How to feed a baby box turtle

How to Take Care of Baby Box Turtles

By Whitney Lowell | Updated September 26, 2017

Proper housing and diet are important factors in raising baby box turtles. You can maintain a baby box turtle habitat outside or inside, depending on space and preference, as long as the cage is at least 4 feet long by 1 foot wide by 8 to 9 inches tall. Once you have the habitat set up, it's important to pick a healthy diet of animal proteins, fruits, vegetables, leafy greens and other vegetation.

Outdoor Habitat

If you're housing baby box turtles outside, predator-proof the enclosure. Use concrete blocks or wood all the way around the enclosure to create solid walls, and use a secure lid to prevent predators from getting into the enclosure.

Place the enclosure where it will receive a few hours of sunlight for basking and get plenty of shade, too. Plant vegetation along the sides of the habitat as well as throughout the habitat. Use leaf litter and logs for hiding, sleeping and hunting.

Fill a large, shallow dish with fresh water daily for soaking and drinking. Place the plate as close to level with the ground as possible so the little box turtles won't have any issues climbing into the water. If the inside of the plate is too tall, add stones to make getting out easier.

Spray the enclosure to make sure that the substrate is moist, but not soaked. Try a daily spraying routine, and adjust as necessary.

Indoor Habitat

If you prefer to house box turtles babies inside, consider a concrete mixing tub or a 50-gallon Christmas tree storage tub. Either is easy to set up. Otherwise, you can make an enclosure with finished lumber and line it with thick plastic, like a pool liner.

Use loose substrate that will hold moisture, such as finely shredded hardware mulch, loam compost, sphagnum moss or coco coir bedding. Do not use bedding that contains pesticides, perlite, manure, cedar, pine, corncob litter, play sand or alfalfa pellets.

Box turtles are diurnal. They need UV lighting, so place full-spectrum fluorescent lights 18 inches above the habitat. To create a diurnal setting, set a timer to a 12- to 14-hour day.

Use a heat bulb on one side of the habitat to maintain a basking spot between 85 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mist the enclosure daily to maintain a humidity level of at least 50 percent. You can use a warm air humidifier or partially cover the enclosure with a lid to help hold moisture in.

Baby Diet

Box turtles, omnivores, will eat insects, some invertebrates, fruits and some other vegetation. A baby box turtle diet should be 50 percent animal proteins, 25 percent fruits and 25 percent vegetation.

Feed baby box turtles daily around mid-morning after they've had a chance to warm up. Place the food on a flat dish or tile so that baby turtles will be able to easily see and get to the food.

If you notice that your baby box turtles are not eating, try moving the food plate to a secluded location; many baby turtles are shy about eating. Try chopping the food into smaller pieces; large chunks can be intimidating for baby turtles -- stick with pea-size pieces.

Don't feed the same items over and over. Feed a variety of foods from each food group:

  • Animal proteins: night crawlers, snails, slugs, worms and crickets. Commercial turtle pellets and lowfat cat food can supplement proteins.
  • Fruits: tomatoes, apples, melons, peaches, figs, grapes, mangoes and berries.
  • Vegetables: green beans, peas, carrots, pumpkin, squash, bell peppers and okra.
  • Leafy greens: endive, romaine and collard greens.
  • Other vegetation: dandelions, leafy weeds, clovers and spineless opuntia pads.

Use a calcium supplement once a week. Never offer food that may have come in contact with pesticide or herbicide spray.

Growing Up Box Turtle

With proper husbandry and diet, a 2-inch-long baby box turtle will grow to be 8 to 9 inches and live 30 to 40 years in captivity. Care for juvenile and adult box turtles is similar to caring for a baby box turtle. The habitat that served your baby box turtles will suit one or two adult females.

The main difference between caring for juvenile or adult box turtles and caring for baby ones is that you will reduce feedings from daily to two to three times a week during the juvenile period and after. Every box turtle is different, so when you notice your babies aren't eating as much of their daily meals, you can start alternating feedings.

Avoid housing two adult male box turtles, as territorial fighting and bullying can occur.


  • California Turtle & Tortoise Club: A Guide to the Care of North American Box Turtles
  • Exotic DMV: Indoor Care of North American Box Turtles
  • American Animal Hospital Association: Box Turtle Care

Photo Credits

How To Take Care Of A Baby Box Turtle?

Are you wondering how to take care of your baby box turtle? Worry no more because we have come up with a guide that details everything you need to know about caring for baby box turtles.

Baby Box Turtles belong to the American Pond Turtle Family and are mainly found in North America. Their habits and appearance are similar to the tortoise. Baby Box Turtles require a great deal of care. So, keeping it as a pet is not an easy job to do.

I have put together this guide to help any who already has or plans to get a box turtle. It is important to remember that the first couple years of a turtle’s life are very formative and important for their future health and well-being.

The key steps to take care of a baby box turtle include providing a healthy diet, adequate enclosure, moist and humid environment, the right temperature, and proper lighting.

Taking care of a baby box turtle is much easier than caring for some other uncommon pets. If you want to get a different species of turtle, you should check out my more general article on caring for a baby turtle.

Provide a healthy diet

Feeding your baby box turtle a healthy and balanced diet is an obvious necessity when considering your little one’s well-being. Their diet should ensure that all the nutrients your baby box turtle needs for growth and development are present.

You should feed your baby box turtle daily. I would recommend feeding them a mix of insects/pellets and vegetables. You can also feed them fruit on a weekly basis.

My favorite food for box turtles is the Fluker’s Buffet Blend Box Turtle Food. It contains a mixture of fruits, vegetables, and mealworms.

Buffet Blend for Box Turtles

This tasty mix includes dried mealworms, pellets, green peas, and strawberries.

To get a more in depth guide on how much to feed your baby box turtle, you should check out my article on how much to feed a turtle?

This diet should cover all the vitamins, minerals, and proteins needed for their development. Adjust their diet according to their health, age, and activity level. Just make sure that you don’t overfeed or underfeed your baby box turtle.

Indoor or outdoors enclosure

If you have the right climate for baby box turtles, they do well in a large and heavily planted outdoor enclosure. The outdoor enclosure will provide your turtle with fresh air, sunshine, and environmental enrichment. You just can’t replicate their natural habitat inside. If you do have an outdoor enclosure, make sure they are protected from predators. My favorite enclosure for box turtles is the REPTI ZOO 85 Gallon Terrarium.

Box Turtle Terrarium

This terrarium will give your box turtle plenty of space to roam around and dig.

If you do put them in an inside turtle tank enclosure, I would recommend a size of at least 50 gallons. If you’re looking for cheap options, check out my article on cheap turtle tanks.

Give them a moist and humid environment

In the wild, baby box turtles love to live near marshes, meadows, and freshwater. They can live in both dry and moist regions. Humidity should be kept at around 60 percent. You can also provide them pool time as they enjoy soaking in water. While they aren’t great swimmers, they do like to swim from time to time.

Give them privacy

If you have other pet turtles or tortoises in your home, you will need to house your baby box turtle away from them, preferably in its own enclosure. The charming little thing needs privacy and has its own specific care needs.

Also, make sure you include a lot of substrate in your tank.

Provide adequate temperature and good lighting

Provide them enough warm light. If kept indoors, keep the lights on for eight to ten hours during the day, but turn them off at night.

You will need to keep their environment’s temperature between 75 and 80 degrees farenheight. When indoors, provide them with a bulb or heat lamp to keep them warm.

Clean environment

Whether you are caring for your box turtle indoors or outdoors, it’s important to keep its environment clean. You should remove any debris or build up from the tank on a weekly basis. You should also do a more thorough clean of the tank once a month.

Did you know? An interesting fact is that these charming babies already know how to take care of themselves. In the wild, they are on their own right from day one. When you bring home a baby box turtle, the hatchling will orient you to the basics of their care!

Final thoughts

With the proper care and attention, your box turtle will be able to live a long and healthy live. Most box turtles live in captivity for at least 20 years.

With that in mind, you should only get a baby box turtle if you are ready for the long-term commitment. Even thought it won’t require a lot of work on a day to day basis, you are in it for the long run. As mentioned earlier, a baby box turtles early years are extremely important. It is important that you have all of the right turtle accessories.

Once a box turtle hits the maturity age, the chance of early death is reduced. In their natural habitat,  baby box turtles save themselves from any attack by simply hiding and closing their shell.

You can help your baby turtle live its best life! A healthy and happy baby turtle can save you from a lot of stress in the long run.

Take care of your baby box turtle by providing them with the best enclosure, warm light, moist temperature, and healthy food.

After all, it’s really hard to find anything more adorable than a baby box turtle! If you want to read more, you should check out this article on

Best of luck!

  •  Dillon
  •  Box Turtles, Guides

How and what to feed red-eared, marsh and other aquatic turtles

Aquatic ornamental turtles are frequent inhabitants of home aquariums. These cute reptiles are very fond of children and adults. In order for the turtle to live a long and fulfilling life in a closed tank, you need to create appropriate living conditions for it and pay special attention to the right diet.

In this article, we will look at popular brands of complete food and treats for aquatic turtles, how many times a day, at what time and how to feed them correctly, whether turtles need mineral and vitamin supplements, differences in the diet of adults and small pets, as well as depending on from the type of turtle.

Features of feeding aquatic turtles

Aquatic turtles eat plant and animal food. During the period of growth and formation of the body, turtles need food rich in protein. Natural products can be added to the diet in combination with ready-made dry food designed specifically for aquatic turtles.

Natural products are served to turtles in small pieces. A single portion is determined so that in a 30-minute snack, the turtle can completely eat the entire piece of food served. For young reptiles, 2-3 pieces of 1 cm3 are usually enough, and for feeding adult turtles, the size of the pieces should be slightly increased. If after a snack there is a half-eaten piece in the aquarium, the portion can be reduced at the next feeding.

A few more important rules for feeding aquatic turtles:

  • natural food should be thermally processed before feeding the reptile;
  • food served must be at room temperature;
  • food can be placed in the aquarium in a special feeder located on the ground in order not to pollute the water;
  • feeding with tweezers is allowed;
  • To create a balanced diet, you can combine prepared food with natural food.

Overview of artificial food for turtles

Dry food is recommended not as a main food for aquatic turtles, but as a supplementary food that goes well with natural food.

Dry food for aquatic turtles offers a wide range of products from different world manufacturers. We will briefly review the types of artificial food and other healthy treats for pet reptiles.

Complete dry food

Complete dry food can be given to baby and adult turtles every day. The composition of such a product includes useful components of plant and animal origin, selected taking into account all the requirements of the reptile's body.

Popular brands:

  • Sera;
  • Zoomir;
  • Tetra ReptoMin;
  • Dajana.


Non-complete feeds are classified as Treats. They can only be given to adult turtles and no more than once a week.

Popular treats:

  • JBL Tortil;
  • Tetra ReptoDelica Snack;
  • Sera Raffy Royal;
  • Zoomir "Tortila M" Strong shell, etc.

Vitamin-mineral complexes

At home, turtles cannot get all the trace elements necessary for their body, which they extract in the natural environment. So that the reptile does not get sick and feels good, it must be periodically fed with special vitamin and mineral supplements. You can buy ready-made complexes in pet supply stores.

Vitamin and mineral supplements for turtles:

  • MIX – mineral supplement with calcium;
  • MIX - general strengthening supplement;
  • mineral block "Tortila";
  • Beaphar Turtle Vitamin - vitamin complex;
  • FIORY Tarta Vigor - feed supplement with vitamins;
  • mineral block Ca+D3 "Tortila M";
  • Sera vitamins;
  • Dajana – mineral stone for aquatic turtles.

Adult tortoise and small pet diet

The diet of aquatic turtles must be combined - natural food in combination with artificial food. Consider what foods can and cannot be given to aquarium reptiles.

Useful and harmful natural products for aquatic turtles:

  1. You can give low-fat river fish in crushed form with chopped bones. You can not feed turtles with bony and oily fish.
  2. May be fed with live gammarus and small crustaceans.
  3. Raw shrimp and crabs are allowed.
  4. Turtles should not be fed squid, although they love them very much.
  5. It is strictly forbidden to give reptiles the meat of terrestrial animals and factory meat products (sausages, canned food, etc.). The digestive system of reptiles does not absorb such food.
  6. Occasionally, you can treat the turtle with pieces of beef heart and liver. These products feed the body with vitamin A.
  7. It is allowed to feed the reptile with food mice and frogs.
  8. Turtles can be given natural plant foods such as carrots, lettuce, apple pulp, herbs, sprouted oats and barley.
  9. Non-poisonous grassland plants, as well as algae and some types of aquatic plants, can be included in the diet.
  10. Limited pieces of pear, watermelon, melon, banana, apricot and raspberry are served.
  11. Do not give turtles citrus fruits, nuts, soybeans, beans, cabbage, bread, flour products, cereals, fish waste, dairy products, chicken eggs.
  12. Foods high in phosphorus, stromagenic substances and oxalates are harmful to reptiles.
  13. With pleasure and benefit, turtles eat various insects and larvae living in the water. They can be fed with coretra, bloodworms, locusts, crickets, fly larvae, earthworms and moths. The insect must first be decapitated. Can be given dried, frozen, or live.
  14. Live and thawed mollusks, land snails, snails, marizas, etc. are well absorbed by the reptile organism. But it is better not to treat a turtle with slugs without shells.

Turtle menu specifics depending on their species

Water turtles are more often predators, so the basis of their diet is food of animal origin. If your aquarium has a semiaquatic or marsh reptile that prefers vegetarian food, the diet will be based on plant foods. In any case, the nutrition for the turtle must be balanced and varied so that the body of the domestic reptile fully receives all the necessary substances and trace elements.

Features of the diet of turtles of different species:

  1. The red-eared turtle prefers fry, small fish with bones, insect larvae, chicken fillet, gammarus and shrimp. From plant foods, you can give apples, lettuce and slices of fresh cucumber.
  2. Chinese amphibian Trionix enjoys beef liver, heart, lean fish, fry and small frogs. From plant foods, she will like fresh herbs and slices of tomato.
  3. The European bog turtle loves lean meats, fish with small bones, and plant foods.
  4. Musk turtle prefers to feed on algae, fish and aquatic insects.

How often and at what time to feed the turtles

It is recommended to feed the turtle at the same time. The first three years of life they are fed once a day, mainly food of animal origin. As they grow, the need for such food is lost, so plant foods and dry food become the main part of the diet.

Adult turtles are fed once every 2-3 days. In summer, turtles eat more often, but in small portions, and in winter they may not eat for several days, and then gladly absorb the increased portion. In the cold season, it is recommended to add vitamin and mineral supplements to the turtle's diet.

After the turtle has been fed, the remains of food are removed from the aquarium. In the subsequent feeding, fresh food is served. You can not feed the reptile with spoiled foods, they can cause poisoning of the body.

Major Owner Mistakes

Beginning pet turtle owners often make feeding and diet mistakes that can cause serious health problems for the reptile.

The most common owner mistakes are:

  • feeding the turtle food from his table - salty, fried, smoked and seasoned dishes are very dangerous for the body of turtles;
  • regular feeding with vitamin and mineral supplements - such complexes should not be given to turtles more than once a week;
  • make up an unbalanced diet, for example, they regularly treat a reptile with fish, forgetting about the need to feed other healthy foods, which leads to an excess of vitamin B and a lack of other trace elements in the body.

These are the most common mistakes in feeding domestic aquatic turtles, as a result of which reptiles develop various health problems.

The following symptoms testify to improper feeding of the tortoise: coordination of the movement of the reptile is disturbed, it refuses to eat, shows lethargy, and motor activity decreases. An unbalanced diet of small turtles leads to improper development of the body and growth retardation. To eliminate such health problems for the turtle, make up a healthy and balanced diet for it!

Never try to treat a water turtle yourself. If there are certain symptoms that indicate an unhealthy condition, seek the help of a veterinarian specializing in the treatment of domestic reptiles. An experienced specialist will also tell you in detail how and what to properly feed waterfowl aquarium turtles.

Proper nutrition is the key to a healthy and long life of a domestic reptile!

Feeding herbivorous turtles - Turtles.

  • Main
  • Maintenance of the house
  • Feeding
  • Feeding herbivorous turtles

Plant food is consumed by:

  • all land tortoises (Central Asian, Mediterranean, Egyptian), but a small part of them are omnivores.
  • Secondary terrestrial turtles (box turtles, Asiatic) that are omnivores.
  • many adult freshwater tortoises (red-eared, geographic, musky, marsh, etc.).

Land turtles and omnivorous turtles must be supplemented with vitamins and calcium for reptiles, as they are not enough in food. And most importantly - turtles should be fed varied !

Basic diet

These types of food can be given without restriction, but the turtle's diet must be varied.

Meadow grasses, flowers and leaves of bushes and trees

In summer they can be collected outside in the forest-park area and dried/frozen for the winter. This is an affordable, free food rich in vitamin A. You need to collect plants away from the road, because. otherwise, they may contain heavy metal salts and chemicals. Mammalian worms are not dangerous to turtles. For the winter, meadow grass buds and their buds can be frozen and dried.

Plants are divided into those that can be given without restrictions, with restrictions and cannot be given. Below are the plants "without restrictions":




Nen -tank



Tatar, thistle


Step -Lamp

2 Complete list of edible plants

Houseplants, succulents and cacti

Turtles can be given indoor plants that are edible for them. Such food will always be at hand if you did not have time to go to the store for a salad or to the street for dandelions.



9000 Complete list of edible houseplants

Aquatic and semi-aquatic plants

Aquatic and semi-aquatic plants can be collected from the pond, purchased from an aquarium pet store or from aquarists. You can give them to adult freshwater turtles.


Caroline Kabomba

Eichhornia excellent, water hyacinth

Elodea, water plague

Complete list of edible aquatic plants

Supplement to basic diet

It is better to give additional types of food no more than 1 time in 1-4 weeks. These can be meadow grasses, indoor plants, leaves and flowers of bushes, trees , which can be given in limited quantities.


Cyprus (Ivan-Chi)









Complete list of restricted edible plants

Salad-Rromen (Salad Romano)

Iceberg salad

Latuk Latuk







Complete list of vegetables, fruits and berries

Arcadia EarthPro HerbiMix

JBL Agivert

JBL Herbil

Sera Reptil Professional Herbivor

Turtles can also be fed meadow hay (from a pet store or independently dried from the summer), dry pharmaceutical herbs from the list of permitted, germinated tops of vegetables (carrots, beets).

Learn more