Feeding Aquatic Turtles: What Do Aquatic Turtles Eat?

 Aquatic turtles kept as pets are generally more difficult to care for than most pet owners realize. Turtles should eat a variety of commercially available turtle pellets (which contain the protein needed for their health) in addition to live food and a variety of vegetables. Turtles may even enjoy the occasional fruit or treat!

Feeding Aquatic Turtles: What Do Aquatic Turtles Eat?
Feeding Aquatic Turtles: What Do Aquatic Turtles Eat?

 Like humans, turtles appreciate a variety of foods. Their diet plan, however, differs from type to type. There are at least 300 species of this ancient reptile, and their food preferences vary depending on their categorization.

 Whether you have a pet turtle or someone considering getting one, or just curious and eager to know the answer to the question – “What do turtles eat?”, this blog aims to enlighten you. Each turtle's diet should be carefully researched and researched based on the species' natural diet and in coordination with a reptile veterinarian.

Turtle food

 Most semiaquatic and aquatic turtles, such as red sliders, painted turtles, and pond turtles, are omnivores, meaning they eat a combination of animal protein and vegetables. Some species, such as the spiny softshell turtle, are considered carnivorous and primarily eat animal protein. As a general rule, aquatic turtles eat more animal protein when they are young and more vegetables as they age. It is important to continue to evolve your turtle's diet as it ages.

 Carnivorous turtles should eat a mix of several commercially produced turtle pellets in addition to live animal protein. Omnivorous turtles should also be given the pellet mix, along with approved vegetables and plant matter. The typical food ratio for an adult omnivorous turtle includes:

  • More than 50% plant material.
  • About 25% pellets.
  • About 25% live animal protein.

What do turtles eat?

 Adult turtles should be offered food every few days, while juveniles usually eat daily. Many companies offer commercially available pellets for aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles. It is essential to rotate different brands of pellets, so that your turtle is exposed to several varieties. Pet parents can increase their chances of providing their turtle with the vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients it requires by switching brands or combining 4-5 different brands at once. This will guarantee a robust, healthy turtle that lives a long time!

 A vitamin and calcium supplement should be added to the food of adult turtles two to three times per week. There are many brands of supplements available - be sure to use one labeled for turtles or reptiles. Speak to your veterinarian to determine which brand best suits your turtle's needs. Turtles can even benefit from chewing calcium blocks or cuttlebone to increase their calcium intake and to help keep their beaks trimmed. Remove any uneaten food from the water, as waste can contaminate it.

Turtles, like most animals, enjoy a treat once in a while. Treats should never make up more than 5% of their overall diet and include:

  • Commercially available aquatic turtle treats.
  • Croquettes for dog or cat.
  • Fruits like berries, melon, apples, and bananas.
  • Insects, live or freeze-dried.

What Vegetables Can Turtles Eat?

 Nutrition plays a crucial role in keeping aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles healthy. Vegetables are often underutilized but should form the bulk of the diet of adult omnivorous aquatic turtles. It is vital to provide a wide variety of dark leafy greens in addition to other vegetables, much like with turtle pellets. A turtle should never eat the same vegetables all its life. Instead, offer 2-3 types of green vegetables at each feeding and 1-2 types of other vegetables. Every week or every two weeks, scroll through the options below to keep your turtle healthy and happy. Highly nutritious plant sources for turtles include:

  • Collard greens.
  • Mustard greens.
  • Dandelion greens.
  • Kale.
  • Romaine.
  • Swiss chard.
  • Watercress.
  • Endive.
  • Bok Choy.
  • Escarole.
  • Spinach.
  • Duckweed.
  • Shredded carrots and carrot tops.
  • Squash.
  • Green beans.
  • Broccoli.
  • Make sure the aquatic plants you buy from aquarium retailers are intended for use with aquatic turtles.

What live food can turtles eat?

 Live food is important for providing protein to carnivorous and omnivorous aquatic turtles. A bigger proportion of live protein will be consumed by carnivorous turtles in addition to a variety of pellets. Dead fish should be removed from the aquarium as soon as possible since they can harbor pathogens. Feeder fish should be the main live food offered, but others may be used occasionally. Common live prey includes:

  • Feeder fish include smelt, bait minnows, goldfish, and guppies.
  • Earthworms, waxworms, mealworms, and bee moth larvae are examples of insects.
  • Shellfish.
  • Brine shrimp.
  • Slugs.
  • Snails.

What fruits can turtles eat?

 Some turtles may also occasionally eat fruit. Fruit should be offered raw. Cut or grate fruit to make swallowing easier and prevent choking. To help keep a turtle's beak trimmed, you can offer pieces of cantaloupe with the rind still attached. Some common turtle favorites include:

  • Apple.
  • Melon.
  • Berries.
  • Banana.
  • Grapes.
  • Oranges.

What can't turtles eat?

Diverse objects and meals should never be kept in an aquarium with an aquatic turtle, including:

  • Frozen vegetables can be used occasionally, but not as a base vegetable. They lack essential vitamins, and frequent feeding can lead to long-term illness in your turtle.
  • Frozen or freeze-dried fish are often lacking in essential vitamins and should not be fed.
  • Earthworms and other insects from your garden should not be offered as they may introduce bacteria, pesticides or parasites to your turtle.
  • Dog or cat food can be given as an occasional treat, but should never be used as a staple food.
  • Raw chicken or beef should not be offered as they usually contain foodborne illnesses.
  • Avocados.
  • Toxic plants, like amaryllis and some ferns.
  • False plants, which may confuse the turtle and cause accidental ingestion.


What about water?

Aquatic turtles, of course, swim in water and drink all day; therefore, the only water need for an aquatic turtle is to keep its aquariums clean and at an appropriate temperature. Having a well-functioning filtration system that is cleaned regularly is essential to ensuring good water quality.

carnivore, herbivore or omnivore?

Some turtle species are exclusive carnivores, while others are strict vegetarians. This depends on the species. But for most turtles, they are omnivores who like to eat animals and plants. Turtles have no teeth; they only use their jaws to cut their food. This is why the type of jaw a turtle has for chewing food also affects its preferences, especially the food sources available in its environment.

Bottom line: You feed me therefore I love you

Feeding time can be enjoyable for aquatic turtle owners as many turtles swim towards you for their food. It's nice to feel appreciated, right? Sure, they're just begging, but good luck training a turtle to skip a meal. It's also important to note that while turtles may get used to your presence and approach you eagerly, that doesn't mean you should handle them often. They are still not for hugs.

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