What Do Turtles Eat? (All You Need To Know)

photo of a turtle

Caring for turtles is easy since they only require a little training, unlike dogs and cats. There are over 300 species of turtles, and each of them has its preferred diet.

What Do Turtles Eat?

A turtle’s diet will depend on various factors such as their age, species, size, habitat, and food sources available. Generally, most of them are omnivores eating both animals and plants, while some are carnivores, and others prefer a vegetarian diet only.

Since each of them has unique dietary needs, ensure you choose the right food for them. The key is providing them with balanced nutrition containing the appropriate vitamins and minerals to keep them healthy.

Your turtle could become weak and sick without appropriate feeding, so it’s necessary to understand what they eat, how often, and what to do if they can’t eat satisfactorily.

As we said earlier, each sea turtle species feeds on a specific diet. Check out a few examples of species and the diet they feed on.

  • Flatbacks – these are mainly carnivores that prefer shallow waters and soft blossoms. Common food include crabs, fish, and frogs
  • Green turtles – are popular vegetarians that feed on seagrass, seaweed, and algae. However, their hatchlings are omnivores, eating snails, crabs, jellyfish, and shrimp.
  • Hawksbills – these are known for a bird-like beak that allows them to cut through sea sponges, soft coral, and anemones.
  • Kemp’s Ridleys – these are born omnivores, feeding on small animals like snails and crams as well as plants like seaweed. As adults, Kemp’s ridleys feed on fish, molluscs, crustaceans, and jellyfish.
  • Leatherbacks – these are mainly carnivores that prefer feeding on jellyfish
  • Loggerheads – yet another omnivore turtle that feeds on hard-shelled organisms like fish, crustaceans, and lobsters.
  • Olive ridleys – these are omnivores who eat snails, jellyfish, shrimp, and crabs. Occasionally, they also feed on seaweed and algae.

Do Turtles Eat Grapes?

Yes, turtles eat grapes. However, it’s not recommended in large quantities because they contain sugar, and the calcium-phosphorous balance in them is not safe for turtles.

When turtles eat grapes in moderation, they can benefit from Vitamin A, which is good for eyesight, immune, and reproductive health.

Ensure you cut the grapes into small pieces to make it easier for your turtle to swallow. Turtles lack teeth, so if you feed large bites of grapes, they may choke.

Can Turtles Eat Bananas?

Yes, turtles can eat bananas as they are healthy and safe for your turtle. While turtles love eating bananas, you should offer them in moderation.

Bananas are packed with sugar which can cause diarrhea, stomach, and other digestive problems.

Can Turtles Eat Watermelon?

Yes, turtles are omnivorous and can eat watermelons. Turtles find the watermelon tasty, nutritious, and easy to swallow due to the huge amount of water. The fruit also contains vitamin A and C, which can be beneficial for a turtle.

Remember that you should feed your turtle the red part as the green part can choke them and is hard to digest.

Also, too much watermelon is not safe due to the high amounts of sugar and a lack of high nutritional value for turtles.

Do Turtles Eat Bread?

No, turtles should not eat bread due to the yeast content and the fact that they lack the enzymes needed to digest bread and dairy products. Even in small quantities, you should not eat your pet turtle bread.

Even if your turtle eats whatever you feed them, they won’t be able to chew bread and might increase the chance of choking. Also, bread lacks calcium, so it’s just empty calories to your turtle.

Can Turtles Eat Carrots?

Yes, turtles can eat carrots, roots and tops. Carrots are packed with nutrients and vitamins which are healthy for your turtles.

Carrots are easily available in the backyard garden or the grocery store and can be prepped within a short time, making it easy to find turtle food.

The best way to feed your turtles carrots is to shred them to make them easier to swallow and digest. Turtles can safely eat carrots every day because it adds a minimum of one serving daily. They also aid in digestion due to the higher fiber content.

Do Turtles Eat Fish Food?

In the wild, turtles eat fish. However, you should not use fish food exclusively for your turtle because it will not fulfill its nutritional needs. Some frozen fish food such as Krill, bloodworm, and Mysis can be good for the turtle because they are rich in protein.

You can use other food sources such as veggies and greens, then add not more than one-eighth fish food to your turtle’s diet.

Can Turtles Eat Strawberries?

Yes, turtles love strawberries. It’s safe to feed your turtle different berries such as raspberries, strawberries, and other tropical fruits like papaya and guava. However, ensure you feed them fruits sparingly than veggies since fruits tend to be less nutritious.

Can Turtles Eat Pumpkins?

Yes, turtles can eat pumpkins. Veggies are suitable for turtles, including some pumpkins too. You might need to cook for juvenile turtles if they find it too hard to chew.

That said, pumpkins should not be used as a staple diet because they lack the nutritional value needed for turtles. Pumpkins can be used as a natural laxative.

Can Turtles Eat Cheese?

In general, its better to avoid giving turtles any dairy products because they lack the enzymes to digest lactose which can cause illness.

Even if your turtle seems to like it, it’s best to avoid throwing any cheese on them to avoid making them sick.

Can Box Turtles Eat Cucumbers?

Yes, turtles can eat cucumbers sparingly. It contains mostly water which can keep the turtle hydrated and flush out toxins. It has trace amounts of vitamin C and K and much less in calories, so your turtle can easily digest it.

However, they do not supply the nutrition a turtle needs to grow and develop. For this reason, the main purpose of adding this vegetable to your turtle meal is for them to enjoy the delicious taste and coldness.

Can Turtles Eat Pineapple?

Yes, turtles can eat pineapple once in a while. It’s packed with vitamin A, calcium, and phosphorous required by turtles. On the flip side, pineapples are packed with sugar and acids that can harm your turtle’s health.

Avoid feeding the peels as they may contain pesticides and may have bits of bromelain enzyme, which can cause intestinal discomfort. Turtles can eat pineapples as treats.

Can Box Turtles Eat Oranges?

Yes, most turtles can eat oranges in small amounts. It’s loaded with essential nutrients but is also acidic and contains lots of sugars.

Experts suggest that your turtle can benefit from the Vitamin C in oranges. However, considering that fructose is in fruits, it’s recommended you feed him with just a few pieces or in moderate amounts.

Can Turtles Eat Kale?

Yes, turtles can eat and benefit from kale. The veggie is considered a superfood because it’s packed with key nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Vitamin B6. It’s also rich in calcium, magnesium, manganese, and copper.

Well, kale is an excellent addition to your turtle’s diet, but you might want to feed in in moderation.

Can Turtles Eat Crickets?

Yes, pet turtles can eat crickets because it’s part of their natural diet. Feeding your turtle crickets provides them with lots of nutrients because they contain a healthy level of protein content as well as calcium needed to maintain a healthy shell.

Keeping your turtle near-live crickets can help stimulate their natural hunting instincts while also providing a great exercise for them.

You may be surprised that turtles eat cricket in the wild, despite being too slow. Over the years, turtles have evolved long necks that make it easy to catch live crickets.

While they normally keep the neck close to the shell, some turtle species can extend the neck to over 5 inches. Despite being naturally slow, they can extend their necks pretty quickly. This allows them to sneak pretty quickly and catch the cricket unaware.

Can Turtle Eat Goldfish Food?

Yes, turtles can safely eat fish food, but not as the primary diet. Turtles thrive on a variety of plant-based and meat foods. Occasional fish food is allowed.

Can Turtles Eat Corn?

Yes, Corn can provide diversity in a turtle’s diet. However, it’s recommended in moderate amounts, preferably once or twice a month.

Corn is rich in potassium and protein but has a sugar content that is never good in the long run. Too much corn can trigger intestinal problems for your title and possibly death.

Can Turtles Eat Chicken?

Protein is necessary for turtles due to the high content of amino acids they contain. However, you need to add protein in moderation to prevent the overgrowth of the shell.

Your adorable turtle will enjoy a few bits of delicious chicken on the table, but too much might affect the shell and cause pyramiding. Too much protein accelerates the shell’s growth until it reaches its peak, then starts to take the shape of a pyramid.

This can interfere with normal lung function and interfere with the process of laying eggs for females. Pyramiding can also make their legs weak and possibly result in arthritis.

The good news is that it rarely happens, and the bad news is if it happens, it can never be reversed. Stay safe by feeding them chicken in moderate amounts.

Can Turtles Eat Apples?

Yes, apples are safe for your turtles in moderation. Apples contain vitamin A in abundance, which is good for maintaining your turtle’s eye and reproductive health. Additionally, they contain a fair amount of calcium needed for a healthy shell.

Apples are also rich in antioxidants to fight infections. However, the fruit has high amounts of sugar and oxalic acid.

That being said, you should feed your apple too many apples regularly. Also, avoid apple seeds because they can be toxic.

Can Turtles Eat Spinach?

Turtles are generally herbivores and will eat many vegetables, including spinach. However, spinach inhibits calcium absorption due to oxalic acid, which could lead to kidney stones if consumed in excess. That said, a small amount of spinach may not cause harm but is best avoided.

Can Turtles Eat Tomatoes?

Yes, tomatoes are safe for your turtle. The juicy red fruit is a turtle’s favorite meal. The red tomato offers essential minerals for your pet turtle-like calcium and Vitamin A.

However, you should feed your turtles tomatoes in moderation, perhaps once or twice a week. Tomatoes contain oxalic acid and excess sugar that can lead to digestive issues if taken in large quantities.

A word of caution though – avoid green tomatoes because they can cause loose stool and create the right conditions for infections to thrive in.

Can Turtles Eat Celery?

Yes, turtles can eat celery so long as it’s cut into small pieces to avoid choking hazards. However, it does not provide essential nutrients required by turtles, such as calcium and macro-nutrients. For this reason, it should not be a staple food for your turtle.

Keep in mind that celery contains high levels of oxalates, which may have a diuretic property. A regular intake might not be safe.

Do Turtles Eat Lettuce?

The answer is yes. Fully grown turtles love vegetables and lettuce, which are their most preferred meal. Romaine, green and red lettuce are exceptionally nutritious because they have lower water content and contain vital minerals and vitamins.

Avoid Iceberg lettuce as this has less nutritional value and more water.

Can Turtles Eat Broccoli?

Turtles can safely eat broccoli. However, they are not fond of eating these vegetables, but you can give them occasionally. Broccoli has more Vitamin A essential for your turtle’s immune system, eyesight, and reproductive health. 

The vegetable also contains calcium and phosphorous. However, you need to remember that not all parts of broccoli are safe like the stems containing toxins such as goitrogens and oxalic acid.

What Do Terrapins Eat?

These tiny marsh-dwelling turtles prefer to eat live mostly fish, insects, and meat. As pets, you can offer them tuna, shellfish, mackerel, and sardines. Terrapins also enjoy small chunks of meat, preferably raw, because they don’t like cooked meat.

Although terrapins are carnivores, they can eat a few greens and grass, such as relish lettuce and watercress.

They can eat pears, apples, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Ensure to cut the food into small pieces to make it chewable and easy to swallow.

Captive terrapins can also be given commercial foods but not to replace the natural diet completely.

Commercial food contains a well-balanced diet that can offer extra vitamins and minerals. Besides, supplements can offer dietary calcium for your terrapin’s shell.

What Can Eastern Box Turtles Eat?

The eastern box turtle can live in many habitats, from damp forests to grassy fields. Eastern box turtle hatchlings are the main carnivore feeding on slugs, larvae, and insects. However, as adults, they are omnivores feeding on fruits, roots, grasses, eggs, fish, and amphibians.

Captive turtles can be given dark leafy greens such as collard, mustard, parsley, dandelions, spinach, and kale. However, beware of oxalates in greens because they bind calcium in your box turtle, making feeding counterintuitive.

Other foods with an excellent phosphorous to calcium ratio include grapes, green beans, cabbage, raspberries, romaine lettuce, butternut squash, and apples.

You can also look for insect foods for box turtles such as earthworms, crickets, beetles, mealworms, caterpillars, wax worms, mealworms, snails, slugs, red works, and super worms.

Other meat-based foods in your eastern box turtle diet include small chunks of meat, including beef and chicken. There are commercial diets available and mineral supplements to ensure a well-rounded diet.

Avoid feeding your box turtle with avocado peel, leaves and seeds, leaves of potato and tobacco, and poison ivy.

In addition to the toxic plants, avoid dairy products like milk and cheese as these can harm the digestive tract of your turtle. Keep off processed food and non-foods like chocolate.

What Can a Red-Eared Slider Turtle Eat?

In the wild, red-eared sliders are omnivores that feed on various types of food such as small fishes, grasshoppers, caterpillars, spiders, flowers, grass, berries, grass, flowers, spiders, and more. A proper diet of a slider should contain 25% live protein, 25% commercial food, and 50% veggies. The protein diet may include earthworms, crickets, waxworms, silkworms, bloodworms, shrimp, beef, chicken, and snails.

Some safe vegetables to feed your red-eared slider are mustard greens, dandelions, carrots, squash, bell peppers, romaine lettuce, etc.

You can also give your red-eared slider some fruits as treats. Banana is a good choice but avoid too many fruits as their sugar can cause various health problems.

In addition to getting a balanced and diverse diet, you also need to give your red-eared slider some nutritional supplements at least every once or twice a week.

You also need to have commercial food for your turtle to supplement the natural diet.

What Can Baby Turtles Eat?        

Baby turtles require a special diet that’s different from adult turtles to reach full growth. But in general, a baby turtle requires more protein than fruits and veggies.

Turtles are omnivores, but vitamin control is necessary for hatchlings. More importantly, the diet of a baby turtle will depend on its species.

For instance, box turtles hatchlings will prefer meat over greens. In the wild, baby box turtles prefer insects, but in captivity, you can try out foods such as mealworms, small crickets, tubifex worms, green lettuce, tomatoes, earworms, beans, and treats such as bananas, melon, and apricot.

The same is for red-eared sliders hatchlings that require more protein at the beginning of their life, including foods like silkworms, beetles, slugs, crayfish, grasshoppers, mealworms, earthworms.

Stick to proteins within the first few weeks because most baby turtles will refuse plants for the first 8 weeks. They instinctively know what nutrients they need and will adjust with time.

Be sure to include plant matter when the time is right to make the turtle healthier. You can also include your little pet pellets to help them live a longer and happier life.

How Many Days Can Turtles Go Without Eating?

A healthy adult turtle can stay for weeks or months without food. In the wild, they can hibernate for months without eating. When a turtle hibernates, they do not require a great deal of energy to maintain their metabolism. It’s nothing to worry about because it happens naturally for turtles.

Brumation or turtle hibernation occurs in the winter months to avoid temperature change. Ideally, a turtle that has been cared for and fed adequately can last over 6 months without eating anything.

However, baby turtles won’t be able to survive for that long without food because they lack proper hibernation ability. They need lots of protein during their growth and development. Still, they can last for up two weeks without food.


You might be forgiven to think that turtles have some plain diets. This is untrue because turtles have some of the weirdest yet wonderful foods, just like humans.

When it comes to feeding turtles, ensure you know what is safe for their diet. If you’re unsure, a little research can go a long way.

What a turtle eats will depend on the species, age, environment, and available food sources. The majority can eat both meat and vegetable, so it’s easy to find the right food for your turtle.

Most turtles will eat almost any organic plant or animal matter, including berries, worms, vegetables, insects, fruits, and turtle pellets.

If you’re planning to have a turtle, make sure to know the species and their favorite diet. Besides, turtles thrive on various foods as this provides them with all the nutrients they need.

We hope this guide offers the answers you need. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below, and we will be glad to answer.

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