Can anyone offer any turtle help? Pics Added!

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by michelle1017, Jan 25, 2010.

  1. michelle1017

    michelle1017 Goat Mama

    Aug 21, 2008
    We were given 3 turtles, 2 aquatic and one box. I agreed on the condition of getting a crash course on how to care for them before we brought them home. Turns out the person we got them from really didn't know anything about them either. Now I am needing some help on caring for them. I have tons of questions, but right now the most important are 1) what can I use as "bedding" for the box? She sent home some ecodirt, but not enough and I can't buy it around here. 2) The aquarium for the other 2 she gave us is way too small, so I am needing other arrangements. Will a tote or stock tank work? 3) How do you use the filtering system from sounding like Niagra Falls if you don't fill it up all the way to give them a place to climb out and bask?

    I appreciate any help that can be given to me. Thanks!
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2010

  2. Chickerdoodle13

    Chickerdoodle13 The truth is out there...

    Mar 5, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    I don't have answers for your other questions, but I figured i would let you know that a plastic tote or tank like you mentioned would work perfectly fine for your guys. They are a cheap easy way to house animals, and they are very easy to clean and move around.

    I do know they sell platforms for turtles to get out of the water, but I forget what they are called. Some of the float around and others are stationary on one side of the tank.

    I'm not sure about the box turtle, but I do know aquatic turtles like sliders and painters need a source of heat and they usually like a basking light. Different people have different set ups though, so you may find out something different from another turtle owner.
  3. Epona142

    Epona142 Songster

    Apr 19, 2008
    Bedias, TX
    Okay, I'm going to give you some basic rules of thumbs, then send you off to a turtle forum!

    Aquatic turtles - ten gallons of water per inch of shell. That adds up to a LOT very quickly. What species of turtles are these? Mud/musk turtles need very different habitats than sliders and cooters.

    Filtration - Get something at least TWICE as big for the tank. As in, for a 20 gallon tank, you'd need a 40 gallon filter. Because turtles are NASTY.

    Don't use gravel in the turtle tanks. At best, use rocks larger than their head. Some turtles with eat their gravel and become impacted.

    Turtles need UVB lighting AND heat lighting. And a place to remove themselves completely from the water and bask under these lights. The UVB has to be within 12 inches of them to be effective.

    The box turtle -

    Don't use aquariums for these. They don't quite understand the glass and it's stressful for them. Get a huge rubbermaid tub of some sort. Heck, you can use one for the aquatics too if you set it up right.

    Boxes like to burrow. They make something called Bed-a-beast. Its very good. I also recommend cypress bedding. You can buy HUGE sacks of it in the gardening section of walmart? Calling cypress mulch or something like it.

    Boxes need a varied diet of meat, fruits, veggies, insects, etc. They ALSO need UVB and lighting, as well as something they can get into and soak, a pool of some sort, and a hiding place.

    These are just the basics.

    Here is a GOOD forum:


    If you post pictures of the turtles, their shells (top and bottom), heads, etc, I can identify them for you.

    Good luck! Raising and keeping turtles is an adventure, and I have to admit, I love turtles. They are my favorites of all the species I've kept.

  4. hollyclyff

    hollyclyff Songster

    May 18, 2007
    What do you have the box turtle in? How big is the turtle? Is it one that is native to where you live? If it is an adult that is native to where you live, the best way to keep it is to build a pen outdoors. That's how I keep mine and they do very well and it really simplifies their care. Of course even if you plan to put it outside later, you can't do that now if it has been kept inside all winter. Just make sure you have a large enough enclosure - big Rubbermaid tubs work well - and provide UVB light and a basking area and a good variety of foods. For substrate, when I had mine indoors (when they were babies) I used coconut fiber. Outdoors, they just have nice soil and ground up leaves, which I imagine would also work fine indoors if you can't get coconut fiber. They need something that will keep the humidity in the enclosure up. I'm sorry, I don't know much about aquatics other than they need a lot more space than most people give them.

    Edited to add - even babies benefit from time outdoors in a safely secured pen. I just didn't feel comfortable letting mine stay outdoors for the winter until I had had them for a couple of years.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
  5. michelle1017

    michelle1017 Goat Mama

    Aug 21, 2008
    Thank you so much for all the info! I just got them yesterday and here's what I got so far. I will take pics tomorrow for some help in identifying them.

    She had them in a huge aquarium (including the box) with lots of other fish in it. They had a platform made out of bricks that she sent most of them with us. They are a good 6 inches, but I haven't measured to be sure. They only had the tank light and no heat on them. She sent me a 20 gal aquarium and stand with the rocks (I just read today they shouldn't be in there and thank you for reminding me, I am taking notes). She also sent me home with what looks like a brooder lamp and said they need heat, but she hadn't done it for a long time. The bulb is burnt out and she said I needed a reptile bulb to replace it. We don't have anywhere without driving an hour and a half to pick up reptile supplies.

    We put the box in a 10 gal aquarium for now and I immediately realized that isn't near big enough. (It was all I had last night). She sent the water and food dish with it too and enough ecodirt that it can burrow into.

    The 2 aquatic ones are in the 20 gal which is entirely too small. It isn't much bigger than the 10 gal but taller. And sharing room with all these fish she talked me into also. I have one other 10 gal I could put some of the fish in, but the bottom line is the tank is too small and I don't want the expense of buying one big enough they would be happy in. She also sent some of the bricks, but not enough to give them a proper basking area and the tank isn't big enough for that anyway.

    I have a small pond in the front yard I used to have fish in, but have let the ducks and geese take it over. I thought I would let them spend time out there this summer, but right now it is frozen solid and we have snow on the ground. Letting them out doesn't seem to be an option at this time.

    I am frustrated, I think we will enjoy the guys (or girls) but I know the set up is not ideal and they probably have not ever been in the proper set up. My hubby is not happy at all about the filtering system making so much noise because it can't be filled all the way up so they won't get out. If I put them in a rubbermaid tote or whatever, do they really need filtration if we change it regularly? How often would that be? Do I need to add that reptile conditioner or whatever she gave me every time I change their water?

    Thank you again for all your help! I have been looking on the internet, but it is all so overwhelming!
  6. cassie

    cassie Crowing

    Mar 19, 2009
    I used to feed my box turtle soaked dry dog food and various chopped fruits and vegetables. He particularly liked cantalope.

  7. ladycrotalus

    ladycrotalus Songster

    Jun 14, 2009
    Massena, NY
    Filtration will make it so much easier for you guys. Without filtration you will need to clean the tub atleast every 3 days. With filtration you can treat the tank as a fish tank and just do regular partial waterchanges instead of changing the whole thing. If you can get some submersible filters like Fluvals or a canister filter it will be quieter.

    You can use organic potting soil for the boxy just get some without those little white perilite balls in it.

    Since you are far away from stores and what not, these sites have pretty decent deals on lighting and other reptile supplies.
    I personally pay 50 bucks for a Mercury Vapor bulb which provies both heat and UVB lighting for my tortoise.
    For my water turtles i pay 30 bucks for a florescent Reptisun 10.0 bulb and i have a seperate heat lamp over their basking platform. I would use a mercury vapor bulb but i fear that they would splash water and make it explode. \\
    You can get a mercury vapor bulb here for 35 bucks
    37 dollars here
    40 dollars here
    using zoo meds Powersun but ive used hagens Solar Glo with similar success. Reptisun 5.0s need to be replaced every 6 months, while Reptisun 10.0 and Mercury vapor bulbs need to be replaced yearly. is a decent turtle care page.
  8. hollyclyff

    hollyclyff Songster

    May 18, 2007
    Just for heat you don't need a special bulb - any regular light bulb that produces sufficient heat will work. But you will need UVB if they are going to be indoors. You can order supplies online for less than they would cost in the store anyway. I can't believe she had a box turtle in an aquarium set up for aquatics. How did the poor thing live like that? Are you sure it's a box? You can buy filters that are completely submersible to avoid the noise problem.

  9. michelle1017

    michelle1017 Goat Mama

    Aug 21, 2008
    Quote:She said it is a box. I will take pics tonight and post tomorrow.

    Thanks again for everyone's help! Keep the advice coming!

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