Feeding Newborn Turtles: DOs & DON’Ts For New Owners

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

Welcoming a newborn turtle into your life is a delightful journey, yet feeding them can be as mystifying as a puzzle.

Every tiny shell has its own dietary demands, from leafy greens to tiny shrimp.

Let’s unravel the mystery of what to feed these charming little companions, ensuring they grow up healthy and content.

Baby giant tortoise and egg on Isabela Island in the Galapagos Islands

read all our guides on baby turtle feeding!

Newborn Turtle’s Dietary Needs & Nutritional Requirement

In my experience with reptile care, newborn turtles exhibit distinct dietary needs based on their species. It’s crucial to provide a balanced diet tailored to these needs, as it is fundamental to their health and the development of a healthy shell.

Feeding Carnivorous Newborn Turtles

Carnivorous newborn turtles require a diet high in protein.

I recommend feeding them live prey such as small fishwormscrickets, and other insects to mimic their natural diet. Providing aquatic species, like fish, allows them to exercise their hunting instincts.

Ensuring a good source of calcium and vitamins, particularly vitamin D3, is essential for their shell growth and overall health. I sometimes use vitamin supplements carefully dosed to prevent deficiencies.

  • Proteins: Fish, meat, worms, crickets, insects.
  • Supplements: Calcium, Vitamin D3.
baby turtle close up
Owner: Cecille Hara-Recanel Cayetuna

Feeding Omnivorous Newborn Turtles

Omnivorous newborn turtles benefit from a variety of foods, combining both animal and plant-based items.

I always aim for a balanced diet that includes proteins such as small fish and insects, as well as vegetables and fruits.

Young turtles may need calcium supplements to aid in shell development. It’s important to finely chop the vegetables and fruits to make them manageable for the tiny turtles.

  • Animal-based proteins: Small fish, insects.
  • Plant-based foods: Lettuce, vegetables, fruits.
  • Supplements: Calcium, Multivitamins.

Feeding Herbivorous Newborn Turtles

I advise owners of herbivorous newborn turtles to focus on a wide range of vegetablesfibrous plants, and a small amount of fruit for their diet. These should be rich in calcium and minerals to foster a healthy shell and prevent pyramiding.

While lettuce is often used, I encourage a mix of leafy greens and other vegetables to provide a full range of nutrients

Calcium supplements may also be necessary, especially if natural sources are limited in the turtle’s diet.

  • Leafy greens: Varied vegetables, fibrous plants.
  • Supplements: Calcium, sometimes Vitamin D3.

Important Feeding Tips For All Newborn Turtles

When it comes to feeding newborn turtles, I prioritize providing a balanced diet, maintaining clean water, and ensuring their habitat is conducive to healthy growth. It’s crucial that I avoid overfeeding, as this can lead to health issues and water quality problems.

Dietary Needs: 

In my experience, newborn turtles thrive on a diet that includes both animal and plant-based foods. I usually start with:

  • Commercial turtle pellets
  • Small, live food such as bloodworms or brine shrimp
  • Chopped leafy greens

I’ve learned that a varied diet is key to providing the range of nutrients they require, especially calcium for shell development.

Habitat and Water Quality: 

A proper tank and filtration system are vital. I always make sure the water is clean and filtered, to prevent the spread of disease. I change the water frequently, which helps in maintaining a hygienic environment for my turtles to feed and grow.

the number one thing that you are going to want to provide your little baby turtle is nice clean water quote

Sunlight and UVB Light: 

I ensure that my turtle habitat has access to sunlight or artificial UVB light, which is essential for vitamin D3 synthesis and, in turn, for calcium metabolism.

Feeding Schedule and Quantity: 

I’ve found that feeding my newborn turtles once a day is sufficient. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and water quality issues due to leftover food.

I give them enough food that they can consume in about 15 minutes, and then I remove any uneaten items to keep the tank clean.

Remembering these tips and observing my turtles closely are how I ensure their dietary needs are met without jeopardizing their habitat or health.

Red eared slider inside tank

Avoid These Common Mistakes While Feeding Newborn Turtles

When I feed newborn turtles, I pay close attention to their delicate dietary requirements. I avoid overfeeding, a common mistake, which can lead to obesity and water quality issues due to uneaten food decomposing in the tank.

Moderation is key. I recommend feeding newborn turtles once a day and observing how much they consume within a few minutes to determine the correct portion size.

It is vital to avoid giving newborn turtles processed foods designed for humans or other pets. Not only are these inappropriate for their dietary needs, but they can also introduce impurities that compromise the health of the turtles.

Young turtles thrive on a varied diet of specially formulated turtle pellets, small insects, and specific leafy greens.

expert quote turtle turtles require specialized equipment, such as filters (power or cansiter filters) and basking areas with heat and uvb lighting

Moreover, I am careful to exclude foods that can be toxic or harmful to turtles. For instance, spinach should not be included in their diet as it can bind calcium and lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Also, starch-heavy foods like bread or potatoes are unsuitable and should never be offered.

I pay close attention to the uneaten food left behind by the turtles, ensuring that their habitat remains clean to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Lastly, I remind fellow turtle enthusiasts that some foods considered healthy for humans, such as avocado or chocolate, can be toxic to turtles and should always be avoided.

By following these guidelines, I help ensure that my newborn turtles grow up healthy, satisfied, and in an optimal environment.

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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