Land Turtle Hibernation and Breeding
Do not hibernate your turtles if they are unhealthy, undernourished, or sick. A box turtle that has not built up sufficient fat reserves may not survive through hibernation. I recommend not hibernating your turtles unless you are going to breed them. Besides, it’s not fun to watch a sleeping turtle, is it?
If you decide to hibernate your outdoor box turtle, you must protect them from outdoor predators, freezing and flooding. Some owners have used a dog kennel with a floor of loose soil and dry leaves. Make sure that your turtle stays moist to protect it from dehydration. Early spring is when your box turtle wakes from their long winters nap.
Land Turtle Breeding
Ah, the subject of love and reproduction! Here are some basic steps to breed your box turtles. If this is a hobby that you are interested in, I highly recommend that you do some research for more information. If you are willing and able to keep all of the baby turtles, or able to find homes for them, then it is okay to breed your turtles. If you answered no to one or more of these questions, then I recommend not breeding your turtles and to destroy the eggs.
To begin, you need to have at least a pair of sexually mature turtles. Most box turtles do not breed under the age of five years and they must be healthy. If your turtles are new, wait until after you have had them for a year. Breeding usually begins in the fall. If your turtles are inside, you will need to cool the ones that you are going to breed. This is to simulate the breeding season and it also brings better breeding results.
The cooling period lasts between eight and twelve weeks and occurs during the months of December, January and February. To simulate the cooling period, turn off all the heating and keep the temperature around 50F to 60F degrees. It’s normal for your turtles to eat little or nothing at all. Let your turtles have their quiet time and leave them be. Make sure that you feed your turtles well during this breeding season of love and ensure that the female gets enough calcium and vitamin D3.
Whether you keep your turtle indoors or outdoors, you need to provide a nesting area. For this, you can use a box that is easily accessible for your turtle. It must have about 12 to 16 inches deep of slightly moist soil, sand, or moss.
Box turtles can lay several clutches per summer consisting of two to seven eggs per clutch. There are a few weeks between each clutch, and the process of laying them usually takes 24 to 48 hours per clutch. After the eggs have been laid, remove the eggs. DO NOT TURN THE EGGS OVER! To help you keep the eggs right side up, you can mark the top of the eggs with a magic marker.
Have a box with moistened Vermiculite (equal parts water and vermiculite by weight). You can get Vermiculite from most garden centers. You can also use sphagum moss as the incubation medium. Make small impressions in the Vermiculite and gently position the egg in it. You can separate stuck eggs by gently pulling them apart. If they won’t come apart easily, leave them alone. Seal the container and make air holes.
Inspect the eggs at least once a week, but not everyday keeping them at room temperature. It has been said that the temperature around 80F degrees yields equal amounts of males and females. Do not keep them too warm as temperatures around 100F degrees will kill them. Keep the eggs moist by spraying them carefully. Depending on the temperature, hatchlings take between 60 to 120 days to hatch. After hatching, keep the babies separate from the adults and make sure that they have access to a large, shallow container of water. Feed them at least once a day. The babies are mostly carnivorous, however you must offer them fruits and veggies too.