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Ornate Box Turtle Starter Supplies

Updated on May 22, 2018
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Sherry has been writing about home, family, and pets since 2008. She enjoys retirement, traveling, reading, and crafts.

box turtle
box turtle

Beginners List of Box Turtle Care and Needs

What do you do when a turtle is seen hoofing it across the street on a city street in L. A. county?

First, you witness the car ahead swerving, and you take action to avoid hitting the turtle, as well.

Second, pull to the side of the street and retrieve it so it will not get pulverized.

Third, marvel at the curious animal you have just saved from the wilds of the suburban street.

Fourth, go on and buy your nachos at the 7Eleven Store down the road. Name the turtle Nacho.

My son found an ornate box turtle in just this fashion. Now he needs turtle supplies. Follows is some general information and links about box turtles and care the new ornate box turtle will need.

All pictures are of Nacho.

Ornate Box Turtle
Ornate Box Turtle

Box Turtle as a Pet

Our household knows nothing about small land turtles. The Internet informed us the rescued animal is a box turtle, the terrapene ornata.

The rescuer started immediately with gathering the supplies that would make the turtle comfortable. He started with a big white plastic bin from Target. He put water in a bowl and torn newspaper on the bottom of the bin.

Some research was the next step because this turtle ignored all the tasty vegetables from the refrigerator. We did not want a starving turtle.

The box turtle likes to rearrange his environment. Bags of coconut fiber were acquired for the bin.

Beginning Turtle Must Haves

  • mealworms
  • Super worms in a can
  • Freshly swatted house flies
  • fresh earthworms from the yard
  • coconut fiber bedding
  • Tortoise banquet block
  • water dish big enough for wading
  • hut for crawling into

Ornate Box Turtle On the Road

What to do when a box turtle is seen on the road?

See results
box turtle and shelter
box turtle and shelter

New Female Box Turtle

This is an example of the indoor shelter for a box turtle. This is a female box turtle that someday will be introduced to Nacho.

She is about two inches smaller and does not display the red eye and red spots on the legs, as the male does. The females carapace is more ornate, showing brighter markings.

a/o April, 2011 Both turtles have been under their shell house or hutch since about the end of October. Not moving at all. Couple of times each of them awoke and moved around a bit than retreated to the hideout.

After you have your new turtle in a secure place. Find all the facts on the Internet.

Use Discretion In Every Situation

We are in southern California and box turtles are not native to this region. It is not legal to take a desert turtle home, for example. It is best to leave your box turtles in the wild of you live in the Southern States of the U.S.

Nacho was probably an escaped pet and may of lived fine in the area he was found, because there is a semi-natural stream next to the road. The road is very well traveled, though.

If you are thinking about a turtle for a pet, get one from a good source that raises them in moderation for interested and responsible pet owners only.

This story about Louisiana boxes turtles is very interesting. It is also sad that some young people have developed very twisted urges.

Box Turtles of Louisiana

Our New Pet

The American Box Turtle

Nacho has been a wonderful source of information and family conversation. He was a little afraid of people at first and liked to bite fingers if they came close. His eyes were yellow and now they are a bright healthy red. He may have been an escapee because he has become used to us and seems less angry when we get near.

I have found that his beak has a surprisingly hard bite. During his beak trimming (see cuttlebone above) I also found out that their carapace and plastron clap together with strong force.

He likes to swim and he gets water exercise in the family pool under constant watch to give him a good hydration. This swim lasts about a minute.

He used his sleeping hut to lift himself out of the Rubbermaid bin and he landed with a loud crack on the cement. Thank goodness we were there to witness this and knew exactly how he got out. He now has an identifying chip on the back edge of his shell and his hut is always in the center of the bin so that this will not happen again.

Photos of the Ornate Box Turtle

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Box Turtle in shelterbox turtle climbing hutornate box turtleThe red of the ornate box turtleThis beak can clamp tightThe bottom of the shell is the plastron. Notice the hinge near the thumb.The outer beak grows like a human nail. It occasionally may need filing.Chips on Nachos carapace. Chipped about 1/4 inch.Hank the Jack Russell is wondering about the box turtle.
Box Turtle in shelter
Box Turtle in shelter
box turtle climbing hut
box turtle climbing hut
ornate box turtle
ornate box turtle
The red of the ornate box turtle
The red of the ornate box turtle
This beak can clamp tight
This beak can clamp tight
The bottom of the shell is the plastron. Notice the hinge near the thumb.
The bottom of the shell is the plastron. Notice the hinge near the thumb.
The outer beak grows like a human nail. It occasionally may need filing.
The outer beak grows like a human nail. It occasionally may need filing.
Chips on Nachos carapace. Chipped about 1/4 inch.
Chips on Nachos carapace. Chipped about 1/4 inch.
Hank the Jack Russell is wondering about the box turtle.
Hank the Jack Russell is wondering about the box turtle.

Some Beginners Facts

The beak of the turtle will keep growing, like human fingernails. Nacho's beak was rather long a sign that he has had only soft food recently.

A cuttlebone or calcium block is good for keeping the beak trim.

These little tortoises have a strong bit.

Ornate Box Turtle Swimming - Nacho gets a swim

Be sure to be familiar with your new pet's needs and care for him in the best way possible. Box turtles may live for 30 years, and you can have a long and enjoyable relationship with the proper care and attention.

Explore the Internet because it holds everything you need to know about the box turtle.

Nacho has become accustomed to his new owners. He does not bite at all. Goes to show that these turtles are smart little guys.

© 2010 Sherry Venegas

Ornate Turtle Box Comments

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    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      7 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @anonymous: Oh no! I am glad you have mentioned that here. That pool is chlorinated with the salt method and I am not going to that anymore. Thank you!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi. I don't want to sound scoliding, but I hope that's not a chlorinated swimming pool. That's REALLY bad for them. I assume it's a really clean pool made of only fresh water? I remember reading a year ago about how some couple took their turtle to the beach, let him go in the salt water, and killed him because it permeated his skin.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      8 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @Country-Sunshine: We are looking at our front flower bed for a bigger habitat. Backyard is for the dogs. Let let you know how that comes about.

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 

      8 years ago from Texas

      I enjoy Nacho's story. I, too, have box turtles. They live in my front flowerbed year 'round. In the winter, they dig down into the dirt to hibernate. They've hatched 3 babies in the past couple of years, so hopefully I'll have more this spring. They are such fun to watch & feed. Mine are pretty partial to tomatoes, and will eat them out of my hand. Please keep us up to date!

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 

      8 years ago from Connecticut

      Nachos is a lucky box turtle to have found a new, caring home after escaping or being released by his former owner. Box turtles and wood turtles are becoming increasingly rare in our area, and we have been fortunate to see both in our yard. And this year, we found a baby snapping turtle.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      8 years ago from Southampton, UK

      We had 3 tiny Map Turtles a few years ago, but within 2 years they grew to about 8 inches across and outgrew their huge plastic tub. Ended up having to put them in the river when we moved. Keeping turtles is a lot of work, but fun.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      8 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @pawpaw911: Letting them go about their wild life is best. You must live in one of the states they are endemic to. Our state, CA., has the rather large desert tortoise. If you breed them those are not to be put into the wild, and you are not to acquire them from the wild either.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice lens. We had two Ornate box turtles come to our yard this year. I took some pics, and let them go on their way.

    • lemonsqueezy lm profile image

      lemonsqueezy lm 

      8 years ago

      Cute video of a swimming turtle. Lots of friendly advice here. I love the name Nacho!

    • kimbesa2 profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Thanks! I had pet turtles years ago. A soft spot in my heart for them.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I enjoyed reading about Nacho, your Box Turtle. I imagine that he would be much easier to care for than our Red Eared Slider is.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      9 years ago from Central Florida

      My mother-in-law had a box turtle live in her house for years. You had to be really careful walking around, so you wouldn't step on him. He liked strawberries and other fruit.

      I've featured your lens on SquidPaw Lenses.

    • Jack2205 profile image


      9 years ago

      When I was little, I found many box turtles out in the country. I kept them for pets in the summer every year, but then I had to set them free outside because my parents didn't want to keep them. I kept the turtles in one of those blue plastic swimming pools for children. They had dirt to crawl and dig in on one side, and shallow water to play and swim in on the other side, with a shelter in the middle.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Gosh, I do believe as a kid we had a turtle or two but none of them was THIS big! I've got a couple of pictures I took of a turtle that came out of the marsh -- I think it is a painted turtle. Good luck with that guy and be sure to count all your fingers. It looks HUNGRY.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      How fascinating! I'm glad Nacho was rescued! I didn't know that box turtles had beaks, sorry you had to find out the hard way that it hurts when they bite.


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