Most turtles kept as pets are ‘omnivorous’ which means they eat both meat and vegetables. Like many other reptiles which are omnivorous young turtles will eat more meat than vegetables as protein is very important for their growth and development. As they get older they will start to eat more plants and vegetation.
Typically in the wild a turtle will eat worms, snails, small insects, fish and plants that grow in the water. When purchasing your turtle make sure you know which species of turtle you have and research it’s particular dietary needs, as the diet of different species will vary.
Turtles are considered exotic pets and can be expensive to feed, most pet shops will stock only a limited choice of turtle foods if they stock any at all, however it is important to feed your turtles a good quality manufactured pellet food or turtle sticks as these foods have been developed with the turtles vitamin and mineral requirements in mind and will help to keep your turtle healthy. You can supplement the diet will some fresh foods such as small feeder fish which are great for the turtles health and hunting them will help give your turtles some exercise. If you don’t like the idea of feeding live fish you can buy some fresh fish instead. Other options are red or green lettuce, banana, strawberries, green beans, peas, dandelion greens, spinach and carrots. Remember some plants can be poisonous to turtles so make sure to research before you feed something which has not been recommended by a reliable source.
Feed your turtles every 2 to 3 days but always make sure some fresh greens are available, observe them as they feed to make sure they all get their fair share. You should feed your turtles until they stop eating, don’t leave scraps of meat for example in the tank too long as the heating in the enclosure will make it rancid quite quickly. Turtles are very messy eaters, some people feed their turtles in a separate tank to what they are normally housed in. You will need a good filtration system to keep the water from becoming dirty and possibly toxic to your turtles. Turtles need to be fed in the water as they can’t swallow when on land. It is difficult to replicate the natural diet of a turtle so you will need to feed some vitamin supplements.
Some foods not to feed your turtle – burgers are a a definite no as too fatty and also raw chicken due to the risk of salmonella, Another to avoid is iceberg lettuce.