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Turtles/ornate box turtle diet

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Question
My boxie is currently undergoing frequent beak trimmings to correct a malocclusion that occurred from hyperkeratosis of the palate due to a diet deficiency. As it turns out, I was not providing an adequately balanced diet for her. I am making many corrections and seeing a huge difference in behavior (more energy) and more food acceptance. It is difficult however to feed her many of the staples that she needs in her diet, like veggies, because of her beak problem. She is not able to bite into many things and I have been feeding her softer foods and having to chop up her worms. I thought that I have heard from my vet that it was possible to feed them baby food puree like peas and carrots. Is this possible? If not, are there any other suggestions on how I can feed my turtle "softer" veggies? Thanks,
Courtney

Answer
Hi Courtney,

Can you provide a picture of her so I can see the extent of the beak issue?  Can you also give more information on how you're keeping her, in terms of enclosure, etc.?  That gives me a better idea of the circumstances so I can give more useful advice.  Ideally, an ornate should be housed outdoor exclusively--they can hibernate if a proper area is prepared for them--with as much natural foraging areas as possible (piles of leaf litter/straw, logs, bark, etc.).  My ornate is more carnivorous by choice, but is regularly provided with greens/veggies/fruit.  She seems to prefer having them scattered around her pen rather than eating from a dish, but she is very shy (was rescued from a road here as a non-native species).  

Generally they can manage unless the beak is really overgrown.  If she really can't, I would just chop the food for the time being rather than feeding baby food, which is processed at high heat and thus is much less natural than whole foods.  The other issue is that if she's only eating very soft foods, the beak problem is going to continue.  What you want is to get her to a point where her beak will trim itself naturally, since obviously beak trims are stressful.  A turtle or tortoise on a proper diet won't need beak trims at all, and that's what you want.  

In any case, if you can post back with additional information, I can give better advice on the beak issue and also housing/care.  

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Jeannie

Expertise

Questions regarding husbandry of Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean species, sulcata, and redfoot tortoises; general tortoise and turtle care; box turtle care. If I can't answer a specific question, I can provide sources for further research. Disclaimer: My advice is not a substitute for vet care. If I think your tortoise/turtle has a specific medical condition or injury that warrants a vet visit, I'll tell you so, and if possible I'll help you locate a vet. It is neither legal nor ethical for me to provide veterinary advice.

Experience

I have kept and bred Russian tortoises for over ten years and have other Mediterranean species plus redfoots and box turtles. I've worked with other tortoise and turtle species while doing volunteer rescue work; mostly sulcata but some leopards, California desert tortoises, yellowfoots, all box turtle species, red-eared sliders, etc. I don't personally keep aquatic species, but have access to a wealth of information and research to help you with any questions you might have.

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My knowledge is based on hands-on experience keeping, breeding, and working with tortoises and turtles.

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