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Foods in Your Pantry That an Aquatic Turtle Can Eat


Most aquatic and semi-aquatic turtle species are either carnivorous or omnivorous. They can do well when fed semi-moist cat and dog foods. It’s important to choose a high-quality food based on whole, named meats when possible. Turtles should not be offered canned cat and dog foods, which are too high in fat, or dry kibble, which they may have trouble eating. In emergencies, dry cat and dog foods may be moistened to make them palatable.

Whole animals are best for turtles, since the bones and organs provide essential nutrients. A diet wholly consisting of muscle meat can lead to malnutrition. According to WinRose Animal Hospital, however, occasional feeding of lean raw beef, chicken, gizzards and liver can be healthy for aquatic turtles. Pet owners should avoid feeding their turtles hamburger, as its high fat content may contaminate the water, and its low calcium content may lead to nutritional problems.

According to Tortoise Trust, aquatic turtles may also be offered fish. Like meat, this is best fed whole, with organs and bones intact, to prevent nutritional deficiency, but fish flesh may be offered on occasion. Very oily fish may degrade the quality of the turtle’s water. Whole, unsalted anchovies and sardines can work well for turtles, as can light, white fishes. Shellfish may be offered occasionally, but carries a risk of parasite transmission. Dried fish must be rehydrated before feeding.

Many older aquatic and semi-aquatic turtle species eat more vegetation and less meat as they age. Their slower growth requires less concentrated food. These turtles can be offered dark, leafy vegetables like Swiss chard, bok choy, kale, spinach and endive. Pale, watery vegetables, like celery and iceberg lettuce, should be avoided, as they provide very little nutritional value for the turtle.

Aquatic turtles also enjoy fruit in moderation. WinRose Animal Hospital suggests melons, bananas, grapes, oranges and apples for turtles. Though not fruits, carrots and other sweet root vegetables may be offered in a similar way. Fruit should be fed primarily as a treat, rather than as a staple diet for aquatic turtles. Not all turtles will accept fruit, though some may become more interested in it as they age.

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