Keeping Reptiles Newsletter
 
  Issue 8 Vol 7 September 2011
Reptiles Need Love Too: Caring For Your Box Turtle In this Issue

While cats and dogs are undoubtedly known as the most popular family pet choices, the box turtle leads the pack when it comes to popular reptile pets. With life spans of 30 to 40 years, and a low-maintenance approach to life, many consider them to be a great “starter” pet for younger reptile lovers and those accustomed to keeping more traditional pets. Unfortunately, the box turtle is often not cared for properly, whether through the forgetfulness of older children, or living with pet parents who simply aren’t sure what their beloved new reptile companion needs to thrive.

Providing a home for your box turtle is one of the most essential details, and needs to be handled with the proper care and attention. Turtles are aquarium pets, although a larger plywood case is also an ideal home, and the more space your turtle has, the better. At the minimum, the aquarium should be the 20-gallon size, though a much larger enclosure will undoubtedly suit your new friend better than simply the basics. The bottom of the enclosure should be filled with a bedding material that naturally retains humidity, since a dry material will cause painful cracks in the turtle’s skin, and other health problems. A sand and soil mixture, or peat moss combined with large wood chips, provide an easy and healthy environment.

The box turtle needs to be kept in warm surroundings, no colder than 60 degrees Farenheit. During the day, a maximum of 80 degrees Farenheit is preferable, so those living in naturally warmer climates with hot summers will need to keep a constant eye on the temperature of the room in which the aquarium is placed. One end of the cage should feature a warming area for your turtle, an incandescent light bulb of at least 75 watts. This will keep your turtle from getting cold. At night, the light bulb should be turned off, but it’s important to keep the warming area at a pleasant temperature through the use of heating pads especially designed for reptiles. If you’re uncertain about how to establish your turtle’s living environment and keep it at a comfortable temperature, ask for help from a veterinarian or local pet store.

Feeding your box turtle isn’t a very high-maintenance affair, but it should be kept in mind that they eat a very high-protein diet of at least 50% natural animal proteins. For that reason, earthworms, crickets, cicadas, snails, and even baby mice are a necessary part of the box turtle’s diet. Of the remaining 50% of your turtle’s diet, three-quarters of that should consist of vegetables, particularly dark and leafy greens. The remainder should be made up of fruit, which your turtle will love, but should only be given in moderation, much the way humans approach dessert. He will, of course, also need water on a regular basis. Place a shallow bowl filled with water into the environment, making certain it is large enough for the turtle to fit his whole body into. It is also important to make sure the water goes no deeper than the bottom of the turtle’s chin, since they are known to drown in depths of water, even those many unsuspecting owners don’t consider hazardous.

Like any other pet, the box turtle needs care, attention, and a healthy lifestyle in order to live a happy and fulfilled existence. With a little knowledge, education, and diligence on the part of the pet parents, it’s very easy to ensure a box turtle remains an active and enthusiastic member of the family for years to come.



  1. Reptiles Need Love Too: Caring For Your Box Turtle
  2. Reptile Safety: The Facts about Reptiles and Salmonella
  3. Get Paid to write an article
  4. Tell Us What You Think
  5. Feedback and Updating

Other Issues

Other Articles & Resources

ReptiTemp 500R

Reptile Safety: The Facts about Reptiles and Salmonella


While reptiles are fascinating creatures and many make great pets, it is important to fully understand the risk of Salmonella with reptiles and how to prevent contracting Salmonellosis as a reptile pet owner.
Salmonellosis is defined as a serious and sometimes fatal infection that develops as a result of coming in contact with Salmonella bacteria. Children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems are especially vulnerable to the bacteria.
Because as many as 90% of all reptiles are natural born carriers of Salmonella without any symptoms of the disease themselves, it is important for reptile owners to be aware and take the proper precautions to prevent infection.
The truth is that many pets can be salmonella carriers, for reptiles it seems they carry it at higher levels, making infection more likely. The recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is that reptiles should not live in homes with young children (age 5 or younger) or in homes with the elderly or with people who have compromised immune systems. Indirect or direct contact between reptiles and these people groups should be avoided, because the risk for bacterial infection is too significant.
If you are a reptile owner, take the following steps to reduce the risk for salmonellosis:

  • Keep yourself educated on the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other resources as they relate to reptiles and salmonella. It is important to be a responsible reptile owner, and education is an important part of that responsibility.
  • Inform any visitors to your home of the risk of salmonella when you have pet reptiles living there. The infection can result from indirect or direct contact, so it is important visitors, especially young children, understand that handling and being around reptiles poses a risk.
  • Hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and warm water each time a reptile is handled.
  • Cages for reptiles should not be cleaned in kitchen areas or bathtubs. Any area in which you clean the cage should be cleaned afterwards using an appropriate disinfectant, such as bleach.
  • Owners should not allow reptiles to roam freely around living areas such as the kitchen.

For most reptile lovers, their appreciation for reptiles is so great that they are willing to take the risks. However, following these steps listed above can help you to provide a loving home for reptiles while keeping yourself and visitors safe.

 

 


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