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Turtles/Box turtle!!


Box turtle
Box turtle  
Box turtle
Box turtle  
I have what i believe is a box turtle, but I was wondering what species of box turtle do I have and was also wondering what sex it is? I was given this turtle from one of my customers. I've had him or her for about 2-3 weeks now!!

Thank you,

ANSWER: Hi Angela,

It's indeed a box turtle.  I can't sex it for you for sure without a picture of the tail, but looks like a big female and mostly likely a 3-toed (Terrapene carolina triunguis).

If this turtle was recently caught, it should be returned to where it was found as soon as possible.  Wild box turtle populations are being decimated by collectors (private and for the pet trade), so keeping wild turtles really isn't good.  If it was a pet store purchase, it can't be released.  Don't keep it indoors.  It would be best to have a secure (they dig and climb!) roomy, heavily planted pen outdoors--lots of plants, logs, rocks, leaf litter, etc., and dappled sun and shade so there are basking areas and cooler areas as well.  Box turtles need plenty of moisture, so it should be watered regularly.  The more natural the enclosure, the more natural prey there will be (snails, slugs, worms, crickets, and so forth) and the more the turtle will be able to forage on its own, although it will still need to be fed regularly.  Box turtles are fairly carnivorous, so diet should be meat/insect heavy, along with offerings of fruit, veggies, and greens.  Lots of variety is important.

Here's a site with more detailed information on diet, etc.:

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Box turtle
Box turtle  
Box turtle
Box turtle  
QUESTION: Alright awesome!! Its the friendliest turtle I've ever encountered! I think the lady just didn't want to take care of her anymore. Her shells kinda messed up, i think she got attacked by her dog or something. I'll send a picture of that too. Her tails short and fat i hope thats a good photo or i can get another one! And she does have three toes on the back feet!

ANSWER: Hi Angela,

That actually looks like a male tail.  Females have a short, stubby tail, but it's more typical for males to carry it to the side like that.  Here's a link that will help you determine the sex (always easier to do in person!):

That bare patch on her shell could be an area of healed shell rot, or possibly a healed injury,  In any case, it's nothing to worry about as long as it's not actively red, oozing, stinky, etc.  

Post back and let me know what sex you think it is.  The eyes looked brown in the photo, but the tail is really the best way to tell.  

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So it is a male, and his name is Dexter! I have one more question, is there any way to tell a round about answer on how old he is? I've heard that you can tell by there shell but wasn't exactly sure. And I've been told that they live 50 plus years!

Hi Angela,

Too funny!  I had a 3-toed male rescue named Dexter for a few years.  No, unfortunately there is no way to tell his age.  The shell doesn't tell you anything.  He's certainly a mature male, so at least 5-10 years old, but he's big so I'd guess more like 20 years and maybe more.  They can live anywhere from 50-100 years, but 50-60 is probably more the norm.  Get him set up in a good natural outside enclosure, protected from predators, and he should be with you for many years.  


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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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