Taking my adopted turtle to the vet for the first time because the fussy little man hasn’t eaten anything in a month. Any tips for turtle vet trips? My turt hasn’t traveled since I adopted him several years ago, so I wanna make sure he’s comfy on the drive! It’s chilly here in Ohio right now and he’s a Red-Eared Slider.

Hi! Well in general you want to keep him warm. I’m in Massachusetts so I totally feel ya on the chilly part. I usually use one of those heat patches (non chemical) that you can get at the pharmacy and stick it inside the carrier where it can make heat but not directly touch them.


I have a medium-sized weekend bag I use to transport Zoya, it has a pocket and I usually put the heat pack in there or on the side of the bag. I then put a big blanket inside. you’ll want to take it out and let it start warming up a bit before putting it in the carrier. it takes like 10/15 min to heat up.

Some torts are fine with car rides some are not. You’ll want to be able to close it up some so no escapes happen mid-car ride. I like to give Zoya the option to burrow down and hide in the blankets. In general, keeping them from being overstimulated by all the outside stuff is the best way to reduce stress.. so they feel like they’re just sleeping. 

With Zoya, sometimes she sleeps, sometimes she looks out of the corners like a curious tort, and sometimes ( definitely the first time) she didn’t like it and ended up peeing all over the blanket . So I would also bring a towel or separate blanket for clean up/switch out on the way home. Either way, you want them safe, warm, and and to minimize stress as much as possible. 

I hope this helps! Maybe others have some suggestions?

Any tortoise care tips?


I’ll be getting a tortoise for my birthday! We’re going to be converting the bottom bunk of my bed into a tortoise table/box, I’m looking for some ideas as to how to make it nice for my soon to be russian tortoise!

Does anyone have a pet tortoise with safe and cute decor for them? Or even plants that are safe for them to nom on. Other tips are welcome too!

Yikes!! Well we had some issues with our queue here and some posts were sent without the added info! so sorry about that.

You’ve got some great advice from our awesome tortblr community.

The best care sheet I’ve found online is this:

You’ll find housing, diet, general care info and there’s also a great list of plants you can grow that are safe for your tort to eat or stomp!  Its written by someone with a lot of experience in herpetology and years caring for russian torts. They also run 
 Carolina Pet Supply , a great site for supplies. They have  TNT supplement (for calcium which is super important) is fantastic and natural. Torts seem to like it better than the calcium supplements you get at like petco. Also no risk of too much D3. So I’ll skip the diet advice and say just check that out. I swear by it. 

I love that you’re using the bunk bed! I built Zoya and enclosure out of a twin bed!


As you know, you’lll want a large open air type enclosure. A tortoise table. Aquariums aren’t great enclosures. They don’t allow for  a good temperature gradient and the glass can be stressful and confusing for the tort.  

Decor is pretty much personal preference but I’d definitely get them a Log hide they can crawl in to sleep and dig… and maybe some logs that they can climb up and over. Russian torts love to climb and stomp. Adding stuff that they can do that on without hurting themselves is the best. Also might want to block the corners of the enclosure. Trust me when I tell you.. they are very good at using the corners to hoist themselves up and out. haha. 

Adding some plants is always great but do this knowing they will be stomped and destroyed so you’ll have to replace them regularly. Plastic plants are ok imho if you are sure they won’t try and bite them. Watch closely and make sure they aren’t nibbling. 

Other general tips:

Shallow water bowl is a must. They’ll need to be able to get in but not be covered in water. They aren’t generally the biggest fans of water but they do drink, especially when not looking. 

Adding a Cuttle Bone to the enclosure that they can nibble on is good for calcium and beak maintenance.  How much they use it is very dependent on the tort but Its always good to have it there. 

UVB is also VITAL to tortoise and turtle care. This is a bulb that mimics the vitamins you’d get from the sun. This is vital to metabolizing calcium and growing up big and strong. UVB needs to be on for 13ish hours a day. UVA and Heat is also needed here.  You’ll need a good temperature gradient with a basking spot of 95ish degrees and cool areas around 70.  I use a powersun uvb/uva combo bulb as, at the moment, it gives off the best amount of uvb and also provides heat. You might need to supplement some extra heat depending on the size of your enclosure to get the right gradient.  

It definitely seems like a lot at first but once you get things set up right its a lot easier to maintain. 

Congrats on your new friend! These shells sure do know how to burrow into our hearts. next thing you know you’ll be hunting down dandelions and perfecting your head scratch 😀 and happy birthday!


Hey I like snappers.

Just FYI: to sample and get these cuties out of the funnel traps we need to put thick rope in their mouths and firmly but gently tie it at the end of the carapace. This way no one is getting hurt and we can get the data we need. Never ever pick up turtles or snakes or any herp by their tails it is harmful to them. I always make sure to put the animals back exactly where we found them take a few cute pics and send them love on their journey back 🙂

I include this because sometimes people don’t understand what we are doing and become concerned. I became a herpetologist/ecologist bc I love animals and our world more than anything and all I want to do is conserve and advocate for those who don’t have a voice. I sometimes get made fun of for baby talking everything I find but I can’t help it. They are all so fascinating and just innocent to me. They need all the love 💕


Mercury Vapor Bulbs?

Hey reptiblr, I’m curious as to what your thoughts are on using mercury vapor bulbs for UVB, light, and heat. I’m designing an enclosure for a Greek tortoise right now and I’ve heard a lot of different things about using them as the primary source of light and heat. Does anyone have any experience with MVBs? Are they a solid choice? Any brands/types that are recommended?



⚠️ Box Turtle Information Below ⚠️

6. Creating the Correct Environment for YOUR Pet Turtle

To ensure a perfect living environment for your box turtle, please read through some of these tips.

Recommended Substrate

An equal parted mixture between these branded substrates. I recommend these products because they do not have slow releasing fertilizer.

  • Organic Top Soil
  • Sphagnum Peat Moss
  • Coco-Coir
  • Eco-Earth

Outdoor Soil

I do not recommend using outdoor soil.

The soil may be treated with chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides. It can also contain ova (eggs) from several different parasites. Ova can survive quite a long time in soil and when ingested could cause infestation.

Optimal Humidity

Make sure your substrate can properly hold humidity. Spray your substrate twice per day and make sure to mix and turn your substrate to stay evenly moist. You may also use a humidifier or tank fog machine.

To keep an eye on the temperature and humidity level you can use a dual thermometer and humidity gauge.


I personally do not recommend putting false plants in your turtle enclosure. Your pet turtle could try to ingest them and it could spark health risks.

I do recommend some of these plants.

  • African Violet – Saintpaulias
  • Air Plant – Tillandsia
  • Spider Plant – Chlorophytum Comosum
  • London Pride – Saxifraga
  • Prayer Plant – Maranta Leuconeura
  • Mind Your Own Business – Soleirolia Soleirolii
  • Chia Mexicana – Salvia Hispanica
  • Friendship Plant – Pilea Mollis
  • Coleus – Solenostemon
  • Peperomia – Peperomia Spp.
  • Hotas – Hosta Spp.
  • Boston Fern – Nephrolepsis Exaltata
  • Mother of Pearl – Graptopetalum
  • Wandering Jew – Tradescantia Fluminesis

Hey Box turtle fans! Some quality info to share with anyone thinking of adopting a box turtle.  


My friend has a pet turtle (that has been alive for longer than she has known him) and has been wondering what type it is. I think it’s a helmet turtle but I honestly have no clue. If anyone could give me some info to send to her, I would be grateful.


Hi @myredraven! Apologies for taking so long to reply! We’ve had a lot going on here these days. From what humom can is seeing, your friends turtle looks like a musk turtle, eastern musk turtle I think. They are sometimes called mud turtles or stinkpots (cause of their glands not cause they’re smelly)!

We have a good friend on twitter @jeffmusk that looks just like your friends turtle. They are great shells and always seem like they are smiling at ya. The coloration of the skin varies.

Here are some great articles about them with care info and history/natural habitat info for you and your friend to check out! 

Hope this helps! Say hi to that smiley shell for us! 


replied to your post::

You realize that thing is going to outlive you and your children.

Well first of all, she’d rather you call her Queen, Royal Tort, Shellebrity, #turtpocalypse general, feudal lord or muffin instead of thing. And yes, of course I know she’ll out live me! I have legal paperwork ready in case anything were to happen to me to ensure that she is well cared for by people that know how to properly care for a tortoise. We don’t take forever pets lightly around here. Honestly, she better outlive me.. and she is my only child so she’ll outlive herself I suppose?  I hope she is happy and healthy for generations to come… and possibly takes over the world making it a much healthier, happier, calmer place to stomp and nom. 


‘you talkin’ ‘bout me??’



If I though Irwins hurt finger 2 weeks ago was bad I was wrong.

This Saturday he woke up nibbled some breakfast and then started running round straining to poop.

He does this sometimes so I wasn’t too worried and left him to it.

A couple of hours later I came back to check on him and he was still straining. That’s NOT normal. So I immediately put him in a warm soak.

He carried on straining for another hour as I kept him topped up with warm water.

I picked him up to check his cloaca for a blockage or something.

And there was a blockage, a hard white blockage bigger than his head.

I applied a little olive oil and set him on a clean towel in his enclosure while I called the emergency reptile vet who is an hour’s drive away.

Whilst I was on the phone Irwin started running around erratically very distressed.

The vet came on the phone with me just as Irwin passed a stone the size of a 10p.


He had torn his cloaca with the effort and so I rushed him to the emergency vet.

The vet examined him and the stone and said it looks like a ball of hard urates or a kidney or bladder stone.

He’s always super hydrated and loves a drink so it’s unlikely to be urates. Plus his diet his perfect and varied, so it could likely be a result of the existing damage to his organs (from his previous owners before I adopted him) and perhaps that near kidney failure means he will be prone to stones.

They didn’t want to x-ray him then and there because he was too swollen and distressed (plus there was a traffic accident with a dog so I think the x-ray lab was in use.)

The vet gave him a stitch to his torn cloaca and gave an injection of anti-inflammatory and an injection of antibiotics.

He has to go back again tomorrow (tuesday) for the second antibiotic injection and an x-ray.

If this is the only stone I can take him home.

If there is more stones in him then there is an option of surgery which would be very expensive and very risky considering how small Irwin is.

Or there’s the final option.

Which I can’t think about right now.

He’s my best friend. I just want him to be okay. I will sell everything I own to pay for his surgery just to make him okay.

Tomorrow’s appointment feels like doomsday.


Scan was inconclusive, but that means there are no urate masses (as those would be visable on xray).

The stone he passed is going to the lab and I need to get a sterile urine sample from him for urine analysis. That as well as blood work will check for tumours, renal diseases and infections.

Our heart is breaking for our friend Irwin and his human.

If you follow Irwins adventures here you know he found his human after living in a home that did not provide him the care he needed to grow healthy and strong. After finding his forever home his health improved incredibly and he became the happy tort we’ve watched grow handsome and strong.  

Its frustrating to see that even the best care cannot reverse the lasting impact of poor care on a growing tort. The issues are long-lasting. Also, a difficult reminder that our shell friends hide their symptoms so very well even when they are struggling with something like this.

We are crossing all our fingers toes and tails and sending the strength of the #turtpocalypse your way Irwin! You’ve gotta pull through this and get back to all noming, climbing, and stomping around. Your human needs a lot more snuggling too. So hang in there.

Please send all the good thoughts to Irwin and his human!! And please remember to always spread the word about how important proper care is. For Irwin and for all our shell friends. They deserve the very best.


I can’t seem to get my box turtle to eat his greens, I’ve tried a bunch of differnt types from lettuce to dandelions and nothing. But he’ll eat his fruits bugs and even the canned box turtle food from zoo med. Any suggestion? Oh he also wont touch his calcium bone either.

Hi @bubblebeebubby !
Thanks for writing. 

First things first: I’m not a Box turtle expert by any means. I have books and reliable sources that I’m using to help me answer your question but hopefully others here on Reptiblr, with hands-on experience, can add their suggestions!

Box turtles need a hefty portion of protein compared to greens in their diet (about 50% protein and calcium), 30% or so of veggies and fruits, and 10-20% dark leafy greens. The kind of greens is essential as well; not all greens are appropriate for box turtles.

My first suggestion for you, and for all shell parents, is to mix the good stuff in with the stuff they love.  For example, I use TNT (a natural calcium source I get from Carolina Pet Supply), and when I sprinkle it on Zoya’s food, I mostly do so on Raddichio (Zoya’s favorite food other than dandelions). This way when she goes through and picks out the radicchio to eat first, she’s also getting her supplements and not eating around them. Sometimes are more effective than others.  This is harder to do with worms and greens. but you could try to put the worms with greens and see if he’ll ‘accidentally eat the healthy food.’ This can also be done with calcium supplements (though do not go for calcium supplements with phosphorus! Crushing up a cuddle bone into a powder can work too though it doesn’t help with beak maintenance in that case.)

From my care books and the box turtle sites I checked out, it seems that hunger strikes and box turtles are an unfortunately common occurrence for box turtles in captivity, often for no reason. (a newer version of a site that’s been around for a while and is referenced by longtime rescuers) has some useful information on how to get your turtle to eat their food as well as useful information on the proper diet for box turtles, including specifics for subspecies of box turtles. I would give it a good read for details on specific greens that might work better for your shell.

Here are the Tips on getting your turtle to eat (Via BoxTurtles.Com):

  • In the wild, box turtles tend to be most active at dusk and dawn, and feeding a box turtle at those times can, therefore, make it more interested in eating.
  • For unknown reasons, some box turtles are reportedly more keen on eating after a rain.
  • Late morning hours is another time of day when box turtle owners have noticed an increased interest in food in their pets. This is probably because the turtle has had a chance to warm up a bit after the cooler night. Cold turtles cannot digest food properly. (A box turtle is too cold to digest when the room temperature is 65° F /18° C or below.) If you are keeping your box turtle outside, ideally place the enclosure in a spot where it will get plenty of morning soon. That way, it doesn’t have to wait until afternoon to get warm enough to eat its box turtle food.
  • Some box turtles dislike eating out in the open, so feeding them in a sheltered area is recommended. You can for instance include a shrub in the set up and place the box turtle food underneath.
  • During sunny summer days, avoid placing box turtle food in a sunny spot since the turtle may not be able to eat there without having to risk overheating.
  • If your box turtle has become obsessed with one particular type of box turtle food, try serving it mixed with other types of food. Let’s say your turtle loves all kinds of worms but refuse to eat any greens. Mixing chopped up worms with chopped squash can coax in into realizing that squash are food too. If your turtle loves pumpkin but hates protein rich food, then mashing some meal-worms in with the pumpkin can make your pet broaden its horizons.
  • Is your turtle being bullied? If you keep two or more turtles together, a weak turtle might be to scared to eat its box turtle food in the presence of a more dominant turtle. Make sure there are several sheltered feeding spots. If this is not enough, separate the turtles permanently or at least during feeding times.
  • For turtles kept indoors, UVA and UVB producing fluorescent lights are strongly recommended for a variety of reasons, unless they have access to plenty of real sunlight. Proper lighting will have numerous positive effects on the turtle, including increased appetite. Full spectrum light is required for vitamin D3 production.
  • A medical problem may be the root of your turtles’ eating disorder. Contact a veterinarian for more information. (Also, a prolonged hunger strike may necessitate medical treatment. A vitamin A deficiency can for instance easily lead to dry and infected eyes in box turtles.)

I hope this helps some! Keep us updated on your boxie friend and tell him Zoya says hi! 


you do know what a tort even is? like do you know what “tort” really means? hint, it’s not a tortoise.

Happy Sunday to you too, Anon! Thanks for your interest in tort-time and how it got its name. You will likely be surprised to know that 
I do, in fact, ‘even know’ what tort means (in the context I’m assuming you’re referring to). 

Long ago, when you were just a twinkle in your mom’s eye,  my friend and I drove down to DC for what we’ve always called Friendsgiving.  That particular year she was in the midst of studying for the bar exam, and as the passenger, it was my responsibility to read the flashcards to her.  Fast forward a few years and Zoya came along, and the word tort and tortie were regularly used to describe her. So when I sat down to start my blog almost seven years ago, I decided to name it Tort-time cause torts remind me of those flashcards and “love a tort and confuse a lawyer”. It was a silly thing that made me laugh but worked to confuse/concern you, someone I’m assuming is an aspiring lawyer?

In any case, that’s the origin of the blog name. It seems like a good time to remind you that words have context and any good lawyer (or any person reading things) considers the context of the word or words when determining their meaning.  

We here at tort-time apologize if our URL and Blog name has caused you harm, it was unintentional.  We are not lawyers ourselves, but we’re pretty sure any harm is negligible at best, and you wouldn’t be granted any compensation other than this response.

Though now that we’re talking about torts I’m worried about that Zoya cam I set up on top of her castle without telling her and all those pics of her bum in the bath I posted here and took without permission. I’m sure Zoya would like representation if you’re interested. I mean, damn she’d be awarded several fields worth of dandelions by the time its all said and done. But come on! I’m tortfeeder not a tortfeasor. OK, that went too far.

Just know that those flashcards are what came to mind when I heard tortoises called torts, and the terms are ripe with potential tortoise and turtle jokes. That’s how it happened and here we are years later. I have no regrets. It was not an intentional tort 😉

p.s. I hope any other anon asks you’ve sent out read less jerk-like than this one did.  I’m sure you’re a perfectly lovely human being and wouldn’t want others to make assumptions about you.

Here. Have a picture of Zoya being adorable.  She knew I was taking this picture so its cool.