BOX TURTLES. In the wild, box turtles are omnivorous, eating both plants and animals (plant and animal protein). As a result, they arc relatively easy to feed. A diet consisting of only a few pieces of fruit and some crickets is totally inadequate (and is a cause of metabolic bone disease). Variety is the key, and the food must he chopped into small pieces so that the turtle can eat it. 50% of the box turtle's diet should be plant-based and 50% can be animal-based protein. Of the plant matter, most (80%) should be vegetable- or flower-based, and only 20% fruit-based. Even though turtles enjoy the sweetness of fruit, they are mineral-deficient compared with vegetables. Fruit should mainly be considered a treat. Juvenile box turtles can. be fed daily; adults can be fed daily or every other day. Fresh water in a shallow dish that won't easily tip over should be available at all times. Turtles not only will drink from the water bowl hut will often bathe in it as well. Make sure the water stays clean (many reptiles love to eliminate in their water dish) and that the turtle can easily get into and out of the dish. Turtles can also he misted daily to keep them hydrated. Alternatively, many box turtles enjoy a daily swim in warm water (a shallow dish, sink, or tub works well), as long as the owner makes sure that the turtle does not drown. In summary, variety is the key in feeding these reptiles. Don't let turtles get "hooked" on just one or two favorite items. Feed many items in small portions. Make sure the food is the right size for the turtle: smaller pets need their food finely chopped. As with all pets, fresh vegetables are preferred, frozen is second best, and canned is least desirable. Make up about a week's worth of the diet, and refrigerate or freeze the rest for convenience.
As a rule, anything green and leafy should make up a large part of the diet. Yellow and orange vegetables should also be included. Fiber-rich, vitamin- and mineral-deficient vegetables such as lettuce and celery should be avoided (small amounts of romaine lettuce can be offered as part of the vegetable "salad"). Acceptable vegetables include collard/mustard/turnip greens, alfalfa chow or hay, bok choy, kale, parsley, spinach (less than 10% of the vegetable matter, as spinach contains oxalates that bind calcium), bell pepper, green beans, green peas. corn, okra, cactus, yellow squash / zucchini / acorn squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, and flowers such as carnations, hibiscus, and roses (azaleas are toxic and should be avoided). Flowers, vegetables, and fruits should be thoroughly washed prior to feeding. Fruit can include apples, pears, bananas, grapes, peaches, kiwi, and melons. Especially good are figs (which contain more calcium than other fruits), papayas, raspberries, and strawberries. Appropriate animal-based protein sources include crickets, sar dines (drained), tofu, hard-boiled eggs, earthworms, and meal-worms.
Most turtles are mainly carnivorous in the wild and feed largely upon insects, molluscs, crustaceans, fishes, and amphibians. They are partial to carrion, and a few emydid turtles will soon reduce a dead rodent to a skeleton. Some species take larger amounts of green food, especially when adult. With very young turtles, red-ears for instance, the following menu is recommended for each animal per day: 1-2 grams minced lean beef or chopped earthworm or tubifex, plus a very small quantity of chopped lettuce or apple or other fruit, plus a vitamin/mineral supplement. As the reptiles grow the amounts of food are gradually increased. Turtles (and tortoises) are very susceptible to a condition known as soft shell" should they receive a diet deficient in certain vitamins and calcium. To combat this a multivitamin supplement plus a calcium-based supplement can be worked into the meat. Weekly, a light sprinkling of a good reptile vitamin on the food is also recommended. A light dusting means just that, over supplementation can cause problems. Hypervitarninosis D is a common occurrence in pets oversupplemented with vitamins. It can be avoided by holding back on the supplementation. Remember that supplementation is truly necessary only if the animal is not eating a well-balanced diet. Well-balanced diets probably do not require supplementation. Because most owners do not feed well balanced diets, light supplementation may be a necessity. Owners should think of a light sprinkling the same way they would lightly salt food for themselves. It is a good idea to ask your veterinarian to recommend the best type of supplements available in pet shops in your area.
As soon as your young terrapins are used to feeding in captivity it is advisable to remove them to a smaller container at mealtimes. This will ensure greater hygiene in their living quarters as the water will not become as polluted with uneaten food.
Tortoise will be found to be fairly cosmopolitan in its diet, so a wide variety of fooc items should be offered. The basic diet will be greens, much of which they will forag for themselves if allowed to run on a grassy or weedy area. On these plants are found insects, caterpillars, and snails, which provide the animal's small requirement of animal protein Offer everything that meadow, garden, and vegetable market can provide: blossoms, fruits, seeds from meadow grass, herbs, and hay. Make sure the plants used for food are not poisonous and have not come into contact with herbicides or insecticides.They seem to be particularly attracted to yellov flowers, and a "non-feeder" can often be tempted to become a "feeder" by offering it dandelion flowers. Other favorite "appetizers" are strawberries, gooseberries, and other soft fruits. If fresh fruit is not available then use canned -tortoises are not that fussy! In addition to allowing your tortoise to eat weeds and grass, he should be given a daily saucerful of varied foodstuffs. A combination of two or more of the items suggested in the table can be given, and it is wise to add a sprinkling of a multivitamin and/or a calcium compound over each meal to help keep your pet in the best of health. A little cod-liver oil occasionally is also beneficial. Contrary to popular belief, tortoises are not notorious destroyers of insect pests, and slugs or snails have little to fear when the tortoise is on the rampage. However, they are not averse to devouring the odd bit of carrion if it comes their way, and this little extra could be important in maintaining the animal's health. All food offered to your tortoise should preferably be chopped into bite-sized pieces, for, unlike in the wild, there is an absence of the helpful leverage supplied by the living food plant as the reptile tears a piece off. 50% of the box turtle's diet should be plant-based and 50% can be animal-based protein. Of the plant matter, most (80%) should be vegetable- or flower-based, and only 20% fruit-based. Even though turtles enjoy the sweetness of fruit, they are mineral-deficient compared with vegetables. Fruit should mainly he considered a treat. Juvenile box turtles can be fed daily; adults can be fed daily or every other day. These recommendations are just guidelines, how ever, and many adult turtles will eat daily. Fresh water in a shallow dish that won't easily tip over should be available at all times.
Important: In the final analysis, you should decide what your turtle eats. If the turtle's appetite were to be the de termining factor, you soon would be offering an unbalanced diet of bananas and lettuce.
List of foods suitable for most species of tortoise: Strawberries, Gooseberries, Peaches,Apricots, Young green peas, Runner beans, Rose petals, Dandelion flowers, Buttercups, Rose hip syrup (sprinkled over food), Shredded cabbage, Grated carrot, Sliced apple, Sliced pear, Sliced banana (including skin,) Sliced tomato, Brown bread Cereals (with milk or without).
Supplements Codliver oil, calcium orthophosphate, various vitamin/mineral preparations.
Dietary Supplements Only three additives calcium, vitamins, and trace elements should be given regularly, but they are crucial. Calcium can be given in the form of crushed, pulverized eggshell, calcium carbonate, or a special preparation. Sprinkle it over the food of young turtles daily during the first two years; after that twice a week is sufficient. Vitamins are administered in the form of drops or powder. Regardless of its age, a turtle needs one drop per day. Vitamin D3 is especially important for all turtles. Codliver oil and various vitamin/mineral preparations are useful. Trace elements are available in powdered form. Turtles of all ages need one pinch per week. My suggestion: If you're wondering how to get the turtle to swallow all this, try the following: Herbivores can be given the supplements in a little pureed banana at the beginning of their meal. For primarily carnivorous turtles trickle the drops onto a piece of dry cat food. Powder can be mixed with a softened piece of dry cat food or with ground meat.
How Much Should Turtles Eat? Unfortunately, there is no universally valid guideline for the correct amount of food. Healthy turtles often eat more than is good for them and grow fat. Watch your pet while it eats and develop a feeling for when it should call a halt. Weigh the animal regularly to keep track of its weight, which in the first four to six years will start to slow down gradually. It your pet is so fat that its skin folds bulge like balloons when it tries to pull in its arms and legs, by all means re duce the amount of food.
Feeding Water Turtles When two turtles of different size live together, the larger animal can easily bite ott the head of the smaller one if both try to eat the same piece of of food simultaneously. Basically, land turtles should be fed on land from a flat dish, while water turtles need to eat in the water.
Meat Diet for Marsh and Water Turtles. Marsh and water turtles are omnivores; they eat a mixed diet that includes foods of both vegetables and animal origin. As a rule, they prefer a diet of meat, however. Gather snails, earthworms and other insects. You may use fat-free ground beef, but avoid pork altogether be cause of its high fat content. Fileted freshwater fish are also suitable. A highly nutritious basic food is dry cat food. Dry cat food is inexpensive and contains calcium, vitamins, and fish meat precisely what marsh and water turtles need. In addition, pet stores offer an acceptable prepared food for marsh and water turtles.
Five Rules for Feeding
1. Primarily herbivorous turtles ar fed daily at the beginning of their acive phase. Beure that the food is ways fresh, and replace any withere plants.
2. For full-grown plant eaters ob-serve one fast day each week, giving them only hay.
3. Turtles that are primarily carnivo-rous should be fed twice a week.
4. Young carnivores (marsh and water turtles) need food daily, but in smaller quantities. So called baby food is available in pet stores.
5. After the first or second year, feed young marsh and water turtles just as you would full-grown animals.
A Special Recipe: This recipe will enable you to keep readily on hand a food with high nutrious value. Food for primarily herbivorous turtles consists of 65 to 90 percent vegetable matter, of as wide a variety as possible. The remaining 10 to 15 percent is fat-free ground beef. Food for primarily carnivorous turtles is composed of up to 75 per cent "meat." or rather, of animal protein, which may come also from squids, shrimp, liver, or chicken eggs. It is important to have a certain mix that you can also use on occasion to experiment with various tastes. Pork is excluded here as well. The remaining 25 percent of the preparation should consist of grass, weeds, or good hay. Preparation is quite simple. First, wash all parts of the plants thoroughly. In a blender grind the plants with water to produce a pulp with the consistency of honey. Heat the mixture, stirring constantly (it burns easily), until a thermometer shows it has reached a temperature of about 80°C, and add the meat. Then add the following ingredients for each quart of the mixture: one level teaspoon of a mixture of mineral salts (trace elements) and one quarter of an effervescent vitamin tablet, dissolved in water. Continue to stir until the supplements are evenly distributed. Let the mixture cool to a temperature of about 60°C, and add powdered gelatin according to the instructions on the package. Once the mixture has congealed, cut it into daily servings, which can be frozen in plastic bags and thawed as needed.
Don't let turtles get "hooked" on just one or two favorite items. Feed many items in small portions. Make sure the food is the right size for the turtle: smaller pets need their food finely chopped. As with all pets, fresh vegetables are preferred, frozen is second best, and canned is least desirable. Make up about a week's worth of the diet, and refrigerate or freeze the rest for convenience.