Turtles, tortoises, terrapins, and other reptiles are often considered pests or even food. But do they always enjoy eating your favorite fruits? What should you know before feeding them?
Turtles, tortoises, and lizards are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and meat. They usually prefer vegetables over meat, but some species are known to eat insects and worms.
Reptile owners sometimes feed their pets with fruit because it is easy to obtain and nutritious. However, some reptiles do not like the taste of fruit whilst others love it!
Some may reject it completely while others will only accept certain types of fruit. In this article, we look at the feeding habits of turtles, tortoises, and terrapins and let you know if they like to eat fruit or not.
Tip: Read our full guide “What Do Turtles Eat?”
A Bit About Turtles, Tortoises, And Terrapins
Reptiles are cold-blooded animals, meaning they don’t have a regular heartbeat. They also lack sweat glands, which means they cannot regulate their body temperature.
This makes them vulnerable to overheating.
They can be found in almost every environment on Earth, from deserts to rainforests.
They are one of the oldest living groups of vertebrates. The first turtle was discovered in China around 300 million years ago.
It has been estimated that there are about 365 different kinds of turtles.
Most turtles live in water, although some species live on land as well. There are freshwater turtles, sea turtles, and marine turtles.
Freshwater turtles spend most of their lives in freshwater, whereas sea turtles swim all year long. Marine turtles stay near the shoreline for most of their life.
Turtles are predominantly herbivorous, meaning they eat mostly plant matter. Their diet includes leaves, flowers, roots, tubers, stems, bark, seeds, fungi, algae, and moss.
They also consume small invertebrates such as snails, crabs, shrimp, frogs, fish, and mollusks.
There are two main subgroups of tortoises: Testudines (turtles) and Chelonians (tortoises). Both groups belong to the class Reptilia.
Tortoises are native to Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, South America, and Central America. Most of these species are terrestrial.
There are more than 1,000 species of tortoises worldwide. The largest tortoise species is the Galapagos Giant Tortoise.
Tortoise eggs hatch after 4 to 6 weeks. Young tortoises grow very quickly. They reach sexual maturity within 3 to 5 months.
Terrapins are aquatic salamanders belonging to the order Caudata. They are found in fresh, brackish, and salt waters. However, the word “terrapin” comes from the Latin word terra pinata, which means “land turtle”.
Although terrapins spend most of their time in the water, when they need to go ashore, they use special skin folds called pleats to climb out of the water.
Terrapins are carnivorous, meaning they eat mainly meat. They hunt by sight rather than the smell and their diet consists of fish, amphibians, crustaceans, mollusks, and other aquatic creatures.
Do Turtles, Tortoises, And Terrapins Eat Fruits?
It’s important to note that turtles, tortoises, and terrapins are omnivores. They eat both plants and animals. Because of this, they can easily digest fruits.
Fruit contains carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. These nutrients help provide energy to the animal.
If your pet likes fruit, then you should buy it regularly but stick to your normal feeding routine. Avoid buying too much though, since it could cause digestive problems in your reptile.
We also go through some fruits you should avoid later on in this article.
If you want to make sure your pet eats healthy food, you should consider giving him/her a balanced diet.
Turtles do love to eat fruit, but not too often. Despite how many benefits fruit has, they still possess a lot of phosphorus, which is not good for the health of turtles.
Generally, a healthy and balanced turtle diet will have at least two times more calcium compared to phosphorus content. As most fruits do not contain much calcium, it would be hard to stick to this diet if you give them fruits too often.
If your turtle has a lot more phosphorus than calcium in its diet, the turtle can start to develop bone diseases. Stick to giving your turtle fruits only once or twice a week.
If the phosphorus content is low, you can give them fruit two times a week
Although tortoises can eat fruit, their diet should consist of no more than 20% apples, melon, and grapes. Rainforest tortoises in particular belong to a tropical climate and are used to eating fruit regularly, including melon, strawberries, grapes, blackberries, and pineapple.
Tortoises also love to eat vegetables including carrots, cucumbers, celery, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, beans, potatoes, corn, and squash.
Terrapins can eat fruit and enjoy it very much. However, they prefer to eat berries like blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, and strawberries.
Fruit is especially common for terrapins to eat in captivity, along with relish lettuce, watercress, and their usual fish and meats.
Only 20-30% of a terrapin diet should be made up of leafy vegetables, aquatic plants, and fruit. The animal matter should make up the rest.
What Fruit Do Turtles, Tortoises, and Terrapins Like?
Apple is an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and dietary fiber. It is also rich in antioxidants.
Banana is full of potassium, vitamin B6, and folic acid. It is also high in protein. Bananas are not recommended in excess, however, for most turtles, tortoises, or terrapins because of their high levels of phosphorus.
Cherry is a good source of vitamin A, calcium, iron, manganese, niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. It is also low in sodium.
Kiwi is a delicious fruit that is packed with essential vitamins and minerals. It is also low fat and cholesterol-free.
Orange is filled with vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and folate. It has a lot of fiber and is low in calories.
Peach is a nutritious fruit that is loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, copper, iron, and potassium.
It is also low in calories and low in saturated fats. Peach should only be given in small quantities to your turtle, and you need to ensure you are giving them something with plenty of calcium straight afterward as they have so much phosphorus in them.
You should also avoid giving too many peaches to tortoises as they have a high sugar content, which can upset their intestinal flora.
Pineapple is a delicious tropical fruit that is packed with vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B6, folate, and potassium. It’s also low in calories and sugar.
Avocados are a great source of vitamin B12, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin E, and potassium. They are also low in fat and cholesterol.
Watermelons are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, potassium, and folate. They are also extremely high in water and very low in calories.
Strawberries are a great source of vitamin C and manganese and contain a lot of folate and potassium. Strawberries also contain a lot of antioxidants and plant compounds.
What Fruits Should You Avoid?
Most fruits are ok for a turtle, tortoise, or terrapin to eat, even if they contain high amounts of phosphorus.
That being said, you should avoid giving them too much, if any, citrus fruits such as lemons, grapefruits, and limes, as they contain citric acid that can irritate the stomach of your pet.
This can lead to vomiting, and much more.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Lifespan Of A Turtle?
Turtles live between 50 and 100 years. However, this lifespan varies by species. Some species may live longer than others.
How Long Does It Take For A Turtle Or Tortoise To Grow?
Turtle growth depends on their diet. If they are fed a healthy diet, they will grow quickly. The average length of time it takes for a turtle to reach maturity is about one year.
How Much Food Do I Give My Turtle Each Day?
The amount of food you give your turtle each day depends on its size, age, and activity level. Small turtles usually require less food than larger ones.
What Are The Rules For Feeding Fruit?
For turtles, fresh fruit shouldn’t make up more than 10% of their diet, and for tortoises and terrapins, it shouldn’t make up more than 20% of their diet.
What Else Should I Feed My Turtle?
Give them tons of veggies, the occasional fruit, and plenty of live prey and pellets.
We hope after reading this article you know all about the feeding habits of your turtle, tortoise, or terrapin and whether they can eat fruit.
Remember, fruit can be part of a healthy and balanced diet for the reptiles, but ensure you are only providing small quantities of fruit that have high phosphorus levels and avoid citrus fruits completely!