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Food list for picky eaters

Last updated October 13, 2016

Turtles are creatures of habit, so one of the tricks is to find out what a turtle will eat, and then slowly get it used to other foods, too. When you get a new turtle, the most important is to get them to eat. Right after, it's to encourage them to eat a VARIETY of HEALTHY foods. And, to be honest, that can be a bit of work. So, here is an incomplete list of foods that I've fed successfully to some of those picky eaters. 
This is not a complete list. Drop me a line if something worked for your turtle and is not on the list.

Box turtles

My box turtles like meat stuffs, and they like fruit. They will only eat greens if I mix them into something else. 
  • Worms. Earthworms, redworms, composting worms. Yeah, the good stuff!
  • Cooked chicken breast. You have to cook it. Do not feed raw meat. Do not feed hamburger, it's too fatty.
  • Snails. Any snail you find in a garden or on a field that has not been sprayed with pesticides or snail pellets. 
  • Home-made food cubes
  • Melon. Mine like cantaloupe, and will eat water melon. 
  • Banana. A bit like candy in that once they like it, they really want it. I mash the banana with minced herb salad mix and a bit of calcium powder to trick them into eating greens. (None of my box turtles eats green stuff on its own.)
  • Mango. I give them the pits when I have mango. Or thaw chunks from the freezer.
  • Berries. Strawberry, blueberry, ... try them all.
  • Canned dog or cat food. The high-quality, natural stuff without soy, wheat and junk). It's got vitamins added, so this is a way to give your turlte a vitamin boost every few weeks. My dog gets Natural Balance, so that's what the turtles get to share in.
  • Dog/cat kibble. To be honest, the best stuff money can buy has healthier ingredients than the so-called turtle pellets. However, it's designed for dogs/cats, so, at most once a week. This stuff is too expensive to feed my dog every day, so she gets a junk-free dog food from Costco, on this Natural Balance kibble as a treat.
  • Cooked shrimp. As a treat only for any saltwater meat. 
  • Crawfish. Freshwater. If you can get it. Not too often. 
  • Freshwater fish. Fresh, not canned, and cooked. They love it an it makes their poop smell awful.
  • Giant mealworms and meal worms. Too fatty for a regular diet, but use as treat or to get them to eat. 
  • Crickets. You can get dead ones in a can. They are pretty gross, and expensive, but the turtles like them. 
Other stuff I feed occasionally and that they will eat when hungry enough:
  • Apple, Tomato
  • Cuttle fish bone

Water turtles

  • Worms. Earthworms, redworms, composting worms. Yeah, the good stuff!
  • Cooked chicken breast. You have to cook it. Do not feed raw meat. Do not feed hamburger, it's too fatty.
  • Snails. Any snail you find in a garden or on a field that has not been sprayed with pesticides or snail pellets. 
  • Melon. Mine like cantaloupe, and will eat water melon. 
  • Mango. I give them the pits when I have mango. Or thaw chunks from the freezer.
  • Koi pellets. They are as good (bad) as the specialized turtle food and a lot cheaper. My water turtles are in a large pond with the fish. 
  • Water lettuce and water hyacinth. This is their staple food. I grow it in tubs and in the pond.
  • Freshwater fish. If they can catch it in the pond. There's mosquito fish, and the goldfish breed.
  • Herb salad mix. It clogs up the filter with slime, so I don't do it very often when there are other plants.
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