Transcript of What do box turtles eat?
Christine: They’re really interesting in the way they hunt and so I want you to see, yep, let’s get not focused on her but on, there you go, see? I want you to watch how they hunt and how they eat.
(box turtle snaps at worm) Do you see where he went for first? He went right for the head. He didn’t do a good job of catching it but he went for it.
(Talking to the female turtle) I’ve got one for you too, here you go.
So, and the cool thing is, see how they’re very visual? Different animals hunt different ways: some use hearing, some use smell. You can see that they’re visual hunters, you can see how they kinda look at it. They look at it and then they kinda figure out where they’re gonna bite it and then they come down on it.
Participant: Do they always make that noise?
Christine: When they eat slimy things they make that noise. When turtles eat… The other thing they really like to eat is slugs and a turtle eating a slug is just hilarious because, you know, slimy slugs are….
(Talking to the female turtle) You ready?
I’ll put this one further away so you can watch her see it.
(Female turtle walks up to worm and bites it) So you see, she’s gone right for the head. You see she watches, she sees where it is, she’s looking at it, and then they go right down. I think that’s really interesting, I really enjoy watching the turtles. So, I think it’s pretty cool.
So, they’re omnivores, which means what?
Participant: They eat plants and animals.
Christine: Right. Since they eat earthworms, and they eat slugs, what else or what other meat do you think they might eat in the wild?
Christine: Right, well, think about it, what kinds of insects would they eat? Where are they going to be located, where are these guys located?
Christine: Like, you know, they grubs, and I learned yesterday they also eat millipedes. I didn’t think anything could eat millipedes because millipedes have a toxin.
I know, do you see her looking at me? (Talking to the female turtle) Would you like a strawberry next? I don’t know if she’ll want a strawberry.
(Christine drops a worm and a strawberry in front of a turtle) Look, look, look, here you go.
So, they’re going to finding the type of animals, the type of organisms that live under logs, right? So, beyond the worms, they also eat plants, right, vegetation. So what types of vegetation do you think they would eat?
Christine: They eat mushrooms. And one of the interesting things that you guys know or you should know, that many of the mushrooms that grow out in the woods are toxic to us, right? They are not to the box turtles and so, um, what the Native Americans found out was that sometimes they would eat box turtles and end up with stomach aches. What they found out from watching was that box turtles ate poisonous mushrooms and then they ate those box turtles, then they got sick. So it’s kinda like the poison dart frogs, it’s kinda the same way, they’re only poisonous if they eat a certain kind of ant that has that toxin. The box turtles are the same way so if they eat a poisonous mushroom and then we were to eat them, then that toxin, it stays in their body for a while so that they would be toxic for a bit.
Participant: How long does the toxin last?
Christine: You know, I don’t know how long the toxin lasts but it may be dependent on the type of mushroom, because some mushrooms are more toxic than others, and how much they ate. I think all those factors would come into play on how long it would stay in their system. So that’s a good question.
So they eat mushrooms and we know they eat strawberries as they’re trying to eat it. What else do you think they eat, that’s plants?
Christine: They might eat some blueberries. There’s another berry that they really really like that grows wild, kinda, lots of seeds, they’re thorny…
Christine: Blackberries! They LOVE blackberries, and actually a lot of baby box turtles will go to the blackberry bushes when the blackberries ripen and just hang out there for a while and eat the blackberries. So if you have blackberries growing in your yard, it’s a great thing to have and don’t get rid of them because they’re important for the baby box turtles.
Any other thoughts on what they might eat other than mushrooms, berries?
Christine: Oh yeah, I didn’t know that until recently, I was reading something, but yes, they will eat dead animals. That’s part of their meat thing.
So they’re not picky, it doesn’t seem like they’re very picky eaters. Do they have teeth?
Christine: Are there any turtles that have teeth? No turtles have teeth. All turtles have beaks. They actually have a sharp, if you were able to see their skull you could see there is a sharp plate that goes around with kindof a point at it, and that is the beak that they use to eat.
Transcript of Why study box turtles
Hayley: So why do you guys think that we are paying specific attention to box turtles? Why are we trying to study them?
Participant: Because they’re endangered?
Hayley: So, that’s a good answer, a lot of people think that, but, they’re actually not endangered yet, but they are of concern because the numbers are declining. So they’re not yet to the point where they’re like a panda which is really, super endangered, but we’re noticing a decline, especially in babies. So when they do studies, they’ll find lots of adult turtles and they for, you know, 100 years. So they’ll find ones that are, you know, full grown, have been living for a while but there’s not as many hatchlings as we would like. So these turtles will eventually get to the point where they’re too old to lay eggs, or they’ll get old and pass away, we want to make sure there are enough babies to replace them. And so we don’t quite know why.
Do you guys have an idea of why we’re losing so many babies or where our box turtles are going? Just any guess, it doesn’t matter.
Participants: The eggs get destroyed.
Hayley: Yeah, so that’s one thing that is a danger to them, like rats, you know, raccoons, lots of our native predators can go after box turtle eggs and hatchlings. So that’s one of the dangers to the babies. And then, for the adults, what do you think happens to the adults?
Participant: They get hit by cars?
Hayley: Yeah, so, when they’re, you know, this big and solid, they really don’t have a whole lot of natural predators, they’re pretty much a fortress. But they do encounter troubles when they’re crossing our roads and they get hit by cars because a lot of the times, you know, they’re just trying to get to a place where they would lay their eggs and, they’re not designed to understand how roads work so they walk the same route they’ve always walked. When there’s a road there one day they get hit by cars. And that’s kinda what happens to a lot of turtles.