What Do Box Turtles Eat?

As with most other turtles, box turtles are in high need of vitamin A supplementation. It affects a lot of the turtle’s quality of life in terms on ways we shall explore and it is the most important vitamin for all turtles to have. Box turtles are no different form the other pet turtles and their only difference could be their habitat conditions which are terrestrial in nature.

So, what do box turtles eat?

Anything that all other turtle eats, a box turtle can and should eat. Dietary requirement for every turtle is significantly similar based on their uniform structure. Box turtles are omnivorous and can eat both plants and insects. They too require a healthy balance between proteins, vegetables and fruits throughout their lives. Young turtles prefer protein over the older generations.

What is the ideal combination for a healthy box turtle?

Vegetables and fruits

A lot of people are concerned with pesticides and the possible effect they may have on their pet turtle. This has seen most owners turn to organic foods to feed their box friends in order to protect them from unseen chemicals that could cause health complications for your pet.

Fruit and vegetable should be part of the daily diet but in considerable amounts. Balancing out calcium and phosphorous levels in the turtle’s food is ideal to ensure that the nutrients are just enough. A ratio of two parts calcium to one part phosphorous is considered healthy and ideal for the box turtles.

Because these measurements may be unrealistic in real life practice, experts recommend feeding the turtle an array of protein, veggies and fruits with a content of phosphorous and calcium. Foods with high calcium are more recommended to meet the dietary requirements of volume of food eaten and nutrients retained in turtle body. Bananas for example have very low levels of calcium. So, they should be replaced with another fruit tat will give more calcium in smaller portions.

Good fruits and vegetable to include in box turtle’s diet

  • Dark leafy greens such as collard greens, beet tops, spinach, kale and a few others have the best balance of calcium and phosphorous in them and these should be a daily food for your turtles.
  • Green cabbage
  • Berries
  • Apples without the seeds
  • Papaya
  • Butternut squash

Other than those main foods, you can supplement some snacks in between with an option of;

  • Cherries
  • Cucumber
  • Broccoli
  • Watermelon and
  • Strawberries

Be sure to remember to keep fruits to a minimum because they contain high sugar tat could cause an added weight issue to the already heavy turtle.

Insects ideal for box turtles

Getting a source of protein is crucial for your baby turtle especially in its first 6 months. Proteins help build up the muscle and resistance system to diseases. These are the garden critters that your turtle could eat anyway if it was roaming around in the wild. Though there are still some concerns as to pesticides, they are a better bet than fruits;

  • Grasshoppers
  • Earthworm
  • Beetle
  • Cricket
  • Worms (red, super, wax, meal)
  • Snails and slugs

Other than these there are also some small fish like the minnows that you could feed your box turtles on.


They are a popular delicacy of box turtles in the wild, they are always a welcome treat.

Commercial supplements

Though these supplements boast of being a complete health solution for your pet turtle, it is best to provide organic complements s well to keep you turtle as healthy as can be. Based on whether your box turtle lives inside or outside, there are different options available. For example, it is necessary to sprinkle amounts of calcium powder over a turtle’s food to make sure that the calcium levels do not drop.

For pet turtles living under direct sunlight, these supplements are not really necessary as their bodies can produce their own Vitamin D3. Calcium however cannot be so quickly dismissed as it is needed to prevent metallic bone disease due to a poor diet.

A box turtle’s feeding schedule

Young box turtles need daily food and healthy adults only require two to three days of food. However, on the days where there is no meal, turtles can enjoy a light snack at one time or another tin the day.

Box turtles always need to have water close to them

Box turtles hunger strike

Allegedly based on the turtle’s artificial habitat, the animal is considered to fall into some sort of depressive mood and may refuse to eat for days on end. The only thing for the owner to do is try and make the box as home like as possible for the turtle otherwise you risk losing your turtle to starvation.

Box turtles also have some tendency towards selective feeding where they will deny all other meal suggestions until they get their favorite dish. What is unfortunate about this is that you need to increase sources of minerals to better the chances of a good and healthy turtle.

Best times to feed your box turtle

By trying some of these suggestions, you may time your food presentations and get a chance at some reaction as it is when they are considered the most active.

  • Late morning hours after the sun basking session. Warm turtles are more receptive than freezing ones. That’s why some heat does them good and inspires an appetite.
  • Dusk and dawn as their wild timetable follows
  • They eat after a rain shower
  • Food obsessions should be blended with others to break the monotony
  • Provide privacy. Box turtles tend to be very private. Include shrub in the tub to make a hiding spot were they can retreat to eat away from your glaring stare.


Box turtles have a similar life to all other pet turtles, the only difference is they send more time on dry land than on water. They may only take a dip if they want to cool off. This suggests that they do eat pretty much the same diet in the same portions and following the same trajectory. Keeping a balanced diet on all nutritious foods will promote your box turtle’s overall health.

Kerry Blake

Since I was young, I have always had a thing for sea creatures. Being raised along the beach gave me the chance to interact with all kinds of reptiles, including turtles. I have always found this creature quite fascinating, and at a young age, I asked my parents to get me one as a pet. My love for turtles is what inspired me to pursue marine science when I got to college. Specializing in this field made learning so much about such reptiles. If you would like to get a pet turtle at your home, this guide will be of great help.

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