As a turtle owner, I always prefer to learn about the species before getting it. So when I first got my box turtle, I did some research on it. For example, its growth rate, size, age, habitat, etc. From my perspective, these are significant for a box turtle.
A box turtle’s growth rate depends on many factors. Type of diet, basking area and age are some important factors that affect a box turtle’s growth rate.
As a box turtle owner and turtle lover, I always want to share my knowledge with everyone. So in this article, I will talk about the growth rate of the box turtle.
How Fast Does A Box Turtle Grow?
The growth rate of a box turtle depends on various factors. Genetics, diet, and environment are the three fundamental factors that affect a box turtle’s growth. Before knowing the growth rate, we should know its average size first.
All scientific data indicates that the average size of a box turtle is 4.5 inches to 6 inches. But box turtles with a size of 6.5 or 7 inches can be found in nature. This size can vary from subspecies to subspecies.
Most of the data shows that a box turtle grows 3 inches at its initial year and then it grows 0.5 inches per year. This rate is not universal for all the box turtle. A box turtle does not grow throughout its life.
Factors That Affect A Box Turtle’s Growth Rate
Genetics Affect Box Turtle’s Growth Rate
If you have observed properly, you would have noticed that some ox turtles do not grow as expected at all. You may think it is because of the diet or the environment, but you can not guarantee it.
Genetics plays an important role in each creation’s life. Look, size, growth rate, etc. depend on genetics. So when it comes to box turtles, genetics pretty much controls its growth rate.
Diet affects box turtle’s growth rate
Diet is the biggest factor that affects the growth rate of a box turtle. Without a balanced and proper diet, no box turtle can grow at an expected rate.
If you can ensure a proper and balanced diet for your box turtle, there is a high possibility that it will have its maximum growth. We know that box turtles are omnivorous. It means a box turtle can eat fruits, vegetables, and meat, or in other words, it can eat anything.
As it is omnivorous, you should take advantage of it. You can prepare a balanced diet chart for your box turtle easily. Most of the vet suggests that a proper diet of a box turtle should contain,
- Meat or protein
- Yellow fruits
- Green leaves
- Aquatic plants
You can see you have a lot of options to choose from. A box turtle can eat anything and it works as an advantage. Each box turtle has a different taste for meat, fish, pellets or vegetables. You can make the diet according to the box turtle’s taste.
We know food contains different vitamins, minerals, and other factors. Among all these, protein helps a box turtle to grow faster. In other words, protein is the factor that affects the growth rate of the box turtle. But it does not mean that other factors do not help.
Protein helps a turtle to grow and maintain a healthy shell. But do not feed too much protein to your box turtle. Excessive protein can cause a medical condition known as pyramiding.
If your box turtle has pyramiding, you will see deformation on its shell. Though the condition is not serious, it can cause harm to the box turtle. So you should make such a diet for your box turtle that will contain meat along with vegetables and fruits.
Another factor that helps in growth is calcium. Green vegetables are a great source of calcium. So you can give your box turtle calcium through green vegetables. But you have to be careful that the vegetables do not contain much oxalate.
Oxalates hinder the absorption process of calcium. And so no matter how much the food is rich with calcium, it will not help the box turtle. You should avoid spinach because it is rich in both calcium and oxalates. Iceberg salad is another food you should not give to your box turtle.
You should know that the food taste of a baby box turtle and an adult is different. Box turtles under 2 years do not eat anything except meat. Though box turtles are omnivorous at their adult stage, at the initial stage they are carnivorous. So do not force your baby box turtle to eat fruits or vegetables.
Before providing food to your box turtle, find out how much minerals it contains. You can goggle it, or learn offline.
Basking Affects The Growth Rate Of A Box Turtle
Basking is an important thing for a box turtle for two main reasons.
- Box turtles can regulate their body temperature while basking
- Box turtles expose their bodies to UVB rays while basking
UVB plays a significant role in Vitamin D production. Vitamin D activates the calcium of the body. Without the UVB light, box turtles cannot produce a sufficient amount of calcium. It can lead to improper bone disease and shell rot.
It concludes that without the proper UVB light box turtle cannot produce enough calcium and it will not hinder their maximum growth. So that is why a proper basking area is necessary for its expected growth rate.
Make sure the basking light and area is suitable for the box turtle.
Age Affects The Growth Rate Of The Box Turtle
Box turtles can grow from 2 to 3 inches in their initial age. Many box turtle can grow up to 4 inches in their first year.
After the first year, the growth rate drops. A box turtle grows 0.5 to 1 inches per year after the first year. This growth continues for several years. Once the turtle reaches its maximum size, the growth stops or becomes slower.
Generally, a male box turtle’s maximum size is 5 inches to 6 inches, and a female box turtle’s maximum size is between 6 inches to 7 inches. Once the box turtle reaches its maximum size, there is nothing you can do. Sometimes box turtles grow much bigger than its average size because of its genetics.
Wild Box Turtle’s Growth Rate
Wild box turtles and captive box turtles are almost the same but there is a difference in their surroundings. So the factors of growth rate work differently with the wild box turtles.
Wild box turtles do not have proper growth or fast growth rate because of proper diet. Captive box turtles get a proper and balanced diet every day but the wild box turtles have to hunt for foods. So there is a low chance of getting the exact food they need.
Wild box turtles have an advantage in basking. We know that the sun is a source of UVB rays which is better than the artificial bulbs.
Age and genetics factor works in the same tactics for both captive and wild box turtles. But the main challenge the wild box turtles face is the environment.
Pet box turtles live in an enclosure. They have a constant temperature and humidity inside the habitat. But it is not the same for the wild box turtles. They have to face difficult weather and situations. Different weather can affect their growth rate.
For example, most of the wild box turtles go to hibernation during winter. Box turtles cannot grow during hibernation. As a result, the growth rate and size of a wild box turtle are not the same as the captive one.
What To Do If The Box Turtle Is Not Growing?
In some cases, you may observe that the box turtle is not growing or the growth rate is slow. This can happen for two reasons.
As long as you are providing a balanced diet and a healthy environment, you should not worry about the size of your box turtle. Take your box turtle to the vet to know the exact reason. If it is diagnosed with any disease, give him proper treatment. If not, then it is genetical and you cannot do anything about it.
How To Increase The Growth Rate Of The Box Turtle?
- Provide a proper and balanced diet.
- Do regular checkups.
- Make sure the temperature and humidity of the enclosure are suitable for the box turtle.
- Ensure proper basking temperature.
This is all. I tried to explain each factor related to a box turtle’s growth. I hope you have found it helpful.
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