Sources of Insects for feeding Box Turtles
Collecting bugs is by far the best source of insects. With a little creativity you can provide your turtle with a wide variety of nutritious bugs. The most important consideration is being sure you collect from areas that are pesticide free.
In the warmer months, its easy to get a wide variety of moths and beetles by leaving a porch light on. Another very highly effective method is to hang a white sheet on a clothesline. Tie the bottom so it makes sort of a funnel. Shine a bright light from behind. In a few hours the sheet will be loaded with bugs. Its then a simple matter of harvesting the catch.
Also night time is great for collecting slugs and sow bugs. If you have an area with leaves on the ground, sprinkle some kibbled dog food in a small area before dark. A few hours after the sun goes down the dog food will be crawling with slugs and sow bugs (if there are any in your yard).
If you live up north, night time is great for collecting night crawlers.
Slugs, worms, sow bugs and beetle grubs can be found under boards, flagstones and flower pots. You can also put out large pieces of melon rinds at night. In the morning slugs will congregate under it.
Sweeping a butterfly net through tall grass often produces a wide variety of bugs.
In late summer, grasshoppers are often abundant. I have been know to bribe the neighbor kids into collecting grasshoppers for me.
Small minnows, night crawlers and crickets can be bought at bait stores. Feeder fish, wax worms, mealworms, superworms, pinkies and night crawlers are available at most pet stores that carry reptile supplies.
Following are some links to online sources that I have found to be reliable.
For crickets, mealworms, superworms, butterworms, wax worms, European (Belgian) night crawlers, Phoenix Worms, Pill bugs, Mealworms etc: Carolina Pet Supply
For feeder mice and pinkies : Mice on Ice
The first thing to do is to decide how many crickets you
want to produce. This
There are male and female crickets. Each female will lay about 100 eggs in her lifetime, and about 5-10 per day until 100 is reached. Lets assume you want to have 1000 crickets, you will have to start with at least 10 female crickets and 10 male crickets. You will also have to provide space for 1000 crickets. A 20-gallon Rubbermaid container, a 20-gallon fish tank, or a garbage can will easily hold 1000 crickets.
The adult female cricket has three long projections on
her back side and fully developed wings. The male cricket
has two projections. In the female, the extrusion is
called the ovipositor.
Back to the box. The container you will use must be
escape-proof from the
Once you have decided upon a container, your next problem
will be to figure
Choose your heating method and then gather up the rest of
your supplies. You
Use chicken mash as a food for your crickets. Egg
layer mash works well. Heat
You will also need some sort of substrate so the crickets
can lay eggs in it.
After your crickets have laid eggs in the substrate for a
few days, you can move
Keep the babies in the brooder/incubator until half
grown. Then, move them
Mealworms are easy to raise. All you need is a 10 gallon aquarium. Put an inch of wheat germ, oatmeal, corn meal or egg layer mash on the bottom. Add a dozen or so mealworms. Add fresh potato slices daily for moisture. In a few weeks the mealworms will pupate, then turn into beetles. Within a month there will be hundreds of tiny mealworms. These are great for hatchlings.
These are harder than mealworms. But still rather easy. In order to get the superworms to pupate, they need to be isolated and stressed. I have found that the easiest way is to use a type of case that can be bought at a craft store. The one I use has 25 compartments
In about a week the superworms start to curl up. A few days later they pupate. In a week or so the beetles emerge. From this point on, treat them like regular mealworms.
Sow bugs are also easy to raise. Again, a 10 gallon aquarium works great. Put a layer of garden soil on the bottom, then a layer of dried leaves. Add as many sow bugs as you can find. They will eat the leaves, but do better if you add some grass clippings (just a little) and replace when gone. The most important thing is to keep the soil moist. They will reproduce faster if kept around 80 or higher. But do well at room temps too.
Pill Bug breeding colony
Its a bit out of focus...the white "grains" are young pill bugs