Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pet Turtle Care : Box Turtles

Pet Turtle Care

The American Box turtles are widespread throughout the eastern states from Maine to Georgia and Alabama and west to the Mississippi River. Three subspecies of box turtles extend its range well into Texas, along the Gulf Coast, and to Florida, while a closely related species occupies a wide range in the prairie country west of the Mississippi.

The box turtles average between five and six inches in length. The colors of this turtles are fairly constant, but the markings are extremely variable, in fact, it is not often that one can find two individuals that are marked alike.

The box turtles are mainly terrestrial, although it can be found in more or less swampy or marshy country. They are fair swimmers and occasionally are seen in both fresh water ponds and salty lagoons. But for the most part, box turtles are at home in open grassy woodlands, pastures and meadows, and sunny hillsides thickets. During hot and dry periods, however, the box turtle often seeks some drying-out mud hole in the woods and partially buries itself in the deep mire.

Young box turtles are omnivorous feeder. While they are stay pretty close to marshes and other moist situations, they eat mostly animals, such as worms and insect larvae. The adult box turtles seem to prefer fruits, mushrooms, tender grasses and leaves; although they will accept worms, slugs and other similar animal. Captive turtles will eat fruits and berries of many kinds and are especially fond of overripe bananas.

Box turtles are invariably timid creatures and may be kept as pets without any fear and bites. When first captured they show a reluctance to leave the protection of their Shell and may remain tightly closed up for an hour and more. However, they eventually screw up enough courage to venture a look around and in due time become very tame. They are rather more intelligent than the strictly aquatic turtles and can be taught to beg for food and to take it from your fingers.

Laying 4 - 5 eggs on June or July, the female excavates a shallow, flask-shaped nest, working with her hind feet. Hatchlings takes place in the fall, and the little turtles go into hibernation soon after. Their lifespan about 30 - 40 years recorded in captivity. Some individuals have lived more than one hundred years.

The Florida box turtles, Terrapene Carolina bauri
This subspecies can be found in Florida. The shell of Florida box turtles is more elongate than common box turtles, with its highest part well back from the middle of the shell, over the rump. The markings on the carapace lean more to long, unbroken radiating lines of bright yellow in place of the star like clusters of spots. There are usually two well-defined yellowish lines on the side of the head, and in most cases there are but three toes on each hind foot.

The Gulf Coast Box Turtles (Terrapene Carolina major)
Range along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida. Seven inches or more in length, this subspecies is the largest of the American box turtles. With a well-domed shell that is highest in the center, the color is dark and is sometimes without markings. The plastron is generally blacks. In this subspecies the hind foot has four toes.

Three-toed box turtles (Terrapene Carolina triunguis)
Three-toed box turtle has a narrow shell that is well arched, well keeled and flaring a little at rear margin. The carapace is brown with irregular yellowish scrawls, with the plastron solid black as a rule. The head and limbs, especially the forelimbs, are heavily spotted with brown and yellow.

Three-toed box turtles may be found mostly west of the Mississippi river, from Texas through Colorado to northern Missouri. This turtle is sometimes known as the midland box turtle.

The general habits of these three subspecies of box turtle are substantially the same as those of the typical form.

Avicenna has written various articles about exotic pets related topics, including Pet snake, and pet turtles.

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