Some turtles are omnivorous and some are herbivorous, so a mixed diet is important. Acceptable vegetables include kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, mustard greens, and parsley.
One guideline for how much to feed is to offer your turtle as much as will fit in its head and neck in about 15 minutes. This prevents overfeeding which can lead to shell pyramiding, a condition where the scutes of the turtle’s shell become elongated.
As the name suggests pellets are an important part of your turtle’s diet. They should not, however, make up the majority of your turtle’s food as many nutrients can be obtained from other sources. It is also important that you understand how much to feed your turtle using the recommended guidelines on the package as overfeeding can cause health problems.
Generally, a good guideline is to offer as much as your turtle can eat within about fifteen minutes. This is because turtles are opportunistic feeders and will continue eating despite being full. This can lead to health problems such as metabolic bone disease.
Other foods that can be fed to turtles include smoked salmon (as a treat), pieces of cooked chicken, sardines, shrimp, and freeze dried worms (which contain protein). It is important to avoid dog or cat food as it may introduce bacteria, pesticides or parasites into your pet’s diet. These foods can also be high in fat and lead to obesity which can have other health complications for your turtle. Insects and berries can be used as a source of vitamins but they should not be a regular part of your turtle’s diet because they can lead to diarrhea.
Turtles need lots of leafy greens such as dandelion, collard greens, bok choy and swiss chard. They also need a variety of vegetables such as asparagus, beet greens, turnips and carrot tops. These are high in calcium as well as nutrients.
It is also important to provide them with a protein source. This can be in the form of processed pet food such as drained sardines or trout chow or live prey such as crickets, worms or feeder fish. These are needed to provide your turtle with the vitamins and minerals they require.
Fruit is another part of the diet that provides a variety of nutrients. Some of the most common fruits for turtles include strawberries, bananas and apples. It is recommended to not feed these as a main meal though as they are very high in sugar and can cause obesity in turtles. It is best to give them these as a snack or treat instead.
While in the wild turtles scavenge a variety of foods, it’s important to focus on the basics when feeding them in captivity. In addition to commercial turtle pellets and vegetables, they should have a good portion of their diet consisting of leafy greens, bananas (with skin), berries, apples, tomatoes and other vegetables that provide nutrition.
Fruit should make up about 10-20% of the overall diet. Ideally, you should offer fresh fruits that are low in sugar and provide a great source of calcium.
Other turtle food that can be offered include small amphibians such as tadpoles and frogs, insects (earthworms, snails, slugs, grasshoppers, crickets, wax worms) and lean meats like chicken or fish. Avoid giving them milk as they cannot digest it.
Whenever possible, it is recommended that you use organic produce, as conventional produce can contain pesticides and other harmful chemicals that are not healthy for turtles. Adding in some high quality, reptile-safe supplemental proteins such as sardines or anchovies is also recommended. These can be offered as a special treat every so often.
Turtles who are used to being fed from their owners often enjoy running into the water and swimming up to grab food right out of your hand. This is not begging; it is just their way of getting the nutrients they need to survive and grow healthy shells.
Carnivorous foods like fish, shrimp, earthworms, frogs, amphibians, moths, crickets and waxworms can be offered as part of the turtle’s diet but should make up no more than one third of the animal’s total diet. Wild-caught foods may contain parasites and other organisms that can cause turtle disease.
In the wild, turtles are opportunistic feeders and will often eat what is available because they don’t know when their next meal might be. This type of feeding is fine for wild turtles who burn off a lot of calories hunting, playing and avoiding predators in their habitats. But in captivity, where a turtle’s limited exercise opportunities can lead to obesity, it is not the best choice.
It is a good idea to offer fresh leafy vegetables such as romaine lettuce and cabbage, carrots, squash, beets and yellow or dark-green vegetables. It is also helpful to add a source of calcium to the diet to support proper bone development in the turtle.
There are a wide range of vitamins that turtles need. Some, such as Vitamin A, can cause severe problems if they do not receive enough in their diets. The best way to ensure that a turtle gets adequate amounts of these nutrients is by providing them with natural foods that are rich in them.
Leafy green vegetables are excellent sources of Vitamin A. They should make up a large percentage of a turtle’s diet. Kale is an excellent choice, as is romaine lettuce. Cooked carrots, sweet potatoes and squash should also be included once per week.
Fruits are excellent for adding Vitamin C to a turtle’s diet. They are also a good source of fiber and protein. Freeze dried insects are a great way to add protein and essential fats to a turtle’s diet. Crickets and mealworms are both good options. They are usually available in the pet megastores in bulk for very low prices.