There are a number of things to consider in deciding how
much to feed your pet turtle, here are some of them:
What is your Turtle's activity Level?
Is your turtle an active species, or one that spends most of
its time hiding in its hiding place or resting on the bottom
of the water? The more active your turtle or tortoise is,
the more food it will require for its size.
Does your Pet Turtle live Indoors or Outdoors?
A turtle or tortoise in an indoor vivarium will get less
exercise and be exposed to fewer extremes of heat and
cooling, and so probably will not need the quantity of food
it might need in a larger outdoor enclosure.
Is Your Turtle's Species Herbivore, Omnivore, or Carnivore?
A herbivore will need a substantially larger amount of food
and will need to eat more often than the same size
carnivorous turtle, since one ounce of plant material has
many fewer calories than one ounce of meat. An omnivore will
be somewhere between the two extremes.
Be aware that turtles are great beggars, like dogs, and you
can't let most turtles eat all they want or they will become
obese and damage their health. Also many turtles, especially
box turtles, will choose a particular food or foods and are
often reluctant to eat anything else. But, turtles and
tortoises need a varied diet in order to grow properly and
stay healthy, so be sure to give your turtle as many of the
different foods recommended for its species as you can.
Here are some example meals for pet turtles:
For young turtles, a good way to measure is to give the
turtle a quantity of food about the size of its head, and
feed it twice a day. If your turtle is an omnivorous water
turtle, for example, in the morning of a certain day you
might feed it live plants and a small feeder fish or chopped
earthworm, and commercial turtle food with aquatic snails or
small crickets in the afternoon. You might also keep edible
live plants in its tank so it can snack as it wants.
(Suggestion: Remember that water turtles need to eat in the
water, so setting up a different tank just for feeding will
help you keep its real home clean.)
Older turtles, including tortoises, can be fed smaller meals
daily, but most keepers feed them every other day. Put the
turtle into a separate feeder tank to help keep its home
tank clean. Many turtle keepers suggest that you watch and
feed only as much as the turtle will finish in about five
You might feed an adult American Box Turtle,
for example, on
Monday, a yummy salad of an edible mushroom, two chopped
grapes, a dandelion flower, and some chopped earthworm, with
a dressing of calcium powder on top. On Wednesday, you might
serve it a strawberry, some commercial turtle chow, and a
turnip leaf. You can use your own imagination for Friday...
If your turtle is, for example, an adult
water turtle, you might
feed it an earthworm, about the same
amount of commercial turtle pellets, and about twice that
amount of greens, carrot tops, green beans or the like, and
keep some water hyacinth and duck weed in its main tank so
it can get its own midnight snacks.
The best way to know exactly how much to feed your turtle is
to carefully record what you feed your turtle, when you feed
it, how much it eats, and its weight for a few months. If it
is a young turtle, it should slowly gain weight. If it is a
healthy adult turtle, just watch for loss or gain and adjust
the food volumes accordingly.