How to Breed Box Turtles

Breeding Box turtles isn’t all that tough, and we’ll explain how within the below article. This week at Backwater Reptiles headquarters, we witnessed a pair of our Three Toed Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina triunguis) mating, something we have seen many times here in our outdoor turtle pens. We figured since Spring/Summer is the time of year for reproductive behavior to occur, it would be a great opportunity for us to share our knowledge on how to breed these wonderful turtles.

box turtle breeding

As we all know, the first thing you need to breed any animal is a male and female of the species. While Three Toed Box Turtles are not exactly sexually dimorphic, there are some tricks you can use to identify whether or not you’ve got the correct genders to produce babies.

Males of the species tend to be more brilliantly-colored than the females, exhibiting orange, red, or white on their faces with red eyes, while females are duller in color and usually have green eyes. Males are generally smaller than females but do have larger, longer tails and rear nails. The male has a concave plastron (underside) so that he can conform better to the shape of the female’s shell as he mounts her, whereas the plastron of the females is flat.

how to breed box turtles
Here’s one of our healthy, beautiful box turtle breeders.

Once you have sexed your turtles, it is ideal to house them outdoors as it allows them to have a natural cycle to follow for breeding. If they are housed outside, after the cooler winter/fall months have passed, the females will emerge from hibernation and begin looking for a suitable area to nest and lay eggs. It is best if you create your own “suggested” areas for the female to lay her eggs as they will be buried and you want to be able to know where she has deposited them. Suggested areas are warm and moist and will have soft soil for digging.

Breeding will have occurred the previous spring/summer. Males will circle the female, butting up against her and sometimes biting her. Sometimes the males will also inflate their necks in order to promote receptivity in the female. Once the courtship ritual has been completed, the male will mount the female and she will lower her plastron letting him hook his nails beneath her carapace. She will then close up her carapace on his nails so he doesn’t slide off during the actual copulation, which can take up to an hour. It should also be noted that females can retain this sperm and lay viable eggs for up to four years after breeding, so she may not lay eggs for several years.

The Three Toed Box Turtles at Backwater Reptiles during copulation. We keep them in very large outdoor setups, with plenty of food, water, and shelter.

Box Turtle Eggs

Eggs will take about 70 days to hatch and should be kept between 84 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit. If you transfer your eggs from outdoors to inside so you can keep a better watch on them, do so carefully. You want to make sure the eggs are not shifted, turned over, or jostled. It’s best to make a pencil or marker line on the top  so that as you gently move them to a new container, you won’t accidentally turn them. Store the eggs in a temperature controlled room in moist vermiculite or perlite.

Once the babies start emerging from the eggs, they should not be allowed to live outside right away as they require more structured conditions as they grow. The newborns must have access to water at all times as well as a place where they can completely get out of water (i.e. a patch of dry land). They will eat appropriately-sized dusted and gut-loaded insects, plant matter, and pre-made turtle chow. It’s a personal choice what to feed your baby box turtle – just make sure that it’s varied and frequent as growing reptiles (like growing humans) need to get lots of vitamins, protein, and nutrients.

Here’s one of our flawless, captive bred baby Box turtles.

We don’t currently have any hatchling Three Toed Box Turtles available (although we will in a few weeks once the eggs start hatching), but we do have adult Three Toed Box Turtles for sale that are around three to five inches in length – just the right size for if you want to start your own breeding project.

Box turtle egg
Here’s the end result: a Box turtle egg!

Madagascar Big-Headed Turtle Care

We are very excited to announce that we just received captive bred baby Madagascar Big-Headed Turtles (Erymnochelys madagascariensis)!

madagascar big headed turtle care
Here’s one of our captive bred baby Madagascar Big-headed turtles.

These ultra-rare turtles are endemic to Madagascar as their name suggests and are classified as one of the 25 most endangered turtles in the world largely due to the fact that they are prized as food in Madagascar and exported illegally to Asia for the same purpose. Not to worry – the ones we have for sale are all captive-bred and we are hoping to sell them to someone who wants to breed and help preserve this turtle species.

The Madacascar Big-Headed Turtle lives in freshwater areas and is highly aquatic. In general, these turtles only emerge from the water to lay eggs – even their preferred basking areas tend to be surrounded by water. We have a turtle bank and basking bulb available to them, but we have never once seen them use it!

erymnochelys madagascariensis


Babies are carnivorous and eat virtually any small invertebrates and critters they can fit in their mouths, but in captivity, they should be fed insects and pre-packaged turtle food. As they grow, Madagascar Big-Headed Turtles will eat a more vegetarian diet, but will still consume meat-based dietary items.

Our baby Madagascan Big-headed turtles have huge appetites. We feed ours crickets, waxworms, earthworms (red wigglers), and turtle pellets, all of which are eaten quickly in a frenzy of consumption!

We keep our’s in glass turtle tanks with about four inches of water, the aforementioned turtle bank, UVB basking bulb, pebble substrate (large pebbles to prevent ingestion), artificial turtle grass for cover, and an Exo Terra Repticlear filter to help clean the water and maintain circulation (water that has no circulation can become stagnant).

Our captive-bred Madagascar Big-Headed Turtle for sale needs to go to a good home. If you are interested, click the link and select the species from the appropriate drop-down menu.

erymnochelys madagascariensis care


Indonesian Snake Neck Turtle (Macrochelodina rugosa)

Are you wondering how to care for Snake Neck turtles (Macrochelodina rugosa)? Backwater Reptiles received a shipment of the aforementioned captive-bred baby Indonesian Snake Neck Turtles, which are known for their long, snake-like necks as their name suggests.

snake neck turtle care sheet


The Snake Neck Turtle can get rather large, reaching lengths of up to sixteen inches and this is largely due to the fact that they have insatiable appetites. They eat virtually anything (frozen reptile food, bloodworms, prawns, snails, crickets, prepackaged turtle food, and even leafy greens) and the key to keeping them healthy in captivity is a varied diet.

macrochelodina rugosa care


Rather shy animals by nature, captive-bred Snake Neck Turtles lose this trait over time and with handling. They are also generally friendly towards other turtles and can be housed with friends, although the habitat provided should be rather large due to the fact that the Snake Neck can be a big turtle and also enjoys being active and swimming a lot.

indonesian snake neck turtle


Backwater Reptiles currently has baby captive-bred Indonesian Snake Neck Turtles for sale. Get yours by following the preceding link and selecting the breed from the drop down menu.

Baby Reptiles and Amphibians

This week it’s been all about the little things…or rather, the little critters! Right now we’ve got an abundance of baby and juvenile reptiles for sale at Backwater Reptiles. Check some of them out below!

We’ve currently got baby Sulcata tortoises for sale. These gentle tortoises are very hardy and make great outdoor reptiles if you live in the proper climate-zone. Check out our Sulcata Tortoise species profile published earlier this week for more information on how to care for Sulcatas and what to expect if you adopt one.

Backwater also had a baby Panther chameleon born this week. The little guy is currently smaller than a penny, although we’re sure he or she will grow quickly.

baby reptile (lizard)
Here’s a baby Panther chameleon we hatched at our facility.
baby chameleon lizard
This shows just how small baby Panther chameleons are upon hatching. We held up a penny for scale.

We’re currently running a special sale on Eastern Box Turtle hatchlings. These captive bred turtles are also currently small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but they grow quickly when fed properly and will reach up to five or six inches in length. They can grow to recognize their owners’ voices, so get yours when it’s young and teach it good habits from the get-go.

baby turtle
Here’s one of our captive hatched baby Box turtles.

Baby Newts

Get your final dose of teeny tiny cuteness from our baby Fire Bellied Newts for sale. These tiny amphibians are currently about the size of a quarter but will grow to  be four to six inches in length. They are popular because they are nearly black on top, but their under carriages are a brilliant reddish-orange color, making for a surprisingly colorful critter.

baby newts (amphibians)
Who doesn’t love a baby Fire-bellied newt?