My son just found an Eastern Box Turtle and wishes to keep it for a pet. I am going to build a small pen in the back yard for him but was wondering if he needs anything special. I was also wondering about any diet needs. We have given him some grass and a worm to eat today so hopefully he's happy. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.
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My son just found an Eastern Box Turtle and wishes to keep it for a pet. I am going to ... him some grass and a worm to eat today so hopefully he's happy. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

Offer cheap canned dog food, and a good mix of chopped fruits and leafy greens.
Worms are okay but difficult to offer on a routine basis. A grass only diet will kill it eventually.
The minced bone in most cheap canned dog foods will give them the calcium phosphate they need for healthy shells. I use mostly "Skippy premium" or "Alpo chunk" canned dog food.
I had an older ornate box turtle live for 16 years on a primarily canned dog food diet with the added produce, and she was an adult when I found her.
Provide clean water daily, and make sure the dish is deep enough to soak in. A nice large outdoor pen is great, line it with a good 6 inches of construction or play sand so it can dig and bury itself.

Good luck!

K.
Sprout the MungBean to reply
"I don't like to commit myself about heaven and hell‹you see, I have friends in both places." Mark Twain
People people people, I asked (what I thought was) a simple question about turtles. If you cannot stick to the question, then please don't "help" any more. In other words, TAKE IT OUTSIDE AND GROW UP. Thank you.
People people people, I asked (what I thought was) a simple question about turtles. If you cannot stick to the question, then please don't "help" any more. In other words, TAKE IT OUTSIDE AND GROW UP. Thank you.


Well stated!
I hope my original answer was able to help you? :-) I fed my ornates today and they were quite pleased with the can of dog food I fed them tonight.
Cheers and update us later?
"Monster" (as he has been named) seems to prefer worms and chicken so far. He is a hit with all my sons friends and we are in the process of building a pen for him. He gets free time every day in the back yard ( I just hope he stays away from my veggie garden) and his temporary abode is cleaned every other day.
"Monster" (as he has been named) seems to prefer worms and chicken so far. He is a hit with all ... ( I just hope he stays away from my veggie garden) and his temporary abode is cleaned every other day.

Sounds good, but he/she cannot live on just protein! Please offer him/her at least some fresh fruits.....

Turtles are neat pets.

K.
Sprout the MungBean to reply
"I don't like to commit myself about heaven and hell‹you see, I have friends in both places." Mark Twain
We offered him a few banana slices, think he ate one. Will be offering a few slivers of carrot today, and another worm if my son can find one. Will try and find some nice strawberries this week and give him the tops (we were told they are good for him, greens and all).
We offered him a few banana slices, think he ate one. Will be offering a few slivers of carrot today, ... nice strawberries this week and give him the tops (we were told they are good for him, greens and all).

Strawberries and spinach...
Lettuce is usually appreciated but is not that nutritious. NEVER feed iceberg lettuce! Red leaf is some of the more nutritious.

Other good greens are carrot tops, chard, beet tops, celery leafs, cilantro, parsley, etc. Did you offer apple slices? Grapes? Those are two rather inexpensive fruits. My turtles have never been crazy about bannanas but they freak over berries.
Look at this as an opportunity to include more fresh produce in your family's diet, with the excuse "we need to share it with the turtle".

Offer a bit of water soaked dried dog food as well. It's a complete food and is somewhat vitamin fortified.
It would not hurt tho' to sprinkle a bit of reptile vitamins on his/her food. It only needs to be D3 fortified if the turtle is not getting sunlight, but you say it is......
For earthworms, place an old piece of carpet on the ground in a shady spot in the yard and keep it wet down. If there are worms in your yard (there sure are in mine!!!), this will attract them and you can just pick up the rug and pick up worms from under it in the mornings.

This works well for me for worms for my pet bullfrog.

Guess I should offer them to my turtles. ;-) My ornate box turtles diet for years has been primarily canned dog food, supplemented with fruits and veggies. I had scooter for nearly 17 years and she was an adult when I found her.
If you feel you can afford it and if the turtle will eat it, there are reptile diets, including "repto-min" at most good pet stores. I know one guy that has 17 year old fire bellied newts that live mostly on that, with some crickets and guppies.
If you cannot get it locally, try getting it on line:

http://www.tetra-fish.com/catalog/product.aspx?id=416

Used as a primary diet and supplemented with other fresh foods, this would guarantee your pet turtle a longer, healthier life without having to worry so much.
It takes awhile for nutritional deficiencies to kill a turtle, but it will eventually happen!

K.
Sprout the MungBean to reply
"I don't like to commit myself about heaven and hell‹you see, I have friends in both places." Mark Twain
Katra -
I've seen you give this advice before about feeding low quality dog food to box turtles and it concerns me. Any prepared diet, such as dog food or turtle sticks should not be the primary component of a herp's diet if the animal is to remain healthy long term.

Natural food items (in this case crickets, worms, and other insects) are a much healthier alternative and also allow for variety in the diet.
Furthermore, low quality dog foods can be extremely high in proteins and fats. Box turtles do not need, nor can they process, the levels of protein and fat found in canned dog food. If anything, it should be offered as an occasional treat - but I wouldn't even recommend that if it can be avoided.
The best diet for a box turtle is greens, veggies, naturally available protein, and occasional treat of fruits. It should also be pointed out that while juveniles need a high percentage of protein in their diets, adults do not need such a large amount and will most likely take more vegetables/fruit than meat.
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