An Easy Guide To Eastern Box Turtle Care

 An Easy Guide To Eastern Box Turtle Care

What Do You Feed An Eastern Box Turtle?


Eastern box turtles eat a variety of vegetables and insects. Their diet should consist of earthworms, crickets, mealworms, hay, grasses, tomatoes, bell peppers, and carrots. 

The Truth About Eastern Box Turtles


The Eastern box turtle lives much longer in the wild than it does in captivity. However, we still see them being sold in stores or reptile shows and their numbers are slowly going down in the wild. The average lifespan of this species in captivity is up to 40 years with the best care. They have been recorded to live for almost 100 years in the wild. 


An Eastern box turtle habitat is usually found in forests with a lot of rain or grasslands where they can roam around for food. They like shallow water and they will go into hibernation when it gets too cold. Luckily, housing the box turtle is easy. The only difficulty is doing daily water changes. 

Eastern Box Turtle Diet


Eastern box turtles need to eat a variety of vegetables and insects every day. The foods that they eat need to be similar to what they would eat in the wild. Based on their natural habitats, this species would eat crickets, grasshoppers, earthworms, mealworms, and snails. Make sure that these insects are store-bought to avoid giving your box turtle parasites. 


Box turtles should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. They like hay, grasses, bell peppers, tomatoes, and carrots. Half of their diet needs to include vegetables and they need to eat every single day. You can use a shallow dish to place the food in that will give them easy access. 


Remember to dust their food with some sort of vitamin or calcium powder. The vitamins will give your turtles the extra nutrients that it needs to stay happy and healthy. Gut-loading the insects is another way to give your turtle a good amount of protein. 

Water Maintenance


Water maintenance for Eastern box turtles is going to be a daily occurrence. They need fresh water every day. Luckily they are not aquatic turtles and they just need a shallow water dish to soak in. 


They tend to leave droppings in their water dish often and they may drop old food in the water too. Water changes may even need to happen more than once because they can be a little messy. 


The water you use needs to be freshwater. When cleaning the water dish, avoid using harsh chemicals. Rinse the water bowl thoroughly to get rid of any excess waste or cleaning solution. 

Indoor Enclosures


There are two different ways you can house an Eastern Box Turtle. They can stay indoors in an aquarium or an outdoor enclosure. 


An indoor Eastern box turtle tank setup needs to be at least 30 gallons or more with tall sides for adult turtles. The enclosure has to be well ventilated to allow for enough heat to come through and hold in humidity. The humidity levels need to stay around 70%. This can be achieved with a moist substrate and daily misting. The small water dish will also be another source for maintaining humidity. 


The temperature of the enclosure needs to be around 80-88 degrees Fahrenheit under their heat light and around 75 degrees Fahrenheit under the shaded areas. The temperature should not drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. An electric thermometer will be helpful in accurately monitoring the enclosure temperature and humidity. 


The best lights that you can use for indoor enclosures are UVA/UVB reptile lights. They need their lights on for about 10 hours a day. You must change their lights every six months because the lights lose their potency. Vitamin D is extremely important for Eastern box turtles. 


Lastly, you can use mulch or a mossy substrate for the bottom of their enclosure. The mulch needs to be free of any dyes or chemicals. All of these substrates are going to hold in moisture and humidity well. The substrate should be a few inches deep in the enclosure as well because box turtles love to burrow. Eastern box turtle care indoors requires a a decent amount of maintenance. 

Outdoor Enclosures


Outdoor enclosures are another popular way to house box turtles. The best way to create an outdoor enclosure is to make sure that it has everything they would have in the wild. They need shaded areas, sunny spots, places to hide or burrow, and tall walls to prevent them from escaping. There should also be protection over the pen as well from predators. 


Any plants or substrates you use in the outdoor enclosure need to be eco-friendly and free of chemicals. Otherwise, outdoor enclosures are great because they provide a lot more room for box turtles. A water bowl should still be provided and cleaned every single day. Their pen needs to be spot-checked and cleaned regularly too. They will get a lot of the vitamins that they need from the sun, so lighting is not required. 



Captive-bred box turtles typically have sweet personalities. They can become comfortable with their keepers and even eat from their hands. Handling should be kept to a minimum with your turtle because they can easily become stressed out. Only handle when necessary and enjoy watching your turtle forage in their enclosure. 

Before You Buy


It is against the law to capture and raise Eastern box turtles from the wild. A lot of box turtles are still being caught from the wild and then traded in as pets. They have a hard time adjusting to captivity and die from stress. You must find a reputable breeder who only sells captive bred turtles. They will have been more acclimated to captivity and will be a lot easier to house. You can also get a turtle from a rescue group to help it live out a much happier life. 

Wrapping Up


Eastern box turtles have a simple diet that requires a lot of protein. Their enclosure setup is fairly simple, but they need daily water changes. Keep their lights renewed every six months and their tanks spot checked for fecal. The humidity needs to be at 70% with temperatures ranging from 75-88 degrees Fahrenheit. All of these things will give you a happy and healthy Eastern box turtle.

Jade Messieh

Proud bearded dragon, tortoise, crested gecko, and green tree python mom. I've always been passionate about animals and hope to help other reptile & amphibian enthusiasts along their journey!

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