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Anna, Reptile Expert, Biologist
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 11063
Experience:  Have owned turtles, snakes, amphibians, and lizards. Study and provide habitat for wild herps.
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I have captive hatched baby box turtles that are approximately

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I have captive hatched baby box turtles that are approximately 3-6 weeks old.
They will not eat anything I give them. I have tried box turtle food, sweet potato peels, strawberries, and another canned box turtle food, red worms, mealworms. They get fresh water, moisture, sunlight, etc.
Any suggestions?

Welcome and thank you for requesting me. Some additional information will be useful.

Do you keep them outdoors or inside?

If inside, what temperatures do you maintain under the basking light and on the cool side of the enclosure? What types of lighting and heating equipment do you have?

If outdoors, how have temperatures been in your area?

Thank you.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have them in a shallow tank inside where temp is usually 70 degrees.

I have a heat lamp attached to one end of the tank...not sure the temp. I have moss and the "dirt like" substrate from the pet store. Sorry I do not remember what it is called. I do keep it moist, and it is located in a spot that gets natural sunlight & heat a certain time of day.

I do take them outside to my habitat a few times a week to get some light. Our temps right now are upper 70s, low 80s.

I have seen the remains of one red worm before where one tried to eat.

This is frustrating, as I know they are fragile creatures right now.

I apologize for the delay. I wanted to let you know I'm working on your answer and will post it in a few minutes. I appreciate your patience.


Thank you for waiting. Yes, these babies are quite fragile right now. I wish we knew exactly how old they are because if they are three weeks, it may be normal for them not to eat yet. It's normal for the hatchlings not to eat. They live off the yolk sac for quite some time after hatching. Around 10 days old, many hatchlings will start to eat, but some go as long as a few weeks. You want the basking area temperature to be 85*F, and the cool side of the container to be at 70*F. Use a digital thermometer to be sure. Do check the basking area temperature because if it is too low, the babies will not want to eat.

Right now, I recommend giving the turtles a special soak in case they are already somewhat dehydrated.Dehydration is a common cause of death in box turtle hatchlings. Use half water and half Pedialyte (yes, the kind made for human infants). Soak the turtles for 20 to 30 minutes twice a day. Dehydrated hatchlings will not eat. Be sure to supervise the soaks carefully - we don't want them to drown.The following site has detailed information on how to make a habitat that decreases the chances of dehydration, and lots of other information on hatchling care:

The babies will also need a UVB light. I'll explain. A Reptisun 10.0 in the straight tube style is a good brand. If you choose another brand be absolutely certain it provides UVB rays. Don't take the word of pet store personnel, but read it for yourself. Full-spectrum, DayGlo, daylight, UV, and UVA are NOT the same thing. I'm putting a lot of emphasis on this because it's crucial to a reptile’s health. Without this light, Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) will develop because they won't be able to produce vitamin D. MBD develops especially quickly in babies. Vitamin supplements are not a good replacement for the proper lighting. MBD causes a very slow and painful death. UVB bulbs must be replaced every six months as they lose their effectiveness after that, even though they may still look fine. Light that comes through a window isn't sufficient because the glass filters out the UVB rays.

I would adjust the basking area temperature, start soaks, and also try cutting the food into tiny pieces. since they tried to eat a worm, that would be agood food to try to cut up for them. If you have more questions about this, just let me know by clicking on REPLY. I hope they will soon eat and begin to thrive.


My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Please remember to rate my service only after you have all the information you need. Thank you!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for all the info. I might need to increase the temp some and I will try the pedialite bath.

I have a UVB light and bulb we use for our bearded dragon--will borrow that until I can get to the pet store for another.

I have had some of the babies for 3-4 weeks and two for less than that. I will try what you have suggested and hopefully that will help.


You're welcome. I hope the temperature adjustment and soaks will help them develop an appetite. These little ones can be so hard to raise. I wish you success.

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