When you decide to bring a pet home – be it a sea animal or a land one, it requires tons of patience and a lot of time to have at your disposal. Box turtles, very similar to tortoises are majorly found in North America, but today, almost everybody is wanting to have these cute little mammals as pets. These pets are not only adorable to have, but they also live longer.
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So, if you are looking at having a pet on land, then why not consider this as an option? If you thought they will need water to live, you’re wrong! Yes, they are turtles, but they live on land. Isn’t that fascinating? Well, you may have some more surprises your way when you read about how to take care of the health of box turtle…. The diet and caring tips of box turtle may also vary from other mammals, so take notes, my friend!
Types of Box turtle and how to take care of their health
American Box Turtles
The American box turtles are usually found in the eastern, central and southwestern parts of the U.S. and in eastern Mexico. These turtles belong to a large family of turtles called Emydidae. However, this particular family is divided into a different genus. The American box turtles that we are talking about are from the genus Terrapene. Let us tell you that even the genus Terrapene is subdivided into various sub-species.
Common Box Turtles
The common box turtles belong to the Terrapene Carolina. These turtles are commonly known as T.C. turtles. In some other regions, they are also known as T. Carolina. These turtles also have sub-species. They have total 6 sub-species, out of which, 4 are found in the U.S. and two in Mexico. Some pet stores might provide you with these species to your place as well, but it is of no use as they won’t survive for long.
Western Box Turtles
The western box turtles belong to Terrapene ornata, they are known as the most sensitive among all the species. This particular turtle can be divided into two sub-species, one is called the ornate box turtle and the other is desert ornate box turtle or just desert box turtle. The latter one is generally found in the desert area and unlike other turtles can manage 10 days without food. Whereas other turtles need food at least once a week.
Terrapene Nelson Turtles
This species of box turtles also belong to Mexico. According to the experts, if you want a pet turtle, this can be a good choice as these turtles are easily adaptable to the environment. These turtles are divided into two sub-species, T. n. clauberi (the Northern spotted box turtle), and T. n. nelsoni (the Southern spotted box turtle).
Terrapene Coahuila Turtles
Unlike the other species, this Terrapene Coahuila is aquatic. These are really hard to manage as these turtles need extra care and hygiene than other species. If you are planning to get this turtle home, you can have an advanced fish aquarium. Make sure to clean the aquarium frequently.
Asian Box Turtles
Asian box turtles can be found in all the major Asian regions. The Asian turtles belong to the family Cuora. Majorly, there are five species of turtles found in Asia, there are several sub-species as well. Some of them are really amazing to keep as a pet.
Spotted Box Turtles
The spotted box turtle comes from the family Emydidae. These turtles are also known as Klauber’s box turtle. These turtles survive better in hilly areas. It is hard to care for them in our residential atmosphere, these turtles are known as the most stubborn towards adopting a new atmosphere.
Bringing a turtle home? Remember…
In most of the cases, we often bring turtles first and then start to look at what can we give them as food and other things. But, is that actually right? No – always first get acquainted with how to take care of the health of Box Turtle by knowing about the diet and caring tips of Box turtle.
Well, don’t panic – don’t we always come to your rescue at the right time? Just by taking little extra care, we bet you can give a comfortable environment to the turtle. Just like how when a newborn comes home, we are mentally prepared, but the physical challenge may seem different. Don’t get stressed if you are spending a lot of time setting up things for the turtle – that’s the basic.
Go the extra mile
One note of caution: box turtles need extra care, so you might have to go the extra mile. So, try to allow the box Turtle to stay in rough surfaces for a few days because that’s what they are used to. The more you leave it in the natural condition, the healthier it will be. Then, slowly you can transition their home and stay to a pet house depending on the type of box turtle you chose.
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Home for the turtle
For a healthy living of your turtle, it is necessary to create an outdoor enclosure. It should be wide enough for the turtle to move around freely and that is one important point to note when it comes to ‘how to take care of the health of box turtle.
This is important for the turtle so that it doesn’t feel caged up. Make it a minimum of 4 feet (1.2 m) by 6 feet (1.8 m) for one box turtle, you can expand it if you have more than one turtle. Some more quick tips for you, irrespective of the types of box turtle you choose could be:
- Always use smooth-sided wooden planks to cover the cage of the turtle house
- Turtles always try to climb walls – to get them a similar environment, you can fix a triangular piece of wood at each corner
- Do not forget to keep a water bowl for your turtle as they tend to drink water very frequently
Diet and Caring tips of box turtle
Well! it is necessary to provide your turtle with healthy food and plenty of water. The frequency of their eating can depend on
- The type of box turtle
- On the basis of their age: an adult turtle tends to eat lesser (only three of four times in a week) while a small turtle eats more frequently
What to include in their diet?
They need to be a mixture of protein, veggies, and fruits. Also, try to get some food that is rich in Vitamin A. An adult turtle would need 50%-75% protein in a week.
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What to include in the diet of a box turtle?
- For protein, you can get some snails, slugs, grasshoppers, earthworms, crickets, baby mice, canned dog food, wax worms, cicadas, or sow bugs
- While to include as many veggies, you could go with simple options that include cabbage, spinach, red leaf lettuce, bok choy, pak choi, sweet potatoes, carrots, mushrooms. Fruits like tomatoes, grapes, mangoes, melons, figs are a healthy choice
You’ll be amazed to know that sometimes turtles become stubborn and don’t eat food at all. In such situations, treat him with some bright, red, yellow, or orange foods and live animals, these things can stimulate his interest.
Give them the right heat and light
While you are checking off all the requirements when it comes to how to take care of the health of box turtle, an important aspect is the right amount of heat and light.
A box turtle needs regular consumption of sunlight and heat for a healthy living. It helps the turtle metabolize Vitamin D3 and to avoid calcium deficiencies. Remember, that light is useless if it just passes through the glass. Rather your turtle should be in direct contact of Sun. If you keep him indoor, it should not get colder than 60°F (15°C) and should be around 70-80°F during the day (21-27°C). Even in the night, try providing your turtle with some artificial heat to keep it warm.
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Most of the above information is common across all the types of box turtles. So, while choosing amongst all types of box turtles available, these will be the common diet and caring tips of box turtles, and you can have some customized things to keep in mind too.