Aquatic turtles eat a diet that includes both animal protein and plant matter. Though fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables are best, you can feed your turtle things from your pantry, such as canned fish, fruits, and vegetables. Giving your aquatic turtle a balanced and varied diet is important to keeping him healthy.
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What type of diet does an aquatic turtle eat?
Aquatic turtles are omnivores, meaning they eat both animal protein and plant matter. As juveniles, aquatic turtles need a lot of animal protein to support their growing body. You should feed a juvenile turtle a diet that contains 70 to 80 percent animal protein. Once an aquatic turtle reaches 18 months of age, you can begin to incorporate more plant matter into her diet. Adult turtles should eat a diet containing 50 percent plant matter.
Feed your turtle a varied diet. Aquatic turtles get bored and may stop eating if you feed them the same thing every day. Change the types of food you feed your turtle often to ensure she is eating a balanced diet and to ensure that she doesn't get bored with mealtime.
Foods turtles can eat: animal protein
In addition to commercial fish or turtle pellets, you can feed your turtle a variety of vertebrates and invertebrates. You can purchase feeder fish for your turtle, including guppies, minnows, and goldfish. Feeding live fish to your turtle will provide him with mental stimulation and exercise as he chases them around to catch and eat them. Fish should only comprise a small portion of your turtle's diet, though, as feeding him too much fish can lead to a thiamine deficiency.
Other animal proteins you can feed your turtle include tadpoles and frogs, moths, beetles, crickets, slugs, snails, wax worms, mealworms, and grasshoppers. Raw fish, chicken, and other meat from the grocery store are not recommended for aquatic turtles because they lack the phosphorus and calcium that turtles need.
In a pinch, you can feed your turtle canned fish. Acceptable canned fish for turtles include sardines, tuna, and anchovies. Don't feed your turtle any fish that has been preserved in oil. If you choose to feed your turtle canned fish, rinse it off with cool water before giving it to him.
Foods turtles can eat: plant matter
Many of the foods turtles can eat for the plant matter portion of their diet can be found in your own refrigerator. Some leafy greens, such as kale, mustard greens, and dandelion greens, are suitable to feed turtles. Iceberg lettuce is mostly water and doesn't contain a lot of nutritional value. You should avoid feeing your turtle iceberg lettuce for that reason.
Other vegetables you can feed your turtle include cooked sweet potato, boiled or steamed carrots, squash, pumpkin, and green beans. Your turtle can also eat some fruits. These include melon, berries, pears, and steamed apples. Cut up fruit into small pieces before feeding it to your turtle.
While fresh fruits and vegetables are best for turtles, you can feed your turtle canned fruits and vegetables in a pinch. You can feed your turtle many of the same canned fruits and vegetables as fresh ones, such as green beans, spinach, pears, pumpkin, squash, and berries.
Foods to feed turtles sparingly
There are some vegetables turtles can eat, but you should feed them sparingly because they can cause health issues if they are given to your turtle too often. For instance, Swiss chard, rhubarb, and spinach should be fed sparingly because they can block the absorption of calcium into the body. Feeding your turtle too much bok choy, broccoli, or cabbage can result in kidney disease or goiter. Digestive issues can occur as a result of feeding too many collard greens.
Seek veterinary advice
If you have questions about your turtle's nutritional needs, consult with a veterinarian who is experienced with reptiles. A knowledgeable veterinarian will be able to advise you on which commercial turtle pellets are nutritionally sound and which aren't. Your vet will also be able to provide you with more information on the foods turtles can and cannot eat. Working closely with a veterinarian is essential for your turtle's overall health and well-being.