Turtles are fun, social and relatively low-maintenance pets. After the initial set up of the turtle's new habitat, there is not much more to do other than occasional upkeep, daily feeding (of course), and just enjoying your pet. The trick is to make sure you provide your turtle with the proper captive habitat to ensure his good health. Part of doing so includes providing him with a balanced and healthy diet. Commercial foods are widely available, but you can also feed your turtle a homemade diet.
Feeding Land Turtles
Land turtles are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter. They enjoy a diet comprised of about half plants and half animal matter at each feeding. Examples of good plant matter include strawberries, chopped apples, grapes, mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, chopped carrots, peas, green beans or leafy greens. These are only examples, however; most turtles will eat most any variety of fruit, vegetable and leafy green. As far as the animal matter, earthworms, mealworms, and insects will do. You can also feed your turtle small amounts of canned dog food. Remember to offer a wide variety (never offer the same foods twice in a row) and keep your turtle warm enough to encourage a healthy appetite. Try feeding your turtle on flat rocks to help keep his nails and beak in good shape. Finally, feel free to dust any food you provide with calcium powder to ensure he receives enough of this vital mineral.
Feeding Aquatic Turtles
Aquatic turtles also enjoy a wide variety of foods, but they can be a bit pickier about what they'll accept. Offer feeder insects as a source of protein. Examples include crickets, mealworms, superwoms, and nightcrawlers. Many feeder insects can be purchased "gut loaded" which means they have been fed a calcium-fortified diet beneficial to your turtle. You can also offer feeder guppies or shrimp. For plant matter, offer dark leafy greens, non-citrus fruits, and squash or peppers. Aquatic turtles also benefit from foods dusted in vitamin and mineral powder; however, the powder is prone to washing off in the water. For this reason it is a good idea to consider offering a commercially prepared pellet along with your homemade diet to ensure your turtle receives proper nutrition.
Feeding Hatchling Turtles
Hatchling turtles can be picky little eaters, sometimes refusing to eat at all and other times eating only one or two foods for long periods of time. The important thing is to offer variety, try to get them to eat as many different types of food as possible, and make sure they eat something. Offer small live insects including blackworms, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, or tubifex worms. Small bits of chicken or turkey are good sources of protein as well. As the hatchling gets older, offer crickets, mealworms and feeder fish. Also add halved grapes, strawberries, and dark leafy greens. As with other turtles, make sure your hatchling is warm enough to encourage eating. Remember, variety is key--different turtles have different preferences and nutritional needs, so research your turtle's species and keep his personal preferences in mind when feeding.
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