Do Turtles Eat Meat? Pet Vs Wild Meat Eating Turtles – Which Meat Is Best?

Do turtles eat meat?

The short answer is yes, they do.

However, there are many different breeds of turtle which have different requirements, and a few things you should know before throwing a chunk of a cow in your turtle tank.

Keeping your pet on an appropriate balanced diet is the key to maintaining its health and facilitating a long turtle lifespan.

What Meat Do Turtles Eat?

do turtles eat raw meat

A turtle’s jaw has a significant effect on how they chew their food, hence their types of food.

The majority of turtles start their life eating plenty of meat, then move on to a herbivorous diet.

Just like all reptiles, they have different species and types, and a baby turtle’s diet is different from an adult’s, but here’s a simple classification.

Carnivorous Turtles

Carnivorous turtles depend on meat in their diet, and each species prefers a specific type of meat.

For example, snapping turtles eat snakes, fish, and frogs. Softshell turtles, on the other hand, feed on fish and crayfish.

Herbivorous Turtles

Herbivorous turtles, like the green sea turtle, prefer greens.

Examples of food they enjoy are algae, seaweed, and marine grass.

Omnivorous Turtles

Omnivorous turtles are popular turtle pets.

The most common pet turtle is the red-eared slider.

These breeds of pet turtles have more extensive food choices, as they usually eat commercial turtle food, different kinds of plants, insects, fruits, and vegetables.

What Types of Meat Do Wild Turtles Eat?

Wild turtles are not picky eaters.

Like many other wild reptiles, they eat whatever they can find. Their location will dictate the type of food that wild turtles have to settle for.

Small sea turtles like the Florida softshell, usually eat:

  • Fish
  • Shrimp
  • Crab
  • Crayfish
  • Smaller sea creatures

In some cases, they eat jellyfish to fill their stomach.

Larger aquatic turtles, such as snapping turtles, may eat ducks or other birds they can find on the surface of the water.

In natural on-land environments, turtles prefer eating bugs and different insects or vegetation that grows around the lakes and ponds they live in.

What Type Of Meat Do Pet Turtles Eat?

As previously mentioned, most pet turtles are omnivores.

You can create a healthy diet for them from meat, plants, or both to keep them well fed.

It goes without saying that turtle pellet food is a significant part of their diet. They’re easy for the turtle to eat, and designed specifically for them.

That means that pellets fulfill their dietary requirements of:

  • Proteins
  • Vitamins
  • Nutrients

You can also have some cooked meat or small fish to get a good dose of protein.

Turtles can eat bits of cooked ground beef, chicken, or pork that you are having for your meals.

This type of food can make your tank water dirty very quickly though, so it’s best as an occasional treat. The meat doesn’t have to be tiny as they will enjoy chewing apart larger pieces.

best meat for turtles

Feeder fish, insects, and worms can be found on Amazon, and are a good way of getting meaty food into your turtle’s diet.

Live food can also be a type of toy for turtles as they can chase these things around their tank.

Despite living in a turtle tank home, their instinct for hunting is still very active.

These foods are an excellent source of protein with the bonus of a fun hunt.

For juvenile turtles, see this guide on what to feed baby turtles.

What Your Pet Turtle Shouldn’t Eat

what meat can my turtle eat
It’s true that most turtles have a wide range of food preferences.

However, there are some types of food that turtles shouldn’t be eating. Raw meat is of high risk, as it could be rotten before the turtle can eat it. It could also carry salmonella.

For a healthier diet, avoid too much protein for your pet.

Feeding turtles meat protein three times a week is sufficient, but for more info, see this info on how long a turtle can go without food.

Turtles can’t digest dairy products. Therefore, feeding your turtle any dairy products could cause serious illnesses.

Avoid processed human food too; they could have ingredients that don’t support your turtle’s health.

Another key thing is to ensure you feed your turtle fresh food.

Are Turtles Carnivorous?

Turtles do eat meat and they can be considered carnivorous, but different types of turtles will feed on different types of meat.

Turtles are fairly resilient creatures, but regularly clean the tank of moldy or rotten food. Start with regular live food before testing your pet out on chicken, beef, and other types of meat for turtles.

And remember, they may also like some apples, carrots, berries, and oranges – things which also make for great rabbit treats.


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