Box Turtle Gallery and Info
Box turtles are popular pets, but what is a box turtle? There are several different species, but they all share two primary characteristics:
- Their shells have a high dome shape.
- When threatened, they can completely close their shells for protection, rather than just pulling inside the shell.
Understanding more about these turtles can help pet enthusiasts decide if a box turtle is right for them.
Baby Box Turtles
A baby box turtle can be appealing, but it is important to remember that these babies grow up. The average life span of a pet box turtle is 40 years, and anyone who considers adopting a baby turtle should be aware that it can be a very long-term commitment.
When threatened, a box turtle can completely close its hinged shell to stay safe from predators. Young children and curious turtle owners should be warned that the turtle's shell is very strong. It can be very painful if a finger is trapped when the shell closes, and the shell cannot be forced open without harming the turtle.
Box turtles can be curious, and they enjoy activity time outdoors. Outdoor pens can be superb alternatives to indoor habitats, and box turtles can be kept outdoors in the appropriate climate. When putting the turtle outside, always check for potential predators and be sure the turtle has easy access to water and food.
Turtles are tenacious and will figure out ways to go over or around obstacles in their path. Adding low rocks to a turtle's enclosure can provide it with some mental stimulation, but the rocks should not be so tall that the turtle risks tipping over if it tries to climb them.
Box turtles hibernate in the fall and winter, and they will easily burrow down into the soil if they are outdoors. Turtle owners should always be careful to know where their turtle is so they do not inadvertently lose sight of it when the hibernation urge strikes.
Box turtles need a widely-varied diet, including plenty of fresh fruits, leafy greens and vegetables. Insects such as earthworms, crickets and snails can also be a part of a box turtle's diet, but they should be offered in moderation. If the turtle is not eating well, a visit to the vet may be in order to be sure it is not suffering from nutritional deficiencies.
Box turtles are not aquatic, but they do require access to water to stay hydrated. A low bowl of water in their pen, tank or enclosure will be sufficient, but the water should always be kept clean and fresh.
Box turtles do not have teeth, but their jaws have hard edges that can bite through food – and fingers! A turtle should never be poked or cajoled into biting, and since turtles are can carry salmonella, any bites should always be washed immediately with anti-bacterial soap to be disinfected.
Turtles are not usually aggressive pets, but like all creatures, they have unique personalities. Always treat your box turtle with respect and avoid stressing or teasing it – an angry turtle can become an unhealthy one.
Outside the Box
Box turtles can be fun pets. Although they may not be the best turtle for anyone who has not owned a turtle before, they can be enjoyable additions for the right family.
Keep your box turtle healthy by knowing what turtles eat and feeding your pet a healthy diet!