The Book of Six © Six garden “pest” a box turtle eats

Abundant wildlife in the garden not only brings great joy, they also helps keep nature in balance.

Wildlife 120

60% or more of a box turtle’s  (Terrapene sp.) diet is composed of animal matter.

Six garden “pests” box turtles eat are:

  • Snugs
  • Flies
  • Grubs
  • Snails
  • Grasshoppers
  • Crickets

Box turtles will eat most bugs; essentially, if they can catch it, they will eat it.

The rest is their diet is made up of fungi, moss, and berries.  Please welcome box turtles in the garden.

Helen Yoest

Gardening With Confidence



  1. tina said

    I keep rescuing box turtles from the middle of the highway and they keep leaving my wildlife friendly backyard for greener pastures by the pond. Humph! That’s the gratitude I get for having plenty of slugs and worms and snails and bugs and grubs here!:)

    • Mark said

      Hi Tina,
      It’s great that you rescue turtles from the road.

      Turtles are territorial and removing them from their home ranges can make them disoriented and cause them to wander. The process of reintroducing them is difficult and doesn’t succeed that often. Most experts agree that the best thing to do is take them across the road in the direction they’re headed and release them about 30-50 feet from the roadside, in a safe place.

      For more on the problems turtles face and the issues involved in relocating them , check out this site:

  2. Thanks Mark,

    My turtles are here. They haven’t been here for very long, but I happen to have them. We too stop to help them across the street. It’s not too often I can take them 30 – 50 feet off the road due to fences or a decline in the topo making it too risky, but point taken. H.

  3. cheryl young said

    PLEASE ADVISE…..I have a box turtle eating my heirloom tomatoes…tried to relocate it….comes back,or maybe there is more ???? What can I do, it has eaten all my lettuce too.

    thanks, cy

    • Mark said

      I’m not a gardener, but I suggest that instead of moving the turtle, you protect the plants.

      Relocating a turtle outside its home range is essentially writing its death sentence and will be very damaging to any existing local population. Box turtles are in trouble; they’re on the endangered species list in Massachusetts and probably should be in most other states.

      As Helen pointed out above, on balance, turtles are good for your garden.

  4. Thanks for chiming in Mark!

    Yes Cheryl, I too suggest protecting your veggies and reaping the benefits the box turtle brings. I actually put tomatoes in the compost pile (those past prime) specifically for the box turtle – they do like them.

    As I worked in the garden today, I looked for my box turtle, but he wasn’t out showing is little turtle face. I was disappointed.

    But I feel you pain. I have a bunny problem. They have their faves and theydrive me crazy. But I live and garden with life all around and try to keep everything in balance. H.

  5. KP said

    Hi Helen,

    I just discovered your website and found it very interesting.

    I have an adult box turtle which has been roaming around in my garden for one month already. It loves to eat water spinach, water lettuce, banana peel and star fruit. It lives in a compost pile. I ensure there is ample water. I also plant water spinach in the ground every week to ensure sufficient food for the turtle. So far, it has not tried to leave us…I think.

    It is a joy to see the turtle in the garden.

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