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What Do Turtles Eat? Diet, Best Types Food and How To Feed

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Properly feeding your pet turtle is vital to the health and quality of life the animal will have.

All turtle owners should be well-educated in how to do this and thoroughly analyze various options.

This research will ensure that they find the best one for their pets.

Even if you do not currently own a turtle, if you have asked yourself the question, “What do turtles eat?” then you are in the right place.

What Do Turtles Eat?

Turtles in the wild and turtles kept as pets have different diets from one another.

For this reason, we will explain what turtles eat in captivity and what they eat when they are in nature.

Wild Turtle Diet

Most wild turtles eat a carnivorous diet when they are young and transition into a more diverse eating lifestyle as they grow older.

Carnivorous items they consume include fish, worms, snails, and insects.

These foods benefit young turtles due to their high nutrient content and aid their quick growth into adulthood.

Pet Turtle Diet

Pet turtles eat three primary types of food: fresh produce, small fish/insects, and commercially packaged food (typically in pellet form).

All three food groups are vital to your turtle regarding health and should be present throughout its entire life.

Failure to give your pet turtle proper variation in its diet can cause deficiencies.

We will go more into detail on these foods in the next section.

Types of Turtle Food

Although turtles can eat many things, they are all very different and provide different nutrients to the turtle.

Here, we will go through the food groups and discuss them in more detail.

Fish Food (Fish Flakes and Pellets)

Turtle food, also commonly referred to as fish food, is primarily found at pet stores.

It is ideal to buy food specifically for turtles so that the nutrients can be exact for that species.

Popular brands include Fluker’s and Zoo Med.

This type of food should constitute about ¼ of the total diet of your pet turtle.

Homemade Food

The term “homemade” is intentionally broad.

This vague quality allows it to include a large number of things.

Homemade turtle food is anything you prepare at your home from core ingredients such as fruits and vegetables.

A typical recipe includes chopping fresh produce into small pieces sized appropriately for your turtle.

Frozen Food

Frozen food for your turtle is convenient for those short on time or who want to prepare meals in advance.

Many frozen foods are, in essence, the same as homemade foods but frozen so they can last longer.

Storage bags designed to be frozen will be the best storage method for keeping your frozen turtle food of good quality.

Live Food

Turtles are omnivorous, meaning they eat both animals and plants.

This diet means you should feed your turtle live insects and fish.

These feeding insects and fish can be bought at pet stores and should supplement an already existing diet and not be the only source of nutrition.

Can a Turtle Eat Human Food?

Turtles and humans surprisingly eat a lot of the same foods.

However, this does not mean that turtles can eat everything humans can.

Read on to learn what foods are suitable to share with your pet turtle and which ones you should keep to yourself.

What Kind of Human Foods Can a Turtle Eat?

Turtles can eat much of the same produce and meat that humans enjoy.

If you want to share a small amount of raw fruit or vegetable with your pet turtle, that would be okay.

Meat prepared for humans will not hurt your turtle.

However, it is not advised to regularly be given to turtles as it does not give them many nutrients and may be empty calories.

What Is the Best Type of Food for a Turtle?

The best food for a turtle is food that focuses on the primary nutrients that allow turtles to thrive.

This diet includes a combination of the above food groups we mentioned.

Turtles need variety, just like we humans do.

Pay attention to what your turtle is eating and how much of each food group.

How to Feed a Turtle

Feeding turtles is a simple process but should still be of note within the context of their diet.

Turtles eat in their water.

For this reason, we recommend you place a separate feeding pool in their aquarium so that the turtle does not soil their entire water space with food.

How Often Do You Feed a Turtle?

The frequency you should feed a pet turtle depends on the size and age.

When younger, turtles will require more frequent feedings.

This frequency in feedings decreases with age.

When they are young, expect to feed a turtle a hearty helping every day.

When they are older, a decently sized portion will be appropriate every two or three days.

How Long Can Turtles Go Without Eating?

Turtles should eat no less than the schedule we suggested above.

Failure to eat frequently enough will result in malnourishment and potential illness.

To remind you of this feeding schedule, young turtles should eat no less than daily.

Adult turtles should eat no less than every two to three days.

Can You Overfeed a Turtle?

Yes, it is possible to overfeed a turtle.

Potential side effects of overfeeding include obesity and fatty liver disease.

For this reason, do your best to feed your turtle on a healthy schedule with mindful portions.

Help, My Turtle Isn’t Eating

A turtle not eating as expected or as they usually do can be alarming for pet owners.

Here, we will discuss a few reasons why your turtle may not be eating and what to do under these unfortunate circumstances.

Reasons Why a Turtle Isn’t Eating

Just like humans, turtles can lose their appetite due to stress.

This unfortunate occurrence is especially prevalent when their physical environment has changed from what they are used to living in.

Sometimes it can take a turtle up to two weeks to adjust enough to an environmental change to begin eating again.

What to Do if a Turtle Is Not Eating

If your turtle avoids eating, try identifying what may be the cause of this.

The first thing to try would be switching up the usual food served.

The lack of appetite may be because it prefers another food over the one you offer.

Also, try not to force it to eat.

If the cause of its lack of appetite is stress, forceful action may make the situation worse.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here we answer some frequently asked questions about pet turtles.

Do turtles eat every day?

When turtles are young and growing, they eat every day!

They eat daily while growing so that their bodies have all the energy necessary to make them grow big and strong.

How long can a turtle live?

The average pet turtle lives 30 years! This lifespan is a far jump from the average life expectancy of other pets.

Because turtles live so long, they are lifetime commitments. They must be in a home only with proper precautions and knowledge.

Wrapping Up

So, what do turtles eat? While it can vary depending on the species, most turtles are happy eating fresh produce, small fish or bugs, and nutritional pellets.

Turtles are amazing animals to have as pets.

However, they require proper care and attention to thrive.

If you are considering adding a turtle to your life, make sure that you have adequate time to devote to your pet to ensure that they have a healthy diet and lifestyle.

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