I have a baby 3-toed box turtle about the size of a half-dollar coin and a 50 gallon aquarium that was given to me. I

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Customer: I have a baby 3-toed box turtle about the size of a half-dollar coin and a 50 gallon aquarium that was given to me. I would like to make a terrarium for her but I am so scared of harming her. I never had such a small baby and I need advice on caring and feeding, etc. for an infant BT. Please help! Thank you.
Answered by Anna in 3 hours 13 years ago
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Anna
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17,020 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Reptile Veterinary, Herp Veterinary, Exotic Animal Medicine, Amphibian Veterinary

Hello,

Some additional information will help me to answer your question.

What is the temperature in the tank?

Is the aquarium hood the only light/heat source?

Is the baby active at all?

Can you give me an idea of how much you can afford, so I can prioritize the things you need?

Thank you.

Anna
Customer
Thank you for your reply. Yes, she is active when I take her out to play in a pie plate of warm shallow water. Seems to really like that. Most of the time she hides in the log and she buries up in the dirt after I have misted it with water. I have a 100 watt candescent light that I keep on for additional heat. The temp. stays about 80F but goes down slightly at night while the light is off. I was told by someone that if she buries herself that I should dig her out after a day or so, so that she will not attempt to hibernate, or starve herself. Is that true? In the Petsmart store I saw a reptile heating pad that goes under the tank to keep the substrate warm - about $50.00. I'm sure I can gradually purchase items for her habitat, but I must do the most important things first. Would you please help me figure out what is most important? Thanks for your help.39816.8025274653
Thank you for getting back to me. Box turtles are one of the more difficult turtle species to keep. Unfortunately, many of them die before even reaching one year of age. You're on the right track with the incandescent light, but you want the basking area temperature to be 85*F, and the cool side of the container to be at 70*F. Use a digital thermometer to be sure. You can lower your light fixture to increase the temperature. Just be sure it's not so low that the turtle can be burned on the bulb. The under-the tank-heat mats are not recommended for turtles.

Dehydration is a common cause of death in box turtle hatchlings, so the soaks are a good idea. I recommend giving the turtle a special soak in case its already somewhat dehydrated. Use half water and half unflavored Pedialyte (made for human infants). Soak the turtle for 20 to 30 minutes twice a day. Be sure that the turtle also has a shallow dish of water that he can easily get in and out of. The following site has detailed information on how to make a habitat that decreases the chances of dehydration, and lots of other information on hatchling care:

http://www.aboxturtle.com/box_turtle_hatchling_care.htm

Normally, hatchlings don’t eat for 1 to 4 weeks after hatching. During that time, they live on the remains of the yolk sac from their egg. We have no way to know how old your baby is, but he may still be in this phase. Offer him some cut-up worms or some blood worms from the pet store. That’s a good first food because such worms are appetizing to turtles.

The most important thing you need to buy is a UVB light. The aquarium hood isn’t of any use to a turtle, and should be replaced with a UVB light. A Reptisun 10.0 is a good brand. Without this light a disease called Metabolic bone disease will develop. It causes a very slow (years sometimes) and painful death. Full spectrum is not the same thing. Neither is UVA or UV. It must be UVB.

Hibernating a turtle is risky, and turtles under one year of age should not be allowed to hibernate, so be sure to get the temperatures up where they need to be, Burrowing in the substrate doesn’t mean your turtle is trying to hibernate, however. He may be seeking more moisture that way. I recommend that you read as much as possible on care. All I can possibly give you here is a summary. Here is a link to a care sheet to get you started:

http://aboxturtle.com/threetoed.htm

If you go to that site’s home page, there are many links on every subject from hibernation to housing to diseases:

http://aboxturtle.com

After you read more, if that raises more questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. There is no additional fee for such follow-up questions. For right now, I would begin giving the turtle Pedialyte soaks, buy a UVB light as son as possible, and offer some worms. I hope you’ll enjoy many years with your new companion.

Anna


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