Turtles are great animals to keep as pets. Having a pet turtle is like keeping a commitment without needing to give too much commitment. These reptiles aren’t demanding and don’t require too much maintenance. They live long lives, they’ll probably even outlive their owners, so they’ll be by your side till the very end, without constantly clinging to your side. In return for all the ease they bring into your life, all they want off of you is to provide them with a well-balanced, healthy diet that meets all their nutritional requirements.
Even when it comes to what food you should be giving your pet turtle, there aren’t many restrictions. Their diet is made up of a few core categories, and those categories usually have a wide selection to choose from, which is a great thing because turtles tend to want to have variety in their food. If their food becomes monotonous, they might refuse to eat.
The only downside of having a rare pet such as turtles is that there isn’t much information about their needs and wants. So, if you want to introduce something new to their diet, you’ll need to do a lot of searching to be absolutely sure if you should offer that food to them. Even if what you want to offer calls into the acceptable food groups, you can never be too careful.
There is a very popular superfood these days that health-conscious people include in their diets. That’s right; we’re talking about kale. Kale is loaded with health benefits, although it isn’t the best tasting food out there. If it is healthy for us humans, is it healthy for our turtles? Can we include kale in their diets?
The good news is we are here to answer all your turtle-kale related questions!
What do turtles eat?
Before we jump into the specific foods, we should have a general overview of the foods that turtles eat.
Designed especially for turtles and thus make up around 25% of their diet are commercial turtle pellets. This is an essential part of their meal as the pellets contain all the necessary nutritional elements needed by your turtle in order to live a healthy life. These pellets are designed in accordance with your turtle’s lifestyle and don’t crumble or break apart easily, and you’ll often find them floating in your turtle’s food.
Fresh fruits and vegetables also make up 25% of your turtles’ diet. For most of the part, all fruits and vegetables are safe to be given to your turtle, although dark leafy greens are preferred in vegetables. And yes, that includes kale!
Feeder fish and/or insects are also safe food to offer to your turtles. Turtles need protein-rich diets, and this category is the perfect source of proteins and also has all the necessary vitamins such as Vitamin A and all the necessary minerals such as calcium.
Why is Kale so healthy?
Kale is considered a superfood and for a good reason too! It is loaded with all the healthy elements. Let’s take a closer look at what that actually means.
Kale is rich in the following Vitamins:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
Kale is also rich in minerals such as:
We know that you are constantly warned that just because food is safe for your own consumption, it doesn’t mean it is safe for our turtles to eat, and that is true to a great extent. All things considered, humans and turtles are two vastly different species, and so the way our bodies absorb nutrients is also very different. So we need to consider how and if these elements are healthy for our turtles.
Kale for turtles:
So, the nutrients present in kale are just as important to our turtle’s health as they are for ours. Although, where a turtle’s body uses those nutrients might differ slightly in some areas while in others, the nutrients have the same job.
Vitamin A- It is essential for your turtle in a number of ways. To put things in perspective, if your turtle has a vitamin A deficiency, they will suffer from the following issues:
- Poor eyesight and vision problems
- Respiratory diseases
- Ear abscesses
- Runny nose
- Raw skin and ulcers
- The duct lining of their kidney and pancreas thickening also known as Squamous metaplasia
All of these will cause your turtle extreme discomfort, which is why vitamin A rich food such as kale is of such importance in their diet.
Vitamin C- is needed in order for your turtle to build a strong immune system in order to fight diseases.
Calcium – Your turtle needs this mineral in order to develop strong bones.
Thus, making it clear that even a few of the long list of minerals and vitamins present in kale will do wonders for your turtle’s health.
Help! My turtle won’t eat kale!
Admittedly, kale isn’t the most delicious vegetable there is. While we have the advantage of using seasoning to mask the taste, that can’t be done for our turtles. If your turtle seems not to be eating kale when you offer it to them, don’t worry. While kale is super healthy, it also comes down to your turtle’s preference. They may be refusing to eat kale because they don’t like the taste.
In that case, please don’t force them to eat kale. There are other dark leafed greens that you can offer your turtle, which is just as healthy as kale and are great substitutes.
Kale is a great food option to include in your turtles’ diet. However, make sure not to offer kale to your turtle to eat constantly. Turtles enjoy variety, and if they get bored with their food, they might refuse to eat it. In order to avoid this from happening, alternate another vegetable with kale. However, there is absolutely no denying how healthy kale is for your turtle!