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FAQs About Tortoises, Terrestrial Turtles in General

Related Articles: Turtles, Shell Rot in Turtles, Amphibians, Red Eared Slider Care,

Related FAQs: Turtles 1, Turtles 2, Red Ear Sliders, Turtle Identification, Turtle Behavior, Turtle Compatibility, Turtle Selection, Turtle Systems, Turtle Feeding, Turtle Disease, Shell Rot, Turtle Reproduction, & by Species: Cooters/Mud Turtles, Softshells, Snapping Turtles, Mata Matas, & Amphibians, Other Reptiles,


Mass on Head     7/7/17
<Hiya, Darrel here>
I've been browsing your site looking for answers on what in the heck this is and how I should treat it.
<From way over here that looks like a cyst with or without an accompanying infection>
I saw a similar picture but there wasn't any commentary to go with the image. I have 2 box turtles and this one was wild and my husband saved it from a busy highway not knowing where he came from to return him.
<1- thank you for rescuing him. 2- thank you for not releasing him. It’s never EVER a good idea to release an animal into the wild … even if it’s just a short transport. There are just too many variables to consider>
Please help!
<I can help – but only a little. This is a classic case of the need for an up close and personal examination from a trained professional. It’s likely that the cyst can be burst and excised without anesthesia, but the problem is that no one will know anything until someone does an actual exam. This leaves you with three choices. First is a veterinarian in your area that does reptiles (technically called ‘exotics’ in the trade). Second is a young veterinarian just starting his practice. At first that may seem incongruous, but here’s the reasoning: If a vet makes exotics part of his practice, that’s best. If not, all vets do a rotation in exotics during their med school, so a younger veterinarian may not have the most dedicated skills, but at least he’s done it in recent memory.>
<Third – look for a Turtle and Tortoise Club in your area. People with larger collections usually have to, if only for financial reasons, learn to treat common maladies at home and can help you directly – if not they can point you to the most qualified vet.>

weird episode with 3-toed box turtle   /Donna  7/3/17
Last night I got up and noticed my box turtle (of 30+ years) seemed to be stricken in some way. She was acting like a victim of bad-movie stop action animatronics producer, moving incessantly in quick jerks, and upset with her front and rear ends. At the back, she would either scrub her butt with her heels over and over and over, like she had ants in her pants. Alternately, she would back up against her low feeding dish and keep pushing back, jerky step after jerky step, with her front legs. I took her out, her butt was fine, I rubbed it with TP in case it itched,
but that didn't help her-- she continued doing it.
At her front end, she repeatedly, jerkily (every sort of move was fast and jerky and she NEVER stopped), rubbed with the backs of her front feet at her sides of her face, not particularly her eyes, but them, too, sometimes. And she also whipped her head about, one side to the other,
like an angry person trying to make their eyes see small print or focus on something.
I put her in her water dish (water comes about 1/2 way up her shell) and she ducked down and put her head underwater for a bit, came back up (jerkily), climbed halfway out, whipped her head back toward the water,
dropped back down into it, repeated the above about 4 times before finally climbing back out and continuing to do all the things I first described.
She kept this up for over 4 hours. She was worn out in the morning, just crashed flat out, chin on her floor, sleeping.
As to food, she has been eating mostly only strawberries and ball bugs for several weeks (she keeps getting fixated on one or 2 foods each warm season).
She has a couple small spots where the skin (scutes?) over the shell bone has died and disappeared, but they are not growing. The bone underneath is white and dry and solid.
I just noticed she has a light yellow spot under one eye. It does not wipe off.
Since the heavy sleep this morning, she has eaten half a strawberry and no longer looks like some bad movie producer is running her every move.
Any idea what this might be?
Thanks for any help you can give.
<Hello Beth,
I must apologize for the delay on responding to your question, the situation that you described in your letter and of the symptoms your turtle showed made me automatically think your sweet pet was having seizures so I did some research and sure enough, it does look and sound exactly what is going on.
It could be a one time only happening. Please Google "Turtle Seizure" and watch the video. There are many other writings and videos. Please let me know if this helps in any ways. I am not done investigating this situation and you will here from me again soon.
Again, I am very sorry for the delay in responding.
Here's to good health to you and your 3-toed box turtle!
Donna >
weird episode with 3-toed box turtle /Darrel      7/7/17

Dear crew
<Hiya, Darrel here>
Last night I got up and noticed my box turtle (of 30+ years) seemed to be stricken in some way. She was acting like a victim of bad-movie stop action animatronics producer, moving incessantly in quick jerks, and upset with her front and rear ends. At the back, she would either scrub her butt with her heels over and over and over, like she had ants in her pants. Alternately, she would back up against her low feeding dish and keep pushing back, jerky step after jerky step, with her front legs. I took her out, her butt was fine, I rubbed it with TP in case it itched, but that didn't help her-- she continued doing it.
<I’ve seen this, too>
At her front end, she repeatedly, jerkily (every sort of move was fast and jerky and she NEVER stopped), rubbed with the backs of her front feet at her sides of her face, not particularly her eyes, but them, too, sometimes. And she also whipped her head about, one side to the other, like an angry person trying to make their eyes see small print or focus on something.
<I’ve assumed in was a nerve disorder, but they seem to get past it>

I put her in her water dish (water comes about 1/2 way up her shell) and she ducked down and put her head underwater for a bit, came back up (jerkily), climbed halfway out, whipped her head back toward the water, dropped back down into it, repeated the above about 4 times before finally climbing back out and continuing to do all the things I first described. She kept this up for over 4 hours. She was worn out in the morning, just crashed flat out, chin on her floor, sleeping.
<It’s possible that the phase {or whatever it is} simply passed on its own>
As to food, she has been eating mostly only strawberries and ball bugs for several weeks (she keeps getting fixated on one or 2 foods each warm season).
<I had a box turtle fixate on strawberries to the exclusion of all else for 11 YEARS. It’s not healthy for them, so I have learned to feed fruit sparingly. I normally feed snails from a garden that I know has no snail bait and earthworms from the bait store. Apples and carrots weekly but brightly colored fruits and berries no more than monthly>
<That said, that’s what I do. If he fixates only “in season” and he’s other wise healthy keep doing what you’re doing>
She has a couple small spots where the skin (scutes?) over the shell bone has died and disappeared, but they are not growing. The bone underneath is white and dry and solid.
I just noticed she has a light yellow spot under one eye. It does not wipe off.
<The scute died, leaving the bone underneath. This is almost always just mechanical damage, where the scute was rubbed, banged or broken. You have to pay a tiny bit of attention to the bone underneath … make sure it doesn’t grow algae or mold. Perhaps swabbing it with hydrogen peroxide once every couple of months>
Since the heavy sleep this morning, she has eaten half a strawberry and no longer looks like some bad movie producer is running her every move. Any idea what this might be?
<As I said, I’ve witnessed it in my own animals but it’s never been diagnosed as a specific disease and they seem to get it, get over it and get past it, so I wouldn’t worry>
<That said this is a good opportunity to get a general purpose vitamin supplement like Reptivite from our friends at Zoo Med and dust his food every day for a few weeks. The reasoning is that certain combinations of malnutrition or vitamin/mineral deficiencies do cause tremors… so even though I don’t think it’s his problem … it can’t hurt>
Thanks for any help you can give.

3-toed Box Turtle      12/29/16
Season's greetings from snowy Toronto.
<Hiya, Darrel here in nice, warm Southern California>
We're about to get a juvenile 3-toed box turtle. I've done a heap of reading here and a few other resources online. I just wanted to bounce my plans off the pros, to make sure I'm not missing anything.
<Well, let’s give it a shot>
We have a 65g long aquarium the terrapin will reside in (when it's bigger, as are our children, it will be given more free range of the main floor of our house). For now, I plan to fill the bottom of the tank with mulch, and probably some moss, sink a drip dish from a terra cotta pot into one corner for water, and a UV-B bulb at the other end.
<OK. Stop right there. Everything you SAY sound like a good idea. Can’t fault you. But then, it’s just like having children. THAT sounded like a good idea, too… until they came and turned 4 and suddenly that wasn’t so hot an idea, either. But it gets better! Think you have problems now? Wait until one of them drops out of college and comes home with a musician!>
<And that’s just the Box turtle – kids are worse!>
<Seriously. The substrate SOUNDS great until you experience that your terrapene pees and poops in it and since the traces are small … you can’t clean it all. This leaves a slow but increasingly aromatic build-up behind you until one day the turtle’s room smells like the kids room …>
<Having tried a great number of things over the years I’ve settled on a strategy that stresses effectiveness over natural-looking. I use Indoor-Outdoor carpet. I don’t mean artificial grass … that stuff is horrible to use and maintain on every level. I mean the old fashion green flat almost felt-looking indoor-outdoor carpet. I cut 4-6 pieces the size of the tank so I can have one in place, and extra pieces ready to go when it’s time to change it out. You can’t throw the soiled pieces in the washer but you can hand wash them in the sink and let then dry outside>
<For the hiding places, I use an upside down pot or a small plastic tub with the appropriate size hole cut out, but then using double sided tape and other adhesives I mount it to the corner about ¼ inch above the tank bottom so that the carpet slides out. Same with any artificial plants that you wish to place inside to make a less sterile-looking environment.>
Our house usually is around 18-20C through the winter (we just wear warmer clothes), but will the little dude also need a heat bulb or small heating pad under one spot of the substrate?
<For all my inside turtles, I use a regular incandescent 40w light placed 6inches above his highest standing position. In other words, measure him front to back, straight length and add 6 inches and that’s the height of the bulb. I have it on a timer from 6 to 6 in the winter>
For food, we'll start with wet dog food, and maybe some beef or pork offal. Can we also start giving veggies as a juvenile? And transition to Koi pellets when it has grown somewhat?
<This is a critical thing for Box Turtles. They can fixate on a given food. For me it was Clara and strawberries. She refused anything BUT strawberries. We had a contest of wills that lasted over 18 months before she gave in.>
<My suggestion is that you offer him a mashed-up mixture of wet food and dry food on day one… no more than a teaspoon full every OTHER day until he gets in the habit of eating it. Then after his entire routine is settled, add some chopped up fruit to that same mixture (again, every OTHER day) as long as he gleefully eats what is offered.>
Thanks very much for all your kind advice,
<no charge!>
Re: 3-toed Box Turtle      1/28/17

Thanks for the reply. So, SloMo is already in the aquarium now, with a substrate, but I will keep your carpet advice in mind, and when the aroma ripens, will pull it and replace with easy to clean carpeting. For now, Mo loves to dig into it to hide (even with a decent hiding place), especially under the water dish.
So far, Mo hasn't taken any food at all, and has been pretty shy, though s/he has only been hiding in the terra cotta pot cave —rather than buried in 3" of substrate— for the past two days, so I'm assuming it is just an issue of adapting to the new environment, etc. We keep putting a little bit of food into a small dish in Mo's space, and leaving it, then removing it
the next day, cleaning the dish, and repeating. I'm assuming s/he will eat when hungry, and am not too worried at the moment. If Mo were to eat it, I would hold off for a day until adding more, as per your advice.
Incandescent bulbs are increasingly hard to get here in Toronto (would have thought you granola-munchers in SoCal would have ditched them a long time ago!), but I got one of those black heating coil doohickeys on an A19 bulb end, and screwed it into a 5.5" reflector. It's 100w, and seems to crank it out, so positioned it a bit higher. My probe thermometer says it's 26C on that side of the tank, and 22C on the "cool" side. All seems to be coming along well!
Thanks again for you advice, and best wishes for the new year!
<Yes, even here in Granola Land, incandescent bulbs are hard to get. Fortunately we live right next door to more enlightened states (Pun!) and we can go there and bring back bulbs and other things necessary to Make Reptiles Great Again.>
<Part of the problem is that Mo is an Imperial Turtle and you’re a Metric country. He’s used to being heated by (f) and fed by Oz but you’re heating him with “C” and feeding him with “g” and it’s probably confusing him. Next time you might want to consider having a Canadian turtle; They’re just like American turtles except a bit smaller, much more polite and with a very slight inferiority complex.)
<For those who didn’t get it, Chris razzed me about California (Granola munchers) so I gave it back about Metric Canada. My mom, who was from St. Catherines, would have been proud>
<Keep up the good work Chris>

Desert tortoise almost drowned 6 days ago     4/15/16
Dear Crew
<Hiya, Darrel here>
A desert Tortoise lives in our backyard and has for several years before we bought the house. For the first time he woke up from hibernation and wandered straight into the pool. We don’t think he was there long before he was found but it could have been hours or minutes. We got him out and he was still alive so we stretched and pushed his front legs and he water would come out of his nose.
He seemed to perk up after a day and be doing well and now on day 6 he seems worse. He is lethargic and barely moving at this point but is still alive. Of course I am worried about what it would cost to take him to a specialty vet and then I worry that they will take him from the only place he has lived for years.
<Specialty vets are expensive, but sometimes necessary. The Tortoise has had water in his lungs (probably still has some) and he's suffering from pneumonia. The first thing to do is get him warm. Get him somewhere where you can keep him around 95 degrees or more. A plastic storage tub from a home center with a heat lamp clamped on the side running 24/7. >
We live in Tucson AZ and I have no idea what to do for him. He is wild although he has lives in or back yard for years. I just want to help him, we have come to love him and enjoy his presence. What can I do to help him and what should I do to help him.
<In this case I would suggest that you reach out to someone like Tucson reptile rescue http://www.tucsonreptilerescue.com/ and get a referral on a vet.>

Tortoises... Party animal espied      8/13/14
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have 2 Tunisia tortoises
This morning my partner noticed 1 of them up on all 4 legs, & it looked like the insides were coming out :D
<Not really …>
but because there only 1 & 2 years old we don't know the sex yet, I have seen in a picture it could be his penis, we did have a panic & was going to go to the vets, but it went back in?
<Yep! That's what you saw --- his Party Animal was out>
It's just my parents have tortoises & I've never seen this before...
<Some tortoises are more shy than others. It's normal and nothing to worry about>
Could you help me out thanks.
<No problem!>

Help,      8/11/14
<Hiya - Darrel here>
We found a turtle and want to keep it.

<Good choice!>
What kind is it?
<That is a Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)
and they are one of the coolest turtles on the planet. They're smart, personable, friendly, hardy and easy to care for>
What do we feed it?
<They're omnivores. They should eat fruits, vegetables, berries, snails and worms. The only things to be careful of are berries - they tend to fixate on one food and ignore all others… and snails. IF you choose to feed her snails, make sure they don't come from a garden that uses snail bait. I personally feed mine chopped up bits of apples, pears and melon twice a week and 2 or 3 earthworms (from the local bait shop) once a week>
How should it live?
<Like the rest of us - on a Lanai on the North Shore of Oahu.>
<Seriously … in a fenced garden where the fence goes down at least 6 inches and the top lip is bent inward at least 6 inches (they are good diggers and great climbers). She would have access to water at least as deep as her shoulders with nice easy access in and out. I use the base bowl of a clay pot 12" in diameter and flush it with the hose several times a week.>
Should it be flailing at the top of the fish tank looking like it's trying to come out?
<Yes it should be!! It's a land turtle, not a water turtle>
Should I put him back in his holding container (car seat/bin)?
<For now, yes.>
<Also note that box turtles live just fine indoors. I've seen people let them live "free range" in an apartment as long as the doorways are blocks, there are no ledges to fall from and people watch where they step> 

baby box turtle     7/15/14
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have a baby box turtle that was born in our backyard. He lives in an aquarium in our house and I keep finding him on his back in his water rock.
<I assume you mean a little bowl shaped to look like a rock? That's because as a baby they are too clumsy to climb and out of one of those.
I don't use them at all. I use the upside down lid to a small plastic bowl ... something with no more than a 1/4 lip on the side. Yes, the water evaporates but that's ok - his entire environment should be a bit moist
(some peat or similar material that is saturated every few days) and then twice a week I just dip water into the lid. Often I take them over and place them in it as a bath. Generally they are not aquatic, so they don't need "swimming water.">
Why does he keep doing this??I have bark up to the lip of the water rock so he can walk in smoothly.
<That will help, but if the water is deep enough that an upside-down baby can drown, he might>
Please help.
<His diet is earthworms, snails, TINY bits of moist dog food, along with small bits of fruits and vegetables. Something watch for in all turtles but ESPECIALLY in Box Turtles ... they'll find a favorite food and fixate on it and refuse everything else. I had an adult female that fixated on strawberries and wouldn't eat anything else. I finally had a contest of wills with her and I offered her only a dab of moist dog food and a single leaf of spinach ..... for ELEVEN MONTHS. So make sure you keep her diet balanced and varied>

My turtle like the shade? 6/26/14
I'm Heidi and I'm an amateur turtle owner. I have a 1 year old (about 5in in length and around 4 in width) female Malayan Box turtle that was given to me by a college friend who's uncle owns a pet shop. Petra, my turtle, eats a lot (and I mean a lot. I'm wondering if I need to control her food) and I try to give her a wide variety of foods, from veggies, to fish, shrimps, squid and pellets (which she eats).
<Provided you mostly give her plant foods, don't worry about her overeating. Too much meaty food is bad (so restrict fish or seafood to once or twice a week) but you are fine giving her plant-based pellets (Koi carp pellets are excellent) every day and vegetables as often as she wants.>
Because of her appetite, I think she's happy and healthy.
<Correct; with reptiles, there is a very close link between appetite and health.>
But sometimes I'm not really sure. I know turtles are supposed to bask under the sun for a long time but in Petra's case, she avoids the sun. Is that normal?
<Yes. Reptiles use sunlight to control their body temperature. Basking alternates with seeking shade (for cooling down). In the tropics, reptiles may actually spend more time avoiding sunshine than basking! Think about desert reptiles that are active only at dusk and dawn. Your turtle will have an extremely good sense of balancing "warming up" with "cooling down", and in tropical countries, we really don't need to worry about this.
Provide she has a sunny spot, a shady spot, and enough water to drink, she'll be fine.>
I'm really worried if she's getting enough sun. I sometimes see her opening her mouth (is she yawning? or are those signs of respiratory infection?)
and making clicking sounds.
<Reptiles will open their mouths for a variety of reasons, including cooling down. If the air temperature is very high, 25+ degrees C, don't be surprised if she's more worried about cooling down than anything else.
Turtles (and reptiles generally) can't sweat, so they open their mouths to achieve something similar. Water evaporates from their mouth, carrying away heat. As I say, she must have access to water otherwise she'll dry out doing this. But it's obviously different to respiratory tract infections (RTIs) that go along with closed eyes, wheezing, often froth or white discharge around the nose.>
She does't seem evasive since she lets me pet her head from time to time, and she would sometimes run towards me when I let her out.
<Sounds a well adjusted pet.>
I live in the Philippines (a tropical country) and my province especially is sunny all year round so I opted for her to stay in a big plastic tub in our veranda where the sun could hit her tank a few hours each day.
Sometimes, I would let her out to walk around the veranda and garage/garden (supervised) for an hour or so. Is that okay?
<Yes. So long as she's happy being moved about like this, it's fine.>
But whenever I do, she would stay under the sun for a couple of minutes (and when I say a couple, I mean like 5 min or less) and then she would run to the shade.
And sometimes, even when she's in her tank, she would go under the filter or any shade that she can see. And she seem to like the water lots. I rarely see her come out from the water, Do you think dry docking would help?
<Nope. She's at risk from overheating. Provided she's eating and breathing normally (no wheezing) then let her do what her instincts say. Cuora species spend 90% of their time in the water, and will overheat in the tropics if the can't find shade and/or water. They only spend short periods on land. Presumably they bask to top up their Vitamin D levels, but that's about it.>
My mom said that our weather here in Pampanga might not be good for turtles. But I've seen snapping turtles live in the creek near our house and they seem to be thriving well. And there are even soft-shelled turtles that actually plagues some fisheries in our neighboring province so I don't think that's the case.
<Quite so.>
I'm not sure what's wrong with her. Something might be either wrong with her, or something is wrong with me for being so paranoid. I lost a young RES before because of a lung disease that eventually weakened him so I'm very very cautious now with Petra. I hope you can help. Thanks a lot.
<Do have a read of this excellent article on Cuora spp. box turtles:
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: My turtle like the shade?
Thanks very much Neale. Really helped me out!
<Most welcome.>

Concerned     3/21/14
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I need some help about 5 years ago I saw my ornate box tortoise pooping out a white oblong soft rubbery substance I assumed it was a still born egg
<it was an egg, yes. No way to know if it was fertile>

so I threw it away and today I went to go feed my 12 year old RES and on the bottom of her tank was the same white oblong substance a couple were still intact with like a runny almost yolk like substance and then a bunch of pieces floating on the bottom I cleaned her tank and returned her to it can you tell me what is going on I am concerned I don't have the money for a reptile vet but if she needs to see a vet then I know I have to come up with the money
<No need for a vet at this point. Your turtle is laying eggs. Turtles often start to gestate eggs in their normal biological cycle but if the eggs are not fertilized the female's body just absorbs them again. In some cases even unfertilized eggs will form the outer shell, in which case she lays them even through they are not fertile.>
<If your female has not been with a male for the last 5 years, there is virtually no chance that the eggs are fertile - but if she has… then they might be and if the eggs were laid on land (in other words not expelled into the water) then it might be worth trying to incubate them. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/TurtleReproArtDarrel.htm in either case, this is nothing to worry about. Just remove the egg parts and clean the tank and she'll be fine>
Thank you...shanti ~~shanti Simon~~

Please identify this turtle 6/18/10
Dear Crew
<Hiya! Darrel here>
My friend in Alaska got this turtle 10 years ago from someone in an apartment and was told it was at least 10 years old then. So I assume it was a pet before he got it. He doesn't know what type it is but has had it in an aquarium with a small pond and a hiding place and light bulb/heating lamp and feeds it the likes of mixed vegetables and I'm not sure what else but seems healthy and happy...as far as I could tell. But for the life of me... and he never could find out what kind he is...the "bill" he has...I have no idea how that formed or if it is the nature of the species but it is hard but thin...like a toenail...perhaps. His nostrils are above his bill.
<What you have there Laurie '¦ is a 1971 Plymouth Duster with the 340 cu V8 engine in front of a factory 4 speed heavy duty transmission '¦'¦>
<Oops, wait '¦ wrong forum>
<Laurie '¦ what you have there is a very unusual version of a very common animal. That there is a 3 toed Box Turtle (Terrapene triungis) that is very, Very, VERY badly misshapen. Without doubt a birth defect from a poorly formed egg, as you can see if you compare any photos of a 'normal' box turtle. In the egg, turtles and tortoises develop "folded over" at the waist '¦ in essence folded in half. As they grow they straighten out and the plastron (bottom plate of the shell) is flattened to be "normal" as you can see in Louise there, her bottom didn't fully straighten out and is now a bulge.>
<This is one more testament to how resilient our turtle friends are. Louise (and I just made that up, I have no idea what her name is - or even if it is a "her") will live a fine & happy life in spite of some fairly severe differences.>
<Box turtles are terrestrial, Laurie. It's possible that a 3 toed box like Louise may never actually get to swim in anything we'd call deep water. Her enclosure should be primarily land with moss, wood chips and maybe even sand as a substrate with just a dish of fresh water to bathe in. Normally they start out as carnivorous as babies, feasting on worms and grubs and whatever else they can catch -- and becoming more vegetarian as they age.>
<Now you can look up all kinds of information on Terrapene triungis and get lots of specific information about her care (her?? There I go again!!) but at the same time keep in mind that nothing succeeds like success '¦ whatever your friend and you have been doing for the last 15-20 years has allowed something nature would have discarded to survive and even thrive!! Congrats to both of you!!>
Thanks, Laurie
<Yer welcome Laurie!!>
<Now '¦ I wonder if I told the guy with the Plymouth to feed it worms and melon and dip it in water twice a day '¦??>

Red eye terrapin   2/18/14
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I bought my son a terrapin recently. We brought it from Singapore to Malaysia. While in Malaysia, the terrapin started to develop white spot on the shell, towards the tail.
<A white spot can be many things, often it's a sign of fungus which can often happen when the turtle does not bask in enough sunlight to get completely dry.>
<If no UV-B light is available, direct sunlight is good as long as the turtle can get out from under it after some time.  10 minutes a day in a dry pan under direct sunlight is OK as long as he can then be put back into cool water.>
Since then, the terrapin refuse to eat.  We normally feed the terrapin with Nutrafin basix which according to pet shop, contains all the nutrient required by the terrapin.
<I use Koi food which is available in pellets at most pet stores.  It's a great and balanced diet of almost all water turtles and it's very inexpensive>
Appreciate your advise as I'm not aware of any reptile vet in Singapore.
<No reason to rush to a vet just yet.  Please read here and understand the need for UV-B light and see if you can arrange for some sunlight for him each day.   He should have a warm basking place and cool water so that he can choose what he needs. 
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm >
<In most cases a fungal infection will clear up after a few days of access to good sunlight.  If you feel it needs to be treated, read here about
fungal infections: 
Re: Red eye terrapin       2/26/14

Hi Darrel,
<Hiya Esther>
My baby terrapin is still not eating and I notice that is back legs are coated with a thin whitish coating. I managed to find AZOO bacterial and fungal drops meant for turtles and tortoise.
<OK, now yes - this is beginning to get serious.  The very first thing to do is to "dry dock" him.   Water (and a warm moist environment) are no longer his friend.   We need to keep him warm and DRY except for a short bath daily.   Apply the anti-fungal drops according to directions, but the dryness and exposure to proper UV lighting is you most potent weapon against the fungus.
Please read all about it here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm  > Also got Nutrafin slow release calcium supplements. But I'm concern that the terrapin is not eating. It had been about 10 days already and it seems to be very weak. Hardly move now. What can do with the non eating issue and can terrapin continue to survive not eating for so many days?
<10 days is not a terribly long time to not eat… but not moving and seeming to sleep all the time is a sign but he has been sick for much longer than 10 days and we just didn't notice.   If it was possible, I'd ask a veterinarian to give him a multi-vitamin & calcium injection.   Any veterinarian can do this, even one that treats dogs and cats - since the injections are the same and the dosages are available from the manufacturer's web site.>
<If that is not possible then it's not likely you can force-feed the terrapin.  Instead, keep him warm and dry and the instructions say… help him fight off the fungal infection and his daily luke-warm water bath may stimulate his appetite.>
re: Red eye terrapin       2/26/14

Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately the terrapin died last Sunday.
Hopefully we'll be better with the next terrapin. We actually took care of two terrapin successfully and they are now as big as a small saucer.
Didn't encounter any problems with them. Still can't understand why this baby terrapin became so sick. Anyway thanks for all the help.
Re: Red eye terrapin      2/28/14

Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately the terrapin died last Sunday.
<On behalf of Bob Fenner, Neale, Sue and the whole crew, Esther, please accept our condolences>
Hopefully we'll be better with the next terrapin. We actually took care of two terrapin successfully and they are now as big as a small saucer. Didn't encounter any problems with them. Still can't understand why this baby terrapin became so sick.
<The fact that he died after 10 days was an indication that he was sick far longer than that.   It's the major drawback of dealing with reptiles and fish... they work very hard at looking and acting normal even when they're sick, so by the time they show signs on the outside they've been sick for a long time>
<the best treatment, they say, is prevention.  So the main thing we can do for our little ones is make sure and double-sure that all of our care meets their needs>
Anyway thanks for all the help.
<You are most welcome.  Send us pictures of the bigger ones!! -- Darrel>

baby box turtle     9/22/13
Dear Crew
<Hiya Jody- Darrel here>
We have had some box turtles in our yard. We had to replace our fence and I sent the three turtles on vacation to a co-worker that has many box turtles and a lovely yard designed for them.  That was in July 2013.Yesterday, Sept. 18, 2013 I saw a very tiny turtle near the porch.  It was by a group of rocks and didn't move while I was around.  I was uncertain if I should just leave it alone or if I should keep it in a very large Rubbermaid until my children got a chance to see it.
<It's almost certainly a baby box turtle.  I'm ambivalent in such cases.  Box turtles are hardy creatures and in the genuine "wild" I'd leave them alone - but in an open yard, I'd pick him up and make a better home for him.>
 I went ahead and shoveled some dirt and flat rocks into the container and set the turtle there with some shallow water and a small piece of lunch meat. When my family came home we were all checking out the little guy and I thought it must have just been born because its eyes weren't open yet.
<The eyes are open at hatching time, but when they're small they do tend to be shy>
From my internet research (you know how that is) that doesn't seem to be correct. The eyes seem to be yellow.  Almost like when you have sleep in your eye.  The eyes seem almost like they are open and this yellow stuff is on top of the eyeball.
<I'd guess that, too>
We do not plan on having a captive, pet turtle.  We like having the turtles around and give them food and water in the yard.  However, we are not equipped with large tank and all the supplies.
<Well - of all the turtles in the world, Box turtles require the least stuff to care for them and they make the easiest turtles for care for.>
We are interested in helping as best we can, but did not plan on vet bills, etc.
<First, use a Q-tip swab dipped in water to wipe away what you can from his eyes.  If the eyes look puffy or swollen shut, you can try some vitamin A eye drops from a local health food store. (Internet Research note:   It’s FAR better to deliver all vitamins in the diet, drops are not nearly as effective, but they're a good start)>
<Start with a tub or container that can allow direct sunlight to hit him.  A board over part of the top to provide shade is necessary.  Sunlight through glass or even window screen is ineffective.  If you plan on keeping him, a $24 Repti-Sun CFL bulb from our friends and Zoo-Med will provide the UV light he needs.>
<A good diet from the start would be wet dog or cat food.   Sometimes when I've first found them I had to soak them in a shallow bowl of luke warm water (barely up to their shoulders) and then offer a tiny bit of the food on the end of a toothpick.   Once they start to accept food, small pieces of beef or chicken liver (and I mean SMALL pieces- no bigger than the size of your smallest fingernail) will deliver excellent vitamins and minerals to make up for what may have been a long time without food.>
Any thoughts or suggestions?
<The other idea is to search the Internet for a Turtle & Tortoise Club in your area.  A baby box turtle is something all of us seek.   You'd have no trouble finding him a forever home>

Pregnant Diamondback Terrapin     5/21/13
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My concern involves my 9 year old female Diamondback Terrapin.
<When I was a kid in Florida and I wanted a turtle, by parents bought me the basic care book on Turtles - and it had a Diamondback on the cover.  Thinking was THE coolest turtle in the world, I read and learned and got all set up to have one -- and there was none to be had.  All the pet stores had were Red Eared Sliders, so I never got my Diamondback.  Even to this day I think about them kinda wistfully.   Hmmm … now I'm wondering if that's part of my problem?>
First off, I found her (and a male) 9 years ago off of a Jersey Bay when I was walking home. The two terrapins were a little larger then quarters so I imagined they had just hatched. Instead of heading to the bay, the babies headed into the road and they were the only two out of about 20 I saw that were still alive. Anyway, about a month ago my female started wanting out of the tank constantly, attempting to climb out anyway she could. I had no idea she was pregnant until about a week and a half ago I found an egg at the bottom of the tank.
<Strange, frenetic activity during the early spring is a typical sign>
Since I found the egg, she would do nothing but lay out on the basking dock 24/7. After two days of her not eating or swimming, I set up a separate tank for her with a swimming area and a beach of crushed shells and sand hoping she would lay the 'rest' of the eggs so she would start acting normal. Since she's been in this tank she's ate some food, but she still doesn't seem right. I'm very worried and I just want to know if she's acting this way because there's more eggs to come, she's sick or dying?
<She's probably not sick or dying.  She probably is gravid (That's a $5 word meaning 'pregnant with eggs') and she's probably uncomfortable.  Let me give you the general picture about turtles and eggs:>
<Females often gestate eggs - even when there are no males present.  If the conditions aren't right in any number of ways, her body just reabsorbs the eggs and that's the end of it.  If the conditions are good enough, the eggs will develop the hard shell on the outside.  Once that happens she can't reabsorb and starts looking for places to lay them.   They become nervous and active and frantically walking around.  Even when presented with a nesting box they'll search every inch, often digging "test holes" just to see, only to abandon them in favor of another and another and another.  It always reminds me of my ex-wife shopping for shoes - no male, human, turtle or otherwise, could ever know what's better about one than another but if we even dare to ask the question we're liable to get our heads bitten off.>
<ANYWAY … if no suitable location is found they will often just deposit them on the floating dock or even in the water - just to get rid of them.  In a very small percent of cases - and I mean one in perhaps a thousand, the eggs just stay in the oviduct and sort of calcify into stones.  If that happens they seem to lead normal, happy lives, but their fertile days are over.>
<What you can do for Snickey (assuming her name is Snickey) is to give her a nesting box.   Get a large plastic storage tub with high sides from a Building Supply store and a bag of peat moss and a bag of Vermiculite.   The Vermiculite now comes only in large (2 cu ft) bags called Therm-o-Rock.   Mix half & half into the tub until it's about 8 inches deep and then place it in the direct sun.   Place a cover over part, so there is some shade, and then put Snickey in there and see what she does.   You may have to arrange some sort of additional walls so that she can't climb out, but if you leave her in there for a couple days and nights, she might decide it's worth trying.>
<Don't worry about her not eating or basking.   She's well equipped to go a week or two without either of those.  On the other hand, after a few days, if she's just sitting there looking at you like she has no idea what she did to be put in turtle jail, put her back in her regular tank for a day or two and then try again>
 Any advice would be great. Thank you so much.   -Sheena

Ornate Wood Turtle won't take calcium!   3/10/13
Hey there!
<Hi thare!, Ho Thare!>
I asked a question here about a year ago for a little Yellow Belly Slider with a pale spot on her shell.  Turns out she was just shedding after all; she's in perfect health, living safe with my mother; Mom fell in love and wanted to keep her.
<Could I introduce your mom to my youngest son?  Maybe I'd have the same luck!>
I recently moved to Texas (Corpus Christi),
<Oh dear … sorry to hear that.   Was it part of a Court Order or something?>
And I was in Petco with my partner.  We saw this Ornate Wood Turtle (5" across the shell, female) flopped over in the corner of her tank.  Her tank was very, very moist, with no place for her to dry herself, and I've actually attached a picture of what she looked like when we brought her home.  We took her to the vet, and we have to take her in for antibiotic shots twice a week, as well as keep her dry-docked, with daily soakings for 30 minutes per soaking.  Bar for some exposed bone, she's been looking better, as you can see in the other picture, but she's now refusing to take her calcium.  Her favorite food is blueberries, but if we put calcium powder on them, she'll look at them and sulk away.
<I hate when they do that>
We've tried mealworms, night crawlers, squash, kale, and just plain old wood turtle food, all to no effect.  I tried dissolving some calcium in water and giving it to her via dropper, and while she opened her mouth and drank a few drops, as soon as she realized what it was, she tucked her head in and refused to come near the dropper.
We got a cuttlebone, and she avoided it like it was going to bite her.
<Also, yep>
Do you think I should just dissolve it in her soaking water?
<Nope.  In order to dissolve enough calcium into the water for her to absorb it - the water would be more like what we call dry-wall.>
As well, do you think Vita Shell would be safe to use on her, to avoid her shell cracking while she's dry-docked?
<First ... turn the worrying down a few notches.  You're doing fine,  Petunia is doing fine and so there's no real need to having anything but an arched eyebrow here.   That whole family of turtles is notorious for fixating on certain foods, refusing all other foods until their owners go crazy with worry.  I once had one that fixated on strawberries for THREE YEARS, she wouldn't eat anything else.  It got so bad I changed her name to Queeg (look it up) and she only got fed once ever 6 weeks … until finally, one day, I put her outside while I did some yard work and when I looked up she was eating a dandelion.>
<In your case, you've given the emergency treatments or antibiotics and supplements and Petunia has responded.  So as long as she's eating and active, she'll get a natural amount of calcium and other vitamins from her diet, sunshine, etc.  It takes a little longer, but as long as the signs are positive, you're OK>
<Remember, vitamins and supplements are necessary for two reasons (1) To make up for a bad diet, which won't be the case here since you seem to be a great turtle mom and (2) to correct a past problem - which we're almost passed now.>
<Make SURE that you vary her diet.  If blueberries are her fave - go VERY sparingly on them (like once every 6 weeks) because she can fixate on them and drive you crazy like Queeg did to me.  Also, it becomes your ace in the hole … when she DOES want the berries badly enough, then you can sneak in other supplements with them.>
<Now to the case in point.  Ask your vet for a few CC's of calcium Gluconate.  It's calcium in a glucose solution.  Put a few drops on a piece of white bread crust and see if she'll jump on it.  Another delivery system for calcium is snails: Find a local garden that has snails and does NOT use snail bait and take a few and place them in Petunia's habitat.  Usually, in a few days, the snails and their calcium rich shells are gone.>
Thanks for your help.
<No charge!!>

Ornate Wood Turtle Update    9/27/14
Hello again! I wrote about a year ago about a turtle with shell rot that was being fussy about her calcium. Just dropping in to say that she's healing up great (no pictures right now). She's got scarring that the vet
says might not fade, but the exposed bone is peeling up, and there's healthy scute growth under it. Now that she's healed, she's really curious and lively, which is a real change from how lethargic she was a year ago.
Thanks for your help and advice, guys!
<Always nice to hear a happy ending! Thanks for letting us know. Cheers, Neale.>

Identifying a turtle   9/13/12
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I recently came across a baby turtle during hurricane cleanup in Mississippi, so I'm not sure if its even a land or water turtle. I'm attaching a picture in hopes of someone being able to identify it so I can provide it with proper care.
<Kayla - what you have there looks like a baby box turtle … just about THE coolest land turtle there is. I'd like to see a side view and one from 3/4 toward the front just to be sure … BUT from here it looks like a Terrapene carolina. Lost of documentation on them on-line, great personable pets!>

Ornate Box Tortoise, repro. issue?   8/1/12
Dear Crew,
<Hiya Jaremiah - Darrel here>
I am really worried about my estimated eight year old ornate box tortoise.
She mated with a male about two months ago and I started finding eggs but it turned out to be another tortoise we have, she however has not laid any eggs and is becoming lethargic and I am worried she is egg bound.
<I wouldn't worry too much, Jare - while tortoise and turtles do get egg bound, it's a LOT more rare than people think.  Usually, if conditions aren't right to lay the eggs and/or they don't expel the eggs, they simply re-absorb them.   They don't become a problem until the hard shell forms and that usually happens just before laying>
She won't eat but she will soak in her water in some kind of trance most of the time.
<I feel the same way many days, recently>
The rest of the time she stays in a trance with her arms, legs, and head out of her shell.
<That's only because she can't swill Bourbon>
She was digging holes and seemed to be preparing to lay eggs.
<Sometimes they dig around and for whatever reason decides it's not going to happen, but it's too early to know that yet.>
I cannot afford a vet and it is so sad is there anything I can do to help her if she is egg bound.
<The only thing to do is soak her in 3/4 inches of lukewarm water for 20 minutes a day.   Occasionally that will stimulate expulsion.>
<But if you're asking me, monitor her for now.  Let her be.  Offer food every other day or so, but let her go through what she has to go through. 
If she's still in this torpid state by September, then consider the baths>
FW: Ornate Box Tortoise     8/5/12

Thanks a lot, I have recently notice she has one eye she doesn't open and some liquid was coming from it today. So I brought her inside in an aquarium until she feels better. Is this ok. I personally despise people who keep turtles in a small confined area, My habitat is almost 100 square feet, but it is over a hundred degrees and she doesn't dig into the mulch like the other turtles.
<Discharge from the eyes, called 'weeping' is not uncommon in some turtles, but it's not common in Box turtles.   See about giving her a vitamin A supplement.   If she's eating, very small chunks of liver (beef or chicken) can be given along with their regular veggies and they usually gobble them up.>
<In a large garden-type area like you describe, are we sure that no one has used any pesticides or snail-bait?  Or fed her a snail from another garden that did?>
Re: Ornate Box Tortoise     8/7/12

We have used Seven on our vegetable garden that is about ten feet away from their habitat. We wash everything we give them. Could this be it.
<Snail bait is toxic to turtles - but unless she ate a turtle pellet or ate a snail that had eaten a pellet, it wouldn't be a factor.>
She is a little lazy sleeping most of the time.
<It's not a great thing that she's sleeping most of the time, but then again my box turtles are healthy and they're only active during the morning and dusk hours.  In the middle of the day they usually seek shade and sleep.>
<If you continue to be concerned about her lethargy, bring her indoors for a few days and see if more moderate temperatures and simply a big change stimulates her in any way>

Terrapene carolina; repro.     7/29/12
Hi, I have an Eastern Box Turtle that has recently laid 3 eggs. One she laid and didn't bury, so I'm guessing they're infertile. The other 2 she laid under her "home". Is there anything special I should do for her eggs?
<Chuck 'em away? Seriously, rearing turtle eggs is very difficult. For one thing, if you move them so they aren't oriented with the "up" the right way, you'll kill them. In zoos they draw an "x" on the top when they expose the nest, and make sure to carry the eggs with "x" upwards. In any case, if there isn't a male with the her, or hasn't been for a few weeks, they won't be fertilised, so they're no more likely to hatch into turtles than eggs from the grocery store hatching into chickens.>
I have them in a bowl with moist (but not wet) potting soil, they're in a warm environment, and partially buried. I spray them everyday just to make sure they're not drying out, I'm using distilled water because I read tap water wasn't good for them. Am I not doing something, or should I change something, because I would like to have at least 1 baby turtle live. I caught her in the wild, so I know nothing of her past. Also, is there a way that I can tell if anything is forming inside the egg?
<Yes, holding up to a light can reveal what's going on inside a few days after laying. It's called "candling" because candles have been used in the past. Google "candling eggs" and you'll get some photos. Infertile eggs are just a dark mess after a few days, but fertilised eggs will have visible blood vessels inside you can see. Smell is also a good clue.>
<Cheers, Neale.>

Please help me to identify my little buddy     5/26/12
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
Can you please help me to identify my turtle?  My children found him in September in the cold rain, I believe he was just hatched, but needless to say, I have fallen in love with his little turtle face!
<They are neat, aren't they?>
I believe he is healthy, but would like to know what kind he is, so I can better care for him. 
Thank you so much,
Jenna, Michigan
<Jenna - what you have there is possibly THE coolest turtle on the planet!!  It's a Terrapene carolina … a Box Turtle.   They are fun, friendly, develop distinct personalities, inquisitive and easy to care for.>
<They're not water turtles, per se.  They live on land, usually NEAR water because they do like to swim.   They mostly eat snails and worms as babies and juveniles and then transition to more fruits and vegetables as they get older.   Just make sure, if you feed him snails, that there has been no snail-bait used.>
<For now, he belongs in the terrarium-type setup.  I make mine starting with a long plastic storage box from a building supply store … you can use actual peat moss on the floor if you want, but I usually buy a couple pieces of indoor-outdoor carpet (not the stuff that looks like fake grass) and put that in the bottom, then I place some tiny potted plants in various places.  He requires a source of UV-B and this can easily be accomplished with a Reptisun CFL bulb from Zoomed and a plain ordinary clamp-lamp with reflector that you get at the building supply store.>
<He'll grow slowly and as he does his shell will start to become much more domed.   He's likely to live over 80 years, too!>
<The only thing to warn you about is that they can tend to fixate on one kind of food and ignore everything else.  I had a box turtle named Bud that decided he wouldn't eat anything but strawberries.   It is a difficult habit to break.>
<Have fun - that little guy will be pleasure to have!>

 It's a baby turtle!   3/28/12
We just found the baby turtle near the nest that we fenced as you instructed.  Photo to follow...
<Congratulations, Christine!!!  You're the proud parents of a baby Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina).   They tend to be a bit more carnivorous as babies … I feed mine the amount of wet cat food that will fit on a toothpick twice a week.   I soak them in about an 1/8 inch of tepid tap water for 5 minutes and then offer the cat food.  Usually within a week or so of hatching they'll start chomping away.  You can leave greens and fruits in his indoor enclosure for him as well.  Keep in mind that when he is small, he is easy prey for rodents, birds and the like, so a small terrarium setup is best.>
<Also, the eggs are laid 4-6 at a time, so be on the lookout for some brothers & sisters!>

Turtle Identification   3/1/12
Dear WWM Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
Please help me identify my turtle.
<His name is Gary.   He's the son of Odman and Clara Scmitterman>
I made the mistake of asking our local pet shop when we first acquired the turtle from my father-in-laws golf course. However, I have never been sure that they were right (they said yellow belly Cooter)
<Wow!  They're not only NOT right … the only way they could have been more WRONG is if they told you he was a toaster-oven>
and am afraid that my poor turtle may not have the proper conditions he needs, in fact I found him at the bottom of the aquarium almost dead from drowning this morning.
<He's a land turtle!>
He has a heater, turtle dock, UV light, and filter in his aquarium but honestly all my research makes me think he is not even a water turtle. Thank you so much for any advice you can give me. My girls and I love Squirt very much but I don't want him to suffer because they wanted him as a pet.
<Sorry it too so long to get back to you, Bree.  I hope Gary is OK>
<Gary (or whatever you named him, is a Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina).  They are some of the cutest and friendliest turtles around - and there is much information about them.>
<To start, they live on land.  They do swim sometimes, but usually just soak in shallow water.   His enclosure would be a solid floor covered in anything from newspaper to dirt or peat or even that indoor-outdoor carpet (it looks nice being green & all and you can take it out & wash it in the sink!)>
<He needs a heat lamp over part of his enclosure, but not a tremendously hot one (I used a normal 60 watt incandescent bulb) and he needs a UV-B lamp - the kind used for water turtles is fine.>
<A shallow bowl of water that he can climb into and soak in is good>
<Food-wise they eat snails, worms, grubs as well as fruits and veggies.   As a youngster he'll tend more toward the snails and worms.    I feed my young ones am earthworm or two every Saturday morning (Pet stores carry earthworms called night crawlers) and I offer a melon piece or a carrot end & top every Wednesday or so.>
<One thing they tend to do is "fixate" on one food and refuse all others.  I had an adult Box turtle that fixated on strawberries and wouldn't eat anything else.   It took years to get her back to eating regular foods>
Bree Scott and daughters :)
<Yer welcome!>

Restless Russian Tortoise 1/4/12
I am a first time Russian Tortoise owner and I got my little guy 4 days ago.
<I hope you bought a book first. Trust me when I tell you that tortoises are not easy pets, and you need to do your research carefully. A close friend of mine keeps three, and she's had them for decades. While low maintenance in many ways, you do need to understand things like body weight, diet, hibernation, and activity levels at different temperatures.>
Now I am having trouble keeping him contained. I read up on care sheets and how to properly house him indoors. First, I warily had him in a glass reptile tank. I taped up the side with cardboard and textured paper so he couldn't see out through the sides. He was doing alright the first 2 days with that, just exploring and what-not with occasional napping but the next day he started crawling at the corners endlessly. He bangs against the sides and pushes himself up against it just crawling.
<How big is this enclosure? Few tortoises are truly happy in glass tanks, and even one that looks big, say, 75-100 gallons, is tiny from the perspective of a tortoise. Bear in mind many species cover surprisingly big distances each day, and they often alternate time on the ground with periods in burrows as well, so they have quite complex demands in terms of activity. It's best to keep tortoises at least partly outdoors. Here in England, it's pretty standard to let them outside in summer, and then bring them indoors only when it gets cooler. But they're amazing escape artists, and as you're observing, if they feel trapped, they *will* try and get out.>
Anytime I got near him, even outside of the tank, he would hiss at me.
<Yes. This will pass in time.>
I was getting considerably more worried that he was getting very stressed.
<Likely so. How big is this enclosure?>
So today I bought a Rubbermaid container with solid sides and set it up as the care sheet I was following told me to as well, thinking this would solve the problem and make him feel safer and better contained, also so he couldn't see through the sides thinking this would stop his corner crawling.
<Possibly, but it'll instead make him think he's called into a pit.>
Within 5 minutes he started to crawl at the corners. I've sat to watch him just to see if he was trying to get use to the new 'cage' and he has been going on for an hour now crawling at the corners and I don't know what else to do. I am worried about him being stressed out and I've tried searching the internet for a similar case, but I can't find any information and was wondering if you could help. I am doing something incorrectly that is causing this? And what can I do to fix it?
<Need to know about the size of the vivarium you're using and what you're doing to provide complexity to his habitat, e.g., substrate, caves.>
<While he may settle down in time, the size of the vivarium is a key issue, plus the fact tortoises really aren't easy to keep in vivaria compared to ones given the garden to roam around in. Hope this helps, Neale.>

I have a question.. 10/13/11
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I was driving down the road today and witnessed a truck almost hit a turtle that was crossing the road.. My niece instantly fell in love with it and wanted to keep it.
<I understand>
Im just wondering if you can identify the species of turtle it is, and what to feed it..
<Yep - it's a Box Turtle!! (Terrapene carolina) and one of the coolest, neatest, personable turtles you can possibly have.>
<They like to swim, but they live on land can be very happy in a fenced garden, patio, etc. But I've even had them as house pets as long as you dont have a toddler to drop them or a dog to try to play with them - anywhere she's not likely to get stepped on.>
<At that size, her diet is mainly veggies and fruits, but they like snails and earthworms if they can get them. If you feed her snails, make sure they're not from a garden that uses snail bait, since that is toxic to her as well.>
I will enclose a few pics of him/her..
Thank you for your time...
<My pleasure! - one of my favorite turtles ever>

Turtle identification 10/07/11
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
We live in Mobile Al and found this turtle in our back yard. We live close to a large lake. It laid eggs in the ground in the shade of a pine tree. Can you identify it for us?
<Sure. Her name is Alvis Box. She's 26 years old, daughter of Henry and Docka Box. She enjoys walks in the moonlight, 70's rock music and male turtles that are not afraid to cry.>
<Unless you wanted more generic information?>
<What you have there is a Gulf Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina major) one of THE coolest turtles on the planet. Smart, friendly and interesting. They are terrestrial turtles, living around the edges of water and not so much in the water. They enjoy swimming, but live mostly on land. As adults they eat mostly vegetables (the same kinds our parents tried to get us to eat) but will never pass up a snail or an earthworm if given a chance. They make great pets.>
<You have two choices with the eggs: Leave them where they are and let nature take it's course - in which case you need to place a 3 foot wide ring of chicken wire or hardware cloth fencing (enclose the top, too) to contain the babies when they hatch next year.>
<-OR- you can dig the eggs up and incubate them yourself with a much greater chance of the eggs hatching (if they're fertile, and not all layings are fertile). The trick here is to GENTLY dig them up, without breaking them or changing their orientation. It's tricky work just like the archeologists you see on TV "digging" 10 foot deep holes with paint brushes it takes patience but hey, what ELSE were you going to do tomorrow?
Here is a link on what to do and how to do it: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/TurtleReproArtDarrel.htm >
<If you get babies, write back!!>

What is this turtle? 8/15/11
Dear Crew,
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I was recently given a baby turtle about an inch around in diameter.
<How cool>
At first I thought it might be a snapping turtle but I am not sure.
I don't know what to feed it or if I should keep it in water or not. It seems to like light and being on dry surfaces. It has two knot like bumps on it's head and a sharp pointed down lip. Can you help me figure out what kind of turtle it is?
<What you have there is probably the absolute most coolest turtle on the planet, Amanda. That's a Terrapene carolina a Box Turtle. They live on land, mostly and they eat bugs, snails, veggies, flower petals, etc. I feed mine most fruits and vegetables with an occasional snail from the garden (NOT a garden where anyone uses snail poisons)>
< A perfect setup would be something like a terrarium, but they are VERY easy and forgiving on care. A Tupperware container with sand, dirt, peat or even shredded newspapers will do. They need UV-b or natural sunlight (not filtered through glass or window screen), fresh, shallow water to drink & bathe, etc.>
<The thing about Box turtles is that they develop very distinctive and usually friendly personalities. It's not uncommon at all for an adult box turtle to seek out your company. I've had adults that were free-range in my house that would walk past their fresh food to come to the living room to look around and be close to the family.>
<It was a lucky find and a happy gift!! Enjoy>
Merritt's go 8/15/11
I was recently given a baby turtle about an inch around in diameter. At first I thought it might be a snapping turtle but I am not sure. I don't know what to feed it or if I should keep it in water or not. It seems to like light and being on dry surfaces. It has two knot like bumps on it's head and a sharp pointed down lip. Can you help me figure out what kind of turtle it is?
<That is interesting that who ever gave you this baby didn't tell you what species it was or how to take care of it. First, from the picture it looks like a land turtle (tortoise) but if possible try to get some straight over so we can see the patter on the shell, one of his underside and a few of his head. A few more pictures that aren't dark will help with obtaining a proper id of the little guy. Looking forward to the pictures. Merritt>

what kind of turtle is this. 6/23/11
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My family and I found this little turtle crawling in gravel by our old apartment.
We have put it in an aquarium and gave him/her rocks and light.
<Sorry - but NO! An aquarium isn't quite the right environment. That baby needs a terrarium>
We have been feeding him insects and dried brine shrimp and such as well as baby turtle food from out local pet store.
<Nope ... Fruits, vegetables, the occasional earthworm or garden snail>
We would really like to know what he is and if he is going to be a dangerous little guy/girl .
<Not only not dangerous, but one of the most personable and friendly turtles you're likely to ever run into>
Please help us identify him/her.
<Her name is Clarissa!>
<Oh wait ... you meant species, etc. didn't you?>
<What you have there is a Terrapene. A baby Box turtle. When they're babies, they have a normal (flat-looking) carapace and look just exactly like the little guy you have there. As She (or he) grows up, the shell becomes much more domed-looking.>
<Do some research on them starting here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/fwsubwebindex/TurtIDSueG3.htm >
<They are some of the nicest and friendliest turtles ever!!! Good luck with yours!>

Box turtle growing out of shell 8/11/10
<Hiya - Darrel here>
Unfortunately I'm writing again about one of my land turtles, an eastern box turtle. I'm not sure if you can offer advice since it is not aquatic.
<I offer advice on everything, Denise!>
<Even things I know nothing about!>
<But fortunately for you, Box turtles are one of my favorite turtles of all time, so I know a great deal>
As soon as the vet is back in the clinic, I'll be bringing my turtle in to see what the heck is happening.
<Always a good choice - but mainly if you have a vet that is truly experienced in reptiles and exotics. Most places have a turtle and tortoise club and they will know the good vets in your area.>
<The very best in the world is in Marathon, Fl if that helps anyone out>
After closer inspection, it looks like he is growing out of his shell! It is noticeable from his rear end and on the under sides of his shell in-between his front and hind legs where the bottom shell connects to his carapace. It's almost as if he's getting fat but I don't feed him too often. If anything, my other land turtle eats most of the food. I'm thinking, not enough calcium but the sun shines in there home most of the day and there is shelter for them to get out of the sun. Maybe he is not getting enough exercise? They have plenty of water in a dish 1 1/2"- 2" deep. I feed them bananas (not often, they don't seem to care for it), strawberries, staple food about 3-4 times a week, and romaine and butter lettuce. It looks very healthy, shell is beautiful, is strong and seems to move quickly which is why I never suspected there to be a problem. I'm very worried and fear bad news and hope I am not too late.
<Two things, Denise. Edema - which is a swelling of the soft tissues often due to disease, or obesity which is simply over-eating. Very hard to tell from here. It's not exercise or activity like in humans simply more food than their metabolism can handle.>
<Is he active? Eyes bright and alert looking? Will recognize when you have food and come toward you? All those are good signs, lack of any/all are bad signs.>
<Edema is usually OBSCENE amounts of swelling to the point where he can't easily move. It's also sudden onset - not weeks or months of noticing small amounts of puffy skin>
<If it's just "a little" swelling/fatness and not huge amounts, then it probably is a touch of obesity. As an adult, that will probably stay with him for life, but you can help by cutting the feedings to twice a week in summer, once a week in spring/fall and of course, none at all from November to February>
ASAP, we're going to the vet. I was hoping for some more insight to calm myself down.
Thank you. Denise
<Can't say for certain from here .. but if it was me, I'd calm down and see what the vet says - it doesn't sound life threatening>

wild turtle with lump on neck 8/3/10
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
After following the information on your site regarding ear abscesses, I would like you to view the attached pictures to verify if this might be the turtle's problem.
<Yep - what you have there is a very handsome Terrapene carolina carolina - the Eastern Box Turtle. Probably named Butch and yes, Butch has an abscess or possibly a tumor>
To give a little history--about 3 weeks ago a wild box turtle appeared and stayed under my car. We live in a remote area of eastern West Virginia. After about 4 days I contacted a local vet who advised to feed the turtle
and place water outside for it. He does not treat turtles but offered to have him given to a wild life habitat for turtles. I started feeding him tomatoes and gave him water. During the very high temperatures of 100 degrees he did not leave from under the car. However, after feeding him for several days and the temperatures cooling slightly he began to move around the property but never going very far. Every morning he reappears under the car and after eating will go over to a near by tree or bush and rest. He can pull his head inside his shell but will not stay closed and will open back up quickly. One night his neck was extended, eye closed appearing to be asleep. I thought he had died but in the morning he was back under the car waiting for his food.
Thank you in advance for can information or guidance you might be able to provide.
<Charlene - Box turtles make some of the niftiest and personable pets in the reptile world. They are easy to care for and usually are problem-free.
Treating an abscess of this nature isn't all that hard, either. I'm not suggesting that you try it yourself, but calling around to a few vet might find you one that can excise it and prescribe some antibiotic cream. Most areas now have an Emergency Vet Clinic -- one that is open or on call when all the other vets are closed (most vets in an area will help sponsor such a place or at least know of the Emergency Referral Hospital in their area).
The point is that these hospitals are often staffed by newer, younger doctors that still have at least that 6 week exposure to reptile medicine fresh in their mind>
<Failing that, even an experience hand from your local turtle and tortoise club could possibly drain the wound for you and you could treat it with daily coatings of simple triple antibiotic cream from the local drug store>
<Once past the abscess, the only problem I've ever had with Box Turtles is that they tend to fixate on certain foods, such as strawberries and melon, and then refuse any other food -- for decades at a time.>
<A sturdy fenced enclosure (part of a garden would be perfect) that he can roam and forage and have you supplement that with an occasional earthworm and pieces of fruit and Butch (or whatever his name is) will be happy for years!>

Re: wild turtle with lump on neck 8/5/10
Thank you Darrel for you information regarding the turtle "Butch". Name fits perfectly although to this point had not named him.
<Yer welcome>
I have several additional questions:
This morning Butch showed up minus his lump. It appears the abscess opened itself during the night. The question now is should I begin putting triple antibiotic cream on the area where the abscess had been. The skin there looks saggy.
<Yes, I would.>
Also, how do you keep the head extended in order to apply the cream.
<LOL - that's the million dollar question. Box Turtles can close up tight as a drum and it really, REALLY hurts to get a finger caught in there when they do. Here's what I'd do: Get a LARGE dab of the cream on a Q-Tip (excuse me Q-Tip Brand Cotton Safety Swab) then pick up Butch by the sides of his shell, while holding the swab next to where his neck would be still and steady. He may clam up for a while, but if you can hold him still long enough, he'll release and poke his head out. Now operating as swift and silent as a Ninja assassin you press the swab into the wound and hopefully get a bunch on the right area before he closes up again. Then set him down. Repeat tomorrow>
You suggested fencing in an area to keep him safe. My next concern is I believe turtles hibernate for the winter. Our ground here is mostly rock and shale. Shall I prepare a special place for him. I don't know even in my garden if Butch can dig deep enough to be safe through the winter.
I have been reading about hibernation, etc and still am uncertain as to the best action for Butch. The nearest reptile vet if either Baltimore, Md. or Parkersburg WVa. Unfortunately presently my husband is ill and I can't not make either trip with him at this time.
<No problem. Come the first cold snap of the year, pick Butch up and place him in a cardboard box that contains shredded newspaper and a few old towels and place this box in the garage. Put a small shallow bowl for water and offer food every day. After about a week or two, Butch will stop showing up for food and just bury himself in a corner. After a week, you'll know he's shut down for the winter. Close up the box, place it in a dark corner of the garage and wait for the first blooms of Spring.>
< OR-- Just bring Butch indoors and give him the free range of the house. As long as there is no balcony he can leap from or basement stairs he could fall down or Dog who might chew him, he can just hang out. They don't eat much, poop very little (and it's easy to clean) and don't stay up late at night ordering pay-per-view movies like other reptiles do>
Once again thank you for your advice and guidance.
C Pietra

Russian Tortoise Behavior?! 7/27/10
<Before we get started here,
I want to announce that this is my
On behalf of Wet Web Media!!!!!>
<Five hundred seems like a lot .. until I realize that my colleague Neale Monks seems to answer that many during a 3 day weekend, but still I'm proud of myself, the effort I've put in and am pleased to announce that at least 412 of my answers were correct!!!!!>
<Hiya - Darrel here>
My name is Noemi and I'm wondering what my tortoise's behavior means, if anything. I've had my turtle (Sochi) for about a month now. I've been informed it's 7years old, and its past is still not well known... Anyways, I've been taking my turtle to exercise (walk) on grass a few times during the month. I usually take it on sunny days around noon, by then it's pen is outside already.
<I'm guessing that you mean that the tortoise has an outdoor pen where it can get fresh air and natural sunlight, but in addition you take him for walks on the grass>
Anyways, today I let it walk around on grass, but afterwards moved it to a shady area of dirt/little bark dust. I was walking alongside it while observing it, and of course it could notice my presence. Then I decided to return it to its pen, and squatted a ways away from it but in front of it (so Sochi noticed me before I scooped it up). It stopped walking and observed me, then did the weirdest thing! Sochi repeatedly tucked its head in its shell and out its shell, over and over without moving any other part of its body. I thought it meant Sochi wanted me to move out the way or it was annoyed/mad at me, so I moved from its path. It stopped doing that behavior and I let it walk...then I decided to test if the behavior was because of me and moved in its way again. Sochi didn't do the behavior again, so I picked it up. What did that head tucking behavior mean?
<Noemi Russian Tortoises (previously known as Testudo horsfieldii -- but now classified as Agrionemys horsfieldii) is one of the nicest, friendliest and most personable tortoises there is. Each and every one I've ever had or been exposed to has had it's own unique personality>
<In your case, Sochi was excited, but there's no telling if it was excited as in happy, scared or annoyed. I've not witnessed that exact behavior before, but as I said they're highly individual>
Also, Sochi recently started "clawing" me whenever I picked it up to take it somewhere (clawing as in the swimming motion turtle's do, but with more feeling!) Whatever these behaviors may mean, I've decided to give Sochi more alone time--and not be in its pen so much (I'm in its pen when replacing food and water, and moving the pen outside/inside house. Or just briefly cleaning its habitat......)
<The scratching *IS* normal in many of them, Noemi .. they just don't like being picked up or (I guess) that feeling of flying. But I wouldn't let that make you think she wants to be alone. More importantly, the things you do while around her are critical to her well being. By all means continue to see that she gets food, water, natural sunshine and exercise>
Also! I call Sochi "it" because I don't know if it's a male or female. Thanks!
<It also doesn't matter because she has no ears and can't hear what you call her anyway. I suggest that you keep up your close and personal relationship with Sochi and in time I'll bet she'll calm down and enjoy it>

Terrapin shell problems 04/22/10
Dear Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I have recently been given this terrapin, which had been kept in very poor condition! I have provided him with good lighting, diet and space etc but I would like to know what is wrong with his shell?
<From the picture Rebecca, it appears as if she's just had a hard life. IT appears that you have a Cooter (Pseudemys cocinna) or a Yellow Belly (p scripta). The green discoloration is from algae that will lessen in time as she has access to clean water and proper basking conditions but even in the wild many adult Sliders and Cooters have algae on their shells. The scuff marks on the shell can be just signs of wear and tear and nothing to be alarmed about>
<Is the shell nice and hard? If you look really closely at the shell, the whitish areas -- is the material soft and smelly like a fungus? Does it scrape off? Or does it simply appears as the scutes themselves are discolored? The more explanation you can provide, the better I can advise you>
also if I could treat the problem myself before I take him too a vet?
<If her shell is hard and he's active and eating, I don't see a reason to be alarmed just yet. Keep her clean, make sure he can get really warm and dry and try cleaning her shell with a cotton swab every few days and let's just see how she does>
<Care sheet: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/RESCareBarton.htm>
<Treatment: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/treating%20RES%20Dis%20DarrelB.htm>

Re: terrapin shell problems 4/28/10
Hi Crew
<Hiya - Darrel here>
This is a picture I took today of my terrapin. After removing all the black stuff off his shell there is more white patches underneath...they are hard like the rest of his shell and don't smell at all...he is eating and behaving normally but I am still very worried because it looks so bad. Any information you can give me I would be extremely grateful.
<Looks normal to me, Rebecca. In fact I have a number of ones that look just like that in my pond. She's just lead a harder life than some. Keep up the good work and don't worry>

My tortoise is gaping and there is a clear bubble in her mouth 2/28/10
Hi. My name is Jordan. I have had two Russian Tortoises (also know as Horsfield's Tortoise, Testudo Horsfield, or Central Asian Tortoise) since I was 4. (I am 12 now). One is a male and the other is a female. Both of them have been healthy for the first 11 years of their life but now we think Shelly (the female tortoise) is sick. I briefly noticed 2 days ago, that she was constantly opening her mouth, while lunging her front and hind legs forward. Tonight I decided to further investigate and found out that there was a thick clear-looking bubble in her mouth. I though maybe she couldn't breathe so I got a tooth-pick and every time she opened it tried to pop it but the bubble was really strong. After a couple tries it would pop and with a dropper, I would force feed her water since she was not drinking or eating on her own. When she closed her mouth again the bubble was back!!! I kept do it and it coming back. She looks very uncomfortable, but has pooped and peed tonight. I have no clue what to do and I am very worried about her. Please help as soon as you can!
Ms. Jordan
<Greetings. It's probable that your tortoise has a Respiratory Tract Infection. These cause a build-up of mucous and bacteria in the nose, throat and lungs, and ultimately bubbles appear in the mouth and nose.
Breathing becomes laboured, the animal becomes stressed, and eventually the animal dies. This isn't a disease that can be treated at home. You absolutely must take this tortoise to a vet. Invariably antibiotics need to be prescribed, often alongside optimisation of the maintenance of the animal with respect to temperature, vitamins and UV-B light, all of which are crucial to long term health.
Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Marginated tortoise, hlth.... Terr. Chelonian sys. 1/20/10
Thank you for your informative answer on my question about the slider and painted turtles social behavior. I love this website.
<Good to know.>
I have a marginated full grown male
<We really aren't experts on non-aquatic animals. This tortoise, Testudo marginata, is a completely terrestrial species as you presumably realise, and I cannot stress too strongly how important it is to solicit expert advice. There may be equivalent reptile sites to WWM, but you really should contact a vet. Most small animal vets have plenty of experience handling tortoises. Here at WWM, we try to help people with fish and invertebrates largely because vets have little or no experience of such animals.>
who is about 11 and was in good shape until last year when we advised to change his bedding. We switched from rabbit pellets to shredded wood.
<As in sawdust or simply wood shavings? The latter sounds daft.>
He got a lot of it stuck in his beak and had to have his beak trimmed and reshaped.
<Who did the trimming and reshaping? I can't think of any good reason why you would need to trim a tortoise's beak because of sawdust or even wood shavings. The beak is, as you realise, keratin, and constantly growing.
Normally it gets trimmed somewhat by what they eat. Wood is too soft to cause damage, and while bits of wood shavings might possibly get wedged here and there, it shouldn't be difficult to remove them with forceps and cotton wool buds. If the tortoise genuinely has a problem with its beak, for example can't eat properly because of overgrowth or improper growth, then that's a whole other issue not related to the wood.>
I noticed that he is having trouble walking and all of the skin on his legs are peeling.
<A certain amount of skin sloughing is normal, and over the last 11 years you should have been able to get a feel for what's "normal" in this regard.
But if this tortoise is losing a lot of skin, and if its motor coordination isn't working, then you may well have a deeper problem. In the first instance, you might think about environment. Cold is a major issue this time of year. Unless you're in the tropics or subtropics, this animal should be hibernating from about October to April, plus or minus a month or so depending on the clemency of your particular local climate. In any case, in January, it should be asleep, UNLESS, you're keeping it in a HEATED habitat. Room temperature for humans isn't warm enough; we're warm blooded, and turn calories into heat, reptiles are cold blooded, and get their heat from their environment. In short, it should have a basking lamp (preferably with UV-B as well) if it is being kept active through winter. Countless tortoises die each year because people don't do this. You should also think about poisons. Wood shavings from a workshop could very easily carry across chemicals used to treat or otherwise process wood. You shouldn't use anything not expressly sold as suitable for pets. Review other possible poisons: bug sprays, herbicides, paint fumes, etc.>
He will get up on his legs, walk a little and go back down. he does walk but is not as fast as he was.
<They don't move properly when cold, so that's the first thing. But if he does have a heating lamp, and is getting UV-B, and doe receive a balanced diet and clean water to drink, then you may well have some other, more serious problem.>
I am concerned about the shredded wood with his respiratory system. He is a beloved pet-how can we help him.
<Trip to the vet is in order here.>
thank you in advance
<Good luck, and hope the vet can help your tortoise. Cheers, Neale.>

Turtle id 10/24/09
Can you please id this turtle shell. Thanks in advance!
<Hello Pat. While I'd hazard a guess this is some species of Testudo, or perhaps Geochelone, beyond that I can't offer any kind of helpful answer without extra data. It's certainly what here in England we call a
"tortoise" -- that is, a terrestrial rather than freshwater/brackish water "terrapin" or a marine "sea turtle" (in British English, the three kinds of chelonian are separated, rather than lumped under the single word "turtle",
even though etymologically, "turtle" and "tortoise" mean the same thing).
Identifying chelonians from their shells alone is a bit of a fine art since there's much variation. We're primarily fish people here, and while Darrel and I are probably familiar with the more common freshwater
turtles/terrapins kept as pets, your chelonian shell isn't one of those species. I'd suggest getting in touch with the herpetological department of your nearest zoo or natural history museum and finding out if they can
help. Cheers, Neale.>

How to make turtle food. 10/17/09
<Hello - Darrel here>
I am Haider Ali Adnan from Lahore, Pakistan. I have a 7cm long Kachuga smithii.
<Often called a Brown Roof Turtle>
How should I make a mixture of vegetables with an appropriate composition of the ingredients?
<Ali, not much is well known yet about this turtle, much of the data is conflicting and the what we know comes from the unfortunate process of trial and error. At present it is assumed that it will thrive in captivity on the same basic diet that the other Emydid turtles such as Red Eared Sliders require. My first recommendation would be prepared Koi pellets, as they would be cheaper in the long run because they can be kept indefinitely. Fresh fruits and vegetables have a fairly short life even if refrigerated. If you must make it yourself, start with 75% dark leafy greens or green beans mixed with 25% Squash or carrots>
I also wanted to ask how do they brumate in the wild and in captivity?
Since I keep it in a tub, what type of changes should I make so that it gets the right environment for brumation?
<If your pet is indoors, then I recommend that you do nothing. Maintain heat and light through the winter as you would in the summer. Any room temperature suitable for you is fine for his water and he'll still have his basking area when he desires heat. Brumation (a general slowing of the metabolism in colder weather that is not quite a full hibernation) is basically hard and stressful on the animal, so there is no reason to go through it unless they are outside.>
<If he's outside and there is no place to bring him in during the cold months, then I recommend that you start reducing his feedings 2 months before the cold weather ... stopping entirely 2-3 weeks before your traditional winter. Make sure his water is deep enough that in helps insulate from nighttime low temperature swings. In Spring, wait until you're SURE that the cold weather is gone and you see him actively swimming and basking BEFORE you resume feeding him. When you start, one small meal the first 8 or 9 days, perhaps 2 meals the next 8 days and then 3 every 5 days during the summer.>

turtle identification 10/10/09
Hello :)
A friend of my daughter's found this turtle in the woods. I already scolded him for taking it from its habitat, but now I'm not sure what to do with it.
<Generally best to release it where found, as soon as possible. Ideally, contact your local Fish & Wildlife department to see if a park ranger can take you to an optimal release site away from things like busy roads.>
I am wondering if I should take it to the pet store even though my daughter wants to keep it.
<Certainly shouldn't take it to a pet store. For one thing, wild animals can catch diseases from pet animals, and _vice versa_. On the other hand, staff at a good reptile and amphibian store may well know something about the reptiles local to your bit of the world.>
He is rather small (about as big as the palm of my hand) and the bottom of his shell is a bit soft.
<Appears to be an Eastern Box Turtle, Terrapene carolina. This is a highly variable species, but the dome-like shell, brown colour, and hooked beak are characteristic. The front of the lower shell is hinged, so when the head is pulled back, a trapdoor closes off that part of the shell. Males have red eyes, females brown. I'm assuming you're in the United States somewhere, where this is species is _by far_ the most common terrestrial turtle (what here in England we'd call a tortoise).>
He has a short neck, dark eyes and the bit of yellow colorings that I can see. seem to be much darker at times and DO appear much brighter in photos.
<If the eyes are brown, and this is Terrapene carolina, then "he" is a she.>
He is currently in a large bird cage which we have attempted to convert for his needs. (Frisbee filled with water, dirt for burrowing, half of a potters pot for shelter and "hiding" etc.
<Wild-caught specimens don't especially well in captivity, though you have covered the key things, particularly water. They like to bathe, but the water shouldn't be so deep (or the bowl so steep around the edges) it cannot get out easily. If it gets through the first few weeks, and eats and drinks normally, the species can last a long time in captivity. High humidity is important. Bear this in mind if you decide to keep this animal; kept properly, it'll outlive you! The record for a wild specimen is 138 years, and between 50-100 years seems fairly common. In captivity you can expect upwards of 30 year lifespans, and up to 60 years has been reported.
Like all reptiles, you need to provide a heat source of some sort if you do not plan to hibernate the animal. Generally, hibernating reptiles is tricky unless you have fattened them up carefully beforehand, and I'd recommend against it, at least for the first year. The heat source of choice is a lamp, and it should be one that produces UV-B as well as heat, because they need UV-B to synthesise Vitamin B1 and convert calcium into bone and shell.
In short: they need a big vivarium, a bathing pool, a source of heat, and a source of UV-B. This will be fairly expensive to pull together, and while there's no rush, you will need to have all these bits and pieces before it starts getting too cold. In the wild your Box Turtle would be looking for a resting place to hibernate, somewhere cool, dry, secure from predators and safe from flooding. If you want to keep your turtle, you're going to have to provide a warm, humid alternative.>
He moves very quickly and seems to be quite smart lol. (He found a way out of the cage within a few minutes of putting him in it and we were thankful we were there to see it or we never would have believed it - it's fixed now. - and he already prefers one shelter corner over the other!).
<Shelter is indeed very important. It's also critical to make sure predators, particularly pet dogs, can't get into the cage. Even a "playful" dog could wound or kill a Box Turtle.>
I have attached some photos and am very curious to know what kind of turtle he is, how old, gender etc. and most importantly what he should be eating and what I should do with him.
<As I said, likely Terrapene carolina, probably female if the eyes are brown rather than red. Age difficult to say; seems to be full grown, so could be anything from 10 to 100 years!>
we've tried many types of food (lettuce, bugs, cooked eggs, cooked pork, fruit etc. - so far he seems to prefer the eggs and pork but only ate each of those once along with a small bit of cucumber. He seems to eat one day but not the next.
<Avoid "meat", i.e., anything from a warm blooded animal. The fats in these foods coagulate inside the turtle, causing problems. Instead opt for mostly greens, romaine lettuce and curly lettuce being ideal. Augment with soft fruit (melon, tomato, berries) and offer small amounts of things like earthworms, mealworms, and white fish. Very occasionally you can offer them cooked chicken bones, which seem to go down well, but not too often.>
Thanks in advance for your help.
<If you plan to keep this animal, do spend some time reading up on keeping Eastern Box Turtles in captivity. There are some excellent reptile books available for pet owners, and one of those would be a sound investment.
Keeping reptiles in captivity isn't easy, and not something to do on a whim. It's a shame to capture an animal that can live for 100 years in the wild, and then kill it after a few months through neglect. So, make your choice: buy all the stuff it needs to thrive, or else return the animal from whence it came, ideally after calling the local wildlife bureau in your neighbourhood. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: turtle identification 10/10/09
Thank you so much for a speedy reply.
<My pleasure.>
Based on your information, we have decided it would be most fair to this little lady if we called our local wildlife bureau and let her have her chance to live to a ripe old age.
<Good move.>
You have been most helpful.
PS - we Live in Florida, USA. Although we are a very warm and humid state, we do have our cold days in winter so she would still need much care.
<Air temperature all year around should be fine if this animal was kept indoors in a room that wasn't air conditioned. The main thing is to avoid extremes of heat and coldness; anything between 15-30 C should be fine, assuming it has access to water (to keep cool) and a basking lamp (to warm up). But there's no getting around the fact reptiles are all expensive pets in terms of setting up their habitat, even though compared to cats and dogs their long term costs are low (they don't eat much; kept properly, rarely get sick; and don't need such procedures as neutering). Still, they're not pets for everyone. Cheers, Neale.>
Turtle Identification 7/14/2009
Can you all identify this baby turtle for me?
<Yeah -- I think his name is Gary.>
<He might be a baby Box turtle (Terrapene) or any one of a number of Emydid (water) turtles. The problem is that the straight on top angle gives us just a vague outline. We can tell he's not a mud, musk, soft-shell or snapping turtle. Not a Tortoise or a sea turtle. He's not a Clydesdale Horse either, but I suspect you already figured that out.>
<What I'd really like is a couple of face shots and one from the side.
Not glamour shots of course, no hair or makeup needed .. just a better angle to see his distinct features.>
<Unless you mean that OTHER thing .... that's not a turtle at all, that's a quarter!>
<Regards - Darrel>

A brand new Baby Box Turtle 8/25/09
<Hiya - Darrel here>
I'm Josie. I found this tiny little thing in my garage, covered in cobwebs and dead bugs stuck to her! She is SO skinny and lost one eye! So, of course I had to take her in and settle her in her new home, because she would've died being out there all alone, with only one eye, starving, and only being a baby. I put her in with our 2 year old box turtle that lives in a (supposed to be) sandbox built-in underneath my children's play set.
They have a mini pond and a tomato plant out there. I just found her today.
I know that it's a female because of the cloaca on her tail. I would just like to know what specie she is, because that would help me take care of her. I named her Cyclops since she has one eye.
<What you have there, Josie is a baby box turtle! Cute as a button and right about that size. I wouldn't go as far as to say she's female from anything you can see at that age, but it's as good a guess as male, so
let's go with it.>
<Cyclops appears to be a common box turtle (Terrapene Carolina). She's omnivorous but will prefer meat initially and live food, such as earth worms or snails when she can catch them. She needs fruits and leafy greens like Apples and Collards as she grows, so keep offering a little bit of that in the diet. If you offer her small snails, make sure that no one has used any form if snail bait around -- snails absorb it and it is extremely toxic to turtles.>
Write back soon. -Josie

Re: A brand new Baby Box Turtle 08/26/09
I have been trying to feed her lettuce, tomatoes, apples and grapes along with Lexi, our older turtle, but she won't eat them.
<Be careful with lettuce. Collards are good, as are mustard greens, etc. Romaine is BARELY O.K. and Iceberg is between useless to actually bad for them>
We always fed Lexi fruits and veggies. I did not know that they prefer live food.
<As they get older, they tend more toward a vegetable diet, but it's unusual to find a Terrapene that won't hunt an earthworm if offered.>
Cyclops is always avoiding Lexi, and our other terrapin, Fredrica, when I put them together.
<What kind is Fredrica?>
Any advice about that? Thanks for the other info
<Cyclops is frightened, for one thing. For another, turtles are not social animals. They live in colonies many times (colony is a geographical area to which they confine themselves and therefore often cross paths) but
except for mating they mainly ignore or tolerate each other. What I'm trying to say is that Cyclops is not going to get companionship or moral support by being with others of her own kind. In fact, if an adult male
encounters a sub-adult male they've been known to attack them>
<My suggestion is that you make a sub partition for Cyclops -- just for a while. Let her get used to being out in the world again. You might try giving her a slightly warm shallow bath for 10 minutes and then offering
her a tiny bit of cat food on the end of a toothpick. That's how I get my baby box turtles to start eating when they're "stuck">
Write back soon. -Josie
<Done-- Darrel>

Re: A brand new Baby Box Turtle 8/27/09
Thank you so much for all your help!
<Yer welcome!!>
You gave me so much good advice!
<YES WE DID! It's why we're here!>
I will do the sub partition.
<Thank you for TAKING the good advice -- you'd be amazed how many people
asked it and then don't>

Turtle Identification 7/14/2009
Can you all identify this baby turtle for me?
<Yeah -- I think his name is Gary.>
<He might be a baby Box turtle (Terrapene) or any one of a number of Emydid (water) turtles. The problem is that the straight on top angle gives us just a vague outline. We can tell he's not a mud, musk, soft-shell or snapping turtle. Not a Tortoise or a sea turtle. He's not a Clydesdale Horse either, but I suspect you already figured that out.>
<What I'd really like is a couple of face shots and one from the side.
Not glamour shots of course, no hair or makeup needed .. just a better angle to see his distinct features.>
<Unless you mean that OTHER thing .... that's not a turtle at all, that's a quarter!>
<Regards - Darrel>

Box Turtle Spills Water 7/6/08 Hi Crew, <Hiya Jay -- Darrel here> My female box turtle lives alone in a 24 gallon Rubbermaid container with cypress mulch substrate. She is always burrowing under her plastic water dish and spilling the water, so I am always bailing out the spilled water and refilling the dish. <Welcome to the world of turtles. For some reason they seem to know what causes the most mess for us and they head straight for it> She has a nice hide box at the other end of the container, but she prefers to hide under the water dish. If I attached the dish to the container, the dish would be hard to clean; if I gave the turtle a very heavy dish, she might get trapped or crushed underneath. <First, no dish you put in is going to crush her. If she's strong enough to push her way under it then she's ten times strong enough to withstand it's pressure> Do you have any suggestions to discourage this water spilling? <Why .. as it turns out ... I do! Chalk it up to 20 years of breeding turtles and a Box turtle named Clara being the first to lay eggs for me.> <First, I'd like to say that I'd like to see her in a bigger container if possible. That said, here's how you solve the problem: Use a rectangular water dish, such as a smaller Rubbermaid tray or a shallow shoe-box sort of thing. Next, take two small wooden dowels from the local hardware or building supply store and attach one to either end of the tray so it points upwards (so if you pick up the ends of the rods, the tray is suspended below like a basket. (wire ties will work for this) Now set the tray in the end of the big container and clamp the sticks to the rim of the big container -- so the two sticks, clamped to the side, would prevent the tray from being lifted or pushed. When you need to clean, just unclamp the sticks and lift!> I appreciate your helpful advice. <Jay --- it was very brave of you to call my advice 'helpful' before you even got it -- thanks!> Jay Smith

Russian tortoise... vac. fdg. during cold season... 6/9/08 Hey, I am thinking about getting a Russian tortoise sometime soon and I am worried about when I go on vacation for a week this coming November, how do I provide for my tortoise while I am gone? <Make sure it has access to drinking water and can't overheat. Food isn't required.> I know I will not be able to take the tortoise with me for I am going on a plane and I don't have any one to care for it while I'm gone. I do have an idea but I would like to run it by you first. If I plant some edible vegetation a few months prior my vacation the plants should be big enough to last a week or more. And for the water supply I thought it would be best to buy one of those water bowls that have a canister on top that holds water for several days worth and distributes it through a little hole in the bottom of the bowl so it's always full. I think it would be best to tape the canister to the inside of the turtle box so he wont knock it over. And I live in WA so the tortoise will be inside it's not ever warm enough here to keep outside overnight. I would like to know if my plan will work or if you have any other ideas that are relatively cheap to do I would like to know. <For short term vacations, your best bet is to keep the tortoise in its indoor enclosure with water and shelter. Put the (essential) UV-B lamp on a timer so that it can bask during the day time. But that's really it. Provided you're offering all the standard care for your reptile the rest of the time, caring for holidays is easy.> I know I don't have the tortoise yet but if this plan will not work then I will have to wait to get the tortoise after my vacation is over which I rather not do because I don't want to wait that long. But if I have to I will. Thanks, Lace <Most pet tortoise deaths come from predation (foxes, dogs); overheating; and dehydration. Starvation isn't really a problem. So keep the animal safe, watered, and neither too warm nor too cold, and you'll be fine. Cheers, Neale.>

Putting my turtles to hibernation 11/19/07 Hi <Hiya! Darrel here> I have a Three Toed Box Turtle (about 6 or 7 inches long) that I have had for 6 or 7 months. I keep him in a large outdoor 5x8 cage built out of cinder blocks 2 high and lined with bricks sunk in the ground inside to keep him from digging out. There is a small shallow pond in it and I also have a chain link cover over the top. Our dirt is mostly clay so I mixed up a patch of it with lots of sand for him to dig in but he never digs. <Box turtles seldom dig actual holes. They're more likely to just find a natural depression at the base of some plant and hunker down for the evening or the season that way.> It is starting to get colder so I figure he should go into hibernation soon. The thing is he doesn't dig so I don't know if he will just go sit somewhere and hibernate. That would be bad for him right? <"Bad" is a relative term, Amanda. Winter causes their systems to shut down to a minimum for the season, but you have to remember that in nature, not all of our animal friends survive each winter. When possible or practical, I arrange for my animals to be spared the entire process> I also considered putting a box stuffed with hay for him to dig into in his cage so he wouldn't have to go underground. <Two course of action here. You could find a bigger box of cardboard or wood, put some straw or hay in the bottom and bring him inside, maybe to your room, and spare him the whole hibernation process. Two, you could get a smaller box, fill it with straw as you suggest and place him in a safe place on your porch or in your garage and let him shut down for the season. You don't say where you live, so I'm not sure just how cold or dangerous your winters are. More on this in a moment> Should I stop feeding him yet so his food won't rot in his stomach? <As fall approaches their appetites should start to shrink and yes, you should slowly reduce their feedings, both in amount and frequency> I also have a Map Turtle (about 4 or 5 inches long) I keep in an outdoor aquarium. Last year I just put him in a smaller container and put him in our glassed in porch (its unheated) and he hibernated on the bottom of the tank. Is this an okay way for him to hibernate this year? <A lot of the same advice applies, Amanda. For my inside animals and individual specimens, I bring them inside the house or porch and add a little heat and avoid hibernation, but for my outdoor ponds I have no choice but to let nature take it's course. The worry is that the pond is deep enough and the body of water large enough to maintain some temperature balance (cold or hot) and here's the reason: Most of our reptile and fish friends from temperate climates can hibernate over winter without problem, but what I call "almost winter" can be lethal to them. "Almost Winter" is where it is clearly winter and their metabolisms shut down according to plan, but it's not cold ENOUGH to shut down all the way .... or it has too many warm periods where they reheat and become semi-active only to be hit by another cold snap .. these transitions can be lethal to them.> <Here's an example: Yes, you could put your Map turtle in a large enough tank and allow him to over-winter, or you could keep the water warm to around 65-70 and a basking area warm to 88-90 and avoid winter altogether. BUT .... if you were to let the water become 50 or 55 and still have the basking area active, his only choices would be TOO HOT (for winter) and TOO COLD (for summer). Personally, I'd rather see the Map Turtle in a tank on top of the dresser in your room all year 'round than outside.> I would appreciate any reply to this. Thanks. -Amanda <You're welcome & best of luck to you!>

Re: Putting my turtles to hibernation 11/24/07 Thanks for all of the tips but I have a few questions about what you said. I live in Southern Louisiana and the weather has been going under 35 for a few days and back up to 85 for awhile from what you told me this is dangerous for them. <Well, see .. this is where more information is better. Southern Louisiana doesn't really have "winter" in the conventional sense. Your turtles won't really "hibernate" in the traditional sense but rather slow way, way down to a state we call "torpid".> Should I just take them in the garage where the change is less severe until the weather levels out? <In the climate you have as I now understand it, they'll both be fine outside during the winter PROVIDED that (A) - They are healthy, active and properly fed until this winter started, (B) - you stop feeding them until the weather warms permanently and (C) - the winter is more or less "normal" and starts warming again in late March or April> I would bring them both inside for the winter (the Map Turtle all the time) but my parents have a no pets in the house policy. <I have two sons. Reptiles and fish are welcome in my house ... it's a no KIDS inside policy I'd like to have!> How big would a box for the box turtle have to be for him to live comfortably if I were to take him inside? <For "over wintering" not very big at all. Twice his length would be fine, but in Southern Louisiana I wouldn't worry about it.> I don't have a basking lamp for my map turtle but I have his tank where the sun hits it in the morning and afternoon sort of a natural lamp does he need a real lamp? <Make sure the sun isn't filtered through the glass. Standard aquarium glass and even window glass filter out a great deal of the healthy UV waves and can over heat them as well. If you do that, you should be fine. Make sure that all animals that get direct sunlight can also get OUT of that sunlight when they choose.> Thanks again for a reply. Amanda

Box turtle threw up 7/10/07 Hello Crew <Hiya MM - Darrel here today> I have a box turtle who lives in my room in a 55 gallon tote bin. I feed my turtle every other day and I leave the food in the whole time. A while ago my turtle was in her water dish that had fresh water in it and she threw up stuff. She doesn't look sick or anything, but I'm a bit concerned about her because she has never done this before. So if you could help me I would really appreciate it because I don't know what to do. <At the moment, nothing big. Cut back on her food just a bit and take it out after she's had an opportunity to eat -or not- say a half hour. If she's otherwise healthy and active and her appetite is still there, then I wouldn't worry about it. It happens to all of us. BUT ... if her appetite or activity is off for more than a week or she throws up again, then we may have to take action.> I feed my turtle fresh fruit, vegetables, romaine lettuce, and happy tails dog food that she has been eating her whole life. <AFTER we see her through her tummy troubles and after she gets back on her feed .... let's slowly cut back on the dog food. It's not something that ever should have been part of her diet (she doesn't need anywhere near that much protein or fat) and in the long term it's not good for her liver. BUT ..... and this is a BIG BUT .... do it SLOWLY! Box Turtles can be very picky and very persistent about their foods and if they fixate on something they can go a YEAR without eating ... until we mortals give in and give them what they want. So cut back in tiny fractions over the next 6 months so that she doesn't notice.> MM

Please Help! Box Turtle won't eat 06/11/07 Hi Everyone <Hi Shelby, Darrel here> I have had my box turtle for about 4 years now. We start a hole for her to dig into every winter, and every spring she has come back alive and well. It always takes her a while to start eating again, but this year it has been different. She came up a little earlier this spring because we had some pretty warm weather for a couple days before the winter settled back in again (this was around April). It's summer now, and we haven't gotten her to eat yet. We're really worried that there's something wrong with her. <Not necessarily, Shelby. An otherwise healthy box turtle can go over two years without food, so it's not time to panic just yet.> I've heard that turtles grow according to the size of their environment. <No. That's fish, not reptiles> Well, she's been in the same pen since we got her. We keep her outside. The pen isn't small. We put in lots of weeds and a dirt area to make it seem like rest of the outside. My dad built a little wooden box for her to stay in. We have a big water dish that she can climb into. She hasn't gotten but just a little bit bigger since we first got her. Could this be a problem? <I doubt it, Shelby. Box turtles are thought to live to be 100 years old and based on average temperature, type of diet, amount eaten and amount of time in hibernation they can grow quite slowly.> Also, sunlight doesn't always reach her pen. Should we get a lamp to shine into her pen? Is that going to make a difference? <As long as it gets SOME sunshine and a lot of ambient light (that's like indirect sunshine) I wouldn't worry about it -- at least not right now.> We couldn't get her to eat lettuce and carrots, so somebody told us to feed her crickets and worms (when we first got her). She's always ate them, but like I said earlier, we can't get her to eat. Should we try to change her diet after this many years? Do you have any suggestions? <Yes, I have lots of suggestions. First, don't be worried. I suspect that all that's wrong is that she hasn't come out of hibernation properly and her systems just aren't up to speed. What I'd like you to do is this: Put her in a cardboard or plastic box that's at least 3 times as long as she is, with sides high enough that she can't climb out and bring her indoors -- somewhere in your house (maybe in a corner of your bedroom or den). Make sure she can't get out and any curious dogs or cats can't get in. Don't worry about heat or light right now .. what we want is a place where she doesn't get TOO hot or TOO cold, OK? Normal light that you have in a room during daylight is fine. Now every day, place a shallow bowl with lukewarm water in the box and place the box turtle in it. No more than a half inch deep and no more than 85 degrees and just let it soak. After the soak, remove the water and place a tiny bit of food in the box with the turtle. One Strawberry, a very small slice of melon, Night Crawler earth worm is good (cricket or mealworm is not). After a half an hour, remove any uneaten food and just keep doing this, day after day ... for a couple of weeks. My bet is that your turtle will get with the program and start to eat again.> My mom said that if she doesn't eat soon, we're going to have to let her lose somewhere. I really don't want to do that, and don't think she would make it. <Please don't do that, Shelby. That's the one thing I'd say NEVER do -- is take a captive animal and let it loose. If it's sick, it won't get "well" just by being outside of your pen and it might spread it's sickness to other turtles. And even if it's not sick, there's a good chance that it's come to depend on you for food and care and wouldn't be able to fend for itself. So please, please, please tell your mom that a real expert said to never, ever ever do that, OK? If your Mom or Dad or you decide you can't or don't want to keep it, you can find reptile or turtle clubs in your area that will find it a new home. If not, write back and we here at WetWebMedia will help you find someone.> Please, can you help us!? <that was the first things to do, Shelby -- I hope it helps. If not, or if the turtle doesn't move or seems to get worse, please write back>

Feeding a Box Turtle 5/25/07 We rescued a male box turtle from a parking lot nine days ago and put him with our larger female box turtle in her well-equipped 24 gallon Rubbermaid box. <That was nice of you, Jay> But unlike the female, the male does not eat anything. I've tried live mealworms, crickets, shrimp, prepared turtle food, lettuce, tomatoes, apples, even put the food up to his mouth, but he will not take a bite. He enjoys the water dish and the basking lamp, he has a daily walk outside, he gets along well with the female (no fights), he is active and seems otherwise healthy, but I do not know how long he can survive without eating. <Jay .. Few turtles or tortoises can match a box turtle for being stubborn about eating or not eating. If he's otherwise healthy he can go for many months without eating, so I simply wouldn't worry about nine days.> What do you recommend? <I use a diet of fruits (like apples and pears), vegetables (like green beans and broccoli) along with night crawlers (big earthworms) for mine, Jay. I also prowl the garden looking for snails (only because I never ever use any form of snail bait or poison!) and they LOVE snails! The books say that as they get older they're supposed to become more vegetarian and less carnivore (more fruits & veggies and less meat) but that has never been my experience. Mine appreciate the apples and pears and SOMETIMES the veggies but mostly they wait for what we call "worm day." Mealworms and crickets can be like candy -- filling but not nutritious and not really that good for them. Same with lettuce and tomatoes - forget them & If you're going to feed leafy greens, try collards and chards and other dark green ones. At least ... that's the way it should be, Jay. The truth is that Box turtles can be easy feeders, in which case you should think about my menu above -- or they can be fixated eaters. A Box I had I once swam in the pond and ate Koi pellets along with my water turtles and wouldn't touch anything else, so sometimes we have to adapt. Do this, Jay: 1) as long as he's active and otherwise fine, don't worry too much 2) Try to offer different things like above and whatever you think of 3) Eventually when you hit the right stuff on the day he's hungry, he'll eat> Thank you for your advice. Jay Smith <you're welcome
Re: Feeding a Box Turtle 6/10/07
I'm happy to report that your advice worked on my male box turtle who wouldn't eat. <Great! We like giving advice that works.> I kept offering Harley different things as you recommended until he finally ate something -- chopped strawberries, which he carefully separated from chopped apples. <Box Turtles are among the geniuses of the turtle & tortoise world, so it doesn't surprise me at all that he took the time to separate the foods he likes from what he doesn't.> Now I hide meat and veggies in his strawberries and he eats it. <The next step is to slowly reduce the amount of strawberries in that mix until he becomes the OMNIVORE that he's supposed to -- and you don't have to try to horde a seasonable fruit like strawberries. (Did you know that strawberries are the only fruit with the seeds on the outside?)> Thanks very much for your help. Jay Smith <You're very welcome, Jay>

Re: Turtle Expert Needed 12/19/06 Chuck, Thank you so much for your answer. I know your time is valuable. I wonder if I could buy some "turtle consult" time? I am worried that her behavior is not normal, about how long her "laboring" behavior will go on and what are signs of distress I should know. I do not have the sand medium she will want and this is her first "beach" I have crafted in a 135 gal tank, as she is easily 8 inches across and needs swimming and basking space. Anyway, I have lots of concerns and will be happy to pay you privately if you would consider some time for me. Thanks, Penny < Go to tortoise.org and you will come upon the California Turtle and Tortoise Society. They have care sheets for general turtle care and there you will find headings for turtle egg incubation can that can be done either naturally or artificially. While your offer is greatly appreciated I feel that these people are the real experts in this field because they do this day in and day out and are up on the latest techniques for hatching turtle eggs. I have hatched turtle eggs artificially many years ago but I really feel you be best served. In the meantime, get a rectangular plastic container from the hardware store. It should be about 12 inches wide, 15 inches and 6 inches deep. The important thing here is that it will fit in one end of the aquarium. Dimensions, except for depth are really unimportant. Fill the plastic container with sand, not gravel. Any kind will do. Get the sand damp but not soaked. It should stick to your hand when you touch it. Lower the water level in the tank to the top of the plastic container and place the container in the tank. You want the female turtle to be able to swim up to the edge of the container and crawl in. There she will excavate a shallow depression and lay her eggs. Remove the nosy male because he may jump in and eat the eggs are at least disturb her. After she lays her eggs you can remove the container. Refer to the Turtle and tortoise club website for hatching techniques. If you have any questions you can always write back anytime. The crew is here to help.-Chuck>

Old Box Turtle 5/26/06 My name is Stacy I am 14. Hi Stacey, Pufferpunk here.> My sisters boyfriend found this box turtle on the side of the road on a rainy day. When he got home he gave me the turtle. I noticed that my turtle has 2 holes in her shell. <This is common with older turtles. Had some shell damage in the past but should be fine & be able to live a long life with this.> On his right back leg that he only has 1 nail on it and the other has all 3. <Yes, you have a 3-toed box turtle with 1 deformed foot. No issues there.> I was wondering what I could do to fix everything that's wrong with her. <Nothing to fix. Just things that happen to a turtle in the wild. Be sure to give it at least a 20 gallon tank, with a shelter on one side (an overturned box with the side cut out will do & a water bowl large enough for it to bathe in on the other side. Be sure to change the water daily, or it will be drinking poop water. Mulch is a great substrate for them. It's cheap & you can buy large bags even at most gas stations during gardening season. Just make sure not to use cedar, it poisonous! Change every 2 weeks & hand clean any poop daily (most will be in the water). You will also need a reflector lamp for warmth. Food: dark green veggies (no iceberg lettuce--mostly water), any fruits. Frozen mixed veggies (defrosted 1st, of course) work well. So do fruit cocktail, well rinsed, for quick feedings. They love red foods. Canned dog food or dry soaked in water. Crickets & earthworms (found in wild-box turtles tummies when dissected), are a favorite treat. Dust the food with reptile vitamins (be sure they have calcium in there, for the shell). If kept properly, a box turtle can live over 30 years! ~PP> Thanks a lot, Stacy Cline

Wood Turtle With Bumpy Shell - 05/22/2006 This is my turtle Woody, a north American wood turtle, if you look at her shell, it looks really bumpy, is this normal? - Celia < The bumpy shell is caused by a diet too high in protein. This is usually seen in tortoises that are fed monkey chow. As turtles grow they require less protein and more vegetable matter. You probably kept your turtle on a hatchling type diet too long.-Chuck>

Turtle Bites 7/16/05 Hello, For the past couple of months my male 2 Ã'½ year old has been nipping at his left arm (about midway up) He eventually stopped and the sores started to heal but he has now started again to the point where it looked infected (an open wound) and I took him to the vet. He gave him an antibiotic shot and now I have to give him 1 shot every 3 days. I am really nervous about sticking my turtle with a needle and the vet had a hard enough time doing it himself. Any tips? He is in a 40 gallon tank with UVB, the Fluval 204, a ceramic heat lamp, and a spot lamp in the middle with some nice basking rocks. His diet consists of Reptomin sticks, Anacharis, and about a half dozen feeder fish once every 2 weeks. (Sort of a treat for the 2 week period) What would cause him to bite himself to the point of causing this wound? Should I lower the water level because he only seems to bite himself while in the water? Is there any chance this infection could have permanently damaged his potential for a long and healthy life? It is not massive, but proportionally, if this injury was on a human, it would look like a 6" gash on our arm. I do love the little guy...Please help. Jay < The fact that he only bites his left arm makes me think that he has a bacterial infection on that arm and biting it is his only way of scratching the irritation. I would include vitamins, kingworms, crickets and earthworms to the diet. Increase the temperature of the basking spot to 100 F. Get a Dr Turtle Sulfa Block for the water and dip the turtle in Repti Turtle Sulfa Dip. Use the Repti Wound Healing Aid to quickly heal the wounds. I think this bacterial infection is brought on by waste products staying in the water too long. I would clean the tank more often especially if it smells. That is ammonia and it feeds disease causing bacteria.-Chuck>

Box Turtle with Greek Tortoise 8/27/05 We currently have a Greek tortoise. Someone dropped off a box turtle in our yard, and my sons want to keep it. Are we able to keep them both in the same habitat? < I would not recommend it. The box turtle requires a higher humidity, slightly lower temps and an area to get wet. The tortoise comes from dry arid areas while the box turtle comes from a moist humid forested type of habitat. The increase in humidity could cause respiratory problems for the tortoise over a long time.-Chuck>

Russian Tortoise with Chalky Fecal Matter 7/9/05 Thank you for your response. I should have told you that it's a Russian turtle. Does the same rule apply? < Somewhat. They like more vegetable matter in their diet but they can still eat the worms.-Chuck>

Russian Tortoise Problems 7/11/05 Thank you. Last question... I promise! The Russian Turtle has white, chalky diarrhea.. same solution? (Sorry.. I'm researching this for a friend who didn't give me all this information at the same time. Again.. last question.) Thank you Chuck!!!! < A Russian tortoise with diarrhea is not good. Unlike turtles that are in the water the entire time you don't have to worry about them getting dehydrated. If is a different story with land turtles. Diarrhea can quickly kill a tortoise if it lose to much fluid. I would recommend that your friend take the Russian turtle to a vet for a complete check up. Your friend has no idea on how to care for this animal and this little info I have given you really isn't enough for long term success.-Chuck>

Wood Turtle Info - 05/15/06 Where can we go to get info on how to take care for a jeweled woodland turtle ?? Juli < I could not find any specific info on a "Jeweled Woodland Turtle", but I suspect that you have a wood turtle. Go to woodturtle.com for specific info on keeping these turtles and maybe see a photo of you turtle species.-Chuck>

Box Turtle Lost In Washington State 8/20/05 I'm in Spokane, Wa. and I was driving home when I found a turtle sitting in the middle of the road. That's really odd, due to the fact that I, personally, am about 5 miles from the nearest water source other than a hose spigot. I'm not sure what type or what to do about it. It's about 6" long, dark brown shell, with yellow markings. This may sound really stupid, but I know absolutely nothing about turtles, but the skin is rough and has small red "flecks", if you will. His shell, (if it is a he), is about 3.5" high. I really don't know what else to tell you, but I also want to know how to care for it and so forth. I'm really worried that some poor kid is probably worried sick that their pet turtle is missing. Any advice at all is welcome. Thanks for your time, Katlin and "Bogart" < Sounds like a little box turtle lost his way. Keep him in an aquarium /terrarium setup of about 40 gallon size (3Ft). They must have water that they can get in and out of. They need a basking spot on land with a good heat/sun lamp. They love snails but will eat many fruits and vegetables. They live for a very, very long time with proper care. Do a google search on box turtles and you will be busy reading for hours.-Chuck>

Box Turtle Care & Feeding 11/21/04 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> This may be normal behavior, or I may have been misinformed on care. I have a box turtle-about 1.5 years old. She is in a 10 gallon aquarium w/sand or aquarium gravel on the bottom, about 2 inches of water and about 10 1 inch-ish rocks scattered about for basking. There is also a fake plant and a decorative rock in there with her. My problem is that she seems almost sad. She always hides under the plant, doesn't eat very well-refuses to eat the pellets they gave me at the stores and is partial to iceberg lettuce and any fruit. She has done really well today, but I'm worried she may be lonely. (A friend found the baby nest in a river behind his house, gave some away when old enough and returned the rest where they were found). My brother got her, or I would have asked for 2 lol. I was wondering a few things 1) Am I caring for her properly 2) Would it be a good idea to get her a "buddy" 3) If so, what kind of turtles get along well with box turtles? Any advice would be wonderful, and I apologize if I re-asked a question, I'm not a good skimmer. <1st thing, I must ask you to please use proper capitalization in your letters. These go to our FAQs & I have to fix them myself, before sending it. That takes away from time I could be answering other questions. If you do really have a box turtle (high arched shell, brown in color, locally caught ones usually have 3 back toes), then it is a land animal, not water. It will need a container large enough to soak in for water, but mostly a dry area to hang out in. I use cypress mulch about 3" thick, so it can bury itself, if they wish. It will need a 20g long tank, so you can have one cool end (with the water bowl) & a warm end (with a reflector lamp above). You need to change the water as soon as it gets dirty, as this will also be it's drinking water. It will also like a cave to hide in (a large shoebox with one side cut out will do). There is prepared box turtle foods made, but it can get expensive. When wild box turtles have been dissected, they found mostly earthworms in their stomach, so that should be #1 on their list. Usually I mix up some frozen mixed veggies, & diced fruit, mushrooms & canned dog food. If you haunt your local grocery, you can sometimes see them taking old, soft fruit off the shelves. Ask them if you can have it. Iceberg lettuce has no nutritional value, as it is mostly water. The greener the better. You can make up larger amounts & put into small 1/2 cup portions & freeze, to feed later. Also, find a good reptile vitamin to "salt" it's food with. If you want more turtles, you will need 20g/turtle. I'd stick with only box turtles as companions, but they really don't care if they live alone. Here are some good sites on turtles: http://www.turtletimes.com/ http://www.turtletimes.com/market/index_store.htm Good luck & enjoy your turtle--it will live for around 30 years if you take good care of it! ~PP (My name is Jeni too!)> Thanks again, Jenni

Sad Turtle 12/1/04 Hello, again. <Hi, it's Pufferpunk here again> We upgraded to a 20 gallon aquarium with mulch and a big bowl for swimming, etc., and she absolutely loves it, but she still won't eat. I did the mixture you said and she turned her nose up at it. <Have you tried warming her up in her bowl (with warm water) before offering her food? also, they seem to be attracts to red foods, especially earthworms). After two days of not eating I started to worry and gave her some apple which she gladly accepted, <Red foods, see?> but even the fruit she eats only bite sized amounts (to you or me) a day. I've tried feeding her 2 or 3 times a day-giving her a fresh piece of something different-but she barely eats. Are there any vitamin drops that I can drop on the food I give her to keep her healthy? Or should I consider carrying her to a vet? <I don't think a vet is necessary. Turtles will try to hibernate in the winter. Try to keep her warm & keep offering her lots of variety, to find out what her favorite foods are. You can buy good reptile vitamins form a pet shop. Also, adding cod-liver oil to her food & rubbing it on her shell & legs is very good for her. ~PP> Thanks for all your help. Jenni

South American Wood Turtle I am having trouble finding anything on the Suriname wood turtle. Is it the same as the North American turtle? <No, totally different species.> And also what type of habitat, food they need to have for a long healthy live. thank you for your time < Your semi-aquatic (Rhinoclemys punctularia) will need an area that is partial aquarium and partial terrarium. They can be kept like regular wood turtles except that they need to be kept between 75 and 85 degrees. North American turtles are sometimes cooled down for hibernation. Do a Google search on the scientific name or South American Wood Turtle and you will find lots of info on your turtle.-Chuck>

Wood Turtle Not Eating - Please Don't Send Queries in HTML Hey Crew, A few months ago I bought a 7 year old Ornate Wood Turtle from my local pet store. She's a hyper turtle that loves swimming in her water and burying herself in wood before bed. The problem is, she eats very sporadically. Sometimes she eats her food daily, other times she avoids it for a week or more. Is this healthy? I'm worried about her starving. I change her water daily and food at least every other day *depending on if she eats it*. Please help me, I don't want to see her sick. Thank you! < Wood turtles from Central America like it hot and humid. They should be treated like North American box turtle regards to diet. I would try lots of different veggies , king worms and regular garden

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