Having a box turtle for a pet can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it doesn’t come without its challenges! They can be a bit temperamental, even when it comes to the foods that they eat.
If you’re looking to own a box turtle, but have no idea where to start your search for quality turtle food, look no further. Below, we will provide you with anything you might need to know about feeding your box turtle and keeping them happy and healthy!
Box Turtle Habitat & Biology
There are actually several different species of box turtle, each with slight variations in its dietary and environmental preferences. For example, some box turtles prefer more humid enclosures, while others need high temperatures and a light source to bask under.
The most common box turtle species is appropriate called the common box turtle. This species features a high-domed shell and a small head, with a hooked upper jaw. According to many owners, the common box turtle tends to have a very distinctive personality, too.
Owning a box turtle is a lengthy commitment. Generally, you can expect your box turtle to live anywhere between 20 to 40 years, and grow somewhere between 4 to 7 inches!
These long-lived reptiles are also rather susceptible to stress, which can greatly affect their health. If you’re going to own a box turtle, you can expect to clean and maintain their closer at least once a week.
Most box turtles don’t like to be handled. They won’t normally bite, unless something in their surroundings is causing unnecessary stress and anxiety. Box turtles can, however, carry salmonella, so after handling it’s very important to wash your hands thoroughly.
If you’re looking for even more information on box turtles, you can check out this video here.
And if you’re just here for a fun fact about turtles, check this one out: the scientific name of the common box turtle is Terrapene Carolina.
Do Box Turtles Eat Dirt?
The answer is no, box turtles do not eat dirt. However, sometimes box turtles like to dig in the dirt because their temperature is either too hot or too cold.
Other reasons your box turtle might be digging into the dirt include foraging for food, inducing feelings of security, laying eggs, or simply because they’re bored!
What do Box Turtles Like to Eat Most?
You’re probably thinking: if they don’t eat dirt, what do box turtles eat? In truth, the answer varies. Box turtles are omnivores, and they require a varied diet to stay healthy.
A healthy box turtle diet should be comprised of:
- fresh fruits
- low-fat meats
- and pinky mice
Commercial diets are also an option for box turtles, but those should be supplemented with fresh food in order to keep your reptilian friend in top shape. And, of course, make sure they always have plenty of clean water.
When feeding your box turtle, you’ll want to put their food on a plate or paver to prevent them from ingesting their substrate. Generally, young turtles will need to be fed at least once every day, while some adult turtles might only eat every two days.
Some box turtle owners let keep their box turtles outside (at least part-time) because it allows them to supplement their diets. If you’re considering this, make sure your box turtle is safe from any potential predators while outside.
If you’re worried your pet isn’t getting the proper nutrients, consult your vet! They are the best source of information when it comes to your box turtle’s health.
Below are a few options for commercial box turtle diets. Keep in mind that these will need to be supplemented with fresh foods from the list above.
Zoo Med Box Turtle Food is a great option for your pet. It comes in 6-ounce cans, and it boasts 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
Fluker’s Buffet Blend Box Turtle Food is another great option for your pet, and it comes in a variety of sizes. Comprised of a unique blend of freeze-dried strawberries, dried mealworms, and freeze-dried green peas, it will be a sure-fire favorite of your box turtle.
T-Rex Box Turtle Food is the last item on our list, but it’s certainly not the least. At 16-ounces of food for your pet, this is easily the most cost-effective product we’ve reviewed.
Foods To Avoid Feeding Your Box Turtle
Box turtles are notorious for their strong stomachs. They’ve been known to eat poisonous mushrooms without any negative effects and can tolerate nearly anything as long as it’s in moderation.
That being said, here are some foods you should absolutely avoid to keep your box turtle healthy:
- Rhubarb, potato, and tobacco plant leaves
- Avocado peels, seeds, and leaves
- Tomato leaves/vines
- Poison ivy
If you’re worried you’re feeding your box turtle something unhealthy or growing something unsuitable in their environment, you can check out this website!
In addition, here are some foods humans eat that you probably shouldn’t share with your new reptile buddy:
- Dairy. Reptiles are lactose intolerant, so they won’t be able to break down any milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.
- Processed foods. Lunch meats, sausage, and canned food are all examples of processed foods that would probably do your box turtle more harm than good.
- Anything that isn’t really food. This can include candy or chocolate, or pretty much anything that comes in a wrapper. Your box turtle wouldn’t find this in the wild, so it’s probably best you don’t feed it to them!
Again, if you have any questions about what you’re feeding your box turtle, the best place to look for answers is your veterinarian.
Tips For Feeding Your Box Turtle
If you’re having trouble feeding your box turtle, there are a few things you can try. Generally speaking, box turtles are really temperamental beings, and it might take a few tries to get them to eat on your terms. Stay patient, and try the tips we’ve included below!
Box turtles that are reluctant to eat might be feeling insecure or anxious. You can try to remedy this by misting your turtle’s enclosure just before feeding. This will simulate the feeling of a light summer rain shower, and might just entice your pet to eat. You can also try feeding your box turtle underneath some type of foliage to help it feel more secure.
You will want to remove leftovers from your turtle’s habitat within a few hours of feeding them. This will prevent your turtle from eating spoiled food, as well as keep flies away.
If you’re still struggling to get your box turtle to eat, check out this video where Jen from LLLReptile and Supply Co talks tips on how to get stubborn box turtles to eat!
1. What Is The Best Food For Box Turtles?
The best diet for a box turtle will consist of: fresh fruits, vegetables, insects, low-fat meats, and pinky mice
2. How Often Do Box Turtles Eat?
Young turtles will have to be fed at least once every day, while adult box turtles can eat every other day.
3. How To Make Box Turtles Eat?
If your box turtle is a finicky eater, there are a few tips you can try, including lightly misting their enclosure before feeding or feeding them underneath some foliage.
4. Why Do Box Turtles Eat?
Just like humans, box turtles eat because they need nutrients to stay strong, happy, and healthy.
5. What Do Box Turtles Love To Eat?
As a treat, you can give your box turtle flowers like geraniums, carnations, dandelions, or even roses! Generally, fruits are also preferred by box turtles over veggies, but this also means fruit should be fed to your pet more sparingly!
6. What Box Turtles Eat Frogs?
Adult Eastern Box Turtles are opportunistic omnivores. That means they will eat a variety of small creatures including beetles, lizards, birds, and frogs!
7. Will Box Turtles Eat Bread?
Bread is another food that you shouldn’t include in your box turtle’s diet. Like in the case of dairy, turtles lack the enzyme needed to break down bread.
8. How Do Box Turtles Eat?
Interestingly enough, box turtles eat just the same as humans: swallowing food from their mouths! They just do it a little slower than we do!
9. Can Box Turtles Eat Avocado?
Box turtles can eat some parts of the avocado. Steer clear from the seed, peel, and leaves.
10. Do Box Turtles Have To Hibernate?
In captivity, most box turtles do not hibernate, and they seem to do just fine without doing so. However, if your box turtle is refusing to eat in the fall and winter, you might want to let them hibernate, if only for a little while!
Box turtles can be a bit temperamental of pets, but owning one is an incredible experience. Using this guide, you should be able to keep your pet box turtle happy and healthy for their long, long lives.