A box turtle is one among the many species of turtles, and is also known as box tortoise. The specialty of this tortoise is that it possesses a large dome-shaped shell with a movable hinge on its lower part. The hinge helps the turtle to hide inside the shell without showing any part of its flesh.
Most people do not have sufficient information as to how to care for their pet turtle. One of the very important factors that is ignored by many pet owners is its diet, which is extremely important for it to stay healthy for a long time. So, if you have one at home and want to know what it eats, take a look at the instructions here.
Ideal Food for Box Turtles
Box turtles are omnivorous, i.e., they eat both animals as well as plants. Though it is said that these turtles can eat anything edible, many can prove to be very fussy eaters. The pet owner can have a hard time while feeding a pet turtle, as it may refuse to eat the food it does not like.
Though box turtles are omnivorous, the amount of vegetables in their diet depends on the species and, more importantly, the age of the individual. It has been observed that hatchlings and juveniles are more interested in animal-based foods than older specimens. Baby turtles' food should also contain plants along with a majority of animal-based foods.
The carnivorous foods that the box turtles love to eat include earthworms, meal worms, snails, red worms, caterpillars, crickets, slugs, beetles, wax worms, etc. It is best to feed the turtle natural and fresh prey.
Apart from these animal-based foods, some other things that you can feed your pet turtle include cooked meat, beef heart, low fat dog food, etc. You must never feed the turtle raw meat as the chances of bacterial contamination are highest in raw meat.
People also have the habit of feeding cat food to box turtles, which should be avoided, because it contains a high amount of fat, which is not suitable for turtles.
Though animal based foods are an important part of the box turtle's diet, if you want to provide a complete and balanced diet to your turtle, you must feed it with adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. Experts are of the opinion that 30% of a turtle's diet should be made of vegetables and 10% of green leafy vegetables.
These foods will provide the turtle with the sufficient vitamins and minerals that it requires to have a strong immune system. These vegetables should be fed raw to the turtle, however, occasionally steaming or grating them will also do good to the animal.
Some of the vegetables and green leafy vegetables that can be added in your pet's regular diet include carrots, wax beans, mustard greens, turnip greens, romaine, winter and summer squashes, sweet potatoes, etc. It is also fine to feed vegetables like lettuce, spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc. occasionally to the turtle.
Fruits are something that box turtles love to feed on and they should make up at least 10% of their diet. The fruits that should be given are apples, raspberries, peaches, cherries, grapes, strawberries, kiwis, bananas, cantaloupes, apricots, etc. Fruits can be mixed with the foods that the turtle refuses to eat, as fruits are their favorites.
It is said that gently dipping the turtle in water helps in stimulating its appetite. If none of these ways work and it completely refuses to eat, it may be an indication of some health problem. It would be beneficial to consult a reptile specialist to find the root cause of the problem.