box turtle swimming

Watch as a box turtle enjoys a swim before lunch.

box-turtle-eating-beetle

For lunch he eats a grub, snail, and a large beetle.

This cute turtle is actually a vicious hunter.  Watch the video to see…

My daughter found this box turtle on our property in Arkansas, USA.  We borrowed him from the wild for a week.  After a week, we released him back from where he came:  the woods behind our house.  We sent him on his way with a full belly.

Surprisingly, my first few attempts to feed this turtle failed.

Box Turtle is a Predator

What do box turtles eat anyway?

At first I offered him different kinds of fruit, like banana and  grapes.  I also offered him a carrot.  The turtle refused to eat these and I was afraid he was going to starve to death while visiting us.

I read online that box turtles also like to eat small bugs.  I put some bugs into the 18-gallon plastic container we were keeping him in.  The turtle immediately turned into a vicious predator.  He gulped down many bugs, including grubs, a worm, a snail, and rolie polies.

Where do you find food for box turtles?

I found the bugs in two places:  in my compost pile and around my garden.  The big beetles were found under logs that border some garden beds.  I found a grub slithering across a garden bed right after a rain.  The rest of the bugs were found in my compost pile.  I simply took a shovel and dug into the pile, uncovering rolie polies and a worm.

My biggest surprise with this turtle was how much of a carnivore he was.  He refused to eat his fruits and veggies but loved to eat live prey.

The turtle was released yesterday and is again wandering around on our property where my daughter originally found him.  The way I convinced her to let him go was to tell her that if we let him go, we could have lots of baby turtles on our property later.  After our turtle finds another adult turtle, they will lay eggs and make baby turtles.  She was excited about that and was motivated to let him go without a fuss.

We enjoyed meeting this turtle, seeing how turtles swim, and learning more about what turtles eat.

turtle walking on grass

Who’s Been Eating My Melons?!

This is a melon that made it safely out of the garden and  into the house.

This is a melon that made it safely out of the garden and into the house.

This year I have seen many more turtles, mostly hanging around the garden.  These turtles love to eat melons!  Nooooo!!!   My garden has turned into a turtle sanctuary!  Watch the video below to see how I discovered a turtle eating the melons in my garden.

VIDEO



9 Comments

  1. mark says:

    Thank you! It’s great that you released the turtle and told your daughter what you did. Box turtles are not doing well in most, if not all of their ranges, and wild populations need our help.

    Here are some links with more information:

    http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/neparc/Products/BoxTurtle.htm

    http://www.mckeever.org/turtle.html

  2. Earl says:

    I agree with you, that these wild critters do need our help. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Dorothy says:

    Hi Earl, This was really cute about the turtle. I find this very unusual. Seems like the emphasis here in Arkansas is how to kill, skin, hook, process, and consequently mistreat, animals. You show a real appreciation for one of our companions on this planet. Kudos!

  4. Em says:

    Not certain, but by the size and shape of the tail, I suspect your “dude” might be a lady… if the plastron is concave it’s a gal. I’m glad you’re nice to them – they’re great critters! By the way, I have seen them climb chain link fences, so Maybe…

  5. Em says:

    Ooops… I’m sorry; I meant if the plastron is Flat it’s a gal. If it’s concave it’s a dude after all!

  6. Earl says:

    Thanks for tips about identifying the turtle’s gender.

    I like your sketches at your site.

  7. Tish and Jacob says:

    Awesome video! We caught a very small box turtle today and we are gonna feed it some grubs and maybe a screaming beetle before we let it go. I released a full grown box turtle last year so maybe this is a baby???

  8. Earl says:

    Thank you. Sounds like fun. Maybe you do have a baby turtle. If so, it would probably really appreciate a free meal.

  9. Watson says:

    It depends on how you look at it. The box turtle is a predator when he comes into your garden and eats your melons. But when he comes in and eats the bugs, then he’s not a predator, he is like a ladybug: he’s a benefit to your garden. Maybe if you turn the box over and cover the melon and put a rock or brick on top, you’ll stop him from eating the melon. The melon doesn’t need sunlight, just the leaves. Or use a ring of chicken wire around the melon. Interesting story.

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