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Specific Questions About Hatchling Care

Discussion in 'American box turtles' started by oneilmatt, Jul 23, 2019.

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  1. oneilmatt

    oneilmatt New Member

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    Hi all,

    I just received a pair of 3-Toed Box Turtles about 2 months ago. These are my first turtles and my first reptiles. This lack of experience is the reason I am posting. I keep them outside in a spacious enclosure, and the female just laid a clutch of eggs about a week ago.

    I have decided to leave the eggs outside and let mother nature hatch them, and I've erected a wire cage around the nest to keep predators out and the hatchlings in. I have also decided, however, that I will be bringing the babies in, assuming they hatch and are alive, of course.

    I have looked at the hatchling care sheet on this site, as well as other resources, so I have a decent idea of what to do. However, there is so much information that I am sort of overwhelmed. I have a large empty fish tank that I will be using to house them, but my main questions involve lighting and heating.

    Like I said before, I have never owned or cared for a reptile before. I have no idea what kinds of lights are good for turtles, nor do I know what brands are reliable. I am also curious about heating. Some people say that radiant heating pads under the tank are good, others say they aren't.

    So I guess I'll ask these specific questions; What are the best light products that I absolutely should have in the tank? Specifically, what types of bulbs and what brands?

    What should I do about the heating situation? The room they will be in does get a bit cold in the winter, probably down to about 50, so I am assuming I will need some sort of heater.

    I was not expecting eggs this year, but I just want to right by the turts. Thanks so much for your help!
  2. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Main thing to keep in mind is because of their small size they dry out quickly. Baby box turtles MUST be kept in a warm, humid environment.

    Place many plants around inside the tank to diffuse the hot lights and to give them plenty of hiding places.

    UVB light isn't as important for box turtles as for tortoises because they get vitamin d from the animal protein you feed them. I use a tube type fluorescent light and a radiant heat panel. You want an overall temperature of about 80-85F degrees. If they want to cool down they bury themselves.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019
  3. oneilmatt

    oneilmatt New Member

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    Thanks for the reply! What brand of light and heating panel do you use?
  4. NickA

    NickA Active Member

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    I wouldn’t worry about uva or uvb. I would focus on keeping them warm and wet. Any heat light should be fine they say to avoid red. I personally for baby’s would put them in an area that gets natural light then use a
    ceramic heat lite. As long as the are active then they are happy
  5. oneilmatt

    oneilmatt New Member

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    My dad likes to keep the house cold (about 60 degrees F) and the room they will be in will likely have an ambient temp of about 55. What would my best option be for keeping a steady higher temp of about 70-80? A heating pad or a ceramic light of some sort? I will be keeping them in a Rubbermaid tub.

    I'd appreciate any advice!
  6. EricL

    EricL Member

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    You could run a ceramic heat emitter off of a thermostat set to your desired temperature. As other stated, you will need to keep the humidity up since these seem to dry the enclosure out.
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  7. oneilmatt

    oneilmatt New Member

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    Do ceramic heaters come with thermostats or is there a way to jerry-rig one to it? And how would you recommend keeping humidity up?
  8. jsheffield

    jsheffield Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    I run my tank heaters through thermostats bought separately.

    Keeping the enclosure mostly sealed helps to keep heat and humidity levels steady.

    Jamie
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  9. oneilmatt

    oneilmatt New Member

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    Thanks for your reply! When you say that you run them through thermostats, how exactly do you do that? I've never had reptiles before so this is all a new world to me.
  10. jsheffield

    jsheffield Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    I use this thermostat: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01E9IO6N0/?tag=exoticpetnetw-20

    You plug it into the wall and plug your heater into it, then set the temperature you want it to heat to, and place the included thermometer in your tort's tank... it cycles right around the temp you set, and takes the worry out of heating your enclosure.
    [​IMG]
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  11. oneilmatt

    oneilmatt New Member

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    Thanks so much! So do you use a ceramic heating lamp, or a different kind?
  12. jsheffield

    jsheffield Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    I use an undertank heater, but conventional wisdom is to use a Che.

    Jamie
  13. oneilmatt

    oneilmatt New Member

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    Noted. Thanks again for your help, its been quite informative.
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  14. jsheffield

    jsheffield Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    This is a superb place to learn about tortoise husbandry.

    Jamie
  15. EllieMay

    EllieMay Well-Known Member

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    I use that same thermostat on a RHP.... works great!!
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  16. oneilmatt

    oneilmatt New Member

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    What is an RHP?
  17. EllieMay

    EllieMay Well-Known Member

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    Radiant heat panel
  18. oneilmatt

    oneilmatt New Member

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    In your opinion, would you say that a radiant heat panel does a better job at heating the enclosure than a CHE would? Or is it just preference?
  19. EllieMay

    EllieMay Well-Known Member

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    I have two 8x4 indoor enclosures for my juvenile sullies and they are not insulated well.. just plywood and shower liner.. I couldn’t hold the heat with the CHE in that size enclosure.. it worked fine for the x-mas tree tote though :)
  20. oneilmatt

    oneilmatt New Member

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    Ahhh ok, so a CHE would be fine for 30 gallon Rubbermaid tub then?
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