Hibernating Turtles Indoors?


I have an unusual problem. I have 3 small turtles I would like to hibernate indoors this winter. I don't want to use dirt from outdoors because of bugs and I can't seem to find soil from nurseries without fertilizers (bad for turtle shells). Is there anyone who shares this interest in pet turtles? Thanks.


turtle lover from Visalia, CA

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By Roxy (Guest Post)
October 9, 20080 found this helpful

I use white play sand, you can buy it by the bag at Home Depot. Its used for children's sandboxes so its safe, just make sure the bag says "Play Sand." Good Luck!

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October 10, 20080 found this helpful

Hello! I have had a box turtle for about 7 years now. It was given to me by my husbands nephew as a baby.I didn't want to use the dirt and sand either because of being inside.I put her in a 25 gallon aquarium with medium size aquarium gravel, some plastic plants and a large shell that she likes to hide under. I also added a plastic container with water because she loves to play and hide in in.


I put two flat rocks up against the "water bowl"so it's easy for her to get in and out. The gravel is easy to clean and if it's thick enough she can still burry herself if she wants to.I also put vitamins on her shell once a month or so.She has more than tripled her size and is doing great. She loves tomatoes and once in awhile a white grape.

I feed her dry turtle food, but she does like it soaked. I use plastic lids from mayonnaise jars, fill it with water and then put the food in. It gets soggy but that's how she likes it. I hope I've helped a little. Good luck.

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By prospecial (Guest Post)
October 13, 20080 found this helpful

Don't want to use play sand , gravel or litter? Simply take some earth from the garden and microwave it for 3-5- minutes in a plastic cup. That will kill ANY organisms that may be there , sterilize the soil, AND it will give your pet the natural type soil desired for hibernation.


Works fine.

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October 13, 20080 found this helpful

I have a tarantula, and ran into the same problem. I bought a bag of vermiculite and a bag of potting soil. Put each one in a layer on a cookie sheet and put in low oven (250) for about 1 1/2 hours, kills any fungus, bugs etc and is way cheaper than play sand. cinnamon

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Silver Feedback Medal for All Time! 378 Feedbacks
October 13, 20080 found this helpful

I'm clueless about turtles, but I've sterilized my seed starting soil by baking it at 350'F, 20 minutes in a preheated oven.

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December 7, 20080 found this helpful

Just wondering, why do the turtles need to hibernate at all? there is no reason why they should hibernate, unless you are unable to provide them with an appropriate sized habitat. If you feel you have room to hibernate them indoors, why not provide them with the habitat? Just wondering...Many people falsely believe turtle must hibernate.

Advertisement Maybe this might help if you are intent on hiberating them. Hope it all works out for you and the little guys :)

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December 9, 20080 found this helpful

That was a very interesting article, luluah. I admit I never knew that. All of my outdoor turtles always chose to hibernate in straw and wet leaves that I had mixed up for them so I took it for granted the babies would also do this. Every fall I would fill a box full of soil and put them on top. Immediately they would dig under by themselves. Problem is, I was never happy with the soils I could provide for them in the house and I couldn't bear to leave them outside. I actually took the advice of kimhis and sterilized the soil. They have been hibernating now for over a month and I hope sleeping very well. Thanks to all. (I will keep on reading more of those articles for more info)

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December 9, 20080 found this helpful

luluah--I just spent the most enjoyable hour I've had for awhile looking at this web site you provided. I remember my newly hatched turtles looking this cute but time goes by so fast it's easy to forge, and they are still very small.


I miss them and can't wait until they come back up. I also found some new foods for them when they show up. Thanks again!

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August 2, 20090 found this helpful

I just got my first box turtle, a little boy, and bought dry and canned food at our reptile shop, and he loves to eat it and berries, tomatoes and my dogs dry food. He lets me rub his head and doesn't hide anymore, the dog loves to watch him run around and barks if he digs under the dirt outside, it is so cute! He takes a daily soak in the sink and sleeps in a indoor box, just not sure what to do come winter, the reptile man says to put him outside with a bale of loose hay, but I am worried, it gets really cold here in Oklahoma. Anyone have one here, and what do you do in winter besides bring him inside?

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August 4, 20090 found this helpful

For gran1cook: I do have 5 older turtles which hibernate very well outdoors every year. I have had some of these for 15 years. Our soil is pretty hard clay, so I dig down 4 inches and cover with chopped leaves and straw.


They keep cool in the 100 degree heat and warm all during the frozen winter. Just be sure to keep adding to the pile as it breaks down. I usually clean it out every few months anyway as pets get pretty dirty.

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