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Box turtles not eating.

turtle not eating

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#1 Kaligem

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 04:19 PM

I was recently given four box turtles from a friend of my moms. The friend instructed me that the three legged turtle (He was attacked by a dog and rescued but he lost his right front leg.) is a picky eater and will only eat worms. The other three turtles will eat just about anything. I've had all of them for about two months now. Things were going well until I moved them to a more spacious enclosure. (Both enclosures are outside) Captain (The three legged turtle) stopped eating. I figured that was normal with the stress of moving but its been almost two weeks. I've contacted the only turtle vet but they don't have an open appointment till the 29. I can't get a hold of the original owner either. I'm really worried about him. I've tried feeding him in the early morning, misting him and offering him all kinds of food but he hasn't eating. He's bitten the worm but won't eat them. He is still very active and goes swimming in the pond. He does spend a lot of time in the shelter though. I do have all kinds of turtle food such as pellets, strawberries, edible plants etc but I've never seen him eat anything but worms. I've checked him for injuries and he has none. What do you think is wrong with him? Suggestions?

#2 samsmom

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 10:25 PM

Box turtles can go weeks without eating. It's good to know their weight and their habits. If there are no obvious signs of illness and he is still active, it could be the change in environment. I'd just keep offering the worms and watching him. Is there anything in the enclosure he could be eating?

#3 BoxTurtleLover

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 03:45 AM

I agree with samsmom....what is in that enclosure that he could possibly eat? Many box turtles when kept outside go hunting early in the morning and eat slugs, dig/move mulch/soft earth looking for grubbs or worms, etc. If you don't suspect he is doing that, he isi probably stressed from the move to the outside and may need more time to adjust. I suggest also putting food out the same time each day in the same location so you start a pattern with your boxies to which they should/will become used to. If you are truly concerned the one box turtle is not eating at all and starts to become thin or becomes less active, bring him indoors and try to feed him. Hopefully he will come around for you but ensure you mention all this to the vet. I would weigh him now (obtain a kitchen scale that weighs in grams and get his weight in grams - most major department stores have reasonably priced digital kitchen scales) and keep a weekly tab on his weight.

Have you tried hard boiled eggs or even scrambled eggs scrambled in water? I know someone who scrambles eggs in water for their boxies once in a while and adds bits of tomato and other veggies/fruit and the turtles go nuts.

#4 Kaligem

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 06:02 AM

There is hibiscus plant and a few other plants that are edible. (I forgot what the other plants are called but I double checked that they were safe before planting them.) I've seen crickets, pill bugs, and some different types of insects. I've been leaving the food pellets out all day. In hopes he and the other new turtles will eat. Usually I put fresh lettuce and strawberries out in the afternoon.

Should I put him back in his old enclosure, or would that stress him out more? If I put him back in the old enclosure should I put the two turtles he usually is with in there too?

I tried feeding him this morning, I offered him a worm which he just stared for five minutes then walked off. I offered him some scrambled eggs and some ham and he stared at the food again so I backed off (He's really skittish) I came back later and the food was untouched and he was in the water.

Some of the turtles were still sleeping so I'll try again later just in case he was still waking up.

#5 samsmom

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 09:38 PM

Box turtles love pill bugs. I'd leave him where he is and keep track of his weight, like BoxTurtleLover suggests. Postage scale from an office supply store works for that too.

#6 BoxTurtleLover

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 05:38 AM

No ham - what you can do is try some stinky cat food (Friskies ocean whitefish, salmon and chicken or something similar) might help stimulate his appetite. Some turtles like pellets, some don't. What you can try to do if he does not continue to be interested in eating is to gently open his mouth and shove in a nightcrawler - sometimes that is all it takes. Box turtle picky eaters can be difficult sometimes and some turtles are just more skittish than others (they are just like people in that respect and as to many things) but you do want to ensure your boxie eats. If a few more days of providing food or enticement doesn't work, it may be a good idea to have him checked out by a vet just in case he has parasites which can really affect a turtle's appetite and behavior. In fact I always suggest to anyone acquiring new turtles that they have the turtle(s) checked out by a vet and have a stool sample checked for parasites.

#7 Kaligem

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 02:33 PM

Thank you for the advice. I'm going to try to and get him to eat the cat food. If that doesn't work then I'll try to get him to eat the nightcrawler. Is there an easier way to get him to open his mouth. The vet in the past showed me how to get a turtles mouth opened using a metal spoon but it looked like it hurt the turtle and thankfully for me the turtles I had to give medicine would open their mouth for the strawberries but this turtle refuses to open his mouth unless he hisses at me.

#8 TerryO

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 05:01 PM

Usually when I get a fussy eater, or when mine first come out of hibernation, I give them canned venison. Once they start eating that, I gradually mix in greens, veggies, turtle brittle, carrots, sweet potato, (cooked) and some fruit. I chop it up very small and mix it up. Eventually I stop adding the Venison, and just give the mix. For some reason they really go for the Venison.

#9 Kaligem

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 05:19 PM

Thank you I'll try the canned venison. Hopefully he'll eat that. I tried giving him a worm today he looked at it and then took of running inside the shelter. I did weigh him today and if I used the scale correctly he weighs 15.0 grams Creeky another turtle I've had for years weights 12.8.

#10 samsmom

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 08:03 PM

15.0 is probably the number in ounces. 16oz = 1 pound = 454 grams. My group ranges from 280 to 850 grams, to give you an idea of the numbers.

#11 Kaligem

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Posted 26 June 2012 - 08:49 PM

Yes it was in ounces. (I feel stupid now) Thank you for telling me! ^^





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