This page last edited on

01 August, 2008



  Central American Wood Turtles


Fun Facts

Central American wood turtles are omnivores.  When young they eat a primarily carnivorous diet but as they age they begin to include plants.  It is important for them in captivity to get enough calcium and protein.  They do well on turtle chow but need greens, veggies and occasional fruit to supplement their diet.  They should be fed crickets or earth worms for protein. Central American wood turtles can be found in southern Mexico to Costa Rica, Central America.  They inhabit moist rainforests near fresh bodies of water. They spend the majority of their time on land as they are not water turtles. They are considered semi-aquatic turtles.


  For my information on housing on the wood turtles please see my tortoise page from the link on the top picture menu.  These turtles are housed in the tortoise pen because they are not true pond turtles and would not work well in the large front pond or the large enclosed front yard. I will discuss feeding and care for wood turtles on this page.  The wood turtles love to eat worms! Be sure to visit the worm page from the link on the left to see video and pictures of how I set up the worm box.

  I have two Central American wood turtles. The one pictured to the left was adopted from the Wildlife Care Center in Fort Lauderdale. You can tell his shell is not in great shape. The previous owner had no clue as to how to care for this animal. The turtle came into the center with jewelry glued to its shell if you can believe that! They had to get the jewelry and glue off of the shell. The other wood turtle, pictured below, is younger and was raised from a hatchling inside the house. In the spring of 2006 it began to live outside in the tortoise pen and has grown a lot since then.  Both wood turtles are fairly secretive and hide the majority of the time. They come out to eat a few times a week but thats about it. They rarely bask in the sun. They prefer to burrow in a cool, damp spot. Occasionally I find them in the pen burrowed in the ground or hiding in the houses.  These wood turtles come from Central America and are found in moist areas. They don't live in the water like true pond turtles but do love to soak in the water dishes in the tortoise pen. When I first got the one pictured above I had it in the front pond but it hated it! It kept trying to get out and I was afraid it was going to drown so I put in the tortoise pen and its been doing well ever since.


  The care for the wood turtles is the same as what I do for the box turtles that also live in the tortoise pen.  When I find them I will give them worms which they love to eat. I have also seen them digging for insects and worms themselves. This is what they would do in nature and I'm glad to see they do it here at Dianes Zoo. Because they live in the tortoise pen they have plenty of greens, veggies and tortoise chow available to them. Wood turtles eat a variety of vegetable and animal matter. I have seen them eat the tortoise chow plenty of times and it seems to me that they enjoy it.  As they get older they prefer more vegetable matter than animal matter. As hatchlings they prefer almost all animal matter.  The following is what I put in the tortoise pen and what I would give them even if they were living without tortoises.



  • Romaine, green or red leaf lettuce, or endive (chicory)

  • Shredded carrots

  • Bananas, strawberries, mango or peaches.  The wood turtles enjoy the fruit!

Every other day:

  • Mazuri tortoise chow - $$$ $aving tip - buy at the local feed store where it is much cheaper than a pet store. They can order it for you if they don't stock it. Wood turtles don't need to be fed tortoise chow, they can be fed turtle chow but since they live in the tortoise pen it is available to them and they seem to love it!

Several times a week:

  • Tomatoes, cut in small pieces

  • Yellow or green zucchini squash, cut in small pieces

  • Green beans, cut in small pieces

  • Hibiscus leaves and flowers

  • Petunia leaves and flowers

  • Prickly pear cactus (actually a few times a month)

Once a week:

  • Rep Cal Calcium without Vitamin D powder and Herptivite with Beta Carotene Multivitamins powder. I sprinkle it on their food. If you have indoor turtles you need to give them the Herptivite and the Calcium WITH Vitamin D. Outside turtles do not need Vitamin D because they get it from the sunshine. You can find both of these at any pet store, reptile shop or online.

  I have three water dishes in the tortoise pen. The wood turtles enjoy the water. You need to have a large but shallow pan for water and you need to clean it out once a day. Turtles not only like to soak and drink in the pan, they use it as a toilet! This is perfectly natural and normal for them. You need to make sure the pan is shallow because they can tip over in water and you would not want to find them drowned!!!


  The wood turtles are relatively easy to care for once you have the proper set up and diet for them. They basically hide most of the time, come out to eat and soak/drink and bask if they feel like it. I always pick them up when I see them to make sure they are in good shape.  If you house your wood turtles indoors - which I don't recommend - you need a large tank, a basking area and UV ray lights. Your local reptile shop can help you get set up. Hatchlings do need to be housed indoors, however. When they are big enough you should house them outside if your climate is warm enough. If you live in a cold winter climate they would need to be housed indoors with the proper setup. These turtles come from Mexico and Central America so cannot withstand too cold of temperatures.

  Thanks for visiting the Central American wood turtle page!  I hope that you enjoy the video and pictures on this page.





Click on Playlist to view the two movies of the Central American wood turtles.


Turtles Page | Turtle Housing | Turtle Feeding | Turtle Care | Central American Woods

Florida Boxes | Malayan Box | Red Ear Sliders | Yellow Belly Sliders | Worms

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DISCLAIMER:  This website was set up to SHARE my OWN experience with my reptiles, guinea pigs, ponds/fish, gardens and local wildlife and to post pictures and video of them. It was NOT SET UP to offer my opinion or expertise on ANY QUESTION that I am asked and what I post on this website should not be taken as "EXPERT ADVISE" or how to take care of reptiles, guinea pigs, ponds/fish, gardens or local wildlife. I AM NOT A REPTILE RESCUE GROUP, GUINEA PIG RESCUE GROUP, VETERINARIAN, REPTILE EXPERT, GUINEA PIG EXPERT, PONDS/FISH EXPERT, GARDEN EXPERT OR WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR! I have limited experience with reptiles, guinea pigs, local wildlife, ponds/fish and gardens, therefore, I am NOT QUALIFIED to give out advise or answer questions and you, as a visitor to this website, should not take anything on this website as expert advise or accurate information.  I present this website for fun and fun only - NOT as a reference website to instruct anyone on how to properly take care of reptiles, guinea pigs, local wildlife, ponds/fish or gardens.  I share how I DO THINGS for my reptiles, guinea pigs, local wildlife, ponds/fish and gardens and this is not intended for others to take as expert advise or to mimic. Furthermore, my political views are my own and not intended to offend, annoy, hurt or demean any person, entity or organization. I express my views as an American who has the right to free speech under the Constitution of the United States of America. Please feel free to set up your own website and express your views, post your pictures and video and share with the rest of us in cyberspace what your little corner of the world is like. Thank you very much for your kind understanding in appreciating the value and contents of this website.


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