What Do Pet Turtles Eat?

Updated on April 23, 2016

What do turtles eat? The variety in species makes this an answer that depends on what type of turtle you are talking about. For example, a sea turtle, a box turtle, and a snapping turtle will have very different diets.

Turtles are a lot of fun to keep as pets. They range from extremely easy and low maintenance to very difficult high maintenance. Part of what makes a turtle easy or difficult to keep is what the type of turtle eats. Some foods are more difficult to acquire or cost more than others, so keep their diet in mind when selecting the type of turtle you want.

To find what different types of turtles eat, look below for the type you are looking for. Common pet species have been included.

Painted Turtle

Painted turtles live well in ponds, so their diet should match what they would eat in a pond.
Painted turtles live well in ponds, so their diet should match what they would eat in a pond.

What Painted Turtles Eat

When assessing what a turtle eats, think about it's native environment. Ask yourself what you would eat if you were a turtle living in the area that the turtle lives. In this case, the painted turtle lives in North America in ponds, creeks, and rivers.

  • worms
  • small fish
  • insects
  • reptile stick food

It may be best to supplement baby painted turtles' diets with natural animal foods and move more toward the stick food as the baby grows older. Babies need fed more often than adults. Adults you can feed twice a week.

Painted turtles are some of the easiest turtles to take care of.  You can buy fish or worms at the bait store or pet store to give it some fresh food, but stick food works well mostly.  Of course you can find your own worms and bugs outside to feed your turtle too.

Other Aquatic Turtles

Click thumbnail to view full-size
These aquatic turtle don't usually want to eat on land.  They like to eat in the water.What Red Eared Sliders eat is pretty much the same as painted turtles.  Red eared sliders closely resemble painted turtlesMap and False map turtles are also similar to the red eared sliders and painted turtles
These aquatic turtle don't usually want to eat on land.  They like to eat in the water.
These aquatic turtle don't usually want to eat on land. They like to eat in the water.
What Red Eared Sliders eat is pretty much the same as painted turtles.
What Red Eared Sliders eat is pretty much the same as painted turtles.
Red eared sliders closely resemble painted turtles
Red eared sliders closely resemble painted turtles
Map and False map turtles are also similar to the red eared sliders and painted turtles
Map and False map turtles are also similar to the red eared sliders and painted turtles

Box Turtle

What Box Turtles Eat

Box turtles can be the most difficult turtles to get to eat. Temperature as well as humidity and the environment at large can affect the box turtle's appetite. Box turtles eat a variety of foods, and that is what you want to aim for when feeding them.

Box turtles live more of their life on land. Because their living environment is different, they eat differently than aquatic turtles. Their natural food sources include:

  • fruits
  • fungi
  • veggies
  • mushrooms
  • greens
  • mollusks
  • grubs
  • snails
  • worms
  • caterpillars
  • insects

Since box turtles need a variety, you will want to give them a meal containing a variety of nutrients, such as: earthworms, peas, grapes, and dandelion greens.

You will likely need to supplement the turtle's calcium by giving it pieces of cuttle-bone in it's food.

Snapping Turtle

You can feed snapping turtles meat, and they will be happy.  Especially if it wiggles a little first.
You can feed snapping turtles meat, and they will be happy. Especially if it wiggles a little first.

What Snapping Turtles Eat

Snapping turtles will bite at just about anything, especially if they are wild caught and have not been tamed. You could put just about anything in their mouths, but they aren't going to necessarily thrive on anything you give them.

Snapping turtles eat mostly fish in their natural environment. They are master predators and have the second strongest bite among reptiles. Snapping turtles will eat other types of food such as beef if you cut it up into small enough pieces. You can feed baby snapping turtles feeder fish and stick food from the pet shop and your turtle should thrive. They are easy to take care of in regards to feeding since they are so aggressive they will eat most live fish.

Here are some things you could easily see your pet snapping turtle eat:

  • Worms
  • fish
  • stick food
  • bugs
  • your pet frog's legs
  • anything else you think you can put with your snapping turtle (trust me)

What Sea Turtles Eat

Sea turtles eat something that most people wouldn't expect.  They will eat jellyfish.  It turns out that sea turtles are immune to the jellyfish tentacle stingers everywhere on their bodies, except on their eyes. 

So, a sea turtle will swim right up to a jellyfish and shut it's eyes right before moving in a taking a big bite out of the jellyfish like it's a chocolate chip cookie.  It is fun to watch the sea turtles eat jelly fish this way.

Turtle Diet

When you are considering your turtle's diet, consider it's natural habitat and what it eats in the wild.  Most turtles will eat earthworms, so it is usually a good place to start.  If the turtle doesn't want it, it won't hurt it. 

Some turtles can be picky eaters such as box turtles.  There are many reasons a turtle may not want to eat including stress from captivity or being moved from it's home, the wrong temperature, or even lack of hunger.  Turtles don't have to eat every day because they are cold blooded and can go longer without eating than us.

Once you find out what your turtle will eat, it is important to find the feeding regiment that is doable for you and your turtle.  Some foods are more expensive than other.  Some are more smelly than others, and some are really messy.  Give your turtle the best nutrition you can at the convenience level that works for you.

If you have never had a turtle as a pet, it would be best for you to keep something fairly easy, such as a painted turtle or even a snapping turtle.  Box turtles are much more difficult to keep and are likely to go on a hunger strike when you try to get them to eat.  Eventually you may lose it or have to take it to the vet.  So start with a turtle that will be easy to feed and work your way to more challenging species as you gain experience and expertise.

So What do Turtles Eat?

The answer to that question is that it depends on what type of turtle you are asking about, and where that turtle lives will give you a good clue about what it might eat.  Some turtles do most of their feeding in the water and others on land.  Some turtles will eat just about anything, like snapping turtles, and others are more finicky eaters.

Make sure you look up your particular type of turtle if it wasn't listed here, so you can find out what your species will eat.  Of course, you may not even know what species you have.  In that case you may need someone to help, or spend a considerable amount of time searching through pictures of turtles from you location.  Turtles are one of the best pets you can own and finding what they eat is usually pretty easy.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        GalaxxyTurtlezz 

        3 months ago

        I finna get 2 turtles soon-boy and girl, and i cannottttt waiiit they gonnaaa be so cutteeeeee

      • profile image

        Césae 

        11 months ago

        I have a baby snap turtle, so I give her worms and pellets to vary its diet. My question is, should I clean and remove the uneaten food and give her fresh one or wait till it eats anything? I can wait for a half day and her food remains the same.

      • profile image

        GEORGE 

        12 months ago

        turltlesLIKE STRAWBERRIES

      • profile image

        Gregory de la Cruz 

        2 years ago

        Turtles are so underrated in their cuteness.

      • profile image

        Cloudy 

        4 years ago

        I have an unknown species of turtle and my red eared slider attacked one. help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • profile image

        jason 

        6 years ago

        what should i do about my land turtle what does he eat by the way his name is rex like captain rex from star wars the clone wars

      • profile image

        hi 

        6 years ago

        hi i have a turtle that doesn't eat

      • profile image

        mars 8 

        6 years ago

        yeah cindy 8 was right my turtle doesn't eat

      • profile image

        jenna 

        6 years ago

        um thanx but what cant they eat '

      • profile image

        Johnny Bravo 

        6 years ago

        Nice post.

        Kimmy - Did you try www.whatdoturtleseatinfo.com?

      • profile image

        kimmy 

        6 years ago

        it didn't give me exactly what i was looking for but it was still useful. thank you!

      • profile image

        cindy 

        6 years ago

        ummm any suggestions about if a turtle wont eat?

      • profile image

        Stuti Pathak 

        6 years ago

        yupe itz quite useful:)

      • profile image

        aexis 

        7 years ago

        that is so dume lol

      • profile image

        jenine 

        8 years ago

        wow im getting a turtle soon and they already seem so interesting and i just cant wait to get mine..i had one before named jake but he ran away or walked away lol im gonna name my new turtle jake too yay

      • profile image

        Jonjonny 

        8 years ago

        Very helpful information Thanks a lot..

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://pethelpful.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)