There are very few foods that box turtles should never eat. They can tolerate almost anything in moderation and have even been known to eat poisonous mushrooms without any ill effects. The problem is, we don’t really know how much of these things they can eat or why they can tolerate them.
To be on the safe side, it’s best to keep known poisonous plants away from your box turtles. This includes things like:
- The leaves of rhubarb, potato and tobacco plants
- Avocado peel, seeds and leaves
- Tomato leaves and vines
- Poison ivy
You can find more information on the California Turtle & Tortoise Club website. It has a Poisonous Plant List that you can refer to both for choosing plants to feed and choosing plants to grow in your turtles’ habitat. The list is old, but since plant toxicity doesn’t really change, it’s still a useful resource.
In addition to toxic plants, there are a few other foods and food products that we eat but shouldn’t share with our turtle friends.
- Dairy: Turtles in the wild do not eat dairy. In fact, reptiles are lactose intolerant (can’t break down lactose). So milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products are not good food choices for box turtles.
- Processed foods: This includes things like lunch meat, sausage and canned foods. Basically anything high in salt or other preservatives. These things are not good for humans either, but we can make the choice to eat them or not. Your box turtles rely on you for their food, and they would never find these things in the wild, so don’t feed them to captive turtles.
- Non-food foods: This means things like candy, chocolate or anything else made with refined sugars. They’re technically edible but for the most part not exactly nutritious. Again, your turtle won’t find them in his natural habitat and probably can’t metabolize them well.
So there you go. A very short list of things your pet box turtle shouldn’t eat. Since most of them are also things you also shouldn’t eat much of, it shouldn’t be too hard to avoid them!