July 14, 2010

Indoor Box Turtle Habitat

We just built the COOLEST indoor habitat for our box turtle General Lee.  And when I say "we", I mean Gardener Guy.

Our friend gave General to us about 4 years ago, and at that time he was little. He was about the size of the top of a pop can. Yep, really little.  Since then, he's about doubled his size. So now, he's roughly 4 inches if you measure his shell from head to tail.

General's been living in a glass fish tank that had a 12 X 24 footprint, and there wasn't much room for him to play. Do turtles play?  We like to think they do, so we've been wanting to make him some kind of new home for a few years.  I mean, if you think about it, they do need a few critical items in their habitat. This website had some great suggestions, although we didn't follow every rule they had.  There had to be room for a water dish big enough for him to soak in, a feeding rock, and of course a cave of sorts, since they like to burrow and hide whenever possible.

As you can see, we've been able to provide all those necessities, and then some.  We're thinking of installing a putting green. Or a race track.

Here's how we did it.  Gardener Guy brought home some solid based pallets from work to use as the foundation, as well as for the walls.
  • He cut one pallet down to a 2ft x 3ft base and removed the slats of wood from another pallet to use for the walls. 
  • He caulked the cracks between the boards in the base.
  • We bought a 12  inch plastic pot tray and cut a whole in the base big enough so that the tray slips right in, but doesn't fall through.
  • Then we covered the base in indoor/outdoor carpet for the floor.  
  • He took the wood he had removed from the pallet, cut it into 11 inches long pieces and screwed it to the sides of the base to form the walls.
  • To stabilize the slats forming the walls, he took a few 2 x 1s and screwed them to the inside of the walls. These will also serve as a ledge to rest the frame of a screened lid when we get that built. 
Once we had the house built, it was time to decorate!

According to the vet, we should feed him on a stone so that his beak can get worn down naturally and we won't have to have it trimmed so often. He also needed a hidey hole, so we took another piece of flagstone and leaned it up in a corner, making a cave. Turtles should also have some sort of substrate in their habitat, so I bought some bark to lay down throughout the house. However, the thought of having to pick little turtle nuggets out of that bark made us rethink that plan. Instead, we just put the bark in his cave so he could burrow if he wants, and the nuggets will be easy to clean off of the indoor/outdoor carpet.

He's already taken the twenty five cent tour, and I think he's going to LOVE IT.

Next step: Making a screened lid so we can feed General crickets once in a while without the fear of them escaping and hiding behind the dresser, keeping us up all night with their song.  We'll post those directions when we get it completed.


coloradohoney said...

nice job!

Anonymous said...

Really great job... you just gave me some great ideas for my turtle 'Buddy'

CierraLeeanne said...

This looks awesome! Im looking into getting a box turtle too.. doing my research lol how long has your turtle been in his new habitat, and is he liking it so far? thanks for your time!:)

Calico Road said...

Cierra, General loves his home. We have since made a screen lid for it so he can eat crickets without them getting all over the house. I would highly recommend a box turtle, lots of personality.

Reaper said...

I'm 12 years old, and getting a pair of box turtles in about a month when my father has the time to help me build an enclosure. This gave a good idea on how I should build it, and what it should look like.
I've had a strong love for turtles since I was younger, and I want my turtles to be comfortable when I get them.
Thanks for the idea, so now I can build a nice and comfortable home for my turtles.

Anonymous said...

Hi do you still have your turtles? I just acquired a box turtle and your enclosure looks really cool. I am not very handy, but want to try to build a home for "Skippy" But could use some more info on how to build it. Anything you can provide will be helpful. My email addy is Riotct1969@aol.com