Ask a Vet

Can A Turtle, Tortoise Or Terrapin Eat An Apple?

By Kerry
Updated on

We know the importance of keeping your pets healthy, and this includes giving them a great habitat that is safe and comfortable, along with a healthy diet.

Turtle eating apple

Most of us understand how to keep ourselves healthy with a balanced diet inclusive of fruit and vegetables, but this does not necessarily translate to turtles, tortoises, and terrapins.

In short, all three of these reptiles can enjoy apples, but it’s much more complex than this. Some can have them as an occasional treat, and some can have them more frequently.

So, we’re going to explore all of these animals and whether it’s okay for them to eat apples.

Tip: Check our full guide, “What Do Turtles Eat?”

Tortoises And Apples

We’ll kick off our guide by looking at the tortoise. In essence, a tortoises diet isn’t all that complex.

In fact, it’s quite simple to know what to feed a tortoise like lettuce and other vegetables, but they can also have seedless fruits in moderation.

The important thing to know about tortoises is that although some fruits like apples can be a part of their diet, it should never be the main part of their diet.

Think of it like humans that need fats as part of our diet, but it shouldn’t be the primary part of our diet.

Does This Mean Apples Are Bad For Tortoises?

Not necessarily. Apples are rich in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and fiber. Additionally, they are packed with water which is essential to the normal function of the tortoise.

Unlike other fruits, apples generally have less sugar and calories, which makes them the better option for feeding fruit to your tortoise.

During hot periods, apples are good for a tortoise due to their hydrating properties and sweet taste, so consider apples as a summer treat.

What Should Tortoises Eat?

Tortoises are mostly herbivores, and the majority of their diet has to consist of a mix of different vegetables, and then the minority of their diet should be filled with fruits.

Consider the balance to be about 80/20 in vegetables favor.

You can, however, also add a small amount of herbs to their diet, but remember that not all tortoises are the same – so be sure you know what type of tortoise you have before you feed them anything different.

It’s a good idea to follow these tips below when feeding your tortoise:

  • Always clean their vegetables and fruits before they consume them
  • Remove seeds and serve in smaller portions
  • Safely dispose of leftovers, don’t let them rot
  • Provide fresh water regularly
  • Tortoises are attracted to a mix of colors with their foods, so provide an artistic mix!

So, Fruit Is Okay For Tortoises?

Fruits are typically okay for tortoises in small doses, so be sure to stick with the 20% rule with their diet.

Fruits are packed with nutrients that tortoises love and need as part of their diet, but too much of it can be bad for them due to sugar content.

Tortoise eating apple

When it comes to apples, the seeds can contain a level of cyanide – so it’s a good idea to remove the seeds before feeding them to your tortoise.

Also, remember that some fruits, especially in the summer, can attract wasps due to their sugar and juices, and they can cause discomfort to tortoises, so try to keep an eye on this.

As a general rule, feed your tortoise apples (at most) about twice a week.

Turtles And Apples

Now it’s time we looked at turtles and whether they are okay to eat apples. Well, similar to the tortoise, apples can be enjoyed as a rare treat as part of their diet.

This is because of the high sugar content in apples.

It’s always going to be slightly risky when introducing fruits like this into a turtle’s diet, so always ensure you are consulting with a vet before feeding your turtle something new.

What To Consider When Feeding Your Turtle Apples

There are some things you’ll need to think about when you’re going to feed your turtle apples. You’ll need to consider:

  • Removing the seeds
  • Cutting them up into smaller segments to prevent choking
  • Smaller portions are better because turtles do not have the enzymes to break down large quantities of apples
  • Ensure the apples are washed thoroughly and free of pesticides to avoid harming your turtle
  • Don’t feed them too many apples

Should I Peel The Apple Skin?

It’s always a good idea to peel the skin of an apple, even though turtles are perfectly capable of eating it.

This is because you can have more assurance that if there were any pesticides still on the apple, they would be peeled away.

When it comes to the seeds, you should always remove them before feeding them to your turtle. The best time to do this is when you’re preparing the apple segments.

This is because apple seeds can be toxic to turtles due to cyanide poisoning or can cause stomach problems like diarrhea and bloating.

So, Should I Feed My Turtle An Apple?

Although there are safe ways for a turtle to consume an apple, it’s probably a better idea to avoid feeding turtles apples altogether, just to be safe.

Turtle eating apple in the grass

Terrapins And Apples

Now it’s time we looked at terrapins and whether it’s okay for them to eat apples. Generally, a terrapin’s diet will consist of fish and meats, which can be inclusive of:

  • Shrimp
  • Earthworms
  • Sea snails
  • Tuna
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel

Having said that, though, terrapins will also enjoy plants and fruits, although this will not make up the majority of their diet.

They enjoy grass and green-leafed vegetables when it comes to this part of their diet.

Much like turtles and tortoises, though, terrapins really enjoy eating apples, and they can eat other fruits like blackberries and strawberries.

Additionally, they should only be fed apples in small segments and as a very occasional treat.

As apples aren’t the normal part of their diet, you should be cautious when feeding your terrapin an apple and always make sure you’re cutting out the seeds and serving them in a mix of other things as small as possible.

Should I Feed My Terrapin Apples?

Really it comes down to you and what you think is best for the terrapin. Overall, it’s probably better to avoid feeding them apples because it is not a normal part of their diet.

As we mentioned, they prefer to eat a more meaty-based diet of things like fish – but if you would like to give your terrapin an apple, make sure it’s not a frequent occurrence and it’s used as an occasional treat.

Do Apples Provide More Benefits Than Negatives?

Although apples do have a lot of nutritional value, their benefits are only experienced when eaten in small doses, so in reality – there’s no real reason to feed these animals apples as a part of their normal diet.

The Bottom Line

Terrapins, Turtles, and Tortoises can indeed eat apples, but they should only eat them in small quantities and as part of a balanced, healthy diet. You also have to remember to remove the seeds to avoid cyanide poisoning.

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.