Feeding Guide: What Do Red-Eared Sliders Eat?

 Red-eared sliders are known to eat anything you put in front of them. However, that does not indicate that everything is good for them. There are certain evils that must be avoided as much as possible. Additionally, some foods are better to others for a red-eared slider.

Feeding Guide: What Do Red-Eared Sliders Eat?
Feeding Guide: What Do Red-Eared Sliders Eat? 

 Red-eared sliders are omnivores, meaning they eat fruits, vegetables, as well as meat and insects. A well-balanced diet for a pet red-eared slider will be primarily based on pellets, with the occasional dried fruit, vegetable, and insect.

 But if you own a red-eared slider, you can't just throw a random amount of food into the tank and let your turtle eat as much as it needs. You must be very precise with the amount of food and take into account that depending on the age of your turtle, its food needs will change. But before discussing how to feed your red-eared slider, let's first see what red-eared sliders eat.

What do red-eared sliders eat

 Since red-eared sliders are omnivores, they can eat a wide variety of worms. So to simplify things I will divide them into 5 categories:

  1. Fruits
  2. Vegetables
  3. Meat
  4. Processed foods
  5. Pellets


 Most fruits are good to eat, but some are not good for turtles due to the high amount of phosphorus or citric acid they contain. Citric acid irritates a turtle's stomach and phosphorus blocks calcium shock absorption, which is essential for healthy bone structure and shell.

Fruits to stay away from are listed below:

  • Grape
  • Plum
  • Date
  • Lawyer
  • Guava
  • Banana
  • Coconut
  • Kivi
  • Khaki
  • Cantaloupe
  • Apricot
  • Grenade
  • Honeydew
  • Nectarine
  • Blackberry
  • The Peach
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Grapefruit

So if you can't find any fruit on this list, it's good to eat.


 Like fruits, vegetables are good for turtles, but some are high in phosphorus. Besides these other vegetables that you should avoid are iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, eggplant, and mushrooms. While these vegetables do not harm your turtle in any way, they also have little or no nutritional value for your turtle.

Here is a list of several vegetables to stay away from because they are high in phosphorus:

  • Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkin
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Green beans
  • To crush
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Turnips

So if you can't find a vegetable on this list, it's good to eat.


 In general, any meat is good for turtles, whether it comes from a cow, chicken, pig, or fish. Just make sure the meat is fat-free and bone-free.

 And to be on the safe side, you might want to cook the meat. Just make sure you don't add any condiments to it. While for us condiments add flavor, turtles make little or no difference in taste and may even harm them. So no salt, pepper or any other type of condiment on the meat.

Processed foods

 Processed foods are bad for turtles. So no type of processed food for them. So no cheese, bread, pasta, salami, sausages, bacon or fries.


 Although pellets can be considered a type of processed food, they are made specifically for turtles, so they are acceptable.

 Now that we've covered what red-eared sliders can eat, we should also look at how to feed them properly, as that's just as important.

How to Properly Feed Your Red-eared Slider?

 Over the years I have read countless methods of feeding turtles. But of all of them, two stand out the most, being the most used and the most effective. And these are the 15 minute method and the head size method.

The 15 minute method

 The 15 minute method is very simple, you give your turtle plenty of food and let it eat for 15 minutes. After that, you remove the food. As simple as this method may be, it is certainly not the best of the two. Indeed, red-eared sliders, wild or pet, are opportunistic eaters by nature. This means that they will eat all they can as quickly as possible because they don't know when they will have the chance to eat again. Even if you feed them regularly, they won't give up on this mentality.

 Although it is one of the most popular methods, it is starting to lose a lot of popularity lately due to its drawbacks. One of its biggest drawbacks is that you can easily overfeed your turtle, which can lead to two serious problems, one is piling up and the other is unbalanced feeding. Like all animals, turtles have their preferences, and if you present them with different types of food, they will instantly choose the tastiest one each time, and the tastiest option may not always contain all the necessary nutrients.

 So if you used this method, your turtle certainly wouldn't starve, but there's a good chance you'd overfeed it. That's why I advise you to use the head size method, which is just as easy to use, it is just as effective but has none of the disadvantages.

head size

 This method says you should give your turtle the same amount of food it would need to fill its head (minus the neck) if it were hollow. The easiest way to practice this method is to find a small container, such as a medicine cup, shot glass, or bottle stopper. This container should be approximately the same size as your turtle's head, minus the neck. Then you put food inside the container until it is completely full, and then you feed your turtle. And that's all.

 You don't always have to use a container, you can always estimate the food you would need to fill his head. If you sometimes give your turtle a little too much food, and sometimes you give it a little too much, there will be no problem. Your turtle will not be affected by small differences. This method does a great job because it takes into consideration the size of the turtle and gives you a fixed amount of food that you should feed your turtle. And as the turtle grows, the amount of food changes.

 This is the method I use to feed all my turtles, and the results are excellent. During my research, many people who have used this method have had great results and no one has had a problem with it. Between the two methods, I would definitely recommend the size of the head method. Besides the reasons I have already listed, there is another important reason. It allows you to have a more diverse eating schedule.

Red-eared Slider Feeding Schedule

 The first thing you need to consider when thinking about how often to feed your turtle, or when setting up a feeding schedule, is the age of the turtle. The amount of food required by juvenile red-eared sliders and adult red-eared sliders is different for babies and juveniles, respectively. So let's look at each age group individually.

Baby Red-eared Slider Feeding Schedule

 Baby turtles need to consume more than any other age group. Since they require a lot of energy to grow, this is the case. When turtles are at this stage of their life, they experience the fastest growth rate. And to be able to grow so fast, they will need a lot of energy which they will get from eating.

So, baby red-eared sliders should be fed daily using the head-size method.

Juvenile red-eared slider feeding schedule

 Turtles grow from babies to juveniles. Red-eared sliders usually become juvenile after they reach 3 to 4 inches, this usually occurs when they are between 8 and 12 months old. A juvenile will not grow as fast as a baby turtle, but it will still grow faster than an adult. So he still needs to be fed quite often. Here you have two good options. You can either feed your red-eared slider once every two days, the amount of food it will need to fill its head. Or you can give them half that amount each day. 

 It makes no difference to them if you feed them every day, or if you feed them every other day, as long as the amount of food is correct. So you may do it whatever you like. I would recommend feeding your young red-eared slider every other day, that way the chances of you forgetting to feed your turtle are lower. And if you happen to forget to feed your turtle once, don't worry. Red-eared sliders can go for weeks without eating in the wild. Thus, your turtle will not be affected at all.

Feeding Schedule for Adult Red-eared Sliders

 Adult red-eared sliders grow very slowly and after a while they won't grow at all. They will therefore not need as much food as babies and juveniles.

 The best way to feed your adult red-eared slider is once every 3 days, using the head-trimming method. That might seem like enough when you compare it to the rest of the age groups, but remember that because of the way the head size method works, the size of the food portion also increases, so it doesn't. So no problem, your turtle is getting a lot more food than he had when he was a baby when he ate every day.

Occasional treats

 Another thing I want to address is that you can sometimes give your red-eared slider treats. As long as they're not too chunky, you can feed your turtle a few live fish, fruits, vegetables, or dried insects without fear of disrupting his feeding schedule.

Final Thoughts

 Although red-eared sliders can eat many things, not all of them can be good for them. From my experience, I know it's not that easy to remember all the things you should avoid, but over time you'll memorize those things without even realizing it. And in the meantime, you can always revisit this article and check out the listings.

 I hope I managed to cover all possible aspects, but if you have any questions about what red-eared sliders eat or anything else about turtles, feel free to ask them in the section comments below. I'll try to respond to you as quickly as I can.

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