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a good home

22 16:48:44

Hi, I have a asian box turtle for a long time now and i've tried to give her a good home but i always question my self on what i can do better for her.  I have taken her out of the tank i had and now is in a kiddy pool on my floor with a rug and a ramp to a medium sized tray with water deep as her head, and a heat rock (which she never uses) instead she seems to like these napkins (the fancy thick ones you use in a restuarnt)and hides under it for the most part of her day. i have to pull her out just so she'll eat.  Also for some odd reason she will only eat chop meat nothing else i've tried everything.  but anyway i was checking the web for a habitat for her that i can either build myself or buy for her but i have found nothing just these huge ones for either out side and most of the time for more then one turtle.  its so confuseing cause it seems like everyone has there own ideas on how to take care of these rare turtles.  Can you help shed some light on these questions?  thank you

OK, first things first.

The Asiatic box turtles (Cuora species) cover a wide range of habitat needs, mostly temperate jungle with varying needs for water. Some are almost totally aquatic, others almost totally terrestial.

Yours sounds terrestial, but that may be because the water is not adequate. Generally aquatic species want at least 5 gallons minimum for swimming in. Anything less is more of an annoyance to them. Without knowing the species, I cannot be sure which is the reality for your turtle. A decent overview can be found at ""

So, the first question is how aquatic is it? The demand for water will drive the rest of the habitat design. Some of this will be based on size- most Cuora are about 6" long measured with the curve of the shell, so would prefer about 10 gallons of water space- IF aquatic... AND still need a decent land space since all Cuora like to get out and wander a bit.

The avoidance of the heat rock is generally a good sign of the overall temps. You may want to try an infrared heat lamp pointed at a safe (non-meltable0 area- possible some flat rock or stone tiles.

Unfortunately, an open kiddy pool is not a good way to maintain the humdity levels these turtles usually prefer. On the other hand, a lid often keeps fresh, clean air out and increases the odds of resperitory illnesses. You can try various tricks- point a heat lamp at a piece of damp cloth (like a piece of towel dipped in the pool and held up by a frame), several plants kept moist, some moss kept moist (like with a steady drip from a milk jug mounted over it), etc.

Rug as flooring- this may be abrasive and hard to keep clean. You may want to consider something different. With a larger cage, like a kiddy pool, the substrate can become a real issue, but you may want to consider pea-size gravel (scooped out and washed periodically) or something.

Outdoor enclosures are great for some of the country, but most of us still need an indoor space.

OK, some general brainstorms...

Coffee table cage- with a friend, build a cage the sixe of a coffee table with a raised fake floor. This lets you put some heating under the floor AND sink the tub to floor level. You can do a floor covering of cork (such as thin cork stuck to squares of linoleum). This also means you can create a sunken garden area for plants or sand for digging in, etc. Support a thick platic lid/tabletop a few inches over the cage- the air gap allows fresh air but helps keep some humidity inside. A table lamp on the table provides lighting.

Modified Kiddy Pool- the raised floor idea can work here as well- cut some plywood, MDF, or even thick Masonite to make a new floor about 2-3 inches higher than the original.

Humidity House- a way to provide high humidity inside an enclosure. Simply make a Plexiglass box with one or two open sides and cover the open sides with strips of heavy plastic so the turtle can walk through it. keep the strips about 1/4" off the ground so they don't get tangled in the turtle's feet. Position the house in a warm part of the cage and put a sponge in a bowl of water for humidity.

Hidey Hole- Many turtles are shy, either as individuals or as a species. Yours sounds like it likes to hide. This may be to get out of bright light (most tropical species live in dim light), or to avoid being seen by the giants (many species do a lot better if kept in a way that they can be seen without seeing the observers- one keeper kept his at eye level!) Constructing a simple hiding area out of Masonite, bark, a couple of 2x2s and a piece of slate over them, etc. Keep it big enough to get into, but small enough to provide security. You will almost certaintly have to anchor it!

Big Issue #2: Food. Again, different species eat different balances of meat to vegetation. Try live worms or crickets, salads/greens, feeder goldfish (especially for the aquatic species!) If it insists on chopped meat, at least use very lean meat (chicken, etc.) and add reptile vitamins with vitamin B13, calcium, and so forth.

Let me know what species you have, and what you want to do with it, and I'll try to help you more!