If you are planning to buy or adopt a baby turtle, you must understand how to care for it effectively until maturity. A proper diet is a crucial part of the care regimen of a baby turtle. Let us find out what are the best foods for baby turtles.
It is quite easy to walk into a pet store and buy a baby turtle. However, taking care of a baby turtle is a meticulous job that requires extreme care since you have to pay attention to their specific needs and wants. Taking care of adult turtles is different from taking care of baby turtles because they are more vulnerable to environmental changes and stresses. They are also prone to many diseases and contain numerous disease-causing germs. As such, you must give them specialized care to ensure they reach maturity.
Feeding baby turtles is an essential part of their care regime. Without the proper diet, they will not develop into strong and healthy turtles. In this article, we shall delve into how to feed a baby turtle and the best foods to feed them.
How to feed baby turtles
While in the wild, baby turtles get their food from roaming in the wild, walking around in shaded land, and swimming in deep swimming holes. They eat different types of food, ranging from insects to small fish, to aquatic plants and grass, to the occasional fruits. At that age, they enjoy more of an omnivorous diet as they tend to eat a wide range of plants and animals.
Land baby turtles may exhibit different feeding habits than aquatic baby turtles. For instance, land turtles eat more vegetables than those living in the water. As such, you must feed land baby turtles a combination of fresh leafy greens and commercial foods to give them a well-rounded diet. Ensure that these foods are in tiny pieces to make them easy to digest. Aquatic baby turtles feed in smaller tanks since they are sloppy eaters and often defecate in the middle of their meals. Therefore, if they feed in their aquarium, they will dirtify it.
Generally, baby turtles depend on a gel capsule or pellet supplement that you may purchase from the pet or online store. However, keep in mind that the type and amount of food they eat primarily depends on their species, age, and nutritional requirements. For instance, it is a well-known fact that younger turtles should eat more proteins than older ones as it aids in the development of their bones.
Feed your baby turtle at least two times a day. Do not overfeed them as they are likely to grow too fast and overgrow their shell, which is not a pleasant sight. Most turtle foods are available in local pet stores. However, you must check the labels to ensure that your baby turtle is eating the best diet possible. Select a formula that is specifically approved for your newborn turtle for the best possible outcome.
It is advisable to feed baby turtles mineral and vitamin supplements, especially Vitamin D and C for healthy shell growth. Keeping your shelled pet under sunshine is also recommended as it helps in the absorption of vitamin D, which is also essential for the formation of strong and healthy bones and shell.
Food and nutrition of baby turtles
If you own a baby turtle, you must feed it healthily to ensure its proper growth and development. One of the best foods for baby turtles is in the form of flakes. Pellets and food sticks are also an excellent option to use for feeding baby turtles. Luckily, these foods come in a variety of sizes, from jumbo to medium to small.
Sometimes, it is quite challenging to get baby turtles to eat. They tend to live off their yolks for the first few weeks, depending on the environmental temperature. The higher the temperature, the more they will feed off their yolk. Soon after, you may then proceed to feed them some live worms and bugs, like the wax worms, mealworms, bloodworms, or blackworms. Once your baby turtle has adjusted to these foods, try feeding it with commercial foods as well as fruits and veggies.
The trick is to start feeding your baby turtles with moving foods as they are attracted to movement at that age. In case of an emergency and there is absolutely no live or frozen or freeze-dried animal-based foods, you can feed your hatchling lunchmeat. They might eat it, but never feed them lunchmeat if you have other foods available. The more pure and organic the meat is, the more nutritious it is for your baby turtle. Chicken or turkey meat is best as ground beef falls apart in the water and makes a mess.
Once they are a few months old, then they can consume diets. Begin by adding commercial turtle pellets or flakes, small live bugs such as crickets and small roaches, small fish like baby minnows, guppies and mollies, small live shrimp, fruits, and vegetables. The type of food you add to your baby turtle’s diet depends on its species, water temperature, and its size, among other factors.
Here is a list of some of the best foods for baby turtles
Name of product
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Zoo Med Natural Aquatic Turtle Hatchling
All-natural ingredients that are rich in proteins
Mazuri Aquatic Turtle Diet
Premium ingredients with a high level of animal and fish proteins
Exo Terra Hatchling Aquatic Turtle Food
Premium ingredients including Gammarus shrimp
Fluker’s Aquatic Turtle Medley Treat
Vitamin-enriched formula with freeze-dried mealworms, river shrimp, and crickets
Tetra Tetrafauna Pro Reptomin Baby Turtle Formula Sticks
An odor-blocking recipe that is rich in vitamin D3, fats, calcium, and proteins,
Ideal for baby turtles whose shell size is less than 4 inches, Zoo Med Natural Aquatic Turtle Hatchling Formula contains all-natural ingredients that are rich in protein to facilitate rapid growth and development. It also comes in a small pellet size that is sizable enough to make it easy for the baby turtle to consume. However, you can choose from three pellet sizes, which one is most suitable for your hatchling. Similarly, the pellets also float on the water surface, allowing the turtles to reach them easily when feeding.
- Floating food type
- All-natural ingredients
- Available in three pellet sizes
- Rich in proteins
- Easily contaminates water in an aquarium
Ideal for the complete life cycle of your turtle, Mazuri Aquatic Turtle Food is specially formulated with premium ingredients that have a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals to keep your turtle and healthy. It is a healthy and well-rounded diet that does not require any extra mineral or vitamin supplements. Once you throw it in your turtle’s tank, it stays afloat, allowing your pet turtle to pick and eat it comfortably.
- Floating pellets for easy reach and consumption
- Free of any artificial colors and preservatives
- Highly nutritious
- Suitable for turtles throughout their life cycle
- It contains hard pellets that are difficult to soften when in water\
This Hatchling Turtle Food from Exo Terra is a highly nutritious diet with premium ingredients such as Gammarus shrimp and packed with minerals and vitamins. Ideal for all aquatic and semi-aquatic turtle hatchlings, this formula provides plenty of nutrients, including minerals, vitamins, high-quality proteins, and calcium, among many others.
Its natural and supplemented calcium helps in the growth of your baby turtle’s shell, while its vitamin D3 is vital in facilitating the absorption of calcium. Its micro-pellets float to the surface of the water for easy feeding and delivery of quality nutrition. This formula also contains an ‘Advanced Yeast Extract’ that promotes a healthy digestive system in your hatchling.
- Ideal for all hatchlings of aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles
- Floating pellets for easy reach and feeding
- A highly nutritious diet with premium ingredients like Gammarus shrimp
- Fortified with minerals and vitamins
- Its residue may clog the filters in your tank
Often given as a treat to your pet turtle, Fluker’s Aquatic Turtle Medley Treat contains a variety of foods from freeze-dried crickets, mealworms, and river shrimps, which are rich in protein, making it ideal for baby turtles. This food also delivers essential vitamins, minerals, and fats, allowing optimal growth of your shelled pet. It is also quite affordable and comes in two packs, which feed the turtle for longer and with ease.
- Perfect tasty treat food for your baby turtle
- Highly nutritious as it has essential proteins, minerals, vitamins, and fats
- Does not require refrigeration
- It can be very messy as the bottom of the container has ground bug dust
Tetrafauna Pro Reptomin Floating Food Sticks is a product that has quite the reputation. It is a floating food stick that is perfect for water amphibians, turtles, and other aquatic reptiles. These food sticks dissolve after floating for a while, allowing your turtle enough time to eat as much as it can.
Reptomin’s formula contains protein, vitamins, and calcium that fulfill the nutritious requirements of your pet turtle. It is easy to digest, and its packaging gives you convenience since the bag is resealable, allowing you to preserve the food in top-notch quality.
- It is rich in protein, calcium, and vitamins
- Available in various sizes
- Easily digestible
- Helps in avoiding wastage as it does not dissolve easily in water
- Reasonable price
- The food sticks sink quite fast
Healthy additions to a baby turtle’s diet
You can feed your baby pet a varied diet as it helps any turtle live a happier and longer life. Consider these inclusions in a growing turtle’s diet, and you will find that your turtle grows faster, become more alert, and shows less trouble with mood regulation. It might even perk up when it sees you!
Mealworms are rich in essential proteins, which are highly beneficial to the growth and development of your baby turtle. Every 100g of mealworms consists of 15-25g of proteins and 206 calories. More so, the larvae of mealworms contain potassium, zinc, selenium, iron, copper, and sodium and higher vitamin content than beef. However, ensure you feed your pet with mealworms at least once every week as their protein content is quite high.
There is a wide array of fish available in the market that contains all the nutritional requirements that a baby turtle needs to live a long and healthy life. Fish such as rosy red minnows and guppies are rich in vitamin B12, magnesium, selenium, potassium, and other nutrients that are vital to the growth of your turtle. They also contain plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and huge amounts of minerals and vitamins that are essential in building a healthy immune system in your pet turtle.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits contain various nutrients that are essential for the growth of your baby turtle. Fruits such as raspberries, mangoes, bananas, grapes, and tomatoes, among many others, contain various antioxidants that are good for heart health, promote the growth of gut bacteria, and helps against aging. They are also rich in fiber and different minerals and vitamins, which aid in the development of a healthy immune system.
Vegetables like yams, peas, green beans, beets, corn, pumpkin, and carrots, also contain a variety of essential nutrients that help in the growth of your pet turtle. However, ensure that you rinse your vegetables thoroughly and boil or steam them for easy consumption by your reptilian friend.
It is crucial to make sure that you provide for the dietary needs of your baby pet turtle as part of your overall care regimen. While a baby turtle can comfortably survive on simple foods like dried pellets, feeding it a healthy mix of various foods based on seasonal availability allows your pet to thrive and live a happier and more fulfilled life.