Box turtles represent a link between the land turtles and the tortoises of water from North America. They distinguish by their shell’s curved shape and interesting colors. The plastron is also quite large but the tail is short. Most species have quite well-developed, long forelimbs covered with large scales. The name of the box turtle comes from the fact that the plastron and shell close so tight that the turtle looks like it is closed in a box.
You should know that there are many species and subspecies of box turtles, each with their pros and cons, and before you choose one see if it is legal or not in your country to own one.
Most box turtles support a wide variety of food, but their needs in terms of diet are very strict, and inappropriate feeding can lead to an early death. Turtles’ stomach is as big as their heads. Most of them, especially the young ones, must be fed daily. For an adult box turtle, daily food means 3 tablespoons of vegetable mixture and some earthworms. When you see it surveying the area where it is usually fed you can be sure your turtle is hungry.
For these animals, calcium is needed for both bone and shell growth.
In providing calcium, almost every box turtle needs salad – shredded and mixed, so the turtles won’t eat only the parts they like, and prepared from vegetable rich in calcium, such as dandelions, carrots, avocado, green beet, cauliflower, endive, and Swedish beet, or fruits such as blackberries, blueberries, and cantaloupe.
Too much protein can cause deformations of the turtle’s shell. Though box turtles have a good metabolism, they need to move – the invertebrate prey as earthworms and insects they will have to “hunt “, will increase their level of activity so the turtles won’t become obese. Normal digestion can take place only on an optimum temperature – it varies from species to species, but normally, it is between 25 – 32 ° C.
The price for a box turtle varies very much depending on the specie. For example, while Three-Toed box turtles cost from $30 up to $75, something more exotic as Asian Box turtles can cost several thousand dollars each. Even though they usually live 30 to 40 years, in captivity, they are known to reach even 100 years.
When you decide to buy a box turtle be aware that it will also need a dry tank that can cost from $150 up to $200, a UV light, around $20 – $30, and a water dish which is about $10.
The food costs are very low:
• Around $20 per year for live food
• Around $20 to $40 per month for fruits and vegetables
• Around $10 per year for vitamins.
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A vet check-up is needed, so an initial cost will be around $120, while an annual visit costs from $20 up to $80. It will highly depend on where you live.
Be aware from whom you buy the box turtle, take some guarantee, because you don’t want to buy a turtle that dies in several months, but you also have the responsibility to give the turtle a proper environment.
Should the average working Joe get a box turtle?
If you’re looking for a pet that doesn’t require too much of your attention, then a box turtle isn’t the best idea, as you’ll have to attend to it and feed it daily. The price itself isn’t too big and neither are the monthly expenses, but as with most pets, be sure you have enough time to take care of a box turtle before you buy one.