Can Turtles Eat Meat?

Turtles are one of the most underrated pets that are out there. These adorable reptiles are as low maintenance as pets can get, and they don’t ask for much from their owners. They’ll be by your side till the end of time, considering their long life span without constantly clinging to you. Turtles are known to live for over a hundred years, the oldest being nearly two hundred years old! Pet turtles can live up to 80 years. However, their lifespan depends on what you feed them and if you meet their nutritional requirements.

So while turtles only ask for a healthy and fulfilling diet, they are fussy when it comes to their food options. Turtles crave variety, and if they have to eat the same food over and over again, they get bored and will simply refuse to eat. And there is nothing more frustrating than a pet that refuses to eat.

Turtles are rare pets, so you won’t find many turtle-related products in your local pet shop. And chances of finding a strong turtle pet owner’s support group around you are also rare. So it comes down to you to be creative with your turtle’s meals. And meals also include the snacks you can offer them.

Since there aren’t a lot of options available, you often look into your own pantry in hopes of finding your turtle something to chew on. This is a great idea, as long as you know for sure what is healthy for them and what is not. The thing is, turtles do differ from their owners in their eating habits and in terms of what their bodies can tolerate. Just because something is healthy for us doesn’t mean the same will apply to your turtle.

Have you ever seen your turtle eyeing a piece of meat off your plate? Has that led you to wonder if turtles can even eat meat? The answers aren’t so simple but will surprise you nonetheless.

What kind of animals are turtles?

Turtles are amphibians, and although they do come out on land, they spend most of their time in the water, and hence they are aquatic animals. This is also why while your turtle can survive a long time without eating, it needs a constant supply of water.

Classifying turtles also depends on what kind of turtle they are. Some turtles are herbivores, which means they only eat plants, while others are pure carnivores, which means they need a diet rich in meat. Others are omnivores, which means a healthy diet consists of both plants and of meat. Some are born eating meat but eventually turn into herbivores as they grow up. You can only know which group your turtle falls in if you know what kind of turtle they are.

Can turtles eat meat?

So it goes without saying that if you have a turtle that is an herbivore, then obviously, meat is out of the question. However, if your turtle is an omnivore or carnivore, then they can definitely eat meat.

Generally speaking, you can offer your turtle cooked ground beef, chicken, and even pork off of your plate. You don’t have to worry about cutting the meat into smaller pieces because turtles enjoy tearing apart large pieces with their teeth. Turtles also enjoy eating fish as well.

However, meat options also depend on the kind of turtle you own. For example, while softshell turtles will prefer to eat fish and to be more specific, crayfish, the snapping turtle will prefer snakes, frogs, and fish.

Can turtles eat raw meat?

If you’re tempted to offer your turtle raw meat, we would suggest that you control that temptation since it is not a good idea at all! The rule of thumb is always to offer your turtle food that they would find in the wild, and it is unlikely that your turtle will manage to get its hand on raw meat.

A turtle’s main source of protein comes from eating protein, Fish is too fast for turtles to catch, and the only time they manage to get fish is when the fish is dead.

Another danger of giving turtle’s raw meat is the chance that the meat might contain salmonella. It can also lead to gout in your turtle.

Does meat count as a staple food for turtles?

The answer is a clear cut, no. Meat makes for a yummy snack once in a while but is in no way a staple part of your turtle’s diet. 

For most of the part, your turtle gets all its nutrition from the commercially available pellets. These have been made keeping all of your turtle’s needs in mind and are the best food to give them.

You can add veggies and fruits into the mix to include variety in your turtle’s meals. 

Better snacks for your turtle are insects! Turtles are hunters, and they love a chase, and so worms and crickets are not only rich in protein but also keep your turtle entertained. Just because your turtle is domesticated doesn’t mean they’ve lost their natural instincts.


So, yes, you can feed your turtle meat, but only as long as you do so as an occasional treat. Turtles will eat whatever you give them and so you cannot rely on them to be the better judge of what they should or shouldn’t eat.

Make sure that you know what kind of turtle you own before you offer it food such as meat. Other than the food, turtles also require that their tanks, where they spend the majority of their time, are clean. Meat has a tendency to make their tanks a bit dirty so make sure to clean up properly when you offer them meat.

While there is nothing wrong with offering your turtle meat as a snack, there are other options available as well. Make sure to choose the healthier snack to ensure that your turtle is happy and healthy!

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