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Hatchling Box Turtle Won't Eat Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Turtles' started by Dino1, Dec 16, 2014.

  1. Dino1

    Dino1 Member

    I was recently given a hatchling Eastern box turtle. He is very small, about the size of a quarter. The turtle is in perfect health. Clear eyes, active, no wheezing, no nasal discharge, etc. I have tried every food under the sun and he simply won't eat. I have tried three brands of commercial food, diced worms, various fruits. In the past, I have used chicken baby food (human) mixed with commercial food to entice other hatchlings to eat and it has worked. No response on his part. I keep his enclosure at about 82 degrees with a high humidity, and I use UVA light tubes. He also has moss and plastic leaves to hide under (which is does 24/7). I have had him for about five days now. Any advice, suggestions, would be more than welcome. Thanks very much.
  2. mshrmheadcharge

    mshrmheadcharge Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

    Where did you get him from? This is brumation time for Eastern Box Turtles. Since he's not accepting food, perhaps you should lower the temps and allow him to brumate.
  3. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Where did you get it. In many parts of their range they are protected and you may be in violation of the law.

    Box turtles need a basking spot of 85-90 degrees. They also need a UVB light, not a UVA.
  4. Sheltowee

    Sheltowee Active Member

    If he is a new hatch they will not eat for 2 - 4 weeks - if you can see any egg remnant on his stomach he is still absorbing nutrition from it. Daylight duration triggers the urge to brumate - if he isn't getting at least 12 hours of light a day he may be slowing down for brumation. Up the light time with a timer, be sure there are crickets small enough for him to eat and other tiny insects like pill bugs (rollie pollies) these will live long enough in the tank for him to come around and start eating them. Humidity is important- winter heat in house will dry out the air quickly.
    When he has finished absorbing the egg yolk (much of what is left can still be inside the plastron) he should get hungry and you'll notice him chasing the crickets. Spray the tank like a light rain frequently.

    I have seen this often with hatchlings, most just take a while before they want to eat and if he headed toward brumating it will take a couple days for him to turn around. 12 hours of daylight is important.
  5. Dino1

    Dino1 Member

    Thank you very much for your detailed answer. The earlier reply about a 90 degree basking spot was way off base as one of the dangers faced by hatchling box turtles is dehydration. This is why many experts advise a bog like set up for the first eight months. They hide virtually 24/7 in moist moss and I can assure you they WILL NOT bask (they will not even come out of the moss voluntarily). And just to put that poster's mind at ease I DID CHECK THE LAW BEFORE I OBTAINED THE TURTLE. I don't know why he thought I would not. Residents of the state of Florida are allowed to own two box turtles of any variety. He was also bred in captivity in the state of Florida. Since the owner of the hatchlings is not allowed to keep more than two specimens at a time, he offered me one. Again, thank you for a factually sound answer that was not insulting. Just to keep you posted, he ate some bloodworms yesterday mixed with calcium powder. Be well.
  6. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Ok you need to get your attitude under control!
    Regardless of what your so called "experts" say, the preferred body temperature of box turtles is between 84 and 100° F. If they are too cold they will not feed because the food would rot inside them!

    Because I am trying to keep you out of trouble that's why!
    Box turtles are FREQUENTLY taken from the wild for pets. This is one of the reasons that they are endangered and protected. People take them, keep them improperly and they DIE! In many place it is illegal to even pick one up.
  7. Dino1

    Dino1 Member

    Merlin: you are right, I need to get my attitude under control (I've always had an attitude problem), but you need to get your ego under control. I am a grown man, I certainly don't need you to keep me out of trouble. And the fact that you think I do tells me all I need to know about your ego. I somehow stumbled along all these years without your astute guidance. Anyone who thinks that a hatchling box turtle will somehow magically emerge from the moist moss which they favor and bask under a heatlight knows nothing about their behavior (which clearly you don't). And if you don't know; don't advise. Reread you initial posting and you will see it is arrogant and accusatory, and jam packed with misinformation. I asked advice about feeding and your post begins with a question about where did I get him from. Frankly, none of your business, but in my follow up post, I answered. Maybe you meant well, but had you not assumed I was either uninformed or an intentional law breaker I would not have responded the way I did.
  8. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    My ego is just fine thank you very much. And you seem to have overlooked the part where I am one of the admins of this site and I saw something posted that needed addressing. And I said nothing about a heat lamp. I said basking spot. That is simply a warmer area. Providing one is basic reptile husbandry. Even a bog setup needs certain basics.

    It is not uncommon for people to show up here after snatching something from the wild , protected or not and ask for advice on how to keep it.
    I have no way of knowing how old you are, where you lived or if you even had a clue about what you were doing.
    The fact that you took it the way you did says more to YOUR ego than mine.
  9. mshrmheadcharge

    mshrmheadcharge Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

    So, it's been four days since you posted this. Has the turtle eaten?

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