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Care Sheet for Turtles

Average Rating Given To This Care Sheet Is 3.00    (1=lowest, 5=highest)    Last Updated: 07/27/2007

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Years Experience:

5 to 10 Years


Box Turtle

Other Species or Phases this Care Sheet May Cover:


Sexing and Characteristics:

Males: Larger than females
Usually more colorful
Red eyes
Concave Plastron (Except for in Ornates)
Longer tail

Females: Smaller than males
Generally not as colorful
Yellow, brown, or very dark red eyes
Flat Plastron
Shorter Tail

Mostly Active During:


Substrate and Water Needs:

For outdoor enclosures: hay, peat moss, soil or dirt, or grass. Always make sure there is an area designated for your turtle to be able to dig. Also in outdoor enclosures, dig a small hole in the substrate for a shallow pan or paint tray to be used for soaking and for drinking.

For indoor enclosures use soil, orchid bark, peat moss, or a mixture of all. There needs to be a place to dig and a water dish big enough for the turtle to soak in.

Lighting and UVB:

Outdoor enclosures use the sun as a provider of heat and UVB lighting.
Indoor enclosures need a 60-75 watt regular house light bulb or spotlight for warmth on one end of the enclosure, or a heat mat underneath the enclosure, or a heat rock dug into the substrate to make that spot of bedding warm. You should also have a UVB light that runs the length of the enclosure.

Temperatures and Humidity:

The humidity should be at least 60-80 percent. This can done in an outdoor enclosure by having a sprinkler that is next to the enclosure and sprays water in it or by misting the cage regularly. In indoor setups, live plants and daily misting can help. Misting the turtles and there enclosures also encourages feeding.

Heating and Equipment:

^^Covered above^^

Caging Provided:

I house my box turtles in an outdoor enclosure that measures 7ft by 5ft. For one or two box turtles, 4ft by 2ft will be fine. Add 1ft by 1ft bigger for every other box turtles. For example, if you have 4 box turtles, An enclosure that is 6ft by 4ft is the right size. I have 5 box turtles, so 7ft by 5ft (which is what i have) is a good enough cage size. If your climate will not allow you to have an outdoor enclosure, you will have to provide a cage for your turtle indoors. For one turtle, use an enclosure at least 36 inches long and at least 12 inches wide, although larger is better. For 2-3 box turtles, the cage should be at least 48 inches long and 15 inches wide.

Cage decor for Outdoors and indoors: Hollowed wood logs or stumps and large rounded cork bark sections make ideal hiding places. You can also have live or fakes plants that are non-toxic for other places to hide. Rocks in the enclosure serve well as a basking spot.



Description of Diet:

Babies are mostly carnivorous whereas adults eat both plant and animal matter. Babies will eat low-fat canned dog food, finely cut cooked chicken, and any live insect that isnít to big for the turtle to handle. Adults will also eat these meat products along with berries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, cherries, black berries, cantaloupe, banana, peach, apricot, apples, romaine lettuce, green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli heads, and cauliflower. Feed a variety of food choices only once every other day.

Supplements, Nutrition and Usage:

Lightly sprinkle your turtles food with a powdered reptile calcium and vitamin/mineral supplement once every other day for small turtles, and only once or twice a week for adults.


Provide your turtles with fresh water every day and always clean out their uneaten food items a few hours after they have been given. Always discard of their feces immediately after you find them.

Some Words on this Species:

Box turtles are not an indestructible pet like most people think that can be fed lettuce only and donít require a water dish. They require lots of attending to every day. The more time you spend trying to help your box turtle have a better life, the better relationship you will have with it.
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The information contain in these care sheets represents only the opinions and husbandry care of members and therefore is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate or reflects the advice or opinions of It is always advised to seek additional information or the advice of a qualified veterinarian or qualified reptile dealer. It is also advisable for you to a good amount of research before implementing any of the ideas and care described in these care sheets. We also recommend you ask many questions in their related forums before acting on any information.

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