Almost never seen, Desert Box Turtles are protected through out their natural range, and are only bred in limited numbers. Desert Box Turtles are the Western sub species of Ornate Box Turtles. Their shells are a bit lighter and their skin and head coloring tends to be brighter than Ornate Box Turtles. Like Ornates, Desert Box Turtles have both the high contrast and the faded & spotted patterned shell colors. Hatchlings have extraordinarily large heads for their bodies - making them excellent feeders. Adults are even more cut out for dry/arid living than their Ornate cousins. They will make use of a small, clean water bowl. Ranging in West Texas and South Eastern Arizona and Mexico, Dessert Box Turtles are the rarest of the American Box Turtles - in nature, as well as for keepers to find...
They are feeding well on small earth worms, baby super worms, cut fish, small insects, pellets, greens - and anything that moves... Remember that hatchling Box turtles are a bit more demanding than adults, and are not for keepers just starting out. They do well in a land set up with a small water basin.. Once acclimated, Desert Box Turtles (Terrapene ornata luteola) are excellent turtles to keep. With full sized adults reaching only 4 - 5 inches, Desert Box turtles are an excellent condo or apartment turtle. They spend most of their time, basking, foraging for food and resting. Many Desert Box turtles have lived over 30 years for their keepers (some have lived more than 40). Mainly carnivores, Desert Box Turtles will eat meat, insects, some greens, vegetables & fruits. Beatles and earthworms are favorites. Ours readily eat pellets, cut up beef heart, super worms and earthworms and dark leafy greens. The trick with this species is to start with very well established individuals; carefully help them to acclimate; and keep their husbandry and habitats consistent. They readily adjust to new environments and soon learn to recognize their keepers.
The best of both worlds: at times they behave like a tortoise, slowly and deliberately going about their routine as if they planned out their whole day ahead of time. Other times, they are more like a turtle, as they quickly run down and pounce on an earth worm with impressive agility; or even occaisionally slide into a pond and search below the surface for a meal. Desert Box Turtles are quite unique turtles.
Remember, each turtle order comes with a free starter sample of the same Turtle diet your Turtle has been raised on - this will last one small turtle a few weeks - to order larger quantities, see the lower left side of this page. *