New tortoise mom seeking advice on species

ShellDon'sMom

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Joined
Jan 17, 2020
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Tacoma
Hello All
My family adopted Sheldon about a month ago and I'm wanting to get some opinions on what species he might be. The lady we got him from did not have much info on him, (other than he likes pineapple & peaches)
she had only had him a few months and got him from a "friend of a friend" So we do not know how old he is or much about him. We've been doing some research and have narrowed it down to *possibly a Gopher or Desert tortoise.
He has yellow eyes and a yellow tummy shell.

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theTurtleRoom

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You are quite lucky he is not a Gopher or Desert Tortoise as those are both aggressively protected! He's a handsome little dude!
 

ShellDon'sMom

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Jan 17, 2020
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Tacoma
Thanks Y'all. I'll read up on the links shared. How do I tell if he is infact a he or she? (My hubby join a tortoise group on facebook, and folks in that group are saying he is a SHE)
 

ShellDon'sMom

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Jan 17, 2020
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Tacoma
WE gave Shelldon a worm today and he gobbled it right up! Sprayed one half of his substrate to dampen... Right now we have a UV light on one side of his terrarium and a CHE on the other side. Wondering if I should move the CHE to the same side as the UV so one side is cooler?
 

jso

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55*N, UK
The UV light is also providing heat?

A temperature gradient is always a good idea: gives the animal an element of choice and control. Maybe hiding places in both ends as well?
I’d also think the whole enclosure should be damp...this is a box turtle - a far cry from a gopher or desert tortoise.
These guys need constant access to water they can easily get in and out of - shallow, as although they are turtles, they’re not great swimmers like sliders and cooters.
 
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Madame Terrapene

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May 31, 2019
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Houston, TX
Welcome and we're glad you're here! There's tons of info on this site, and you can always ask questions, no matter how small you think the issue is.

Box turtles are fun animals to have around and rarely get sick as long as they are properly cared for. Getting the habitat set up right and finding a care routine is the hardest part, honestly. Once you have a routine down it's like second nature. Because they're omnivores, it's easy to feed them from your own regular grocery list and even washed edible weeds (ones that are low in oxalate) from the yard, as long as you supplement with a calcium supplement (I use Rep-Cal, both their calcium and multivitamin powders). You can catch bugs for them (Junebugs and pill bugs come to mind), use fishing worms, shell out money for crickets or Superworms at Petsmart, or do what I do and raise your own bugs (dubia are super easy and cheap to raise).

Indoor habitats are OK as long as they're of adequate size and set-up, but box turtles do best when allowed to roam in an outdoor enclosure during the warmer months. Most of my boxies spend 9 months outdoors in their enclosure and 3 months brumating or overwintering in the garage (brumating means they're pretty much sleeping and not eating, overwintering means they're active, maybe eating and not sleeping alot). Building an outdoor enclosure takes some effort, but if you use durable materials then it will last you for years. The males especially seem to like a lot of space, your guy could easily make use of a 4 x 6 pen, or larger. Are you in Tacoma, Washington? Or some other state?

The UV light is also providing heat?

A temperature gradient is always a good idea: gives the animal an element of choice and control. Maybe hiding places in both ends as well?
I’d also think the whole enclosure should be damp...this is a box turtle - a far cry from a gopher or desert tortoise.
These guys need constant access to water they can easily get in and out of - shallow, as although they are turtles, they’re not great swimmers like sliders and cooters.

On the humidity and water dish note...keeping a non-toxic, edible live plant in the indoor habitat is my secret for perfect indoor humidity. I just keep the plant in a ceramic pot that drains water through the bottom and into the substrate. As long as it's watered and alive, the humidity level is usually adequate. Box turtles absolutely need some humidity in their substrate and ambient air otherwise they get sick. It doesn't have to be a fancy plant, and honestly sometimes I just pot dandelions from the yard or weedy grasses. The turtles may climb into the pot and eat or squish the plant a bit anyways.

For water dishes, you may already have one...but if not Walmart and lots of hardware stores sell ceramic glazed planters that are nice, heavy water dishes. I like 9in dishes and up, good turtle size. Glazed is way easier to clean and a heavier dish is less likely to get overturned by an active turtle. When the turtle is really active you may find yourself changing the water every day as they can't seem to help but use their water as a litter box. Tip: I keep a box of disposable One size fits all gloves (also from Walmart) near the indoor habitat and reuse one set of gloves for like a week, keeps poopy turtle water off of your hands.

Good luck!
 

Madame Terrapene

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May 31, 2019
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Houston, TX
Just curious, what is a CHE?

WE gave Shelldon a worm today and he gobbled it right up! Sprayed one half of his substrate to dampen... Right now we have a UV light on one side of his terrarium and a CHE on the other side. Wondering if I should move the CHE to the same side as the UV so one side is cooler?
 

Madame Terrapene

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Joined
May 31, 2019
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Location (City and/or State)
Houston, TX
Thanks Y'all. I'll read up on the links shared. How do I tell if he is infact a he or she? (My hubby join a tortoise group on facebook, and folks in that group are saying he is a SHE)

There's a lot of common rules used for sexing (eye-color w/ males having red eyes, or shape of the plastron etc) but honestly he just looks like a boy to me. His carapace is really domed and he just has that male box turtle look. ColleenT already mentioned it, but you can always post a pic of his underside (including his tail) here and that might help with sexing.
 

ShellDon'sMom

New Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2020
Messages
9
Location (City and/or State)
Tacoma
The UV light is also providing heat?

A temperature gradient is always a good idea: gives the animal an element of choice and control. Maybe hiding places in both ends as well?
I’d also think the whole enclosure should be damp...this is a box turtle - a far cry from a gopher or desert tortoise.
These guys need constant access to water they can easily get in and out of - shallow, as although they are turtles, they’re not great swimmers like sliders and cooters.
Yes, the uv light does give off some heat as well. (The heat in our home is set to 65F at night.) we currently have one thermometer in the middle of his terrarium, and it shows 73f at the coolest (middle of the night//morning) and 84F during the day with th UV light on. WE've been keeping the CHE on 24/7
 

ShellDon'sMom

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Joined
Jan 17, 2020
Messages
9
Location (City and/or State)
Tacoma
He’ll need access to water, and a damper substrate than he appears to be on in the photos.
how damp should his substrate be? and is that just on one side of terrarium, or the whole thing? Also should i be spraying his substrate daily ?
 

ColleenT

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Lehigh Valley Pa
There's a lot of common rules used for sexing (eye-color w/ males having red eyes, or shape of the plastron etc) but honestly he just looks like a boy to me. His carapace is really domed and he just has that male box turtle look. ColleenT already mentioned it, but you can always post a pic of his underside (including his tail) here and that might help with sexing.

The only good way of sexing a box turtle is by looking at the underside of the tail/vent area. for instance, i have a male with brown eyes. You cannot tell by the eyes or the shape of the shell. you need the underside of the tail/vent area to know.
 
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