While making a salad for your box turtle, have you wondered if you could add cucumbers to the mix?
The thing about all pets, but especially odd ones, is how you must know what’s safe and not.
We understand it’s a lot to remember, but this is why we’re here to help with articles like this.
Let’s talk about cucumbers and box turtles.
Can Box Turtles Eat Cucumbers?
Yes, box turtles can eat cucumbers, but they should be given in limited amounts. They do not supply many nutrients like other healthy vegetables, so it’s best not to have them as part of their regular diets. Box turtle food should offer the vitamins and minerals needed for healthy growth and development.
Nutrients in Cucumbers
As a turtle owner, it’s essential to understand the nutrients in all the foods you offer your pet.
Cucumbers do provide several minerals and vitamins needed in box turtle diets.
For starters, they are made mostly of water, making them a great source of hydration.
They are also a good source of potassium and Vitamin B.
While it is possible to receive hydration from cucumbers, it’s also essential to put a water bowl in your turtle’s enclosure.
Freshwater should be offered daily, not just for your turtle to drink from but to bathe in as well.
Box turtle diets require a variety of foods, not just a singular one.
When their diets don’t provide a wide range of foods, they are more likely to suffer from health conditions.
Why Cucumbers Shouldn’t be Served Everyday
Box turtle food should ideally provide health benefits to their diet.
If a food doesn’t provide nutrients for a box turtle, it’s just a filler food.
It’s like when humans eat a snack, it’s doesn’t do anything for us nutritiously; it just fills our stomach at the moment.
However, when box turtles eat these filler foods, they likely will not eat the foods they require in their diets for a healthy lifestyle.
While cucumbers do have their fair share of nutrients, there are also some negatives with serving them frequently.
While water is necessary for hydration, the high level of cucumbers can lead to diarrhea.
If you are serving cucumbers to your box turtle, I recommend mixing them with various foods, like leafy greens and proteins.
What Should Box Turtles Eat?
Box turtles are omnivorous and require a balanced diet of plant and animal matter, with the occasional fruit.
Healthy box turtles are served various foods, ensuring they are receiving a proper balance of protein and plants.
It’s essential to wash all fruits and vegetables to ensure any potential pesticides have been washed off.
Consider serving food on a flat rock; it has the added benefit of filing your turtle’s beak.
Finally, a baby turtle will eat daily, while adults eat a few times a week.
Box turtle diets should consist of 50% leafy greens and vegetables.
Providing a wide variety of plant matter will ensure your box turtle is getting an appropriate amount of minerals and vitamins.
There are a variety of plants and leafy vegetable matter you should offer your pet turtle.
They are a great source of nutrients to keep your box turtle healthy.
A list of some of the best plant material to feed your turtle are:
- Dandelion Greens
- Green Beans
- Red Peppers
- Winter Squashes
- Sweet Potato
- Collard Greens
- Romaine Lettuce
- Yellow Squash
- Summer Squash
- Wax Beans
Avoid celery and iceberg lettuce.
They consist mostly of water and fiber and few nutrients. In general, avoid any light-colored green leafy vegetables.
Limit consumption of spinach, kale beet greens, and swiss chard.
They contain oxalates which bind to calcium and other minerals, preventing calcium absorption in your pet’s intestines.
When spinach or kale is fed too frequently, your pet is at risk of developing a calcium deficiency.
Finally, while fresh vegetables are ideal, you are able to provide frozen vegetables.
Occasionally, frozen foods will lose some of their nutrients during the freezing process.
In addition, pet box turtles require diets consisting of 50% protein matter.
Both a baby box turtle and an adult will get the same amount of animal-based protein sources.
Insects are an excellent protein source since most of those you serve at home are the same ones they can find in the wild.
Types of insects you should offer your box turtle include:
- Wax Worms
- Super Worms
If you serve mealworms, make sure not to give your turtle more than 5 in one sitting.
The fat content is high and, over time, can prove harmful to your turtle’s health.
While it may be tempting to feed them crickets or earthworms in your backyard, you should not do so.
Wild insects always risk the chance of carrying pesticides you don’t want to transfer to your box turtle.
Box turtles can eat low-fat dog food as well.
It shouldn’t be their only source of protein.
Wild box turtles certainly don’t have access to dry dog food in their natural habitat.
Wild box turtles will eat small reptiles, frogs, snails, and small mammals.
Don’t ever offer your box turtle raw meats.
There is always the chance it will contain parasites which can make your pet very sick.
You are able to offer cooked meats, like chicken, on occasion.
Finally, I recommend “gut-loading” the insects before serving them to your box turtle.
For example, give nutrient-rich food to crickets before feeding them to your pet.
They will then be passed along to your pet turtle when they eat the insects.
In addition, sprinkle them lightly with a calcium carbonate before feeding them to your turtle.
Fruit should make up the smallest percentage of your box turtle’s diet and only be served in moderation.
About 10-20% of the plant matter you give your turtle should be fruit.
The nutritional content in fruits is not ideal to have regularly.
The high sugar level is not suitable for reptiles.
- bananas (with the skin on)
- star fruit
These are all outstanding fruits to serve your box turtle.
I recommend mixing fruits with leafy greens to ensure they don’t grow a preference for the sweeter food.
If you serve too many fruits, they likely will begin to refuse the nutrient-rich foods they need in their diets.
While there is a variety of fruits you are able to give your box turtle, remember they should not make up a large portion of their diet.
Make a point not to give their favorite fruit too often.
Foods to Avoid
It’s also essential to understand the foods and toxic plants you should never give your box turtle.
These items include:
- Tobacco plants
- Poison Ivy
- Wild-caught fish
- Potato leaves
- Dairy products
Box Turtle Supplements
While you may not have thought you needed to give your box turtle vitamins, it’s essential to supplement with those they aren’t receiving in their diet.
To ensure your box turtle doesn’t develop any deficiencies, I recommend sprinkling calcium powder over their food a couple of times a week.
A calcium supplement will ensure your turtle’s calcium to phosphorus ratio stays at a healthy level, ideally 2:1.
While a healthy diet can aid in this, sometimes they just don’t get the proper amount of food in their diet.
When box turtles don’t have a proper amount of calcium in their diets, they are more at risk for metabolic bone disease (MDB).
MDB can cause your turtle to have a brittle shell, bowed legs, bumps along their spines, and may begin limping.
While box turtles can eat cucumbers on occasion, it’s vital to offer a balanced diet full of proteins, plant matter, and fruit.
Remember, box turtles are omnivores and require mostly plant matter.
If you ever question the foods you are giving to your box turtle, it’s always advisable to consult your reptile veterinarian.
They can give you tips on providing a varied diet for your pet.