What Do Box Turtles Eat?

Box Turtle is a popular and one of the most beautiful variants of the pet turtle. When compared with the other species, they are pretty friendly and identify the owner. That means the beautiful specie of the turtle can be a long-term companion of you if provided proper care and appropriate environment.

A box turtle usually eats a variety of foods as they are omnivores. That means you can feed them a variety of foods. However, you need to provide the appropriate diet food to the turtle based on its age and types. In today’s write-up, we will discuss different types of food that you can offer to it.

What Do Box Turtles Eat

What Do Box Turtles Eat: Types of Food That You Can Offer to the Box Turtles

The foods of a box turtle mainly depend on its age and types, as we said earlier. There are several varieties of box turtle including eastern box turtle, ornate box turtle, and much more. Check out the below paragraphs to acknowledge what foods and how much foods to offer to the box turtles.

Animal-Based Foods

The protein-rich animal-based foods should make up around half of the box turtle diet. It is better to offer live diet foods such as earthworms, slugs, sowbugs, waxworms, beetles, etc. as per the availability. One thing you need to make sure that protein-based food should also include calcium. If you are unable to offer live food then make sure to sprinkle some calcium on the foods. However, avoid using the calcium supplement that includes phosphorous.

You may also offer commercial turtle foods available on the shops that can be a good source of the protein. To ensure the calcium and mineral efficiency, placing a cuttlebone in the aquarium can also be a good idea. You will also find the live foods mentioned above on the bait shops and pet stores. However, be careful while feeding the live insects as they can include pesticides which are harmful to the turtle.

You may also offer a chunk of cooked meat to the turtle on occasions. However, never do this regularly as these foods are not suitable for the digestion system of the turtle. If the turtle is small, then chopped preys instead of offering them live. Note that the commercial foods can ensure all the nutrition of the turtle but you should offer these as a supplement with natural foods.

Vegetables

The leafy green vegetables should be consisting of around 30% of the box turtle’s diet. It is essential to provide a wide variety of vegetables to the turtle to ensure a balanced diet. However, you need to cautious about the ratio of calcium and phosphorous in the vegetables you are offering. We will recommend you to check out the calcium to phosphorus ratio to make sure which veggies will suit the turtle best.

You can offer different dark leafy greens including parsley, mustard greens, collard greens, beet tops, dandelion green, endive, etc. to the turtle. Some other veggies that you can offer to the turtle include green beans, green and Chinese cabbage, butternut squash, romaine lettuce, etc. You may also offer broccoli, cherries, cucumbers, etc. to the turtle on occasions.

The leafy green vegetables are the source of fibres which is very important for the well-being of the turtle. They usually get fibres from the grass and leaves in the wild. So, you can also offer these stuffs. Veggies that are not suitable for the turtle include tobacco leaves, rhubarb leaves, potato leaves, etc.

Fruits

Around 10 % of the turtle’s meal plan should consist of different types of foods. The box turtles are a fan of the fruits but you shouldn’t provide fruits excessively to the turtle. That is because fruits don’t contain the required minerals and vitamins for the turtle’s health. Some of the fruits that you may offer to the turtle include grapes, bananas, mangos, strawberries, papaya, kiwi, apricots, peaches, etc.

The turtle also loves to have watermelon but you must remove the seeds if you are going to offer it. Again, remember that the fruits should not be more than 12.5% of the turtle’s diet.

Does Box Turtle Bites?

Yes, these turtles can bite even though they don’t have teeth. As like most of the species, the turtle will try to bite you if it feels attacked. The turtle becomes extremely stressed if you touch it or take it on the palm. The turtle may bite you in such situations. On the other hand, it can also bite you accidentally while feeding. The good news is the turtle’s bite is not that painful and there is nothing to worry about if you get bitten by a turtle.

Foods You Shouldn’t offer to the Box Turtle

It is true that the box turtle can eat a variety of foods without any side-effects. However, there are some particular foods that can be harmful to the turtle. Below, we will discuss some of such foods that you shouldn’t feed the turtle.

  1. Avoid offering the potato, tobacco, and rhubarb leaves to the turtle. These include toxic compounds which can be harmful to both humans and turtles. 
  2. Avocado peels, leaves and seeds also include toxic ingredients which are harmful to the turtle. Try to avoid any kind of poisonous plants like Boston ivy, caladium, calla lily, candytuft, Carolina jessamine, chinaberry etc.
  3. Almost all types of reptile including the turtle are lactose intolerant. That means their immune system cannot digest the foods that include lactose. All types of dairy foods including milk, yoghurt, cheese, etc. shouldn’t be offered to the turtle.
  4. Try to avoid offering processed food to the turtle which includes canned food, lunch meats, sausage, etc. As these foods include preservative and high salts, they are not good for the well-being of the turtle.
  5. Don’t feed any food to the turtle that includes refined sugars like chocolate, candy, etc. which are not good at all for the turtles.

The average lifespan of a box turtle is around 30 to 40 years. They can even live longer in a safe environment with adequate foods. So, if you want to enjoy a life long companionship from the turtle, you must ensure it a suitable diet. We hope that you will understand what and what not to offer to a box turtle after reading the article.

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