Although pet box turtles are on the small side, they have pretty long life expectancies -- think between 50 and 60 years. Keep your box turtle healthy for as long as possible with regular veterinary appointments and careful attention to his exterior. These turtles are prone to several health issues, including respiratory disorders and bacterial infection.
Signs of Good Box Turtle Health
You may be able to identify a healthy box turtle just by looking at him. If your box turtle is in optimal condition, his eyes should look bright and clear, while his shell should look totally smooth -- with no spots or flaky dryness, for example. If you closely examine his skin, you shouldn't see any wounds, bumps or bruises. If your turtle is free of these things, then he likely is a healthy creature eating a well-balanced diet.
Spending time daily with your turtle allows you to notice changes in his general health. Each day when you visit, scan for potential symptoms of illness in your turtle. Symptoms of illness include skin dryness, watery eyes, nasal discharge, drinking with more frequency, appetite loss, diarrhea, weight loss, abscesses, eyes that won't open fully, swelling of the ears, unusual exhaustion, changes in routine and behavioral changes. If you notice even one of these symptoms, consult your reptile vet.
Illnesses That Sometimes Affect Box Turtles
Like many other species of animals, box turtles are especially susceptible to certain health ailments. Some conditions that affect some box turtles are bacterial infection, breathing disorders, parasites, fungal infection, organ failure, eye swelling and bone disease. Keep all of these potential problems in mind when you look at your turtle for indications of a problem.
Seek a Reptile Veterinarian
To ensure your box turtle's welfare, research reptile veterinarian in your area. When you first acquire a box turtle, take him for his first vet appointment within two days or so. The initial appointment may entail everything from blood tests to fecal examinations to inspect for symptoms of disease. While an initial visit is crucial, and signs of illness require a vet visit, schedule at least one veterinary checkup per year even if your pet appears completely healthy.
- Smithsonian National Zoological Park: Box Turtle
- AAHA Healthy Pet: Box Turtle Care
- The Turtle Puddle: General Box Turtle Care
- Box Turtle Care and Conservation Webpage: Box Turtle Health
- California Turtle & Tortoise Club: Care of Box Turtles
- CPVH: Box Turtles
- Herp Center Network: Box Turtle Caresheet