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Eastern Box Turtle / Ornate Box Turtle

Common Names: Eastern Box Turtle
Scientific Name: Terrapene carolina
Distribution: Eastern and southeastern U.S.A.
Size: Up to 8 and 1/2 inches.
Temperament: Very tame, calm disposition, can be kept in groups.

Hardiness: Very hardy when properly set up and maintained. These turtles are susceptible to respiratory infections, abscesses, limb and head swelling, shell infections, and gastroenteritic problems. Therefore selection of healthy specimens is real important. Should be deparasitized.

Sexing: Males larger and usually more colorful, with concave plastrons, and a longer tail swollen at the base.

Food: Nutrient fed and vitamin/calcium coated crickets, jumbo mealworms, butterworms, night crawlers, moistened dry dog food, pink mice, and supplemented bananas, strawberries, blackberries, grapes, apple, melon, spinach, romaine lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and various other fruits and vegetables. Feed often. Variety is essential.

Housing: A minimum 30 gallon tank or preferably larger tank can house 2 or 3 box turtles. Use a 2 to 3 inch layer of a potting soil/sand mixture or orchid bark substrate. Landscape and create shelters and basking areas with select driftwood, hollow logs and cork bark slabs. Larger groups would require a 55 gallon sized or larger set up. These turtles thrive best when housed outdoors under natural sunlight with shelters, burrowing facilities, accessible shallow water and, if necessary, winter protection from the cold. Will hibernate.

Water: An easily accessible large shallow pan of fresh water should be provided for drinking, soaking and defecation at all times.

Temperature/Humidity: Day - 70 to 88 F gradient; Night - 55 - 70 F. Moderate to high humidity is provided by the large water pan and frequent misting of enclosure.

Lighting: Full spectrum lighting/U.V. radiation is required for these Turtles. Exposure to unfiltered natural sunlight is recommended.

Heating: An under tank reptile heating pad placed under 1/2 to 2/3 of enclosure including the water pan will provide 24 hour bottom surface and water heat. Incandescent light bulbs with reflectors situated over select basking areas will provide the proper daytime heat gradient.

Notes: All Box Turtles such as the 3 Toe Box Turtle and the Gulf Coast Box Turtle, can be set up and maintained under similar conditions. Ornate Box Turtles (Terrapene ornata) can be difficult to acclimate in captivity and should be provided with slightly higher temperatures (day 82-88 F, night 68-75 F) and mostly live insects and various meats in the diet along with the usual box turtle fare.

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