How To Feed A Baby Turtle & What They Eat (Feeding & Diet Guide)

Your baby turtle is hungry and ready to start chowing down on some tasty grub.

But what do baby turtles eat?

In this article, we’ll be discussing everything you must feed baby turtles and how to give them their food.

Key Takeaway:

Baby turtles eat insects, feeder fish, turtle pellets, fresh food, aquatic plants, and calcium supplements. Feed them once a day outside their habitat. Cut the food into small pieces.

Are you ready to find out more about the ideal baby turtle’s diet?

Then we’ll be discussing what it consists of and how to administer it coming up next.

baby turtle

What Do Baby Turtles Eat?

It’s dinner time in your house and your baby turtle is ready to get stuck into some scrumptious morsels.

But what do baby turtles eat?

Check out the following list of baby turtle food items that make up the perfect dinner plate for your little pet.


Baby turtles are growing so they need to eat more meat and protein than adult turtles. Their diet needs to be high in protein but low in fat so they can grow and develop properly.

Your baby turtles might be mainly carnivorous when they are small and become more herbivorous when they are older. This is the case with a lot of turtle breeds like green sea turtles, red-eared sliders, and other aquatic and land turtles.

The baby snapping turtle, on the other hand, is a little different as it will have a mainly carnivorous diet all throughout its life. To feed a baby snapping turtle, you must give him a lot of protein.

Loggerhead turtles are quite different from snapping turtles and will always eat a combination of meat and plants.

Ok, but more about the meat.

What kind of protein will a baby turtle eat?

Here is a list of some of their favorite dishes.

  • Earthworms
  • Snails
  • Beetles
  • Mealworms
  • Wax worms
  • Small crickets
  • Small fish like river shrimp
  • Krill

The best way to source the next meal for your baby turtle is not to go digging for insects in your backyard. Rather, get them from your local pet store or place where they sell turtles.

Why is this the best way of sourcing insects for your pet turtle?

Insects from pet stores are gut loaded. They are also free from pesticides and other chemicals that could be harmful to your pet baby turtle.

Good pet stores will also sell the best feeder fish to enrich your baby turtle’s diet. These include guppies and killifish.

Although feeding your baby turtles feeder fish is a great idea, do not feed them comet goldfish or any other breed of goldfish.

Pellet Food

For turtle babies to develop into healthy adult turtles, they need to eat a varied diet. One of the best ways to ensure they’re getting all the nutrients they need is by giving them pelleted food.

What’s in the pellets that makes them so special?

Pet store pellets contain a careful balance of the vitamins and minerals your young turtle needs to grow properly. Here’s what most hatchling turtle pellets are like.

  • They are calcium and protein-rich
  • They contain vitamin D3
  • They contain beta-glucans to support the young turtle’s immune system
  • They float in water making it easier for aquatic turtles to eat them as they would in their natural habitat

While turtle pellets are fantastic for young turtles, it is also good for you to mix fresh food into their diet. More about that up next.

Fresh Foods

Most baby turtles will have a primarily meat-based diet, but it is essential that you occasionally add small pieces of fresh fruit, vegetables, and plants into it. Here’s a list of fresh food that makes up a healthy diet for your small turtles.

  • Fresh fruits. These include pieces of tomatoes, apricots, and bananas.
  • Leafy greens. Some good options are romaine lettuce, collard greens, and mustard greens.
  • Other veggies. They’ll like carrot tops and green beans.
  • Aquatic plants. Plants like water hyacinths, duckweed, and water lilies are great for aquatic turtles.
  • Mushrooms. The red-footed tortoise will eat mushrooms sparingly (about once a month). Mushrooms are mineral rich and are great for the red-footed tortoise.
baby turtle eating plant

Calcium Supplements

Calcium deficiency is a common problem amongst turtles. To combat this, add calcium supplements to their meals.

Calcium supplements are available at good pet stores.

How to Feed a Baby Turtle

So, we’ve spoken a lot about different types of turtle food and what you must feed your little pets to ensure they develop properly.

But what if you have everything you need for your turtle’s diet but aren’t sure how to give it to him?

Then, do not worry! Coming up next, we’re going to provide you with all the instructions you need to feed your baby turtles.

Feeding Dish

Put your land turtle’s food into a shallow plate that is easy for him to access.

Feeding Frequency

Feed land and semiaquatic turtles once a day while they are babies (until they are about 7 years old).

Keep the food in the enclosure for about 20 minutes. Remove whatever they don’t eat within this time and give it to them in their next feeding.

Different turtles have varying feeding schedules. Check with your vet to ensure your turtle eats at the right times.

Your turtle will eat more in the mornings and afternoons when they are most active. Feeding them at these times is a good way to ensure they eat enough.

For optimal health, give your turtle calcium supplements 2 to 3 times a week.

Feeding Location

To keep your turtle’s habitat clean, feed them daily in a separate cage outside of their main enclosure.

Most turtles eat insects. When feeding them insects, put them on dry land.

When feeding aquatic turtles, take them out of their tank and put them in a separate bowl of water when it’s feeding time. This will help you to keep the tank clean.

Give your aquatic turtle time to eat (about 20 minutes) before putting him back in his normal tank.

Keep the insects dry, if you immerse them in water, they could increase the level of ammonia in it. This is bad for your turtle’s skin and could also damage your turtle’s shell.

A healthy turtle will eat as long as he feels comfortable. The correct water temperature for most aquatic turtles is 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your turtle feels too warm or too cold, he may reject food. Semi-aquatic turtles will like it if you feed them in water, but the water should not be too deep for the turtle to drown in (no more than 2 inches).

Always remember to wash your hands thoroughly after touching a turtle.

Food Preparation

Cut your turtle’s food into small pieces. Cut anything bigger than the size of a blueberry into smaller pieces.

Hatchlings will likely refuse fruit and vegetables until they are about 8 to 10 weeks old. Even still, it is important you offer it to them anyway as they will soon develop an appetite for fresh goodies.

Pellets are an important part of your turtle’s diet. A 20-gram tube of pellet food will last one baby turtle for about a month when you feed them pellets every day.

Turtles eat 2 to 4 pellets per day. Put them straight in your freshwater turtles’ water as the pellets are designed to float.

Feeding your turtle live food is a great way of getting him excited about eating.

Feeding Different Breeds of Baby Turtles

Each breed of baby turtle has a slightly different diet and feeding requirements. For the most part, you can use the baby turtle feeding guide in this article to help you with your pet.

But here are some specifics to bear in mind when it comes to different turtles and their diets. We’ll be talking about these popular breeds in particular:

  • The baby box turtle
  • The baby red-eared slider
  • The baby-painted turtle

Baby Box Turtles

Let’s start by diving into the world of the baby box turtle.

Baby box turtles eat a varied diet. It consists of the following.

  • 50% animal protein
  • 25% fruit
  • 25% vegetables

Feed your box turtles mid-morning after they have had time to warm up. Your box turtles might avoid eating fruits and vegetables for the first few months of their lives but it is still important you offer these foods to them.

Baby Red Eared Sliders

Are you feeding a baby red-eared slider for the first time?

Then here are some of the facts you must know about this baby turtle’s diet.

  • A red-eared slider will eat a slightly different diet when it is a baby to when it is an adult. The adult’s diet consists of 50% plants and 50% meat.
  • The baby turtle’s diet is 30% plants and 70% meat. A turtle pellet-based diet must make up one-quarter of its protein.
  • Feed red-eared sliders every day until they reach 6 months old. The portion size of the meals must be the same as the size of their heads.
  • They like to eat in water rather than on land

Baby Painted Turtles

Feeding a painted turtle is not too dissimilar to other turtles. But here’s something you must know about this turtle’s regular diet.

You must feed painted turtles only protein and pellets for babies until they grow to 2 inches. After that, begin to get your turtle eating fruits, and vegetables, and water plants.

The Keys to Feeding Your Baby Pet Turtle

cute baby turtle

Looking after a baby pet turtle is a rewarding job, but it is also one that comes with great responsibility. Your turtle needs to have access to food sources that contain plenty of vitamins and minerals, eat in a food-friendly environment, and have enough to chow down on.

This article has made feeding a box turtle, snapping turtle, and any other kind of turtle baby a lot simpler.

They must eat a balanced diet including insects, feeder fish, turtle pellets, fresh fruit and vegetables, aquatic plants, and calcium supplements. You must feed them small pieces of food once a day outside their enclosure.

Did you find the information in this article helpful?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we are always striving to provide you with the best guides on how to feed baby and adult turtles. For more information on box turtles, snapping turtles, or other types of captive and wild turtles, check out our website.

Thanks for reading!

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