Ornate box turtle question

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redfoot7

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Would an ornate or three toed box turtle be able to survive outside year round in Pennsylvania, provided good soil drainage and some sort of cover from snow? I noticed when I googled their home ranges that ornates go the whole way up to South Dakota and I know they can get some pretty brutal winters.

The reason I ask is I like box turtles. Always have. I used to keep one when I was a kid during the summers for a little while and would let it go. Eastern Box turtles are native to my area but are illegal to keep. The subspecies are ok. I personally think none of them do well indoors long term, and I don't have the room inside. But I do have a big yard that's on a hill. It's wet with a creek on the bottom, relatively dry towards the top. I don't have anything set in mind, just curious and wondering about any possibilities.
 

kbaker

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Yes. I live in MI and keep both types outside year round. What is weird...the only issues I have is during the hot and dry part of summer. The ornates in general do no do well at that time. I have learned to support them better so they do better with summer. My CBB ornates never have any issues with summer.
 

redfoot7

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Thank for the reply! How do they handle the snow? Do you have to put a tarp across the enclosure or anything?
 

kbaker

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A layer of leaf litter is enough, I usually over do it by adding extra leaves and a tarp cover over the pen. It really depends on how long, wet and cold your spring and fall seasons are.
 

terryo

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Your weather is just about the same as mine...I'm in NY. My Ornate hibernated for 32 years outside in the turtle garden and so do my Three Toeds. I have a cave on one side of the garden and I loosen up the soil, about two feet down and mix it up with peat moss, then I add about another two feet of leaf litter and then pine hay on top. The whole thing is covered with a piece of plywood that has pool liner attached to it, to form a cave. They never dig that far down, but I like them to have that option. She did well hibernating outside.
 

redfoot7

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That is all good info. Thanks a lot.

This will be a fun project. I'll get to observe them in a more natural state. Plus if I build the outside area big enough they will be pretty much self sufficient with the exception of additional food and clean water, which means little to no added cost or work. The only bad side is with it going into November I'll have to patiently wait until the spring time. It would be pointless to try to do anything now, which is unfortunate because there are some nice CB sub adult ornates on kingsnake right now.

Have either of you had any success breeding naturally in this climate? Do the eggs hatch out on their own or do you dig them up? I think any box turtle species will benefit from captive breeding and when I get this going I'll definitely try to get a 1.2 or 1.3 group.
 

kbaker

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redfoot7 said:
Have either of you had any success breeding naturally in this climate? Do the eggs hatch out on their own or do you dig them up? I think any box turtle species will benefit from captive breeding and when I get this going I'll definitely try to get a 1.2 or 1.3 group.

Yes, I have hatched out beautiful baby's from both types. It's always been from the same females. So, I would think either I need to improve something or it is a matter of time before all the females lay.

I collect the eggs when they nest and incubate them inside.
 
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