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5 Helpful Tips To Keep Your Pet Box Turtle Healthy

Box turtles are a common subspecies of the turtle family. This animal’s region of origin is North America. Their characteristics make them appealing to have as a household pet. However, there are numerous species of box turtles and providing proper care for this shelled creature can ensure it’s overall health and longevity.

Proper housing environment

Outside pens are where this species thrives the most as a pet. This is because the outdoor housing is similar to their natural habitat; when constructed properly. Maintaining a housing temp of at least 50°F will ensure your box turtle doesn’t get too cold. To discourage them from climbing out of their pen, having walls at least 16 inches high are encouraged. Another important care tip for housing a turtle is incorporating sunny and shady areas; in addition places to hide. If you live in a region where the weather isn’t warm year-round, then it is advised to keep them outside until weather gets cooler. When kept indoors, box turtles thrive inside terrariums that have at least 50 gallons of water. Although most box turtles won’t bite you, over-handling can agitate them. There are some situations where touching your turtle may be necessary. In these cases, it is recommended to efficiently cleanse your hands afterwards.


During daylight hours, most box turtles do well between 70 and 80°F. The sunny parts of their housing should reach no more than 90°. During night time, maintaining a housing temperature between 65 and 75°F is recommended. Accessories such as basking lamps and terrarium heaters can help maintain stable temperatures inside your turtle’s environment.

Efficient Lighting

In order for box turtles to properly metabolize and process calcium, efficient lighting is necessary. This can be achieved by placing a UVB lamp inside their pen. Making sure your pet gets between 10-12 of UVB light each day will promote a healthy day-night cycle. Natural sun will also provide necessary lighting when housing your box turtle outside. Failure to provide the right lighting can result in bone disease and other severe illnesses.

Feeding and Hydration

Since box turtles are omnivores, they require a diverse diet consisting of live vegetable, lean meats, and also insects. Another option is the wide range of certified commercial turtle foods available in stores. Younger turtles feed once a day and matured turtles can go 48 hours between feeding. It is recommended to place food on a flat dish so the turtle doesn’t accidentally eat the substrate.

Substrate Material

This is considered a liner for your box turtle’s housing. It sits underneath the pen enclosure and aims to regulate humidity. A proper substrate should be about 5 inches deep. Doing so will give your pet enough space to hide when needed while influencing comfort.

Box turtles can have a lifespan of up to 40 years when kept as a pet. There have even been rare cases of box turtles living to be more than 100 years old. Regardless of the species of box turtle, following a few universal guidelines with keep your pet healthy.

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