Adult box turtle indoor habitat, using an unwanted bookcase lined with two large seed boxes and polycarbonate panels to raise wall height and retain heat/humidity. Substrate is a combination of hardwood mulch and areas of sphagnum moss. Silk fern bunches, sunk into plaster of paris in clean, empty plastic yogurt containers are provided for hiding, which still allows UVB penetration. 

Adult box turtle enclosure with screened panel doors on both sides to allow management of animals. Planted with under-story of native fern and other ground covering plants, with larger bushes providing shade and cover. Substrate is equal parts dirt, play sand and yard compost, and pen includes a filtered, recirculating pond with a false floor for safe soaking. A layer of leaf litter covers the substrate.

Indoor version of aquatic habitat above (for winter) using 150 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank, with platform made from PVC pipe and slate. Heated basking and UVA/UVB is provided by a 160 watt Mega-Ray UV mercury vapor bulb  in ceramic lamp, Water heating provided by heavy duty submerged aquarium heater. Filtration provided by  canister filter.

Outdoor box turtle habitat including extensive plantings, shade, rocks and substrate of hardwood mulch, leaves and mosses. The centerpiece of this habitat is a wading pond which has been constructed from a 40 gallon pond that has been provided with a false bottom, entry ramp and filtration, so that turtles may soak and wade without risk of drowning. (See this link to build similar pond)

Outdoor aquatic turtle habitat using 300 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank, with platforms and enrichment support made from PVC pipe and slate. This example includes a planted "floating island" supported by PVC, water hyacinths, and abundant anacharis. Filtration provided by an external, high volume pond canister filter with in-pond pump/pre-filter. 

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Habitat examples

One of the most common reasons given for wanting to surrender a turtle is the inability to properly house the animal in a way which makes its care manageable. Frequently young animals are initially housed in aquariums - often not the best option from a cost, size, or quality of living perspective. As the animals grow, updating those habitats can be daunting. Many turtle/tortoise-specific habitats are available commercially, but often can't adequately accommodate a growing animal, especially a larger aquatic species. Cost of commercial habitats can jump to hundreds of dollars before adding essentials like lighting, heating and filtration. Making your own creative habitat can save money and allow you to enlarge your turtle's world as it grows.

Mid-Atlantic Turtle & Tortoise Society

.‚ÄčDedicated to the conservation and care of turtles and tortoises.

Box turtle hatchling habitat made from Steri-lite sweater box. Lid is retained, but center cut out, providing overhang to prevent escapes. New Zealand sphagnum moss used for substrate. Box has removable divider, so that different groups of hatchlings can be kept on each side, making them easier to find at feeding time when buried in substrate.