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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11432
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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my turtle has been really active the past few days clawing

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my turtle has been really active the past few days clawing at her enclosure tying to get out and moving all of her stuff around what does this mean?

I'm sorry to see that no one has responded to your question earlier. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online and saw your question. If you still need help, some additional information will be useful.

What kind of turtle is this - slider, box, etc.?

How old is your turtle?

Will you describe the set-up of her enclosure?

Thank you.


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
she's a box turtle.

i have no idea how old she is, she was given to me by a former employer who's child could not care for it, they received the turtle also form a person who could not care for it properly i've had it for about 3 years now.

she is in a 50 gallon tank, she has a hollowed out log for hiding under and climbing on, a long piece of wood for climbing on, she has a deep water bowl for sitting in and drinking from (she also likes to poop in it >.<) she has enough dirt in there for her to burrow without hitting the bottom if she likes.

we were trying to keep her outside for the summer months but because of the cats and other wildlife in the area we can't leave her unattended out there for long (a fox has made its home on the property line.)

does this help?
Thank you for getting back to me. There are two likely reasons for your turtle's behavior. One is that she is gravid, and wants to find a place to lay eggs. Females do lay eggs (infertile ones) even if no male is present. A female will become very restless as she wants to find just the right place. If a female doesn't find just the place she wants, she'll retain her eggs, and that can be life-threatening. Symptoms of a problem may include not laying eggs, laying only a few eggs, lethargy, pacing, lack of appetite, prolapse, digging motions, and kicking of the back legs. If it seems she wants to lay eggs, you'll need to provide her with a nesting site. The following site has some ideas and photos:

The other possibility is that she is simply restless and feels too confined. Box turtles need a large enclosure. Aquariums often don't make the best environment. A 50 gallon Rubbermaid tote allows better air circulation, though it's not very pretty. The best way to keep box turtles is in a pen outdoors, but of course,with the predator problems, that won't be possible right now. I'll give you a link in a moment with more detailed information on housing.

If the turtle is to be kept inside permanently, it's extremely important that she have a UVB light. Without it, turtles develop a painful condition called Metabolic Bone Disease, that results in a slow death. Box turtles also require high humidity. The turtle will need a basking light, and the area directly under it should be kept at 87* to 90*F. These sites have reliable information on care:

Even though your turtle can't live outdoors, it may help if you can take her out every day for some supervised time. If she exhibits signs that she needs to lay eggs, but doesn't do so, it would be best to have her examined by a reptile vet. If you have more questions, just let me know by clicking on REPLY.


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
she does have a uv light and we make sure to keep her temperature regulated, and her diet interesting and varied.

thanks, XXXXX XXXXX take her outside while we're gardening and let her roam around but i haven't done it yet this spring (the temperature has been very sporadic, i felt it was too chilly) i'll try letting her out if its warm enough today.

if she does lay eggs, what should i do with them, should i just let her bury them and then throw them out while she's not looking? or while she's outside?

She's not lethargic at all in fact last night she rearranged her apartment, does that seem like egg laying behavior to you?
The rearranging does seem to me as if she may be trying to nest. If she lays eggs, you can take them and discard them. Mother turtles have no interest in their eggs, and do not protect them or take care of their babies. You can probably take them at any time, but to be safe, wait until she's busy.

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