Determining Why Your Turtle Won't Eat
1Check the temperature.Turtles are cold blooded reptiles and will not eat if the temperature is too cold. If you have an indoor box turtle, provide a warm area and a cool area. The cool area should be between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit and the warm area should be 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. At night, the temperature can drop to between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- For aquatic turtles, the water temperature should be about 78 degrees Fahrenheit. The basking area should be between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If your box turtle lives outside, the turtle will become too cold if the outside temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to add a ceramic heater to your turtle's environment to get it to reach an adequate temperature.
- Check the temperature of your turtle environment using a thermometer and make adjustments if necessary.
2Provide more light.Your turtle also needs adequate light to have a healthy appetite. Aquatic turtles need both UVA and UVB light in their tank. Provide your turtle with 12 to 14 hours of light followed by 10 to 12 hours of darkness. Box turtles need light for at least 12 hours every day. This can be direct sunlight or a combination of a UVB bulb and an incandescent bulb.
- If your turtle is getting less than 12 hours of a light a day, it will probably stop eating.
- If you have an outside box turtle, you will need to adjust the light source with the seasons. For example, you may use more artificial lighting in the fall and winter as the days are shorter and nay not need any artificial lighting in the summer.
3Check for signs of sickness.If your turtle is not eating and you have checked the environment, your turtle may be suffering from an illness. Stress, and illnesses such as vitamin A deficiency, constipation, respiratory infection, eye problems, or pregnancy. If your turtle is not eating, look for other symptoms to decide if your turtle is sick and needs to see a veterinarian.
- If your turtle has white, patchy discoloration on its shell and refuses to eat, your turtle may be suffering from vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A deficiency is linked to respiratory infections in turtles as well.
- Other symptoms of a respiratory infection include wheezing, trouble breathing, sneezing, runny nose, swollen eyes, and a lack of energy.
- If your turtle has stopped eating and stopped going to the bathroom, your turtle may be constipated.
- If your turtle is having eye problems and cannot see, your turtle will not eat. Check your turtle's eyes to ensure that they are clear, free of debris, and shiny.
4Determine if your turtle is hibernating.Asian, European, and North American turtles may hibernate for the winter season. Even if your turtle has the proper environment and plenty of food, it still may choose to hibernate. If you have checked your turtle's habitat and physical health and it still won't eat, take your turtle to the veterinarian to see if your turtle may be trying to hibernate.
- Hibernation puts stress on the body. Only healthy turtles should be allowed to hibernate.
- If your veterinarian says that it is okay for your turtle to hibernate, begin to reduce the temperature in its habitat by 2 or 3 degrees each day. This will help slow your turtle's metabolism down.
- Do not let the temperature drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Begin to increase the temperature by a few degrees each day after 10 weeks.
- Continue to feed your turtle until it stops eating completely.