Turtles, more than other pets, are sensitive to monotonous diets. They crave variety. If you continually feed your turtle the same bland food day after day, they will lose interest in feeding time. Unfortunately, turtles are rare enough pets that most pet food suppliers will carry only a small number of your normal daily, inexpensive, nutritional turtle food. This food should make up the majority of your pet’s diet. You can then supplement that base of food with a wide selection of nutritious turtle treats in order to give your turtle the heterogeneous regime they require.
Different Kinds of Turtle Treats
Almost all turtle species that will be kept as pets will be omnivores. This means that they eat both plants and animals. On top of being omnivorous, turtles enjoy eating all different sorts of food. This gives you plenty of choice when selecting treats. Here are some common nutritious turtle treats to choose from:
- Freeze Dried Insects. Turtles love insects, especially crickets. They are packed with important vitamins and proteins. You can buy them in bulk fairly cheaply at your local pet mega store.
- Dried Shrimp. Shrimp contain important fats that your turtle oftentimes misses with normal pet food. They also provide a different texture for your turtle. Shrimp are a common food for aquatic pets, but make sure you buy the right type for your turtle. The tiny dried shrimp available to be fed to fish will often not work for most turtle species. The shrimp that turtles eat are often larger, and can be broken in half for smaller animals.
- Fruits and Vegetables. Cut up pieces of apple, lettuce, blueberries, corn or any number of other produce can make great treats for your turtle. Make sure the pieces are small enough to be bite sized, and remove any and all seeds.
- Little bits of meat. Your turtle can eat little bits of cooked ground beef, chicken, or pork from the table. They will enjoy using their teeth to tear apart larger pieces of meat.
- Live Food. Turtles are natural hunters. They enjoy chasing down their food. You should provide them this stimulation about once a week by buying live food, usually in the form of feeder fish or insects. Be sure to buy your feeder fish from a reputable source, or else you risk introducing disease to your terrarium.
With such a wide variety of treats available, be sure to mix it up as much as possible. Don’t treat your turtle the same way two days in a row. They will appreciate the effort you put into feeding them.
Treats to Avoid
Being reptiles, turtles have a very different digestive system from humans and most other pets. While it is tempting to feed your turtle whatever table scrap is left over, some foods must be avoided. Here are some treats to steer clear of:
- Dairy. Turtles possess none of the enzymes necessary to break down and digest dairy products. Any treat with even a little milk or cheese in it will cause severe indigestion. Avoid it at all costs.
- Sweets. Do not feed any food with chocolate, processed sugar, or corn syrup to your turtle.
- Salty foods. Most turtles are not used to eating highly salty foods. They will be ok with a little bit of salt, but avoid anything overly seasoned.
Treats for Feeding Baby Turtles
Baby turtles can be very different creatures from adult turtles. They require different amounts of sunlight, different types of habitats, and they have very different dietary needs from adult turtles. They are notorious for being picky eaters. Baby turtles tend to be much more carnivorous than adult turtles. Pet stores will sell youth-specific turtle food, which you should buy and use. You should use fewer treats when feeding baby turtles, and consider sticking to the baby turtle food when they are still very young.