What do you feed wild baby turtles

What Do Baby Turtles Eat in the Wild and As Pets?

Slow-going turtles that live in an aquarium and can be just as fun to watch as cats and dogs. Like most reptiles, they are fairly easy to maintain. They live for a long time, especially when you feed them right.

As a turtle mom or dad, you may want to make sure your baby turtle 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.

What Wild Turtles Eat

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Turtles are found on every continent in the world except Antarctica. You will likely spot a turtle along the bank of a small pond, stream, or lake. They love damp areas with lots of rocks or spaces they can hide. This means that they like to eat things you can find in these areas.

Wild turtles eat a variety of things in nature. When they are babies, they mostly eat meat because they need the protein to keep growing. Types of protein they like to eat include small insects, snails, worms, and fish. When they get bigger, they can start eating more and more plant-like substances.

What Pet Turtles Eat

What your pet turtle needs for nutrition depends on the species and age of your turtle.

Omnivorous vs Carnivorous vs Herbivorious Turtles

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 pet turtle breeds. Musk turtles are carnivorous.

What Do Adult Pet Turtles Eat?

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Just like in the wild, a turtle’s diet needs to change as they age. It’s important to know how old (approximately) your turtle is so you know what to feed him.

Pet turtles that are mature and omnivorous can eat pelleted food specifically made for turtles. You can find this kind of food at most pet stores. Again, check the species to make sure you are giving your turtle the right diet.

Most turtles do well on pellet food containing between 40-45% protein and 6-8% percent fat. The moisture content counts too: the higher moisture content in the food, usually the higher percentage of protein and fat inside the food. Look for “fish meal” towards the top of the ingredients list.

Turtle-specific pellets should make up at least 25% of your turtle’s diet. It’s important to get food specific for turtles as it stays intact more easily when it contacts water, and it also floats.

The rest of your turtle’s diet should be 25% from a protein source, like a comet goldfish, which also provides essential nutrients like calcium and phosphorus.

The final 50% can be made up of fruits and vegetables. Vegetables should be rich with colors, such as dark, leafy greens, shredded squash, and carrots. You could also opt to feed your turtle aquatic plants like duckweed.

Occasionally you can offer meat, but this is not always beneficial. Turtles benefit most from the nutrient livers of feeder fish, and won’t get much of what they need from the kind of meat we normally eat.

Herbivorous turtles, like land turtles or tortoises, can be fed only fruits and vegetables. Aim for 20% fruits and 80% vegetables total.

Related Read: 10 Best Turtle Foods 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

What Baby Pet Turtles Eat

Image Credit: Pixabay

Baby turtles in the wild eat from different food sources sometimes because they are growing. In general, you should feed a baby turtle a little more protein than you would an adult turtle. You can replace some fruits and veggies with a little more pellets and feeder fish if your turtle is still growing.

Pellets are a great option here, but you could opt to feed him live food instead. Baby turtles can eat the same kinds of proteins adults can: earthworms, snails, slugs, grasshoppers, beetles, and crayfish. Ask your local pet store if they have live food for reptiles, and this is where you can buy it.

One thing you might want to consider adding to your pet baby turtle’s diet is a gel capsule supplement. You can find these at most pet stores. Just make sure the label indicates that it’s for your specific breed of turtle.

Ultimately, you want to make sure what you feed your baby turtle has variety. That way, you know he is getting all the nutrients and vitamins he needs.

Is It Okay to Keep a Wild Turtle?

Generally, no. For one, turtles in nature are wild animals. They are not used to human interaction, and will therefore not make very good pets. Wild turtles could carry diseases that captive-bred turtles don’t have (though both can carry some, which is why you should always wash your hands after handling). Lastly, some states ban captivating wild turtles. It’s frowned upon by conservationists, as well. These are all the reasons it’s not a good idea to keep a wild turtle.

  • Here’s another interesting read about turtles: 17 Turtles Found in Illinois

Baby Turtle Care Tips

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Feed them in a separate aquarium to keep your main habitat clean. Alternatively, you can sprinkle pellet food on top of their water. Whatever you feed them, make sure it’s shredded into small pieces to make it the easiest to eat.

Turtles eat every day when they are young. Once they are about 7 years old, you can feed them once every 2 days. They can be fed 1 cup of turtle food per day, or whatever amount they can eat in around 20 minutes.

Never feed your turtle cat or dog food, as the protein content is too high and could harm your turtle.

  • Here’s another topic of interest: Can Turtles Eat Chicken? What You Need to Know!

Baby turtle’s diet needs differ slightly from adult turtles, just like in the wild. They require a little more protein and rely more on essential nutrients than full-grown adults, and that’s about the only difference. When it comes to feeding a baby turtle a pellet diet or live food, the choice is up to you.

Looking for more information on turtles? Take a look at:

  • How To Take Care Of A Turtle Egg: A Beginner’s Guide (with Pictures)
  • Do Turtles Need a Heat Lamp at Night? Lighting Guide For Your Pet Turtle
  • How Many Babies Do Turtles Have? How Many Eggs Do They Lay?

Featured Image Credit: Gauthier Pous, Pixabay

What to Feed Wild Turtles – The Ultimate Wild Turtle Guide

I was walking around the pond in my backyard the other day and was shocked to see two itty-bitty turtles sitting on a log!

The pond is man-made and very small, so I started to worry that these little turtles might not be getting enough to eat.

I decided to find out what exactly wild turtles eat and what I could feed the little guys if they weren’t getting the nutrients they need from the pond.

Table of Contents

The answer to this question actually depends on the type of turtle and the habitat it lives in. But in general, it is safe to feed most wild turtles earthworms, grasshoppers, crickets, peas, chopped up apples, carrots, pears, romaine lettuce and most leafy greens (like collard, mustard, and parsley).

Different types of turtles need different diets and nutrients to stay healthy. Before you feed a wild turtle, you should try to identify what kind of turtle it is and how old it is, because this will impact what you should feed it. You should NEVER TOUCH A WILD TURTLE because they can carry Salmonella bacteria and you can get sick.

What do Wild Turtles Eat?

If you find a wild turtle like the ones I found in my pond, I know it can be very tempting to take them home. But you should NEVER touch a wild turtle. Turtles can carry Salmonella bacteria and you can get sick, so it is best to love them from a distance. Even small babies can survive fine in the wild.

If you think your local turtles are not getting enough nutrients or you just want to give them a treat, there are safe ways to do so for both you and the turtle.

Most turtles are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. As I mentioned, what a wild turtle eats depends on what kind of turtle it is, the habitat it lives in, and how old it is.

Feeding Wild Turtles

What to Feed Baby Wild Turtles

When turtles are young, they need to eat a lot more protein, so younger turtles tend to be more carnivorous. As they grow up, turtles start eating less meat and more vegetation. Again, what you will feed a baby turtle depends on what kind of turtle it is, but you will want to make sure the baby is eating mostly animal prey. Most baby turtles can eat small earthworms, grasshoppers, crickets, and mealworms.

If you are like me, bugs are not your thing. But I have good news for you! Turtles actually get most of the animal prey they need from their habitat. Baby turtles do not need a lot of vegetation, but if you’re like me and can’t bring yourself to touch crickets and worms, you can give your local pond residents some fruits and veggies.

Safe fruits and veggies for most turtles include carrots, squash, romaine lettuce, collard greens, melons, berries, apples, and bananas. You should remove the skin from all the fruits and veggies and cut them into bite-size pieces for the turtles. Remember, baby turtles do not need a lot of plant matter, so do not give them too much.

What to Feed Wild Box Turtles

Box turtles are also known as box tortoises. They are one of the few land turtles found in North America, which makes their diet a little different than most water turtles. Baby box turtles should eat mostly animal prey with little vegetation, while adults should eat mostly vegetation with little animal prey.

In the wild, box turtles eat grasshoppers, grass, spiders, caterpillars, berries, snails, flowers, earthworms, fallen fruits, and dead animals. If you think your local box turtle is not getting enough of these things, you can feed them the following;

  • Insects; earthworms, mealworms, crickets, and grasshoppers.
  • Vegetables; peas, carrots, squash, okra, sweet potatoes, green beans, turnip leaves, dandelion leaves, romaine lettuce, collard greens and mustard greens.
  • Fruit; peaches, blackberries, apples, plums, raspberries, mulberries, pears, mango, bananas, cherries, and melons.

What to Feed Wild Water Turtles

Feeding water turtles (or pond turtles) is a bit different than feeding land turtles, like the box turtle. The most common freshwater turtles are snapping turtles, painted turtles, and red-eared slider turtles. Most pond turtles are omnivores, meaning they eat both animal prey and vegetation.

You should try to feed wild turtles the same things they would eat in their natural habitat, and you should put any food you give them in the water. Aquatic turtles have a hard time eating on land, and if you leave the food on land, they will probably drag it to the water anyway.

You also need to make sure the food is cut into bite-size pieces, and any fruits with skin (like melons and grapes) need the skin removed. While each species of turtle eats different things, here are some foods that are safe for most freshwater turtles;

  • Aquatic Plants: duckweed, frog-bit, water hyacinth, water lettuce, and water lily leaves.
  • Fruits & Veggies: (these are also safe for box turtles) carrots, squash, apple, pear, peas, banana, papaya, guava, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, romaine lettuce, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, dandelion leaves, watercress, arugula, parsley, watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew.
  • Animal Prey: dragonfly larvae, beetle larvae, crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms, roaches, waxworms, aquatic snails, earthworms, blackworms, small frogs, tadpoles, rosy red minnows, and common guppies.
  • Pellets: when you identify the type of turtle you found, you can check pet stores (in-store and online) for pelleted food made specifically for that kind of turtle! Pellets can be a great food because they contain both plant and animal matter!

You can easily find crickets, earthworms, mealworms, guppies, and rosy red minnows at your local pet stores and bait shops. I have even found earthworms at my local Walmart! Pet stores also often have duckweed, water hyacinths, and water weeds. Fruits and veggies can be found at your local grocery store!

Wild Water Turtles Loves to eat Worms & Bugs

What to Feed Wild Snapping Turtles

Snapping turtles are primarily carnivores at every age, but especially when they are young. I mentioned earlier that you should love wild turtles from a distance and NEVER touch them. This is especially true for snapping turtles because, as their name implies, they bite. Snapping turtles are EXTREMELY aggressive so if you are going to feed one keep your distance. Here are some foods that are safe for wild snapping turtles;

  • Aquatic Plants: duckweed, water hyacinths, water weeds, water fern, water lettuce, yellow pond lilies, and bog moss.
  • Fruits & Veggies: apples, pears, bananas, peas, romaine lettuce, and leafy greens (collard greens, mustard greens, parsley, etc.).
  • Animal Prey: tadpoles, guppies, rosy red minnows, aquatic snails, earthworms, small frogs, and leeches.

What to Feed Wild Painted Turtles

Wild painted turtles eat mostly animal prey when they are young and eat more vegetation as they grow older. They are still omnivores, so they need a balanced diet of animal prey and vegetation. Here are some foods that are safe for wild painted turtles;

  • Aquatic Plants: duckweed, water hyacinth, water lettuce, and lily leaves.
  • Fruits & Veggies: watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, banana, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, apple, pear, mango, peas, romaine lettuce, and most leafy greens.
  • Animal Prey: crickets, grasshoppers, aquatic snails, roaches, earthworms, mealworms, rosy red minnows, and guppies.

What to Feed Wild Red-Eared Slider Turtles

This is the type of turtle I found in my pond (I named them Crimson and Scarlet)! The little guys I found are babies, which means they need to eat mostly animal prey and not so much vegetation. Luckily for Crimson and Scarlet, they found a home with lots of guppies and insects to eat! I still wanted to take them a treat, so every few days I bring them a piece of romaine lettuce, collard greens, and a couple raspberries for a treat. Here are some foods that are safe to feed red-eared slider turtles;

  • Aquatic Plants: water lily, aracaris, duckweed, water fern, and water hyacinth.
  • Fruits & Veggies: dandelion leaves, romaine lettuce, most berries, apple, pear, grapes, banana, papaya, most melons, carrots, squash, peas, and most leafy greens.
  • Animal Prey: small apple & pond snails, guppy fry, earthworms, silkworms, mealworms, roaches, rosy red minnows, guppies, hard-boiled eggs, and crickets.


What do Wild Turtles Eat in Ponds?

Again, this depends on the type of turtle and the habitat it lives in. Turtles are omnivores and will eat almost anything they can get their mouth on.

In general, wild pond turtles eat:

  • Snails
  • Worms
  • Small insects and insect larvae
  • Small fish and amphibians
  • Dead animals
  • Aquatic plants
  • Algae
  • Fallen fruit
  • Flowers and leaves


What do Wild Turtles Eat in the Ocean?

Sea turtles are like freshwater turtles because they too have a unique diet for each species, but they are also very different. Some sea turtles keep the same diet throughout their entire life while others change what they eat when they grow into adulthood. A sea turtle’s diet varies by age and species. They can be carnivores, omnivores, or vegetarians.

Carnivore Sea Turtles
  • Leatherback: eats mostly jellyfish and soft-bodied invertebrates.
  • Kemp’s Ridley: eats mostly jellyfish, crabs, shrimp, and small fish.
  • Adult Loggerhead: eats mostly horseshoe crabs, snails, sponges, jellyfish, sea urchins, fish eggs, and shrimp.

Omnivore Sea Turtles
  • Flatback: eats mostly sea cucumbers, jellyfish, crabs, soft corals, algae, and mollusks.
  • Hawksbill: eats mostly marine sponges, algae, sea worms, and mollusks.
  • Olive Ridley: eats mostly sea plants, lobsters, shrimp, jellyfish, snails, and seaweed.
  • Young/Hatchling Green Turtle: eats mostly marine plants, crustaceans, marine worms, and sponges.
  • Young/Hatchling Loggerhead: eats mostly seaweed, seagrass, crabs, and sponges.

Vegetarian Sea Turtles
  • Adult Green Turtle: eats mostly seagrass and seaweed


Related Questions

Can wild turtles eat bread?

NO! You should NEVER feed a wild or pet turtle bread, or any processed foods for that matter. Man-made foods that are high in sugar and flour (like candy and bread) are very bad for a turtle’s stomach. Turtles are not adapted to eating processed foods and eating them can do serious damage to their digestive system.

Can wild turtles eat strawberries?

YES! Wild and pet turtles can eat almost every kind of berry, including strawberries! Some of their favorites include strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.

Can wild turtles eat lettuce?

Turtles can eat romaine lettuce, but not iceberg. Iceberg lettuce does not give turtles any nutritional value, but it makes them feel full, so they do not seek out other food. It is best to feed wild turtles and pet turtles romaine lettuce, because they get nutritional value from eating this veggie.

Can wild turtles eat apples?

Yes! Apples make a great treat for wild turtles; you just need to make sure the apple is cut into bit-size pieces and the skin is removed. And remember, I said apples make a great TREAT, so you should not give a turtle more than a couple small pieces a day.

Can wild turtles eat carrots?

Yes! Carrots are an excellent vegetable for turtles! If you are feeding a wild turtle or a pet turtle, you should grate the carrots into bite-size pieces so they can eat them. Be careful not to feed too many carrots to a wild turtle though. Carrots are not a part of their natural diet and adding large amounts of unfamiliar food can be bad for a turtle’s tummy.

Can wild turtles eat spinach?

NO! Spinach, chard, beets, and rhubarb are all high in Oxalic Acid, which is very bad for turtles. Oxalic Acid prevents turtles from absorbing Calcium, which is one of the most important nutrients for all reptiles. If a turtle does not get enough calcium, it could develop Metabolic Bone Disease, so it is best to stay away from spinach.


Keeping bog turtles - Veterinary clinics CityVet

  1. Feeding bog turtles

The most popular turtles to keep at home are the Central Asian and red-eared turtles. Therefore, unfortunately, other turtles, falling into the hands of inexperienced owners, can turn from freshwater to land turtles or from predatory to herbivorous. The marsh turtle often becomes a victim of such ignorance.

The European marsh turtle is a freshwater predatory turtle that lives mainly in the south of Russia, in Belarus, Ukraine, Poland. In the wild, it lives mainly in swamps, ponds, swampy lakes, muddy river backwaters.

Accordingly, the turtle should be kept in an aquarium at home. Bog turtles are active animals. They need a spacious aquarium, at least 100 m 3 . The aquarium must have a land area that slopes gently into the water. This makes it easier for the turtle to get to land and take food there. Above land it is necessary to hang a heat lamp 40, 60 W or more, at a distance of 30 cm, so that under the lamp the temperature is 33-35 degrees, and on the shore 28-30 degrees. It is also necessary to install an ultraviolet lamp so that the turtle produces vitamin D and calcium is normally absorbed. The minimum amount of water in the aquarium is equal to the width of the turtle's carapace. But it's always better to have more water. So, the turtle will be able to swim more freely. The optimum water temperature is 24-26gr.

The cleanliness of the aquarium must be carefully monitored, as feces and urine of turtles quickly pollute the water. If the turtle is calm about the water filter and does not attack it, then you can install it. Otherwise, the water will need to be changed almost every other day. Complete reorganization (cleaning) of the aquarium is enough to carry out 1 time in 2 weeks. Train your turtle to eat on the shore or with tweezers. This will help keep the water clean for longer. If you can’t train it, then plant the turtle in a bowl of water while eating. The cleaner the water, the healthier the turtle will be.

Medium and large pebbles are used as the substrate, stones that the turtle cannot swallow.

Feeding bog turtles

There are specially formulated foods for freshwater turtles. The highest quality ones are Nutrafin (Hagen) or Reptomin (Tetra). For some time you can feed this food, but not constantly. It is recommended to feed swamp turtles with low-fat fish (pollock, hake), mussels, worms (meal worm, phobos), shrimp. Beef liver no more than 1 time per week. From vegetable feeds, this is lettuce, dandelion, plantain. It is also necessary to add special vitamin and mineral supplements for turtles. The highest quality and most affordable are Reptilelife (Agrovetzashchita), Reptolife (Tetra), Wardley Reptile Calcium and Wardley Reptile Multi-vitamins (Hartz). These additives must be carefully added to the food so that the turtle gets used to their smell and does not throw food.

If you communicate with a turtle, pick it up, feed it and take good care of it, it can get used to the owner and even meet him when he goes to feed her.

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How to feed marsh turtles at home, feeding rules

A turtle is an ideal pet for many people. Takes up little space, quiet, calm, does not shed, does not cause allergies. She doesn't need to be taken for a walk. The bog turtle is an unpretentious amphibian. She spends most of her time on land, and in the water she fulfills her natural needs - to swim and eat.

Despite the fact that the turtle is unpretentious in food, its owners need to know how to properly feed the river dweller.


  • 1 Rules for feeding
  • 2 The main diet of reptile
  • 3 Types of feed
  • 4 Features of feeding
  • 5 Bolota turtle feeding - video

Rules for feeding

The amount of marsh feed turtle is selected depending on age reptiles. Young turtles are fed every day. Adults need to feed 2-3 times a week. Each owner should choose the portion size for her independently, taking into account the pet's appetite. Babies are usually given 2-3 pieces of fish or meat 1 cm in size. Adults are given larger cubes, about 2-3 cm each. It must be remembered that the bog turtle can only be fed wet food at room temperature.

Reptile basic diet

The bog turtle is a predatory animal. In its natural habitat it eats fish, small frogs, mollusks, wood lice, worms, insect larvae. She also feasts on coastal and aquatic plants. Dry food is not suitable for her. Such reptiles need live or frozen food. The main food for turtles is fish. It is better to give her small live fish, which can be immediately put into the aquarium.

In captivity, the turtle is fed lean fish, shrimp, earthworms, squid. Adult reptiles need plant foods, so cabbage, lettuce, dandelions, and duckweed can be added to the animal's diet.

Turtle's weekly diet should consist of 70% fish, 20% meat . The remaining 10% should include shellfish, snails, insects and plant foods. With this diet, the turtle will be full and healthy.

Types of feed

The main dish in the bog turtle diet is fish . You can buy a variety of fish for her. The main thing is that it should not be too oily. In the diet of reptiles should be gobies, pollock, cod, hake. Fish can be either fresh or frozen, but it should not be cold.

You can feed the turtle with meat. The insides are perfect for her - beef and chicken heart, liver, stomachs. However, white meat should not be given to a swamp resident. She can be pampered with insects and crustaceans. She will not refuse daphnia crustaceans, earthworms, bloodworms, wood lice, all kinds of beetles, grasshoppers, locusts without legs. The reptile will happily eat freshwater snails, frogs, tadpoles, shrimp and squid.

Turtles need vitamins and minerals for normal growth and development. Calcium should be added to the reptile's food, which plays an important role in the formation of a hard shell. Soft shell indicates its deficiency or a serious illness of your pet. If the turtle's diet is varied and balanced, mineral supplements will not be needed. It is very important to give turtles fish with entrails and bones, snails. They serve as a source of calcium for them. In order to avoid its deficiency, they need an ultraviolet lamp and a mineral block neutralizer.

Feeding considerations

Bog turtles are very intelligent creatures. Their intelligence is much higher than that of the land. They are teachable. Teaching a reptile to take food from tweezers is very easy. If you give her food on tweezers, then she will pull her head out of the water and grab food. She will take food when she is out of the water. At the same time, he will go to swallow it in the water. With this feeding, the water in the aquarium will remain clean.

With proper care of the reptile, it will develop a conditioned reflex when the owner appears. She will pull her head out of the water when she sees him. You can teach it to a certain time. Then she will recognize the owner, and crawl out to meet him.

Bog turtle has a good appetite. She can only eat in water. She loves hunting, so she will not refuse whole insects and live fish. The animal will happily tear the food with its claws and eat it.

If you throw food into the water, it will quickly become dirty and spoiled. When feeding, it is better to transplant an aquatic resident into a shallow basin of water.

Learn more