Turtles are, without a doubt, one of the easiest pets to have around. These reptiles can live up to 30 to 40 years, which means they’ll be by your side for a long time. To make things even better is that they are inherently low maintenance pets, so there isn’t a lot of effort you have to put in with them.
However, they do have one major requirement, which is to ensure they have a well-balanced, healthy diet that meets all their nutritional requirements. If you want your turtle to live a long healthy life, you have to know the foods that are safe for them and the foods that are not. Feeding your turtle, the wrong kinds of food will lead to health problems, which can reduce the number of years they spend by your side.
In order to know what food is appropriate for your turtle, you need to know what kind of turtle they are. Turtles can be omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals; they can be carnivores, which means they only eat meat, or be herbivores, which means they only eat plants.
We’re going to discuss food in terms of omnivorous or herbivorous turtles. A major chunk of their diet comes from fruit and vegetables, and so you should know which vegetables are safe for them. Now you would assume that all vegetables are healthy food because we tend to associate a healthy diet with veggies. However, that may hold true for humans, but that might not be the case for our turtles. Turtles vary from humans, and so their tolerance for the elements present in different vegetables also varies.
So, let’s talk about our all-time favorite vegetable: potato. Whether you enjoy this vegetable in the form of French fries or mashed potato or the healthier baked potato, there is no denying how much we consume this vegetable in our daily lives. Since we never seem to run out of this vegetable, it is natural to wonder whether we can offer it to our turtles as well. Read on to find out whether potatoes are a good food choice for our pet turtles.
Other than the fact that this vegetable can be prepared in a variety of yummy ways, potatoes are also rich in health benefits as well.
Potatoes are rich in antioxidants. Our body contains harmful molecules known as free radicals. An accumulation of free radicals leads to chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. The antioxidants present in potatoes help fight these free radicals.
Potatoes are also rich in Vitamins C, which are needed to build a strong immune system and also help rid the body of heavy metals. Similarly, they are also rich in Vitamin B6, which works on converting food into energy.
Potatoes also contain a special kind of starch known as resistant starch. This starch isn’t absorbed completely by the body. Instead, it makes its way to the large intestine, where it provides nutrients to beneficial bacteria in our systems. This is especially important in regulating our blood sugar and in reducing insulin resistance in our system. Resistant starch is also beneficial to our digestive system.
Potatoes are also incredibly filling food. Depending on the way they are cooked, such as baked potatoes, they are also low-calorie food.
So, now that we have established all the reasons why the potato is a great vegetable to have in our diets let’s talk about their role in our turtle’s diet.
Turtles and Vegetables:
Generally, turtles prefer to eat leafy green veggies. These include the likes of kale and mustard greens. So, where do potatoes make their way into this mix?
The good news is potatoes, in particular, sweet potatoes are not only completely safe to be given to turtles but also have a lot of health benefits attached to them.
Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin A. Vitamin A, as it turns out, is especially important for your turtle’s health. Here’s why:
Your turtle needs a plentiful dose of vitamin; otherwise, it will suffer the following health issues:
- Vision problems
- Ear abscesses
- Upper respiratory diseases
- The thickening of the kidney and pancreas duct lining, also known as Squamous metaplasia
- Hypovitaminosis A
If your turtle is suffering from Vitamin A deficiency, the following symptoms will become obvious:
- Swollen red eyes
- Runny nose
- Raw skin or obvious ulcers
- Loss of appetite
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, and so if they are fed once a week to your turtle, it will be a great supplement. They can be given to your turtle, either cooked, boiled, baked, or steamed. Make sure you thoroughly wash them before offering them to your turtle to avoid any possible pesticide remnants on the skin.
Now pay close attention to the fact that we said that sweet potatoes should only be given once a week. There is a reason behind this piece of advice: too much vitamin A can also pave the way for your turtle’s health issues.
To make things tricky is the fact too much or too little of Vitamin A has the same symptoms!
In essence, you need to be super careful about the number of sweet potatoes you feed your turtle.
Knowing what your pet needs to have a well-balanced diet is a part of being a responsible pet parent. Sweet potatoes are a perfect example of how just because a food is healthy does not mean you go overboard with feeding your pet that food. Moderation is a skill every pet owner needs to master.
While sweet potatoes are perfectly safe to be given to your turtle, they are in no way a staple part of your turtle’s diet, and too much can lead to Vitamin A toxicity. Follow the recommended feeding dose, and your turtle will be a happy, healthy camper. Happy feeding, and good luck!