New to Turtles (Baby Box Turtle)

DCTurtle

New Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2014
Messages
5
Hi all,

A friend of mine recently gave me a Baby Box turtle that she could no longer care for. Frankly, she was doing a really poor job of it anyway. We've named her Lucy (brown eyes mean it's a girl, right?)

I'm brand new to turtles, but have read everything I could find online regarding their care. I've set up a habitat (work in progress - see the attached picture) and need some pointers. I've heard that a more aquatic setup may work better at this point in our turtle's life. Currently, I have her in a 15 gallon tote w/ about 4 inches of coconut substrate and frog moss but am going to upgrade this to a 50+ gallon tote in the very near future. Should I consider an aquatic setup until she's older, or will the current one I have be OK?

Overall, she's doing pretty well, but I have some questions: At night and for most of the day she burrows an inch or two under the moss and into the soil (coconut husk based substrate) in the enclosure. She's a good eater - she's been eating primarily mealworms, and will always go right after them when I drop them in her cage after she's warm. If I drop them on the far side, she'll head over to catch them and seems to enjoy hunting them. Now, here's my question: I've been digging her up in the morning for a soak, then I let her heat up (I get one side of the enclosure to about 80), feed her (she eats two or three worms without hesitation), and then let her soak in her dish again, where she usually takes a drink and then makes some turtle poop. After that, she'll walk around the cage after soaking for about ten minutes, bask for a little bit in the heat, climb on the moss, and then bury herself again.

Should I be digging her up for feedings and to make sure she soaks, or will she come out by herself? I've only had her for about three days, but I want to make sure she's getting what she needs. Additionally, we've just purchased the turtle supplement powder and will be making sure that gets onto her food. To be quite honest, I have fallen head over heels for our turtle, and I am very paranoid about her well being and I know that I may be doing more harm than good sometimes.

Secondly, is she warm enough? I hope that she's not burrowing because she's cold. Is protracted burrowing a normal behavior for baby box turtles? Could she be trying to hibernate? Currently, I have a UV light running twelve hours a day. I am currently heating the enclosure with a ceramic space heater (the dome lamp for the basking light is in the mail) and have achieved a solid range of temperatures around the enclosure (measured using infrared thermometer) from about 74 - 83 degrees F during the day. At night, the soil temp is anywhere from 67-73 degrees F, and lower levels of soil are colder or warmer depending on the side of the tote and whether or not it's facing the heater. Are my temps OK for now? I'll have much more control once the dome lamp gets here.

Thank you in advance for your input! I hope I'm doing OK for Lucy's sake!
 

Attachments

  • Turtle 3.jpg
    Turtle 3.jpg
    215.3 KB · Views: 36
  • Turtle 1.jpeg
    Turtle 1.jpeg
    36 KB · Views: 25
  • Turtle 2.jpg
    Turtle 2.jpg
    79.8 KB · Views: 35

DCTurtle

New Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2014
Messages
5
Current Enclosure.jpg Here's the picture of her enclosure - the white thing on the side is a wet proof heating pad that I was using to warm the enclosure in conjunction with the space heater. Right now I just spray it with water to generate some extra humidity. I have a Hygrometer on the way as well so that I can keep better tabs on the conditions.
 

DCTurtle

New Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2014
Messages
5
Another picture of Lucy!
 

Attachments

  • Turtle 6.jpeg
    Turtle 6.jpeg
    145.1 KB · Views: 23

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
88,471
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
Aw...she's just a teeny, tiny baby!! Very cute. Do you have any lights or other type heating besides the pad? You might try covering the plastic tub to keep the warm air inside.
 

DCTurtle

New Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2014
Messages
5
She is very cute!

Yes, I have a ceramic space heater running and a basking light is on the way. During the day, we also keep the room at about 75 F. The enclosure is elevated off of the ground.

I think once the dome light arrives, I'll be able to effectively manage the enclosure. I do keep the lid partially on at night and the temps seem to range from 67-73.
 

Eric Phillips

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2014
Messages
1,078
Location (City and/or State)
Ohio
Welcome to the Tortoise Forum:) Wasn't long ago I was in your footprints being new! Good looking baby you got there, looks like an Eastern. Well, stick around and enjoy the forum, so many wonderful and knowledgeable people here. If you need anything or have a question don't be afraid to ask. Good Luck with your little one!
 

lismar79

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2013
Messages
2,995
Location (City and/or State)
Ohio USA
Welcome! You are so lucky she's eating well, it usually takes a while in a new place for them to eat. Add some plants and leaf litter ( go outside and grab some off the ground!) She will love to hide under them & that's what these guys are use to doing! Add a flat rock or two to help keep her nails filed down and this is also a good place to put your non live food- she will need some fruits and veggies too!
 

Gillian M

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2014
Messages
15,019
Location (City and/or State)
Jordan
Welcome to the forum! Take good care of your tort...it's gorgeous!
 

Michael in MO

Active Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2013
Messages
198
I noticed that you mentioned a 12 hr light cycle.. that (esp with this being the turtle's first winter) is GREAT but if you want to make your life a whole lot easier get a timer for the light.. also if you haven't found a source for life food (small crickets and red wigglers, and maybe meal worms) find one. If you tend to worry about things either get yourself a mail scale to weigh the baby (as nature has given them the instinct to hide for at least two years since they're a meal for just about any meat eater) you might not see her eat that often. OR you can draw an outline of her shell every week or so .. on the same sheet of paper to track her growth... also over the next few months when you feed her anything (vegitation- fruit/vegg/greens) keep track of what she'll eat and what she rejects.. you'll have a great idea of what to switch to if she goes on a eating strike.. which a lot of boxies can do, apparently just to make their care-takers crazy.. OH and it's probably too cold anyway, BUT if you even think about taking her outside to get some fresh air. like I said they hide and a big blue sky will trigger a panic to dig in almost faster than you can see.. a 15 second distraction and you could lose your turtle forever.. she's a beaut have a great winter getting to know her!
 

DCTurtle

New Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2014
Messages
5
Hi all,

Thanks for your input! I really appreciate it!

Do y'all think it's OK for me to dig my tort up in the mornings to make sure she eats? I don't want to traumatize her, but I want to make sure she's fed!
 

Michael in MO

Active Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2013
Messages
198
that's why I stated either weighing or tracing her.. digging her up will probably stress her as in her mind she's hiding so she's not someone's meal... if you actually want to visually watch her eat (and she's out roaming her enclosure every day or two) I'd put her in a seperate container with the live food, which even scardy turtles will eat over looking for a place to hide if they're in the open. If she's out roaming it would mean she's hungry looking for food and her body temp would be the right temperature to properly digest it. However if you can't tell by either other method I mentioned previously... I would dig her up... at that age the turtle should show signs of growth just about all the time.. esp if you keep the habitat in a "summer" setting..
 

Torch

Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2014
Messages
69
I do dig my baby boxies up every day or every other day for a soak and to inspect them. When they're that young they can get dehydrated easily, especially with needing to keep them in fairly warm temperatures.
 

TortMomma

Active Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2014
Messages
159
I would wait on the bigger tote just yet. That size is perfect for now. Hatchlings don't go very far and spend most of their day under lead littler. As for feeding I always put a half log or hidey log over the food dish so that she feels protected while she eats. I try and cut her food (fruit/veg) very small and almost into a mush so that when she grabs the wiggly stuff (usually meal/calci/silk worms) on top she gets some of the fruit/veg too. I also soak zoomed Forrest pellets a few times a week.
I've read that some ppls EBTs like to swim a bit but mine is not a fan of water higher than what she can soak in. Some ppl take a bin and elevate it a bit on the side so there's a deeper end of water a "land" part. I've tried this but she always stay up where it's dry. I've also seen ppl get their EBTs to eat fruit/veg and pellets this way since they move in the water and hatchlings like to eat anything that wiggles.
 
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top