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Three Toed Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis)

The three toed box turtle is about 3.5 to 5 inches in length, and usually has only three toes on the hind feet . They have a high domed carapace that is usually an olive brown with some yellow markings. On the plastron, there may be dark areas. The skin is brown with some yellow spots, and the males may have red markings on their heads (and sometimes red, orange and black on the neck and forelegs).

Three toed box turtles can live in a wide variety of habitats from woodlands to meadows, but are usually found near a water source. They often venture into shallow water, perhaps more so than other North American box turtles. As with other North American box turtles, three toed box turtle hibernate when it is colder. They are found from Missouri south to Texas and Alabama.

Adult three toed box turtles are omnivores. Approximately half of their diet should be made up of vegetables, fruit, and hay/grasses. The remainder is made up of low fat protein sources; whole live foods are ideal (earthworms, slugs, snails, mealworms, crickets, grasshoppers, small fish, etc) but cooked lean meats and low fat dog food can be added as a supplement. Hatchlings are more carnivorous. Ideally they should be kept in large outdoor pens. The pen should be located where it can receive some direct sunlight early in the day and dappled light the rest of the day The substrate should be leaf litter. In our pen, 1/3 is covered with at least 6" of composted hay. This provides an abundance of grubs, worms, slugs, millipedes and other food. The rest of the pen is covered with about an inch of leaf litter. Outdoor pens can be planted with shade loving plants such as ferns and Hostas.

Ambient daytime temperature of 72 to 88, with a nighttime drop of no lower then 60 are most appropriate for box turtles, but they can withstand 40 degree nights as long as the day time temps are warm. A good basking spot should be around 88 degrees if they are kept indoor keep about 30 to 50 percent of the enclosure heated. Keep humidity in the 50% to 80% range but preferably 60% to 80%.

They are very rewarding if properly cared for and can be quite funny when feeding as they chase their prey with great enthusiasm.