The Ultimate Guide to What Turtles Eat: Unveiling Their Nutritional Needs

Say you’re a new turtle owner and you’re wondering, “What do turtles eat?” Your turtle’s dietary health hinges on this crucial information. Knowing the food specific to your type of turtle is part of unlocking their nutritional needs. This guide sheds light on basic turtle nutrition and their favorite meals.

Adult Turtles and Their Diet

Green Sea Turtle swimming
RobertoCostaPinto, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s focus on the dietary habits of adult turtles. Proteins are key for adult turtles. Protein-rich foods include:

  • Cooked fish
  • Boiled eggs
  • Chicken
  • Turkey

Notice the common word there? Cooked. Raw meat carries the risk of contamination, which could lead to an unwell turtle. Also, too much of a good thing applies to turtles, too. Overloading on protein could strain their kidneys and deform their shell. Balancing protein intake with other nutrient essentials can pave the way for their healthy life.

Vegetable and Fruit Companions for Turtles

Turtles sitting on a rock in a swamp
RobertoCostaPinto, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Leafy veggies make an excellent addition to your turtle’s dietary plan. Edibles that fit the bill are carrot tops and grape leaves, and even dandelions plucked straight from your yard. Even typical human veggies like corn, green beans, beets, and peas are turtle-approved. Be guided by your pet’s reaction to each type of veggie and build its menu over time.


Does the question “What do turtles eat?” include fruits? It surely does! Range from the refreshing sweetness of strawberries to the creamy goodness of bananas. They also enjoy the tanginess of grapes and ripened tomatoes. Fruit variety keeps their menu interesting!

See Related: Can Turtles Eat Blueberries? Here’s What to Know

Necessary Nutrients Beyond The Basics

A green sea turtle grazing on seagrass
P.Lindgren, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Certain nutrients are vital for your turtle’s overall health, including calcium, vitamin D3, and phosphorus.

  • Calcium: Boiled egg shells or crushed oyster shells are fantastic calcium sources.
  • Vitamin D3: Captured from sunlight, but vitamin supplements could be a good option if natural sunlight isn’t an option.
  • Phosphorus: Usually included in commercial turtle feeds.

While commercial feeds can fill the gaps in your pet’s diet, always strive for natural sources!

See Related: Can Dogs Eat T-Bone Steak? What You Need to Know About Canine Nutrition

The ‘No’ List in the “What Do Turtles Eat?” Guide

Black tutles by a swamp

Some foods might seem nutrient-filled but they’re a strict no for your turtle. Dairy products like milk or cheese are reptile-indigestible. Overly processed or canned foods, high in salt and sugar, are best avoided. Also, beware of hazardous houseplants like avocado that could land your turtle in trouble.

This guide amalgamates the wisdom around the ‘What Do Turtles Eat?’ question. It helps you to construct a nutritional plan suited to your particular type of turtle. Remember, the specifics will vary, but this provides a solid starting point. Serve up a balanced, happy life for your pet – one meal at a time!

Scroll to Top