Waterland Turtle Tub – The Pond Experience?

The pond experience is an alternative to turtle care. It basically consists of having a pond area and a nesting area. The concept is quite unique in that it separates the pond section with a large tank area for swimming and then provides a deeper section for burying eggs or just sitting under the heat lamp.

The design is such that it consists of a large tub that is molded out of one big piece of plastic. It is typically labeled a turtle tub or turtle tank. The placement of the unit is usually on the floor or on a counter top type setting.

Because it sits on the floor and can be put in a corner in an apartment or living room; it gives the turtle enclosure more a touch and feel to it.

This style of enclosure is called “the pond experience.” There are some issues however with the pond experience and they are:

– Small children need to be guarded when using this container. They can fall in and more seriously touch the critters in the tub and get serious debilitating illnesses such as salmonella.

-The tank is very large and not transparent (see-through) so it necessitates an over the top viewing for it to be useful. What this means is that it needs to be placed on the floor for optimum viewing, or it must take up counter space.

-Cleaning of the unit requires full evacuation of the tub so that it can be cleaned as one piece.

Turtles, red eared slider turtles or aquatic turtles require a large tank for swimming, so the pond venue works well for that; however, turtles that just bask and do minimal swimming do not need such an elaborate system, but really only need a pool to swim in and a basking area to get thermalized.

An alternative to the pond environment is the aquarium tank with wading pool, or moderate swimming pool. Typically a structure is developed such as a glass partition or escalating racks so that the turtle has a place to climb and bask, and then climb down and swim. These systems have their limitations and usually end with mixed results.

The most favored system is a basking area with an associated swimming pool. This is similar to the pond concept, accept it uses an aquarium with siliconed glass partitions, instead of fully molded tub.

The problem arises for cleaning the pools which can be a big minus from owning any reptile for that matter. The water must be cleaned almost daily in some instances and makes maintenance a labor intensive endeavor.

As with the pond environment cleaning requires a full evacuation of the unit.

A Solution You Might Not Have Thought Of

A final alternative which is to have the pool be separated and removable. Most will use a clay dish, or even a Tupperware container to facilitate the pool container. Trouble with these solutions is that they are ugly and not pet friendly when it comes to climbing in and out of the pool.

Some manufacturers have developed pools that have steps that ascend and descend into the pool. This helps aid the pet in and out of the water. Additionally some are even designed with rock serrated surfaces so they appear real and aesthetically uniform in the reptile environment.

The ideal size pool for most pets is around 3 gallons or more. Shallow pools are usually more suitable for smaller pets such as frogs and salamanders.

A word of final note: some animals are not smart enough to get out of the water and can drown if the water is too deep. Hermit crabs and even some frogs can be this way. Make sure you understand your pets behavior before committing them to a pool environment. Talk to your local pet store or your veterinarian for their basking and soaking behaviors.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.