This page last edited on

01 August, 2008

Turtles

 

  Florida box Turtles

 

Fun Facts
 

Florida box turtles are omnivores.  When young they eat a primarily carnivorous diet but as they age they begin to include plants.  It is important for them in captivity to get enough calcium and protein.  They do well on turtle chow but need greens, veggies and occasional fruit to supplement their diet.  They should be fed crickets or earth worms for protein. Obviously Florida box turtles are native to Florida.  They inhabit moist areas in pine and hammock forests near fresh bodies of water. They spend the majority of their time on land as they are not water turtles. They are considered semi-aquatic turtles.  They have a hinged shell which allows them to tuck their head and limbs inside their shell.

 

  For my information on housing on Florida box turtles please see my tortoise page from the link on the top picture menu.  These turtles are housed in the tortoise pen because they are not true pond turtles and would not work well in the large front pond or the large enclosed front yard. I will discuss feeding and care for box turtles on this page.  The box turtles love to eat worms! Be sure to visit the worm page from the link on the left to see video and pictures of how I set up the worm box.

  I have two Florida box turtles. Floxie, the one pictured to the left, I raised from just a few weeks old.

  Box turtle hatchlings get something called  "failure to thrive syndrome."  No one knows exactly what it is or what causes it.  The hatchlings stop eating and waste away until they die. It goes relatively fast. There doesn't seem to be anything you can do. I also had two of the hatchlings tip over on me and when I went to check on them I found them tipped over and dead. I was heartbroken in all of their deaths. Even now, Floxie, who has grown tremendously since being in the pen from May 2006 until now, has tipped over several times and I had to upright her. I have NO IDEA how they survive in the wild!!! The Florida box turtles are my only native species. Obviously they are found in Florida! The spend a majority of their time burrowed in the ground in a cool, damp spot.

  My other Florida box turtle is named Lucky, pictured to the right.  I acquired Lucky from the same lady who gave me All Spice, a male guinea pig, in September 2006.  Someone found this little gem and gave it to the lady who kept it for 14 months. She had no idea why Lucky's shell was so damaged. When she found out I had turtles and tortoises, besides guinea pigs, she asked if I could take Lucky in as well as Fred, the red foot tortoise. I was happy to do so. I took Lucky to my friend Erich for an evaluation. After a thorough check, Erich said she was in pretty good shape except for the shell, which was more than likely chewed on by a dog or wild animal with long teeth. Her bottom shell is intact, thankfully! You can see in the photo I was treating her with silver sulfadiazine cream, a cream to treat bacterial infections. Erich said she didn't need it anymore and I have since put her back outside where she will do much better than indoors.  I will continue to monitor her and make sure that she does not have a worsening of her shell or that insects or maggots do not invade her. Despite her horrible shell, she is an amazing little lady. Her appetite is great and she is very friendly for a box turtle. I really enjoy having her at Dianes Zoo. She is a very welcome addition!

  Both box turtles are fairly secretive and hide the majority of the time. They come out to eat a few times a week but thats about it. Floxie does bask in the sun but I've yet to see Lucky do so. They prefer to burrow in a cool, damp spot. Both of them are good at hiding because I can hardly ever find them when I am looking for them. Then they surprise me when I see them again eating at the food station.

FOOD & WATER

  The care for the box turtles is the same as what I do for the wood turtles that live in the tortoise pen.  When I find them I will give them worms which they love to eat. I have also seen them digging for insects and worms themselves. This is what they would do in nature and I'm glad to see they do it here at Dianes Zoo. Because they live in the tortoise pen they have plenty of greens, veggies and tortoise chow available to them. Box turtles eat a variety of vegetable and animal matter. I have seen them eat the tortoise chow plenty of times and it seems to me that they enjoy it.  As they get older they prefer more vegetable matter than animal matter. As hatchlings they prefer almost all animal matter.  The following is what I put in the tortoise pen and what I would give them even if they were living without tortoises.

 

Everyday:

  • Romaine, green or red leaf lettuce, or endive (chicory)

  • Shredded carrots

  • Bananas, strawberries, mango or peaches.  The box turtles don't eat fruit as much as the wood turtles do but I see that they prefer bananas!

Every other day:

  • Mazuri tortoise chow - $$$ $aving tip - buy at the local feed store where it is much cheaper than a pet store. They can order it for you if they don't stock it. Box turtles don't need to be fed tortoise chow, they can be fed turtle chow but since they live in the tortoise pen it is available to them and they seem to love it!

Several times a week:

  • Tomatoes, cut in small pieces

  • Yellow or green zucchini squash, cut in small pieces

  • Green beans, cut in small pieces

  • Hibiscus leaves and flowers

  • Petunia leaves and flowers

  • Prickly pear cactus (actually a few times a month)

Once a week:

  • Rep Cal Calcium without Vitamin D powder and Herptivite with Beta Carotene Multivitamins powder. I sprinkle it on their food. If you have indoor turtles you need to give them the Herptivite and the Calcium WITH Vitamin D. Outside turtles do not need Vitamin D because they get it from the sunshine. You can find both of these at any pet store, reptile shop or online.

  I have three water dishes in the tortoise pen. The box turtles enjoy the water. You need to have a large but shallow pan for water and you need to clean it out once a day. Turtles not only like to soak and drink in the pan, they use it as a toilet! This is perfectly natural and normal for them. You need to make sure the pan is shallow because they can tip over in water and you would not want to find them drowned!!!

CARE

  The box turtles are relatively easy to care for once you have the proper set up and diet for them. They basically hide most of the time, come out to eat and soak/drink and bask if they feel like it. I always pick them up when I see them to make sure they are in good shape.  If you house your box turtles indoors - which I don't recommend - you need a large tank, a basking area and UV ray lights. Your local reptile shop can help you get set up. Hatchlings do need to be housed indoors, however. When they are big enough you should house them outside.  Since they are a native species here in south Florida they do well living outside. You should house them outside if you can but only in the warmer months. If you live in a cold winter climate you need to house them indoors with a proper setup.

  Thanks for visiting the Florida box turtle page!  I hope that you enjoy the video and pictures on this page.

 

 

 

 

Click on Playlist to view the six movies of the Florida box turtles.

Hatchlings

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Eating worms

Hatchlings eating worms and getting their daily soaking in.

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An older Floxie and Lucky

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Floxie at food station

Preparing to eat chow!

Turtles Page | Turtle Housing | Turtle Feeding | Turtle Care | Central American Woods

Florida Boxes | Malayan Box | Red Ear Sliders | Yellow Belly Sliders | Worms

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DISCLAIMER:  This website was set up to SHARE my OWN experience with my reptiles, guinea pigs, ponds/fish, gardens and local wildlife and to post pictures and video of them. It was NOT SET UP to offer my opinion or expertise on ANY QUESTION that I am asked and what I post on this website should not be taken as "EXPERT ADVISE" or how to take care of reptiles, guinea pigs, ponds/fish, gardens or local wildlife. I AM NOT A REPTILE RESCUE GROUP, GUINEA PIG RESCUE GROUP, VETERINARIAN, REPTILE EXPERT, GUINEA PIG EXPERT, PONDS/FISH EXPERT, GARDEN EXPERT OR WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR! I have limited experience with reptiles, guinea pigs, local wildlife, ponds/fish and gardens, therefore, I am NOT QUALIFIED to give out advise or answer questions and you, as a visitor to this website, should not take anything on this website as expert advise or accurate information.  I present this website for fun and fun only - NOT as a reference website to instruct anyone on how to properly take care of reptiles, guinea pigs, local wildlife, ponds/fish or gardens.  I share how I DO THINGS for my reptiles, guinea pigs, local wildlife, ponds/fish and gardens and this is not intended for others to take as expert advise or to mimic. Furthermore, my political views are my own and not intended to offend, annoy, hurt or demean any person, entity or organization. I express my views as an American who has the right to free speech under the Constitution of the United States of America. Please feel free to set up your own website and express your views, post your pictures and video and share with the rest of us in cyberspace what your little corner of the world is like. Thank you very much for your kind understanding in appreciating the value and contents of this website.

 

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