Reasons Your Box Turtle Might Be Digging Holes

Box Turtle Digging Holes

Do you have a box turtle that is constantly digging holes? If so, you’re not alone! This is a common behavior for box turtles, and there can be several reasons why they do it. In this article, we will explore all the possible reasons your box turtle might be digging those pesky holes. Stay tuned for more information!

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Why do box turtles dig holes?

There can be many reasons why a box turtle might start digging holes. Some of the most common reasons are brumation, aestivation, foraging for food, boredom, stress, preparing to lay eggs, or trying to escape the enclosure.

Depending on the circumstances, box turtles sometimes also try to burrow down to the ground to escape predators or heat.

If your box turtle is digging a hole, it is important to try and determine the reason why. By understanding the underlying cause, you can take steps to address the issue and prevent your box turtle from continuing with the behavior.

Let’s understand the reasons in more detail.


Brumation is a natural process that box turtles go through during the winter. Box turtles will slow down their metabolism and often dig a hole to hibernate in. During brumation, their slow metabolism helps them regulate their body temperature.

Turtles opt for brumation when either when it is too cold outside or when there is a shortage of food. During winter there is very less vegetation available for turtles to eat, so wild turtles usually choose to hibernate during this time of the year. In brumation, turtles don’t eat often and their slower metabolic activity helps them survive the winter.

So if you have a box turtle that you have noticed is digging holes, it is possible that the turtle is in the process of brumating. Though it is normal for turtles to brumate, it is always advisable to consult a veterinarian to make sure that your box turtle is healthy and going through brumation naturally.


Aestivation is another natural process that box turtles go through during the summer. Box turtles will dig a hole and bury themselves in the ground to stay cool. This is another way that box turtles can regulate their body temperature. Box turtles will come out of aestivation when the weather starts to get cooler in the fall.

Turtles are cold-blooded animals, which means that their body temperature depends on the environment. Box turtles are no different. When it’s hot outside, box turtles dig holes and hide in them to keep themselves hydrated. This is called aestivation. Box turtles come out of aestivation when the weather starts to get cooler.

If your box turtle habitat is outside of the house during hot summer days, you may notice them digging holes. Digging holes is a way for box turtles to regulate their body temperature which is completely normal. To help them out you can place a box turtle cooler or water dish in their habitat to help keep them cool.

Foraging for food

Box turtles often dig holes for foraging food. Box turtles are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and meat. They forage for food by digging through the soil with their powerful front claws. Box turtles will also bury their food in the ground to store it for later.

It is commonly seen in wild box turtles who don’t have easy access to a food source. For a captive turtle, it is very unlikely to see such behavior and could mean that you are not feeding them well.


One reason your box turtle might be digging holes is boredom. If your box turtle has nothing to do, it may start digging holes as a way to entertain itself.

Make sure your box turtle has plenty of toys, plants, and hideaways to keep it occupied. Giving your box turtle a larger enclosure to walk around would be a quick and easy fix for their boredom.


One reason why your box turtle may be digging holes is that it is stressed out. Holes can be a way for box turtles to release their stress. If your box turtle is in a new environment, or if you’ve recently changed the way you care for it, the box turtle might be stressed out and trying to find a way to deal with it.

If you’ve recently changed your box turtle’s diet, or if there is a lot of noise or activity in its environment, that can also cause stress. Make sure to create a calm and relaxing environment for your box turtle as much as possible.

Escape route

Box turtles will dig holes for an escape route in the event that they feel threatened. If your box turtle is digging holes, it might be trying to create an escape route in case of danger.

If you have a box turtle, it’s important to make sure that its habitat is safe and secure. Box turtles can be very vulnerable to predators, so make sure that your box turtle’s home is free of potential danger.

If you’re not sure whether or not your box turtle’s habitat is safe, ask an expert for advice. It’s also important to keep an eye on your box turtle and be prepared to intervene if necessary. If you see your box turtle digging a hole, it’s possible that it’s trying to create an escape route.

Getting ready for laying eggs box

As box turtles get ready to lay their eggs, they may start digging holes. This is normal behavior and is no cause for alarm. The hole will likely be around a few inches deep and the turtle will use it to bury her eggs.

In wild, box turtles dig several holes to confuse predators about the location of their eggs. However, in captivity, your box turtle is unlikely to have any predators and so she may just use one hole.

The box turtle will lay her eggs in the hole and then cover them back up with soil. She may stay around the hole to keep watch over her eggs, or she may leave them and return later.

If you have a box turtle that is digging holes, there are a few things you can do to make sure she is comfortable and safe. Be sure to provide her with a shady spot to rest during the day. You can also put some rocks or logs around the hole to help protect it from wind and rain.

Eating rocks

Some box turtles might start digging holes if they’re not getting the right amount of minerals from their food. Eating rocks be a box turtle’s way of getting the minerals it needs from its diet.

Check to see if your turtle is eating the rocks from the holes or simply digging them. If they are eating rocks then try to supplement their diet with a mineral block or powder.

Related Article: Why Is My Turtle Eating Rocks?

Box turtle digging hole with back legs

The way a box turtle digs the hole tells us a lot about what it is doing. When box turtles dig with their back legs, they are creating a den to lay eggs. Box turtles will usually lay their eggs in the early summer and often leave the place forever. Box turtles may use the same den for many years in captivity if they are unable to find another location to go.

The hole a box turtle digs is typically about 12 inches deep. If you see your box turtle digging a hole with its back legs, it is likely that it is getting ready to lay eggs.

Examine the holes to determine when your box turtle is about to lay an egg. A gravid box turtle digs a hole that is considerably deeper and wider than typical holes that the box turtle digs. The hole will also have a flat bottom rather than the typical V-shape that box turtles create when they are digging for food.

If you are seeing your box turtle digging a hole with its back legs, it is important to leave the hole alone. Do not try to move the eggs or disturb the den in any way. The box turtle will likely take care of all of that itself. Just make sure to keep an eye on the hole and make sure that no predators are around to threaten the eggs.

When box turtles lay their eggs, they will deposit them into the hole and then cover them back up with soil. The eggs will incubate in the soil and hatch about two months later. Once the eggs have hatched, you can remove the babies from the hole and place them in an outdoor enclosure.

How long does it take a box turtle to dig a nest?

Box turtles can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days to dig their nests. They’ll usually start digging in an area that’s sheltered from the wind and sun and is close to food and water.

Once the box turtle has finished digging its nest, it will lay its eggs in the hole and cover them back up with soil. After that, the box turtle will typically leave its nest and never return.

How deep do box turtles dig to lay their eggs?

Box turtles dig a hole that is about two feet deep on average. Some box turtles have been known to dig holes as deep as four feet though. The deeper the hole, the more likely it is that the eggs will be protected from predators and extreme weather conditions.

Box turtles typically lay their eggs in summer. The eggs will incubate for around two months before hatching.

It is important to keep an eye on your box turtle’s nest during the incubation period, as you may need to help protect the eggs from predators or bad weather. You can do this by placing a wire cage over the nest to keep out predators and using a soil moisture meter to make sure the eggs are getting the right amount of moisture.

Why do box turtles bury themselves?

One of the reasons box turtles might bury themselves is to regulate their body temperature. When it’s hot outside, they’ll dig down into the cooler earth to stay cool. They’ll also do this when they’re sick or injured to help them heal. Box turtles can also be hiding from predators or environmental threats. If a box turtle feels unsafe, it might bury itself in the ground to wait for the danger to pass.


In conclusion, box turtles might be digging holes for a variety of reasons. If you have a box turtle that is digging holes, it is important to try and determine the root cause of the behavior. By understanding why your box turtle is digging holes, you can take steps to correct the behavior or provide your box turtle with the necessary environment and care to keep them healthy and happy.