What Do Box Turtles Eat?

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.

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.

Box Turtles are hardy reptiles with long lifespans in both the wild and in captivity. These turtles can easily live for 30-60 years when cared for properly, and the number one factor in their longevity is a healthy diet.

Size: 2-6 inches Weight: 1.5 pounds Lifespan: 30-60 years Species: Ornata Genus: Terrapene Class: Reptilia In the wild, Box Turtles can typically be found roaming wooded areas, eating a largely omnivorous diet.

There are 6 species of Box Turtle and various subspecies that can be found in Northern America, and their diet will depend in large part on their unique locality. Image Credit: JamesDeMers, PixabayIn general, hatchlings and young Box Turtles are more carnivorous, and theyll gradually gravitate toward an omnivorous diet as they get older. Mushrooms Grass Flowers Berries Fruit Leaves Earthworms Snails Slugs Grasshoppers Spiders Eggs Frogs Crustaceans

The key to ensuring a healthy diet for a pet Box Turtle is to make sure they are getting a variety of fresh foods every day. Its good practice to only feed your Box Turtle a full meal every second day or so and stick to a small snack in-between. As mentioned earlier, Box Turtles are omnivores and need insects and other animal foods in their diet too.

Slugs Snails Mealworms Earthworms Caterpillars Beetles Grasshoppers Crickets Eggs Pinky mice Hatchling Box Turtles have specialized dietary requirements for the first year of their lives and need a lot more protein than adults. Some owners recommend giving babies a completely carnivorous diet, however, its probably a good idea to add small amounts of fruit and vegetables too.

They may even ignore these foods, in which case there is no reason to worry, but there is no harm in trying as the diet of Box Turtles is still not yet fully understood by experts. Box Turtles grow very rapidly in the first 4-5 years of life, at which point they reach sexual maturity and their growth rate slows significantly. This is common practice with reptile husbandry, and it is even beneficial to let your Turtle fast for a day every couple of weeks.

Ideally, an adult Box Turtles diet should consist of 50% protein from animals or insects, around 40% fruits and vegetables, and 10% leafy greens. Image Credit: micahzeb, PixabayIn the wild, Box Turtles will likely nibble and taste everything they come across, and as their diet has such a wide variety there is very little to avoid giving them. Box Turtles have a widely varying diet in the wild, nibbling and tasting most things they come across.

Commercial food is great, but should always be substituted with fresh greens, fruits, vegetables, and animal proteins. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand.

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.

Youll have to take things like food groups, quantities, and feeding frequency into consideration, along with other factors like the animals age, the time of year, and the animals current health status. Below, well discuss the foods theyve 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 youre caring for. A wild box turtles 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, its beneficial to offer baby box turtles vegetables and fruits with every meal . Expert Tip: Since your baby box turtles 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 dont 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 boxies appetite, activity level, and body condition as your guidance.

On non-feeding days, you may still opt to offer some of your turtles 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 Young turtles need to be fed a full meal every or every other day.

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 dont 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 turtles include:

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) Not only will this supply supplemental calcium, but it is also a source of enrichment and can help to keep the turtles 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, its 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 theyve 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 doesnt 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 65F, 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 65F, 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 85-87F. Your box turtle should always have access to clean, fresh water in a shallow container that they can climb into and wont drown.

Boxies often use their water bowl as their toilet, so its 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. Where you buy or source your reptiles food is just as important as what you are feeding it.

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 arent 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 boxies 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 arent 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.

Box turtles are omnivorous, meaning that they eat both plant- and animal-based foods. Some box turtles, like the ornate box turtle, eat insects. They have a sharp eye and keen sense of smell. Young, growing box turtles, up to 4-6 years of age, tend to be primarily carnivores, while adults tend to be herbivorous (eat only plant matter).

A lesser percentage of the diet can include cactus, various squash, sprouts, cooked sweet potato, parsnips, okra, cucumber, asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, peas, and corn. Swiss chard, spinach, and beet greens should be fed sparingly, as they contain oxalates that can bind to calcium and other trace minerals, preventing these nutrients absorption in the turtles intestine.

Depending on the age, breed, and health status of your box turtle, your veterinarian may or may not recommend feeding animal-based protein sources. When offered, some appropriate animal-based protein sources include grasshoppers, crickets, mealworms, wax worms, silkworms, moths, slugs, earthworms, and hard-boiled eggs. The key is to feed a wide variety of healthy items, including both plant- and animal-based protein sources, to provide your box turtle with balanced nutrition .

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 do Box Turtles eat in captivity?

In the wild, Box Turtles can typically be found roaming wooded areas, eating a largely omnivorous diet. There are 6 species of Box Turtle and various subspecies that can be found in Northern America, and their diet will depend in large part on their unique locality. That said, they will typically eat a wide range of fruit, vegetables, and leafy greens, plus insects.In general, hatchlings and young Box Turtles are more carnivorous, and they’ll gradually gravitate toward an omnivorous diet as they get older. In the wild, Box Turtles’ diet consists of a variation of the following:

Adult vs baby Box Turtle diet

Hatchling Box Turtles have specialized dietary requirements for the first year of their lives and need a lot more protein than adults. Some owners recommend giving babies a completely carnivorous diet, however, it’s probably a good idea to add small amounts of fruit and vegetables too. They may even ignore these foods, in which case there is no reason to worry, but there is no harm in trying as the diet of Box Turtles is still not yet fully understood by experts.Box Turtles grow very rapidly in the first 4-5 years of life, at which point they reach sexual maturity and their growth rate slows significantly. Still, they may keep growing for another 10-15 years and only reach full size by around 20. At around 5 years old their growth slows, and they’ll need less caloric intake than before. You can even refrain from feeding them a full meal on occasion and just stick with a small snack. This is common practice with reptile husbandry, and it is even beneficial to let your Turtle fast for a day every couple of weeks.Ideally, an adult Box Turtles diet should consist of 50% protein from animals or insects, around 40% fruits and vegetables, and 10% leafy greens.

What do box turtles eat?

As a guideline, your box turtle’s diet should be about 50% plant-based material and 50% animal-based material. Different breeds of box turtles have slightly different nutritional needs. There are many different opinions regarding exactly what box turtles should eat in order to have a nutritionally balanced diet; speak to a veterinarian familiar with box turtles to determine specifically what to feed your box turtle.