What should i feed my picky Box turtle

EE torts

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Hello guys!! i have a three toad box turtle named Lemon, she is extremely picky and only eats sweet potato/yam and earth worms, she has been okay on this diet but i worry that she will not always be getting all the nutrition that she needs since she just eats two things, i mix in collard greens with her sweet potato/yam, so i was wondering if any of you guys could give me some food ideas that your box turtle likes, anything helps!! Thanks!!
 

Yvonne G

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1 -
Box turtle food



In food processor:
1 head of Collared Greens
1/2 head of Romaine Lettuce
1 green bell pepper
2 yellow crookneck squash
8 large strawberries

I microwaved til cooked, then mashed-
2 sweet potatoes
1 butternut squash

I mixed all this, then added-
1 22 ounce can of Alpo Beef Chunks in Gravy
2 tablespoons calcium carbonate
1 tablespoon Reptile Vitamins with beta carotene



2 - BOX TURTLE JELLO



Yams (slightly cooked, then mashed Pedigree can puppy food (not too much)
Thawed peas & carrots Meat*
Fruit*

Put in food processor & mix until it forms a very thick paste. They eat it voraciously, as do the adults. I also feed soaked Reptomin and live foods.

*Meat – beef liver, chicken parts
*Fruit – strawberry, peach, banana, mango, etc.



3 - BOX TURTLE BRITTLE


1 Ripe canteloup or honeydew 1 cup mashed fruit/berries*
1 can low cal dog food or cooked 2 cans snails thoroughly rinsed
ground turkey 1 ½ cups chopped leafy greens*
2 tsp RepCal calcium with Vit. D3 2 tsp RepCal Herptivite multivitamin

Mash the banana and/or berries and add chopped melon. Add low cal dog food or ground turkey and mix thoroughly. Add snails, chopped greens, calcium powder and vitamins. Mix thoroughly and freeze in individual meal-sized portions.

*Greens – dandelion, endive, escarole, collard, swiss chard, bok choy, romaine lettuce
*Fruits/berries – banana, pear, apple, strawberry, blue berry, raspberry, mango, kiwi


4 - BOX TURTLE NOT EATING WELL

Most new turtle keepers try too hard to make their new turtle happy. It is best to look at how wild turtles live for the best information. There are NO box turtles living in the wild eating only wax worms or meal worms. These are fine foods, used in moderation, as part of a highly varied diet. Heavy emphasis on live foods has hurt a lot of captive turtles, and doesn’t make sense in view of what we know from wild turtles.

Each turtle has a different personality and that’s just fine. All turtles benefit from a wide variety of foods being offered. Try putting a hunk of cantaloupe in the habitat and walk away. Your box turtle isn’t likely to look at it until about 4:30 to 5:30 in the morning, when no one is around. Or he might dive right in. Or not. Just leave it. A couple days later, make a nice omelet in a pan prepared with olive oil. Put some grated carrots in it too, with maybe a bit of cuttlebone scraped in. After it’s thoroughly cooled, put it on a flat rock and go away. Leave it overnight in case the turtle isn’t interested in eating until the early morning. Try some red lettuce. Many turtles that have resisted plant matter will happily eat red lettuce. Just put it in and walk away. Leave it a couple days.

Use a different food at each feeding, and completely stop using wax worms and mealworms until the picky eating habits have cleared up. Overuse of live foods has done a lot of damage to captive turtles, and may be implicated in the deformities that are developing in captive turtles. Live foods are highly enticing to many box turtles, leading to picky eating habits and vitamin deficiencies. When a turtle can expect to be fed “candy,” it won’t go looking for healthier foods. In the wild, finding live food isn’t guaranteed, so turtles automatically learn to eat whatever is available. The turtle hobby swings wildly in its opinions on care and we are currently in the extreme swing of “live food.” If people would remember to look at the wild turtles, they could avoid some of the silliness. All things in moderation. Wild box turtles naturally eat about half plants and half animal matter. They go looking for calcium in a separate form when they feel the need.

Another fact of nature is often ignored by even excellent, experienced keepers: turtles cycle through daily temperature changes. They don’t need to be warm all the time. In fact, that will interfere with these natural rhythms. There is an optimum body temperature range – 82 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit – which will allow the turtle to digest food most efficiently. They will want to reach that temperature for a couple hours each day. Then they will want to cool down. And by the way, they can reach those optimum digestion temperatures at much lower ambient air temperatures if there is a bright light. Constantly overheating a turtle will lead to a variety of health problems, including kidney failure. It is best avoided. Have a temperature gradient in the habitat from a cool end about 70-76 degrees to the warmer area about 80-86 degrees. Never let it get above 90. Many people, including many vets, do not realize that constant high temperatures are harmful.

UVB lights can be helpful, especially with juveniles who are growing their bones and need to do it right. With the cuttlebone always available, a highly varied diet, and UV for part of the day, turtles should be able to put all the ingredients together. Humidity and hydration are also important for this. Using UVB lights that aren’t too bright or hot can be very helpful with shy turtles. Tube fluorescents are ideal for this type of turtle. There isn’t one right light for all settings and all turtles.

Regarding “light therapy”: Put the turtle in a plain tub or box – no substrate or hiding place – with a bright, warm light over him for about 2 hours a day. Then give the turtle a 15-20 minute soak in tepid water. Then put him back in his habitat and place a hunk of cantaloupe in front of him and move quickly out of his sight.. Do not try to shove it down his throat. This will lead to stress and resistance. It will make him even more reluctant to eat. Don’t offer foods he has recently rejected. And don’t bother with carrot by itself. Cantaloupe is bright-colored and puts out an enticing aroma, so it is often accepted by reluctant feeders. A big hunk is better than cut up pieces. The most natural time for box turtles to eat is at dawn.

The next day after the light and the soak, put some smelly cat food in front of it and move quickly out of sight. The cat food can be prepared with some cuttlebone scrapings, minced greens, and grated carrot.

On the third day after the light and soak, put an egg omelet in front of her and walk away. The omelet can be prepared with chopped bell pepper and cuttlebone scrapings.

Turtles can live a very long time without eating. It’s much less important than water and humidity. You need to break the torpor with lights. Don’t feed the same food items over and over, but offer something novel each day. Look for smelly and bright colored foods. Many different fruits fill the bill. You can also try leaving red lettuce in the habitat all the time. The turtle might discover it at the most natural feeding time, that is, very early morning when you aren’t around.

Box turtles are crepuscular in nature. That means they are naturally inclined to be active and foraging very early in the morning, then later at dusk, not when it is convenient for us. This is the natural way they avoid the damaging effects of UV radiation from the sun, which is at its peak in mid-day. They also utilize the natural dew that forms then for higher humidity. So having foods in the habitat when it is relatively dark and when no one is around can lead to improved appetite. Make sure your turtle gets the natural temperature cycling – cooler at night – because this aids in creating a desire to forage at daybreak.

If you cannot break the dormancy with light therapy and novel food stimuli, it is possible that your turtle is fighting an infection. In that case, veterinary care would be required. But try doing light therapy and novel foods for a couple weeks first. Make sure the light doesn’t overheat the turtle or damage the skin and eyes with excess UV radiation. Jus a 40 watt Reveal bulb over the box can do the trick. A tube UVB fluorescent isn’t likely to hurt the turtle either. But those super-hot, ultra-bright UV/heat combo lights are often avoided by shy or sensitive turtles.




(Researched and compiled from information from Mary Hopson. http://www.turtlepuddle.org/ )
 

6strings

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Messages
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Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Hello guys!! i have a three toad box turtle named Lemon, she is extremely picky and only eats sweet potato/yam and earth worms, she has been okay on this diet but i worry that she will not always be getting all the nutrition that she needs since she just eats two things, i mix in collard greens with her sweet potato/yam, so i was wondering if any of you guys could give me some food ideas that your box turtle likes, anything helps!! Thanks!!

I definitely think there is quite a bit of individuality with box turtles, and some develop preferences for sure. Mine goes nuts for super worms or meal worms but with bee pollen sprinkled on them. I am serious about bee pollen, it is like crack. My boxie will happily eat a white mushroom on occasion, but not every time. So there are a few more things to try and see.
 

EE torts

Active Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2018
Messages
205
Location (City and/or State)
USA
1 -
Box turtle food



In food processor:
1 head of Collared Greens
1/2 head of Romaine Lettuce
1 green bell pepper
2 yellow crookneck squash
8 large strawberries

I microwaved til cooked, then mashed-
2 sweet potatoes
1 butternut squash

I mixed all this, then added-
1 22 ounce can of Alpo Beef Chunks in Gravy
2 tablespoons calcium carbonate
1 tablespoon Reptile Vitamins with beta carotene



2 - BOX TURTLE JELLO



Yams (slightly cooked, then mashed Pedigree can puppy food (not too much)
Thawed peas & carrots Meat*
Fruit*

Put in food processor & mix until it forms a very thick paste. They eat it voraciously, as do the adults. I also feed soaked Reptomin and live foods.

*Meat – beef liver, chicken parts
*Fruit – strawberry, peach, banana, mango, etc.



3 - BOX TURTLE BRITTLE


1 Ripe canteloup or honeydew 1 cup mashed fruit/berries*
1 can low cal dog food or cooked 2 cans snails thoroughly rinsed
ground turkey 1 ½ cups chopped leafy greens*
2 tsp RepCal calcium with Vit. D3 2 tsp RepCal Herptivite multivitamin

Mash the banana and/or berries and add chopped melon. Add low cal dog food or ground turkey and mix thoroughly. Add snails, chopped greens, calcium powder and vitamins. Mix thoroughly and freeze in individual meal-sized portions.

*Greens – dandelion, endive, escarole, collard, swiss chard, bok choy, romaine lettuce
*Fruits/berries – banana, pear, apple, strawberry, blue berry, raspberry, mango, kiwi


4 - BOX TURTLE NOT EATING WELL

Most new turtle keepers try too hard to make their new turtle happy. It is best to look at how wild turtles live for the best information. There are NO box turtles living in the wild eating only wax worms or meal worms. These are fine foods, used in moderation, as part of a highly varied diet. Heavy emphasis on live foods has hurt a lot of captive turtles, and doesn’t make sense in view of what we know from wild turtles.

Each turtle has a different personality and that’s just fine. All turtles benefit from a wide variety of foods being offered. Try putting a hunk of cantaloupe in the habitat and walk away. Your box turtle isn’t likely to look at it until about 4:30 to 5:30 in the morning, when no one is around. Or he might dive right in. Or not. Just leave it. A couple days later, make a nice omelet in a pan prepared with olive oil. Put some grated carrots in it too, with maybe a bit of cuttlebone scraped in. After it’s thoroughly cooled, put it on a flat rock and go away. Leave it overnight in case the turtle isn’t interested in eating until the early morning. Try some red lettuce. Many turtles that have resisted plant matter will happily eat red lettuce. Just put it in and walk away. Leave it a couple days.

Use a different food at each feeding, and completely stop using wax worms and mealworms until the picky eating habits have cleared up. Overuse of live foods has done a lot of damage to captive turtles, and may be implicated in the deformities that are developing in captive turtles. Live foods are highly enticing to many box turtles, leading to picky eating habits and vitamin deficiencies. When a turtle can expect to be fed “candy,” it won’t go looking for healthier foods. In the wild, finding live food isn’t guaranteed, so turtles automatically learn to eat whatever is available. The turtle hobby swings wildly in its opinions on care and we are currently in the extreme swing of “live food.” If people would remember to look at the wild turtles, they could avoid some of the silliness. All things in moderation. Wild box turtles naturally eat about half plants and half animal matter. They go looking for calcium in a separate form when they feel the need.

Another fact of nature is often ignored by even excellent, experienced keepers: turtles cycle through daily temperature changes. They don’t need to be warm all the time. In fact, that will interfere with these natural rhythms. There is an optimum body temperature range – 82 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit – which will allow the turtle to digest food most efficiently. They will want to reach that temperature for a couple hours each day. Then they will want to cool down. And by the way, they can reach those optimum digestion temperatures at much lower ambient air temperatures if there is a bright light. Constantly overheating a turtle will lead to a variety of health problems, including kidney failure. It is best avoided. Have a temperature gradient in the habitat from a cool end about 70-76 degrees to the warmer area about 80-86 degrees. Never let it get above 90. Many people, including many vets, do not realize that constant high temperatures are harmful.

UVB lights can be helpful, especially with juveniles who are growing their bones and need to do it right. With the cuttlebone always available, a highly varied diet, and UV for part of the day, turtles should be able to put all the ingredients together. Humidity and hydration are also important for this. Using UVB lights that aren’t too bright or hot can be very helpful with shy turtles. Tube fluorescents are ideal for this type of turtle. There isn’t one right light for all settings and all turtles.

Regarding “light therapy”: Put the turtle in a plain tub or box – no substrate or hiding place – with a bright, warm light over him for about 2 hours a day. Then give the turtle a 15-20 minute soak in tepid water. Then put him back in his habitat and place a hunk of cantaloupe in front of him and move quickly out of his sight.. Do not try to shove it down his throat. This will lead to stress and resistance. It will make him even more reluctant to eat. Don’t offer foods he has recently rejected. And don’t bother with carrot by itself. Cantaloupe is bright-colored and puts out an enticing aroma, so it is often accepted by reluctant feeders. A big hunk is better than cut up pieces. The most natural time for box turtles to eat is at dawn.

The next day after the light and the soak, put some smelly cat food in front of it and move quickly out of sight. The cat food can be prepared with some cuttlebone scrapings, minced greens, and grated carrot.

On the third day after the light and soak, put an egg omelet in front of her and walk away. The omelet can be prepared with chopped bell pepper and cuttlebone scrapings.

Turtles can live a very long time without eating. It’s much less important than water and humidity. You need to break the torpor with lights. Don’t feed the same food items over and over, but offer something novel each day. Look for smelly and bright colored foods. Many different fruits fill the bill. You can also try leaving red lettuce in the habitat all the time. The turtle might discover it at the most natural feeding time, that is, very early morning when you aren’t around.

Box turtles are crepuscular in nature. That means they are naturally inclined to be active and foraging very early in the morning, then later at dusk, not when it is convenient for us. This is the natural way they avoid the damaging effects of UV radiation from the sun, which is at its peak in mid-day. They also utilize the natural dew that forms then for higher humidity. So having foods in the habitat when it is relatively dark and when no one is around can lead to improved appetite. Make sure your turtle gets the natural temperature cycling – cooler at night – because this aids in creating a desire to forage at daybreak.

If you cannot break the dormancy with light therapy and novel food stimuli, it is possible that your turtle is fighting an infection. In that case, veterinary care would be required. But try doing light therapy and novel foods for a couple weeks first. Make sure the light doesn’t overheat the turtle or damage the skin and eyes with excess UV radiation. Jus a 40 watt Reveal bulb over the box can do the trick. A tube UVB fluorescent isn’t likely to hurt the turtle either. But those super-hot, ultra-bright UV/heat combo lights are often avoided by shy or sensitive turtles.




(Researched and compiled from information from Mary Hopson. http://www.turtlepuddle.org/ )
This amazing thank you so much, hopefully she likes the recipes
 

ColleenT

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I printed that whole thing a while ago and tried basically every thing on it and she did not like it, thanks though!!
Kids don't like healthy food either. You still need to feed the correct foods. You can't just give them what they want.
 

EE torts

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Kids don't like healthy food either. You still need to feed the correct foods. You can't just give them what they want.
Yes i totally agree, i have tried so many of the healthy options and what is recommended by most box turtle keepers but she just wont eat it. i feel bad that i do give her what she wants because that is not the healthiest and they should be getting a wide varied diet, but at the same time if i stop feeding her what she likes she will probably starve. i really don't know what to do, so should i just try feeding her what she dose not like until she eats? i would feel bad doing that because she might not eat, and i do not really think starving her is the way to go. thanks for everything
 

ColleenT

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She won't starve. She has you trained. Reptiles can go months without eating. you keep offering the right foods. Eventually they will eat.
 

EE torts

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She won't starve. She has you trained. Reptiles can go months without eating. you keep offering the right foods. Eventually they will eat.
Okay, i will try that! i will update you guys on any progressions, Thanks again
 

Yvonne G

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This amazing thank you so much, hopefully she likes the recipes
I start my baby box turtles out eating the same salad that I prepare for the hatchling leopards. The only difference is I occasionally add a bit of chopped fruit. I also drain the juice off a small can of wet cat food and mix that juice in with the salad. After they've eaten this for a month or so I can offer them the salad without cat food juice and they eat it. I occasionally feed them worms, crickets, etc., but not too often.

This little guy hatched last September (now 9 months old) and living in the house, being fed the above diet, his shell is just about perfect (3.5 inches SCL):

9-18 box turtle 7-10-19 a.jpg
 
Last edited:

EE torts

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I start my baby box turtles out eating the same salad that I prepare for the hatchling leopards. The only difference is I occasionally add a bit of chopped fruit. I also drain the juice off a small can of wet cat food and mix that juice in with the salad. After they've eaten this for a month or so I can offer them the salad without cat food juice and they eat it. I occasionally feed them worms, crickets, etc., but not too often.
That sounds like a great idea for hatchlings! i do not know how mine grew up when she was a hatchling, but now i have her she is most likely in her teens, she could have even been wild caught we know nothing about her history or younger years (she was a rescue) i can still try what you did even though she is an audult

i have this brand of cat food for my cat, would you recommend it to use for boxiesScreen Shot 2019-07-10 at 9.45.58 AM.png
 

Yvonne G

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Any brand will do, as you're only going to use the juice.
 

EE torts

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Any brand will do, as you're only going to use the juice.
i was watching some footage of Lemon and noticed that it looked like her beak is in the way of her eating. she got it trimmed right before i got her that was in early April so maybe i should trim it now, let me know what you think. as you can see in the video she tries to get the bell pepper but never can. so maybe the foods i thought she did not like because she left them on her plate is just because she can not get them, and sweet potato/yam could just be the easiest one for her to eat. just a thought.

This is the video:
 

terryo

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Yes i totally agree, i have tried so many of the healthy options and what is recommended by most box turtle keepers but she just wont eat it. i feel bad that i do give her what she wants because that is not the healthiest and they should be getting a wide varied diet, but at the same time if i stop feeding her what she likes she will probably starve. i really don't know what to do, so should i just try feeding her what she dose not like until she eats? i would feel bad doing that because she might not eat, and i do not really think starving her is the way to go. thanks for everything
When I have a problem eater I feed ground venison. If I can't get any I just get a good quality dog food with the venison and sweet potato. I also start off my hatchlings with this too. Works every time.
 

terryo

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i was watching some footage of Lemon and noticed that it looked like her beak is in the way of her eating. she got it trimmed right before i got her that was in early April so maybe i should trim it now, let me know what you think. as you can see in the video she tries to get the bell pepper but never can. so maybe the foods i thought she did not like because she left them on her plate is just because she can not get them, and sweet potato/yam could just be the easiest one for her to eat. just a thought.

This is the video:
Her break looks ok. Just put her food on a flat piece of slate to keep it trim.
 

EE torts

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You can add some small pelleted fish food and or mazuri water turtle diet to the sweet potato for a little more nutrition. My eastern box turtles eat both dry, just thrown on the ground. Good Luck.
Thank you, i will try that!!
 

Shelley Whittington

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Box turtles are Ominivores.. when young though, they mostly eat insects and worms.. this stage of nutrition is very important for growth and health.. there are things in cat fiod that should not be inclided in a turtles diet on a tegular basis.. variety is most important.. ground meat is good to mix supplements in Also fish, shrimp and venison are excellent alternatives.. worms bugs.. beetles. .. chasing and hunting food is a natural activity for them and these things should be kept in the habitat.. salad can be fed free choice.. but they usually choose protiens if given a choice esoecially when young..
 
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