Questions about just received box turtle

ZenHerper

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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?
Those wee dinosaur brains are from The Time Before Plates. lol

Totally uncivilized, but totally normal. This behavior is also a version of Food Guarding...no one else can come along and eat the goodies if you are standing on them.

Be sure to use a large, textured surface to feed with no (or minimal) sides. A large landscaping brick, or a large terra cotta saucer like you'd put under a potted plant. If a turt has to pull itself up and over a dish lip, they tend to *cowabunga!* harder, and can slip or flip over. Squoosh the platform or saucer down into the substrate so your turt can approach level to the ground...this is safer and may help her put on the brakes before clambering over everything entirely.
 

Barber25

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Those wee dinosaur brains are from The Time Before Plates. lol

Totally uncivilized, but totally normal. This behavior is also a version of Food Guarding...no one else can come along and eat the goodies if you are standing on them.

Be sure to use a large, textured surface to feed with no (or minimal) sides. A large landscaping brick, or a large terra cotta saucer like you'd put under a potted plant. If a turt has to pull itself up and over a dish lip, they tend to *cowabunga!* harder, and can slip or flip over. Squoosh the platform or saucer down into the substrate so your turt can approach level to the ground...this is safer and may help her put on the brakes before clambering over everything entirely.
What? The specialized feeding dish from the pet supply store isn't the perfect solution? Hmmm I was wondering about the "protecting by sitting upon" strategy...interesting. so far she seems to be most interested in worms, and a berry or two. Is favored diet more a function of how young she may be, or a sign of what she was used to? Wouldn't it have made sense for the place I bought her from to have given me a history of food she was used to, habitat , lighting, substrate, number of other turtles lived with, etc....or is figuring all this out part of the
Excitement?🤔
 

ZenHerper

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Unfortunately, the days of neighborhood pet stores owned and staffed by animal hobbyists is a thing mostly of the past. I very much miss the great conversations I've had about husbandry with pet store employees who often had more animals at home than they cared for at work.

Chain stores are about the financial bottom line. They market to consumers what products companies market to them. Does it look pretty? Good. Does it seem convenient? Great. Will a customer give you enough money to buy two or more? Super.

Lots of species eat as adults only what they ate as youngsters. This is one of the ways DNA keeps animals from poisoning themselves. Keep offering things you know are healthful. Chop vegetation down very small and mix pinches of tossed salad with a lump of sticky earthworms or slugs. If you worry about balanced nutrition, offer a teaspoon of a meat-based canned dog food.

Boxies eat worms. This is one of their main food items in the wild. Under cover of forest, edible plant matter can be a bit sparse. Brightly-colored fruit and flowers are eye catching.
 

Barber25

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Well I took my wonderful 1.5 inch deep feeding basin, and I turned it upside down--it now has a flat surface, level with the substrate. She's eating contently off the top, and didnt clamber aboard! You are a genius, and wise turtle whisperer. I'm beginning to see why these turtles are so long lived.....a strict diet of vitamin dusted, healthy, nutritious vegetables and fruits, and some very lean organic protein...but I do wonder if the wistful look on their faces is because they can see the hamburger and donuts held in their owner's hand?🤣
 

ZenHerper

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Presto! lol

Be sparing with vitamin/mineral powders...most animals don't need them as long as they are eating well and widely, and some nutrients can be overdosed in the smaller species. Go with a blob of canned dog food a few times a week instead.



And now I want donuts...
 

Barber25

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Presto! lol

Be sparing with vitamin/mineral powders...most animals don't need them as long as they are eating well and widely, and some nutrients can be overdosed in the smaller species. Go with a blob of canned dog food a few times a week instead.

Presto! lol

Be sparing with vitamin/mineral powders...most animals don't need them as long as they are eating well and widely, and some nutrients can be overdosed in the smaller species. Go with a blob of canned dog food a few times a week instead.



And now I want donuts...
I cut open this large green turtle....and I found a box turtle in its stomach🤣🤣

And judging from the "large pile" the soaking got her system moving, as you had suggested!

And now I want donuts...
Presto! lol

Be sparing with vitamin/mineral powders...most animals don't need them as long as they are eating well and widely, and some nutrients can be overdosed in the smaller species. Go with a blob of canned dog food a few times a week instead.



And now I want donuts...
15902509685217913581923935807949.jpg
 

Barber25

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Really pretty!
I did follow your advice and clicked on the link for the reptisun 5.0 USB 18" bulb. The box says its designed for use with the LF 60 reptisun terrarium hood. Is there a fixture you would recommend that would work better with the wood box I currently use that has a top with a large mesh like chicken wire? I'm not really happy with the box, but if I can make it work with this bulb, I'll stick with it for a while
 

Barber25

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I did follow your advice and clicked on the link for the reptisun 5.0 USB 18" bulb. The box says its designed for use with the LF 60 reptisun terrarium hood. Is there a fixture you would recommend that would work better with the wood box I currently use that has a top with a large mesh like chicken wire? I'm not really happy with the box, but if I can make it work with this bulb, I'll stick with it for
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.
You are right about the mold/mildew...I cleaned out the box (I had put "reptile carpet" under the substrate) and the wood below,especially underneath on the bottom of the box was a rainbow of various molds or mildew. I scrubbed, disinfected, and dried it for hours in the sun--I believe it will suffice for now. As a short term solution, I am going to use a liner of some sort. I just bought a fogger as well and that is making a big difference...she is much more active and loves the mist. She seems to like the high quality dog food, but one of the unintended consequences of turning the food dish upside down to prevent the food mosh pit is that now the food gets knocked into the substrate and I'm afraid she ends up eating the substrate particles that coat the moist food. How much of a concern is this?-- after all the worms and other snacks eaten in the wild are also apt to be covered with some debris. I also received the long UVb bulb and I was grappling with how to find the right fixture and mechanism of securing this above the mesh cover. The Pet Supply people say that the uvb bulb I already have is not a "coil" type, but is similar to the tube, just bent up and down in a more compact configuration, and therefore fine to use. Are they correct?
 

ZenHerper

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Barber25

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Like this?


There is a relevant discussion of mini tubes in this thread:

Yes..I noticed it said UVB 5.0 just like the long 18" tube bulb..but I asked the Pet Supplies "expert" and he said it was NOT a coil fluorescent bulb....it will be easier to use the mini bulb, if it's safe and proper, than the long tube...kind of confusing that the chart you reference suggests a "desert" 50 for an EBT after all the talk about them being a "tropical " habitat turtle. I think there needs to be some college credits for all this conflicting, confusing analysis🤣
 

ZenHerper

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EBTs are a Temperate species...neither desert nor tropical. Keeping a box turtle in a truly Tropical set up is a recipe for all sorts of problems, as is keeping them Desert-dry and shade-less.

Bulb producers aren't really in business to be specific.

Anyhoo. The other thread I linked gets more into detail about how these bulbs work, and don't work. In short, they are meant to be used horizontally, not vertically (so a dome set up is the incorrect orientation).

Uvb bulbs are an entirely unnecessary expense for turtles that get natural sunlight exposure (say, 20 minutes/day or the weekly equivalent).


Substrate ingestion: If you are using a finely ground substrate (coir, for ex), there is no harm from eating it. As long as a turtle is well-hydrated and temperatures are Optimized for digestion, no worries. Wild individuals swallow all sorts of leaves, twigs, bark as they wrangle worms and other wiggly beasties.

If you mix in a bark chip, make sure the bits are small.

I always fed my EBT in a separate enclosure so I had more control over what got swallowed, and to make it easier to clean up stray blood and guts.
 
L

LasTortugasNinja

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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?
Happens with all shelled reptiles. I've seen Galapagos torts at the zoos laying across plates of melon, cactus, and hay, mushing it into goo.
 
L

LasTortugasNinja

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Also, be VERY careful with dogfood. If you offer it, only do poultry, and very little. Most canned dog food is FULL of crap. It's basically the stuff we wouldn't even put in hotdogs or bologna. The premium dogfoods are better for dogs, but they still tend to be too rich in fats and ash for a reptile tummy. I only use canned mammal foods if I have a massive weight loss due to illness. Because they are meant for bigger mammal stomachs, it's really easy to overfeed a reptile with dog or cat food. I've seen lots of very VERY fat monitors and tegus because their owners "just wanted to give him a little treat".

You can find dried crickets and mealworms at walmart. Those are heavy on chitin, but mix well with greens. Also, they have canned bugs, snails, worms, as well as "insect pastes" online... just mix them with hot water and they are basically fruit-fly yogurt. An occasional small piece of boiled dark meat chicken is a good treat.

Here's a link for ANYONE with box turtles, water turtles, or Savannah Monitors... https://www.chewy.com/zoo-med-can-o-snails-reptile-bird/dp/125787?utm_id=27615258&msclkid=2447b7d40b5712969560e90abe3ff481&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Shopping-Product Targets-Consumables&utm_term=4585513247969451&utm_content=Zoo Med
 

Barber25

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EBTs are a Temperate species...neither desert nor tropical. Keeping a box turtle in a truly Tropical set up is a recipe for all sorts of problems, as is keeping them Desert-dry and shade-less.

Bulb producers aren't really in business to be specific.

Anyhoo. The other thread I linked gets more into detail about how these bulbs work, and don't work. In short, they are meant to be used horizontally, not vertically (so a dome set up is the incorrect orientation).

Uvb bulbs are an entirely unnecessary expense for turtles that get natural sunlight exposure (say, 20 minutes/day or the weekly equivalent).


Substrate ingestion: If you are using a finely ground substrate (coir, for ex), there is no harm from eating it. As long as a turtle is well-hydrated and temperatures are Optimized for digestion, no worries. Wild individuals swallow all sorts of leaves, twigs, bark as they wrangle worms and other wiggly beasties.

If you mix in a bark chip, make sure the bits are small.

I always fed my EBT in a separate enclosure so I had more control over what got swallowed, and to make it easier to clean up stray blood and guts.
Thanks for the good advice and knowledge as always!........once I took out the old UVB bulb it was starting to get nice out, so she has been brought out at least an hour a day, however...do you mean 20 minutes of sunlight? Or perhaps indirect or filtered light in the woods etc...either way, at some point I'll have to address the bulb fiasco. In the meantime, for my EBT at least, the fogger seemed to be the key point...she's been scampering around with alot of pep, and is out enjoying the fog instead of hiding in the dark hide all day
 

ZenHerper

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Thanks for the good advice and knowledge as always!........once I took out the old UVB bulb it was starting to get nice out, so she has been brought out at least an hour a day, however...do you mean 20 minutes of sunlight? Or perhaps indirect or filtered light in the woods etc...either way, at some point I'll have to address the bulb fiasco. In the meantime, for my EBT at least, the fogger seemed to be the key point...she's been scampering around with alot of pep, and is out enjoying the fog instead of hiding in the dark hide all day
UV rays travel easily in clear air. So walks in the woods are fine; noodling among garden plants or (pesticide-free) landscaping. Boxies are good with some full sun during early morning or late afternoon...they scrupulously avoid open spaces when the sun is directly overhead (that will bake them).

They like humidity - that's what the environment is like in the summers where they live; their DNA predates rain. Keep the fog machine clean (you don't want to incubate harmful bacterial or fungal cultures in the tubing).
 
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