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Box turtles are omnivores, which means they will eat a variety of both animal and plant-based foods. The proportions of animal versus plant-based food items will depend on both the age and the species of box turtle that you are feeding. Generally, hatchlings and juvenile box turtles are more carnivorous than adults, which are typically more herbivorous.

A wide variety of fruits and vegetables should be offered to your box turtle daily in order to provide a balanced diet. Particular attention should be paid to the calcium and phosphorus balance in the items in the diet to prevent metabolic bone disease . As an example, bananas (a favorite of many turtles) have a ratio of 0.3:1 (which is low) so this means they should be fed in moderation. Other vegetable and fruits are acceptable to include in the diet but should not make up the bulk of the daily meals. Ed Reschke / Getty Images
A variety of fresh and natural prey items are the best types of insects for your box turtle. David A. Northcott / Getty Images
Other animal-based items can include minnows, small chunks of cooked meats such as chicken and beef heart (raw meats offer too much chance of bacterial contamination) and occasionally moistened, high quality, low-fat dog food. There are commercial box turtle diets available that are marketed as nutritionally complete, but you should also supplement them with a variety of fresh foods. The need for adding vitamins and supplements depends on the diet and housing (outdoors versus indoors). However, it is probably wise to dust the turtle food with a well-balanced reptile calcium and multivitamin supplement at least a couple times a week.

What should I feed a box turtle?

Box turtles are omnivores. Diet in the wild includes insects, grubs, worms, snails, slugs, crustaceans, eggs, carrion, mushrooms, flowers, fruit and other plant material. Captive box turtles may be fed a diet that is 50% mixed fresh vegetables with some fruit, and 50% low fat protein like canned low-fat dog food.

What foods are bad for box turtles?

Live prey, such as crickets and various worms, should either be raised inside by the owner or purchased from a pet store, bait store, or reptile breeder. Collecting insects from outside to feed pet turtles is generally not recommended, as fertilizers and insecticides on insects can be toxic to turtles.

Do box turtles eat everyday?

An adult box turtle should be given meals at least three times per week, with meals every other day or every third day. Consult with your veterinarian if you’re not sure about the frequency. Juvenile and baby box turtles should be fed daily and given vitamin and calcium supplements at least three times a week.

Do box turtles need water?

Box turtles need constant access to water for drinking, wading, and soaking. Your turtle should have a water-‐filled dish or pan large enough for it to soak in but shallow enough for it to easily climb in and out of. The depth of the water should be one quarter to one third of your turtle’s shell height.

Although all turtles have certain dietary aspects in common, box turtles don’t necessarily chow down on the same foods as red-eared slider turtles and tortoises. Each turtle type, to some degree, has specific dietary requirements, and you’ll notice even more variations as you learn about what your particular pet enjoys most.

American box turtles are happy roaming the woods and enjoying a varied omnivorous diet. Box turtles held in captivity will eat the same snacks as their wild cousins, including fruits, vegetables, grasses, greens, snails, slugs and bugs. In fact, box turtles will give nearly everything a taste if they happen upon it, so it’s essential that you control quantities and accessibility to ensure your pet’s health. Related Articles Box turtle meal can be purchased in pet stores that carry supplies for reptiles and fish. One example of a quality turtle calcium supplement is Repti-Cal , which comes highly recommended by reptile enthusiasts. In an extreme case, you can mash your turtle’s commercial diet with some shaved carrots or another of his favorite treats. If you primarily stick to commercial turtle meal, rotate between quality brands. It’s easiest to purchase your box turtle’s food from your local pet supply store, but here are a few places to check out if you prefer to shop online.

One of the most significant foundations for health and longevity in box turtles is their diet. That goes for just about any other animal, too, including humans.

One of the most significant foundations for health and longevity in box turtles is their diet . You’ll have to take things like food groups, quantities, and feeding frequency into consideration, along with other factors like the animal’s age, the time of year, and the animal’s current health status. Below, we’ll discuss the foods they’ve evolved to eat over hundreds of years, along with several other tips and ideas to help you keep your box turtle healthy and happy. Box turtles are considered omnivores , with a healthy appetite for insects and fruits, especially. With six species and even more subspecies spanning across North America, diet can vary somewhat, depending on which locality you’re caring for. A wild box turtle’s diet typically consists of: Earthworms Snails Spiders Caterpillars Grasshoppers Millipedes Crayfish Fish Frogs Fallen fruit (often over-ripe or rotten) Berries Flowers Grass Cacti Mushrooms Still, the foods on this list are quite suitable and enjoyable for most box turtles. Shredded carrots Shredded squash Green beans Softened dog kibble Berries Melon (with the rind) Greens such as mustard, dandelion, swiss chard, and collard Flowers such as hibiscus, rose petals, geraniums, nasturtiums Sweet peppers Green beans Cooked chicken Eggs Beef heart Mealworms Superworms Earthworms and nightcrawlers Pinky mice Crickets Commercial box turtle diet Hatchling box turtles require a different diet for the first twelve months of their life. Like adult box turtle diets, the nutritional needs of young boxies are not fully understood. While it is true that they have higher protein needs than their fully-grown counterparts, it’s beneficial to offer baby box turtles vegetables and fruits with every meal . Expert Tip: Since your baby box turtle’s diet will be high in protein, it will probably be low in calcium. At this age, it is imperative to dust foods with phosphorus-free calcium powder to achieve the appropriate ratios. Your baby box turtle may ignore the plant material (more on this later), especially in the first few months of life, but don’t panic. Most animals will eventually crave or be attracted to foods packed with vitamins that they may be deficient in. Let Mother Nature take the lead and allow your baby turtle to pick what it wants to eat, with an emphasis on protein, but with vegetables always included in the offering. As a box turtle reaches adulthood and finishes growing, their caloric needs decrease . Use your boxie’s appetite, activity level, and body condition as your guidance. On non-feeding days, you may still opt to offer some of your turtle’s favorite treats as a small snack. As with most reptiles, it is probably not harmful – and perhaps even beneficial – to let your box turtle fast entirely once every week or so. Regarding diet composition, current recommendations are listed below, along with numerous healthy examples in each food group. Examples of suitable box turtle food from this group are: Black soldier fly larvae* Earthworms and nightcrawlers* Waxworms Mealworms Super worms Butterworms Silkworms Hornworms Beetles Crickets Roaches Grasshoppers Sowbugs Spiders Snails and slugs Shrimp Feeder fish Anoles Poultry meat and organs Commercial turtle diet Moistened dog food Beef meat and organs Pork meat and organs Eggs Frozen/thawed pinkie mice Tough or hard vegetables should be shredded or chopped into small pieces. Examples of suitable box turtle food from this group are: Butternut squash Spaghetti squash Celery Radishes Asparagus Summer squash Peas in the pod Sweet potatoes Okra Carrots Green beans Wax beans Cactus pads (spines removed) Flowers Mushrooms Corn on the cob Tomatoes Broccoli Beets Cauliflower Avocado Keep in mind that, while dark, leafy green vegetables are excellent sources of fiber and calcium, they are high in oxalates, which can bind calcium, making over-feeding counterintuitive. Examples of suitable box turtle food from this group are: Fruits and berries should constitute roughly 10% of the box turtles food. Tough or hard fruits should be shredded or chopped into small pieces. Examples of suitable box turtle food from this group are: Apples Melons Oranges Grapes Bananas Blueberries Raspberries Papayas Limes Lemons Blackberries Grapefruit Pineapples Pears Mango Watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon with rind Cherries Cranberries Apricots Kiwi Strawberries Peaches Plums Box turtles will appreciate a small snack on the days when they go without a full meal. Adjust your feeding based on the health and activity level of your particular box turtle, and don’t forget to take seasonal variations into account. To give your box turtle the healthiest diet possible, you should not only try to mimic its natural diet as much as you can, but also offer a wide variety of plant matter and protein sources. Vitamin A deficiency is a common issue for captive box turtles. In a general sense, this ailment is avoidable by feeding a diet filled withfresh fruits and vegetables (with lots of variety). Foods that are naturally high in Vitamin A and safe to feed box turtle’s include: Carrots Broccoli Cantaloupe Squash Sweet potato In fact, given that their armor-tough shell is made mostly of calcium, you might even consider this nutrient to be even more imperative for box turtles than many other reptile species. The proper balance in each food source offered is not too important, so long as you aim for that average across the entire diet. Low Calcium:Phosphorus PLANT Foods (Limited Amounts) Green Peas (0.2:1) Bananas (0.2:1) Zucchini Squash (0.2:1) Yam/Sweet Potato (0.3:1) Tomatoes (0.4:1) Low-calcium protein sources should also be dusted with a reptile calcium powder or crushed cuttlebone. Black Soldier Fly Larvae (1.5:1) Earthworms (1.5:1) Nightcrawlers (1.5:1) Dog food (~1:1) Pinkie mice (0.9:1) Low Calcium:Phosphorus PROTEIN Foods (Limited Amounts) Butterworms (0.05:1) Superworms (0.06:1) Mealworms (0.07:1) Chicken breast (0.07:1) Crickets (0.1:1) Not only will this supply supplemental calcium, but it is also a source of enrichment and can help to keep the turtle’s beak filed down. Still, it is crucial to address these items, so owners do not mistakenly make their pet sick by doing the right thing and varying their diet. Rhubarb Tobacco leaves Tomato leaves Potato leaves Avocado skins or pits Poison ivy and other irritating plants Substrate Grains, breads, baked goods, and pasta Candy Processed meat Dairy products Processed foods in general, besides commercial dog food and box turtle diet (limit to <10% of their total diet) Beyond overall pickiness, it’s not uncommon for box turtles to go on hunger strikes or to suddenly only eat one type of food when they were perfectly content eating a healthy, varied diet last week. Many owners of box turtles and other land-based chelonians, like tortoises, find that they have a hard time convincing their reptilian friend to eat healthy foods, like dark leafy greens or squash. After all, most box turtles are naturally drawn to insects and bright, soft fruits. Beyond their own stubbornness, a flat out refusal to eat may also be a sign of stress or preparation for a change in the seasons . Tip #1: Offer food to your box turtle at dusk, dawn, or late morning, after they’ve had a chance to warm up. Tip #2: Offer food to your box turtle after a natural rainfall, thunderstorm, or after misting them and their enclosure. Tip #3: Offer food in a sheltered area, like in a hide box or underneath a shrub. Tip #5: Avoid placing food in direct sunlight, especially during Summer. Tip#8: If all else fails, set up an appointment with your experienced reptile veterinarian to run diagnostic tests and ensure that your pet doesn’t become too weak or develop a vitamin deficiency. For example, if your turtle loves all kinds of worms but refuses to eat any veggies, try mixing chopped up worms with chopped squash to coax them into realizing that squash is food too. Feeding the same food item for multiple meals is typically how box turtles develop favorites and picky eating habits. For turtles kept indoors, UVA- and UVB-producing fluorescent lights are strongly recommended for various reasons, unless they have access to plenty of natural sunlight. Proper lighting will have numerous positive effects on the turtle, including increased appetite. The basking light should be provided for 10-12 hours per day, then turned off at night. If your box turtle is kept indoors, especially if you opt-out of providing full-spectrum lighting, sprinkle their food with a vitamin D3 supplement, or, better yet, a complete reptile multi-vitamin. As with all other ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals, like reptiles, adequate environmental temperatures are necessary for your turtle to digest its food. If nighttime temperatures fall below 65°F, your box turtle will need to bask and warm up for several hours in the morning before it will be interested in eating. If the daytime temperatures are below 65°F, you should bring your box turtle inside, or it will attempt to hibernate by burrowing deep within its substrate. The ideal daytime basking temperature for proper digestion is 85-87°F. Your box turtle should always have access to clean, fresh water in a shallow container that they can climb into and won’t drown. Boxies often use their water bowl as their toilet, so it’s essential to wash the dish and refill it every day. Hatchlings and growing adolescents typically require more frequent meals with higher amounts of protein, while adult box turtles eat less often, more plant materials, and lower-fat protein sources. Many reptile keepers advocate feeding only organic produce and with sound reasoning. Every year, discoveries are made regarding additives, pesticides, preservatives, and colorants sprayed onto our food causing long-term health issues for humans. The fact of the matter is that we hardly understand which artificial additives aren’t healthy for humans , let alone an entirely different species, like box turtles. With a lifespan commonly surpassing the 30-year mark in captivity, box turtles easily live long enough to accumulate the pesticides and other pollutants found on conventional produce. Expert Tip: It can also be fun to supplement your boxie’s store-bought diet with more “exotic” insects and plants from your own backyard! Just make sure that your yard is organically grown, with no artificial fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. The safest bet is to make sure that your neighbors aren’t spraying any poisonous chemicals in their adjacent yards, either. If your yard is toxin-free, small spiders, snails, grasshoppers, anoles, non-toxic flowers, grasses, and leaves can all be considered fair game! Bring your box turtle outside or build an outdoor enclosure so they can forage for themselves, too. In terms of feeder insects, another habit that enthusiasts are wary of is purchasing nightcrawlers and red wigglers from bait shops. Since these worms were not grown for pet consumption, there is little to no quality control regarding pollutants and chemicals. Many times, they are farmed underneath rabbit cages, causing them to carry unwanted parasites and bacteria.

The most common mistake owners make is feeding too much or too little of one nutrient. A Box Turtle’s diet is one of the most difficult aspects of their care.

Box Turtles are omnivores and require a wide variety of plants and meat in their diet. These reptiles require a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, water, and fats. Box Turtles are omnivores and so should eat a wide variety of plants and meat in captivity: They are mostly carnivorous so over half of their diet should consist of insects, invertebrates and dead animal matter. Box Turtles actively search for food and will eat most things they find by extending their neck and biting down hard. They enjoy eating mushrooms, insects, earthworms, crayfish, gastropods, myriapods, frogs, carrion, slugs, snails, and other dead animal matter. Good examples include mayapples, elderberries, blueberries, strawberries, black cherries and frost grapes. This can include anything from dog food to crickets, however, they generally like live insects and worms. Example Feeding Schedule For Box TurtlesFruitVegetableLeafy GreenProtein Sunday Single, diced strawberry1x tbsp mixed veggies1½x tbsp collard greens and kale3x earthworms Monday 3x blueberries Tuesday Melon rind and diced melonChopped green beansDandelion leaves and watercressCrickets, 1x tbsp of soaked dry dog food Wednesday – Thursday Single, diced strawberry1x tbsp mixed veggies1½x tbsp collard greens and kale3x earthworms Friday – Saturday Melon rindA few peas in the podDandelion leaves and watercressCrickets, 1x tbsp of soaked dry dog foodAdults need to eat a wide variety of foods in captivity. Feeding a box turtle is more difficult than other reptiles because of the variety of foods they require. You should aim to feed a diet that consists of 60% meat , 30% vegetable and 10% fruit. Dog Food (Semi-Moist, Canned, or Soaked Dry Food) Whole Skinned Chopped Mice Baby Pinky Mice A Goldfish Soaked Trout Chow Monkey Chow Biscuit Earthworm Crickets Waxworms Mealworm Silk Moth Larvae Sardine Slugs Grasshopper Slugs, Raw or Cooked Meat Dog food and monkey chow should make up less than 5% of your turtle’s diet. If you feed insects then dust them with calcium carbonate, lactate, or gluconate. A salad should consist of a meat source ( any from the list above ), two types of leafy greens, thawed frozen mixed vegetables and one fruit. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, chop them into bite-sized pieces and dust the salad with a multivitamin twice a month. Offer it to fully grown adults every other day and refrigerate any leftovers. Example Feeding Schedule For BabiesFruitVegetableLeafy GreenProtein Sunday Chopped raspberriesMixed Veggies, ½ of a romaine lettuce leafEscaroleSardines Monday Chopped raspberries, small orange sliceMixed veggiesEscarolecrickets Tuesday Chopped raspberriesMixed veggiesEscarole, kaleSardines Wednesday Chopped raspberriesMixed veggies, ½ of a romaine lettuce leafEscarole, beet topsCrickets Thursday Sour cherriesChopped sweet potatoes and bell peppersTurnip tops,
spinachMealworms Friday Sour cherriesChopped sweet potatoes and bell peppersTurnip topsMealworms Saturday Sour cherriesChopped sweet potatoes and bell peppersTurnip topsMealwormsBaby box turtles have a very similar diet to adults – however they can be picky eaters and should be fed everyday. It can cause thyroid issues if fed in high amounts. Box turtles tend to like brightly colored red, orange and yellow vegetables. Tomatoes are safe to feed and can be fed with a meal or as a small snack. Safe Fruits To Feed Apples Apricots Bananas Blackberries Blueberries Figs Grapes Raspberries Ripe Pokeberries Sour Cherries Strawberries Tomatoes Watermelons Safe Vegetables To Feed Alfalfa Beet Tops Bell Peppers Bok Choy Broccoli Broccoli Rabe Brussels Sprouts Cabbage Cactus Pads (not the spines) Carrots Radish Tops Romaine Lettuce Savoy Shredded Squashes Spinach Sweet Potatoes Swiss Chard Thawed Frozen Mixed Vegetables Turnip Tops Watercress A good rule of thumb is “do not feed your box turtle anything they would not find in the wild”. Luckily these mistakes can be avoided with practice, knowledge, and a consistent husbandry routine. Abnormal levels of vitamin A can lead to your turtle being underweight and malnourished. This disease can be prevented by feeding vitamin A rich foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut and winter squashes, liver, dandelion greens, spinach, and turnip and mustard greens. Finally, metabolic bone disease is a very common illness among reptiles . This problem can be easily avoided by dusting your turtle’s salad with a calcium supplement twice a month. Feeding a baby box turtle will take patience and a consistent husbandry routine. A box turtle’s diet should consist of meat, leafy greens and fruits in a ratio of 60:30:10. Ideally feed a homemade salad with a meat source ( e.g. crickets, worms or insects ) two types of leafy greens, thawed frozen mixed vegetables and one fruit. They are fun and interesting pet reptiles that can live for a long time with a balanced diet and correct husbandry.

Commercial Diets for Box Turtles

A wide variety of fruits and vegetables should be offered to your box turtle daily in order to provide a balanced diet. Items should be clean and pesticide free and some people strongly recommend feeding only organic items.Particular attention should be paid to the calcium and phosphorus balance in the items in the diet to prevent metabolic bone disease. Aim for at least a 1.5:1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus (2:1 is better), but the importance of this ratio in each individual item is not as important as the overall balance. Feeding a wide variety of items with an emphasis on those items with a good calcium to phosphorus ratio is the best way to maintain a healthy diet. Referring to a calcium to phosphorus ratio table of vegetables and fruits makes it easy to know what the ratios are in what you are feeding. The items with the calcium greater than 1.0 are those which have a good ratio and should be emphasized in the diet. As an example, bananas (a favorite of many turtles) have a ratio of 0.3:1 (which is low) so this means they should be fed in moderation.The following list is a variety of fruits and vegetables (listed in no particular order) that have good calcium to phosphorus ratios and are suitable for box turtles to have included in their diets.Other vegetable and fruits are acceptable to include in the diet but should not make up the bulk of the daily meals.

What Box Turtles Eat in the Wild

American box turtles are happy roaming the woods and enjoying a varied omnivorous diet. Box turtles held in captivity will eat the same snacks as their wild cousins, including fruits, vegetables, grasses, greens, snails, slugs and bugs. In fact, box turtles will give nearly everything a taste if they happen upon it, so it’s essential that you control quantities and accessibility to ensure your pet’s health.

Commercial Turtle Meal

Box turtle meal can be purchased in pet stores that carry supplies for reptiles and fish. All box turtles need some kind of calcium addition in their diet, and they will get that if you provide a cuttlebone or a calcium supplement. One example of a quality turtle calcium supplement is Repti-Cal, which comes highly recommended by reptile enthusiasts.

Feeding a Box Turtle

Besides commercially-produced turtle food, you should try to mix up a salad and offer a variety of live snacks. Examples of possible additions follow.One thing to note about box turtles is their inability to eat large or difficult-to-pierce foods. Be sure to section, dice and slice all foods for easy snacking.

Buy Box Turtle Food

Here are a few other helpful tips to ensure your pet eats properly.

Box Turtle Diet

Box Turtles are omnivores and so should eat a wide variety of plants and meat in captivity:They normallyBox Turtles actively search for food and will eat most things they find by extending their neck and biting down hard.Adults eat several times each week.They enjoy eating mushrooms, insects, earthworms, crayfish, gastropods, myriapods, frogs, carrion, slugs, snails, and other dead animal matter.In the wild they will also eat many wild versions of fruits you may find in your home. Good examples include mayapples, elderberries, blueberries, strawberries, black cherries and frost grapes.Because of their varied eating habits, in captivity you shouldIt may take a couple months to find their favorite foods. Generally most of a box turtle’s diet should be animal matter. This can include anything from dog food to crickets, however, they generally like live insects and worms.The rest of their diet should be mostly leafy greens and some fruits.

Baby Box Turtle Diet

Adults need to eat a wide variety of foods in captivity. Feeding a box turtle is more difficult than other reptiles because of the variety of foods they require.You should aim toYou should not feed all of these meats, but you should feed at least three or four. Dog food and monkey chow should make up less than 5% of your turtle’s diet.If you feed insects then dust them with calcium carbonate, lactate, or gluconate.For the rest of the diet aim to feed mostly vegetables and some fruit.Fruits are very tasty for most turtles, but unfortunately they are not as nutritional as vegetables and should be fed in moderation.Feeding a balanced diet isA salad should consist of a meat source (Prepare a salad at the beginning of every week and refrigerate it.Offer it to fully grown adults every other day and refrigerate any leftovers.

Can Box Turtles Eat:

What Fruit Can Box Turtles Eat?

Fruit should be fed to your box turtle in moderation. It should only make upTheir fruit intake should be limited to once a week, and you should try alternating the type of fruit every few weeks.See the list below for the different fruits your box turtle can eat:

What Vegetables Can Box Turtles Eat?

Most vegetables are safe to feed your turtle.Plants and vegetables should make up 30% of their diet.You should only feed the most nutritious plants such as dark, leafy greens. See below for a full list: