box turtle habitat

How to Create a Perfect Box Turtle Habitat in Detail


Box turtles are one of the simplest and most popular choices of pet turtles in the world. If you are a reptile enthusiast and unsure of where to begin, box turtles are a great choice.These turtles are small, have a simple diet, adapt to handling and are easy to handle. Along with all the amazing qualities mentioned above, these turtles are hardy and rarely experience health issues making them a perfect choice for beginners.

The important thing to know before you decide to get a baby turtle as a pet is that even though their needs are simple and basic, the commitment they require is longer than most other pets and they need specific tank conditions to thrive. 

And the most important question to ask is how long do turtles live?

With a lifespan of up to 50 years, you may end up having a turtle as your companion for 3/4th or even your entire life. So before you start looking into details, make sure you are all in and ready to commit to this beautiful being. Turtle Names are every easy to find on internet. 

Species Overview

Scientific name Terrapene Carolina
Common name Eastern Box turtle
Habitat  Warm environment
Size  4 to 7 inches 
How long do turtles live 30 to 50 years or more
What do box turtles eat Omnivorous- insects, fruits, vegetables, worms.
Price  20$ to 50$ 
Tank size and type 30 to 50-gallon glass vivarium tank
Substrates  Alfalfa 
Humidity requirement High 
Temperature  70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
Lighting  UV bulb or 70 to 100 watts lights bulb

Box Turtle Habitat

box turtle habitat


A Box turtle’s habitat comprises warmth and moisture. The Indo-Chinese varieties are also known as the Eastern box turtles are native to warmer countries of the east like China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, etc. they are found in areas with large numbers of trees with patches of sunlight kissing the ground.

They also prefer humid and moist areas and are found in marshy areas with wet logs, leaves and soil around the edges of a lake, pond or other such water bodies as they love soaking up and live partly in the water.

There are many subspecies of box turtles found throughout North America too, other than Asia. In North America, you’ll find 8 subspecies that are derived from two major species of box turtles. Some of the other famous species of box turtles are Ornate and three-toed box turtles.

When we bring a baby box turtle, it’s as important to know about their behaviour and temperament as it is to know how much light, heat and humidity they need, to provide a perfect indoor habitat for them to thrive.

A. Outdoor Pen

Baby box turtle’s habitat can be a small one but you need to increase the size of their habitat as they grow.

Eastern box turtles flourish best in an open environment that mimics their natural habitat. If the temperature of the outdoor pen stays above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, your turtle will stay happy and healthy. 

If your area gets chilly at night or during particular seasons, housing them outdoors isn’t something that is recommended. The outdoor pen must have high enough fencing for containing the turtles in and not allowing an escape route that can be conquered by their climbing.

Their habitat must be secured to keep predators out. It must provide them with options to bask in the sun, soak in the water and a hiding spot to feel secure. 

If it is not possible or suitable for you to house your turtle outdoors permanently, try to at least house them in an outdoor pen in suitable weather or take them out for basking in the sun for a few hours daily.

Do not keep the turtle outdoors in colder temperatures as they would go under hibernation, which is usually not an issue but if by any chance your turtle isn’t fit to hibernate, they will not wake up from it.

B. Indoor Turtle Habitat

For indoor habitats for turtles some people opt for an aquarium and some people prefer their own DIY indoor turtle habitat.

Few things that need to be managed in a similar way irrespective of the type of indoor habitat are heat, light, temperature and humidity. 


Turtles do well in a temperature range of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit but their habitat should have a high temperature of up to 90 degrees for basking and an area to cool off with a temperature of 70 degrees. 

Basking lamps, ceramic heaters or 70 to 100-watt bulbs can be used to provide warm basking temperatures. Install a thermometer in their enclosure to keep temperatures in check.


Turtles prefer moist areas with high humidity of around 60% which can be maintained by spraying water around their enclosure and using plant substrates that retain moisture and keep the enclosure humid.

Humidity can be checked using a hydrometer.


Taking your turtle out to bask in the sun daily is the best method to provide light. Another option is a UVB light. Make sure you turn them off during the night to avoid disturbing your turtle’s circadian rhythm. 

Exposure to UV is a must for your turtle to metabolize its calcium. Lack of it can lead to soft shells and serious metabolic bone diseases.


Their enclosure needs good bedding which can be in the form of chemical-free soil, leaves, moss, or any such moisture-retaining substrate that is non-toxic to turtles. The substrate layer must be 3 to 4 inches deep and must be changed regularly after tank/enclosure cleaning. 

Avoid sand, shells, wood shavings or anything that can be a choking hazard or lead to impaction. 

No matter what the enclosure is made up of, make sure all the basic parameters are achieved and your turtle always has the option to come out of the water, onto a dry area.

box turtle habitat


Baby Box Turtle Habitat

Baby box turtle habitat can be made up of a 20-gallon glass vivarium tank as they are small and it must fulfill the above conditions to keep your turtle happy and healthy. Baby box turtles must not be kept outdoors without proper supervision.

Baby box turtle habitat must also be protected from predators and ants.

DIY Indoor Turtle Habitat

If you are a handy person you can build your enclosure using plywoods. It should be a minimum of four square meters. The insides must be made waterproof and the height should be a minimum of 18 to 20 inches tall to make it escape-proof.

If you want to save yourself all this crafting effort, you can also make a DIY indoor turtle habitat using a large kiddie pool, a plastic tub or container.

Also Read: Different Types of Pet Turtles: Know About Their Characteristics

Box Turtle Temperament and Behavior

Box turtles prefer stable surroundings with fewer disturbances which includes handling. Any unnecessary handling must be avoided and the necessary ones too must be done gently as it may stress the animal out. 

Box turtles are docile and calm and don’t typically bite unless they are handled roughly, which puts them under a lot of stress and makes them anxious. They are even known to recognize their people and follow their movements.

Make sure you are gentle and slow-paced when you get a new turtle home. This is important to not overwhelm your turtle or stress them out. Give them a few days to adapt to their new habitat before you start handling them.

Another important thing to know about your box turtle is what they prefer to eat so that you don’t introduce unnecessary or wrong foods into their indoor habitat.

What Do Box Turtles Eat?

box turtle habitat


The first thing we do when we get a companion animal home is worry about feeding them. To avoid this worry when it comes to our turtles we all have found ourselves on google asking, “what do box turtles eat?”

Eastern box turtles are omnivorous reptiles and eat a wide variety of food. They enjoy everything from fresh fruits, vegetables, lighter meats, small rodents, insects, to worms.

If you can’t prepare a balanced meal for them daily or it gets confusing on what all it should comprise of, there are commercial diets available for turtles that are ready to feed. You can get one of the commercial foods for your turtle and supplement it with some fresh fruits or meat occasionally.

You will need to feed your baby turtles daily as they need good nourishment for growth, adult turtles on the other hand can be fed on alternate days. Place the food on a flat plate and not directly on the substrate as that would cause your turtle to ingest the substrate along with their food. Their plate shouldn’t be placed too high and they should have comfortable access to it. 

Place fresh, clean water in a shallow dish if they do not have direct access to water as they do when their tank has a swimming area with 1/3rd of the dry area which can be accessed freely anytime.

Final Thoughts

Be sure of your commitment and ability to provide them with a good life, do not get one from the wild as their numbers in the wild are rapidly declining. Wild box turtles do not adjust well to captivity and undergo a lot of stress.

We advise you to get a turtle from a reputable breeder as captive-bred turtles adapt better to living in tanks as pets. Breeding in captivity also focuses on health and a reputable breeder would only breed healthy individuals, making captive-bred turtles more sturdy than the wild varieties.

Note: please please please never leave them in a local water body if you are unable to take care of them as they may not be able to survive on their own or if they are too dominant, they’ll kill the indigenous species and overtake the waterbody, which highly disturbs the ecosystem.

For more information on pet care, breeds, or pet foods, visit PetsNurturing.

For quick pet tips and adorable pictures, follow us on our Instagram page pets_nurturing.


Ruby Jennifer

Hi, I am Ruby Jennifer a blogger. The main motive to create this site is that I want to share knowledge about Pets Information, Stories, Pet Breeds, and tips for grooming with all the pet lovers out there.