I have been raising box turtles for a long time, and I am quite familiar with its weird behaviors. A box turtle is not like other species. It needs extra care, and you have to learn some basic facts about box turtles before getting it.
Box turtles sometimes stop eating. Several reasons can be responsible for this behavior. Hibernation, stress or any other environmental problems can be considered as some of the major reasons.
If your box turtle stopped eating, and you cannot find why, well, this article might help you. I will explain why box turtles show this behavior and what to do.
Why Does A Box Turtle Avoid Food?
Many things can make a box turtle avoid its food. But the main reasons are:
- Change in the environment or unhealthy environment
First of all, you have to keep in mind that like human beings, a box turtle’s appetite can vary from time to time. Generally, you have to feed your pet turtle every two or three days. If it skips its meal for a few days, then it is nothing to worry about.
But if it goes for a long time, or it frequently stops eating, then you should consult with a vet. You can give it homemade remedies too. But before everything else, you have to identify why your box turtle is not eating.
To find out the reason, you can work on some points.
Have You Just Welcomed Your Box Turtle?
Well, we all know box turtles are homesick. If you put them in a place for some days, they get attached to that environment. So when you bring it from a pet shop, or from the wild, it may feel uneasy in the new environment.
The fresh box turtle can feel stressed in a new environment. Stressing can make it avoid its food for some days. As it is new, it needs some time to get used to the food you are offering. Many box turtles are fond of a certain type of food
This can be the reason why your box turtle is not eating. In this case, you do not need to worry. Your box turtle will start eating as soon as it gets used to the food and habitat.
Is Your Box Turtle Picky About Food?
Each species and subspecies of box turtle has a different food habit. So when you are getting a box turtle, do research on its food habit. If your box turtle is not eating food, it may be because it is not getting what it needs.
Ensure that you are serving your pet box turtle the right food it needs. If it still avoids food, try some new items or visit the vet.
How Is The Habitat?
We know that box turtles cannot eat if they are stressed. Many things can stress a box turtle. Its habitat is one of those things.
Small habitats can stress the large box turtles. Again, if the habitat is too congested, then the pet does not feel comfortable there. These things cause anxiety to your box turtle and it stops eating.
You can avoid this by building up a quality habitat for your box turtle. Four feet by four feet habitat is perfect for a box turtle. For some box turtles, outdoor habitat is more preferable.
Is The Temperature Right?
Unlike human beings, box turtle cannot hold the warmth of its body in low temperatures. So if the temperature of the habitat decreases, the box turtle experiences a metabolic change. They stop eating and save energy to preserve the warmth.
Different species and subspecies of box turtle prefer different temperatures for their habitat. But for the common box turtles (Three-toed box turtle, Eastern box turtle, Gulf coast box turtle) we can consider an average temperature.
The data says the enclosure’s temperature should be around 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime. The temperature of the basking spot is slightly higher than this. It should be between 85 degrees to 88 degrees. At night, the temperature must be above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some box turtles like the temperature slightly higher or lower than this. Moreover, it depends on your box turtle’s comfort zone. You have to make sure it is getting the perfect temperature.
Again, if it is too hot, your box turtle would stop eating too. It cannot endure any extreme temperature, and so it stops eating to store its energy. To avoid this issue, you have to check the temperature regularly.
Is USB Lighting Working?
It is not necessary that your box turtle will lose metabolism only for extreme temperatures. Many other things can be responsible for this. USB lights are a fundamental element each box turtle habitat should have.
Losing metabolism is a reason your box turtle stops eating. USB lights provide heat that can boost the turtle’s metabolism, activity, and calcium absorption. These can help your box turtle to gain its appetite again.
Now here is the thing, for an outside box turtle, artificial USB lights are not necessary. Direct sunlight is more beneficial than artificial ones.
For indoor box turtles, USB lights are a must. You have to get UVA and UVB lights. Or you can move your box turtle outside. But in that case, try to open the shed for some time.
Wet Weather or Dry?
If your box turtle stops eating in the dry season for a few days, it may be okay. A box turtle’s favorite season is the wet season, and it tends to eat a lot during this season. Again, box turtles can feel the pressure or change of the weather. And during changes, it might stop eating, which will be alright within a few days.
Hibernation or Aestivation?
Most of us are acknowledged about hibernation and aestivation. During these two processes, metabolism of the box turtle drops. To keep up with the internal changes, it stops eating.
Hibernation occurs in the winter season, and aestivation takes place in the warm season. So if your box turtle has stopped eating during the winter or warm season, it is maybe preparing for the process.
There is nothing to worry about. Do not force your box to eat food in this situation. You can consult a vet if you need.
Are You Maintaining The Time Table?
Many box turtles prefer eating at dawn or in the morning and refuse to eat any other time of the day. But it is a temporary problem. You can make it comfortable with your time table, but it will take some time.
How To Make The Box Turtle Eat Again?
- You can try feeding your box turtle after a rain, or an artificial rain. It may sound odd, but box turtles eat more in a damp environment.
- If it stops eating, try to feed it with living prey.
- Provide your box turtle multiple food items. Often a box turtle prefers a certain type of food. So multiple food items give it more choice to pick. You can consult a vet for more information.
- Box turtles love fruits like berries and bananas. Give them enough to eat.
- Build your box turtle a wider house.
- Do not disturb it and keep it in a better environment where it will not be stressed.
- During hibernation or aestivation, provide extra care.
If the box turtle stops eating for a few days, you can try some changes. If it is going for a long time, you must consult a vet.
How Long Can A Box Turtle Survive Without Food?
It may sound strange but an adult box turtle can go a long time without eating food. It can survive for months.
For baby turtles, this is not possible. Baby turtles need food regularly.
In this article, I tried to explain the problem of box turtle not eating with some solutions. The trick is simple if you can adopt it. I hope this article was helpful to you.