What is turtle Favourite food?

Turtles, those slow-moving, shelled creatures that have roamed the Earth for millions of years, have always fascinated us with their unique characteristics. One of the most intriguing aspects of a turtle’s life is its dietary preferences. What do these ancient reptiles love to eat?

When young, most turtles eat small fish, insects, worms, and other meat. As adults, many turtles become herbivores, preferring aquatic plants, lettuce, fruits, and vegetables. Though favorites vary by species, most mature turtles favor leafy greens, berries, melons, and other plant matter over meat.

In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of turtle nutrition and discover the favorite foods that keep these resilient creatures thriving in diverse habitats around the globe.

What Do Turtles Eat?

Turtles are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter. Their specific diets depend on the turtle species, habitat, and food availability. Turtles enjoy feasting on the following:

Insects Worms Snails Slugs Carrion Aquatic Plants Fruit Vegetables Fish Amphibians

Aquatic turtles that live in ponds, lakes, and marshes prefer to eat things like insects, aquatic plants, fish, frogs, newts, and crayfish. Sea turtles munch on jellyfish, sponges, seaweed, crabs, mollusks, shrimp, and fish. Land tortoises nibble on grasses, leaves, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and the occasional insect or worm.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the top turtle favorites in the wild:


Insects are a cherished treat for many turtles. Fast-moving bugs like crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, grubs, spiders, and dragonflies provide turtles with important protein.

Insects also contain beneficial vitamins and minerals like calcium and phosphorus for optimal shell growth. Aquatic and land-dwelling turtles eagerly gobble down any insects crossing their path.


Earthworms, bloodworms, tubifex worms, and mealworms are another high-value protein source that turtles love. These invertebrates are soft and easy for turtles to chew and digest.

Worms also contain essential fatty acids for energy and growth. Red-eared sliders, painted turtles, snapping turtles, and box turtles all hunt for worms to flesh out their diets.

Aquatic Plants

Underwater vegetation like duckweed, water lettuce, water hyacinth, and hydrilla provide aquatic turtles with essential vitamins, minerals, and roughage. Popular picks include red-eared sliders, painted, soft-shell, and map turtles. These plants also help provide hiding spots from predators.


Fruit contains natural sugars and fiber that land-dwelling box turtles, tortoises, and semi-aquatic species greatly enjoy. Some favorites include strawberries, melon, bananas, grapes, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peas, and mushrooms. Just be sure to chop produce into bite-sized pieces.


Aquatic turtles turn to live fish or leftover dead fish for protein-packed meals. Soft-fin fish like goldfish, minnows, guppies, and roses make easy meals for hungry turtles. Ensure any feeder fish are parasite-free before offering them to your turtle.

Dietary Requirements

Turtles need balanced diets with enough protein, vitamins, and minerals to stay healthy. Their nutritional needs can vary based on species, age, and size. Here are some general guidelines:


All turtles require adequate protein to build strong muscles, organs, and shells. Hatchlings need anywhere from 25–40% protein in their diets to support proper growth and development.

Juvenile and adult turtles’ protein needs drop to 20–30%. Excellent protein sources for turtles include worms, insects, fish, shrimp, and reptile kibble or pellets.


Calcium is crucial for turtles’ proper bone, shell, and egg development. They need calcium-to-phosphorus ratios between 1:1 and 2:1. Calcium aids in vital metabolic functions and keeps shells rigid but lightweight.

Adolescent and female turtles have higher calcium requirements than mature males. Offer calcium supplements or UVB lighting if they don’t get enough dietary calcium.

Vitamin A

Turtles need vitamin A for good vision, immune function, growth, and reproductive health. Feeder insects, carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, squash, and pinky mice contain abundant vitamin A. Consider dusting food with vitamin supplements.

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Fiber Fiber helps promote good digestion and prevent intestinal impactions. Land turtles especially require a fiber source like grass, hay, leaves, or commercial pellets.


While some turtle species get moisture from their food, all turtles need fresh water for bathing, hydration, habitat enrichment, and digestive health. Provide an appropriately sized water dish that gets cleaned regularly. Mist enclosure daily for humidity.

Best Foods for Pet Turtles

If you want to give your pet turtle a nourishing and enticing diet, consider feeding the following:


Earthworms make an excellent protein-packed staple food for your turtle. They appeal to land and water-dwelling turtles alike. You can culture your worm farm at home. Or purchase Canadian night crawlers from bait shops.

Feeder Fish

Offer feeder fish like guppies, goldfish, or minnows occasionally for enrichment. Feeder fish provide protein, fat, minerals, and imitation hunting opportunities. Only use parasites-free fish from reputable suppliers.

Cricket and Mealworms

Insects like crickets and mealworms make tasty, nutritious treats a few times a week. Buy live insects from pet stores or reptile shows and gut load them with nutritious foods to “boost” their nutritional value.

Greens and Veggies

Chopped kale, collard greens, mustard greens, carrots, squash, and sweet potato provide ample vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Remove uneaten plant matter promptly to prevent fouling the water.


Fruits should only make up a small portion of a turtle’s diet. In moderation, strawberries, melon, tomatoes, grapes, and bananas offer supplementary nutrients. Only feed fruits 1-2 times a week in small amounts.

Feeding Hatchlings and Babies

Young, growing turtles have different dietary requirements than mature adults. Here are some feeding tips for hatchlings and juveniles under 1 year old:

  • Feed baby turtles daily. They should eat every day for proper growth.
  • Offer a high-protein diet. Hatchlings need 25–40% protein for building tissue. Feed size-appropriate worms, crickets, shrimp, fish, and pellets.
  • Include finely chopped greens and vegetables. Start with softer options like romaine, zucchini, squash, and peas.
  • Add powdered calcium supplements 2-3 times a week. Calcium supports proper shell hardening. Dust food with Zoo Med Repti Calcium.
  • Use shallow water and feeding dishes. Babies have short necks and small mouths.
  • Feed 3-4 small meals daily. They have tiny stomachs. A few bites per feeding prevents overeating.
  • Avoid large prey items they can choke on, like superworms, silkworms, or pinky mice.
  • Soak dry foods in water to soften. Improves digestibility for hatchling’s sensitive systems.

Baby turtles grow into healthy juveniles and adults with the right diet in the early months. Consult your vet if you have any concerns.

Avoiding Common Feeding Mistakes

Finding the right diet for your turtle can take some trial and error. Steer clear of these common feeding blunders:

Not Providing Proper Nutrition

Turtles need balanced amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Do your research to select suitable foods or use a commercial diet.


Follow portion guidelines on packages. Observe your turtle’s appetite and body condition. Adjust amounts accordingly.

Feeding Too Infrequently

Turtles should eat every 2-3 days to stay healthy. Hatchlings need daily feeding. Know optimal schedules.

Not Removing Uneaten Food

Promptly take out decaying food to keep the water clean. Particularly important for aquatic turtles.

Feeding Only Treats

Do not rely solely on lettuce, fruits, or other “people’s food.” These make occasional treats but lack complete nutrition.


Turtles are delightful pets, but caring for them takes research and planning. You can give your shelled friend a healthy, balanced diet by understanding natural turtle diets, dietary requirements, suitable foods, and what to avoid.

Your pet turtle can thrive for years with proper nutrition and attentive husbandry. Consult your herp vet for concerns about your turtle’s growth, appetite, or nutrition. With patience and care in the feeding department, you’ll be rewarded with a happy, active turtle companion.

How often should I feed my turtle?

Most adult turtles eat 2-3 times per week. Offer food every other day or every third day. Hatchlings under 1 year old need daily feeding.

What vegetables can I feed my turtle?

Try chopped collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, kale, carrots, squash, bell peppers, sweet potato, zucchini, peas, mushrooms, and green beans. Remove uneaten plant matter.

Is bread safe for turtles?

No. Turtles should not eat bread, crackers, pasta, or other processed human foods. These lack essential nutrition and can cause intestinal impactions.

Can I feed my turtle mealworms and superworms?

Use these high-fat worms only as occasional treats. Large superworms can bite your turtle or impact its digestive tract.

What fruits can I offer my box turtle?

Fruits like strawberries, melon, banana, grapes, tomatoes, and cucumber make nice periodic treats in small amounts for land tortoises. Limit sugary fruit.

How long can I leave food in my turtle’s enclosure?

Remove uneaten food after 15-20 minutes. Leaving decaying food fouls water quality and encourages bacteria, fungus, and mold growth.

Can turtles eat fish food like flakes or pellets?

No, fish food lacks the proper nutrition for turtles. Stick to specialized commercial turtle diets or approved foods from your vet.

Can I feed my turtle live insects I find outside?

No, insects from your yard could introduce parasites to your turtle. Purchase feeder insects from pet stores instead.

My name is Shayan Mondal, and I am a passionate turtle owner and enthusiast who enjoys sharing my knowledge and experience with fellow turtle lovers. As a proud owner of several turtle species, I understand the importance of proper care, habitat setup, and nutrition for these delightful creatures. This website regularly updates the latest insights into turtle health, diet, and conservation efforts.

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