Box Turtle

NOTE: SEAVS does not condone nor recommend keeping any wildlife animal in captivity.

Tank Size

A 30-gallon tank with a screen top or a Rubbermaid container 30”x15”x8” should comfortably accommodate 1 box turtle.


The safest substrates are cypress mulch, newspaper, indoor/outdoor carpet, and recycled newspaper products such as Carefresh.


Complete Diets: About 30-40% of the diet should consist of a complete box turtle diet such as: Rep-cal, Zeigler, Scenic or Pretty Pets. Be sure to offer a pelleted diet and soften it in water before giving it to your box turtle. You may have to smash it up with fruit to get your turtle to eat it.

Fruit and Greens: If you have an Eastern or a Western/Ornate box turtle about 20-30% of the diet should consist of healthy fruits and leafy greens. Try kiwi, all melons, mango, all berries, some banana, kale, collard greens, romaine, red and green leaf lettuce and some shredded carrot and sweet potato. If your turtle won’t eat the veggies, shred them very fine and mix them with smashed fruit.

Insects and worms: About 30-40% of the diet for Eastern and Western/Ornate box turtles and about 70-80% of the diet for Three-toed box turtles should consist of earthworms, crickets, grubs and mealworms. Always purchase these from a pet shop or a bait shop since insects caught outdoors could contain toxins. Always “gutload” the insects before feeding them to your turtle. This can be accomplished by feeding the insects healthy foods such as greens, crushed dog food, and commercial cricket food prior to giving them to your pet.


Keeping your box turtle adequately hydrated is very important. Offer a shallow, non-spill bowl in the enclosure for drinking water. Clean it daily. Soak your box turtle in shallow warm water for 15 minutes 1-2 times weekly to aid in hydration.

Lighting and Temperature

A basking area with an incandescent bulb should be offered on one side of the cage. The temperature under that light, where the turtle will actually sit should reach 85-90 degrees F. You also need to offer a 5.0 UVB fluorescent light over the basking area. This bulb needs to be 7-15 inches from the animal in order for the animal to benefit from it. Make sure there is NO glass or plastic between this bulb and your box turtle as this filters out the useful rays. Lights should be on for 12 hours daily, and UVB fluorescent bulbs need to be replaced every 6 months (even if they still work). **Right now there are several incandescent bulbs that provide heat and UVB such as, Active UVB bulbs and Zoomed’s halogen UVB bulb.

Heating Pad

An under the tank heating pad or a red light bulb may be used to provide extra heat at night, but the cage temperature does need to drop into the lower 80’s – upper 70’s.