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Turtles/Box turtles


QUESTION: Hi. I wanna buy a pet box turtle and I'm not sure how much they cost. What is the price range for box turtles? Thanks


New Jersey has strict laws on obtaining and keeping box turtles as pets.  They cannot be bought or sold in state, you need a permit to keep them, and you must have paperwork to prove that your turtle is captive bred and was not collected or purchased inside the state.  If you have questions on the law and permit requirements, you should call New Jersey Fish and Wildlife.  If you find one for sale in New Jersey, it's not a legal animal.

Captive bred box turtle hatchlings aren't very expensive; under $100 (plus shipping, of course, unless you drove out of state to pick it up).  When purchasing a reptile, the reputation of the breeder is far more important than price, because an unhealthy hatchling is ultimately going to be much more expensive.  Additional expenses would be in setting up proper housing for one, and then ongoing care.  No matter what any pet store tells you, you can't keep them in small tanks.  Even a hatchling will need space, and a mature box turtle should have a large amount of room (an outdoor pen).  I'd say for a hatchling, I'd get a 2 x 3 cement mixing tub from Lowe's or Home Depot, and that will probably be big enough for at least a couple of years, by which time you should build an outside pen.  You need proper substrate, basking/UVB bulb (ZooMed Powersun), dome fixture and lamp stand, shallow water dish, and a couple of hides.  The setup in total should run another $100--keep in mind that UVB bulbs have to be replaced yearly, and substrate needs to be changed out regularly.  Providing proper diet is another expense to consider.  Box turtles are omnivores and should be fed a variety of fresh/live animal protein (insects, worms, pinky mice, etc.) and fresh fruits and greens.  A varied diet is very important, so there will be weekly outlay of cash for that.  Not a huge amount, but something to remember.  And then there's always the possibility of needing vet care!

So all in all, I'd figure on roughly $200 for initial setup of a captive bred hatchling, and then figure in additional expense 2-3 years down the road when you need a bigger enclosure (outdoor pen).  

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for answering my last question. What kind of diet should bix turtles have? Like how much greens and live bugs should they have and when? (Ex:  like some carrots and 5 worms every hour?)

Hi Liz,

It's important when considering any animal as a pet that you know as much as possible about its needs, including diet.  So I'm going to provide you with some links that will give you detail information on diet, but you'll have to read them over carefully to learn everything you need to know.

Box turtles are omnivores, so they eat animal protein, as well as plant material (greens and fruits).  Most box turtles are at least half carnivorous, so need to be supplied with a good amount of animal matter (meat, insects, etc., NOT dog or cat food), supplemented with some greens and fruits.  The best way to feed a box turtle is to have a large outdoor pen with areas of compost, bark, leaf litter, etc., so that worms, snails, spiders, etc. can breed in it.  This way, the turtle can forage for itself, with some supplementation from you.  Planting greens, weeds, strawberry plants, etc. will help to round out the diet.  

These links will give you some lists of foods: (has links to other care site, plus a pretty good care guide, except that I disagree about ever feeding any kind of dog/cat food)


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Questions regarding husbandry of Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean species, sulcata, and redfoot tortoises; general tortoise and turtle care; box turtle care. If I can't answer a specific question, I can provide sources for further research. Disclaimer: My advice is not a substitute for vet care. If I think your tortoise/turtle has a specific medical condition or injury that warrants a vet visit, I'll tell you so, and if possible I'll help you locate a vet. It is neither legal nor ethical for me to provide veterinary advice.


I have kept and bred Russian tortoises for over ten years and have other Mediterranean species plus redfoots and box turtles. I've worked with other tortoise and turtle species while doing volunteer rescue work; mostly sulcata but some leopards, California desert tortoises, yellowfoots, all box turtle species, red-eared sliders, etc. I don't personally keep aquatic species, but have access to a wealth of information and research to help you with any questions you might have.

My knowledge is based on hands-on experience keeping, breeding, and working with tortoises and turtles.

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