Questions about just received box turtle

Barber25

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Just received box turtle from Tortoise town last Wednesday- trying to determine what is normal and what is a concern. I ordered a "juvenile / young adult", this turtle has a 5 inch long shell, seems older? Which I guess is ok? The turtle has not once gone into its shell....that also seems strange to me. It spends 99% of the time in the cave portion of its box, only came out for a few brief seconds to sit in water/ drink and ate a few berries. Seems very inactive. I've placed her in some warm water a few times..looks healthy I guess, but very inactive. Do they take a while to recover from being shipped? I am hipingvfor some nicer weather soon to bring her outside. It's the fourth day since arrival, has ate a couple blackberries and a few blueberries, and has not gone to the bathroom. I just read the other thread about Tortoisetown, and I guess that heightened my concerns. ( they also didnt include the food I had ordered). Any advice greatly appreciated!
 

ZenHerper

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Welcome!

Five inches is on the...farther end of "adult". lol But depends a bit on the type of BT you have. (Eastern, Ornate, Three-Toed etc.. ... post some photos if you want some more specific opinions on that.) So at this size, I'm going to guess it was not captive bred (takes too many years to turn a profit).

Shipping is quite stressful, and it is not uncommon for animals to take even a few weeks to settle in. Turtles are territorial and it is very hard for them to get used to all new digs.

"Boxing" is usually reserved for instances of emergency...predators, falls, walked over a nest of yellow jackets, etc..

All varieties of Box Turtles eat meat. So be sure to offer earthworms, slugs, crickets, small goldfish, meat-based canned dog food. Live foods are more tempting to the Eating instinct than stationary blobs. Fruit is good, and gives an energy boost, but continue working on expanding the offerings. Banana, strawberry, dandelion flowers and leaves, violet flowers and leaves, pansy flowers and leaves. Chopping things small and mixing them with something wiggly helps get more balanced meals on board.

Keep up a morning soak...it helps with hydration and defecation (some shippers withhold food from animals, so poop will arrive as soon as enough bulk has gone into the stomach).
 

Barber25

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Welcome!

Five inches is on the...farther end of "adult". lol But depends a bit on the type of BT you have. (Eastern, Ornate, Three-Toed etc.. ... post some photos if you want some more specific opinions on that.) So at this size, I'm going to guess it was not captive bred (takes too many years to turn a profit).

Shipping is quite stressful, and it is not uncommon for animals to take even a few weeks to settle in. Turtles are territorial and it is very hard for them to get used to all new digs.

"Boxing" is usually reserved for instances of emergency...predators, falls, walked over a nest of yellow jackets, etc..

All varieties of Box Turtles eat meat. So be sure to offer earthworms, slugs, crickets, small goldfish, meat-based canned dog food. Live foods are more tempting to the Eating instinct than stationary blobs. Fruit is good, and gives an energy boost, but continue working on expanding the offerings. Banana, strawberry, dandelion flowers and leaves, violet flowers and leaves, pansy flowers and leaves. Chopping things small and mixing them with something wiggly helps get more balanced meals on board.

Keep up a morning soak...it helps with hydration and defecation (some shippers withhold food from animals, so poop will arrive as soon as enough bulk has gone into the stomach).
 

Barber25

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I have a 20 by 7 foot area I'm preparing outside, but weather has been pretty cold here in Michigan. This is the "box", and the star, self isolated, as usual. I put her in the water, and after 30 seconds, she headed back to the cave.
 

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ZenHerper

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Really beautiful!

If there is a coil-style "compact" uv bulb in the lamp, that may account for her hiding all day. Those bulbs are too bright and hurt critters' eyes. (They have also been associated with corneal damage.) Eastern Box Turtles spend most of their time in diffuse sunlight, so blasting-uvb setups are not necessary.

Shut off the uv bulb and see if that helps.

In the meantime, get a linear tube uvb bulb and hood setup:


If outdoor temps are anywhere around 50F, you can absolutely take her outside in a large container and let her sun for ~20 minutes a day. Don't walk away - their shells are built and colored to absorb and hold heat very efficiently, and it is surprising how quickly they can overheat in direct sun, even when air temperatures are cool. Set a timer and wait with her. This is a great way for her to get acquainted with the odors of her new environment while she absorbs plenty of uv rays for the day. Back in the day *adjusts rocker* this was the sole way uv radiation was provided to captive reptiles, and it was entirely effective.

That's an OK size quarantine/winter enclosure...most people line wooden cages with a heavy plastic liner so that moisture from bedding does not encourage rot and mold.

When doing an official turtle Soak, you will need a container that is deep enough she can't walk out. Keep the water level low (up to the seam of the shell), and warm it so that it feels like a very nice summer pool in the afternoon. Turtles can absorb water this way, and the warmth in the morning helps charge up their internal organs and appetite. It is this charge-up that often stimulates defecation and urination within 15-30 minutes. Change the water as necessary, or remove a bath-averse Turt as a reward for going potty.
 

Barber25

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Thank you--good info for me...I was wondering about those bulbs...I have a cool 5.0 uva and a 75 watt spot bulb uvb. (I may have the uva and uvb reversed) got them both from pet supplies store and they were sold for reptiles, so that is very concerning. Anyway, I just ordered the light you referenced....do I still use the spot bulb as well? I will definitely get her out in the sun as all the stuff I read stressed how these turtles are tropical and you need to keep their environment like 80° and super moist
 
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LasTortugasNinja

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I had a few box turtles in my youth that were local wild turtles that just liked my back yard. All the time, they were in the garden under a plant (bush or ornamental grass). We only saw them out of cover very early in the morning, when they would rest on a paver stone to heat up for the morning.

Mealworms, snails, dubia roaches (preserved... live ones are too fast and hide too well for turtles), and earthworms are fantastic foods for box turtles, in addition to weeds, leafy greens, and some veggies. I avoid any commercial dog/cat pet food for reptiles because an entire can of turkey or chicken is 90% filler crap of preservatives and ash to artificially bulk the volume in the can. Lean turkey meat (a tbsp. or so) or a raw chicken bone can be given to him as well (my wild box turtles completely devoured a pigeon that was killed by my dog that my mom didn't want to touch, and waited til I got home from school. Ahhhhh… 30yr memories!
 

zovick

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Your box turtle does appear to be fairly young and it is also possible it is captive bred (IMHO) because the shell has virtually no damages or wear on it that I can see. This may also explain the lack of protective behavior (closing up the shell).

If it was indeed captive bred, it may have been raised under somewhat different conditions and fed different foods than what you have offered thus far. I would recommend trying some nice wiggling earthworms and possibly a few mealworms to see if its interest is aroused. The key is to offer it a variety of choices, not just stick to one or two items constantly.
 

Barber25

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Thanks for the good info--Just got this food in the mail! I also have some memories from long ago although there might be horrifying in light of all the stuff I now read that I didn't know then! I lived in New Jersey in the sixties as a small child and there were tell tale droppings from some fruit bushes I think they might have been mulberries we found turtles in our backyard and we kept them in a round metal tub that basically had an inch of water and then a stone in the middle for them both to sit on..... 1 day 1 of them laid an egg we were all quite excited and A-day or so later one of them ate the egg! One day somebody had some clams and we put them in there and we are quite surprised because they eat the clams even chomping on the shells. In retrospect the turtles were probably starving and tortured in that little tub but I do remember we would take them out and lay in the grass have let them walk around for hours... My parents or neighbors I think rescued them one day and probably told us they just escaped. These memories are why I am excited to now have ordered and received a Box turtle for my grandson. I've got an outside enclosure I'm building plus a large garden area I thought they could possibly hibernate in. In addition Ive got 10 acres of woods, meadows, creeks, downed trees-- I wish I had about a 100 of them roaming free and I could just fence the whole thing! I did find a wood turtle once. I wonder if im a little bit too far North for the best Box turtle habitat
 

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Barber25

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I was most concerned about the fact that it was not moving and just sitting in one spot in the dark part of the Box
 
L

LasTortugasNinja

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Thanks for the good info--Just got this food in the mail! I also have some memories from long ago although there might be horrifying in light of all the stuff I now read that I didn't know then! I lived in New Jersey in the sixties as a small child and there were tell tale droppings from some fruit bushes I think they might have been mulberries we found turtles in our backyard and we kept them in a round metal tub that basically had an inch of water and then a stone in the middle for them both to sit on..... 1 day 1 of them laid an egg we were all quite excited and A-day or so later one of them ate the egg! One day somebody had some clams and we put them in there and we are quite surprised because they eat the clams even chomping on the shells. In retrospect the turtles were probably starving and tortured in that little tub but I do remember we would take them out and lay in the grass have let them walk around for hours... My parents or neighbors I think rescued them one day and probably told us they just escaped. These memories are why I am excited to now have ordered and received a Box turtle for my grandson. I've got an outside enclosure I'm building plus a large garden area I thought they could possibly hibernate in. In addition Ive got 10 acres of woods, meadows, creeks, downed trees-- I wish I had about a 100 of them roaming free and I could just fence the whole thing! I did find a wood turtle once. I wonder if im a little bit too far North for the best Box turtle habitat

That mix is good. Just supplement it with some fresh leafy greens and you'll be fine. A LOT of reptiles take some coaxing to eating dead protein. You might have to put a few live worms in a shallow saucer with the dried worms to get the turtle eating. I have one of my monitors that refuses to eat dried insects from a bowl but will take them from tongs. He's a weirdo, but it works, so I won't knock it.
Box turtles are basically vacuum cleaners of the forest floor, so they are generally very adaptable to a variety of diets. You just have to keep them guessing what's for dinner, otherwise they get complacent and will only eat one thing (another reason to avoid cat/dog food).
 

ZenHerper

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I was most concerned about the fact that it was not moving and just sitting in one spot in the dark part of the Box

I suspect things are going wrong with that dual-hood setup.

The uv coil boxes say "cool" because they do not generate a lot of heat, but the radiant beam intensity is concentrated and harsh. Companies invent stuff, sellers use stuff to make money. Unfortunately, the days of a neighborhood pet store owned by professional animal fanciers are mostly of the past. Chain supply outlets market for profit. Small bulbs seem most convenient, so they sell.


The other bulb should just be a standard incandescent for heat. Be sure that the temperatures at shell height are appropriate for a temperate species...those small cages are notoriously hard to keep a proper heat gradient in. 75 watts may be too much for this species in that size container. The only way to know for sure is to use a digital probe to check the temperatures around the entire enclosure. Daytime turt-level temps should be in the low-mid 70s with a basking spot not hotter than, say, 90F (85F is sufficient). (Humidity in the range of 60-70%.)

She will continue to hide if she is trying to get away from harsh radiation and/or high temps, but is limited in how far she can flee.
 

Barber25

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I suspect things are going wrong with that dual-hood setup.

The uv coil boxes say "cool" because they do not generate a lot of heat, but the radiant beam intensity is concentrated and harsh. Companies invent stuff, sellers use stuff to make money. Unfortunately, the days of a neighborhood pet store owned by professional animal fanciers are mostly of the past. Chain supply outlets market for profit. Small bulbs seem most convenient, so they sell.


The other bulb should just be a standard incandescent for heat. Be sure that the temperatures at shell height are appropriate for a temperate species...those small cages are notoriously hard to keep a proper heat gradient in. 75 watts may be too much for this species in that size container. The only way to know for sure is to use a digital probe to check the temperatures around the entire enclosure. Daytime turt-level temps should be in the low-mid 70s with a basking spot not hotter than, say, 90F (85F is sufficient). (Humidity in the range of 60-70%.)

She will continue to hide if she is trying to get away from harsh radiation and/or high temps, but is limited in how far she can flee.
It autocorrected to "cool" I wrote "coil" because it was like a spiral..I removed it , but she still is burrowed in the dark part...hoping to get her outside soon.
 

ZenHerper

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It autocorrected to "cool" I wrote "coil" because it was like a spiral..I removed it , but she still is burrowed in the dark part...hoping to get her outside soon.

lol Autocorrect strikes again. =))

She may be too hot and/or dry. Check the temps and try a smaller wattage bulb...40 or 60.
 

Barber25

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Even with both bulbs I could never get the open area much above 70゚and 40 % humidity of course the thermometer was up on the wall and not right down below the bulb... those things stick on and I was afraid to peel it off because I could never stick it on anything again... The dark cave area was always about 75゚ and about 70 percent humidity
 
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LasTortugasNinja

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Even with both bulbs I could never get the open area much above 70゚and 40 % humidity of course the thermometer was up on the wall and not right down below the bulb... those things stick on and I was afraid to peel it off because I could never stick it on anything again... The dark cave area was always about 75゚ and about 70 percent humidity
I use the digital thermometer as a good rough estimate, but for accurate measurements I have a thermostat gun. What I do is I have a chunk of cement brick under the basking light. It warms the cement brick to about 95 to 102 degrees and the reptile can warm up similar to how they do it in nature when they lay across a rock. "sunlight" from above and radiating warmth from below. Works great.

Rest of the enclosure ranges from 80's down to a room temp 76 degrees.
 

Barber25

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I use the digital thermometer as a good rough estimate, but for accurate measurements I have a thermostat gun. What I do is I have a chunk of cement brick under the basking light. It warms the cement brick to about 95 to 102 degrees and the reptile can warm up similar to how they do it in nature when they lay across a rock. "sunlight" from above and radiating warmth from below. Works great.

Rest of the enclosure ranges from 80's down to a room temp 76 degrees.
I do have one of those thermostat guns that the local utility brought over in some kind of Box of goodies--we also did bring her out (the boys named her Kiwi) and she enjoyed eating a large worm..it appears she is settling in.
 

Barber25

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I have another perplexing question as I continue to observe and get to know the habits of our new friend: she approaches her food dish, and instead of stopping at the edge and nibbling at the delicacies, she always climbs right in, covering and crushing whatever berries, water soaked pellets, etc are in the dish, at the same time making it impossible to reach and eat much of it, creating a big mess! Is this normal and is there a better way?
 
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