There are many things to consider when you decide to get a new pet box turtle. Where can you buy a box turtle? How to select a suitable and healthy box turtle? And what do you have to keep in mind when you bring your new box turtle home for the first time? This post will give you an overview of everything you need to know before and after you buy a box turtle and tell you where you can buy a box turtle online.
Do’s and Don’ts when buying a box turtle
- Do not buy endangered turtle species.
- Do not take adult, breeding turtles out of the wild.
- Do not dig up or disturb the nests of turtles.
- Do not buy pet store turtles that look like they were wild caught or if they are being cared for improperly.
- If you buy online, make sure to buy from a trusted seller that only sells captive-bred animals.
Important things to consider before you buy a box turtle
If you decide to buy a box turtle, you need to find the right fit for your. Selecting a healthy box turtle is not easy because they don’t show the same signs of illness or distress like other animals we are familiar with. They don’t whine or run fevers.
However, a good way to begin to assess a box turtle’s health is to look at the conditions the turtle has been living in. If you are in a pet store look to see if the displays are clean and roomy. If you are ordering online, check reviews of the store. Has someone recommended it to you or did you just find the store through Google ads?
And most importantly: does the store sell captive-bred turtles or could they possibly sell animals that have been illegally removed from the wild?
If you are in a pet store, look to see if the store is providing the right conditions for healthy turtles. Is fresh water available for the turtle or is the water bowl full of food and feces? Or is there rotting food lying about? Are there flies and bugs in the cage? Will the store provide you with a detail care pamphlet?
If the store doesn’t treat its animals well, it won’t treat you well either. Give your business to a store that is reputable and humane. There are many good pet stores, but it may not be the one closest to you. You can check online or with local turtle or herpetological societies for good pet stores. Sometimes, a friend or veterinarian who keeps reptiles can steer you to well-run pet stores. The best way to obtain a box turtle may not be through a pet store. Other alternatives will be discussed later.
Take any box turtle you buy to a veterinarian who has worked with reptiles for a stool check. Worms are common in stressed-out reptiles, and you’ll feel better about starting out with a parasite-free turtle.
Where to buy a box turtle online?
As mentioned above, it is crucial that you buy from a trusted vendor that only sells captive-bred animals and doesn’t endanger the natural population of box turtles even further.
For this reason, we are recommending to buy box turtles from CBReptiles. The “CB” in their name stands for captive-bred and they breed all their animals themselves with a professional biologist on-site. Their delieveries come with a live arrival and health guarantee.
Click here to get to the shop of CBReptiles and buy a box turtle online with confidence. Your new box turtle will be delivered to your doorstep within two days of ordering. They also offer a discount of 5% if you use the code “cbreptile5” upon checkout.
Here is a link to their Facebook page with numerous positive customer reviews and a satisfaction rating of 4.9 out of 5.
Here is a checklist of things to consider when buying a box turtle
If you are buying a box turtle in a store, make sure to check these items before buying. If you order a box turtle online, you should go through this checklist after you’ve got your turtle. If there is something wrong, contact your vendor and they will sort the issue out for you.
- A box turtle should feel solid and heavy as you gauge its weight to its size. It shouldn’t feel like an empty box.
- Look carefully at the head, eyes, nostrils, shell, hinge, skin, legs and vent opening of the turtle. There should be no lumps or redness on the head or skin.
- Look at hidden parts of the skin. There should be no cuts or little holes where flies could lay eggs.
- Look at the eyes. They should be open and bright, not sunken in or puffed out. There should be no discharges coming from the eyes or nose.
- Look at the mouth. Try to make the turtle open its mouth. The mouth should be clear of white fungal growth and the tongue pink.
- Look at the shell. There should be no soft or moist spots or places where the scutes are pulling away. Is there a bad smell coming from under a loose scute? Any of these may be signs of shell rot.
- Look at the feet. Are the claws well-formed and injury free? Try to get a hold a leg and pull on it gently. Does the turtle pull against the pressure or is it so weak it doesn’t seem to care? Make sure there are no swollen limbs.
- Look at the tail vent opening. There should be no swelling or discharges around the opening.
- Look at the feces if any are around. Do you see egg masses or tiny worms crawling around? The feces should be firm and the food well digested.
Are you new to box turtles? Check out our A-to-Z glossary to get acquainted with the technical terms
If bought locally – Ask the pet store’s staff questions
Are these captive bred box turtles? Has the turtle been eating well? What does it eat? How often is it fed? Has it seen a veterinarian for parasites?
If you don’t get good answers to your questions then take your business somewhere else. There are some pet stores that are poorly managed, and not all pet stores treat reptiles with the same respect they would a puppy or kitten. You may want to reconsider giving your money to a store like that.
Getting a box turtle from the wild
Firstly, we don’t recommend removing wild animals from their natural habitat. Only in rare cases, where inqured turtles are rescued from the wild, removing the animal actually makes sense. If you get your box turtle from the wild, you have the responsibility to provide a good home for the animal. It didn’t come up to you and say “take me home”. A turtle picked up from the middle of a road or from a field being bulldozed for a new parking lot is a better choice for the obvious reason that their home range puts them at risk of being killed, but even they will not “appreciate” the act of kindness on your part. The same criteria for selecting a healthy pet store box turtle goes for wild-caught ones.
Take the age of the box turtle into consideration
An additional consideration would be the animal’s age. An older turtle may not adjust to captivity, and it would be cruel to subject him to confinement if all you can provide is a glass tank inside an apartment.
An older turtle will have a plastron that is worn smooth and the top shell may even be showing signs of wear. Once the shell stops growing, usually between 8-12 years, the growth rings begin to wear down. The individual scutes will still be noticeable but the yearly growth rings will disappear due to the constant rubbing of grasses, digging in soil and rubbing against rocks and tree roots.
It will be easiest, if you find a young adult box turtle for sale. The young turtle will have an easier time adjusting to the new and unknown environment than a box turtle that is used to live in the wild.
Consider buying a captive-bred box turtle
A turtle set in his ways may be stressed to the point of illness if his food preferences and habits are changed. Of course that doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t adjust, but if you are a new box turtle owner, a captive-bred animal would be a better first choice.
Captive-bred turtles can be purchased from breeders like CBReptiles. This is what we recommend since buying captive-bred turtles will not deplete the wild population.
Another way to purchase a box turtle is through a local turtle and tortoise club. They often have specimens up for adoption. This is also a great place to get first-hand information on how to care for turtles. By joining a turtle club you help the cause of turtles in your area. Most clubs do a good job of education and conservation. Plus, you’ll meet others who are interested in box turtles.
Things to consider when you bring your new turtle home
Once the turtle is brought home, you will want to give it special attention for the next few weeks. Assess the turtle’s health and take care of any problems. If its housing hasn’t been made, you need to take care of that as soon as possible. A proper habitat is crucial for the well-being of your box turtle. It should not be housed with any existing pet box turtles for several months. A quarantine period will lessen the chances of it infecting your other turtles. The quarantine housing can be a small pen or temporary housing in a glass aquarium setup like the “hospital tank“.
Make sure to hydrate the box turtle well and give it a warm, dark place to rest between handling and feedings. For a week or so, place the turtle in a washbasin with about 2 to 3 inches of tepid water every day. The water should only reach halfway up the shell, never over the turtle’s head.
Observe it drinking and washing itself. It may defecate in the water. Look at the feces to see if worms are present. If it’s a mature male it may evert its reproductive organ for washing.
After 15 minutes, remove the turtle and let it rest undisturbed until the next soaking. Begin to feed the box turtle 3-5 days after you get it home. You can find detailed information about feeding and the ideal box turtle diet here.