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North American

Box Turtles - a

Beginner's Primer

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North American box turtles come from the Eastern, Central,
and Southwestern United States and parts of Mexico. All
species are kept as pets. Carolina Terrapins, as they are
collectively known, are from 4 to 8-1/2 inches long at
maturity, depending on the family and where they live.

Most turtles and tortoises do best when kept outdoors, and
North American Box Turtles are no exception. Many captive
box turtles suffer from Vitamin A, Calcium and/or Vitamin D3
deficiency from a poor diet and the lack of natural
sunshine. Their bodies require sunshine to synthesize the
vitamins they need, and an imbalance of protein can cause
shell deformities and even death.

Most North American Box Turtle species need warm daytime
temperatures of 70 to 85 F. most of the year, with night
temperatures falling into the 50s, and medium to high
humidity. Low humidity for an extended period may cause
them to develop eye or ear infections and a runny nose,
which may require a trip to the vet lest the turtle starve
to death because it can't smell it's food.

Although they need to be able to bask in the sun, both for
body temperature regulation and vitamin synthesis, they also
must have shelter to escape the heat or they can die of
overheating very quickly. Thick plantings in part of their
outdoor pen or a shelter partially filled with potting soil
for them to dig into will work well. They are good diggers,
and will dig their own burrows, so a nice compost/mulch pile
in their enclosure seeded with earthworms will give them a
place to both burrow and enjoy catching some of their own

Carolina Terrapins

Carolina Terrapins may or may not hibernate, depending on
the temperatures where they live. And, if the weather warms
in the winter hibernating box turtles may come out to search
for food. In captivity only mature, healthy, well-fed
turtles should be hibernated, as it is possible for them to
use up all their resources and die in hibernation. A good
book on raising Pet Box Turtles, this website, or one of the
many other Internet websites by turtle lovers can give you
more helpful information on hibernation.

The genders of box turtles are normally fairly easily
distinguished. In most species, males having reddish eyes
and females having brown eyes, and the males are usually
larger than the females and often more colorful. In most
types of Carolina Terrapins, males have a concave plastron,
while the female's is flat or convex. The males have longer
tails with the vent further from the base of the tail, and
females have shorter tails with their vent closer to the
base of the tail. They breed well in captivity if their
housing is adequate, so you may find that your turtle herd is growing.

Stuffed Plush Box Turtles - so Easy to Love

Cheerful Box Turtle Calendars

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