Diet Of A Painted Turtle In Captivity [Everything You Need To Know]

Diet Of A Painted Turtle In Captivity

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

Are you wondering about what is the right food to offer to you painted turtle? Here I will try to give you a complete guideline about the diet of a painted turtle in captivity.

In the wild, they roam in a vast area to find or to prey food by burning a lot of calories. In contrast in captivity, they will never get that big area to roam but they will get abandon of food. You should feed them according to their age. Always remember not to overfeed them. Always make sure they are having a balanced diet.

A poor diet can trigger many health issues. The wellbeing and lifespan of a captive painted turtle depend on diet and light. Diet is the most important thing for any captive animal for keeping a healthy life.

There are people who think pets are just a hobby. Some of us buy a pet as a toy to our kids to have fun with them. Always remember while keeping a pet, you are keeping an animal who got a heart.  The heart pounds blood like us. They are our responsibility.

Painted turtles are omnivores. Baby to juveniles prefers to eat meat. After growing up they start to have different aquatic vegetables. Gradually as an adult, they eat both meat and vegetables.

How Often Do Painted Turtles Eat?

  • Remember in the wild they have got a lot of variety of food. In captivity, they have no choice. They are your responsibility. Always try to get the right knowledge about how and when to feed your painted turtle.
  • Like other species of this planet painted turtles eat according to their age. A baby painted turtle eat more frequent than an adult painted turtle. Try to provide two servings of food to your hatchling or a juvenile painted turtle. Let them eat for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • As the painted grow up they eat less frequent. You should offer food to an adult painted turtle in every other day. If you find that your turtle has become fat, try to offer food in two or three days interval. It will be a good idea to consult with a vet every time you take a major decision for your painted turtle.

What To Feed Your Painted Turtle?

Painted turtles are omnivorous. They eat a wide variety of food. Insect, chicken, or fish you can offer them. You can give them a wide range of vegetables and fruits too. Pellets are there as well for them. It is better to include everything in their diet. Only pellet diet is not recommended. Offer pellet those are leveled with turtle pellet, not reptile pellet.

Painted turtle can eat a wide variety of food. Just keep one thing in mind, don’t offer them cooked or baked food that is prepared for human. For example, Bread, we eat every day. It will not be wise to give bread to our companion turtle.

The stomach of the painted turtle can’t produce the adequate enzyme to break down the food for digesting. Try to offer food that is normal for them. Here goes the list of the preferred food for painted turtle-

  • Different Fishes
  • Bugs, Worms, and Insects
  • Cooked chicken or other meat
  • Snakes
  • Fruits
  • Snails
  • Vegetables
  • Meat of Frogs
  • Small lizards
  • Different Water plants
  • Pellets

Pet Turtle Diet & Feeding Chart

Pet Turtle Diet Feeding Chart

For a printable version of this amazing diet chart, click here!

Foods That Are Not Recommended for the Painted Turtle

Yes, it is true that you can offer a wide variety of food to your painted turtle, but that does not mean you can give anything to feed them. Food that we already know that is healthy but unbelievably that can be a great NO NO for the painted turtle.

For example, spinach! Spinach prevents calcium absorption which can be fatal for turtles. You should avoid giving spinach to your painted turtle.

Here I am going to give you the list of food that should be avoided-

  • Chives
  • Spinach
  • Parsley
  • Blackberries
  • Amaranth
  • String Beans
  • Avocado
  • Purslane
  • Rhubarb
  • Nuts
  • Cassava
  • Raw meat
  • Goldfishes
  • Citric fruit
  • Dairy product
  • All fruit seed
  • onion and garlic
  • Canned and processed food
  • Food with a high amount of salt and sugar
  • Food with preservatives

Diet for a Baby Painted Turtle

The baby painted turtle grows fast. They need more protein than vegetables. The interesting thing is, you don’t need to force them to eat more protein than vegetables. Naturally, baby turtles like to eat meat. Actually, baby turtles are carnivores. They start eating fruits and vegetables as they grow up.

Diet for Adult Painted Turtle

After the age of 7 years, you can consider a painted turtle adult. An adult painted turtle doesn’t need food every day. Provide food in every other day or after two days according to the turtle’s weight and need. It is best to consult with a vet to set the diet plan.

Why Won’t My Painted Turtle Eat?

The great concern arises if a painted turtle refuses to eat. Most of the time there is no big trouble behind it. Few things you need to check and evaluate to make your turtle eat again.

Check temperature and light

  • The overall wellbeing of a captive painted turtle depends on the temperature and light first. Imbalance of these two can lead to sickness and lower appetite of your turtle.
  • Generally, turtles refuse to eat if the temperature is low. Check the temperature at the very first time if you find that your painted turtle refusing to eat. Maintain the temperature between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit to keep your turtle healthy.
  • Providing UV-A and UV-B light is a must to your painted turtle to keep a healthy appetite. provide UVA and UVB light at least 12 hours to your painted turtle. Keep them in darkness in 12 hours too.

Check if the painted turtle is keeping well

  • If you got the right temperature and light for your turtle, the next thing you have to check is a sign of illness.
  • Respiratory problem is very common in the captive painted turtle. Look for symptoms like sneezing, trouble breathing, or lack of movement.
  • Vitamin A deficiency is another common problem in the painted turtle. vitamin A deficiency cause patchy white discoloration on the shell. Vitamin A deficiency causes a respiratory problem as well.
  • If your turtle is not pooping regularly, s/he might be constipated. Constipation cause reduced appetite in turtles.
  • You turtle can get eye problem as well and that is also linked to not eating.
  • If you suspect that your turtle has caught illness rush to vet. A vet will fix any health trouble very easily.

Preparing for hibernation cause lower appetite too

  • If it is winter and your turtle is refusing food, s/he may want to go to hibernation. Hibernation is extremely stressful for the turtle. In the wild many young turtles does not survive after hibernation.
  • Ask your vet whether your painted turtle is ready for hibernation or not. If the decision is yes reduce the temperature gradually every day. Never keep the temperature below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • 10 weeks period will be enough for hibernation in the captive painted turtle. Increase the temperature gradually again after 10 weeks as per the vet’s suggestion.

Tips for Making Your Painted Turtle Eat

  • Provide a living bug or worm. Turtles get easily attracted to a living thing, as they move and got odor that turtles like. Always be careful about collecting earthworm. The field can be contaminated with different pesticide or harmful chemical. The safest option is to buy them from bait-store.
  • Your turtle may not like the dry texture of pellets. You can soak them in fruit juice or you can put them in the tuna water. You can crush them into small pieces and mix some living food with it.
  • Try to provide bright colored food like strawberry or mangoes. Vegetables are more beneficial than fruit. To encourage eating a vegetable you can soak the vegetable in fish water like tuna water.
  • Don’t give the same food every day. Never depend on pellet diet only. Many of us make pellet main food for turtles. That is not right. Try to offer different food every day. Try to understand the tempo of your turtle.

Using Supplement

  • Calcium is a very important part of the painted turtle’s diet. it is necessary to use calcium supplements in their food.
  • You can sprinkle calcium on their food or simply you can put cuttlefish bone to eat whenever they want.
  • Try to give them turtle multivitamin twice a week.

What does painted turtle eat in the wild?

In the wild, the food source is abandoned. They roam around and eat whatever they like. They snatch away food from the mouth of another turtle. In the lakes, ponds or even on the rivers there are a lot of water plants. Where ever there are plants there are insects as well. I have already mentioned that painted turtles are omnivores.

They eat living insects or worm from the water. Painter turtles also eat vegetables from water too. They eat fishes as well if they can catch any of them.

Can painted turtle eat fruit?

You can serve fruit to your painted turtle. There is no problem. Fruit like berry, apple or banana is fine to feed your painted turtle. Just don’t offer citrus fruit like orange or grapefruits. The stomach of the painted turtle can’t tolerate citrus fruit because of the citric acid. Fruits that are high in potassium are not good for the painted turtle.

List of Fruits and Vegetables: Good or Bad for turtles

KeleGood for them
StrawberriesIn moderation
CarrotGood for them
OrangesAs a treat, in moderation
GrapesAs a treat
AppleGood for them
BeetsGood for them


I tried hard to let you know about the diet of a painted turtle in captivity. Hoping that you can help your painted turtle to have a healthy life. To sum up, handle your turtles with love, they will feel safe and secure. Provide protein along with veggie or fruit to your painted turtle. Don’t delay visiting the vet when it is necessary.

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.


This site is owned and operated by Muntaseer Rahman. TheTurtleHub.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.