What Do Box Turtles Eat

What Do Box Turtles Eat

In order to keep a box turtle happy and healthy you need to make sure you feed it the right type of food. And in order to feed your box turtle the right type of food you first need to know what subspecies of box turtle you have.

Box turtles have many different species and subspecies and they live in different geographical locations such as the United States and Mexico.

Therefore it is important to do the research to find out the type of box turtle you have first before you can decide what types of foods to feed them. Basically you want to feed a box turtle the same types of foods they would eat in the wild.

Additionally if you want to know what types of foods you should feed to your hatchling box turtle you will need to do additional research as this guide does not include what types of foods should be eaten to hatchling box turtles.

What Do Box Turtles Eat In The Wild

The best kinds of foods for box turtles are the types of foods that they would eat in the wild. If you can mimic their diet in the wild in your home you are providing them with the best possible diet. Here are just a few of the things that box turtles like to eat in the wild:

  • Grasshoppers
  • Grass
  • Spiders
  • Caterpillars
  • Berries
  • Snails
  • Flowers
  • Earthworms
  • Fallen fruit (usually rotten or over-ripe)
  • Carrion (even big ones from birds, mammals, and amphibians)

As you can see from the list above that box turtles have a wild variety in their diet when they eat from the wild.

The one important thing to note is that you should never feed your box turtle foods they wouldn’t normally find in the wild such as heavily processed meat, candy, cheese and bread.

Box Turtle Foods

The important thing to remember about a box turtles diet is that they should have a mix in their diet to stay healthy. What this means is that they should eat a lot of different things that include vitamins, minerals and proteins.

It is a hard rule to give them a variety in every meal but ideally you want to put a good mixture in their diet. It is however very important that you give them access to fresh water at all times.

Leafy & Veggie Greens

A rough ratio for what box turtles should eat is 10% dark leafy greens and another 30% of the box turtles diet should consist of colorful vegetables.

Examples of some suitable veggies for your box turtle include:

  • peas
  • carrots
  • squash
  • okra
  • sweet potatoes
  • green beans

Some other options that shouldn’t be staples but are okay once in awhile include tomatoes and corn (including the cob).

Some other veggies that should not be staples but can be added in from time to time include cauliflower, beets and cabbage.

The great thing about dark leafy greens is that they are an great source of fiber. In the wild a box turtle will usually eat leaves and grasses to get their dark leafy greens.

Some good options for leafy dark greens include:

  • turnip leaves
  • dandelion leaves
  • romaine lettuce
  • collard greens
  • mustard greens

On occasion they can have kale, parsley, and spinach.

And some to avoid include tobacco leaves, rhubarb leaves and potato leaves.

Berries & Fruits

This group should take up roughly 10% of a box turtles diet and can include things such as: peaches, blackberries, apples, plums, raspberries, mulberries, pears, mango, banana, cherries, and melon.


As box turtles eat these in the wild it would be good to include them in their diet in captivity as well but of course you will need to avoid poisonous mushrooms.

Calcium & Protein

Protein rich foods should take up  roughly 50% of a box turtles diet! A significant chunk and some of the recommended foods include:

  • slugs
  • earthworms
  • waxworms
  • beetles
  • sow bugs

In the wild as you can imagine a box turtle will eat animals whole and this means they ingest the shells, muscles and bones.

Therefore it is a good idea if you are feeding muscle meat to your box turtle to include sprinkles of calcium on their food to prevent calcium deficiencies.

One good option is getting cuttlebone from the pet store and using that.

Eggs and low-fat soaked cat or dog kibble can be given on a rare occasion as a treat.

Feeding Schedule

The younger box turtles need to be feed full meals every day or every other day. However a healthy adult box turtle can be fed meals every 2 – 3 days.

On the days they don’t get a full meal you can give them a snack.

Make sure they always have access to fresh water.

Adjust their feeding based on activity levels and health.