I'm trying to decide how large/where the pen will be. I think I'm going to dig down a bit and line it with hardware cloth or chicken wire before putting dirt back in. My ultimate goal would be to breed these turtles and introduce their young into the woods we have behind the farm.
The old pen was lined with hardware cloth. The new one is lined with cement blocks around the edges only. Do you plan to leave them out all year? Mine stay out year round so I made sure they had plenty of good deep soil to burrow into for the winter. Your turtles will love being outdoors and it's so much better for them to have natural sunshine.
Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your photos. Both enclosures are great. On your second one - does the whole roof come off or is it hinged? I like your design idea. I'm thinking that I could do something similar, although I might want to put a tight tarp over most of it in the winter with our snow. I do plan on keeping them outside year round. I want their habitat to be as close to natural as possible.
It looks like you have a male and a female. Are they of breeding age yet?
How often/what do you feed them? Do you restock the earth with worms?
The back half of the lid is one solid piece that can be removed or slid over if I need to get to that part of the pen. The front half is hinged in the middle and either side can be lifted and folded over the other. It's held down with eye hooks when closed. I wish we had made both halves hinged. Even though I rarely need to get to that part of the pen, it's kind of a pain when I do because that lid is heavy!
Yes they are male and female. They started mating last fall, so I expect I'll have babies before too long. I was afraid I was going to have to divide the pen to separate them because he wouldn't leave her alone at first. But the "romance" seems to have cooled off now - for the time being anyway.
They're fed a variety of things. Some superworms, silkworms when I have them, earthworms, snails, other caterpillars and grubs, etc. that I know are safe - lately they've been eating a lot of cicadas. I also feed them various fruits and veggies and several varieties of turtle pellets. I like to soak the pellets in water and then mix them with chopped up greens, etc. Neither one will eat many veggies unless I mix them with the pellets. I also have strawberries and other edible things planted in their pen. When they were babies I fed them almost every day but now I usually feed them about 3 days a week in the summer, a little more in the spring and then in early fall. With the 13 year cicadas out right now I've just been throwing cicadas in the pen whenever I find a live one on the ground, so they've been feasting.
Please be careful breeding and putting babies out in the wild. First off, there are usually strict regulations regarding that sort of thing. Legally even licensed rehabbers need to return a turtle within a quarter mile of where it was found. There has been an increase in turtle deaths in NJ (and most other states) due to some bacterial disease strains being introduced by people releasing turtles inappropriately. Taking a turtle from one area and introducing it to another can literally wipe out the entire population of local turtles. Even if you hatch them, there is still a chance they will carry something into the new area and kill the current resident turtles. If you truly want to help turtles, consider contacting the Turtle Rescue of NJ. The woman who runs that is considered one of the leading turtle experts on the east coast, and really throughout the US. She would be able to answer ANY question you have. She's amazing.
As far as outdoor enclosures, keeping them in is important but also making it predator proof, raccoons love to eat turtles. And if they stay out year round, they will need lots of leaf litter to hibernate in without freezing.
Thanks for the replies! Terri, I hope to see your pics!
Equine - Thanks for the input. I'll research my local laws. I did not intend for this post to get into local laws or discuss any legality with having/breeding/owning/aquiring/releasing box turtles. I understand the ramifications of releasing animals into the wild, whether they be native or not. Equine, I don't mean to say this to be snippy or brush you off. I see topics on here going "off-topic" quickly and I really don't want that to happen with this thread. Those people who are interested in owning box turtles should research their local laws.
That being said - I'd like to simply see the enclosures that people own.