Keeping More Than One Box Turtle



Keeping multiple box turtles can be a lot of fun

Keeping multiple box turtles can be a lot of fun
Modified version of photo by mightyjoepye @ Flickr;
licensed under CC BY 2.0

Box turtles are mostly solitary creatures. They don’t live in groups in the wild, and they don’t really need companionship in captivity, either.

Even so, two or more turtles can get along and interact in friendly ways. So you might like to keep multiple box turtles.

Keep in mind that not all turtles will get along. That’s pretty standard for any animal, including humans! If you do decide to have more than one, be prepared to house them separately if they can’t live together peacefully.

For the most part, immature turtles can be housed together, regardless of sex, as long as they are about the same size and none are particularly aggressive. Young males may start to bully each other as they mature, so you should keep an eye on them.

Adult turtles can be trickier to house together. Here are some general guidelines to consider if you want multiple box turtles:

  • Adult females will usually get along with each other.
  • Adult males tend to be aggressive towards each other, especially when they want to breed. Male turtles will even mount other males, and they can hurt each other.
  • It’s usually best to keep adult males and females separated unless you are trying to breed them. Males can also be very aggressive towards females. If you do house them together, provide hiding places in the habitat so the female can escape from an overly amorous male.
  • If you do house males and females together, consider having several females for each male. In her book Box Turtles, Tess Cook suggests a 1:4 ratio of males to females, along with plenty of places for the females to hide.

Of course, you will also want to be sure your turtles’ home is big enough for them all. Turtles that can’t escape from their pen-mates can get stressed. Also, too many turtles in too small a space causes hygiene problems. Waste accumulates and makes a good place for bacteria to grow. That can make your turtles sick.

Make your turtle enclosure as big as possible, but at a minimum, two adult females should have at least 12 square feet, according to Tess Cook.

Finally, there are two times you should never put turtles together:

  • When you have American and Asian box turtles. These animals have very different needs and may not have immunity from each other’s pathogens. Create separate habitats for each.
  • When one turtle is sick or injured. That animal should go into quarantine until he is healthy again. A sick turtle could make the others sick, too. And an injured turtle could get hurt more by his pen-mates, or might get overly aggressive and hurt one of them.

Box turtle eating strawberryMultiple turtles can certainly be fun, but they are also more work and need more space than just one animal. Keep this in mind when you consider how many turtles you can care for.


5 thoughts on “Keeping More Than One Box Turtle

  1. Kelley Smith

    Hello I have a pet box turtle and I know how easily stress they can be but a found a big adult box turtle in the road it was to dangerous were he was so I brought him to my yard why isn’t he hibernated yet and what can I do to help him he won’t eat or drink so assuming he is in that mode just let him go and wish him luck of help him get a spot ready has the warm season tricked him??! Help animal lover

    1. boxturtleworld Post author

      Hi Kelley,

      I would urge you to bring him back where you found him. Not in the middle of the road of course, but on the side of the road to where he was heading when you found him. Boxies actually do have home ranges, and if removed from there will want to get back.

      If he’s not eating, you’re probably right that he wants to hibernate. I’m not sure where you are, but since it has been relatively warm so far this year, hopefully he can find a hibernation spot before it gets too cold for him.

      Thank you for wanting to help a boxie survive our roads!

  2. jan

    i have 18 baby box turtles that i kept inside all winter our temps here are already 89 during the day and mid 50’s at night. i am ready to put the babies back outside for the summer is that ok? they will still be in their habitant where they stayed all winter.

    1. boxturtleworld Post author

      Hi Jan,

      That’s a lot of baby turtles! 🙂

      The daytime temperatures sound fine, as long as there’s a shaded/protected area where they can cool off as needed.

      I am a bit concerned about the nighttime temps. I’ve always thought about 60 is the best lower limit … But if box turtles are native to your area, it could be ok. With those daytime temps, wild ones must be active! Personally I think I’d wait just a bit, since they are babies, but use your best judgment.


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