Box Turtle Pet Care

Box turtles range between the truly aquatic turtles and the terrestrial tortoises with their need for bodies of water in which they soak and their need for grassland and wooded areas with moist and humid soil. Box turtle forage for food on land and spend the time they sleep dug into the earth in burrows, under logs and under rocks.

HOUSING:

Box turtles need a big size enclosure in order to provide for the proper range of heating and humidity.

The smallest size indoor housing for one box turtle to be kept in is 3 x 3 x 2 feet. For two turtles, the minimum size should be at least 4 x 4 x 2 feet. Aquariums are not appropriate housing for an adult box turtle. Babies may be kept in aquariums, but as they grow larger enclosures are needed.

Create a land area using 2 to 3 inches of good quality plain sterile potting soil slightly moistened. Do not use backyard dirt of soil from a garden.. Do not used coarse substrates such are gravel or sand, as these tend to scratch the shell and open the way for bacterial infections.

Box turtles require a hide box in which to get away from it all and feel secure. A good size box in one corner of the enclosure, filled with hay in which to burrow. is essential. The hide box can be anything from a cardboard box to a plastic container with a door cut into it.

A water area must be provided with its deep enough that the water comes to just about the nose of the turtle. It doesn’t need to be able to swim, just to soak. If using a kitty litter pan, it is best to sink this into the substrate and provide a ramp to get in and get out for the turtle.

The water area must be kept clean at all times. Box turtles not only use the water to soak in but also relieve themselves in.

LIGHTING:

Full spectrum lighting is required for indoor enclosures. Full spectrum light mimics the beneficial effects of natural sunlight, enabling the turtle to metabolize vitamin D3. The full spectrum lighting is an essential part of the calcium metallization process. Without the specific wavelengths and proper diet, calcium deficiencies will result which may ultimately prove fatal. Box Turtles need 12 to 14 hours of light each day. NOTE: UV waves cannot pass through glass, and 40% of the available waves are lost when the light passes through an aluminum screen, try to have the light shining directly on them.

HUMIDITY/TEMPERATURE:

Day Time temps: 85 to 88 degrees

Night Time temps: 70 to 75 degrees.

Most box turtles require a relative humidity of 60 to 80% in at least one area of their enclosure. Turtle that are not provided with the correct humidity often suffer from infected and swollen eyes and ear infections. Providing humidity is simple, in one corner of the enclosure provide some peat moss and wet it down with water until it is fairly moist. A hiding area, such as a cardboard box or large plastic container with ventilation holes should be placed over the wet peat moss. Be sure to check the moss constantly to ensure it is moist and has not dried out.

HIBERNATION:

It is a good idea to allow your box turtle to hibernate, especially if you keep it in an outdoor enclosure during the summer months.This is to allow the box turtles internal clock to remain normal. If you choose not to hibernate the turtle, you must keep it warm and provide plenty of UV lighting along with their normal dietary needs.

To prepare a box turtle for hibernation, do not feed the animal for two weeks, but keep the heat on to allow the animal to fully digest any food remaining in its stomach and intestinal tract. Soak the box turtle in a shallow container of lukewarm water a few times during this period for about 10 minutes, this will help to hydrate the animal and to remove any food left in their system. Box turtle that hibernate with food still present in their intestinal tract can die from massive infections as the food rots inside them.

Hibernating box turtles indoor requires a hibernation box. A cardboard box half filled with moist sterile potting soil or peat moss with holes punched in the sides for aeration is an appropriate hibernation box. After all the food has been cleared from the turtle’s system, introduce the turtle to the hibernation box. If the box turtle buries down into the substrate and remains still, it is ready for hibernation. If the animal is moving restlessly around after 20 minutes in the box, return if to its enclosure, wait a few days and try again. If the box turtle is ready, move it to an unheated room, such as a garage, where the temperature will remain between 40 to 55 degrees. Check the box turtle weekly to make sure is has not surfaced prematurely. Box turtles usually come out of hibernation after experiencing temperature above 65 degrees for a few days. After the turtle comes out of hibernation, return it to its regular enclosure, provide water, warm it up for a couple of days, and then offer some food. Pay close attention to the turtle during the time after hibernation to observe for any health problems that may occur.

DIET:

It is best to offer food after the turtle has had a few hours to warm up in the morning. Young turtle require feeding on a daily basis, while adult can be fed every other day. Make sure you combine their diet with both plant and animal matter. Vitamin supplements should be added twice a week.

Plants: A variety of vegetables, greens and fruits are a must. Such as a “salad” of carrots, squash green beans, strawberries, cranberries, blackberries, cherries, and plums. Some cantaloupe (with the rind), mustard greens, dandelions, and collard greens can also be mixed in. For treats you can add flowers like hibiscus, rose petals, and geraniums.

Meat: High quality low-fat canned dog food, finely chopped cooked chicken or raw beef heart. Live food can also be offered, like meal worms and crickets.

Young turtles require more animal matter in their diet due to their need of protein. As they grow into adults this should be reduced over time to no more than 10% of their total diet.

The Founding of a Thailand Dog Rescue – An Interview With Amandine Lecesne, Of Care For Dogs

Founding any animal rescue is not for the faint of heart. Founding a rescue in a foreign country filled with unfamiliar regulations and different cultural perception towards animals is downright intimidating, at least to almost any rational thinking human being. Yet without brave souls willing to take on such a task countless more animals in the world would suffer. Not to mention that serial volunteers, such as myself, would be without opportunities to help, at least without diving head on into founding an organization ourselves.

This summer marks the third anniversary of Care for Dogs in Chiangmai, Thailand, my favorite place to volunteer. Within their shelter walls I have whiled away hours socializing dogs one day, then the next day, I’ve escaped to spectacular gold-covered, Buddhist temples (wats) to help capture dogs for their spay/neuter program. I am eagerly counting the days until I can return and do much more. As a result of the gifts they have given to both me and to the animals of Northern, Thailand, I wanted to learn more.

Indeed, I wanted to get a peek inside the mind of one of those extraordinary folks who boldly go where even the most foolhardy rescuers have never gone before – establishing a rescue from the ground up. What makes these most intrepid of rescuers tick? Is it a passion for red-tape and astronomical odds, or is there more to it? The following is an interview with Amandine Lecesne. Amandine is one of the co-founders of Care for Dogs.

How did you get your start in animal rescue?

I grew up in the Alps in France and I remember watching the deer out my window and loving their grace. I learned a profound reverence for nature’s families. At thirteen, I stopped eating meat out of respect for animals and at 17, began dreaming of starting a shelter. Though I never set out to complete my dream, years later, when the opportunity presented itself to start Care for Dogs, I jumped on it!” What brought you to Thailand?

“I moved to Thailand in 2005 to work as a teacher and to do some volunteer work. I hadn’t found a passion yet, and I wanted to explore options. I had worked as a counselor and, once in Thailand, started working with immigrants. But once here, I couldn’t overlook the hundreds of street dogs limping, scrounging for scraps in trash, being kicked and hit, birthing litters on street corners, starving, walking around with tumors or open wounds, scratching fleas off, losing energy from the bloodsucking ticks riddling their bodies, and dying either from traffic accidents or of diseases. Helping the street dogs became a priority and it has been an incredible joy to see some of these creatures find safety and protection and even start wagging their tails again!”

What made you decide to start an animal rescue in Chiangmai?

“We set up a shelter/animal rescue group in Thailand primarily because there was such a tremendous need for one. Although all countries have a need for shelters/spay campaigns/adoption programs, etc, Thailand is one of the only countries whose overall human population really wanted to help reduce the stray/suffering dog population without resorting to eating dogs, but they just didn’t have the funds/knowledge to go about doing so in a kind and loving manner. It was obvious to us that there was both a really desperate need for an animal rescue group/shelter as well as a desire from the community to see such a program be put in place.”

When and how did you go about founding Care for Dogs?

“I developed an intimate friendship with Karin Hawelka who was as passionate about caring for the street dogs around our area as I was, and was as hopeful that, if we started a shelter, we could potentially attract enough financial support to really make a difference in the dogs’ lives. Though our rescue work started much earlier, our shelter officially opened June 2006. We’ve been expanding our efforts and impact ever since!”

What is your job like there?

“Unlike Karin who stays and maintains the shelter operations on a daily basis, I go back and forth between Thailand and the states (I go back to the US in part to work, in part to continue my studies). When I’m in Thailand, my job consists of giving vaccinations, bringing dogs to the vet to be spayed, cleaning wounds, administering ivermectin to dogs suffering from mange, putting IV lines in for dogs who need extra hydration, responding to emergency calls, helping with adoptions, deworming street dogs, doing heartworm tests (and giving the appropriate treatment if they test positive), caring for newborns, and often (unfortunately, too often) caring for dying and/or severely ill dogs.

What I enjoy doing the most, though, is going around the familiar temples and parking lots on which many dogs roam. I like checking in on the doggies to make sure they’re healthy, being looked after by neighboring street vendors, up to date on their vaccinations and deworming, free from ticks and fleas, as well as spayed/neutered. I love calling out when I arrive and having 4-7 dogs who know me come rushing out of bushes, corners, under benches, to say hi and eagerly receive kisses and belly rubs! These dogs are truly the loves of my life.”

What does your family think of your Care for Dogs work?

“My family has been extremely supportive of the work we do. They’ve had the opportunity to come to Thailand and see the issues first hand and therefore understand our inability to turn a blind eye to the animals’ suffering.”

What is the best rescue story you’ve seen?

“One of the best rescue stories we’ve seen started in September of 2007. It was at that time that several concerned children of an old lady that had recently passed away contacted Care for Dogs and explained that their kind elderly mother had been taking street dogs into her home for years. Although she’d had good intentions to provide a safe home for each of the rescues, she had felt pressured by her neighbors to keep them quiet and had resorted to locking them up in covered up cages so as to stop them from seeing anything that would alarm them, including each other.

Unfortunately, she knew, that a sad reality was that if the dogs barked too much, they could be poisoned or taken and sent away to the meat market by annoyed neighbors. When we got to her house, we were shocked and horrified to witness 14 dogs being kept in a constant state of loneliness and boredom. Although some were “fortunate” to be imprisoned with another dog, some were completely isolated in their own small dark space. Some of the dogs were at various stages of blindness, apparent from their white eyes and a couple were quite old and frail. All of them, though, were completely terrified of anything outside of their tiny 2 x 2 cell.

When they first arrived at the Care For Dog shelter, many of the 14 dogs were unable to leave the security of a corner or the darkness under a floor of a hut for quite some time, cowering with their tail between their legs. With our volunteers’ help and patient understanding, slowly but surely, they all emerged into the main area of the shelter and started getting some much needed play and socialization. Although the dogs have not all fully recovered from their neglect, we hope that some day, with the love and affection they continue to receive on a daily basis that they will! We’re incredibly grateful to have been a part of these dogs’ rescue and have enjoyed helping each of them start wagging their tails again.”

What are your goals for Care for Dogs?

“Our main priority is on spaying. Sterilizing is the only effective preventative method to reduce the number of unwanted street dogs. We are currently spaying between 400-500 dogs a year, though we hope to increase those numbers even further. We are also striving to see that every dog has a loving and forever home. To date, we have found homes for over 500 animals!

In general, we strive to work with communities so that families adopt stray dogs instead of purchasing purebreds, give them a stable and caring home, pet their dogs instead of hit them, spay/neuter them before reproductive age, and take them to the vet whenever they fall ill. Until that process is achieved, we will continue to work hard with communities, temples, schools, and families, to teach animal compassion, relating, bonding, and understanding.”

What volunteer opportunities exist at Care for Dogs?

“Individuals who wish to volunteer with us have the opportunity to come socialize our dogs by playing, grooming, bathing, or walking them. Many street dogs have never had the constant love and support volunteers can provide them! Our dogs, in turn, are always fond of newcomers who have a passion for helpers. They can sense good intentions and will eagerly jump on the occasion to be paid attention to. People can also help with vet trips and/or temple runs, learn to give injections and treat mange, pick up dogs who need to be spayed or taken to the vet for a physical, do heartworm tests, help with emergency calls, assist with writing articles for the website, aid us in fundraising or other types of administrative work. We also always have loads of opportunities for those wishing to help us with translations!”

What would you like the Thai people to know most about dogs in their country?

“I’d like everyone to realize just how incredibly caring and loving dogs can be. Because of the attachments that they are able to form, they can also be pained by the separation from those they’ve learned to care about. I’d like all humans to be simply more humane when interacting with animals, and understand that street dogs are frightened, hungry, and often hurting and that they would benefit so much from a kind gesture of food or hug. It’s important to remember that, a long time ago, human beings were the ones who brought wolves into their homes in order to protect their territory. We are the ones who transformed wolves into dogs and made them dependent on our care and affection. We therefore have a responsibility to them to hold up our part of the bargain – wolves and dogs have, for many centuries, protected and watched over us. Now it is our turn to protect and watch over them”

What would you like the people of the world to know most about the dogs of Thailand?,

“I would be grateful if people around the world would see and realize that many street dogs in Thailand are being at best ignored, but at worst abused, maltreated and harassed. It’s important to funnel our energy into programs, like Care for Dogs, which help local communities manage the street dog population with kindness, understanding and patience. I would also like the people of the world to realize that vet services in Thailand are a tenth cheaper than they would be in the West so you can imagine what a difference to our efforts even a small contribution can make!”

Is there anything else you would like to mention about the work of Care for Dogs?

“Our first priority is spaying female street, temple, parking lot and community dogs in order to reduce the number of homeless dogs in a humane way. Our current budget allows us to spay between 400-500 dogs per year. After spaying, we keep the dogs for one week at our shelter for after-care before they are returned to their original areas. We wish we could keep all street dogs with us but due to limitations in space, we just can’t! We’re convinced, however, that spaying the ones we do find will inevitably reduce the overpopulation and limit the suffering future generations will have to endure.

Additionally, vaccinations are a very important part of our protocol for homeless dogs. Deworming, heartworm prevention, de-flea and de-tick treatments are also a regular part of our health care program. Once the dogs are healthy and spayed, we actively look for new homes for the dogs at our shelter. For every dog that’s adopted, we can take a new one to our shelter. Last year we found new homes for 202 dogs and cats, and this year, 180 homes were found!

Furthermore we operate a rescue-service. We regularly take in sick or injured dogs for treatment. On average, we have approx. 20 – 30 dogs staying at the shelter for medical treatment. Last, but not least, we have organized an educational program named “Professor Paws”. We work with local schools to enable school classes to visit our shelter, sensitizeing the kids and teachers to the homeless dog situation. Last year, we also started a school project in a temple where we introduced a group of students to basic dog care and organized spayings, vaccinations and feeding. The students even organized various fundraising events (e.g. movie nights or bake sales) to help raise funds for this project.

We are also currently developing future school-temple projects as well as dog-care workshops for dog owners in surrounding villages. “

As you see Amandine and fellow co-founder Karin Hawelka are as irrepressible as they are inspirational. Perhaps to some people establishing an animal rescue simply feels like the most natural thing on Earth. Brave souls!

How to Take Care of Pets

In today’s busy and self-centered world when no one has any time for anyone else, pets in our homes make for the best friends and companions we can ever hope to have! The joy and enthusiasm that my pet dog greets me with when I reach home at the end of a long and arduous workday immediately lifts my spirits and any tiredness I bring back with me vanishes into thin air. Pets are loyal, faithful, unconditional and spontaneous in their love and benefit us in several ways.

In return, it is important for us to ensure we care for our pets too in the best way possible.

Here are some key ways in which you can make sure you are being a responsible pet owner and carer!

Space: Pets need to have a place that is safe, dry, clean and cozy. While deliberating on the choice of our pets we must carefully consider the space it will require for the aquarium for our fish, corner for our cat or dog or cage for the lovebirds we so wish to have! If an entire room is too much to think of, a clear and demarcated boundary can be created for your furry friend.

Diet: According to the pet that you own, you must strive to ensure they are fed a balanced and nutritious diet. Every species and breed in turn has foods that are permissible and those that can cause greater harm than good. Make sure you check with the vet and only feed your pet the right kind of foods and appropriate portions. Just as food needs to be carefully monitored, so too you must ensure that your pet has adequate and clean drinking water available.

Exercise: All pets need their space to be able to flex their muscles and spread their wings. Pets like dogs need to be taken for a scheduled walk regularly. Pet birds must have enough room in their cages not to feel cramped. A daily exercise routine will ensure your pets are healthy and happy

Medical Attention: Regular checkups with the veterinarian will make sure that your pet is hale and healthy and will help to diagnose any ailments well in advance. Vaccinations must be given in a timely and disciplined manner.

Cleanliness: All pets have cleanliness and hygiene needs. Pets like dogs and cats must be bathed regularly and groomed to keep their fur, hair, nails and skin well cared for. The area your pets are housed in must be cleaned and washed daily to keep the surroundings clean and pest free. Make sure also to keep your pet free of parasites like fleas, ticks and worms. Fish bowls or aquarium water needs to be changed appropriately in a timely fashion.

Supervision: While most pets once trained and habitual to their environment tend to stay safe it is important for a new pet to be supervised till they get a lay of the land! Inadvertently leaving the cage open could let the parrot or parakeet escape, dashing out of an ajar door could let the puppy or kitten to make a wild dash out onto the street which could be potentially dangerous.