How to Take Care of a Box Turtle

small turtle photo
Photo by Craig Pattenaude on Unsplash

Box turtles are one of the most popular pet turtles, and for good reason. They are small and easy to care for, and they can live for decades if properly cared for. Taking care of a box turtle requires more than just feeding and housing it. It requires knowledge of its needs and dedication to providing the best environment and care possible.


  • Find a suitable terrarium or aquarium for your box turtle. The size of the terrarium should be at least twice the length of the turtle, so a 20-inch turtle should have a 40-gallon terrarium.
  • Line the bottom of the terrarium with a substrate such as eco-earth, soil, or sand.
  • Add a hiding spot or two such as a rock, log, or plastic container.
  • Provide a basking spot with a lamp so the turtle can warm up.
  • Keep the terrarium clean by changing the substrate every three to four months.
  • Provide a shallow dish of water for your box turtle to soak in.
turtle in grass
Photo by David Cadenas on Unsplash

Temperature and Humidity

  • Keep the terrarium temperature between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and no lower than 65 degrees at night.
  • Provide a basking spot with a heat lamp or heat pad so the turtle can warm up.
  • Provide a UVB light to help the turtle absorb calcium and other vitamins.
  • Humidity should be kept between 50-80%, so mist the terrarium a few times a week to keep it humid.


  • Feed your box turtle a variety of foods such as vegetables, fruits, insects, and commercial turtle food.
  • Feed your turtle every day and make sure to remove any uneaten food as soon as possible.
  • Provide a shallow dish of water for your turtle to soak in.
  • Make sure to provide your turtle with plenty of calcium and vitamins.


  • Allow your box turtle to become acclimated to its new environment before handling it.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling your turtle.
  • Never pick up your turtle by its tail, as this can cause injury and stress.
  • Be gentle when handling your turtle and never squeeze it.
turtle with small camera in house
Photo by Brittney Weng on Unsplash


  • Take your box turtle to the vet for regular check-ups.
  • Watch for signs of illness such as lethargy, a lack of appetite, or changes in behavior.
  • Be sure to keep your turtle’s habitat clean and provide fresh water daily.
  • Be sure to provide your turtle with the proper diet and vitamins.

Taking care of a box turtle is not difficult, but it does require knowledge and dedication. With the right environment, diet, and care, your box turtle can live a long, healthy life.