Terrapene carolina bauri
Upto 4" - 6.5"
Different types of invertebrates,
insects and plant matter. This species of box turtle seems to be very
carnivorous even as adults.
Daytime Air Temperature:
70 - 90°
85 - 95°
70 - 90%
Forest, scrub areas, and marshes.
Florida and the
Keys. May enter extreme southern Georgia.
The best habitat is an outdoor one. A moist substrate deep
enough for the turtles to burrow into and plenty of hide spots are a must, as is
a large shallow water dish big enough for the turtles to climb into an out of
easily. These turtles like to spend time just soaking in the water. So if you
have more than one be sure the water area is large enough for multiple turtles.
A compost area of fallen leaves and grass clippings is a good spot to attract
plenty of insects and other invertebrates for the turtles to forage on as well
as provide places to hide.
These turtles also require high humidity. You will have to
spray the enclosure once or twice a day or when necessary to keep at least an
area of the enclosure nice and moist but not perpetually wet.
A secure enclosure is a must! Turtles
must be protected from predators, including pet dogs, and theft!
As mentioned above an outdoor
enclosure is highly recommended. First a suitable site must be chosen. The site
should receive sun at least part of the day (preferably in the morning) but
should also have areas that are shaded throughout the day.
It must be a size suitable to the
amount of turtles you are keeping. A 4’ x 8’ pen will house 3-4 adult turtles.
Enclosures can be made from wood, cinder blocks, or any other building material.
Fencing can also be used but it is a must that there be at
least a 24” visual barrier so the turtles cannot see through. A turtle that can
see the outside will constantly try to get out. The visual barrier also keeps
the turtles from climbing the fencing. Which believe it or not is possible!
It is a good idea to incorporate an
underground barrier as well. Box turtles dig and they can dig under the walls of
your enclosure. The barrier can be accomplished many different ways. Chicken
wire buried 8-12 inches below the bottom edge of the enclosure is one way.
Another is to make the sides of the enclosure 8-12 inches taller and once the
walls are in place fill the enclosure with 8-12 inches of substrate. This will
make it so that the inside floor is actually 8-12 inches above ground level. A
third way is to line the inside perimeter of the enclosure with bricks. The
bricks are laid on their side and buried so they are flush with ground. Turtles
almost always try to dig at corners or where the walls meet the ground. They
will quickly learn they can’t dig through the brick.
Once the enclosure walls are up and
the digging barriers in place it is time to decorate! First the water area.
Suitable water areas can be made from any shallow plastic pan. Things commonly
used are plastic paint pans and cat litter boxes, but any shallow plastic pan
will work provided it is not too deep and that the turtles can enter and leave
easily. If a pan is too deep the bottom can be lined with bricks to provide a
Hide spots can be made with clay
pots turned on their side and partially buried. Plants can also be used to
provide hide spots and suitable shade. When using plants care must be taken to
provide plants that are non toxic. A great plant to use is called Hostas. They
come in many varieties, are attractive and have the added benefit of attracting
slugs for your boxies to eat. Rocks and logs can also be used to make the
enclosure more natural and interesting for your turtles. It is a good idea to
have a square area made form slate or paving stone to serve as a feeding area.
The slate or paving stone should be buried so that its surface is flush with the
ground. This allows an area that can be cleaned easily so that too much debris
is not picked up by the food and ingested by your turtles.
The only really suitable container
for an indoor enclosure is a 50-gallon Rubbermaid tub, or something manufactured
out of wood or other material. Glass tanks do not make good homes for box
turtles no matter how big they are!!
6-8 inches of substrate must be
provided. Peat moss mixed with organic potting soil (no perlite or other
additives) makes an excellent substrate. Other things that can be used are
Cypress mulch or orchid bark. It is important to keep the substrate moist but
not wet. Sphagnum moss can be placed over areas o to keep in the moisture and
help maintain humidity.
Humidity is the biggest problem in
an indoor enclosure. I recommend that ¾ of the top of the enclosure should be
covered to help hold the humidity to acceptable levels.
Water bowls can be made from a
shallow plant saucer. The saucer should be at least 10-12 inches in diameter.
Suitable lighting must be provided
as well. Florida Box turtles need both heat and UVB lighting to maintain proper
health. Heat can be provided using a regular incandescent bulb shining on a
basking spot. UVB is then provided using a fluorescent light such as a Reptisun
5.0 or Repti Glo 8.0 bulb. Mercury Vapor bulbs can also be used. These bulbs
will provide heat and suitable UVB in one bulb.
Hide spots must be provided as well
and optimally will be placed at both the warm and cool ends of the enclosure.
Plants can be added but should remain in their pots to prevent being trampled.
Hatchling Florida Box Turtles start
out as mostly carnivorous but slowly change over to a more omnivorous diet as
they grow to adulthood. They do however remain highly carnivorous through-out
their lives. Earthworms, crickets, mealworms, wax worms, and silkworms all make
suitable food for box turtles. It is important to dust these with a good vitamin
powder at least once a week and a calcium supplement 2-3 times a week. Calcium
supplements need to have a 2:0 Calcium:Phosphorus (Ca:P) ratio.
Suitable veggies include a mixture
of dandelion, mustard, or turnip greens, Grated carrot, sweet potato, or yellow
squash. Cod liver oil can be sprinkled on the veggies to entice your turtle to
eat them. Fruit can be offered but should only account for maybe 10% of the
total diet. Suitable fruits are strawberries, mull-berries, black-berries,
raspberries, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, or papaya. Bananas are relished it
seems but should only be offered very infrequently.
Commercial foods can also be used
in combination with live and fresh foods. Rep Cal Box turtle food, Mazuri
Tortoise and aquatic food, Reptomin, and Nutrafin gammarus can all be used.
It is possible to keep more than
one box turtle in an enclosure provided it is large enough. However care must be
taken on the sex of the community. There should be 2 females to every male,
preferably more. Males are very aggressive and will harass a female to breed
constantly. Having more females allows the other female /s to rest.
Whenever a new turtle is added to an
existing community it should first be quarantined at least 60 days, preferably
at least 90 days to make sure it is not ill and cannot infect your existing
turtles. All new turtles should also have a Vet check at the beginning and end
of the quarantine period. Stool samples should also be taken to be sure new
turtles have no internal parasites to pass to existing turtles.
Florida Box Turtles make
interesting and rewarding pets. Their care can be challenging but at the same
time very rewarding.
Wild box turtle populations are
declining rapidly. It is for this reason that they should never be collected
from the wild unless their habitat and or safety are being threatened. Always
try to adopt a turtle first. There are many turtles that need good homes and can
be yours for the asking.
Remember that owning a box turtle is
a great responsibility but is also a very rewarding experience!!