Does a Box Turtle Make a Good Pet?

It may seem a little risky to go outside of the standard fluffy, cuddly, and well-known options for pets when it comes to choosing one for yourself. Are there good pets out there that don’t include those covered in fur? With something like a box turtle, does it make a good pet? 

Box turtles are great pets for individuals who are looking for an animal that has a long life expectancy, but one that also does not require constant attention. They do require specific methods for housing and care which should be considered before committing to a box turtle as a long-time pet. 

A boxed turtle is not the type of animal that typically comes to mind when people are first considering bringing a new pet into their home. However, they do offer different advantages to pet owners compared to more common types of house pets. Continue reading to find out the various advantages of having a turtle as well as some disadvantages that may accompany this unique pet. 

© Jim Lynch, National Park Service on Commons Wikimedia

What are the Advantages to Having a Box Turtle as a Pet? 

It could almost come off as silly to think that something as simplistic as a box turtle would have anything advantageous to offer pet owners. After all, they are not the type of pet to greet you with sloppy kisses or join you for an afternoon read in your favorite chair. However, these tiny amphibians do come with a few different advantages than other common pets and may be the reason you choose one as your household pet. 

Box Turtles Have a Long Life Expectancy 

For many pet owners, one of the biggest reasons for bringing a pet into their home is to have a companion that is going to be with them for years to come. It would seem almost like too much fuss to bring in a pet that is only going to live one or two years. Beyond the time it takes to prepare and care for that pet, bonds are formed in that short amount of time and when a pet goes too soon, that bond is broken entirely too soon. 

This is where the first advantage of a box turtle comes in. Small as they may be, box turtles can live anywhere from 25-50 years and many have even been seen to make it to 100! Talk about a lifetime companion! Box turtles have an extremely long life expectancy which is wonderful for those who desire to have a pet that will be with them for decades rather than months or a few years. 

Box Turtles Don’t Require Constant Attention 

When it comes to owning a pet, many individuals are deterred due to the amount of time they have to commit to not only caring for the pet, but investing their daily attention in. With a busy life, it can seem almost impossible to give a pet the proper amount of attention they need in order to thrive which can keep many people from ever even stepping into the arena of pet-ownership. However, box turtles are the exception to the rule. 

In contrast, box turtles are more than happy to be left alone. They are not social creatures and prefer to be unbothered with only the occasional handling here and there. They of course are more than happy to be fed and with time, will get very familiar with their owners, but they are one of the few pets out there that really ask very little when it comes to attention from people. This makes them incredibly low-maintenance when it comes to active time spent with them. 

Box Turtles Have Strong Personalities 

One of the most rewarding aspects of pet ownership is that you get to know your pet – its likes, dislikes, how it likes to play, the different ways it sleeps, what startles them, what scares them, and how they show their affection for you. These things may seem out of the question when it comes to having a box turtle as a pet, but you might be surprised to know that box turtles (once they are comfortable) have quite the personality. 

Box turtles are known for how one can be completely from another. One may prefer to bask in the sun, another may like the leafy shade of a plant. One may try to eat a strawberry whole, another may turn their nose up to it every time. With time, you will see what your box turtle likes, what laughable demands they make of you, and the different things that really bring them to life. Although different, you can get to know a box turtle just as any other pet. 

What are the Disadvantages of Box Turtles? 

Box turtles have quite a bit to offer when it comes to having them as a pet. There are many ways pet owners praise them, however, there are a few things that should be considered before taking one home as your own. Box turtles can be wonderful pets, but there are a few aspects to them that may be considered a disadvantage to some, making them big reasons to look for another animal to call their own.  

© Pixabay

Box Turtles Thrive in an Outdoor Setting 

Initially, this may not sound like an issue, but it can be a big reason that many people can’t take on the care that box turtles require as far as their environment goes. Box turtles are terrestrial animals which means they spend the majority of their life roaming about on land rather than in water. Because of this, box turtles need ample space to roam around freely and this space is best for them when it is located outdoors. 

This can be a big problem for those who live in a location that regularly falls under 50 degrees Fahrenheit and can also present a problem for those who want to keep them indoors. If you don’t have a large space outside that can get regular sunlight and shade, you will have to go through extensive measures to keep them indoors in an environment that can provide them with the same qualities the outdoors offer. 

Housing a Box Turtle Indoors Can Be Complicated 

In light of box turtles living their best outdoors, this is simply not an option for some. It is possible for box turtles to live indoors, but their housing should be made to mimic the outdoors as closely as possible. This means they should have a very large space for roaming, which could be just as impossible as placing them outdoors for some pet owners – this means at least a 40-gallon terrarium. 

Even more, they need to have the enclosure equipped with UV lighting (which is essential to their health in order to avoid shell rot), should have plenty of spaces to hide such as beneath rocks with overhangs or between different plants, and should always have a shallow water dish that they can easily soak in when they feel the urge. Even having the perfect indoor set-up, box turtles still need to go outside from time to time. 

Box Turtles Do Not Like to be Handled Regularly 

When people consider what owning a pet will look like, many of them have a picture in their head of lots of time cuddling and playing together. If this is your dream for pet-ownership, then a box turtle is not the pet for you. Box turtles are very shy when it comes to human interaction and they prefer to be left to be on their own without the interference of hands taking them from their comfortable habitat. 

This can be very appealing for some potential pet owners, but can also be a very big reason as to why some steer clear from bringing home a box turtle. Although they are typically very happy in their home within your home, handling them can cause them anxiety and should be avoided when possible. This can also be a large reason to choose another kind of pet if you are in a household with children who want the ability to physically interact with an animal. 

© Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA on Commons Wikimedia

Box Turtles Need a Varied Diet 

For many common household pets, their diets are relatively simplistic and don’t require a ton of variation. This makes feeding them a breeze because there is rarely a need for any type of drastic change as far as what they eat is concerned. However, box turtles need a wide variety of food in order to get the proper nutrients they need to survive. In the wild, their diets would be very diverse and this should be mimicked in their diet within captivity. 

For box turtles, there are commercial diets that are available, but this cannot be the only food they consume. They need different fruits, leafy greens, vegetables, insects, and low-fat meats to keep them healthy. They also need to be fed every day or every other day depending on their age. Due to the extensive diet requirements of a box turtle, this can be another reason that potential pet-owners choose a more simplistic animal when it comes to feeding.

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