Are Snapping Turtles Carnivores?

Snapping Turtle In Yard

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Many owners mistake snapping turtles for carnivores because of the look and attacking nature. But are snapping turtles really carnivorous? If yes, what type of protein do they like? If not, then what is the ideal feeding guide for these pets?

Snapping turtles are omnivorous species, not carnivorous. So, their diet includes both animal and plant elements. For example, kale, collard greens, leafy vegetables, shrimp, worms, insects, fish, etc. Besides, pellets, supplements, and occasional fruity treats are also a part of the turtle’s meals. 

Get more details on the food habit of snapping turtles from below. 

Snapping Turtle Diet: Carnivorous or Omnivirous Meals?

Yes, snapping turtles may have more carnivorous traits. But in reality, the species are omnivorous, meaning they eat plant and animal matter. Even fruits, pellets, and supplements are also included in the diet list of these pets, like any other turtle.

In short, the main items in a snapping turtle’s meal are,

  • Animal protein 
  • Plant and greens 
  • Fruits 
  • Pellets 
  • Supplements 

Usually, the animal matter occupies a chunk portion (70 – 75%) of the meal. On the contrary, only one-third, or 25 – 30%, of the diet includes plants. Low vegetation and waterborne plants are favorites of snapping turtles.

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Though greens play a significant role in fulfilling mineral and vitamin requirements, they are not enough. The turtles are still at risk of hypovitaminosis. Hence, supplements are mandatory for pet turtles.

Pallets are also safe for snapping turtles if you feed them in moderate portions (20 – 30%). 

Finally, fruits are not a staple for these reptiles. Instead, these sugary items are good as occasional treats to boost the appetite of the snapping turtles. 

Snapping Turtle Safe Food Lists

The food preference of snapping turtles is the same in the wild and in captivity. Of course, you can not manage the wild caught prey for your pets. But I am sure there are nutritious alternatives.

Remember, you can add anything to the turtle diet chart as long as it is safe. Toxic items in the meal will make the turtle suffer from nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

For your convenience, I have added the safe food lists for your pet snapping turtles, 

1. Animal Protein

  • Bird 
  • Carrions 
  • Chopped meat (beef, chicken, turkey)
  • Crayfish 
  • Cricket 
  • Eggs 
  • Eggshells 
  • Flies 
  • Frogs 
  • Geese 
  • Guppies 
  • Insects 
  • Leeches 
  • Liver 
  • Mallard 
  • Mice 
  • Minnows 
  • Organ meat 
  • Rodent 
  • Shrimp 
  • Small fishes
  • Small mammals 
  • Small turtles 
  • Snakes
  • Snail 
  • Spider 
  • Tadpoles 
  • Worms (earthworm, waxworm, mealworm, bloodworm)

2. Plant Matter

  • Algae 
  • Asparagus 
  • Beets 
  • Bog button 
  • Bog moss 
  • Broccoli 
  • Brussel sprout 
  • Carrot 
  • Celery 
  • Chicory 
  • Chinese cabbage 
  • Chickweed 
  • Collard greens 
  • Common arrowhead 
  • Corn 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Dandelion green 
  • Dilweed 
  • Duckweed 
  • Green beans 
  • Hornwort 
  • Java moss 
  • Hydrilla 
  • Kale 
  • Low vegetation 
  • Mermaid weed 
  • Mustard green 
  • Parsley 
  • Peppers 
  • Pumpkin 
  • Red leafy lettuce 
  • Romaine lettuce 
  • Spinach 
  • Sprouts 
  • Sweet potato 
  • Tomatoes 
  • Turnip greens 
  • Yellow pond lily 
  • Water fern 
  • Water hyacinth 
  • Water weed
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3. Fruits 

  • Apple 
  • Apricot 
  • Avocado 
  • Blueberry 
  • Cantaloupe 
  • Coconut 
  • Date 
  • Lemon 
  • Lime 
  • Grape 
  • Guava 
  • Honeydew 
  • Mango 
  • Mulberry 
  • Nectarine 
  • Orange 
  • Peach 
  • Persimmon 
  • Prune 
  • Pomegranate 
  • Raisin 
  • Raspberry 
  • Strawberry 
  • Watermelon

4. Commercial Food

  • Pellets 

5. Supplements

  • Vitamin D
  • Multivitamin 
  • Calcium

Foods To Avoid

Some items may sound safe but are poisonous for snapping turtles. For example, 

  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Eggplants 
  • Cucumber 
  • Mushroom 
  • Processed food
  • Cheese 
  • Dairy products 
  • Dog food 
  • Candy or sweet items 
  • Bread
  • Sausage 
  • Salami 
  • Chips 
  • Pasta 
  • Noodles 
  • High protein food, etc. 

Avoid adding these to the snapping turtle’s meal. Otherwise, your turtle will be at risk of food poisoning and may even choke to death.

What To Feed A Baby Snapping Turtle

What Is The Ideal Feeding Routine For Snapping Turtles?

More than a balanced diet is needed to ensure good health for your snapping turtles. Following a good feeding routine is a must. For example, you must stick to a strict meal quantity and a feeding schedule.

You can determine the right meal quantity for the snapping turtles with either the 15-minute rule or the head method. For the former one, leave the meals in the turtle’s enclosure and allow the pet to eat for 15 minutes.

For the later, fill a container about the size of the turtle’s head if it were empty. Then serve it to the pet.

Snapping turtle’s appetite changes with growing age. At an early age, the species require the most nutrition. Therefore, feed the hatchlings (up to 6 months) daily.

Likewise, every other day feeding routine is perfect for the juveniles (8 – 12 months). If you have an adult snapping turtle, offer it meals every 3 days.

See also  What To Feed A Baby Snapping Turtle? [Diet Guide]

Usually, snapping turtles have the most appetite during the morning and evening. So, choose the feeding hours during these times.

Before You Go

Well, snapping turtles are definitely for beginners. Even the expert keepers sometimes struggle to raise the species. Find a fool-proof care guide for snapping turtles from the article below.

How To Take Care of An Alligator Snapping Turtle 

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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