Bedtime-Story Special Section



Box turtles and tortoises should be housed in a cage large enough for the animal(s) to feel comfortable to move around. The cage needs a heat source, usually a incandescent light that will reach a suitable temperature gradient (see temperature). Hot rocks and Heat tapes are suitable as a secondary heat but not as a main heat source. A wood box or a 1/2 of a flower pot cut lengthwise with a saw works fine.


For box turtles and tortoises the use of a potting soil and sand is about the most natural bedding but needs good upkeep. The use of pine shavings, and shredded newspaper are also acceptable as a substrate. The things not to use are cedar shavings,(because they contain oils that are harmful to your animal) Kay Kob bedding and pea gravel,(because they can be swallowed and be hard to pass).


The temperature for box turtles should be a range of 80-85 degrees F during the day and 75-78 degrees F during the night. Some turtles may need special temperatures, humidity and/ or food please ask the store you are purchasing the animal from for special care. Box turtles can hibernate but I would suggest this not be done unless you wish to do breeding, for your animal might not be strong enough to make it through the winter.


Box turtles need water to drink, soak in, and to "eliminate in". Other tortoises should be placed in water approximately every other day to allow for these bodily functions to occur. In the cage, use a low sided dish that the animal cannot tip over. Put the dish in a corner so that the animals don't go through it as it walks about in the cage. Do not put your turtle in too deep of water because they cannot swim like aquatic turtles.


Box turtles should eat a variety of foods to maintain proper nutrition, these include canned dog and cat food that has been softened with water, little bits of raw steak, turkey, or chicken, snails, earthworms, mealworms, crickets. On the other end they will eat almost all types of produce, raw or cooked (cooled) corn, peas, carrots, beans, etc.. Also they will eat strawberries, tomatoes, melons, peaches, bananas and maybe some lettuce. Again please get more information if you have any questions. Vitamins are recommended to give better health on a consistent basis.

Special Note:

Critter care varies from state to state, depending upon your temperature. In Northern California, for example, animals must be kept inside in winter, so it is suggested that you may wish to provide your box turtle with a full spectrum light like Vita-Light. For more information on this care sheet or the full spectrum lights please contact your local pet specialist.

Instructions for Box Turtle Care

Courtesy of OUR PET SHOP

Morgan Hill, California & Gilroy, California

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