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Hibernating for the First Time - Box Turtle Question

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

  1. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    The substrate you have is fine as long as it feels damp. I have the sphagnum(it is finely ground for gardens) because my desert tortoise was the laziest thing ever when i had him inside and didnt wven bother to get up to eat he just ate the substrate and the sphagnum wouldnt hurt him at all. I do have more of The standard type of moss in the adult enclosure in the areas that they prefer to dig down and they do really like it. I don't have it in their hide boxes as they tend to kick it out but it surrounds their basking stone where they spend most of their time.
    For food dishes shallow ceramic dog bowls or the bottom plates to pots are great if they have that smooth shiny coat, this makes it so worms can't crawl out on their own. They also make great water soaking pans.
    Oh and when your box turtle is full size you don't even need to worry about food dishes. My enclosure has a mealworm colony in it and I throw in crickets, earthworms, and roaches for them to chase down.
    Does your neighbor have box turtles? From the pictures he looks fine to me. His shell seems like it is an appropriate size.
  2. Greta

    Greta Active Member

    lol!! I don't know if I can put a whole colony in Little Dude's enclosure. LD stays in my bedroom right now and his bugs already creep my husband out. He never wants to be the one to feed the little guy. Good thing I don't mind :)

    When LD gets bigger he will move out into the den or computer room (connected to the den). Right now, I have a fear that my kitties might look at him as a new toy.

    I have a mealworm colony in my basement. They are in a plastic container full of oatmeal that I add veggies to. I'll have to get a ceramic bowl for LD's enclosure. I'm sure I have one around here somewhere.

    My neighbor has 3 box turtles but she got them when they were full size. Her main reptile is her sulcata tortoise. I know that she once had hatchling box turtles but I'm unsure how long she kept them. I know she is still in touch with their owner (this was 5 years ago).

    I'm happy that you think LD's shell looks good. I've been worried that it's pyramiding. My neighbor said it needs to be flatter and not as round as it is (at the moment). My son and I looked at pictures of baby box turtles and we couldn't see a difference, but we also knew that we weren't reptile experts.

    I can't thank you enough for all the information you guys are giving me :)
  3. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    Doesn't look pyramided to me. Do you know what kind of box turtle LD is?
  4. Greta

    Greta Active Member

    That's very relieving that it doesn't look like LD's shell is pyramidding to you! I can't tell you how worried I've been over the little guy.

    I'm unsure exactly what kind of box turtle Little DUde is. We live in Alabama so that probably narrows it down. I figured he was an Eastern or a Gulf Cost box turtle but I could be wrong. It's really hard for me to tell because like people babies... all turtle babies really look similar to me :)
  5. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    Does he have a lot of markings starting to appear on his shell? If yes he is an eastern if not he is a golf...not absolute determination but it kinda narrows it down.
    I do want to point out that under feeding or improper diets can cause pyramiding as the shell still grows but doesn't have the nutrients needed for proper growth. And swimming time every couple of days along with access to shallow bowl to soak daily will keep the shell smooth and pretty.
  6. Greta

    Greta Active Member

    Little Dude doesn't have much color/markings on his shell. He's probably a Gulf :)

    LD loves loves loves to soak!! He actually has his own sink (that we don't use. It's his - lucky turtle!)


    He has a little bowl in his habitat that he gets on every now and then... but her loves the sink :)

    Thank you so much for telling me how pyramiding can be caused.

    I am now in a better place in having such a happy and healthy turtle :)

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  7. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    But back to the original question. Unless there is a specific need for the turtle to brumate, it isn't necessary.
    Not all animals who go down to brumate come back up again.
  8. Greta

    Greta Active Member

    Thank you so much Merlin! That is what I was afraid of. I'm so happy that this site helped me out !! I'll be coming back here for all Box Turtle advice!
  9. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    So true. Don't know how many times I hear this: my tortoise/ turtle was hibernating so I put him in a box in the closet where it's nice and dark and no one can bother him...but now it's spring and he won't wake up!
    Or some variation of it. For my desert tortoise is native to my area and lives outside and when I notice him sleeping more then I bring him inside and set him up in a corral under the turtle enclosure and let him sleep. Food is offered whenever I notice him up and about. As for my box turtles I don't vary their lights at all. The cage cools down a bit because I don't heat the house but over all it stays pretty much the same and then let the turtles decide to sleep or not.
  10. Greta

    Greta Active Member

    YOu guys are great! I can't stress that enough. You probably saved my Little Dude's life! As a novice with turtles I want to learn as much as I can and this is by far the most helpful information that I have gotten. Most of the books that I have read just skim over hatchling care. They don't go into depth which irritates me because I worry so much. And then they just say it is wise to hibernate but they don't explain. Are there any box turtle books you can suggest to me?

    Thank you for all the replies!!
  11. Thalatte

    Thalatte Elite Member

    Honestly I haven't read an books on reptiles. I have talked to fish and wildlife officers and vets. Then I google and read everything I can find on he Internet and write down the rare points that seem accurate when compared to their natural habitat and them experimented to get he ideal set up in miniature.
  12. Sheltowee

    Sheltowee Active Member

    Although there are no in depth studies done it is believed among box turtle experts that some length of brumation is necessary to maintain proper hormonal balance which affects reproduction and to maintain a healthy immune system. In the wild the shortening of daylight hours is actually what triggers the instinct to brumate and the turtle will stop eating 2 - 4 weeks before cold temperatures drive him underground. If you allow the light on your turtle to be shortened like in fall he will slow down and stop eating - then you can refrigerate but be sure to keep humidity above 80%. He only needs to be brumated 4 - 6 weeks to maintain hormonal health but in the wild in your area that might be the same.

    It is not known exactly what harm if any may be caused by not brumating a turtle. A turtle that is never brumated may live 30 years and die - who's to say he wouldn't have lived to 60 if he was brumated yearly? So I always try to go with what ever is most closely like their wild habitation.

    Box turtle hibernation

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