Ask a Vet

How Much Should I Feed My Turtle And How Often?

Photo of author
Updated on

When it comes to feeding your turtle, there are lots of different things they should be eating. The real questions are how much you should be feeding your shelled friend and how often.

Turtle on the pond

These are important details to get right and can be vital to any turtle’s diet in order for them to thrive and live a happy life.

Turtle owners will want to see their little dinosaur pets enjoy their time in your company, with lots of healthy food and sunlight for them to have a good life.

Getting the quantity and quality of these foods and their lifestyle is crucial, with many people often stressing out over these features.

However, we’ve made a guide for you to follow so that you don’t get lost when trying to look after your pet.

What Different Types Of Pet Turtles Are There?

Before considering how much food you need to feed your pet and how often, you need to figure out the age, size, and type of turtle you have.

Whether you’re looking to buy a new pet or you already have a turtle, you need to ensure you’re feeding them the right amount of food and the right type of diet to keep them as healthy as possible.

There are two main types of turtles: those that live in the water and those that live on land. Each has its requirements, but all require different amounts of food and care.

Water Turtles

These reptiles come from the family of tortoises and include soft-shelled turtles (also known as snapping turtles), which are popular aquarium pets.

They’re also found in ponds, lakes, rivers, and other bodies of freshwater around the world. Water turtles can reach lengths of up to 15 inches and weigh between 3 and 10 pounds.

Their diets vary depending on what kind of turtle they are.

Soft-shelled turtles eat invertebrates like worms, snails, insects, small fish, frogs, crayfish, and more. Snapping turtles are omnivores, meaning they’ll eat anything from plants to meat.

Terrapins are herbivorous, and they prefer plant matter such as algae, grasses, roots, and leaves. All these species need to be fed at least once per day.

Land Turtles

Land turtles belong to the reptile family, specifically the family of lizards. This group includes box turtles, common snapping turtles, red-eared sliders, painted turtles, wood turtles, and more.

Like water turtles, land turtles can grow into quite large sizes — some reaching lengths of 18 inches and weighing upwards of 30 pounds.

Unlike water turtles, most land turtles do not live in freshwater environments.

Instead, they usually stay near the ground, where they spend their days basking in the sun. These reptiles need plenty of vegetation and bugs because they filter the air through their skin.

In addition to this, they also need to drink water regularly. Their diets vary based on their needs.

For example, box turtles are omnivorous and consume both plants and animals, while red-ear slider turtles are herbivores.

Both of these species need to be given a wide variety of food items, including fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains, and even insects. To give your turtle a balanced diet, try to mix up their meals every few weeks.

Size Matters

It’s important to remember that each turtle will have a different nutritional requirement. Some turtles may only eat once every two months, whereas others can go longer without eating.

If you’re unsure whether your turtle requires more food than you think, ask your veterinarian for advice.

Because of how crucial it is to get this right, it’s always best to seek a professional opinion when in doubt.

As with any animal, it is best always to consult your vet when it comes to giving your proper turtle nutrition because of how important a healthy diet is to a turtle’s life and how long they live.

For example, certain types of lettuce are great for your turtle, whereas other variations of the vegetable can be toxic to them and cause symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting.

What Do Turtles Eat In The Wild?

Land Turtles

This form of turtle tends to feed on types of vegetation that are low down on the ground. However, they also enjoy eating things like fruit, berries, and various forms of plants.

As mentioned earlier, they need a varied diet, so they don’t stick to the same things every time. They tend to eat whatever is easiest and what they fancy at the time.

Sea Turtles

Turtle eats seagrass

These reptiles are known for being active creatures who love swimming around the ocean, searching for food. They mainly eat jellyfish, sea urchins, clams, shrimp, crabs, and lobsters.

While they do occasionally eat fish, it is mostly a rare occurrence.

Most sea turtles depend on the nutrient-rich waters surrounding the oceans to survive.

They also need to be able to breathe easily to absorb oxygen. When feeding your turtle, make sure to include something good for their lungs too.

They will also eat vegetation like kelp and seaweed when available, with these types of turtles being quite opportunistic depending on what environment they find themselves in at the time.

What’s Best To Feed My Turtle?

When it comes to feeding your turtle, there are many options available. You’ll want to choose items that are easy for the reptile to digest and keep an eye out for ingredients that aren’t harmful.

Some foods are safe to offer your pet, but you should avoid offering them if they look unwell or sick.

This includes avocado, citrus fruits, and tomatoes. If your turtle has trouble chewing and swallowing, then it could be due to a problem within its digestive system.


Pellets are a great food to give to your turtle because of the nutrients they offer to your pet’s diet.

With pellets, you can easily provide your turtle with all sorts of high-protein food items to help maintain a healthy weight.

Pellets come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and colors, making it easier to figure out what suits your needs the most.

It’s also a great way to ensure your turtle gets plenty of vitamins, minerals, and calories every day.

Be careful not to overfeed your turtle, though. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and other health issues and can also cause your pet to become lethargic and sluggish.

Fruits And Vegetables

These are both excellent sources of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and other essential vitamins and minerals. Several varieties of fruits and vegetables are suitable for your turtle to consume.

Make sure to only choose those that have been thoroughly cleaned beforehand. Don’t forget to watch out for any moldy or rotten parts of the item either.

If your turtle is having difficulty breathing, you may want to consider adding more leafy greens to their diet.

Leafy greens are one of the few foods that contain chlorophyll, which helps clear mucus from the respiratory tract.

Chlorophyll is also thought to aid in digestion by helping remove toxins from the body. When looking for leafy greens, try to select fresh ones.

Avoid purchasing frozen versions because they won’t have the same nutritional value as fresh produce. Frozen leaves can also be toxic to your turtle if consumed in large quantities.

How Much Should I Feed My Turtle?

Turtle eating salad

Although it depends on each individual turtle, it is generally recommended that you feed your turtle once a day.

Turtles don’t require much nutrition in comparison to other animals and can survive on a meal every day.

So, making sure that they get enough to eat isn’t always an issue. You can usually gauge how much they need to eat depending on their behavior.

If you’re unsure about how much to feed your turtle, you can purchase a measuring cup online or at your local pet store. Just make sure to measure accurately so that you know exactly how much your turtle needs.

Remember, this is just a guideline; it doesn’t mean that you can never feed less than this amount again.

As long as your turtle seems to be eating well, it shouldn’t matter how often you feed them.

You can use these guidelines to determine whether or not you’re giving your turtle too little or too much:

  • Is your turtle showing signs of hunger, such as stretching its neck forward, opening its mouth widely, or trying to reach food?
  • Does your turtle seem to feel full after eating? Do they stop eating when they’ve eaten everything they need?
  • Are there any signs that your turtle has had diarrhea?

What Happens If You Overfeed Your Turtle?

Overfeeding your turtle can lead to obesity and other serious health problems. These problems include heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, liver damage, and even death in extreme cases.

In addition to these risks, overfed turtles tend to lose their appetite, which means they aren’t getting enough nutrition throughout the day.

This can result in your pet becoming sluggish and lethargic, which can eventually lead to death. Even worse, overfed turtles can put themselves into shock if their weight increases rapidly.

It’s important to remember that feeding your turtle too much can also lead to digestive problems.

Digestive problems can affect your turtle’s ability to absorb nutrients, which could ultimately result in malnutrition.

With digestive problems, your turtle might start to reduce the amount of exercise and activities they’ll do, which will make them unhealthy.

On top of this, overfeeding your turtle can cause them to become overweight. Excess fat makes it harder for your turtle to breathe properly, which can result in suffocation.

How Often Should My Turtle Drink Water?

Like most reptiles, turtles should drink water regularly.

However, it’s best to check with your veterinarian before beginning to give your turtle excess amounts of water to ensure that it’s safe for your pet.

It’s also important to note that different types of turtles require varying amounts of water.

For example, some turtles have a very high metabolic rate and therefore need to drink more water than others.

The easiest way to figure out how much water your turtle needs is to watch them closely. If you notice that they’re drinking a lot of water, you can assume they need extra hydration.

But, remember that this doesn’t necessarily mean they need to consume additional fluids. Some turtles prefer to drink only during certain times of the day.

Bathing My Turtle

A lot of forms of turtles, especially land turtles, will need bathing now and then. This is a great opportunity for them to rehydrate and have a drink.

As long as the water is lukewarm or mild, they’ll have no problems drinking their water whilst having a wash. This multi-tasking is great for the turtles and will ensure that they stay healthy.

You should bathe your turtle using a soft brush so that you don’t hurt them. Make sure that you use a clean towel to dry your pet afterward.

Once you’ve done this, let them rest for a little while until they’ve dried off completely. You should repeat this process approximately every two weeks or whenever you see fit.

What Fruits And Vegetables Are Good For Turtles?

Turtle eats orange fruit

Turtles are omnivores and will eat both plant and animal-based foods. The key thing to remember when giving your turtle food is that they need a balanced diet.

A balanced diet contains all vitamins and minerals that your turtle requires.

Most plants contain protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, and essential amino acids. The problem comes when you try to feed your turtle something that isn’t good for them.

Lettuce is one of the key vegetables you should add to your turtle’s diet. Lettuce is low in calories and provides lots of vitamins and minerals. It’s also cheap and easy to buy.

You can get lettuce from your local supermarket, but if you want to save money and prepare it at home, you can grow it in your backyard.

Always make sure that your vegetables are fresh and that there are no growths or mold on the food.

Strawberries are another food that is very good for your turtles and could be considered a good treat for them now and then.

Strawberries provide lots of antioxidants that help protect your turtle against damage caused by free radicals. They also contain vitamin C and potassium which are both beneficial nutrients for your turtle.

Fruit juice is also an excellent option for your turtle. Fruit juices provide energy and nutrients to your reptile. It’s just a matter of finding the right fruit juice that suits your turtle’s specific requirements.

Be careful not to overfeed your turtle because it could become too overweight and cause health issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Food Should I Feed My Turtle?

Turtles eat anything from fruit, vegetables, pellets, and protein supplements.

The younger the turtle, the more frequently you should feed them to help facilitate their growth and their development. Just make sure you don’t feed them too much!

How Many Pellets Should I Feed My Turtle?

Turtles should be fed twice a day, once in the morning and again in the afternoon. This is based on the fact that they need to eat for the equivalent of every 3-4 hours to stay healthy.

Also, they are reptiles and therefore do not have teeth. Therefore, they must chew their soft food before swallowing it. So, you feed them a lot of food per meal and make sure it fits into their mouth.

Can You Overfeed A Turtle?

Turtles are very smart animals. They are also very sensitive to their environment.

Their diet should be carefully controlled. Overfeeding them could lead to serious health problems and should be monitored as much as possible.

Keeping your turtle healthy is very important, and you should be mindful when feeding your turtle too much food.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, you are going to find that feeding your turtle is pretty straightforward. All you need to know is what your turtle needs and how often to feed them.

Don’t forget to always check with your veterinarian first before starting to feed your turtle any type of food. Your vet knows best and will guide you through this process.

As long as you’re careful and in control, you’re already halfway there.

Knowing which foods are safe and which can be potentially toxic is also a thing that you need to consider, with many fruits and vegetables available to keep them healthy.

As long as you ensure that your turtle has a healthy and balanced diet, you can expect them to live long and happy lives.

Photo of author
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.