Most of the aquatic turtle species refrain themselves from laying eggs if they don’t find a suitable place. it can lead to serious health issues within the female turtle. The eggs can break anytime inside the turtle and can damage the insides. The turtle may even need a surgical operation for surviving. even if you have no plan for breeding your turtles, you need to provide them a nesting box. If you don’t have a nesting box, then you need to know how to make a nesting box for turtles. I’ll help you with that in this article.
What is a nesting box?
A nesting box is simply a box, where your turtle can lay eggs. In captivity, when a female turtle is ready to lay eggs, she needs to be in a soil ground where she can dig up the soil and lay her eggs. However, it is often difficult for many owners to provide their turtles such a place.
In such cases, you can make a nesting box for your turtle so that she can lay her eggs there. The nesting box will have soil in it, so the turtle can dig and lay the eggs. It costs next to nothing and can save your turtle from serious health damage.
Why do you need a nesting box?
Here are the reasons for having a nesting box:
- A nesting box is a must for your turtle to lay eggs if you can’t provide her a soil ground. If your turtle can’t find a suitable place for laying eggs, she’ll retain the eggs in her inside, which is very risky.
- The eggs can break anytime inside the turtle and cause serious health damage to the turtle.
- At worst, you may need to provide a surgical operation to the turtle for saving her.
So, it is always recommended to keep a nesting box for your turtle when she shows the signs of laying eggs.
Things you’ll need to make the nesting box:
- Premium topsoil. This one is my favorite choice. A 30 to 40-pound bag will be enough.
- A large container, preferably 25 gallons at least. Rubber made or plastic any container will do.
- A spray bottle
- A cardboard or towel for using as a lid
How to make a nesting box for turtles?
Here are the procedures to make e nesting box for turtles:
- At first, pour all of the soil inside the container. Make the soil level. The soil layer should have at least 4 to 5 inches’ depth otherwise it won’t be optimum for the turtle’s digging. Getting a premium topsoil is very important for making the turtle nest. The premium topsoil is a fine mixture of quality soils. It also doesn’t have any branches and rocks which discourage the turtle from laying eggs.
- Now it’s time to fill up our spray bottle with water and spray the entire soil lightly. Our goal here is to make the soil moist and humid which creates an optimum environment for the turtle to lay eggs. MAKE SURE YOU DON’T DUMP WATE ON THE SOIL, IT WILL CREATE A MESS. Once you have sprayed the entire area lightly, feel the soil. It should be moist, but not dripping wet.
- Now it’s time to put the turtle inside the container. Use the lid to cover about 75% area of the container. It will make the turtle feel safer inside the container. If the turtle feels completely safe, she’ll be comfortable enough to lay the eggs.
- Check on your turtle after about an hour. If the soil gets dried, you should re-spray it lightly again. Repeat this process at least 2-3 times throughout the day. Some female turtles are very picky about the time when they want to lay the eggs.
- Do not leave the turtle for more than 2 hours inside the nesting box. Put her back into the enclosure and try again another day.
- Put the nesting box in a warm area where there is little to no disturbance.
How to connect the nesting box with the turtle enclosure?
Connecting the nesting box with the turtle enclosure, i.e. the aquarium can be tricky but not impossible. Doing this will benefit you in a number of ways. First, you don’t need to put the turtle into the nesting box every time. She’ll go into the box whenever she prefers.
Secondly, it takes a lot of the manual work and makes the process automatic. All you need to do is check the nesting box every day for eggs. Once she has laid the eggs, you can move them back to an incubator.
Here are the procedures to connect the nesting box with your turtle enclosure:
- First, you need to place the nesting box beside your turtle’s enclosure. The nesting box needs to be slightly higher than the enclosure. You can use a shelf beneath the nesting box for increasing the height.
- Now take a sharp piece of cutter tool and cut a door out of the container. The door should have enough width so that the turtle can go into the nesting box through it easily. Make sure the door is at least one inch above the soil layer.
- The last thing you’ll need to make is a bridge which will connect the nesting box to the enclosure. You can easily make this bridge with cork. There are many other ways to make a ramp for turtles. Research on the internet to get ideas.
- Place one end of the bridge inside the turtle enclosure and the other end inside the nesting box through the door. The turtle should be able to get onto the bridge and get out of it easily. Take proper safety measures so that the turtle can’t fall off from the bridge when she is trying to go to the nesting box.
How to know my turtle is ready to lay eggs?
A turtle shows some behavioral changes which indicate she is ready to lay eggs. Some of the signs are:
- The turtle will be restless throughout the day. She may also show weird behavior like getting onto the basking place and jumping from it again and again.
- The turtle will start to show less interest in foods. Normally, turtles are very greedy towards food and don’t leave any chance when it’s time for feeding. However, during the female is carrying eggs, she’ll show less interest in foods.
- The turtle will start to dig here and there in the ground until she finds a suitable place for laying the eggs. She will start to roam for finding the perfect place for laying eggs.
You can also guess if a turtle is ready to lay eggs by feeling her. All you need to do is put your finger in the soft area between the plastron and the upper shell in the rear leg part. By pressing this area gently, you should be able to feel some of the eggs. Don’t be harsh otherwise, you may break the eggs. If you are not comfortable, don’t follow this procedure as it is very risky and needs professional expertise.
Box turtle nesting season:
Box turtles generally mate starting from April to October. The mating season varies from subspecies to subspecies. They start to lay eggs from May to July. Spring is the most comfortable season for box turtles to lay their eggs. Box turtles have the ability to produce fertile eggs even after 4 years of mating. They store clutches of eggs inside their body if the nesting place and conditions are not favorable.
Box turtle nesting behavior:
- The female box turtles need moist, loose soil for their nest. Direct sunlight is a must requirement for their nesting areas.
- The turtles dig inside the nesting area and lay the eggs. Each female turtle can lay several clutches of eggs, where each clutch can contain up to 5 eggs. Depending on the atmospheric condition, it will roughly take about 70 to 120 days for the eggs to hatch. The hatchlings may emerge out of their shell anytime. However, hatchlings that emerge at the rainy time are most likely to last. The hatchlings must need to find a secured, heavily covered area with enough food and water to survive.
This is my detailed guide to how to make a nesting box for turtles. I hope the guide will help you to make a successful nesting box for your turtles anytime in the future. Keep in mind that, if you have a matured female turtle, then nesting box is not a luxury, it is a necessity.