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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11548
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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I found a baby turtle in my yard and have it an aquariam,

Resolved Question:

I found a baby turtle in my yard and have it an aquariam, the pet store said it may only be about 3 months old. I bought turtle food but it is so tiny I don't know how to get it to eat. I also put crickets in the pen..what else can I do to help my turtle live?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.

It is kind of you to want to help this turtle. Before we can figure out what it needs, we must know what kind of turtle it is. Care is very different for various kinds. If you'll examine the turtle carefully and then answer the following questions, I may eb able to help.

What colors are present on the head, neck, and legs?

What colors are the top and bottom shells?

Check between the toes. Is there webbed skin there?

Did you find the turtle in grass, in a garden pond, etc.?

In what state do you live?

Thank you.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Oh,, turtle is a box turtle, I live in Albuquerque and I have had adults male and female for 4 years and now last week I found this baby. I planted a rose bush a couple of weeks ago and then the following week I found this baby close to where I planted. I am concerned that I may have dug it up too early not knowing it was there. I took it to pet shop from the stomach they said it looked to be only about 3 months old. I asked them if I should put it back but they said the birds may get it. It is active, but it's so tiny and I want to make sure it is nourshied. I put the drops in it's eyes and let it get in small container of water which it did appear to drink. I'm researching on line as much information that I can find and then I found you as being a vet and wanted to get the best advise so I invested in the purchase. Thank you so much for your interest
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for getting back to me. I want to clarify that I am not a vet, but a biologist with a special interest in reptiles. Would you like me to help?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Oh...well I already gave my card info so sure if you know what I can do to help my baby turtle. My main concern is for it to live ofcourse! I don't know if you have ever dealt with babies, they are so tiny and I don't know the best way to get it to eat. And since It's the only one I found I think I may have dug it up too early. The pet store said they are usually larger the first year they come out from under. That's the reason I am so concerned is that it may be a "premie"! So if you have knowledge then I need help. The web browser said "ask a vet" so that's why I thought i was in touch with a vet
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for getting back to me. I think i can help you. The truth is that vets often know a great deal about illnesses, but not a lot about the natural habits of turtles. I’m working on your answer and will post it as soon as I have it typed up. Please don’t respond to this post as that can lock me out of the question. I’ll be back shortly.

Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for waiting. Before I give you some information, I do believe the very best thing to do with this little turtle would be to turn it over to a wildlife rehabilitator. A rehabber will know exactly what to do with it, and will return it to the wild when it is ready. In most states, it is illegal to keep wild box turtles because they are protected. Each one that is kept in captivity is one less in the breeding population. If you want to pursue that option, this link will take you to a directory of rehabbers in NM:

Dehydration is the biggest danger to a young turtle that has just left hibernation. A dehydrated turtle will not eat. Right now, 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.

Pet stores are a very poor source of information on reptile care. While we should be able to count on them for information, it is most often wrong. You cannot judge a turtle's age by its size. That depends on temperatures, food available, and other conditions. It is, however, likely that this turtle is one of last year's late hatchlings. Turtles do not grow while hibernating, so size also doesn't tell you that it came out too early. You can read more about the natural habits here:

The dried turtle food isn't really a good food. See if you can get some bloodworms from a pet store. They are sold for fish, and try that. Unfortunately, wild-caught babies seldom do well in captivity. They often slowly deteriorate. For that reason, the best decision would be to turn it over to a wildlife rehabber. Here is a site with detailed information on hatchling box turtle care:

If you want to try to raise the turtle, make sure it is warm enough, give it a couple of good soaks, then try feeding some bloodworms. If you have more questions, let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope that whatever you decide, it will work out well.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you, My turtles aren't wild ones that I caught. I bought them to keep as pets and I will take care of this little one too. I have also gone to youtube today and learned how others are caring for their baby turtles. They said the same things you said about the bloodworms and plenty of soak baths. I agree about the pet store not giving me all the right answers. My turtle looks the size of the other ones I saw on youtube. I just wish they had given me the worms instead of the canned turtle food. I will go tomorrow to get other things to raise this turtle. I just thought instead of finding one that I would have found more so I just thought it may have been early...thank you for your help
Expert:  Anna replied 5 years ago.
You're welcome. The box turtle website I gave you above is excellent for information on care. I wish you much success in raising the turtle.


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