November 10, 2019 6 min read

Food is an essential part of your Turtle's Life. By maintaining a good diet, it builds her immune system, meets all her needs and of course, allows her to live a long life without health worries. What do you absolutely have to give him every day? What does she need? What should be avoided? We will clarify these specific points for you.

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What do turtles eat?

Your turtle is a herbivorous reptile. However, in nature, she is more opportunistic and spends her time eating what she can find. It therefore sometimes feeds on small insects. In captivity, the ideal is to compose a varied but precise menu. It must be made up of 90% vegetables and only 10% fruit. Of course, forget about all animal proteins. Their digestive system will not accept meat food. In any case, she does not need it to meet her nutritional needs.

vegetables and fruits for turtles

Above all, in captivity, your turtle will tend to be much less active than in nature, where it is constantly looking for food. In fact, there is no need to feed it in such large quantities.

What do water turtles eat

Water Turtle

The first thing you have to know is that aquatic turtles must be in the water to eat because they need it to wash their food. If they take food from your hand, know that they will still run or jump into the water to swallow it.

  • Aquatic Turtles : Herbivore or carnivore ?

In general, sea turtles are omnivorous. But some will be more vegetarian and others more carnivorous.

Each water turtle has its own food:

  1. Mauremys sinensis =  young carnivore and adult herbivore
  2. Pelomedusa subrafa = carnivore
  3. Pelusios castaneus = carnivore
  4. Emydura sublogosa = carnivore
  5. Sternotherus carinatus = carnivore

Animal Origin

 Meats :

  • Raw liver pieces
  • Insects
  • Earthworms
  • Slugs
  • Larvae
  • Snails

 Fishs always to be given raw :

  • Eels
  • Seafood
  • Small raw fish

WARNING 

there are exceptions, do not give your aquatic turtle such as smelt, shad, carp, herring, sculpin, catfish, goldfish because these fish contain a high content of thiaminase, an enzyme that destroys vitamin B1. Added to this list are dried shrimps (to keep as a treat for the occasion) and fish with fatty meat; tuna, sardines, salmon.

Vegetal origin :

  • Dandelion
  • Shamrock
  • Plantain
  • Alfalfa
  • Bindweed
  • Lamb's-quarters
  • Dairy
  • Evening primrose
  • Nettle
  • Galinsoga
  • Endive
  • Lamb's lettuce
  • Watercress
  • Water hyacinths
  • Water lenses
  • Parsley
  • Curly chicory
  • Turnip leaves
  • Radish leaves
  • Rackets and fruits of the prickly pear (be careful when peeling them: the hin needles are extremely irritating!)
  • Green cabbage leaves
  • Broccoli leaves (except flower)
  • Blueberries
  • Rutabaga
  • Curly kale
  • Beet leaves
  • Broccoli stems (except flower)
  • Peeled orange (except skin)Very fresh fig (not dried because it contains too many sugars)
  • Spinach
  • Celery in branch
  • Mulberry and bramble leaves
  • Romaine" salad
  • Hibiscus and rose leaves and flowers (untreated!)
  • Green part of the leek

 And for the Fruit part to a smaller extent:

  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes
  • Papaya
  • Soybean sprouts
  • Strawberries and wild strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Gooseberries
  • Blueberry
  • Pineapple (in very small quantities at a time)
If you have any doubts, the best solution is to consult a specialist.

And to make it happy, your water turtle will love larvae, small insects, crickets that are full of nutrients and vitamins. In addition, they allow you to vary your diet and prevent the turtles from getting bored. However, it is important to avoid giving them too often.

What do land turtles eat

Land Turtle

We can say that most land turtles have an opportunistic diet since they essentially eat what they can find.
Their diet therefore remains very varied in nature and consists of plants, vegetables, fruits, insects, carrion..... that they draw from their biotope.

Vegetables

  • Beetroot
  • Mushrooms of Paris
  • Chicory
  • Watercress
  • Endive
  • curly salad
  • Dairy
  • Bindweed
  • Alfalfa
  • Lamb's lettuce
  • Woodland Mallow
  • Turnips (leaves)
  • Nettle
  • Daisy daisy
  • Parsley
  • Dandelion
  • Plantain
  • Purslane
  • Prickly pear racket
  • Hollow pink
  • white clover
  • leaves and flowers of bignones

Fruits :

  • Banana
  • Cucumber
  • Fig
  • Strawberry
  • Raspberry
  • Melon
  • Fishing
  • Pear
  • Apples
  • Tomato
  • Grapes

Once again, the ideal diet for land turtles is 90% vegetables and only 10% fruit.
Meat is totally prohibited in their diet for a perfect shell formation.

The fruits to be given rarely are very varied, knowing that terrestrial turtles generally appreciate a large part of the fruits that we eat:
cucumber, tomato, strawberry, raspberry, grape, prickly pear, melon as watermelon (very, very small quantity), orange, apple, peach, apricot...

For a balanced diet, calcium intake must be at least 1.5 times higher than phosphorus intake.

How often to feed turtles

When you are used to living with dogs and cats, getting a new pet like turtle means adjusting to a new routine. They need different attention when it comes to housing, cleaning and feeding them. Turtles generally do not need to be fed daily, but their dietary needs vary according to age and season.

  • Youngsters ( the first 7 years )

Young turtles are the most in need of frequent feeding. They need vitamin and calcium supplements about three times a week and should be fed daily. They are generally more active in the morning and afternoon, so this is the best timing to feed your turtle. They are not considered adults until they are 7 years old, but if your otherwise healthy turtle over 3 years old starts eating less or not at all every few days, this could be a sign that it is mature enough to reduce its meals. But before you reduce, talk to your veterinarian. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.

  • Adults

Adult turtles need to be fed every two to three days. After 20 minutes, you must remove all food not consumed by the reptile, unless it is alive such as fish, crickets or earthworms. Fruits, vegetables and mice or fish that are not alive will decompose, causing an unpleasant smell and creating a less than healthy environment for your turtle.

  • Hibernation

If you have a turtle in a box, it will have the hibernating instinct to sleep during the winter. As he will be asleep from fall to spring, supplies will not be necessary. You should stop feeding your turtle in the fall while providing enough water for it to continue swimming and hydrating so that its small system can process and eliminate the food it has already eaten before going to sleep. However, hibernation is optional. If you don't want your turtle to pass through it, make sure it receives 10 to 12 hours of light every day - either natural sunlight or full spectrum lights mounted above its home.

Vitamin supplements ?

from our point of view, they are to be avoided most of the time. It is a back-up food to be used only in case of emergency. Or they can be used to feed your turtle when it is still young, in its terrarium, before taking it outdoors. Good food also in case of illness of your turtle, or when it comes out of hibernation.

General recommendations

Food selection is important but not only when it comes to feeding a turtle: the presentation is also important:

  • Turtles love colourful food, so be aware that a colourful and attractive dish will make them want to eat.
  • All ingredients must be washed, peeled and cut if necessary.
  • Once you have chosen and cut your ingredients, mix everything to make a compound salad, so she won't choose what she eats and will enjoy all the nutrients in the dish. Try to vary among the ingredients so that your turtle learns to eat a little bit of everything.
  • Never put food on the ground, prepare a container specially made for her.
  • It is not necessary to add salt or extra condiments.
  • Change food 2 or 3 times a day or offer him a main course once a day made up of several small pieces of plants, vegetables, herbs, fruits etc.
  • The water will have to be changed every day and placed in the shade.

To finish this article, here is for you our list of Forbidden Food to Turtles, you will find a list of foods to never give, as well as a list of foods to give only occasionally to your tortoise.

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