Box Turtles

Image of a box turtle.

North American box turtles are mainly terrestrial turtles, although they do spend some time in shallow water (Asian box turtles tend to be a bit more aquatic). Compared to aquatic turtles such as red eared sliders, they are more challenging and complex pets, and are not the best choice for beginning turtle owners. With a potential life span of up to 100 years, these turtles obviously require a long term commitment (however, the average life span of captive box turtles is probably closer to only 40-50 years).

Picking a Healthy Turtle

Try to find a captive bred turtle, as wild caught turtles tend to be stressed, dehydrated, and prone to disease as a result of their stress and environment during capture/transport. In addition, support of the wild catch/pet trade in box turtles may further threaten their numbers in the wild (and taking in native turtles is illegal in many states). An alternate source is shelters or rescue groups.

Find a turtle in the late spring or summer months; it is best to avoide purchasing a box turtle during the fall or winter when it should be hibernating. Make sure the turtle feels "solid" (i.e. not like an empty shell), and has clear eyes and nostrils and a firm, solid shell, and no swellings. It is wise to get a stool sample checked by a veterinarian and deal with any parasites, and take the turtle to a vet immediately if it is not eating shortly after arriving home (it may need rehydration). Also keep in mind that box turtles, like other reptiles, can carry Salmonella so careful hygiene is required during handling of turtles and cleaning their enclosures.

Housing Options

A well designed outdoor pen, providing appropriate substrate, humidity, access to water, and protection form predators will work well in appropriate climates (generally speaking, this is probably limited to areas where box turtles are indigenous). Given an appropriately sized enclosure with provisions for heat, humidity, and lighting they can be kept successfully indoors. An indoor set up will require considerable planning to provide a land and water area, a heat source (under tank), a basking light and a full spectrum lamp (important for Vitamin D metabolism).

Feeding

A varied diet must also be provided. Box turtles are omnivores, but different species and different aged turtles tend to have preferences for either more animal protein or more vetation in their diet. For example, in some species of box turtle are more carnivorous than adults. They must be feed a variety of foods from both groups including plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, insects, low fat meats, pinky mice, and other foods.

Hibernation

North American box turtles hibernate and this complicates their husbandry somewhat. Appropriate conditions must be provided sheets for hibernation with a warning that turtles that are not in good condition/health should not be allowed to hibernate as they will not have the reserves and strength to survive. Do everything possible to ensure good health prior to the time of year that hibernation should begin. For unhealthy animals a period of hibernation, when all bodily functions slow considerably, hibernation will only make health problems worse, if not kill the turtle.

Sign up using the form below or call 508-947-1309 to make an appointment.

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

8:30 am-7:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Thursday:

8:30 am-7:00 pm

Friday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Saturday:

8:30 am-1:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Location

Find us on the map

Testimonial

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "I'm so pleased with the experience I had at lakeville animal hospital. I am traveling with my dog from northern Maine to visit family and my dog had been sick for 3 days. She couldn't keep any food or water down. Long story short I called lakeville animal hospital and they were able to squeeze Aspen in later on in the day. Turns out the reason Aspen had been sick was that she had atleast one blockage in her intestines. They immediately sent us to a 24 hour emergency vet in Swansea for a surgery. Aspen is now out of surgery with 2 incisions in her intestines and 1 in her stomach. Being a long way from home with a sick puppy is not fun and is quite stressful. But I'm thankful the crew at lakeville animal hospital was able to see her so soon, take X-rays, give her a diagnosis, and make a recommendation for a 24 hour surgery facility."
    Rachel G. Lakeville, MA

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

  • Caring for Senior Cats

    Thanks to advancements in veterinary care, today’s cats can live well into their teen years. It is not uncommon for cats to live to be 18 or even older. However, in order for cats to live a long full life, they need proactive veterinary care to stay healthy. As cats age, they are at greater risk for ...

    Read More
  • Feline Stomatitis: Treatments

    Cats rarely display their pain, but cats with feline stomatitis are often the exception. If your cat appears to have mouth pain, is reluctant to eat, doesn't want to groom, is drooling, and doesn't want you to open its mouth, it may be suffering from this debilitating, degenerative oral condition, and ...

    Read More
  • Feline Leukemia Virus: What You Need to Know

    Feline leukemia (FeLV) is a virus that weakens your cat's immune system. Unfortunately, when the immune system does not function properly, your cat may be more likely to develop other diseases, such as cancer and blood disorders. How Cats Contract Feline Leukemia Cats get feline leukemia from other cats. ...

    Read More
  • Family Cats and Pregnant Women: Take Measures to Prevent Toxoplasmosis Infection

    Nothing must spoil the joys of becoming a new parent. Not even your pets. But family cats with normal, every day habits can pose a risk to expectant women. Women's immune systems can be disturbed by a parasite carried in fecal matter. If you're the primary caretaker of your family's feline friend it ...

    Read More
  • Create an Environment Your Cat Will Love

    The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery confirms that feline emotional wellbeing, behavior and physical health are a result of how comfortable they are in their environment. Understanding how our cats interact with their environment can help us create a space for owners and cats to mutually thrive ...

    Read More
  • Catnip: Why Cats Love It

    Few things stimulate a cat's pleasure faster than catnip. Exposure to this simple herb can reveal a new side to their feline personality. Many cats will go crazy at the smell of this plant. Catnip has a reputation of being a feline drug and many cat owners wonder if it is safe to give it to their pet. ...

    Read More
  • Zoonosis

    Zoonosis refers to diseases that can be transmitted to humans from animals. In particular, they occur when an infected animal passes on bacteria, parasites, fungi or viruses to humans through scratches, saliva, feces and urine. Vectors (e.g., organisms like fleas and ticks) can also carry zoonotic diseases ...

    Read More
  • Epilepsy

    Epilepsy (often referred to as a seizure disorder) is a chronic neurological condition characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures. It is commonly controlled with medication, although surgical methods are used as well. Epileptic seizures are classified both by their patterns of activity in the brain ...

    Read More
  • Seasonal Care

    Heat Stroke Heatstroke may kill or seriously injure your pet—but it can easily be avoided by adhering to the following tips. Never leave pets in cars on warm days. Exercise your pet during the cool part of the day. Look out for rapid breathing, loud panting or staggering; these can be signs of dehydration, ...

    Read More
  • Recognizing Illnesses

    Only a healthy pet is a happy companion. Assuring your pet's daily well-being requires regular care and close attention to any hint of ill health. The American Veterinary Medical Association therefore suggests that you consult your veterinarian if your pet shows any of the following signs: * Abnormal ...

    Read More

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles