Pet Turtle Nutritional Guidelines

Your six-year-old son has decided that a small turtle will make the perfect pet. You’re surprised that he doesn’t want a dog or hamster, but you figure a turtle has less chance of escaping his enclosure when he gets bored. You’ve got the turtle’s habitat figured out, but you’re stumped on what to feed this little reptile. Good thing your Ludington veterinarian can provide you with some good nutritional advice.

General guidelines

First, ask your vet what type of turtle you’ve purchased, as each species has its own nutritional needs. Many turtles happily consume both meat-based and plant protein sources. Regardless of your turtle’s nutritional profile, don’t feed him human food scraps, leftover dog or cat food, or any foods formulated for other species. Also give him a fresh bowl of spring water daily.

Protein choices

Turtles definitely need a protein source; examples include shrimp, fresh fish, insects, or brine. Depending on your turtle’s size, you’ll probably want to allocate 2-3 pieces of meat per day. Aquatic turtles prefer live fish on occasion, perhaps every 7-10 days. Believe it or not, consuming the live fish also provides your turtle with a bit of exercise.

Tasty vegetation

Turtles like to eat their vegetables, too. In fact, many types of turtles actually require lots of leafy greens to keep their systems running smoothly. Set aside 4-5 lettuce or cabbage leaves, or a similar amount of other greens, for each day’s diet. Small bits of broccoli, celery, and other green vegetables can also be mixed in. For treats, give your turtle little pieces of pears, apples, or other fruit; however, fruit should not be a substantial part of your turtle’s diet.

Prepackaged diets

While you might find commercial turtle foods in your local pet store, this packaged mixture might be pricey and won’t provide your turtle with all the nutrients he needs. Protein and vegetable foods are much more desirable, with the commercial food provided as a nutritional supplement of sorts. Again, your vet can decide whether a prepackaged turtle food should play a role in your turtle’s diet.

Now that your Ludington vet has given you nutritional guidelines for your son’s new turtle, this cheery little reptile can provide your son with many hours of quiet companionship.

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