What Do Tortoises Eat?
When answering the question “what do turtles eat”, you’ll need to know what species of turtle you’re talking about. Different types of turtles eat entirely different foods. Land turtles tend to eat vegetables, while water turtles tend to eat insects and fish. Do a web search and find out what kind of turtle you have.
What Do Land Turtles Eat?
Land turtles will be found in grasslands and desert areas. Standard food fare that land-based turtles eat include lettuce, sprouts, shredded carrots, squash and kale. Feed your turtle a reasonable amount of one of these foods every day. Also, unless you keep your home in the 80-90 degree range, you’ll need to buy a heat lamp for certain species of land turtle: all of them native to the desert.
You can also buy fortified food specially designed for certain types of land-based turtles. I’ll list some of the more prominent names you can search for when researching or buying turtle food for land creatures.
More Land Turtle Foods
- Natural “Box Turtle” Food
- Natural “Forest Tortoise” Food
- Natural “Grassland Tortoise” Food
- SoftGel Diet
- Turtle Food Flakes
Remember, turtles don’t have teeth, so don’t feed them anything too large. Any hard vegatable should be chopped up nice and fine for them.
What Do Aquatic Turtles Eat?
Water-based tortoises are predators which prefer to eat living creatures like insects and small fish. Crickets are a staple food source, while you can buy goldfish, guppies and minnows to feed them as well. Aquatic turtles tend to eat once every other day. These animals live in non-chlorine water. Like the desert turtles, you’ll probably need a heat lamp of some sort.
Because store-bought fish food for a water tortoise can become relatively expensive, you might consider mixing in the occasional aquatic turtle “food stick”. Food sticks include ingredients like cod, salmon and herring in a concentrated food stick you place in the water. The fishy food stick lets you give your water turtles a nutritious yet affordable diet.
Other store-bought food options for aquatic turtles include the following. I’ll list them by the marketing name, so look for them by name.
More Aquatic Turtle Foods
- Freeze Dried Shrimp
- Dry Formula for Aquatic Turtles
- Floating Pellets
- Can O’Crickets
- Can O’Grasshoppers
- Can O’Pillars (caterpillars)
- Can O’Shrimp
- Can O’Worms
- Can O’Mealies (mealworms)
- Can O’Snails (unshelled snails)
- Exo Terra Fish
- Fortified Aquatic Turtle Food
- Freshwater Shrimp Turtle Treats
- Plankton Treat
- Sun-Dried Shrimp
What Should Turtles Never Eat?
Never feed turtles milk products of any kind. Mammals nurse from birth, but reptiles don’t, so a turtle doesn’t have the enzymes to break down lactose. Milk, cheese and yogurt are bad for turtles.
Never feed turtles poisonous plants. While turtles are known to eat plants that are poisonous to humans, it’s not exactly known how often they eat these plants and how much would be bad for them. There’s no reason to keep poisonous plants around your home to feed your pet turtle, when there are so many other options.
Also, I would never feed turtles processed foods. Once again, there isn’t enough information about the health effects of processed foods on a tortoise to know what kind of effect they have on turtles. I would keep the amount of processed meat I give to my pet turtle to a bare minimum. It might not hurt, but turtles aren’t made to eat that stuff.