For a wild rescued box turtle, Bruce can be surprisingly social. Right from the start, he was keen to interact – on his terms.
His terms meant lots of staring, plenty of running around on the floor back and forth, and occasionally coming to stand on top of my feet.
During his first week with us, before I could figure out a proper indoor habitat he would tolerate, Bruce lived “free range” in my tiny office. Every morning around 7:30 am, he would bang against the bars of the low doorway gate I had erected across the open office door (which was conveniently located right across the hall from my bedroom).
He would do this until I got up out of bed, stepped over the low gate and sat down on the ground with him to hang out. During this time, he would sometimes let me touch his shell reassuringly while we talked.
But he’s never been keen with actual “handling,” which in my book means being picked up or carried around in any way. In fact, most turtles and tortoises really hate this from what I’ve read (although Malti has learned to tolerate it for the sake of being carried upstairs for meals, treats and play time).
With Bruce, I try to keep any actual handling to an absolute minimum. But occasionally handling is required, such as when I am concerned about him for any reason and need to check him over.
Also, it is recommended to periodically check on hibernating/estivating reptiles to make sure they look healthy. So during the times each year when he is hiding from the cold or the heat, I will dig him out periodically and pick him up to give him a good once-over.
Other than that, unless I am simply moving him from his outdoor habitat to his outdoor enclosed play area (which is literally a few steps away), I try not to pick Bruce up or carry him…even though he is adorably cute and it is incredibly hard to resist.