What Do Turtles Eat

What do turtles eat? That depends on the turtle, of course, but most turtles are omnivores. That means, just like humans, they eat both plant food and meat. However, they should never be fed human foods, such as table scraps, junk foods or sweets.

The Turtle Diet
Turtles, even pet turtles, should eat only what wild turtles of their species would normally eat. Because there are literally hundreds of kinds of turtles, it's important that you identify your turtle before you feed it anything. Keeping track of what your turtle eats is one way you can monitor your turtle's health. If your turtle is sluggish or doesn't come out of his shell, he may be suffering from more than just shyness.

A turtle in the wild would eat plant food, which would be abundant in and around ponds, as well as protein in the form of insects, fish and dead animals. A pet turtle should be fed according to the turtle manual that came with your turtle when you purchased it. If you don't have a manual, you should ask for information from the vet or check at the local pet or fish store. Turtle food can be purchased in pellet form at any reputable pet service station, but don't limit your turtle's food to only one item. Just as you would get bored with one food, so will your turtle. A turtle's diet should consist of a variety of items, with plant food making up about one half.

Foods Most Turtles Will Enjoy

  • Feeder fish
  • Turtle pellets
  • Red or green leaf lettuce and romaine lettuce
  • Endive
  • Green beans
  • Dandelion greens
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Bell pepper
  • Fruit
  • Flower heads

Before you feed anything to a turtle, keep in mind that some plants can be poisonous to him. Find out from your pet store first before you feed him anything from your garden.

Feeding Your Turtle
Turtles are very messy eaters. They use their claws to shred their food into bits and chomp it into even smaller bits that can end up causing quite a stink after a few days. This is especially true of turtles that are fed bits of raw meat, feeder fish or other types of protein.

Despite the mess, protein in the form of meat is essential for your turtle's well-being. Do not eliminate meat from your turtle's diet, even though it means you must clean the tank at least once a week, especially if you don't have a really good filtration system. If there is no filtration system in place, the tank will need to be cleaned every day. When you do not clean the tank, bits of food will become trapped beneath rocks and that, coupled with the fact that turtles generally defecate in the water, will create a horrible stench.

One way of keeping the turtle's living quarters relatively clean is to feed him in a separate tank. Never deprive him of food, however. Leaving a little romaine lettuce in his tank at all times is a good idea.

After you feed your turtle, make sure to give him some space. Most turtles like to eat in solitude. If you continually watch your turtle, you may be depriving him of a good meal and, in the long run, adequate nutrition.

Never force a turtle to eat anything. Instead, let him choose what he likes and what he does not like. Just like humans, each turtle is different. Where one turtle might enjoy green beans or lettuce, another might not touch them.

You can also give your turtle some exercise by giving it feeder fish to eat. While feeder fish can become expensive, turtles need exercise the same as any other pet. If your turtle is able, catching his own food is a good way for him to both get enough exercise and enough food. If your turtle doesn't seem to be able to catch the fish, make sure you either give him a few bits of ground-up meat or turtle pellets in place of the protein so that he is always adequately fed. Pellets should never make up more than 25 percent of your turtle's daily intake. And never skimp on the vegetables.

The two main reasons turtles become ill are due to inadequate feeding and inadequate housing. Because turtles are nonverbal, your turtle can't tell you if something is wrong. Therefore, if you own a turtle, it's your responsibility to make sure your reptile is getting enough of the recommended foods and water, and also that you are doing everything you can to meet your turtle's needs.

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