Ornate Box Turtle




This year we’ve had an outstanding year breeding our Ornate Box turtle colony. All our hatchlings were out of their eggs by September 1st; the largest ones should be ready to send out the week of October 4th. This group is just as pretty as our adults, they are just as outgoing and will soon be ready to imprint on their keepers. They are feeding well on small earth worms, baby super worms, cut fish, small insects, pellets, greens – and anything that moves… Remember that hatchling Box turtles are a bit more demanding than adults, and are not for keepers just starting out. They do best in a semi aquatic set up until they are 6 – 8 months old. Their set up and husbandry is otherwise very similar to that for adults and follows:

Once acclimated, Ornate Box Turtles (Terrapene Ornata) are excellent turtles to keep. With full sized adults reaching only 4 – 5 inches, Ornate Box turtles are an excellent condo or apartment turtle. They spend most of their time, basking, foraging for food and resting. Many Ornate Box turtles have lived over 20 years for their keepers (some have lived more than 40). Mainly carnivores, Ornate Box Turtles will eat meat, insects, some greens and vegetables. Beatles and earthworms are favorites. Ours readily eat pellets, cut up beef heart, super worms and earthworms and dark leafy greens. The trick with this species is to start with very well established individuals; carefully help them to acclimate; and keep their husbandry and habitats consistent. They readily adjust to new environments and soon learn to recognize their keepers.

The best of both worlds: at times they behave like a tortoise, slowly and deliberately going about their routine as if they planned out their whole day ahead of time. Other times, they are more like a turtle, as they quickly run down and pounce on an earth worm with impressive agility; or effortlessly slide into a pond and search below the surface for a meal. Truly Ornate Box are unique turtles.

Ornate Box Turtles are found in several mid western states. In recent years, Texas has been the source of most of the available Ornate Box Turtles. In September of 2007, Texas permanently closed it’s seasons for turtle collecting – making this species much harder to find. We have a limited number of captive born juveniles and young adults available.