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What Do Turtles Eat?

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Turtles are reptiles, they live in water, and they breathe through their skin. They also have infamously protective shells, but what do turtles eat?

Turtles are amphibians that spend much of their time in freshwater or saltwater. Therefore, their diet consists mainly of aquatic plants and invertebrates such as worms, snails, shrimp, crabs, and fish.

Turtle eating green leaf

They also eat mostly algae and other plant matter. This is because turtles don’t have teeth, so they chew their food using their tongue.

Do Turtles Eat Fish?

Yes! Turtles love to eat fish. In fact, some species will even eat the eggs of fish.

Do Turtles Eat Meat?

Whilst some turtles don’t tend to eat meat, they can survive on a diet of meat if necessary.

What Should I Feed My Pet Turtle?

If you want your turtle to grow fast, then feed it with a high protein diet. You should give them a mixture of vegetables and fruit.

However, you should avoid feeding your pet turtle too many vegetables because this could cause constipation.

What Do Wild Turtles Eat?

Wild turtles eat a lot of different things depending on where they live. Some wild turtles eat insects, while others eat fruits and seeds.

What Do Baby Turtles Eat?

Baby turtles eat very little when they’re young. They tend to only eat vegetables. When they reach about 2 years old, they start eating more.

How Long Does It Take For A Turtle To Grow?

It takes approximately 3-5 years for a baby turtle to reach adulthood.

How Much Water Can A Turtle Live On?

A healthy adult turtle can go without drinking water for up to 6 months. However, you should always provide your land turtle with the option of drinking water.

How Often Should I Change The Food And Water Of My Land Turtle?

Every day is fine. If you change the food and water every few days, your turtle won’t get sick.

Turtle Diet

The best way to feed your turtle is by mixing together a variety of foods. This will ensure that your turtle gets all its nutrients from a balanced diet.

Here’s what you need to feed your turtle:

  1. Vegetables – These include lettuce, carrots, celery, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, peppers, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, peas, beans, potatoes, sweet potato, squash, zucchini, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and radishes.
  2. Fruit – These include apples, pears, oranges, bananas, strawberries, peaches, plums, apricots, grapes, melons, figs, kiwis, mangos, mangoes, papayas, and pineapple.
  3. Grains – These include wheat, oats, barley, rice, rye, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, couscous, bulgur, amaranth, brown rice, corn flakes, farina, pasta, crackers and bread.
  4. Protein – This includes chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, pork, ham, bacon, sausage, venison, duck, goose, rabbit, and ostrich.
  5. Fat – This includes butter, peanut oil, lard, olive oil, coconut oil, and sunflower oil.
  6. Nuts & Seeds – These include almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, and tahini (sesame seed paste).

What Happens If I Feed My Turtle The Incorrect Diet?

Turtle eating grass

If you feed your turtle the incorrect diet, it may not be able to digest certain types of food properly. This may result in diarrhea or other digestive problems.

How Many Times Per Day Should I Feed My Turtle?

Feeding your turtle once per day is sufficient.

What Nutrients Are Essential To My Turtle’s Health?

There are many essential nutrients that are needed to keep your land turtle healthy. Here are some of them:

  1. Vitamin B12
  2. vitamin D
  3. Calcium
  4. Iron
  5. Zinc
  6. Omega-3 fatty acids
  7. Eggshell calcium
  8. Pantothenic acid
  9. Minerals such as potassium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, chloride, copper, manganese, cobalt, molybdenum, selenium, iodine, fluoride, boron, vanadium, and chromium
  10. Fiber
  11. Lignans
  12. Phytochemicals

How Long Does It Take For My Turtle To Grow?

It takes approximately three to five years for a baby turtle’s shell to harden completely. After this time period, your turtle will be fully grown.

Are There Any Specific Brands Of Turtle Food That I Should Buy?

Yes! You should buy only high quality brands of turtle food. Don’t purchase cheap brands because they’re likely to contain harmful ingredients that could harm your turtle.

What Happens If I Overfeed My Turtle?

Overfeeding can cause your turtle to gain weight too quickly. This can lead to obesity, which can have serious health consequences.

Can My Turtle Get Sick From Eating Too Much?

Your turtle can get sick if it eats too much. Some turtles even die from overeating.

What Foods Should I Avoid Feeding My Turtle?

Avoid feeding your turtle any foods that are toxic or poisonous. Examples of these include chocolate, caffeine, alcohol and tobacco products.

What Plants Are Poisonous To Turtles?

Here are some common plants that are poisonous to turtles:

  1. Aloe vera
  2. Alligator weed
  3. Angelica
  4. Azaleas

What Should I Do If My Turtle Stops Eating?

Turtle on the grass

If your turtle stops eating, try changing the type of food he/she is eating. Also, make sure that his/her water dish is clean and fresh.

Why Has My Turtle Stopped Eating?

If your turtle has stopped eating, there may be one of several reasons why. These include:

  1. Your turtle may be stressed out. Try placing him/her in an enclosure with other animals.
  2. He/She may be bored. Try giving him/her something new to do.
  3. He/She may not like the food you’ve been feeding him/her. Try switching to another brand of pellets.
  4. He/She may have gotten into something toxic. Make sure that his/her tank is clean.
  5. His/Her shell might be cracked. Check his/her shell carefully to see if it needs repair.
  6. He/She may need more calcium. Add some eggshells to his/her diet.
  7. He/She may just be hungry. Give him/her some food at least twice daily.
  8. He/She may want to mate. Offer him/her a partner once he/she is ready.
  9. She may already be pregnant. Keep her away from males until she/he gives birth.
  10. He/She may feel threatened by other male turtles. Place him/her in a separate enclosure.
  11. He/She may think that he/she is being chased. Move him/her to a different location where he/she feels safe.
  12. He/She may find himself/herself in danger.
  13. He/She may smell dead fish. Remove all fish and debris from his/her tank. Clean his/her tank thoroughly.
  14. He/She may be sick. Take him/her to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
  15. He/She may feel aggressive. Use caution when handling him/her.
  16. He/She may have a tumor.
  17. He/She may suffer from internal parasites.
  18. He/She may experience respiratory problems.

How Do I Encourage My Turtle To Eat?

Turtle Food Recipes

Below are some recipes for different types of turtle foods.

  • Pellets – Made from corn, wheat, soybeans, and other grains. The most popular kind of pellet used for reptiles is made from ground corn.
  • Vegetable Mixes – A mix of vegetables is often fed to young turtles because they tend to eat them better than plain vegetables. Examples of vegetable mixes include carrot-apple, broccoli-corn, and spinach-peanut butter.
  • Fruit Mixes – Fruit is also fed to young turtles because it’s easier to digest than vegetables. Some fruit mixes include banana, apple, grape, orange, pear, and strawberry.
  • Birds & Fish – Birds and fish can be given as treats to encourage your pet turtle to eat.
  • Dietary Supplements – Many commercial diets contain vitamins and minerals which help keep your reptile healthy. Be sure to check the label on any dietary supplement you buy.

Feeding Tips

Here are a few tips to remember when feeding your pet turtle:

  • Don’t overfeed your pet or give him/her too much food.
  • Always feed fresh food. Never use leftovers from last night’s dinner.
  • When feeding your pet, always place the food in front of him/her so that he/she can reach it easily.
  • Avoid using table salt. It can cause kidney damage in reptiles.
  • Make sure that your pet’s water bowl is clean and free of algae.
  • Change out his/her water every 2 weeks.
  • Keep an eye on your pet’s temperature. If he/she gets too hot, take him/her outside immediately.


To conclude, turtles are omnivores, meaning that they eat both plants and animals. Their diet consists mainly of insects, worms, mollusks, crustaceans, small vertebrates such as frogs, lizards, snakes, and birds.

You should ensure that you are feeding your turtle a balanced diet in order to keep them at their optimum level of health.

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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.