When feeding their pet turtle, owners should take advantage of the fact that turtles are omnivorous animals. This means that feeding turtles should be simple and trouble-free, and may become an enjoyable activity for both you and your pet. First of all, you must know the type of turtle that you have; then you can pick the appropriate turtle diet to obtain your pet’s optimum health.
Terrestrial or land turtles must be fed 95% vegetables. These include dark green, leafy vegetables, which should comprise the major portion of the vegetables in your turtle’s diet. You may also consider feeding your turtle other vegetables such as collard, radish, turnip, and cut grass; offering lesser amounts of spinach, peas, squash, and clover. The remaining 5% of the turtle diet should be made up of fruits.
If you have Box Turtles, feed the young ones with a majority of meat or animal material, such as slugs, snails, earthworms, spiders, grasshoppers, and beetles. As they mature, you can add such plant material as fruits, berries, leafy vegetables, and seeds to your turtle’s diet.
Feeding turtles that are aquatic, on the other hand, requires a different variation of food. You may feed the small ones with shrimps in the shell, slugs, chopped earthworms, chopped mice, and floating food sticks that can be purchased at a pet store. As the turtles mature, however, incorporate their diet with green, leafy vegetables like cabbage, kale, broccoli leaves, cut grass, dandelions, and cut weeds.
If you house your turtles in aquariums or ponds, you may place small fish for them to hunt, as the turtles enjoy doing this. But keep in mind that feeding turtles with small fish should only be done once a week to prevent them from growing obese, a condition that is common among the animals.
The right temperature must also be maintained when feeding turtles in indoor enclosures like tanks, or outdoor ones like pens. The correct temperature helps the turtle properly digest the food that they intake, and also keeps them from acquiring diseases.
Some important signs that your turtles have poor or improper nutrition are:
• They are sluggish or lethargic
• They have a milky fluid in their eyes
• Cloudy patches appear as blotches on their skin
Turtles have the tendency to be messy when they eat. It is imperative that you keep a close monitoring of your pet so that any uneaten food, leftovers, or crumbs are cleaned up promptly. This will prevent the growth of bacteria that can, over time, contaminate the turtle and make its housing filthy.
It is also advisable, when feeding your turtle, to use wide, flat rocks as food dishes instead of the commercially manufactured plastic dishes. These flat rocks create a large, abrasive surface for the turtle’s food, and the continuous friction during feeding will protect your pet turtle’s beak from breaking, and keep its nails and claws from growing too long. You should always provide your turtles with a separate container of fresh, clean water to drink.
Feeding your turtle in the same area and at the same time every day are two sure and proven methods to gain its trust. Be sure to be quiet and calm when you approach your pet, so as not to startle or stress it out. With practice, you may even find your turtle waiting for you at meal times!