How to Take Care Of Box Turtle In Winter?

how to take care of box turtle in winter

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Box turtles need different types of care, depending on the weather. Their bodies experience a metabolic change when it comes to the winter season. So they need particular concerns in the cold season.

If you ask me how to take care of your box turtle in the winter season, I can not provide a direct answer for it. The concentration depends on its subspecies and habits. But it is for sure that all subspecies need special care during cold.

If you live in a cold region, this article will help you a lot to raise your box turtle properly. It will also help others to know the facts related to this topic.

What Changes Happen To A Box Turtle During The Winter?

A box turtle’s body temperature changes if there is any change in weather or temperature. It raises or decreases its temperature to adapt to the environmental temperature. Like other reptiles, a box turtle has a limit of adaption. When the temperature drops severely, a box turtle needs to apply another method to get used to the temperature.

It is called hibernation. If you do not know what hibernation is, do not worry, I will discuss it. But you have to remember one thing, not all subspecies of box turtle experience hibernation.

Some indoor box turtles do not need hibernation because their environment is warmer. It means that a box turtle will only go to hibernation if the cold is unbearable to it.

Basic Idea On Box Turtle Hibernation

We have already learned that some subspecies of box turtle experience hibernation during the winter season. We have also discussed the reason for this process.

So what is hibernation?

In easy terms, hibernation is the way of withstanding winter for some animals. During winter, the whole metabolism of some reptiles slows down. Besides, the rate of their body temperature, heartbeat, and breathing go below the standard rate.

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All these things slow down the movement of the reptile. So most of the winter, the reptile spends by sleeping and wakes up at the beginning of spring. This whole process is called hibernation.

Generally, most reptiles avoid food during this process. Box turtles wake up for water.

Hibernation Period Of Box Turtle

The hibernation period depends on two factors.

  1. The subspecies of your box turtle
  2. The region you live in

Generally, hibernation starts in the middle of September or October. It lasts for three to four months at maximum. 

Box Turtle Care Infographic Chart

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How Do The Box Turtles Hibernate In The Wild?

All most all wild subspecies of box turtle go through hibernation because they do not have enough heat. For hibernation, the box turtles need to find a proper place. So before the winter, they start to look for a suitable place. 

The proper place should have three qualities.

  • It should be situated in a high place.
  • It should be easy to dig.
  • It should be above the water level.

If it is not possible, they can take shelter under the root of old trees, or in a deep hole. Both places are okay for a wild box turtle to hibernate.

Do Pet Turtles Need Hibernation?

In most cases, captive box turtles do not need to experience hibernation because they get a warmer environment. But again, it depends on the subspecies of the box turtle. Many box turtles go on hibernation no matter they are captive or wild.

How Will You Prepare Your Pet Box Turtle For Hibernation?

Hibernation often causes harm to the pet box turtles if your turtle is not ready for the process. So you have to prepare your pet for it.

First of all, you need to do medical checkups on your box turtle if you are thinking to put it in hibernation. It is because hibernation lowers the immune system of the box turtle. So hibernation can make your turtle sick. 

So do medical checkups some months before hibernation. Here are some signs that indicate your turtle is sick.

  • Lower body weight than usual
  • Breathing problem or open-mouth breathing
  • Shell Disease
  • Dehydration

If your turtle has any of these illnesses, it is not ready for hibernation.

Another thing you need to do is to change the diet of your box turtle if you want to put it in hibernation. You have to ensure a healthy and decent diet throughout the summer. As a box turtle does not eat while hibernating, it is necessary for it to carry enough Vitamins. 

Here are some foods that might help your box turtle to gain vitamins.

  • Green leaves
  • Vegetables
  • Baby mica fish
  • Orange 
  • Yellow vegetables
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Put as much fiber and vitamins you can in the food. It will help the box turtle to stay healthy.

How to Make a Suitable Place For Hibernation For Your Box Turtle?

An artificial place for hibernating is called a hibernaculum. To make it follow the steps.

  1. Take a plastic container. The size of the container should be comfortable for your pet.
  2. Put newspaper or peat moss.
  3. Attach the burrow materials.
  4. Maintain the temperature of the box.
  5. Maintain the humidity of the container.
  6. Be careful about the lights.

Outdoor Hibernating Spot For Box Turtles

If you do not want to make an artificial hibernating spot for your box turtle, you can make an outdoor spot. You can set it up efficiently. Just keep in mind some points.

To make an outside hibernation spot for your box turtle, follow the steps.

  • First of all, pick a perfect spot in your yard.
  • Make the soil loose.
  • Dig the area at least 2 feet deep.
  • Dig a hole and fill it with loose soil or dirt.
  • Put some dried leaves around the place.
  • Now put your box turtle in place. Observe the turtle until it gets comfortable. 

Guidance For Box Turtle Hibernation

For some of you, hibernation is a new idea. So try not to mess it up. I am sharing some tips on the fact that might help you in your box turtle’s hibernation.

  • If your box turtle has an outdoor habitat, do not think it will choose a place for itself. You should make one for it.
  • Do not let the medically sick turtles hibernate.
  • If you are making an outdoor hibernating habitat, protect your turtle from any harm.
  • Do not force your ox turtle to hibernate.
  • Keep an eye on your hibernating box turtle.

Do All The Box Turtles Go Through Hibernation?

I have mentioned earlier that not all subspecies of box turtle go through hibernation. It depends on their subspecies.

Florida Box Turtles get slower in the winter season but do not hibernate. Eastern box turtle, three-toed box turtle, and ornate box turtles often hibernate, but it depends on their region.

How to Take Care Of The Box Turtle If It Is Not Hibernating?

Most of the box turtles do hibernation during winter. The subspecies that do not go through the process also slow down. So even if your box turtle is not hibernating, you need to take care of it.

For Inside Pet Box Turtles,

  • You have to increase the temperature of the tank
  • You have to make sure it is getting enough light
  • Provide healthy food
  • Soak its body regularly, and bask it in the light properly.
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For Outside Box Turtles,

  • If your box turtles have an outdoor habitat, there is a high possibility it will experience hibernation. If not, provide enough dry leaves that would keep it warm.
  • You can set up some more sources of heat and light.
  • Make the protection tighter because, in the winter season, turtles are the perfect snacks for many animals.

As you can control your pet turtle’s hibernation process, you should make a decision by observing its behavior. In either way, box turtles demand extra care in the winter season. Do not fall back to treat them well.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Do Box Turtles Do In The Winter?

Box turtles enter a state of hibernation, called brumation, during winter. From October to April or early May, box turtles burrow under soil and leaves to protect themselves from the cold temperatures. They become less active and seek shelter in logs, leaf piles, or mud to avoid extreme weather conditions.

When Do Box Turtles Hibernate?

Box turtles generally start to become less active, eat less and search for places to burrow or hide around September or October, and hibernation generally begins around mid-October.

Where Do Box Turtles Go In The Winter?

Box turtles usually burrow under soil, leaves, or mud during winter to protect themselves from the cold temperatures. They seek shelter in logs, leaf piles, or mud to avoid extreme weather conditions.

Do Box Turtles Hibernate Indoors?

Box turtles can hibernate indoors, but it’s essential to provide them with the appropriate conditions to ensure their health and safety during hibernation.

In the wild, box turtles hibernate during the colder months to conserve energy and survive harsh conditions.

When kept as pets, some box turtles may also enter a hibernation-like state if the conditions in their environment signal the onset of winter.

How To Keep Box Turtles Warm In Winter?

To keep box turtles warm in winter, you can follow these essential tips:

  1. Monitor the temperature closely: Make sure the temperature in your turtle’s habitat stays within the appropriate range. Use a thermometer to keep track and adjust the heating source if necessary.
  2. Provide a heat source: If your box turtle is not going into hibernation, ensure that they have a warm spot to bask.
  3. Create a warm hide: Provide a warm hiding spot for your box turtle to rest in.
  4. Keep the habitat clean: Regularly clean the habitat to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi.

Do Box Turtles Hibernate Underground?

Box turtles hibernate underground. They burrow under soil, leaves, or mud to protect themselves from the cold temperatures. They also seek shelter in logs, leaf piles, or mud to avoid extreme weather conditions.

How Long Do Box Turtles Hibernate?

The duration of box turtle hibernation can vary, but it generally lasts around 4 to 5 months. Box turtles from North America tend to hibernate for 3 to 4 months.

However, it is important to note that hibernation is not necessary for all box turtles. Certain species, like the Florida box turtle and Gulf Coast box turtle, rarely hibernate.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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