Turtles have been around for a very long time and the oldest turtle alive today is a 187-year-old named Johnathan. So, if you plan on keeping a pet turtle, you’re in for the long haul; they might possibly outlive you!
Turtles aren’t the most common choice of pets. They aren’t cuddly and don’t respond to you as a cat or a dog would, but if you’re looking for low maintenance, non-demanding, and non-clingy pet, turtles are the best option to choose! They’ll be by your side without constantly being by your side. The only catch, they need to have a well taken care of diet. Turtles need their nutritional requirements to be met in order to live a long healthy life, and being their owners, it is your job to know what those requirements are.
Admittedly, it’s easier said than done. This is especially because turtles are rare pets to own, so even your pet store won’t have a wide selection of food and other turtle-related stuff. To make things more complicated, turtles can also be a slight bit complicated with their food preferences. Some are herbivores and will only eat plants, while others are carnivores and will only eat meat. Some are both plants and meat-eaters. So, part and parcel of a healthy diet, know what kind of species your turtle actually is.
Sometimes turtles aren’t the only pet you own. If you are a multi-pet owner, and more specifically, if you are a cat parent, you know the pain of food rejection during mealtime! Lots of wasted money on tins of food that your cat refuses to eat. Which is what brought you our way. You probably want to kill two birds with one stone and want to know if it is safe to offer your turtle your cat’s food. It’s a common myth, and you are considering your options.
Sure, omnivorous turtles will eat just about whatever will fit in their mouths. However, the more important question, though, does that make it okay for turtles to eat?
Read on to find out.
FOODS TURTLES SHOULD STEER CLEAR OF
Unfortunately, the concept of ‘knowing when to stop’ when it comes to munching upon an edible item is very rare for turtles. They will just eat, eat, and just eat some more of anything and everything they can get their hands on. Now, this may not be all that problematic for them in the wild since they don’t know when they will get a chance to ever eat again. However, there are some foods your pet turtle shouldn’t be allowed to even go near.
The first and most important food group that should be eliminated from your turtle’s diet is all sorts of fatty food. Fatty foods are incredibly unhealthy for your turtle and pave the way for a plethora of health issues such as kidney damage and obesity. The fattier food that is in their diet, the more years of their lives are reduced.
Another type of food group that is unsafe for turtles is dairy products. Reptiles such as our beloved turtles don’t possess the enzymes that are needed to break down the dairy products, and so dairy in their diet will lead to indigestion.
A definite no-go area for turtles also includes carbohydrates and proteins. Even though turtles need both, more important, especially when they’re young, too much of these nutrients can cause turtle shell pyramiding –where the shell grows abnormally fast. This is a cause of extreme pain and discomfort for your turtle.
SO WHERE DOES CAT FOOD COME IN THE MIX?
Unfortunately, cat food ticks off all the boxes of food groups turtles should avoid. Not only are they getting all the wrong nutrients, but the ones they are absorbing also aren’t doing them any good either.
Cat food has been designed for your mammal feline, keeping their internal makeup and dietary needs in mind. Turtles are nothing like cats, and so cat food isn’t doing them any favors when fed!
Sure, your turtle will gobble up cat food if you offer it to them, but you can’t feed them cat food and expect them to live a long and healthy life.
While we cannot recommend feeding your turtle cat food as either a proper meal or as a snack, there are other foods out there that are great in terms of health and in terms of taste that your turtle can snack on.
SAFE FOOD FOR TURTLES:
There isn’t any shortage of food options to offer your turtle. We recommend the following:
- Commercial pelleted turtle food: Like canned cat-food, you can easily find turtle food at your nearest pet store. It contains the exact amounts of all the nutrition a turtle requires to sustain a fit life. The bonus is that it is made especially for turtles!
- Feeder fish and/or insects: These are a great source of protein and minerals like calcium and phosphorus and contain good levels of certain vitamins like vitamin A.
- Fruits and vegetables: Now that all the protein and fat are out of the way, the next best thing for your pet turtle are fruits and plants. Chopped dark leafy greens such as kale, collard, shredded carrots, squash, and zucchini are great foods that your turtle will enjoy munching away on. You can also go with edible aquatic vegetation such as water lettuce, water hyacinth, and duckweed to mix things up a bit for your pet.
So, technically turtles can and will eat cat food if offered to them. But should they be eating it? Absolutely not. Cat food is just not something that has been designed for your turtle, and eating it will only do your turtle more harm than good. Being a responsible pet owner means looking out for all of your pet’s needs, and so you need to ensure that your turtle gets the food that is made for its species. Only then will it be able to live a healthy life.