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Hibernating for the First Time - Box Turtle Question

Discussion in 'Turtles' started by Greta, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. Greta

    Greta Active Member

    Hello all!!

    A while ago I posted that I had found a turtle on this site and with your help he was labled as a box turtle.

    Today, I come to you again with a question about hibernation.

    Little Dude (the box turtle) was found in April 2012. He was very very small. He had a bit of a chipped shell and his tail was severed. My husband and I believe that he was probably picked up by a large bird in the area and dropped at my house.

    My neighbor is very good with reptiles and has been training me to care for him.

    Little Dude is a rather beefy little turtle. He loves to eat as all hatchlings do.

    I was curious if it would be wise to hibernate him this year or would it be wiser to wait until next year. He's very healthy and very active (as a turtle can be).

    And if this is the right time to hibernate - then how?

    I live in Alabama and I hear the refigeration method is the best way to go. But what are the steps before to prepare a baby box turtle?

    THank you for any imput!

    Little Dude April 2012

    Little Dude September 2012

    Little Dude September 2012

    Attached Files:

  2. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    Box turtles don't hibernate. There is no need for it. They will slow down on food and be a little less active but won't actually hibernate.

    Now what is the refrigerator method?
  3. Greta

    Greta Active Member

    I have a few friends on FB who live in southern states who use the refidgerator method.

    Here is an example:

    Refrigerator Hibernation
    Exert taken from: Three-Toed Box Turtle Hibernation

    There is very little information that I can find on hatchlings. I am just trying to makes sure Little Dude gets what's right for him to be super healthy
  4. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    Why don't you contact an Alabama Wildlife Refuge near you and see what you can do!
  5. mshrmheadcharge

    mshrmheadcharge Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

    Box Turtles don't hibernate, the brumate...which isn't necessary unless you plan on breeding them. Or if it is outdoors you can allow him to burrow outside for the winter...
  6. Greta

    Greta Active Member

    Intersting. There is so little out there about hatchlings and hibernation.

    I have no plans on breeding him and fear about keeping him outdoors at his size. THere are too many critters in the area that could dig him up. Plus, there are a couple cats in the area that would worry me (at his size)

    So, it sounds like if he is kept indoors throughout the winter he will be fine.

    Then perhaps, I need to pose another question.

    LD seems to be growing faster than his shell can keep up.

    He was on a diet of 4 mealwomrs (with vitamins) every day.

    I then cut him down to 4 mealworms (with vitamins) every other day.

    I now have him down to 2 mealworms every other day (with vitamins) and offer him veggies on the alternate days.
    He of course snubs the veggies (lately been trying minced acorn squash and carrot) and am about to try fruits.

    I have also started to time his soaks. I used to let him soak for 20 minutes a day. He really loves to sit in the water. I have recently found out that he can retain mass by doing that. He now soaks for only 10 minutes a day (more if he is busy working out a poo)

    My neighbor felt like hibernation would be the best thing for him so that his shell could catch up with his body. MAny sites out on the web say that box turtles hibernate but I felt it would be wise to check around. I'm glad that I did!!

    So, my question is: How can I slow down his weightgain? OR is what I am currenlty doing (in your opinion) going in the right direction.
  7. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    The shell will grow with them. Just feed them till they stop eating and increase the calcium intake just a tad. A good way of doing this is feeding them naturally high in calcium items like Phoenix worms, silkworms, or hornworms. And then cut back on food items that are higher in fat like waxworms and mealworms. They really do need as much protein and calcium they can get in order to grow at a healthy rate. Their are some breeds of box turtles that are naturally fat looking but it is mostly just air.
    Also hatchlings are mainly insectivores so don't be worried if they don't eat veggies.
  8. mshrmheadcharge

    mshrmheadcharge Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

    Well, they don't hibernate and he won't be eating any food during burmation (temps would be way too low for that not to mention the lack of activity) so even if his shell wasn't growing with the rest of him (which is highly unlikely as his shell is growing at the same rate that his body is...)this wouldn't give it a chance to "catch up" because he wouldn't be taking in any nutrients :)
  9. Greta

    Greta Active Member

    Excellent! So, I just need to change his diet of bugs. Right now I have a mealworm farm. I will look into the other worms that you have mentioned. I live near a Bass Pro shop and am sure that I can find them there or talk to fishermen who will know where I can obtain them.

    Thank you so much for the guidance!
  10. mshrmheadcharge

    mshrmheadcharge Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

    Mine loved slugs! Of course I was 11 years old at the time and mine was wild caught (for a science fair project!) so I would catch things outside
  11. Greta

    Greta Active Member

    He's always eating rolly pollies and snails from outside. I have yet to catch (or find) him a slug. But I have captured a few worms (unsure on their names... wiggly worms lol) and he loves them!!

    I would love to make worm farm for him (the worms you mentioned with high calcium values). I will have to look into this :)
  12. mshrmheadcharge

    mshrmheadcharge Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

    What type of enclosure do you have him in and what type of lights are you using? (Out of curiosity)
  13. Greta

    Greta Active Member

    He lives in a plastic sweater box with organic soil mixed with orchid bark. I have monkey grass planted for him, rocks, a small cave, and change out leaf litter every week (since they bagan falling). We go outside for around 2 hours a day to get his UVB (I've been doing a natural way of light) and he has a low basking light for indoors. I feel that I need to get a UVB light for him for the winter. I've been told to get either a 2.5-5.0 for him. Is that what you would get?
  14. mshrmheadcharge

    mshrmheadcharge Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

    I think the 2.5 should be fine since they are forest dwellers. How deep is your soil? I know they like to dig and burrow. Also how humid have you been keeping it?
  15. Greta

    Greta Active Member

    Sweet!! That is what I intended on getting him.

    THe soil is deep enough to submerge himself. He loves loves loves to dig.

    I need to get a huditiy gauge but I mist his environment daily to keep the soil damp and movable. His environment does not have a lid. It's the best thing I could come up with like a tort table. I would love to make him one someday but I'm probably going to have to get my husband to make it. RIght now he has a baby swimming pool, turtle sandbox, and long underbed box to play in along with his current environement. We are planning to make the turtle sandbox into a regular jungle of monkey grass. I have tons and he loves to play in it. Now, I won't fear loosing him.

    What is your opinion on heaters in a plastic habitat? I have heard that these are nice, but I don't know anyone who uses it in a platic habitat

    I can't tell you guys how much I appreciate you helping me out!

    So, probably a silly question, but do box turtles in captivity ever brumate. And if so, at what age is it best for them to brumate? And is it needed in the South? Or do you just not feed them as much in the winter months?
  16. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    They don't usually brumate as most houses are kept at ideal temps. Also it isnt needed at all. As for food mine are adults and eat less during winter but that just means I dont fill the insect bowl as often and greens are given every other day. I have a shallow ceramic dog bowl i use for insects and always fill it as needed. I just bought 4 baby box turtles and will not allow them to brumate as they are constantly growing and really need the nutrition. So until the turtle reaches full size they shouldn't be cooled off. Also belly heaters shouldnt be used as the turtle can fall asleep on them and burn themselves. Heat lamps are the best options.
  17. Greta

    Greta Active Member

    Excellent information!! Thank you.

    My house can get down to 63 degrees in the winter. I am concerned about nightly temps with him. I can raise the temp in his habitat in the daytime with his heat lamp, but what can I do at night? Will it be ok if the temp dips that low?

    My little dude is around 6 months old.

    I feed him 2 meal worms every other day and am curious (after reading many posts) if I might be underfeeding him.

    He of course gets vitamins sprinkled on his worms.

    I fear if I was to leave out open buffet for him that he wouldn't know when to stop. He loves to eat. How are you going about feeding your baby box turtles?

    I checked the humidity levels with out thermometer and it said it was at 54%. I'm unsure how to raise it in an open environment (no lid)

    Any suggestions?
  18. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    Air humidity isn't very important with box turtles as much as having damp but not soaked substrate. I use a potting soil sphagnum moss mix that keeps dampness well and is easy to dig through. For food for the little ones I have a small bowl with minced fruits and veggies(more for the worms than the turtles) and about 20 very small mealworms and then let them eat their fill if I notice it running low I will just refill the bowl. The littlest box turtle eats quite a bit which is good and the bigger ones I haven't notice eat much so I plan on putting them in a seperate box every other day to feed so I know that they eat a good amount. Right now they are on mealworms and hornworms but when it cools down i will add small pheonix worms and when the dubia roaches start producing I will give the larger hatchlings some baby roaches.
    The colder weather shouldn't be a problem as long as it doesn't get below 60 but you can add a ceramic heat bulb or an infared heat bulb. Either one will work but ceramic bulbs will last years longer though they need a stronger fixture(look for one that says it can use a ceramic bulb on the side of the box.
    As far as food I say feed as much as he wants. I have never heard of a box turtle being overweight or any sort of turtle for that matter.
  19. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    If you only have the little box turtle don't get hornworms as they quickly grow too large for hatchlings to eat. The only reason mine have eaten them is that my CWD loves them and the two cups I bought had a couple of very very small ones that the turtles could have.
  20. Greta

    Greta Active Member

    Nice!! thank you for that information, Thalatte!!

    I'll have to look into finding him a bowl to keep worms in. I've been feeding him on a piece of rubbermaid. It's too funny. He know when that lid comes out it's time to eat.

    My neighbor said it looked like his shell wasn't keeping up with his body.

    This is what his shell looks like



    I can get a belly shot tomorrow after he wakes up.

    I'll definitely look into getting a ceramic bulb. My husband is really handy so he'll be able to help me out on the proper fixture.

    Right now i have organic potting soil mixed with orchid bark in his enclosure. Perhaps I should change that out for moss. He can definitely dig, though. I go through about once a week and make sure I can move things around with my fingers. If I can't then I turn the soil over in areas where I know he likes to hang out.

    I heard that stuffing their hide box with moss helps. Have you ever done that? He has a little cave he likes to hang out in. He also has an aquarium bridge he loves to huddle underneath. Maybe I should see if he would like that.

    Again, I can't tell you how grateful I am for all the advice this post has given me !!

    Attached Files:

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