Turtles are adorable and make wonderful pets, but what can Small Turtles eat? Those pet store pellets might be convenient, but what’s in them? Now’s your chance to find out what small Turtles  eat and how to supplement traditional turtle meal for optimal health. A turtle can encounter many food sources while roaming in the wild from deep swimming holes to shaded land, and they often do. Land turtles might swim in ponds or bogs where they’ll find completely different types of food than when spending a day in the field. Since turtles are omnivores, the best-replicated turtle diet is of lean raw meat, grasses and greens, and the occasional fruit.

As a turtle mom or dad, you may want to make sure your Small Turtles is eating the right kinds of food, or feed them a diet as similar to a wild turtle as possible. We’re going to cover what baby and adult turtles eat in the wild and also what you can feed them as pets, depending on your preferences

There are three kinds of turtles; carnivorous turtles are rarer and eat only meat, omnivorous turtles are more common and eat meat and vegetation, and herbivorous turtles eat only vegetation. Box turtles, Mississippi maps, and red-eared sliders are omnivorous and common Small Turtles breeds. Musk turtles are carnivorous.

What Do Small Turtles Eat?

Depending on the species, turtles can be herbivores (eating only plants), carnivores (eating only meat), or omnivores (eating both plants and meat). Pet stores offer a range of turtle food products in pellets, sticks, and chunks, formulated for different types of turtles and providing balanced nutrition with appropriate vitamins and minerals to keep the turtles healthy. However, this type of bland food is not the only thing turtles can eat, and it can be healthier and less expensive to offer turtles a range of fresh foods.

A young, growing turtle has a significantly different diet from that of their full-grown brethren. Their habitat and physical form do not extensively differ from hatchling to adult, but in general a Small Turtles will eat more protein than plant matter, whereas adult turtles are omnivorous, in most cases. Mixing Small Turtles food at home is possible if you know the needs of your type of turtle.

Nutrient Balance for Feeding Small Turtles

Here is a crude analysis of Tetra’s ReptoMin that will give you an idea of the proper balance to look for:

  • Crude protein not less than 40%
  • Crude fat not less than 10%
  • Crude fiber not more than 5%
  • Ash not more than 9%
  • Vitamin E not less than 160 IU/lb

When examining the actual ingredients of a turtle pellet food, you’ll find the following types of ingredients:

  • Fish meal
  • Corn
  • Poultry
  • Fish oil
  • Meat meal
  • Porcine meat meal
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Salt
  • Zinc oxide
  • Zinc sulfate

Feeding Your Small Turtles

Most turtles are omnivores, which means they eat both meat and plants. Box turtles can eat a wide variety of foods, such as slugs, worms, crickets, apples, tomatoes, cantaloupe and leafy green vegetables. Dandelion leaves are also a good choice for a Small Turtles ’s diet because they are high in vitamin A and calcium. A box turtle’s absolute favorite food, however, is snails – as long as they are pesticide free. Baby box turtles eat meat when they are young and adopt a more vegetarian diet as they grow older.

Aquatic turtles must be fed in the water so that they can swallow their food. Sliders like (de-clawed) crayfish, snails and salamanders. They can also eat bits of meat, fruits and vegetables (never iceberg lettuce or spinach) along with their regular diet. Unlike box turtles, sliders continue to eat meat as adults. Turtle experts recommend feeding your aquatic turtle live goldfish at least once a week. Turtles love to chase their prey, so capturing their dinner will give them a nice bit of fun and exercise.

Apart from occasional snacks, young turtles should be fed twice a day. Adult turtles can be fed every other day (they prefer to take their meals in the early morning). Keep in mind that one of a turtle’s most adorable characteristics is that it loves to beg for food! If it sees you coming, it will swim up to the glass near the surface of the water and open and close its mouth in a chewing motion.

Feeding and eating problems

In the wild, some tortoises can survive without food up to three months. How long a turtle can survive with no access to food also depends upon his stored fat pads. For younger turtles, bring out the tasty big guns with live protein such as crickets, mealworms, and beetles. Tempt turtles of the older variety by beckoning their sweet tooth: Use strawberries and bananas to coax them to eat.

If all else fails, and your Small Turtles is simply refusing to eat, get him to your reptile vet for a full blood checkup. The vet will check for common culprits such as parasites, infections, or vitamin deficiencies. With proper treatment, your little guy will be back on his way to munching his favorite turtle foods.

Feeding Your Turtle a Healthy Diet

Small Turtles s can eat a wide range of foods, from small insects, to fruits and vegetables, to flowers. Therefore, owners need to offer a widely varied, balanced diet to keep a Small Turtles healthy and happy. By choosing different foods and feeding the turtle well, including adding pet store supplements to ensure enough vitamins and minerals, a Small Turtles can live a long and well-fed life.

Common Concerns for Feeding Small Turtles

  • Overfeeding. Turtles can become obese just like humans and many other animals. Overfeeding your turtle can make them gain excess fat, causing them trouble when pulling their arms and legs into their shell. To avoid overfeeding, make sure your turtle lives in a big enough space to move freely. At minimum, tanks should be 30 gallons for turtles up to 6 inches long, and up to 125 gallons for turtles over 8 inches long. Feeding your turtle live prey also lets them hunt and get exercise.
  • Vitamin deficiency. Turtles are prone to vitamin A deficiency if their diet isn’t right. Symptoms of too little vitamin A in turtles include a decrease in appetite, eyelid and ear swelling, kidney failure, and lung infections.
  • Turtles need lots of foods with vitamin A, so choose plants like carrots, squash, bell peppers, and other red, orange, and yellow vegetables. Avoid vegetables with low nutritional value like lettuce and celery. To treat Vitamin A deficiency, a veterinarian may recommend Vitamin A treatments injected or taken by mouth.
  • Hygiene. Turtles often defecate while they eat, so keeping their food in a separate container can help them avoid accidentally eating feces. Clean any uneaten food out of their tank regularly so that it doesn’t grow unwanted bacteria and algae.

What should I look for on the nutrition labels of pelleted foods?

Look for protein levels between 40-45%, and fat between 6-8%, advises Dr. Starkey. “Semi-moist foods will have a lower percentage of protein and fat due to the higher moisture content of the food,” he says. You should also look for fishmeal to be one of the top three ingredients listed on the label, and for added vitamins and minerals to be called out in the ingredient list, says Dr. Starkey. Sill unsure what to choose? Consult a veterinarian.

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