What do western box turtles eat
A varied and species-appropriate feeding / diet is a basic requirement for the health of the Greek tortoises.
Species-appropriate tortoise nutrition
With the following information we try to answer the question "What do turtles eat?" to answer. As with the design of the enclosure or the winter rigor, it is also important to take nature as a model when it comes to nutrition. Get an idea of how tortoises live in their habitats. What are the conditions there? If we manage to mimic the natural way of life in our enclosure as closely as possible, our turtles will have long and healthy lives in our care. First of all, a little note: We have no medical or biological training to explain the digestive processes of a turtle and everything that goes with it in detail. Our knowledge is based on our almost 20 years of experience and of course from reading many interesting turtle books. But back to the subject.
What do tortoises eat?
This is a question we are asked regularly. In addition to a species-appropriate outdoor enclosure, the right turtle food plays a fundamental role in the health of tortoises. In the long run, an unhealthy diet can lead to health and often irreparable damage. First of all, the following is important:
Turtles are herbivores
What is healthy food for turtles?
We take nature as a template. In the natural turtle habitats, the soil is more calcareous and barren than here. The plants grow more slowly and contain many important minerals, raw fibers and dietary fiber. In spring the plants are still thriving and in summer most of the plants are withered. Only in autumn can the turtles eat more fresh wild herbs again.
With us the summer is usually not that dry. There is always fresh green fodder, which is also far too rich / fat. That is why we should put more fiber-rich, dried out feed on the menu in summer. Which plants are suitable for feeding the tortoises:
Unhealthy or toxic feed
In addition to the above-mentioned food, there is of course also unhealthy and even poisonous tortoise food. Any kind of food sticks should not be fed. They usually contain too much protein. Vitamin preparations are also not necessary and can even be harmful to health in the long term.
Our tortoises are well looked after with varied, species-appropriate feeding.
Do tortoises know which food is good or bad for them?
We cannot fully answer the question. We are not aware of any studies that clarify the question. We also try to give our animals only non-toxic food. This way they don't even get tempted. But we do believe that tortoises recognize early on what it is better not to eat. But that doesn't apply to unhealthy fruits and vegetables. In the first few years, out of ignorance, we also gave our animals cucumbers, tomatoes and sometimes strawberries. They attacked it. Fruit is not immediately life-threatening like poisonous plants, but in the long run it is very harmful to the organism. We like to compare that to us humans who even knowingly eat unhealthy food. Just because it tastes good.
Natural food for turtles is important for the health and an important component for the welfare of Greek tortoises. You will see that it is not difficult to feed our Greek tortoises healthily. In addition to choosing the right feed, you should also make sure that you feed in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, there is often a tendency to give the easiest food to get hold of. With us, these are certainly dandelions, clover and thistles.
One-sided feeding harbors two dangers. On the one hand, malnutrition is possible because the lack of diversity means that important vitamins and nutrients are missing. But turtles are also very picky and seem to get used to their food. At the beginning it is difficult to convince the animals of herb hay, for example. It is therefore advisable to feed them variedly right from the start. That is why we feed the Agrobs hay pellets all year round, especially in summer.
Outdated feeding recommendations
Unfortunately, in some older books you can still find food tips that are unsuitable. Please refrain from feeding e.g. iceberg lettuce, cucumber or tomatoes. Fruit has no place on the menu either. We keep hearing the argument “my turtles like to eat it”. Yes that's true, unfortunately! It's no different for us humans. We also like a lot of foods that are unhealthy for us in the long run. We want to say that again here very clearly.The tortoises taste a lot of vegetables and especially fruits. But they have no place on the feeding schedule.
There are also other "treats" that are much healthier. Try e.g. mallow or hibiscus flowers! Your tortoises will like it and literally pounce on it.
Feeding & nutrition tips
In the following we would like to give you the most important tips for a healthy and species-appropriate diet of the Greek tortoises in short form:
- Feed mainly fresh wild plants, wild herbs and flowers
- always offer softened hay pellets (more in summer than in spring): AGROBS Testudo is the ideal supplement with a high proportion of crude fiber
- The turtles' nutritional needs naturally change over the course of the year
- in spring mainly young and juicy feed
- rather dried up and fiber-rich plants in summer
- Regular addition of hay pellets is now very important; at times they can only be fed
- suitable plants:
- Dandelion, plantain, nettle, thistle, wild garlic, rainkohl, garlic mustard, ground elder, clover, coltsfoot, field pansy, lady's mantle, brownelle, dead nettle, hollyhock, mallow, marshmallow, chicory, poppy seed, yarrow, marguerite, burdock, chamomile, bindweed, Evening primrose, sasparsette, knotweed, cranesbill, funkie, wild strawberry leaves, ... At Wikipedia there is a list of some forage plants with descriptions.
- The Handbook of Forage Plants for Turtles and Other Reptiles is an ideal companion in the search for suitable forage plants
by Marion Minch. Highly Recommended!
- not suitable:
- fruit and vegetables
- Meat, dog and cat food
- but also do without dry turtle food / ready-made food
- poisonous plants: ivy, boxwood, yew, angel's trumpet, ...
- Do not always put food in the same place, but distribute it in the enclosure and encourage the turtles to forage naturally
- sometimes not offering food one day a week
- no Addition of vitamin preparations, as the necessary vitamin supply is regulated by a varied mix of wild plants
- Improper nutrition can lead to severe kidney and liver damage, tank growth disorders, hump formation, gout and ultimately death
- always offer sepia peels for an additional calcium supply
- Do not sprinkle calcium or mineral supplements over the feed
- the tortoises are much better able to decide for themselves how much they need
- always offer fresh water (e.g. in flower coasters made of clay)
- Adequate supply of fluids is important
- Occasional bathing (approx. every 3-4 weeks) in lukewarm water is possible (only applies to young animals)
You can find detailed information about the food and nutrition of the Greek tortoise on the following pages:
- Suitable forage plants for tortoises
- Sow wild herbs yourself
- Book presentation "The Turtle Gardener"
- AGROBS tortoise food
- Sensible food supplements for an optimal supply of nutrients
- Unsuitable forage plants
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