Box Turtle and Tortoise Discussion :: Help! My boxie keeps flipping himself over!

A general forum for those with an interest in land-based turtles.

Post Posted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 1:49 pm   Help! My boxie keeps flipping himself over!

I keep finding my three-toed box turtle, Petey, upside down in his pen. I'm a teacher and he's a classroom pet, so I leave him by himself over the weekend and often when I return to school on Monday morning, I'll find the poor guy upside down, not moving. I'm a little bit worried, as I've heard this is not good for the turtle and can cause health problems. Any suggestions? He seems okay, otherwise, but I am making plans to take him to the vet just to be on the safe side. The pen is not very large (3ft x 1ft), but we try to let him out during the week to roam around the classroom as much we can. That brings to mind another question...if the classroom temp is generally around 70-72 degrees, is that too cool for him to be walking around? I do, of course, keep his enclosure warmer. Also, his skin and shell are really dry, despite regualr soakings and mistings. Has anybody ever used Turtle VitaShell? I'm going to try that and see if it helps.
sbyrd81
 
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 2:18 pm   

Are there any objects that he may be trying to climb over? I suggest you make the substrate as level as possible. How big is Petey? Mine flipped themselves over from time to time when they were hatchlings, but now that they're larger they have the strength to right themselves.

I wouldn't let him roam the classroom for 2 reasons. One being it probably stresses him out, the second is the last thing you need is for the children to get sick or accidentally step on the turtle.

Stay away from Vitashell. It does more harm than good. It's very greasy and it keeps the shell from breathing. It can lead to shell rot, among other things. Keep the humidity at 60-70% at all times.
The things that come to those who wait may be the things that were left by those who got there first - Steven Tyler
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jenaero
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Post Posted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:25 pm   

If your enclosure is too small he will try to escape by climbing the sides and then falling. Does he have enough substrate so he can burrow under? It should be deep enough for burrowing, and also does he have a hide...maybe a half log...or someplace where he can hide. Does he have enough humidity? He needs a cool side, and a warm side, so he can choose where he wants to be. Also can he see out? If he isn't happy and doesn't have enough options....cold...hot...humid...dry, then he will try to go somewhere that he does. Can you post a picture of his enclosure?
Terry
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Terryo
 
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 8:49 pm   

Petey is an adult box turtle...he's pretty old, about 6 in long. He was donated to our school last year. Apparently his owners before used to just give him free run of the house. His enclosure is a 3'x1'x1' wooden box that my husband built for him. It has 1 sq ft of water on one side and 1 sq ft of substrate on the other (which is probably not enough). The middle is just wood. The substrate is about 3 inches deep and he has a small flower pot that he can hide in. I will try to take a picture tomorrow and post it, if I can. I think I might get him a large 50 gal rubbermaid tub because I realize now that the wooden enclosure does not offer him the space he needs.
sbyrd81
 
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 9:04 pm   

I guess if he had the run of the house, and now he is in such a small bit of space, he is trying to get out. I think you should go with the rubbermaid, as big as you can get. He really needs to be able to burrow. See if you can get a half log in a pet store, and at least 6 in. of substrate with the hide over it. Look in the habitat forum, to get some idea's on how to provide for him. He will be much happier, and maybe he wont want to get out.
Terry
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 9:09 pm   

Image

Image

This is my Ornate in an indoor virvarium which I kept her in when she was not well enough to hibernate outside. Just give him as much of a natural environment as possible. Put some leaf litter in there too.
Terry
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Terryo
 
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 9:18 pm   

Thanks for the advice...I appreciate it. The pictures are also helpful. I do have another question, though...I noticed your turtle is eating worms and Petey has never shown much of an interest in live food whenever I've tried to give it to him. He'll eat fruits and vegetables just fine, though. I also feed him ZooMed canned box turtle food and he especially likes that. Is that stuff alright for him?
sbyrd81
 
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 9:58 pm   

Grape leaves, hibiscus leaves and flowers, and dandelion greens, endive escarole, turnip greens, these are all good. All kinds of fruit..no citrus..no spinach. You can get Spring mix, and take out the spinach also. They should have some source of protein, wax worms, meal worms, and earth worms...you can get these in any pet store. Also once a week sprinkle his greens with calcium powder. It is very important that he gets a variety of foods. I don't know the site, but you can look up foods for box turtles, and get a good list. Canned box turtle food...I never fed it. Post a picture when you can.
Terry
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Terryo
 
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Post Posted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 10:03 pm   

Oh...forgot. You should put a cuttle bone in there for him to get some calcium. You know the kind that they put in a bird cage. It also helps to trim his beak. You can see it in the picture with Nora eating the strawberries...see the little bites she has taken out of it?
This is Nora in her outdoor pen.
Image
Terry
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Terryo
 
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Post Posted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 2:10 am   

not to be a downer.....but 3 sq. feet is incredibly small for an adult box turtle. that would explain why he's trying to escape and knocks himself over.

do you have a hygrometer? 3-toeds require fairly high humidity. 80%.

a 50 gallon rubbermaid still only offers him about 5sq feet. although an improvement, it's very minimal. boxies are really outdoor creatures. i've had to bring my 2 adult ornates inside since we moved. i connected 4 50gallon rubbermaids together to give them about 20sq feet, and they still seem cramped and unhappy.

i wouldn't let him roam the classroom. partly because that is too cool (plus it's even cooler on the ground).

hope my comments aren't too discouraging. good luck!
Tom & Ashley
(RES) Crush, Squirt
(3T Box) Manny & Isabella
(Dog) Ember
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RunninWideOpen
 
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Post Posted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:29 pm   

We're planning to build him a large outdoor enclosure for the warmer months, but it's too cold to keep him outside right now. Get this, I just took Petey to the vet yesterday (who said "he" is actually a "she"--oops) and the vet estimated that Petey is probably around 35 years old! Wow...that's older than I am! So, back to the original topic, do you think the rubbermaid tub might suffice just for the winter? Also, how did you connect all your rubbermaid tubs, RWO, and what do you use to heat them? Can I see a pic?
sbyrd81
 
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Post Posted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:34 am   

I used a hack saw to cut out matching sized pieces in the wall, drilled some holes near the edge and zip-tied the tubs together.

The 2 end tubs have 100w bulbs, the 2 middle tubs have 150w watt infrared / ceramic bulbs and UVB 8.0 bulbs. It gives them a temp gradiant, 70F-90F. The ceramic heat lamp stays on 24/7 so it doesn't cool off too much at night.

Here are some pics:

Image

Image
Tom & Ashley
(RES) Crush, Squirt
(3T Box) Manny & Isabella
(Dog) Ember
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RunninWideOpen
 
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Post Posted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:04 pm   

That home is gorgeous! Your box turtle is VERY lucky!
3 turtles,
3 cats,
& fish.
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emma
 
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Post Posted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 1:33 am   

wow thats a smart way to make a nice little home for a lucky little turtle :)
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