Turtle Diet: What’s the Best Food to Feed Them?

June 18, 2023by Roselle Espina0

Turtles may not be clingy as dogs or cats, but you can be sure they are fantastic pets, too! As you are here, you probably have realized this and wondering what kinds of food to feed your new turtle pet.

Before anything else, you should know that turtles are easy to feed—less drama, more eating! Unlike our barking furry friends, turtles don’t beg or annoy you for food every time you sit down for a meal. 

All about the turtle diet 

The proper diet for turtle pets is primarily based on their size, species, age, habitat, and other characteristics. 

For example, a young, growing turtleabout 7 to 10 years oldrequires an entirely different diet compared to older ones. Despite that, the habitat and physical form of young turtles do not differ from hatchling to adult. 

Also, baby turtles demand more protein compared to adult turtles, who become more omnivorous (eating both meats and plants) growing up. 

In fact, turtles are actually omnivores in general. They are flexible in foods to eat, especially the adult ones, as they can eat animal products, vegetables, and fruits. 

The turtle diet and their food

Image from Unsplash
Animal food sources 

Animal-based foods are great sources of protein for turtles. This can include processed pet foods, such as turtle pellets or drained sardines. 

Cooked chicken and beef strips are also great for your turtles. Some live prey can be eaten by turtles as well, which include moths, crickets, shrimp, krill, and worms.

Note: You should only feed your turtle pet with insects from a pet store or your veterinarian, undeveloped field, or simply raise them yourself to ensure quality and safety.

Plant food sources

On the other hand, plant-based foods are also great for your pet turtle. These include mostly leafy greens, such as collards, dandelions, and mustard greens. Turtles can also eat non-toxic aquatic plants, namely water hyacinth, water lettuce, and duckweed.

Some other plants you can consider for your turtles are the following. However, you must only feed them in small amounts as these may contain too much oxalic acid, which is bad for your turtles. 

  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Duckweed
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Romaine
  • Shredded carrots and carrot tops
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Swiss chard
  • Watercress
  • Some other aquatic plants at aquarium stores, but make sure that they are solely sold for aquatic turtles. 

Fruits are also great for turtles like the following: 

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Cantaloupe 
  • Grapes
  • Mango 
  • Melon
  • Oranges

How to feed turtles? 

Ideally, you only need to feed your adult turtle once every day. Meanwhile, a young turtle should be fed two times a day. However, this is only in general terms, as some turtles can be fed more depending on their species. 

In terms of the amount of food, it still depends on their characteristics. Generally speaking, turtles should eat for 20 minutes as much as they can, and then you need to remove the leftovers. 

What can turtles not eat?

Some of the following can be fed once in a while but not every day. 

  • Avocados
  • Dog or cat food
  • Earthworms and other insects from your yard 
  • Fake plants
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Frozen or freeze–dried fish
  • Raw chicken or beef 
  • Toxic plants, like amaryllis and some ferns

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