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Box Turtle Three Toe Health Information

Though they are often touted as such, Box Turtles are usually not a good choice for beginners. Their environmental requirements and often finicky eating habits in captivity can make them costly and difficult to keep successfully. In addition, they are not particularly well suited as children's pets because they are generally shy animals that do not appreciate being handled.

The ideal enclosure for the Three Toed Box Turtle is a large outdoor enclosure. Some keepers will use an indoor enclosure such as a terrarium with about two to three inches of orchid bark. If keeping your turtles indoors, it is crucial that a UVB-emitting reptile bulb be used. The bulb should be placed within about 12 inches above the turtle and should be on for about 13 hours a day. Natural sunlight the turtles would get in an outdoor enclosure is far better than any artificially produced lighting, so outdoor housing is preferred. It is especially important for younger, growing turtles to receive high amounts of UVB exposure. Successful indoor maintenance will depend largely on the age of the turtle and the amount and intensity of UVB lighting provided. Three Toed Box Turtles like to soak often and should have an adequately large water dish that they can easily get in and out of. They tend to foul their water very frequently, so it may need to be cleaned daily. They should have hiding spots and an area for burrowing available. Three Toeds should also have a basking area that is maintained at 87 - 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and a cooler, shaded area.

If multiple box turtles are housed together they should have plenty of room and hiding places to get away from others when they desire. Adult male box turtles will spar and generally, should not be housed together. Certain individuals, male or female, may act aggressively towards cagemates, and will need to be kept singly to prevent injury or undue stress in the others. The group will also need to be monitored to make sure that all the turtles are eating properly.

Their diet should consist of both plant and animal matter. Younger Box Turtles should have a diet more rich in protein than their adult counterparts. As the turtles age, the protein portion of the diet should be decreased. The adult's diet should consist mostly of plant matter. Suitable protein sources include crickets, waxworms, mealworms, earthworms, redworms, slugs, boiled chicken, and the occasional pinky mouse. Fruits should make up a small part of the diet, as they are nutritionally poor. Since vegetables should make up a large portion of the diet, it is important that most of them be relatively nutritious and, in particular, calcium-rich. Dark leafy green vegetables such as collard greens, turnip greens, dandelion greens, swiss chard, parsley, and cilantro are all excellent choices. Vegetables that are high in oxalic acid, such as cabbages, rhubarb, and spinach, should be fed very sparingly, if at all, as calcium will become chemically bound in such a way that it is not utilizable by the body. Lettuces have virtually no nutritional value, so they should also be avoided. Canned light dog food (a premium brand) and moistened primate biscuits are good supplements for the diet and are often relished. It is also advisable to use a calcium supplement on all insects, fruits, and low-calcium vegetables; and a multivitamin used a couple of times a week can help ensure your turtle is receiving the proper nutrition. When choosing your turtles diet, take into consideration its age and amount of body fat. Feeding too many high-protein, fatty foods, such as canned dog food, worms, and mice, can lead to obesity. Though many Box Turtles prefer such foods, having too much body fat is very unhealthy. In addition, too much protein in the diet can lead to shell and skeletal deformities and is hard on the kidneys.

Three Toed Box turtles are sexually dimorphic, but identifying characteristics tend to differ slightly between populations and even between individuals within a population. All of the traits should be considered together to get a more accurate identification. Males tend to be more brightly colored, often with orange and/or red markings on the forelimbs and head; and males will often have red eyes, while those of females are usually a shade of yellow or brown. Males sometimes have a slightly concave lower plastron and larger, more curved rear claws. The male's tail tends to be longer and thicker than the females, and the vent is usually distanced further from the tail base. Three Toed Box Turtles reach sexual maturity between 5 and 7 years of age. Mating will begin in the springtime after they come out of brumation. Females will dig a nest about 3.5 inches deep and deposit between 2 and 8 eggs sometime between May and the end of July. They may produce multiple clutches of fertile eggs from a single mating because of their ability to store sperm.

High humidity is required for incubation (90% or more). Low humidity can damage eggs, because they will often shrink and collapse because of dehydration. Hatching time relies heavily on incubation temperatures. For example if eggs are incubated between 26 and 28 degrees Celsius, they will usually hatch in 70 to 85 days. When incubated between 22.5 and 27 degrees babies will be predominantly male. If eggs are incubated above 28 degrees babies will be almost exclusively female. The safe range for incubation is reported to be between 22 and 34 degrees Celsius. Incubation should be done sphagnum moss or mixed peat and vermiculite.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Box_Turtle_Three_Toe".
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