Three toed box turtle
Found from Missouri south to Texas and Alabama, the three-toed box turtle is named for the three toes on its hind feet; the other box turtles have four. These handsome, classic-looking turtles are native to the United States and are among the most popular pets for turtle enthusiasts. However, three-toed box turtles (and box turtles in general) aren’t especially well-suited to be pets for new turtle owners or in homes with very young children. These animals don’t like to be handled and can suffer stress-related health problems if they are picked up. They actually require a significant amount of care compared to other species of turtles and prefer consistency in their environments; even just a ride to the veterinarian can prove stressful for a box turtle. This is why these turtles should only be taken on by the advanced turtle keeper.
- Domestically Produced
- June 2021
Housing the Three-Toed Box Turtle
If the climate is agreeable they do much better outside. Build your outdoor enclosures on well-draining soil with non-toxic, rot-resistant walls at least 20 inches tall; the wall barrier should also extend down, at least 10 inches underground to prevent your turtles from digging an escape.
This species needs room to roam and dig. While it is possible to keep hatchlings and juveniles in a large indoor terrarium (aquariums are too small), adults need a much bigger space. Each turtle in your terrarium needs at least three square feet of floor space for every eight inches of shell length. Juveniles need an area that is at least two square feet in dimension.
Both indoors and outdoors, they should have easy access to available hiding spots and loose-leaf litter in which to burrow. Provide a large shallow pan of clean water at all times, but make sure they can easily get in and out of the water without tipping over into water and potentially drowning.
When they are kept indoors in a terrarium, maintain the daytime temperature gradient from about 75 F on the cold side to a basking spot with temperatures of 85 to 88 F. The nighttime temperature of any part of the enclosure should not drop below 70 F. Use a ceramic heater as a heat source. ach turtle should be able to move from cooler to warmer areas as it chooses.
These turtles need exposure to ultraviolet light to produce vitamin D3 so they can properly absorb calcium from their diet. Include a UVB-emitting reptile light. Without it, your turtle will become lethargic, lack an appetite, and can even develop metabolic bone disease (MBD) causing faulty growth and development.
Box turtles are much less likely to develop any kind of infection when kept in a humid environment. Regularly mist their pen or run a sprinkler for added moisture, as even in captivity, three-toed box turtles prefer a bit more humidity than others.