Why Is My Baby Turtle Not Eating?

Is your baby turtle not eating? Are you struggling to find out why? In this guide, we go through several reasons why your baby turtle might not be eating and ways to rectify certain issues.

baby turtle crawling on sand

In most cases, a turtle would stop eating if it suffered or encountered any of the situations described below.

To find out more about these situations continue reading for useful tips and tricks that will help you to get your pet back to full health in no time!

Reasons Why A Baby Turtle Might Not Eat

Below we look at some main reasons why a baby turtle might stop eating and offer advice on how to help your pet to get back their appetite.

Stress

When baby turtles are adopted they are brought into a new environment which can initially cause them stress as they need to adapt and become familiar with their new surroundings.

It is important to do your research to ensure that you have set the tank up correctly for the specific types of turtle you are adopting to make the transition into their new space easier.

Try not to handle your turtle too much as this can also cause them stress. Turtles should be left alone to ensure that they thrive in their new home.

Sickness

Your turtle may be unwell if they are showing any of the below symptoms. If your turtle is presenting any of these signs you should speak with a veterinarian as soon as possible.

  • Check for feces in the tank, if there is none your pet may be constipated.
  • Check feces for worms, this can be an indication of a parasitic infection that would require immediate medical treatment.
  • If the turtle’s shell has become discolored it may be deficient in vitamin A, you can get over-the-counter medication in a pet store for this.
  • You can check for breathing issues by looking for discharge from the nasal cavity, sneezing, wheezing, or laziness. The turtle’s eyes may also become swollen.
  • In the case of female turtles, they may be suffering from dystocia, which is an illness where it is uncomfortable and hard for them to pass eggs.

If you notice any other changes in your baby turtle’s physical appearance you should speak with a veterinarian for further information and assistance.

Diet

Baby turtles are often less likely to eat commercial pellet foods. Try changing their diet by adding brightly colored foods, such as fruit and vegetables or live animals such as earthworms, mealworms or snails.

Baby turtles are known to like small pieces of leafy vegetables, carrots, and tomatoes as well as fruits such as bananas, berries, and watermelon.

If you do not feel comfortable feeding your pet live animals you can feed them canned worms, insects, or egg whites.

Inappropriate Lighting

As turtles as mostly marine animals, they need adequate lighting for their bodies to operate properly. They need a solid 10 to 12 hours of darkness and 12 to 14 hours of light each day.

Some species also require special UVB lighting for optimal performance, such as for eating, respiring, moving, and swimming.

If your baby turtle is not getting the appropriate lighting it won’t be able to break down foods or have the energy to eat foods which is why it would stop eating.

Temperature

Baby turtles, and turtles in general, require very specific temperatures. If the tank is too hot or too cold this can cause the turtle stress, which means the baby turtle stops eating.

Temperatures do vary between different turtles but below we explain the optimal temperatures for the two most common pet turtle species.

  • Red-Eared Sliders: Babies of this species require a tank between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Box Turtles: This species requires two different temperatures to replicate temperatures they would experience in the wild. For the daytime they need a tank between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and at nighttime, they require the tank to not fall below 60 degrees.

Time Of The Day

Something most baby turtle owners don’t know is that they are most active in the first half of the day. This means that it is normal for them to choose not to eat in the evening time.

Try feeding them in the morning time as your baby turtle will naturally be hungrier after using up its energy.

Best Food For Baby Turtles

1. Zoo Med Natural Aquatic Maintenance Formula Turtle Food

45 oz of Zoo Med Natural Aquatic Maintenance Formula Turtle Food in a clear container with blue cover

This food is high in protein and helps boost your baby turtle’s vitamin C, D3 and E levels which benefits their overall health.

It is a great food for turtles that are happy eating pellet-based food and encourages a maintained level of health.

You can purchase this product from Chewy by clicking here or from Amazon by clicking here.

Zoo Med Zm113 Natural Aquatic Turtle Food Maintenance Formula 45 Oz (1 Pack), One Size
  • Contains 1- 45Oz
  • No Artificial Colors Or Preservatives
  • For Turtles Over 6" 5/16" Pellets

2. Tetrafauna ReptoMin PRO Baby Formula Turtle Food

1.13 oz of Tetrafauna ReptoMin PRO Baby Formula Turtle Food in a green container with silver cover

This is a great choice if your baby turtle is refusing to eat pellet food. This food is high in protein and gives your baby turtle a Vitamin D3 boost with each meal.

As it is stick-shaped it floats on water, encouraging your turtle to swim and in turn creating an appetite.

You can purchase this product from Chewy by clicking here or from Amazon by clicking here.

Tetra 77093-00 fauna Pro ReptoMin Baby Turtle Formula Sticks, 1.13 oz. (77093)
  • Digestible, odor blocking formula helps block odors associated with turtle waste
  • Beta glucans support immune system
  • Protein and calcium rich
  • For turtles 1-2 inches
  • Length of stick is 6-8mm and diameter of stick is 2-3mm

3. Fluker’s Buffet Blend Turtle Food

7.5 oz of Fluker’s Buffet Blend Turtle Food in a clear container with white cover

Benefits: This food is a great way of introducing color to your baby turtle’s meal times, which can get their attention and encourage their appetite.

This food benefits your turtle as it is high in both protein and vitamin A. This blend is made up of both pellets and stick food.

You can purchase this product from Chewy by clicking here or from Amazon by clicking here.

4. Sequoia Aquatic Turtle Medley Food

Sequoia Aquatic Turtle Medley Food with open lid

Benefits: If you want to introduce more variety to your baby turtle’s mealtimes this product is a great choice. It has freeze-dried shrimp and meal worms and it is packed with fiber and high in protein.

The light yellow and orange colors can attract the attention of baby turtles and stimulate their appetite to try something new.

You can purchase this product from Amazon by clicking here.

Aquatic Turtle Medley Food - Freeze Dried Shrimp & Mealworms for Aquatic Turtle, Beard Dragon and Other Reptiles & Amphibians
  • ✅FORMULATION- Our Medley Food is An Ideal Blend of Freeze-dried Shrimp & Mealworms , To Maintain Optimal Nutrition And Flavor. Which Are All Natural Foods of Turtles, To Ensure Your Turtle Will Accept and Love This Treat.
  • ✅ NUTRITIONAL - Vitamin Enriched Formula That Provides Essential Proteins, Fats, Vitamins And Minerals, Easy to digest, An Excellent Source of nutrients. Great Treat for Juvenile And Adult Aquatic Turtles, Also Great For Large Tropical Fish
  • ✅ DELICIOUS - 100% Natural - No Added Colors, Flavors, or Preservatives. It's Great Alternative to Live Insects. Pets Love Our Medley Food. But Some Are Picky Eaters. Popular Strategies Include Working Them Slowly Into Your Pets Diet, Adding Movement, And Rehydrating in Water to Make More Appealing.
  • ✅EASY TO STORE & KEEP FRESH - Live Worms Are Hard to Keep, Loud, And Contain Odor. Our Freeze Drying Process Ensures the Same Nutritional Value As a Live Worms, But Provides Easier Handling, Convenience and A Longer Shelf Life.
  • ✅SATISFACTION GUARANTEE - If You Are Unsatisfied for Any Reason We Provide a 100% Money Back Guarantee. Customer Satisfaction is Our #1 Priority!

Top Tips To Make Your Baby Turtle Eat

Now that you know some reasons why your baby turtle might not be eating, let’s take a look at how you can encourage your pet to start to eat again.

  • Change the feeding routine and the diet you are feeding your pet. Introducing new foods at different times may stimulate the baby turtle’s appetite.
  • Don’t mix two turtles in the same tank; they may stop eating because they are afraid of one another.
  • Use a thermometer to accurately maintain the temperature in the tank, you can then adjust the lamp lower or higher.
  • Clean the tank clean to promote a clean and fresh environment for your pet, this will keep your baby turtle happy and healthy and stimulate their appetite.

Final Thoughts

If your pet is still not eating and you have tried all of the above solutions we recommend consulting with a veterinarian to ensure nothing sinister is developing in your baby turtle which could lead to serious health issues or death.

By trying to avoid causing stress to your turtle by following our guidelines set out in this piece you will be able to promote and create a soothing and safe environment for your pet to thrive in and they will resume eating normally again.

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.

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