Bruce Explains Box Turtles: Diet

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Bruce catches (and dispatches) a plump, juicy, wriggling mealworm.

Different species of turtles and tortoises like to eat different types of victuals.

For instance, if you are a box turtle, you like protein. You especially like it when it is live and wriggling and you can hunt it.

If you are a box turtle named Bruce and you see a plump, live, wriggling prey, your red eyes will light up and get very intense and actually look like they are whirling.

For a petite tasty prey, I would almost assume looking into those eyes is like looking into the sun. In other words, you’re doomed if you do it.

From what I’ve read and heard, a hatchling box turtle will typically eat only protein. But older juvenile and adult box turtles are omnivores like people and will eat whatever smells like food.

Since Bruce came to me as a rescue adult box turtle, I have had to experiment to find out what he likes to eat. Usually I give him whatever I am giving Malti, his younger tortoise sister, but balanced more on the side of protein for him.

Dark leafy greens, cactus, blueberries, mushrooms, corn, zucchini, squash, strawberries, grapes, figs, papaya, mango, green beans….these are some of the veggies and fruits I serve regularly (which he may or may not eat depending on the day).

For protein, I give him live mealworms from the pet store at least twice per week, and fresh cooked salmon or tinned tuna to supplement that. His outdoor habitat also regularly attracts earthworms, snails, lizards, and other bugs, and  I have to assume he hunts them as well (I’ve definitely seen him hunt snails, although they don’t make for much of a challenge!).

There are LOTS of good ideas online for sample box turtle diets, and I still consult these for new menu options.

I also make sure to offer the food in the morning or evening when it is less hot outside (in the cold season, Bruce hibernates so he doesn’t need to eat). The optimal feeding time is when it is warm (but not hot) so he can digest his food well.

Bruce doesn’t like to be watched while he eats. Often I will put down his food (served on a large rock to keep his beak trimmed) and sneak away, then take a peek later after he thinks I’m gone. Usually he wastes no time checking out the menu once he thinks he’s alone!

And remember….

Watch & Listen: Pearl & his mommy read from “Love & Feathers”

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Published by Shannon Cutts

Cockatiel, redfoot tortoise and box turtle mama. Author, writer, pet & people blogger.

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