Best Turtle Food:
The following are some of the most popular foods for turtles. They are all good choices for your pet turtle. However, there may be other types of food that would suit your needs better.
If so, please feel free to share them with us!
1) Live Shrimp (Red Snapper): These are often referred to as “the king” among reptiles due to their large size and high protein content.
Red snappers have been known to grow up to 5 inches long. They are very nutritious and provide excellent nutrition for turtles. They do not require any special preparation or cooking process and they are easy to prepare.
You can purchase live shrimp at many stores that sell seafood such as fish markets, grocery stores, etc..
2) Frozen Shrimp: Many pet shops carry frozen shrimp in their freezer section.
They come in various sizes and colors. Some brands include: Frozen Blue Crab, Frozen Black Cod, Frozen Green Herring, Frozen King Crab Legs, and others.
3) Fresh Water Fish: There are several kinds of fresh water fish that are available from pet shops.
These include: Salmon, Trout, Walleye, Perch and Flounder. Most of these species are relatively inexpensive to feed your turtle because they contain low levels of mercury which is toxic to turtles.
4) Frozen Fish: There are several kinds of frozen fish that are available from pet stores.
These include: Frozen Yellow Crappie, Flounder, Trout, Bay Snapper and many others. You can also try to purchase fresh fish from an Asian or Mexican market if there is one in your area.
5) Crickets: Crickets make an excellent food for hatchling turtles.
They are easy to culture and very nutritious. It is best to feed hatchling turtles three times per day and offer them food until they eat it all. Use sand, or aquarium gravel to culture the crickets in.
Fill a clean 5 gallon bucket 1/3 full with sand or gravel. Add adult crickets into the bucket and cover with a fine mesh lid. Add several inches of wheat bread, oatmeal, or another grain for the crickets to eat. In a week you will have hundreds of babies to feed your turtles.
6) Earthworms: These can be dug up in your own yard.
Let the worms soak in a bucket of water for about an hour to clean them of dirt. Then offer them to your turtle.
7) Superworms: These make an excellent treat for turtles and chuckwallas.
They are high in fat content and provide excellent nutrition. Offer them to your turtle as a treat once per week.
Turtle Treats: You can also offer your turtle a variety of natural and commercial turtle treats. Many people prefer to buy their turtle treats rather than grow or purchase their own food. This is another good option as long as the turtle food you buy is healthy for your pet.
You may want to research this further before making a final decision.
Aquatic Turtle Food:
1) Fresh Fish: Some kinds of fish are more nutritious than others.
It is best to offer your turtle fish that are low in the food chain such as minnows, smelt, and whitecloud. These kinds of fish are not only low in mercury but also provide plenty of nutrients for your turtle. You can also try to culture your own fish if you know what you are doing.
2) Shrimp: Most pet shops that sell fish will also sell fresh shrimp.
These make an excellent treat for most turtles. You can feed your aquatic turtle shrimp as a treat once or twice per week.
3) Krill: This tiny shrimp is very nutritious and makes an excellent treat for aquatic turtles.
It is often easier to buy krill at a pet store rather than culture your own.
4) Mysis Shrimp: These tiny translucent shrimp can be cultured in a similar way as krill.
They also make an excellent treat for most turtles.
Feeding Your Turtle Treats: It is not necessary to feed your aquatic turtle too many treats. Most commercially available foods are nutritionally complete so it is best to feed your turtle a few times per day rather than offer too many treats.
Some people like to give their pet turtle Cheetos. This is usually not a good idea since the cheese powder used on Cheetos is hard to digest and often causes problems for turtles who eat them.
Never feed your turtle any fish that is high in the food chain such as Shark, Tuna, or any other predatory fish. These kinds of fish often contain too much mercury and other toxins that can kill or severely harm your pet.
Turtle Treats You Should Never Feed Your Turtle:
1) Canned Mackerel: This is one of the worst foods you can feed your turtle.
The high level of mercury it contains can severely harm or even kill your pet. It is also very high in fat and extremely easy for your turtle to overeat.
2) Crickets: Many pet store sell small containers of crickets for reptile food.
While these insects are nutritious they also have a high chitin level. Chitin is hard for reptiles to digest. This means that your turtle may eat a lot but not get the full nutrition out of the insects.
3) Breads and Grains: Many pet stores sell breads, crackers, and other baked goods for reptile food.
These foods are very easy for your turtle to overeat and can lead to gastrointestinal impactions, and obesity. It is best to avoid these kinds of foods.
4) Cooked Meats: While you may think that cooking meats makes them more digestible this is not true for turtles.
Turtles have specific dietary needs that are hard to get from cooked meats. It is best to feed your turtle meats that have been boiled or lightly steamed before feeding them to your pet.
Turtle Tank Mates:
If you want to put other animals in the same tank as your turtle you will need to make sure that they are also semi-aquatic and will fit in with your turtles natural habitat. You can put other kinds of aquatic frogs, fish, and invertebrates in the same tank as your turtle. It is best to avoid other kinds of turtles since these would likely be natural predators to your own pet and could cause great harm.
A Few Words About Pricing:
The prices I have listed here for various items are not necessarily what you will have to pay. Many of the items can be found at significantly lower prices online or at discount stores like Wal-Mart. If you shop around you can find deals on all of the items I have listed above.
Sources & references used in this article:
Food partitioning in three sympatric species of map turtle, genus Graptemys (Testudinata, Emydidae) by RC Vogt – American Midland Naturalist, 1981 – JSTOR
Food habits of the snapping turtle in Connecticut by MM Alexander – The Journal of Wildlife Management, 1943 – JSTOR
Preliminary studies on the growth and food consumption of the juvenile loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta L.) in captivity by I Njoman, S Nuitja, I Uchida – Aquaculture, 1982 – Elsevier
Food imprinting in the snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina by GM Burghardt, EH Hess – Science, 1966 – science.sciencemag.org