What to Feed a Baby Snapping Turtle

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People keep all kinds of animals as pets, and turtles are no exception. Snapping turtles are often found in ponds when they are very young and only a couple of inches long, making them seem like an easy pet to care for. However, these quick-growing reptiles have big appetites and knowing what to feed them from the time they are young until they become 50-pound monsters is an important part of keeping them healthy.

Snappers Are Omnivores

The first thing to realize about snapping turtles is that they are omnivores, which means they’ll eat just about anything. They will eat fruits and veggies and they will eat all kinds of meat, including your fingers—so be careful.

The only real difference between feeding a baby snapping turtle and feeding an adult will be finding things the baby can physically catch and chew. Full-sized adult snapping turtles are known to come from beneath and pluck ducks right off the surface of the lake for a meal, while a baby just a few inches long couldn’t manage such a task.

Food From the Pet Store

People uneducated about how to care for small turtles often make the mistake of feeding them the same flakes you might buy for a goldfish. While this may not do too much harm to your snapper, there are specific aquatic turtle foods available at many pet stores that will give the turtle more of what he needs to grow and be healthy. Turtle care website turtlehomes.org recommends floating turtle pellets such as ReptoMin as a staple food for snapping turtles and suggests it should be fed to your turtle regularly. These pellets are good for turtles of all sizes.

Live Food

Snapping turtles love crickets, night crawlers, minnows, mealworms, and crayfish among other creepy-crawly snacks. Again, you will have to choose these kinds of live foods with your pet’s physical ability in mind. A crayfish or a eight-inch fat night crawler may be more than the little guy can chew if he’s between two and four inches long. However, getting your hands on mealworms or crickets might be a good idea to add a little protein to your turtle's diet. Just experiment and see what he seems to like or not like.

Human Food

Snappers are fans of leftovers as well. The same food that you eat, ranging from baked potato to grilled chicken to strawberries (cut into appropriate sizes) are all foods that the snapping turtle will also enjoy. Be sure to prepare human meats the same way you would for yourself. You wouldn’t eat raw chicken, so don’t give that to your pet either, as it likely has salmonella on it.

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