How much to feed a baby turtle

How Much (and how often) to Feed a Turtle?

Your turtle keeps begging, and you keep feeding. Your head starts to wonder, “Just how much food should I feed my turtle?!” Here’s the answer.

Diet can be one of the trickiest things to master when it comes to perfecting the care of your turtle. It can take a lot of research and time to ensure that all of your turtle’s nutritional needs are met. In this article, I will focus specifically on how much and how often you should feed your turtle.

Aquatic turtles tend to be opportunistic eaters, so they will eat as much as you provide them. This can easily lead to overfeeding which can have negative implications on their health. So, it is very important to establish a routine and stick to it.

In general, it is best to feed your turtle every day or every other day. However, the exact answer depends on the age of your turtle.

Here are some good rules of thumb for frequency of feedings:

  • Feed babies and juveniles (turtles up to 1 year of age) once a day.
  • Young adults (ages 1 to 5) should be fed every other day.
  • Mature turtles should be fed every two to three days.

As mentioned in the introduction, turtles are opportunistic. Even if they are overweight, they will continue to eat whatever is provided. So, making sure you are not feeding them too often is very important for their overall health.

Below are my top choices for turtle food. They are all under $15.


My Top Pick

Tetra Tetrafauna Pro Turtle Food

    Price: ~$10 Nutrition: High Protein and Vitamin D3

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Aquatic Turtle Medley Food - Freeze Dried Shrimp & Mealworms for Aquatic Turtle

    Price: ~$15 Nutrition: High Protein and Fiber

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Fluker’s Buffet Blend Turtle Food

    Price: ~$8 Nutrition: High Protein and Vitamin A

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Zoo Med Natural Aquatic Turtle Food

    Price: ~$15 Nutrition: High Protein and Vitamin C, D3, E

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How Much to Feed a Turtle

You should feed your turtle the amount of pellets that would fit inside their head if it were empty. A great way to measure this is with a medicine cup.

Another method is to feed your turtle as much as they can eat in around 15 minutes. That being said, you shouldn’t pour a bunch of food into their tank at once, as uneaten food can cause problems in your tank.

Turtles do not need too much food to sustain themselves. They actually eat far less than most people would presume. Overfeeding as well as underfeeding your turtle can be problematic, so it’s important to know how much is a good amount.

As well as understanding how much total food you should provide your turtle with, it’s also necessary to understand what type of food to feed your turtle. 

What type of food to feed your turtle?

You should feed your turtle a combination of pellets, vegetables, and a protein source.

The pellets, or “staple food”, should make up the majority of your turtle’s diet. It should account for around 75% of their food. I suggest that you have a couple different types of pellets to ensure they are getting all of their nutrients. When it comes to how many pellets you should feed your turtle, as mentioned you should feed as many as would fit in your turtle’s head.

While it depends on the species of your turtles, most will require some vegetables. This is especially true for the popular red-eared sliders and painted turtles. Some great vegetables include romaine lettuce and collard greens. Make sure to take out any uneaten vegetables before they rot in your tank. You should feed vegetables to your turtle once or twice a week.

Once a week, you should feed your turtle some treats. These should be some type of insects or freeze dried worms. This is important because it provides your turtle protein. You can also feed your turtle small live feeder fish.

As a reminder, I recommend you do further research specifying the type of turtle you have, as it varies from species to species. If you want to feed pond turtles, you should check out my article what do pond turtles eat? If you have a snapping turtle, you should check out my article on what do snapping turtles eat?

How Much Should I Feed A Baby Turtle? 

When it comes to baby turtles, I would recommend that you simply follow the empty-head rule, just as with young and mature adults.  

Turtle feeding schedule

Below is a schedule of when and what to feed a baby turtle:

  1. Monday: Enough pellets to fit the size of their head
  2. Tuesday: Enough pellets to fit the size of their head, Leafy greens
  3. Wednesday: Enough pellets to fit the size of their head, Protein treats
  4. Thursday: Enough pellets to fit the size of their head
  5. Friday: Enough pellets to fit the size of their head, Leafy greens
  6. Saturday: Enough pellets to fit the size of their head
  7. Sunday: Enough pellets to fit the size of their head

As the turtle ages, I would phase out one of the pellet feeding days and replace it with leafy greens and veggies. If you have a Red-Eared Slider, you should check out my article on how much to feed a Red Eared Slider baby.

How many pellets should I feed my turtle?

You should feed your turtle as many pellets as would fit inside their head if it was empty. A good way to measure this is with either a medicine bottle cap or a plastic bag.

Pellets are great for all species of turtles, especially red-eared sliders. My favorite pellets for red-eared sliders are these Zoo-med pellets.

How Many Times do you Feed a Turtle in a Day

You should feed juvenile turtles once a day, turtles 1-5 years old every other day, and turtles 5 years and up should be fed every two to three days.

As you know, nutrition is incredibly important to maintaining your turtle’s happiness and overall well-being. Therefore, it is a very important thing to understand and execute properly.

How much and how often you feed your turtle is very dependent on its species. While there are some general suggestions that apply to most all turtles, it’s important to research your specific species of turtle to know the correct proportions of vegetables and protein as well as how much to feed them.

It is also important to pay attention to your turtle’s body language and behavior to determine if they are being overfed or underfed. If you are concerned about their behavior or appearance, visit your local veterinarian to see if you can determine the cause.

Keep in mind that your turtle will likely eat whatever you give them, so it is important to establish a good, strong routine. Feed them at the same time every day or every other day and keep the amount of food at the same amount each time.

Your turtle will continue to eat even once they are full, so make sure that you only provide an amount of food that they can eat within twenty minutes. Anything more and you’ll likely be overfeeding them.

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How Many Pellets to Feed a Baby Turtle? –

As a new turtle owner, one of the most essential things that you have to know is how much you should feed your turtle. When I got my first turtle I was really panicked because I couldn’t find some good information. But over the years I tried a lot of methods and techniques, and I finally got the hang of it. So in this article, I am going to share with you everything that I learned.

How many pellets to feed a baby turtle? The amount of food that a turtle will eat is determined by its age and size. There are a few methods that will tell you how much food you should give your turtle, two of the most known are the 15 minutes method and the size of the head method.

Now let’s take a closer look at those methods, and then at how to make a proper feeding schedule for your turtle.

Different Methods of of Choosing the Amount of Food for Your Turtle

As I said there are a lot of methods out there, but two of the most talked-about are the 15 minutes method and the size of the head method. I tried both of them and did extensive research to find out what other people have to say about them. 

The Size of the Head

This method says that you should feed your turtle the same amount of food that it would take to fill its head ( without the neck ) if it were hollow.

The simplest way to put this method into practice is to find a small container, like a medicine cup, a shot glass, or a bottle cap. This container has to be approximately the same size as the head of your turtle, without the neck. Then you fill that container to the top, and then you can feed the food inside the container to your turtle.

You don’t always have to use a container, you can always just estimate the food that you would need to fill its head. If you sometimes give your turtle a little too much food, and sometimes you give it a little too much, things will be just fine. Your turtle won’t be affected by small differences.

This method works great because it takes into consideration the size of the turtle, and gives you a fixed amount of food that you have to give your turtle. And as the turtle grows the amount of food will change.

This is the method I use to feed my turtle, and the results are great so far. During my research, a lot of people that used this method had great results, and nobody had any problem with it.

Before moving to the next method I want to add that overfeeding your turtle can be a major problem. Unlike most animals that just get chubby if they eat too much, turtles will also develop other health problems, like pyramiding, which affects the growth of the shell and it’s irremediable.

The 15 Minutes Method

The 15 minutes method is very simple, you give your turtle a lot of food, and let it eat for 15 minutes. After that, you remove the food.

As simple as this method might be it’s definitely not the best one. This is because turtles, wild or pets, are opportunistic feeders by nature. This means that they will eat everything that they can in the fastest time possible because they don’t know when they will have the chance to eat again. Even if you feed them regularly they will not abandon this mentality.

Another way to think about this is how much food can a normal person eat in 15 minutes. At a normal rate, most people will be full if they eat constantly for 15 minutes. And if they eat at a fast pace, there is no doubt that they will be more than full. I know that turtles and humans function differently, but this comparison is to show that the idea of a timed meal is not that great when you compare it to a fixed amount of food.

There are a few people out there that recommend this feeding method, but there are a lot more than say that is a sure way to overfeed your turtle. And I have to agree to feeding your turtle this way is not a good choice.

Between the two methods, I would definitely recommend you the size of the head method. Besides the reasons that I already listed, there is another important reason. It allows you to have a more diversified feeding schedule.

How Often to Feed Your Turtle | Turtle Feeding Schedule

The first thing that you have to take into consideration when thinking about how often you have to feed your turtle, or when making a feeding schedule, is the age of the turtle. Baby turtles need a different amount of food than juveniles, and juveniles need a different amount of food than adult turtles. So let’s take a look at each age group.

Feeding Schedule for Baby Turtles

Out of all the age groups, baby turtles need to eat the most often. This is because they need a lot of energy to grow. When turtles are at this stage in life they experience the fastest growth rate. And to be able to grow so fast they will need a lot of energy that they will get from eating.

So baby turtles should be fed every day using the size of the head method. Using the 15 minutes method will surely result in overfeeding especially in this case.

Making a feeding schedule for a baby turtle is very easy, you have to feed them every day. Now let’s move to juveniles, here you can have some flexibility with their feeding schedule.

Feeding Schedule for Juvenile Turtles

Turtles grow from babies into juveniles. turtles usually become juveniles after they reach 4 inches, this usually happens when they are between 8 and 12 months old.

A juvenile won’t grow as fast as a baby turtle, but it will still grow faster than an adult. So they will still need to be fed quite often. So here you have two options.

You can either feed your turtle once every two days, the amount of food that it will take to fill their head. Or you can feed them half of that amount every day.

There is no difference for them if you feed them every day, or if you feed them every two days, as long as the amount of food is right. So it’s up to you to choose which way you want to do it. I would recommend you to feed your juvenile turtle every two days, this way the chances of you forgetting to feed your turtle are smaller.

And if it ever happens that you forget to feed your turtle once, don’t worry. In the wild turtles can go weeks without eating. Sof forgetting once in a while is bad, but your turtle won’t be affected.

And if you go with the once every two days method I would also suggest you set up a reminder on your phone that will repeat itself on certain days, or every two days. This way the chances of you forgetting are way smaller.

Feeding Schedule for Adult Turtles

Adult turtles grow very slowly, and after some time they will not grow at all. So they won’t need as much food as babies and juveniles.

So the best way to feed your adult turtle is once every 3 days, using the size of the head method. This might seem too little food when you compare it to the rest of the age groups, but remember that due to the way the size of the head method works, the size of the food portion also increases so there is no problem, your turtle is getting way more food than it got as a baby when it was eating daily.

Again to make sure that you don’t forget the best thing that you can do is to set up a few reminders on your phone or mark the dates in the calendar. But if you forget and skip one of the feeding days, there is no problem, as I said turtles can go months without eating so they won’t care at all if you forget to feed it once.

Occasional Treats

Another thing that I want to address is that you can occasionally give your turtle treats. As long as they are not too big, you can give your turtle a few live fishes, or similar things that they like, without warning that you disturb their feeding schedule.


So this should cover everything that there is to know about how you should feed a baby turtle. But in case you have any questions, you can leave them in the comment section and I will answer them as soon as possible.

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How often to feed turtles? | Tail News


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Feeding frequency is one of the foundations of a healthy diet. But if you search the Internet for how often you should feed your turtle, the information will vary from source to source. What is it connected with? And how many times a day should you feed a turtle?

Controversy over the frequency of feeding reptiles is not uncommon. And all because there is no single answer to this question.

The frequency of feeding is individual for each pet.

However, there are approximate rules that should be followed. They are valid for both land and aquatic turtles.

What time to feed the turtle?

It is best to feed turtles in the morning, but after the animal has warmed up. The choice of time is due to the fact that turtles lead a predominantly diurnal lifestyle and food is better absorbed before evening. In the evening and at night, when the lamps are turned off in the aquaterrarium, the temperature drops and the reptile's metabolic rate decreases.

If you feed your pet at night, there is a high risk that digestion will fail. This is especially true of land and some aquatic species of turtles, such as marsh and red-eared.

Other reptiles can take food with the same benefit around the clock.

It is advisable to give your pet food at the same time. Compliance with the regimen promotes proper digestion and makes it easier to maintain cleanliness in the aquarium.

Turtles get used to the feeding schedule. This is one of the few available ways to communicate with them.

How much food to feed a turtle?

The ideal portion size is the one that a turtle can handle in half an hour. If food remains after this time, it must be removed. This will help prevent contamination of the terrarium.

If the turtle eats all the food within a few minutes and then continues to search for food, the number of feedings or servings should be increased. If the turtle, on the contrary, can not cope with the food, you need to either reduce the portion, or feed the pet less often.

Observe the behavior of your pets and study their needs. Very soon you will understand how often and in what quantities you need to feed your turtle.

Other related articles

Is it possible to feed a turtle gammarus?

How useful amphipods are for aquatic turtles?

Turtle shell diseases: clinical manifestations

Did you know that the condition of the shell is a reflection of the health of the turtle?

How to feed turtles?

To better understand how to build a turtle's diet, let's remember what these animals eat in nature. The diet of turtles shapes the area in which they live.

What and how much to feed turtles at home

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As we said in the previous article, turtles require special attention and proper care. We have already discussed the arrangement of the terrarium and the aquaterrarium, and today we will talk about the nutrition of turtles. What should be on your pet's menu to make the turtle feel good? Let's figure it out together.

Diet of herbivorous turtles

Quite a large group of turtles are herbivores. These are all land turtles, as well as such breeds as: Mediterranean, Central Asian flat, radiant, Greek and others.

Of course, plant foods should prevail in the diet of such pets. Turtles will be happy to eat unsweetened vegetables and fruits, plants, berries.

80% of the diet may consist of lettuce, leaves and edible flowers. Offer your pet: clover, plantain, dandelions, alfalfa, lettuce, cucumbers, pumpkin, zucchini, apples.

Ready-made feeds are now on sale, which include all the necessary nutrients and trace elements. You can buy food for turtles at any Zoo Gallery store.

Omnivorous turtles

This type of turtle includes aquatic, semi-aquatic, as well as individual subspecies of land reptiles, for example: marsh, spiny, red-eared, red-footed. For these pets, it is necessary to draw up a balanced menu, which will include both plant and animal food in equal proportions.

These can be: algae, plants, vegetables, salads, fruits, chicken meat.

Predatory turtles

The diet of these pets consists of 90% meat. Trionyx turtles, aquatic and young red-eared turtles, as well as marsh turtles, belong to this species.

These pets should be offered lean fish, beef, chicken, and fish liver. Adults can eat large pieces, it is better for young turtles to cut the meal into smaller ones.

Seafood turtles eat raw, the fish also does not need to be processed thermally.

Pork, beef, sausage, minced sausage, cheeses, bread, fruits and oily fish are prohibited for predatory turtles. It is best to feed with ready-made dry food.

How often should turtles be fed

Another question that often worries tortilla lovers is how many times a day to feed a turtle. Regardless of the type of your pet, you need to feed the turtle twice a day, at the same time. Decide when it's best for you to feed your turtle in the morning and evening, and stick to that schedule.

Common Turtle Diet Mistakes

It is very important for beginner turtle owners to make sure their pet's diet is correct. After all, the correct composition of nutrients is necessary for the animal to form a strong shell, as well as growth and activity. It is very important for the tortilla body to get calcium and vitamins.

From prohibited foods: eggs, bread and milk, as well as beans, peas, white cabbage.

Learn more