What Can Turtles Eat From Human Food?

by Carl Crane | Updated: September 28, 2021

Whether you’re looking for new ideas to spice up your turtle’s meal, or you’re a new pet turtle owner, you ran out of food for your turtle or you’re simply just curious, you’ve probably wondered, what can turtle eat from human food?

Which human food is safe for their consumption? What quantity of human food can they safely consume? 

Turtles are generally omnivores so they can eat almost anything you offer them.

However, being that what you want is nothing short of the best for your pet turtle, it is unsafe to feed them with just any food.

Some of these foods are more harmful than beneficial to your turtle especially when consumed in large amounts.

So in this article, you will find out the types of human food you can feed your pet turtle, how beneficial or harmful these foods are to them and the ones you should avoid. 

What Human Food Can Turtles Eat? 

Fruits

Fruits are very essential to turtles especially as they grow older.

They are nutritious and keep your turtle healthy by providing them with the necessary vitamins they need.

They are also rich in fiber and help reduce the risk of your turtle getting diseases. 

Turtles can eat almost all the fruits humans eat except citruses and fruits rich in potassium.

Feeding your turtle fruits that contain citric acid could cause stomach discomfort.

Avoid feeding your pet turtle fruits that have high potassium content as this is not good for their shells. 

Serve your pet turtle fruits in small quantities, it should not be more than 10% of their entire diet. 

Vegetables 

Vegetables are good especially for adult turtles and should form a part of their diet.

Almost all vegetables you eat can also be consumed by your turtle except for those that have no nutritional value like iceberg lettuce.

The aim is not just to quench your pet’s hunger but also to give it food rich in nutrients.

Iceberg lettuce only fills up your pet’s stomach and doesn’t add any health benefits to it. 

Another class of veggies to avoid feeding your pet turtle are those with high amounts of oxalates.

Oxalates are substances that slow down calcium absorption in bones.

As the body of turtles is mostly made up of bones, you can see how important it is for you to avoid feeding them with vegetables that could impede calcium absorption.

Such veggies with high oxalate content include; potatoes, beetroot, endive, spinach, and chard. 

Meat

Young turtles enjoy eating meat and you should give it to them once in a while as a treat.

It contains protein which helps in the growth of their shells.

However, you should feed them meat in small amounts as too much protein causes a metabolic bone disease called pyramiding. 

Pyramiding occurs when there is a build up of keratin which forms pyramid-like shapes in the scutes of the shells of turtles.

This condition is caused by too much protein and too little calcium.

The growth of their shells speeds up continuously and this is irreversible.

However, if you notice this early and change their diet, it will stop the disease from further developing. 

Avoid feeding your turtle meat such as steak and bacon which has high-fat content as too much fat is not good for their health in general.

To be safe don’t feed your pet turtle raw meat, boil it first.

Raw meat contains some unknown bacteria or pathogens that could be eliminated by simply boiling it.

Fish

Since turtles are aquatic and have the same habitat as fishes, they enjoy and can eat any kind of fish.

Fishes are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids and are rich in calcium, phosphorus, and minerals.

But like with other kinds of food, they’re certain types of fish you should avoid feeding your pet turtle. 

As mentioned earlier, too much fat is not good for your turtle as it can cause a deficiency of vitamin E.

So avoid feeding them fish containing high amounts of fat.

Also, don’t feed them wild-caught fishes as this could have so many harmful bacteria in it. 

You should not feed your turtle fish that has too many bones.

As they don’t have any means of removing these bones before eating, swallowing the bones could harm them on the inside. 

Ensure that the fishes are small to make it easy for your turtle to catch them and eat.

It is best to get feeder fish from a pet shop for your turtle.

Feeder fishes to avoid include; Caro, goldfish, gizzard shad, and rosy red minnows.

Go for the safest feeder fish, they include; guppies, kill fish, crappies, bass, and bluegills.

Insects

Insects made this list of human food turtles can eat because, in places like Asia, some people consume insects.

So if you’re a pet turtle owner and you eat insects, you may be wondering, can my turtle also eat insects? The answer is Yes! 

In the wild, turtles feed on insects all the time and it is a great food for them.

You can feed your turtle live crickets and dried ones too.

Watch out for the live crickets though, they walk around a lot and might end up somewhere in your house. 

Eggs

As long as the eggs are fresh, turtles will eat and enjoy them regardless of what species of bird they’re from.

Eggs are a great source of protein and are not harmful to your pet. 

To make it easy for your turtle to eat, boil and peel the eggs then cut them into small pieces.

You can hold the egg in your hand and allow your turtle to eat directly from there. 

Human Food To Avoid Feeding Your Turtle 

Baked products 

Baked food such as bread and other pastries are neither harmful nor beneficial to your turtle.

You can feed it to them but you shouldn’t because it has no nutritional value.

It only just fills up their stomach and sometimes could cause the stomach upset. 

Some baked products can even cause digestion problems for your turtle so you should not consider this as an option for your pet. 

Sweets

Turtles can eat just about any food if kept close to them.

So you might want to keep chocolates and other sweets as far away as possible from your pet turtle. 

Sweets can cause so many health problems for your turtle so don’t feed them with them.

Pasta

Pasta is just like baked products, it doesn’t add any nutritional value to your turtle. 

Stick to food that can both satisfy your pet’s hunger and add some nutritional benefits to it as well.

Pasta is not one of such foods so you should avoid feeding them with it. 

Dairy Products

Dairy products include milk, cheese, and butter.

Turtles do not have the enzymes needed to help break down nutrients found in dairy products.

So don’t give them any of these products as it could cause indigestion and lead to other serious health issues. 

Nuts

Nuts have been found to have high oxalate content such as are found in some vegetables. 

As mentioned earlier, oxalates inhibit calcium absorption which is bad for your turtle’s growth.

So nuts should be a no-no, don’t give it as food or as a treat. 

Snacks

Whatever kind of snacks it is, whether biscuits or chips, don’t give it to your pet turtle.

Reason being that these snacks contain so much sugar and salt which is bad for your turtle’s health. 

It also contains many harmful chemicals and preservatives. So don’t even keep snacks near your turtle because it may try to eat it. 

Conclusion

At some point, you may want to try feeding your turtle the same meal that you consume.

As turtles eat almost everything, asking the question “what can turtles eat from human food” becomes important to not just satisfy your pet turtle’s hunger but to also make sure what it eats is safe and beneficial to its health. 

Fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish, and meat except those that contain fats and other not so good substances are safe for your turtle.

They should be given in small quantities though, to avoid causing more harm than good. 

If given the chance, turtles will eat anything as they can’t tell what is good for them and what is not.

Therefore, it is up to you as a pet turtle owner to choose healthy foods for your pet and give them to them in appropriate quantities. 

Carl, the reptile-obsessed creator of this website, got his first turtle years ago and he made a ton of mistakes along the way. His goal now with TheCritterCove is simple: help others to not make the same mistakes that he did!