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Box turtle heating (indoor)


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#1 trickysparl

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 05:58 AM

It started getting cooler now, I know if it's cool to me it must be cold to my turtle. I was wondering what type of heating is best for a box turtle in an indoor enclosure. He/she is really small, about 3 inches long, the enclosure is one of those super big 50 gallon rubbermaid containers. I bought some of the wood bedding (seems to be cedar) for reptiles and when I am home I turn on the heat lamp with UVA/UVB light for the turtle. I am a bit nervous about leaving it on when not home, and also it doesn't help at night when bed time comes. I've thought about those heated cave things, but I've read about reptiles being burned, and with the wood bedding I'm a little hesitant. I could put him in another box just for when I'm not home with a sandy or earth substrate I suppose.

What do you guys use for heat other than the basking/heat lamps? My turtle rarely seems to like it, only staying in the light a short while before going to the darker end of the enclosure.

#2 BoxTurtleLover

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 09:54 PM

First, toss the cedar substrate - it is toxic to turtles. The forest floor or bark chip substrates are not good either if you feed your turtle in the enclosure. I know of a case of a three=toed box turtle female dying from ingesting a chunk of substrate from one containing bark chips, Your little box turtle would love some Eco-Earth or hardwood mulch mixed with Peat Moss and a layer of sphagnum moss (damp) on top. Keep the substrate a bit damp, not dry. Some people use just dirt or top soil and top with sphagnum moss. Is the room where the turtle is kept heated during the winter? If so, there is no need to turn on the heat lamp while you are not home just ensure the UVB is on as you are worried about leaving the heat lamp on. An overhead heat lamp is the best way to warm box turtles as they are used to getting heat from above from the sun and will come out to bask in the early morning sun in the wild. If your room is chilly and I can understand the fear of leaving the house and leaving on that heat lamp without someone there, you can obtain a heating pad (one without automatic shut off) and put it under 1/2 of the tub to warm the substrate a little (put on low) and provide some warmth but do not heat the entire container as the turtle will need a cool side. when you are home you can revert back to the heat lamp.

Make sure you put a few hiding areas in the tub and do not let the turtle nor the substrate completely dry out.

#3 trickysparl

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 12:12 PM

First, toss the cedar substrate - it is toxic to turtles. The forest floor or bark chip substrates are not good either if you feed your turtle in the enclosure. I know of a case of a three=toed box turtle female dying from ingesting a chunk of substrate from one containing bark chips, Your little box turtle would love some Eco-Earth or hardwood mulch mixed with Peat Moss and a layer of sphagnum moss (damp) on top. Keep the substrate a bit damp, not dry. Some people use just dirt or top soil and top with sphagnum moss. Is the room where the turtle is kept heated during the winter? If so, there is no need to turn on the heat lamp while you are not home just ensure the UVB is on as you are worried about leaving the heat lamp on. An overhead heat lamp is the best way to warm box turtles as they are used to getting heat from above from the sun and will come out to bask in the early morning sun in the wild. If your room is chilly and I can understand the fear of leaving the house and leaving on that heat lamp without someone there, you can obtain a heating pad (one without automatic shut off) and put it under 1/2 of the tub to warm the substrate a little (put on low) and provide some warmth but do not heat the entire container as the turtle will need a cool side. when you are home you can revert back to the heat lamp.

Make sure you put a few hiding areas in the tub and do not let the turtle nor the substrate completely dry out.


Thank you for the reply. I will be getting some of the Eco-Earth this weekend (I had no idea about the cedar), I'll take the cedar out now and replace it with top soil until then. I was worried about the heated rocks/caves, as I hear they short out when they get wet. Are the heating pads safe and not prone to shorting if some water got on it or the turtle happened to pee on it?

I had made him/her a small house out of a small cardboard box and another hiding spot on the other side from an old floating dock my aquatic turtle outgrew. I also got it eating regularly, I had bought some Rep-Cal Box Turtle Food, he won't eat that so I tried some Rep-Cal Aquatic Turtle Food that my red bellied cooter was eating and he eats that mixed with a little canned cat food very readily. The two foods smell totally different, the box turtle food smells like bananas, while the aquatic smells like dog kibble sort of.

#4 BoxTurtleLover

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 02:59 PM

Do not put any heating pad inside with the turtle...place it underneath the container in which you are keeping the turtle and ensure it only warms one side (1/2 of the container). A setting on low should be more than fine.

Your turtle will love earthworms or nightcrawlers (easily obtained at a bait shop), hard boiled or scrambled (in water) eggs, you can mix veggies in with mashed Reptomin or another good pellet formula (i.e., Mazuri), strawberries, cantalope, bananas (once a week or so)...it's best to offer a variety of foods cause they can get stuck on liking just one.

What type of box turtle is it?

#5 animal kingdom2

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Posted 19 October 2010 - 08:02 PM

Ditto BTL's advice. No cedar, natural dirt and sphagnum on top works just fine. My own baby box babies are in an outdoor mesh enclosure, with a mix of dirt/sand/sphagnum for substrate. I use broken pieces of pots for hides, as well as cholla skeletons - they work great for the babies! Just be sure to offer water at all time, and a variety of food (especially the worms - great protein). I do have a heat lamp for a small part of their habitat (they are in a 6 ft long x 2-1/2 ft wide space), as well as a few areas for them to climb up and dig down. They love to wander around, so space that has rocks, soil, a small "hill" and several burrow/hide areas are ideal for boxies.

#6 trickysparl

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 08:06 AM

What type of box turtle is it?


Not sure honestly, I obtained it from a friend who had gotten it and 2 other turtles. He didn't want to keep the little turtle because its shell was cracked. Here's a picture of it, I've had him/her about a month and the break (near it's head, was a large V before, now just a small slit).

Attached File  gallery_21620_482_35952.jpg   57.59KB   3 downloads

#7 BoxTurtleLover

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Posted 20 October 2010 - 01:38 PM

You have a sub-adult three-toed box turtle...




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