Turtles are great pets to have around. Extremely low maintenance and not very demanding, these reptiles are a lifelong companion. They can live up to 80 years! However, as is the case with every other pet, turtles have just one major requirement, and that is proper care be taken of their diet. In order to live a long healthy life, they need a well-balanced diet.
One major drawback of having a pet as rare as a turtle is that there isn’t much choice when it comes to their food options. And so, you end up at a loss as to what to give your turtle, especially when it comes to snacks and treats. And you can’t forgo treats since turtles can very easily get tired of a monotonous diet and can reject their food altogether, which in itself is concerning.
Before you start with turtle treats, you should be well aware of what a balanced and healthy diet for a turtle looks like and then progress onto safe and healthy snacks that you can offer them.
It isn’t easy feeding turtles since they vary a great deal from their owners, and foods that are typically considered healthy or non-toxic for us might not have the same effect on them. So, you need to arm yourself with knowledge about your turtle’s dietary needs.
What do turtles eat?
This is a very good question to ask. What they eat depends entirely on what kind of species they are. Some turtles are strictly herbivores, which means they only eat plants. Others are carnivores, which means their staple food is meat. However, for most of the part, turtles are omnivores, which means they need a healthy mix of meats and fruits, and vegetables.
What they eat also depends on the structure of their jaw. The structure of their jaw indicates what kinds of food they will be able to chew with ease.
Other factors also include where the turtle lives and their surrounding environment, and the food sources that are available to them.
What are the food options available to be fed to our turtles? Here’s a general overview.
Commercially available, turtle pellets are the safest food option since they have been designed especially for turtles. The pellets tend not to break away or fall apart and don’t disintegrate either. They meet all the nutritional needs of your turtle as well and thus should make up at least 25% of the diet.
Fruits and vegetables are filler food but are also important nutrition-wise. They should be fed fresh, and the best kind to offer to your turtle is dark leafy greens that have been chopped up, such as kale or lettuce; carrots and squash are also safe options. Chopped up or shredded fruits such as berries, melons, and apples also make the list of safe foods.
Feeder insects or fish are also an important part of your turtles’ diet. They constitute 25% of their diet and are an important source of much-needed protein. They also have a well-balanced amount of minerals such as calcium and phosphorus and vitamins such as vitamin A.
Mealworms and Turtles:
Have you heard someone suggest that you should offer your turtle mealworms as a treat, and have you found yourself wondering what mealworms are and how do they fit into your turtles’ diet?
Mealworms aren’t exactly worms; they are the larvae of flour beetles. These non-invasive insects are found practically everywhere. Though we must warn you, they aren’t too great to look at!
Mealworms are a source of protein for your turtle and are completely safe to offer to your turtle. They not only have protein but also have amounts of calcium as well as lots of vitamins and minerals. And you can feed mealworms alive or dried.
If you feed your turtles alive mealworms, you can even feed the worms dry supplements and healthy foods to make them even more healthy for your turtle.
Mealworms don’t have to be limited just as a treat. They can be fed in the insect filler category of food.
One of the best parts of offering your turtle mealworms is that they are easily available in the markets, and you will have a wide selection to choose from. To add to the reasons why you should include mealworms in your turtle’s diet is the fact that they are relatively less expensive food.
What other snacks can we offer to our turtles?
This usually comes down to the size of your turtle. There are a lot of other options to offer, such as some amphibians, which include tadpoles and frogs. You can also offer earthworms, crickets, beetles, and slugs. It is not recommended to feed your turtle amphibians or fish that have been caught live since they may have parasites or other infection-causing organisms in them.
Why are mealworms a snack and not a staple part of their diet?
This is mainly because mealworms are filler food. In order for them to meet the requirement for a specific food group, such as protein, you will have to give them a large quantity, and that means doing so at the cost of forging other food options that might be more healthy. Otherwise, there is no harm in feeding mealworms to your turtle.
So, in conclusion, mealworms are completely safe food to offer to your pet turtle. Albeit disgusting to look at, these crawlies offer a lot of nutritional value to your turtle’s health and thus make a great snack. However, they do not make up the staple part of your turtle’s diet.
Thus, make sure you follow the proper instructions when it comes to your turtle’s diet, or it may negatively impact their health in the long run. You can offer mealworms alive or dried ones; both are safe. If you follow a proper turtle diet, they will live a long healthy life and will be by your side till the very end!