Box Turtle Heat, Lighting, & Humidity Requirements

Should your box turtle’s enclosure be hotter or colder?

Brighter or darker?

More humid or drier?

Your box turtle will be happiest and healthiest when the conditions in his enclosure are just right.

But how can you tend to his precise heating, lighting, and humidity needs?

We’ll let you in on the secret in this article.

Key Takeaway:

Your box turtle’s enclosure must be between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. He needs between 12 and 14 hours of daylight each day and 80% humidity.

But there’s more to the heat, lighting, and humidity needs of your box turtle than meets the eye. Coming up next, we’ll be discussing the ideal temperature range, UV light, and more.

You won’t want to miss it!

eastern box turtle floor

The Right Heat, Lighting, and Humidity For Your Box Turtle

Your box turtle is a super special pet. If you give him the best care, his lifespan could reach 40 years or even longer.

But what does the best care include?

He needs the right heat, lighting, and humidity levels to stay in good health. Poor husbandry is one of the main reasons why box turtles die prematurely in captivity.

So, what can you do to provide your box turtle with everything he needs so he can avoid health problems?

We’ve filled the next section of this article to the brim with everything you need to know about the heat, lighting, and humidity needs of your turtle. Let’s jump right to it.

Do Box Turtles Need a Heat Lamp?

Your box turtle, like other reptiles, is cold-blooded. So, he cannot raise his own body temperature.

Cold turtles can quickly get sick and die. Making sure your box turtle is warm enough is essential for his well-being.

So, what is the ideal box turtle temperature?

A box turtle’s enclosure should vary between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. The nighttime temperature must be a little bit cooler.

Yup, your little box buddy sure likes it toasty!

But what if the temperatures in your home or outdoors aren’t quite high enough?

Temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit will not be comfortable for your box turtle. The following might be signs that your turtle is not warm enough.

  • He has slowed down
  • He does not eat as much
  • He has become weaker. (Which also makes him more susceptible to diseases).

These are all pretty scary situations for a box turtle.

So, what can you do to prevent him from getting too cold?

Box turtles must have a heat lamp. They are especially important if the temperature inside your home or the weather in your box turtle pen outside is not warm enough.

A 75 to 100-watt heat lamp is best for box turtles.

Use the heating lamp for 10 to 14 hours a day. 10 hours in the summer is enough.

Here are some of the best heat sources.

  • 75 to 100-watt heat lamps
  • Ceramic heat emitters
  • Under tank heaters
  • Heat cables
  • Heat tape

How Much Light Do Box Turtles Need?

There’s nothing like opening your curtains in the morning and seeing a bright blue cloudless sky and the sun shining. And box turtles love that too (although we’re pretty sure they skip the opening of the curtains).

Your box turtle needs enough exposure to direct sunlight as possible to grow healthily and prevent metabolic bone disease.

But how much sunlight does he need?

Here are some of the best facts for you to use as a guide.

  • Indoor box turtles must spend at least one hour in natural sunlight each day
  • Your box turtle will need exposure to 12 to 14 hours of daylight every day. He will also need 10 to 12 hours of darkness each day.

Box turtles require enough light to remain healthy. But we get it, sometimes it is simply not possible for you to give him as much sunlight as he would have in his natural environment.

So, what can you do?

Full-spectrum fluorescent lights are great for common box turtles. Here are a couple of things you need to remember about using UV lighting.

  • Install the lights no more than 18 inches above the substrate
  • Replace your fluorescent lights every 6 months to 1 year
box turtle cage

What Level of Humidity Is Right For Box Turtles?

The common box turtle thrives in atmospheres with high humidity levels. If the humidity levels are not high enough outdoors, you will need to consider housing your reptile indoors.

Ok, so how humid are we talking about?

The relative humidity in the box turtle’s enclosure must be at 80%. Below his head must be at 98% or near saturation.

So, what can you do to maintain humidity levels high in your box turtle’s enclosure?

Here are a couple of tips.

  • Mist his enclosure several times a day. Use a spray bottle to do this.
  • Install a warm air humidifier during the winter
  • When laying the substrate, use materials that hold onto moisture. These include hardwood leaf litter and sphagnum moss.

Does a Box Turtle Need a Heat Lamp?

Common box turtles like to feel warm and toasty. They like their enclosures to be at 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Yup, that’s definitely a little stuffier than most of us like to spend our days!

Your common box turtle will need a heat lamp. This is especially important if the temperature in its indoor or outdoor enclosure is too cold.

If you don’t use a heat source, the box turtle could become slow, lose its appetite, become weak, or even go into hibernation. Cold temperatures could also make him more susceptible to metabolic bone disease and kill him.

Here are some pointers that will help you when setting up your lamp.

  • Use a 75 to 100-watt lamp
  • Turn it on for 10 to 14 hours a day
  • Do not put the lamp on for more than 10 hours in the summer

Do Box Turtles Need a Heat Lamp at Night?

But what should you do if you’re not sure when to use a heat source and whether it is suitable for baby turtles?

We’ll give you the rundown on how to use them best in this next section.

To give your box turtles the proper care they need, you will need to provide them with a basking area during the daytime. Using heating lamps is a great way of mimicking natural sunlight and the hot temperatures box turtles love.

At night, however, the temperature in their enclosure must drop a couple of degrees. They can drop to room temperature at night.

For at least 10 hours at night, turn any heating UVB bulb, and UVB lighting equipment off. Your box turtles do not need a heat lamp at night.

Do Baby Box Turtles Need a Heat Lamp?

Just like adult box turtles, young turtles also need a heat lamp. They cannot live without one.

When you expose a baby box turtle to low temperatures, he quickly gets cold and can die. This is why many owners of baby turtles keep them in front of a heating lamp for up to 14 hours a day.

Does Your Eastern Box Turtle Need a Heat Lamp?

We’ve already checked out some information for box turtles in general.

But what about our friend the Eastern box turtle?

Let’s take a look at some of the special ways you need to look after him.

Eastern box turtles just like other box turtles rely on a heat source to survive. They like higher temperatures around 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.

While they do like a slightly lower temperature at night, they don’t like it too cool. Anything between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit is just right for an Eastern box turtle.

Your Eastern box turtle will need to dedicate several hours a day to sitting in his basking spot. This must be between 85 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit.

How to Take Care of an Eastern Box Turtle

Eastern box turtles are popular pets because they are native to the Eastern United States. These pets are very interesting to look at and that makes them even more popular.

The males usually have red eyes while the females have brown eyes. They have bright yellow markings on their shells.

Is it your first time looking after a box turtle?

Then you’re going to need some rocking advice to keep your new pet happy. But, don’t worry we’ve got you covered.

Here is a guide to the best Eastern box turtle care.

What Eastern Box Turtles Eat

Do you have an Eastern box turtle at home but aren’t sure what kind of grub to serve him?

These box turtles like a similar diet to most turtles. Put the following goodies in his food dish.

  • Fruits. Apples, strawberries, and melon are a box turtle’s favorites.
  • Vegetables. These include leafy greens, collard greens, and mustard greens.
  • Animal protein. Frozen pinky mice are a great option. Insects like earthworms, snails, and slugs are also nutritious.
  • Plants. Flowers are a popular choice for Eastern box turtles.
  • Calcium powder. Sprinkle calcium supplements onto his meals.

Many good pet stores sell prepared diets for box turtles that provide them with a lot of nutrients. But you must always supplement these commercial diets with fresh fruits and vegetables.

What Eastern Box Turtles Drink

Your box turtle needs access to fresh, clean water every day. Your turtle will defecate in the water so make sure you give him fresh water each day.

Put his water in a shallow water dish so he can use it for drinking and soaking in. It’s a drink and a tub all in one!

Enclosures For Eastern Box Turtles

Your Eastern box turtle may only be a small animal, but he likes to have enough room to dig, hide, and explore his surroundings. That’s why the floor space of his enclosure must be as big as you have space for.

The enclosure must be at least 36 inches long and 12 inches wide and have good ventilation.

Put a flat rock in the enclosure the turtle can climb on. Getting on and off of the rock will help him keep his nails down.

Who ever thought a flat rock would be giving your Eastern buddy a manicure?

Avoid using clear plastic or glass containers for your box turtles as these can easily confuse them and make them feel stressed.

UVB Light For Eastern Box Turtles

The temperature in your box turtle’s enclosure must vary between 70 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit. It will need cooler shaded areas and a basking spot with UVB lighting that is warmer.

The basking temperature in the enclosure must be 85 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit. The main temperature in his enclosure must be between 70 and 75°F during the day.

At night, Eastern box turtles like it when the temperature is between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If their enclosure is warm enough, they’ll be able to maintain their body temperature at 81 to 88°F.

Warm temperatures are essential for these reptiles to avoid health issues.

Substrate for Eastern Box Turtles

To create the best substrate for Eastern box turtles, use the following materials. Get them from high-quality sources and ensure they are free from any pesticides and harmful chemicals.

  • Shredded newspaper
  • Hardwood leaf litter
  • Soil
  • Leaves
  • Moss
  • Compost
  • Coconut bark

Take Eastern Box Turtles to the Vet

To catch health issues early and avoid serious problems, take your Eastern box turtle to the vet every 6 months.

eastern box turtle on patio

The Perfect Conditions For Your Box Turtle

Are you the new owner of a box turtle?

Finding out and giving them exactly what they need is a little bit of a challenge. Thankfully though, this article gave us the best advice on the heat, lighting, and humidity requirements of your box turtle.

The perfect conditions for your box turtle are temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. He needs between 12 and 14 hours of daylight daily and 80% humidity.

Did you find this article interesting?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we are always striving to provide you with the best articles about Eastern box turtles and other reptiles. For more information on how to take care of the three-toed box turtle, Ornate box turtles, or other pets, check out our website.

Thanks for reading!

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