated up and create humidity longer, and having the larger hide over the heat mat made it a humid hide.)

I now have the full top covered with one spot cut out for the double dome light which has the UVB and the Basking light. i will monitor the temperatures .

eq894m.jpg


here is a pictures that shows the hide i was referring too as well as if you look there is that strip of screen on the side. I want to cover it to help keep that side warmer, but would this create issues with air flow? or is there enough air being cycled when I open the doors when I mist and feed him?
 

lisa127

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okay, thank you both. I have unplugged the Heat mat (I liked it because any extra water that might accumulate in the terrarium would be heated up and create humidity longer, and having the larger hide over the heat mat made it a humid hide.)

I now have the full top covered with one spot cut out for the double dome light which has the UVB and the Basking light. i will monitor the temperatures .

eq894m.jpg


here is a pictures that shows the hide i was referring too as well as if you look there is that strip of screen on the side. I want to cover it to help keep that side warmer, but would this create issues with air flow? or is there enough air being cycled when I open the doors when I mist and feed him?
I have no trouble with airflow. Misting and feeding is enough. And it' really not airtight, especially if you have it open near lights.
 

Rover15

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I have no trouble with airflow. Misting and feeding is enough. And it' really not airtight, especially if you have it open near lights.

Fair enough, I just know that I taped down the foil, but I think I will cover that vent but maybe with foil temporarily until I find something that looks better to cover it lol
 
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