Turtle Feeding Guide: What Do Baby Turtles Eat

by Carl Crane | Updated: September 28, 2021

If you are planning to adopt a baby turtle, you must understand what you are going into.

Caring for baby turtles isn’t the same as caring for adult turtles as babies are more fragile.

They need more attention and a different type of nutrition from adults.

The better you understand the needs of your baby turtle, and meet them, the healthier your pet would be.

And so in this article, we will answer the question, “what do baby turtles eat?”

The easy part of getting a baby turtle ends in the adoption.

From there, you need to ensure that their homes meet their basic needs.

You also need to ensure that their diet provides them with the necessary protein nutrition they need.

Note that baby turtles are prone to many diseases, and are also hosts to many germs. And as such, they require much care to reach adulthood.

What Do Baby Turtles Eat?

Box Turtles Eat

Box turtles are one of the most common land turtles.

The adults are omnivores just as with most others, but the babies prefer a protein diet.

In the wild, they would feed on any insect that catches their fancy, but in captivity, you would have to provide them with their meals.

Examples of food to feed your baby box turtle includes:

Even though they require more protein at this stage, offer them plant matter as well.

They may refuse it initially, but with time, they will start eating it.

It’s important that they also feed on plant matter to benefit from the vitamins and minerals they provide.

Baby Red-Footed Tortoise

Tortoises are vegetarians all through their lives, and so will eat plant matter from birth till adulthood.

What you will be concerned with is ensuring they get enough of both vitamins and minerals in their diet.

The following are examples of food you can feed to your baby red-footed tortoise:

Aquatic Turtles

Baby aquatic turtles should be fed daily unlike the adults which would be fine when fed two or three times a week.

Feed them in a separate tank to avoid getting the water polluted by food debris.

They mostly eat veggies and leafy greens, and you can clip these to magnetic veggie clips to avoid them from falling to the bottom of their tank.

Baby Red Eared Sliders

Red-eared sliders are semi-aquatic turtles, and the adults are omnivores.

The babies also need a mixture of both plant and protein to ensure they grow healthy into adulthood.

Feed them daily mainly with pellets that are specific for red-eared sliders.

Examples of food you can feed baby red-eared sliders include:

Baby Turtle Nutrition

Baby turtles need to be fed properly to ensure that they grow healthy and reach adulthood.

They are very fragile at this stage and need all the care they can get.

This involves making careful considerations in the form their food should take.

Feeding them with pellets, food sticks, and flakes are great as it would be easy for them to eat.

Baby turtles depend on their yolks for nutrition and food in the first few weeks after they hatch.

The speed at which they deplete their yolk depends on the temperature, as a higher temperature would cause them to eat more.

Once they are done with their yolks, feed them with protein-based diets like mealworms, wax worms, bloodworms, or blackworms.

Feed them with these for a while until they get used to it. Then try including plant matter in their meal.

Mix up plants, proteins, and commercial food as you feed them daily so that you can provide them with all they require to grow healthy.

To get your baby turtle to be interested in food, try feeding them with moving insects. the movement would intrigue them and cause them to go after the food.

Always note that the more organic the food is, the better and more nutritious it is to your pet.

Once they have grown for a few months, you can then feed them with a variety of meals.

The type of food that makes up your baby turtle’s meal would depend on its species, size, temperature, and age.

Fish

Fish are one of the important additions to your pet turtle’s diet.

They are rich in potassium, vitamin B12, magnesium, and other important vitamins to your pet.

So by adding this to your baby turtle’s diet, you will provide them with what they need to build a healthy immune system, and grow healthy.

Mealworms

Mealworms are a great source of protein, which every baby turtle needs at the early stage of growth into adulthood.

Mealworms also contain minerals and vitamins and so is a necessary addition to your pet’s diet.

Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and vegetables are a good source of nutrients that are needed to promote good health and growth.

They also ensure a healthy immune system and would have to be added to your pet’s diet if they must grow healthy and strong.

Before you feed your baby turtles with vegetables, however, rinse them thoroughly and boil so that it can easily be eaten.

How to Feed Your Baby Turtle

Baby turtles eat different types of food in the wild which they get as they roam around.

They eat both plants and animals, depending on their internal needs and cravings.

The feeding preference of turtles is however greatly influenced by their habitat.

Land baby turtles have a different feeding preference as compared to those in water.

Land baby turtles would eat a combination of leafy greens and commercial turtle food.

To enable them to eat well, ensure that the food is in tiny pieces. This will also prevent impaction and promote digestion.

Land turtles also eat more vegetables in their diet as compared to aquatic turtles.

Feed your baby aquatic turtles in different tanks to prevent them from messing up the main tank with food debris and feces.

Your pet turtle would also need to be provided with supplements in the form of a capsule or pellet.

Also feed them per their age, species, and nutritional requirements at said age.

Baby turtles should be fed at least twice daily.

Do not however overfeed them so they don’t grow bigger than their shell.

As you provide them with vitamins and mineral supplements, include vitamins D and C for a healthy shell.

Also, expose their shells to sunlight for vitamin D absorption for a strong shell and bones.

The following are guides on feeding your baby turtles:

What to Do If Your Baby Turtle Won’t Eat

Sometimes your turtle may abstain from eating food especially if you try to change the diet.

If your baby turtle has refused to eat, try to whet its appetite with live sources of protein like crickets and mealworms.

If everything you have tried still fails, then your pet may be sick.

Consult a vet for a full checkup to rule out deficiencies of infections.

Conclusion

A baby turtle can be needy as they are at their most delicate phase.

The care and attention given to them will help them grow strong and healthy.

At this stage, they are prone to diseases, and so will need to have strong immune systems to fight off these infections.

Knowing the type of food to feed your baby turtle is important for its growth and development.

Their dietary requirements differ depending on the species and age.

And so before you get into feeding your pet turtle, you need to ask your vet what is good for it.

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!