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What’s Fishy About Pond Turtles? Hint: They Don’t Actually Eat Fish!

What’s Fishy About Pond Turtles? Hint: They Don’t Actually Eat Fish!

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Pond turtles make popular pets. However, what do they eat?

Generally, freshwater turtles are omnivores, which means they can consume both plant and animal matter. You can offer a wide variety of aquatic plants, crustaceans, insects, fruits, and veggies.

Whether you’re planning on getting pond turtles from your local pet store or just curious about their eating behavior, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’re going to explore everything you need to know about the diets of pond turtles. Let’s dive in!

What Do Pond Turtles Eat?

Typically, pond turtles aren’t picky eaters. Basically, they don’t turn down pretty much anything that makes an easy meal.

However, depending on their species, their feeding behavior may vary. Here are the common species of pond turtles and their diets:

1 – European Pond Terrapins

The European pond terrapins, or European pond tortoises, are freshwater creatures that only come up to the land to bask or lay their eggs.

They prefer bodies of water and lush vegetation for hiding and eating. Despite that, you can offer them a wide variety of food, ranging from vegetables, animal protein, and plants.

European pond terrapins enjoy feasting on various types of meats like chicken and beef. You may also offer aquatic plants, crustaceans, and insects.

2 – Pacific Pond Turtles

Typically, the western pond turtles eat plants, like cattail roots, lily pads, and tule. Their diet includes crayfish and insects as well. Occasionally, they may eat frogs and tadpoles.

In addition, it’s worth noting that younger Pacific pond turtles are carnivorous, so you can feed them insects until they reach the age of three years old. This is when they start to eat plant materials.

3 – Pond Sliders

The pond sliders, or red-eared sliders, require a combination of both plant and animal matter. Keep in mind that young pond sliders prefer a carnivorous diet.

However, adult pond sliders naturally thrive in areas with plenty of natural plants to eat and hide. That’s why it’s a good idea to introduce them to plants at an early age because plants should make up a significant portion of an adult pond slider’s diet.

Try to include crickets, earthworms, shrimp, silkworms, and waxworks in their diet. Besides that, you may offer kale, mustard greens, collard greens, and dandelion greens.

In addition, you can also feed your pets some aquatic plants or vegetables, like green beans, squash, and carrots. Aquatic plants include water lettuce, anacharis, and water hyacinth.

Moreover, you can offer larger animal materials, like tadpoles, to adult pond sliders.

4 – Box Pond Turtles

Generally, box pond turtles are terrestrial creatures. They may appear like tortoises but they’re part of the pond turtle family.

Like other common species of pond turtles, the box pond turtles are carnivorous when they’re young but have more herbivorous tendencies as they reach adulthood.

Despite that, we recommend a balanced diet. Feed them both plant and animal protein.

For leafy greens, you may include spinach, parsley, mustard greens, kale, and dandelion greens. You can also feed them animal matter, like eggs, spiders, insects, and worms.

5 – Chinese Wood Turtles

The Chinese Wood Turtle, otherwise known as the giant Asian pond turtle, inhabits bodies of water, like canals, rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds. Typically, they find food in terrestrial and aquatic habitats.

Although the Chinese wood turtles are mainly herbivores, their diet may include some animal matter, snails, insects, larvae, salmon, shrimps, and mussels. For youngsters, you can feed them smaller animals, such as worms and crickets.

Moreover, make sure that their diet includes all kinds of seasonal fruits, such as bananas, mango, papaya, melon, peaches, and figs. For veggies, you may offer white cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, and tomatoes.

Plus, edible mushrooms and fungi are good for your little pet, so make sure you include them in their diets.

6 – Painted Turtles

Painted turtles are aquatic creatures, which means they spend more time in the water than on land. You can offer them a wide variety of food.

You can feed your painted turtles some animal proteins, like beef, chicken, and hard-boiled eggs. Additionally, try to include green beans, corn, peas, and bell peppers.

You can also give your pets leafy greens as a snack option. Greens like parsley and kale would be great too.

Do Pond Turtles Eat Fish?

While pond turtles might eat the same food as your fish, like plants and insects, they don’t eat fish. Turtles are no match for their speed and agility in the water.

Instead, pond turtles prefer deceased fish over live ones. This way they can keep your pond clean and minimize risks of infections because of rotting flesh.

Can Pond Turtles Eat Bread?

Your pond turtles can consume bread. However, turtles don’t have bread in their natural habitat, which means they don’t have certain enzymes to process this type of food.

Although bread isn’t harmful to pond turtles, it isn’t a healthy choice. Pond turtles can’t obtain the nutrients and vitamins that they need to develop or grow properly.

What Not to Feed to Pond Turtles

As a responsible pet owner, you should let your pond turtles stick to their diet. Although pond turtles are opportunistic when it comes to a meal, there are certain foods that they can’t digest because of their slow metabolism.

Here’s what you shouldn’t feed to your pond turtles:

1 – Sweets

Food with refined sugar is usually hard and may risk choking your beloved pet. On top of that, their bodies don’t have the enzymes to digest the sugar content and chemicals that sweet snacks contain.

2 – Dairy

Dairy products are another type of food that you shouldn’t feed your beloved pet. Reptiles don’t lactate their young, so their body can’t properly digest lactose.

Hence, don’t include dairy products in their diets. Some examples of dairy products include milk, yogurt, cheese, and butter.

3 – Greasy Food

Fatty food isn’t healthy for your little pets because oil or grease isn’t digestible for pond turtles. Don’t feed your pond turtles french fries, onion rings, or other processed food.

What Eats Pond Turtles?

Although pond turtles have protective shells, they’re not impervious to predators. Here are the predators of pond turtles:

1 – Catfish

Catfish are hardy and invasive, which means they can survive everywhere.

Plus, they have various feeding behaviors that range from herbivorous, carnivorous, and omnivorous diets. This predator is likely to consume baby turtles because they’re opportunistic feeders.

2 – Snapping Turtles

Alligator snapping turtles are the largest species of freshwater turtles.

They’re predators and scavengers that feed on anything they can find, including insects, frogs, and other reptiles. They’ll eat their own species even—whether alive or dead.

3 – American Bullfrogs

American bullfrogs are opportunistic predators that ambush prey smaller than them. Although adult pond turtles aren’t susceptible to these predators, they can overpower young turtles.

It’s also worth noting that bullfrogs thrive in the same habitat as pond turtles, so you might find them in your outdoor ponds.

4 – Birds of Prey

Some bird species, like Eagles, Falcons, and hawks, tend to prey on turtles. Typically, they carry turtles in the sky and drop them onto rocks to crack their hard shells and expose their flesh.

Other aquatic birds, including herons and ducks, include baby turtles in their diets.

5 – Water Snakes

Water snakes prey on smaller reptiles or amphibians, including turtles. They can open their mouths four times wider to devour small to medium-sized turtles.

In addition, water snakes are fast breeders, so you may encounter them in freshwater wetlands, like rivers, lakes, and ponds.

Final Thoughts

So, what do pond turtles eat?

Generally, pond turtles consume both plant and animal materials. Although young turtles prefer a carnivorous diet, it’s a good idea to introduce vegetables at an early age.

This way, adult turtles won’t shy away from plant matter. Keep in mind that they require both plants and animal proteins to grow.


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