Caring for a box turtle can be very fulfilling, as long as you do it right. With proper care, pet box turtles can even live up to 60!
The box turtle species includes the:
- Western ornate box turtle
- Gulf coast box turtle
- Eastern box turtle, and
- Three-toed box turtle
These are not to be confused with red-eared sliders. Once you’re past naming your turtle, then it’s time to think about what they can eat.
Good owners should plan their pet’s diet well to maintain their turtle’s health. A box turtle’s diet must, generally, be similar to what it would eat in the wild.
What Are Good Food for Turtles?
Box turtles are omnivores. That means that they can consume both animal-based and plant-based foods. Find out what food for turtles are fit for them.
When in their natural habitat, a healthy diet consists of insects and animal matter. But food for turtles can also include fresh fruits, vegetables, and other plant material.
Adult Box Turtles
Wild turtles survive by foraging for fresh food. The natural diet of an adult box turtle includes grass, leaves, berries, mushrooms, and dark leafy greens. Food for turtles may consist of earthworms, slugs, silkworms, spiders, and snails as well.
Baby Box Turtles
Box turtles aged up to five are still considered baby turtles. Baby turtles require the same omnivorous diet as adults. Just keep in mind that baby box turtles are picky when it comes to food.
They require more attention to ensure they get a balanced diet since they need a higher calorie count per day. In short, food for turtles must be healthy, to say the least.
Many pet owners have observed that their young pet turtles eat more protein during this stage. That is fine, as long as you make sure they get enough fruits and vegetables.
Feeding Your Box Turtle
When feeding box turtles, be mindful of what they can and can’t eat. Being omnivorous doesn’t mean they can eat just about anything. So, food for turtles should always be monitored.
There still are certain foods to stick to or stay away from. Achieving the proper balance is key for taking care of a box turtle.
What to Include in Your Food for Turtles
A proper diet or good food for turtles consists of:
It’s best to feed box turtles fruits as part of their diet. They’re perfect for a small snack. The fruits should consist of about 10% of their whole diet. Some examples are:
Most turtles enjoy citrus fruits as well, like grapefruit, lemon, orange, and lime. You may also give them different types of berries.
Dark Leafy Greens
Green leafy vegetables are perfect food for turtles. Like fruits, they should consist of about 10% of the whole diet. You can try giving your box turtle:
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Turnip greens
- Chicory greens
- Dandelion greens
- Beet greens
- Mustard spinach
Other leafy greens to try for your turtle are kale, lettuce, cabbage, and dill weed. You can also offer them parsley, cilantro, spinach, and watercress.
Other vegetables are also recommended food for turtles. They should make up around 30% of a box turtle diet. The best vegetables to give box turtles are:
- Shredded carrots
- Sweet potato
- Mashed or shredded squash
- Peas in the pod
- Green beans
Other fresh foods to consider for a box turtle are mushrooms and flowers. Give them cactus pads with the spines removed as well.
The bulk of the food for turtles should be about 50% protein. Most box turtles eat a variety of worms:
- Butter worms
They also like to consume insects like beetles, crickets, roaches, grasshoppers, sow bugs, and spiders.
Box turtles also enjoy seafood like shrimp, feeder fish, and small fish.
Finally, box turtles also like to eat meat. So, food for turtles should include anoles and frozen or thawed pinkie mice. You may give them poultry, beef, and pork meat and organs too.
Additionally, you can also try giving your box turtle some snails, eggs, or soaked dog food. You may opt for commercial turtle pellets too.
What to Avoid in Your Food for Turtles
Box turtles eat what they’re meant to be eating in the wild. That means that manufactured food isn’t well tolerated by a box turtle’s digestive system. So, you need to be vigilant and watch out for food that might cause them harm.
Never feed your box turtle these kinds of manufactured food:
- Baked desserts
- Processed foods
- Cat food
Dairy products are also not allowed for a turtle. if you’re looking for vitamin D sources for them, then look elsewhere. Do not feed your turtle cheese, chocolate, or milk.
There are also certain fresh foods that box turtles should not eat:
- Poison ivy
- Tomato leaves
- Potato leaves
- Tobacco plants and leaves
These are just a few of the prohibited foods for box turtles. Are you thinking of feeding your box turtle something that you’re not sure of? Then it’s best to seek veterinary advice.
Turtle Feeding Tips:
Give Your Box Turtle a Balanced Diet
A healthy diet for captive box turtles entails a balance of all types of food for turtles. Have one type of fruit, vegetable, leafy green, and protein prepared for your box turtle each day. For example, in a day, they can have:
- Fruit: Mango
- Vegetable: Green beans
- Leafy greens: Lettuce
- Protein: Shrimp
Just make sure that you follow the proportions for each food type.
Keep Your Box Turtle Hydrated
Don’t forget to keep your box turtle hydrated, more so if they’re exposed to sunlight. A shallow water dish must always be available for them to drink from.
Note that box turtles tend to use their water bowls to relieve themselves. Make sure you clean the shallow dish regularly to avoid them getting sick.
Best Commercial Food for Box Turtles
Though a natural diet is ideal for feeding your box turtle, store-bought food is also fine. Like dog food, most pet stores sell good quality box turtle food.
Rep-Cal Maintenance Formula Box Turtle Food Fruit
Rep-Cal Maintenance Formula Box Turtle Food Fruit contains crucial vitamins and minerals. It can help your turtle grow strong and healthy. The formula has a blend of natural fruit and plant-based ingredients. It is also good as a small snack for your box turtle.
Ultra Fresh Floating Baby Turtle Food
Ultra Fresh Floating Baby Turtle Food is recommended for a baby box turtle. Since younger turtles are picky eaters, this formula is more palatable for them.
The ingredients are also all-natural and sourced from fresh ingredients. It has significant protein content to meet the caloric needs of a baby box turtle.
Fluker’s 70027 Buffet Blend Box Turtle Food
Fluker’s 70027 Buffet Blend Box Turtle Food is high in calcium and vitamin D.
The formula will bind calcium in a box turtle’s body to help it grow stronger. High calcium levels can prevent metabolic bone disease in turtles. On the other hand, it can strengthen their bone density.
The total formula is a mix of freeze-dried strawberries, mealworms and green peas. The pellets are also enriched with all the needed vitamins for a box turtle.
Keeping Box Turtles Well-Fed
The most important thing to know is that box turtles are omnivores. Whether you feed them freshly made or pet store food, the right proportions are vital. Moreover, selecting the healthiest food for turtles will go a long way in keeping them delighted.
A baby box turtle is especially pickier than an adult box turtle. So, pay attention to their diet even more. Also, make sure that your box turtles eat on time so that they don’t starve. If they have an outdoor enclosure, always have food and water available.
With all the proper love and care, your box turtle will grow up to be healthy and happy.
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