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Too lightweight and streamlined to be a tortoise, yet too land-bound to be a true water turtle, box turtles have had to carve out their own niche in the world of shelled beings.
As a result, they have developed into serious shelled athletes. Climbing? No problem. Swimming? Sure thing. Digging? Already on it.
Digging can be particularly important for safety when you are a small, steak-sized morsel stuck right up in the middle of the wild natural food chain.
Digging is also important for warmth, especially at night in cooler climates and when you are ready to make eggs.
And digging becomes particularly crucial when temperatures drop and it is time to hibernate.
Box turtles have powerful legs with strong claws and as such make excellent diggers. They are also born with a powerful instinctual need to dig and burrow for the reasons mentioned here. If this need isn’t met in captivity, a box turtle can become apathetic and fail to thrive.
A box turtle may dig in any relatively soft material that looks burrow-worthy, but in captivity, hay, dirt, moss and leaf litter make particularly comfy and warm materials for digging and burrowing.