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Ornate Box Turtles Diet


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On 10/14/2021 at 8:41 AM, Dracarex said:

I am attempting to figure out the feeding preferences of Ornate box turtles and was wondering if anyone with experience keeping them could provide examples of what they feed their own Box Turtles?


I have an ornate ornata. She's been with us for almost 8 years, after running away from the neighbor's kids for 2 years (when I caught them jumping on the trampoline with the turtle, I didn't take it back the next it ran away).

Young turtles are nearly carnivorous: crickets, snails, guppies/endlers/platys/swords (live bearers that you have dewormed and fed well) when they can catch them.

They have to soak in water (so minimum is a soaking dish that covers the cloaca) to hydrate sufficiently to poop. Otherwise they get constipated and can die.

Some like to swim, all like to bury themselves in the dirt. If you don't want to risk brumation, keep indoors with basking area & UVA/UVB bulb temp range of 80° F to 85°F.

Karma has a dirted area that allows her to completely bury herself, hunt isopods and worms, and eat the sprouts that grow.

Other half is a 9.9 gallon "turtle pond" with rocks on the bottom, a UG filter, a Tetra Reptifilter (waterfall edition), and currently ~40 endlers.

Ornate ornatas need a pyramid of foods, let me see if I can locate the pdf and figure out how to share.

They need a variety of fruits, a larger variety of vegies, and the foundational layer is protein sources. I have my own vermiculture set up to ensure a safe worm supply, dirted area has isopods, springtails, earwigs and other "detritus control", I rotate plants like purslane, dandelion, various grasses, spent roses and rose hips, and plant seeds for an ever changing variety of safe plants. 

Carrots and other bright orange / bright red foods are a hit!

I boil chicken, salmon, or shrimp, throw in the VitaMix (including bones) and puree (4 oz meat). Add a frozen berry blend (1 oz), and some veggies (sweet potatoes, carrots, etc for 2 oz) so ratio is meat:fruits:veggies of 4:1:2. I also throw in boiled clean egg shells (4 grade AAA, XL egg shells) for the perfect balance of calcium to phosphorus to magnesium. 

Pour into standard ice cube tray (each ice cube is 1 oz) and freeze. Store wrapped in freezer paper inside a freezer bag.

I defrost 1 ice cube at a time, place warmed up Turtle cube on a bed of mixed lettuces (arugula, endive, red curly, etc just no spinach), and sprinkle the freeze dried baby shrimp (fish treat) on top of the turtle salad before serving. Karma gets this 2x a week. 

I use Mazuri turtle pellets for daily feeding, by age 5 to 7 they slow down to eating every 3rd day. Occasionally she goes on an eating binge (generally followed by a storm or massive barometric pressure change) and sleeps for 3 weeks, then wakes up and eats every day again for a couple of months.

Their kidneys are actually pretty sensitive to oxalates, and kidney stones can be lethal if not caught and addressed.

I use the UK Turtle/Tortoise app to check the turtle safety of various plants. They err on the side of caution, so I recommend locating an herp vet you can get reputable information from. 

If you have any more questions, tag me!16343612346562196176335995705885.jpg.50cd8eb8da23335d84afe5fa32acfacf.jpg

Her night time temps drop into low 60's, daytime is 75° in shade, and up to 90° in the hottest 3" diameter area under the lamp.

Replace bulb every early spring/ late winter, and again at midsummer.

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Karma's dinner:20200716_191610.jpg.a5fdcfbab61c5c347945a353125868e0.jpg

I made fresh food tonight. This is what I scraped out of the blender after filling the ice trays.

If you don't add the boiled clean egg shells, add the appropriate amounts of reptical and reptivites to the blender. Each ice cube square is 1 oz and 1 oz is considered a serving for an adult ornate.

So look at how many ounces you have in the blender after you puree, and add the appropriate amount of supplements. 

Puree sufficient to blend in the supplements, then pour into ice cube trays, and scrape the remnants onto a bed of lettuce. 

I added freeze dried shrimp in lieu of croutons for the turtle salad.🤣


Tonight's meal prep was boiled chicken and bone meal, blueberries, carrots, sweet potatoes, egg shells, squash, and some leftover pumpkin. 

Also nopales and green tuńa (prickly pear fruit).

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I no longer have turtles and never had one of these. I did run my own self perpetuating colonies of feeders for my bearded dragon.  If the turtle eats Dubia, darkling beetles/superworms, or meal worms and you want info on easy colony setup and breeding let me know. I’d be happy to help. 

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