What Can Turtles Eat? (7 Ultimate Super Foods) | Cage Heaven

Turtles aren’t as snuggly as dogs or cats. However, they’re great pets for different reasons.

They’re enjoyable to take care of, fascinating to watch, and have been around since prehistoric times!

Best of all, generally, turtles are low-maintenance–just as long as you make sure to provide them with the right environmental conditions, and foods and keep their habitats clean.

The turtles are unique animals that are fun to observe and learn about. The care of pet turtles doesn’t involve any hands-on instruction like cats and dogs However, turtles do have special requirements, such as tanks that are sized appropriately, UVB light, and the correct diet.

What can turtles eat will depend on the species it is and understanding what you should feed your turtle to ensure the proper nutrition is vital.

Here’s a comprehensive guide for feeding the needs of your pet turtle so that it remains healthy, happy, and strong for the many years to come.

If you don’t have a proper feeding schedule the turtle may become sick or die, therefore it’s crucial to know what you should feed them, when to do it and how often, and what you should do if they do not eat.

What Can Turtles Eat at Home?

The best nutrition for your reptile is based on the size and species, its habitat, age as well as other aspects.

What you feed the pet turtle will largely depend on the type of turtle you own. If it’s an omnivore, the pet turtle will eat commercial turtle food pellets feeder fish, insect larvae as well as vegetables and fruits. If it’s an herbivore, your pet turtle can eat only vegetables and fruits.

What can turtles eat and not eat? Most pet turtles are omnivores which means that they consume meat as well as plants. An average adult pet turtle diet should include food items from animals, vegetables, and even fruits.

Younger turtles between 7 to 10 years old typically require a greater proportion of foods made from animals. The amount of vegetable and animal items the pet turtle needs depends on the species of turtle they are.

There is a good chance you own a red-eared slider. It is the most popular pet turtle in the U.S. “These animals are omnivorous, meaning they eat both animals and plants,” says Simon Starkey, BVSc, Ph.D., D.ABVP(Avian) Education Veterinarian as well as Technical Services Manager at PetSmart.

As red-eared sliders do, aqua turtles consume an all-omnivorous diet. Follow these guidelines so that your pet is in excellent shape.

  • Commercial Pelleted Food: It is best to purchase food designed specifically for turtles because it will float and generally not break in the same way as pelleted food that is designed for other reptiles Dr. Starkey says. Pellets should constitute 25% of your turtle’s diet.
  • The sources of animal food: The animal-based food sources for turtles include pet food that has been processed, such as salt-water sardines that have been drained pellets for turtles, turtle pellets, as well as trout chow. It is also possible to feed them cooked beef, chicken, and turkey. Live prey could include crickets, moths, and krill feeder fish, worms. Be sure to purchase insecticides from your local pet shop or undeveloped fields, or cultivate them yourself, to ensure safety and quality.

Feeders such as comet goldfish are the best protein source and minerals such as calcium and phosphorous, as well as certain vitamins, including vitamin A. “As with pellets, these should make up 25 percent of a turtle’s diet,” Dr. Starkey. Fish and bugs that are chased by live fish could also be a great source of fitness as well as mental stimulation.

  • Fruits and Vegetables: They could include apples, cantaloupe fruit, bananas, berries, and mangoes. They can also be fed non-toxic aquatic plants such as water hyacinth, water-leaf, and duckweed. Make sure to fill the rest of your turtle’s diet with fresh vegetables. The best vegetables to chop are dark leafy greens like collard, kale, and mustard greens Dr. Starkey says. Shredded carrots, squash, and zucchini are all great food items that turtles can consume, too. There are also edible aquatic plants such as water hyacinth, water-lilac, and duckweed. “For fruits, consider shredded apples and melons, as well as chopped berries,” suggests Dr. Starkey. “Supplement fruits and vegetables with reptile calcium and vitamin powders.”
  • A variety of sources for food plants: The best plant-based foods to feed your pet turtle should mostly be leafy greens such as collards, mustard greens, and dandelions. Some of these veggies like chives parsley, and spinach have high levels of chemicals known as oxalates, which are ones you should stay clear of.

If you own a turtle on land, or a tortoise, as pets, they follow an exclusively herbivore-based diet. This means their diet must consist of vegetables and fruits, and usually, the diet should be a mix of 20 percent and 80%.

What is the Healthiest Turtle Food?

If you’re one of the fortunate few that have an animal as a pet or you’re looking to purchase one soon most likely you’re wondering what to feed your pet that is always carrying his house wherever that he goes. 

This is why we’ve created this list of turtle food to help you understand what can turtles eat and what food items to stay away from.

A Glance at the Healthiest Turtle Food Winners

Last update on 2022-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How Often to Feed Them. Feed an adult turtle each day, or every two days each day, while a juvenile should be fed up to twice a day, although this may be different depending on what species you are feeding.

What is the recommended amount to feed them? How much food you provide to your pet turtle depends on its species. 

In general particularly for pellets, and other non-living meals allow your turtle to take in as much as they can in about 20 minutes. After that, eliminate any remaining food.

How to Serve the Food. Land turtles and aquatic turtles have distinct preferences in the way they consume their food. The aquatic turtles only eat under water which is why you’ll need to put food items inside their water tanks. 

If you own an animal that lives on land, you can place your food on flat, hard surfaces like stone, as well as on grass. Some turtle owners prefer to chop up a variety of veggies to feed their turtles so that they aren’t eating the same type of food and not eating other plants that are nutritious and they may not be as fond of.

Be Species Specific. There are different kinds of turtles that have different needs for food. Learn about the nutritional needs of the turtle’s species and then contact your veterinarian to discuss any concerns or questions.

Common Concerns for Feeding Pet Turtles

Overfeeding. Turtles can get obese like humans, and many other species of animals. In fact, feeding your turtle too much can cause them to gain weight which can cause problems when lifting their legs and arms into their shells.

To prevent overfeeding ensure that your turtle is in an area large enough for it that it can move freely. At a minimum, tanks must be 30 gallons in size for turtles up to 6 inches long and up to 150 gallons for turtles more than 8 inches. Feeding your turtle with live prey helps them hunt and gives them exercise.

Vitamin Deficiency. Turtles are susceptible to vitamin A deficiencies if their diet isn’t balanced. The signs of a lack of Vitamin A intake in turtles are an increase in appetite as well as ear and eyelid swelling kidney failure, as well as lung infections.

Turtles require plenty of food that contains vitamin A, so select plants such as squash, carrots bell peppers, and another orange, red, and yellow fruits and vegetables. Avoid foods with low nutritional value, such as celery and lettuce. To combat Vitamin A deficiency A veterinarian might suggest Vitamin A treatments that are injected or administered by mouth.

Hygiene. Turtles frequently urinate while they eat, and placing their food separate from their tank will help them avoid eating excrement. Remove any food items that are not used in their tank frequently so that it does not grow unwelcome algae or bacteria.

What To Do If Your Turtle Won’t Eat? If your turtle’s diet isn’t enough this may be an indication of illness, though other factors could be in play. 

Check that your tank’s temperature, the temperature of the water along with lighting and size are suitable for the species of your turtle. 

Stress and hibernation may cause a loss of eating habits in turtles. Talk to a veterinarian about any behavior or symptoms and schedule a visit in the event that symptoms don’t change after making changes.

What Do Baby Turtles Eat?

What turtles can eat is contingent on the age of their turtles and their nutritional requirements. Be aware that young sliders consume much more protein than animals of older ages, according to Dr. Starkey. Baby turtles require larger amounts of pellets and/or feeder fish compared to fruits and vegetables.

Where Can I Buy These Foods?

The pellets of turtles are available at the majority of pet stores and numerous online stores, according to Dr. Starkey. Fish and Crickets for feed will be readily available in pet stores as fruits and vegetables can be purchased at the local supermarket.

Are There Any Specific Brands I Should Buy?

Any brand that is sold by an established specialty pet store and specifically designed for turtles will provide the correct nutrients as Dr. Starkey says. “Brand is a little less important because no single food should be the staple diet for aquatic turtles.” The turtles will get some nutrients from their pellets but also plenty of nutrients from feeder invertebrates, fish, and even fruits.

What Nutrients are Really Essential to My Turtle’s Health?

The nutritional requirements of animals can be broken into fat, protein carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Calcium is a crucial component of the diet of your turtle due to the needs inside the shell which is mostly made of bone. “That’s why it’s important to supplement with calcium and mineral powders,” Dr. Starkey.

Do Turtles Eat Fish?

When they are in the wild, turtles consume various things, including tiny insects, worms, snails, as well as fish. Carnivores in the wild are mostly in their early years since their bodies require plenty of protein for growth.

In addition, growing turtles require the nutrients and vitamins which are found in fish that feed on feeders. As they get older their diets alter and they start eating more plants and other plant matter.

The majority of pet turtles are omnivores which means they eat both animals and plants which is why giving the pet turtle a small fish snack every now and again is a great idea.

Pet turtles, based on their size and age prefer small fish such as the comet and minnow goldfish. The age and size of your pet turtle will help you decide if you want to feed the fish to it and also how often.

What Should I Look For On The Nutrition Labels of Pelleted Foods?

You should look for protein levels that range from 40-45% and fat levels between 6-8 percent as recommended by Dr. Starkey. “Semi-moist foods will have a lower percentage of protein and fat due to the higher moisture content of the food,” Dr. Starkey states.

It is also important to consider looking for fishmeal as among the three most prominent ingredients listed on the label. Also, look for the addition of minerals and vitamins to be listed in the ingredient list according to Dr. Starkey. Sill does not know what to pick? Talk to a vet.

How Should I Feed My Turtle?

Clean and healthy water is crucial according to Dr. Starkey. “Feed your turtles in a separate habitat–possibly a water-filled plastic container or secondary aquarium–as many turtles will defecate while eating, and the food itself can affect water quality.”

How Frequently Can I Expect to Buy Turtle Food?

It varies based on how big your pet but, in general, the pelleted food will last between up to six weeks dependent on the amount of food you feed and the size of your pet, according to Dr. Starkey.

How Often Do Turtles Eat?

If the turtle you have is in its juvenile stage, feed it daily all day, suggests Dr. Starkey. As it grows older (around seven years of age) then you can feed it on a regular basis, or about four to five times per week. You should limit yourself to 1-cup of meal each day, and gradually increase or decrease the amount according to the way your turtle reacts.

What Human Food Can Turtles Eat?

In addition to vegetables and fruits, In addition, you can offer small portions of meat for your turtle, suggests Dr. Starkey, but there isn’t any reason to do so. “These will not be balanced because they lack the nutrients found in organs like the liver of feeder fish,” Dr. Starkey says.

In addition, your turtle shouldn’t be fed cat or dog food. The nutritional content isn’t appropriate for turtles and can result in long-term harm.


What Fruit Can Turtles Eat?

Fruits should be fed moderately than vegetables as they are usually chosen by turtles over vegetables, and are generally less nutritious. The fruits to feed include apples, pears bananas (with skin), and mangoes, grapes and star fruits peaches, raisins tomato, guava melons, and kiwis.

What Vegetables Can Turtles Eat?

A few desirable vegetables to serve consist of dark-leafy leaves, such as collard greens, and romaine lettuce as well as the tops of carrots and mustard and endive. Swiss the chard the parsley plant, green beans the greens of dandelion, turnip, and clover.

What Food Kills Turtles?

Toxic plants could kill your turtle. For instance, tomatoes aren’t harmful and are a common favorite of box turtles. However, tomato vines and leaves are poisonous. Other plants that can be harmful to turtles in boxes include rhubarb leaves, holly avocado leaves, oleander seeds, and species belonging to the nightshade group.

What Can Turtles Not Eat?

Treats to Avoid:

  • Dairy. Turtles are devoid of enzymes required to digest and break down dairy products. …
  • Sweets. Avoid feeding any food that contains sugar, chocolate, processed sugar, or corn syrup to your turtle.
  • Salty food items. Most turtles aren’t accustomed to eating foods that are extremely salty.

What is a Turtle’s Favourite Food?

The best plant-based foods to feed your pet turtle should mostly be greens with a leaf, such as collards, mustard greens, and dandelions. Certain vegetables, like parsley, chives, and spinach, have high concentrations of chemicals known as Oxalates. You should be wary of it.

How Long Can a Turtle Go Without Eating?

A baby turtle (less than six months) cannot go more than a full day with no food. The so-called “sub-adult” turtle (six months to one year old) cannot go longer than a single day without eating. Adult turtles should consume at least 2 to 3 days.

How Often Should I Feed My Turtle?

What is the frequency of turtles eating? In the case of a turtle that is young, you should feed it all day, suggests Dr. Starkey. As it grows older (around 7 or 8 years old) it is able to feed it once a day, or approximately 5 to 4 times per week.

Can Turtles Eat Cheerios?

Turtles lack the enzymes needed to properly digest lactose. Sugary Foods There is no candy, chocolate, or other sugary food items permitted. It is not only detrimental to the turtle’s health and health, but they are typically difficult and can pose a choking risk for your pet.

Can Turtles Eat Lettuce?

Is Lettuce Safe for Turtles? There’s nothing in lettuce that is poisonous to turtles. They can consume all sorts of lettuce and varieties such as radicchio and romaine are both healthy and tasty for their diet. Iceberg however is essentially just squishy water.

Can Turtles Eat Cucumber?

Cucumbers make a wonderful food item for turtles The reason for this is that they are liked by turtles.


Wow! It was a ton of information that we tossed at you, didn’t it? We hope you’ve found this article informative and you’ll be better informed about the question “what can turtles eat” and what he will be most happy with. 

We, as pet parents understand it’s difficult to sort through the myriad of options available to our pets. That is why we try our best to assist you to narrow your choices.

Our top pick for the general turtle diet can be Tetra ReptoMin Floating Sticks Turtle Food and our top pick for the most affordable price to price is Zoo Med Natural Aquatic Turtle Food. We’re so happy that you stopped by our website and hope that you will return soon as we’re constantly adding new information.


Dibyajyoti Bordoloi is the founder of CageHeaven.com, an experienced pet breeder, fish-keeper, blogger, and owner of a successful pet breeding farm. He is also a proud member of the Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation And Conservation (Assam), the Marine Aquarium Societies of North East India, and the Nature Conservancy of Assam.