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My Box Turtle doesn't like fruit or veggies!


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#1 HerpDerp

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 06:17 PM

Hi, I'm new to the forums and new to owning a box turtle. I have an eastern box turtle that I've had for 19 years, and have owned an iguana and other various herps over the years.
Recently, I rescued a male eastern box turtle earlier this year from a dog near my school. I have a nice enclosure set up for him (used a big tupperware box) and he's been very healthy. I've had him roughly a month, but I'm slightly concerned.
All guides I have read do mention that turtles need a good amount of protein, but also need vegetables and a bit of leafy greens and a bit of fruit. I've never seen my turtle eat anything but the live food I put in there along with the chicken.
I've tried a few things, but that turtle is tricky! I've tried grating up the food and mixing it all together, but then he sometimes forgets the chicken all together and just picks out the worms! He won't eat dead worms (or crickets), so crushing them up and putting them in the food is not an option, because he'll probably just leave it alone.
So, do you guys have any suggestions? He doesn't seem to nibble at the greens I put in to the box with him, and I have trouble with wild plants like dandelion and grass drying up and dying in the soil that I put in the enclosure (it's store-bought soil for herps, maybe it doesn't have plant nutrients?)

Any tips would be appreciated. I'm slightly worried about him because I want him to have a diverse diet. He also used to have REALLY red eyes, but they're kind of a duller orange now... I want to make sure he gets the adequate nutrition he needs.


Edit: I realized you'd probably ask what foods I've tried. I have tried: Carrots, Raspberries, Baking Potato, Sweet Potato, Blackberries, Blueberries, Tomato, Romaine Lettuce, Iceberg Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Kale, Turnip Greens, Collards, Papaya, Mango. I've tried giving him small and large portions...it just seems he will either just kind of pick at the veggies/fruit (probably accidentally picked up when eating the worms) or leave them alone entirely.

Edited by HerpDerp, 22 July 2011 - 06:22 PM.


#2 boxieboy

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 07:36 PM

I sometimes make my own turtle food, I put something really tasty in it like eggs or some other treat, then I add vegetables, pellets, and calcium suppliment. I blend them together with a little water and get a really thick pudding. Not appetizing to humans but my box turtles seem to like it. Actually now that I think of it, adding strawberries would be good.

#3 Turtle_Whisperer

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 11:52 PM

What I did was take some turkey sandwich meat and run it under hot water to break up the adhesive. Then I would break it into tiny pieces with my fingers and spread it out. After that, I shaved off some cuttlebone on top followed by commercial box turtle food I had soaking in warm water during this time. Add a few sprits of vitamin supplement and mix it all together for even distribution.

At first they will try to pick out the meat, that's why I break it into small as I can, so that they will "accidentally" eat the other stuff too.

After a month they will eat everything without any signs of being picky.

#4 BoxTurtleLover

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 05:08 AM

First, your turtle needs a UVB light as the change you are seeing in his color and eyes is not just due to his diet. If you take a turtle from the outside and put it inside without any sunlight, the turtle declines. Boxies always do best outside unless they receive proper lighting, humidity, diet, hides, substrate and space inside. Sufficient Vitamin A is necessary for him also. Second, my trick to sneaking fruit/veggies into a boxie's diet who is hooked on worms is to roll the worms in organic baby squash, organic baby sweet potatoes, etc. You can obtain organic baby food in small jars in the supermarket right in the baby section. Some boxies love the Zoo Menu canned box turtle food which has veggies/corn as it's main base and has vitamins and calcium included. What you also need to do on the worms you provide your boxie is to ensure you lightly sprinkle a good reptile vitamin/mineral supplement such as Reptivite, which I use and highly recommend.

I worked earlier this year with a large female Gulf Coast Box turtle who would eat only bananas. I ensured sufficient Reptivite was provided on the banana given to her to ensure she had supplementation but I got sneaky and sliced open a piece of banana and stuffed it with a few nightcrawlers and closed it up and squashed up the edges. She ate the whole thing. So I did that with various other food items and eventually she went on to eat a varied diet. That is why rolling a favorite food in other items helps to possibly change dietary habits by not eliminating their favorite food but giving them that with a taste of something else. Do it gradually, not all at once and ensure a vitamin/mineral powder is used on the favorite food.

I'm a bit confused as to your first sentence where you state you are new to having box turtles but then state you have had a box turtle for 19 years.


#5 HerpDerp

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 03:03 AM

Thank you for all your advice. I do have some box turtle pellets, but have shied away from them since he, as most foods, didn't seem to like it. It's reassuring to know that he probably won't be as picky soon.
He has been inside most of the time I have had him (almost 24/7 recently) and it has been over 100 the past few days. Today was one of the only days it wasn't blazing hot, and we had rainstorms when I got home from work, but I will try to get him outside, and will probably put his enclosure on the balcony where I'm going to be moving to in a week or so, so he'll be getting a lot more sunlight.
Is there a light I can get for him that will supply him with a good amount of UVB, and if so, should I have it cover part of the cage (like the heat lamp), or the whole enclosure?
As for my earlier post, I must have been tired when I wrote it, BoxTurtleLover. I meant to write that I have owned an Eastern MUD Turtle for 19 years, not a box turtle. They are two uniquely different herps with entirely different needs. I just never understood HOW different until I began owning a box turtle.

Edited by HerpDerp, 25 July 2011 - 03:05 AM.


#6 Smile4Katie

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Posted 29 July 2011 - 11:49 AM

Ok so here is my 2 cents and I recently adopted a three toed box that refused to eat she had to be force fed before I got her. Well I'm not force feeding anybody! :)

First and for-most get him in the sunlight everyday!! Everyone of my adopted kids lives outside and it makes all the difference in the world. He needs plenty of space to roam between the sun and the exercise his appetite and health will pick up.

TUNA FISH!! Puree romaine lettuce and tomato add vitamins. Just put a tiny bit of the puree in the tuna (I swear they can smell it and turn up their noses) and only offer like a teaspoon of the whole deal every 3-4 days or so. NO WORMS until he starts eating! So after he starts to eat his tuna mix change up the protein with chicken, lean ground beef and scrambled eggs (add puree to eggs while cooking), you don't want to just keep giving him one type of protein. But keep using the same puree and add a bit more as he gets better. Then move on to finely chopped and up to chunks. He will eat but it may take him a week or two just don't panic they are resilient little guys. Then start hooking him up with all kinds of stuff. Each one of my babes has a favorite fruit/vege and you'll find his. Once he is good give him his worms on occasion.

Another way if he refuses completely, do the puree, mix in a few meal worms alive. Be quick and give him the plate/bowl whatever he has no choice but to get some in him whilst going after the wiggly stuff. I say the meal worms because they are harder for them to pick out and they don't die as quick mixed in stuff :)

I've only had my "force fed" girl for maybe two months, not even, and she is eating great! Just ate a ton of eggs with veges cooked in, some cantaloupe, a bit of puree pumpkin and a bite of tomato this morning!!!!! She will eat worms now and pinkies you just wouldn't believe it but part of it all is that she has lived indoors most all her life and now she is outside in a huge enclosure.

Good luck! Let us know how he is doing :)

#7 boxie_obsession

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Posted 30 July 2011 - 10:15 PM

IMO, one reason for him/her not eating well is that you took a wild box turtle and placed them in captivity. The stress alone is enough to change their eating habits. Box turtles are declining in the wild and should therefore be left there. You stated that you rescued the turtle from some dogs...if the turtle was/is injured it should be rehabbed by professionals and released back into the wild close to where it was found. If it is not injured, then it should be released back into the wild. Also, it is most likely illegal for you to keep a box turtle without a permit, depending on where you live, as they are protected in their natural range.

#8 HerpDerp

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Posted 02 August 2011 - 09:14 AM

Just an update on my turtle. I've been following your advice with holding off on the worms and good stuff until he eats his veggies and it works! Also, I have been giving him a small "snack" every couple days of fruit and vegetables and he's coming around. He eats like a HORSE now. I also started adding some soggy puppy milk bone to his food and I think he loves that. He's enjoyed green beans and a tomato or two as well. I'm keeping an eye on him, making sure not to over-feed him by giving him small quantities to see what he likes best. Giving him the good things later and "hiding" worms and other things he likes inside the food has really worked and I think he likes to eat everything now!




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