What Do Turtles Eat?

What Do Turtles Eat?Its hard to answer the question of what do turtles eat without knowing what kind of turtle we are talking about. Each species of turtle can potentially eat something direct opposite from another species

A perfect example of this is the difference between most sea turtles and a snapping turtle. A snapping turtle eats anything it can catch with its mouth, making it an omnivore. Most sea turtles are herbivores and eat things like sea grass and seaweed.

If you are looking for a general answer to the question what do turtles eat, you have come to the right page. We will break down a list of some options of things that a turtle might eat. We just want to remind you that you will need to look at what your specific turtle eats if you need specific info. Trying to feed your sea turtle a small fish may not go over well!


A lot of turtles love to have some vegetables in their diets. They prefer leafy vegetables such as turnip greens, pumpkin, duckweed, plantain weed, endive, lettuce, fig leaves, cabbage, carrot tops, and dandelions. If those are not available, then carrots, okra, beets, green peas, squash, and corn will do the job. If you want to feed your turtle a treat, they especially love tomatoes!


Turtle eating strawberriesAdding a little fruit in their diet can help make sure that they are getting all the nutrients they need to thrive. Some suggest fruits include pears, strawberry, mango, watermelon, grapes, apple, banana, figs, and papaya. You will need to make sure that you remove the seeds or pits before you let the turtle gobble it up!


If your turtle needs protein in its diet, you have plenty of different protein sources to choose from. You will need to cook fish, turkey, and chicken, but they are great sources of protein. Make sure that you cook any meats because they tend to contain too much fat for turtles to process.

Some natural protein sources include mealworms, silkworms, waxworms, earthworms, shrimp, snails, slugs, and crickets. When thinking about the question of what do turtles eat, keep in mind that they will need protein in their diet somehow.


Depending on the turtle, flowers might be a real treat! Geraniums, hyssop, boarge, roses, hibiscus, lilies, petunias, and roses are all popular options. They are a great way to give your turtle a little variety in the spring. Especially if you have some of these outside your house that you can grab for free.

Live Pray

Sea Turtle Gliding Through The WaterLive prey is a great way to feed your turtle the protein they need while keeping allowing them to use their hunting skills. It keeps your turtle active while giving them a great source of natural nutrients.

Feeder fish or guppies are the two primary sources of live prey for a turtle. You can either keep them stocked for your turtle as they need them, or separate them until feeding time. Just be carefull that your turtle doesn’t eat them all as soon as you stock the tank.

Here are a few of the benefits of using live prey:

  • Bones provide a great amount of calcium without having to all calcium powder.
  • It provides exercise for your turtle. They will need to burn some calories in order to catch the fish.

Commercial Turtle Food

You will find a large variety of turtle food at your local pet store if that is what you would like to feed your turtle. They are easier that collecting natural foods and make sure that your turtle gets everything that it needs.

If at all possible, do not rely completely on the commercial turtle food. Add in some natural foods as variety. Your turtle will be much happier with getting the natural food whenever they can!

Provide Some Variety

Frisby Catching TurtleIt is important that you provide a good degree of variety when feeding your turtle. You do not want to feed them the same thing every day and deprive them from other sources of nutrients. Switch it up as often as you can so that they have a chance to get everything they need.

What You Cannot Feed Your Turtle

Now that we have answered the main questions of what do turtles eat, we will now talk about what they do not eat. The first thing in this list is dairy products.

Turtle stomachs do not contain the enzymes that you need to break down lactose. Feeding your turtle any milk or dairy products is a quick way to get them very sick. It is safe to say that turtles are completely lactose intolerant.

Turtles also have trouble digesting anything with a large amount of salts and preservatives. This means that you should not feed your turtle anything that comes in a can. You should also stay away from any kind of processed food.

Age Makes A Difference

Turtles want to eat thier food in peaceMake sure that you pay attention to any dietary changes that will in your turtles lifespan. The answer to what do turtles eat can change as a turtle gets older. Some turtles start out as herbivores and turn into omnivores when they are old enough to hunt meat. If you do not account for this, you will significantly stunt their growth.

Do your research on what kind of turtle you are looking to feed because each one is different. If you follow the guidelines for a box turtle when you really have a sea turtle, you are going to have a real sick turtle in no time. Don’t hurt your turtle just because you didn’t do your research.