How To Feed Red Eared Slider Vegetables?

How To Feed Red Eared Slider Vegetables

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

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Many red eared slider owners have a misconception that the red eared sliders should feed on just about anything given to them. But it is highly advised that they should be given a proper diet consisting of proper amounts of vitamins and minerals necessary for their growth.

For this reason, it is very important for the pet owners to feed them ideal quantities of vegetables and make it a daily practice.

This article will guide you to the list of vegetables you can feed to your young and adult Red eared sliders. It also mentions the appropriate ways of feeding them as well as the correct time tables of providing them with food.

So, let’s get started!

Methods To Feed Vegetables To Red Eared Slider Turtles

It is seen that the young and juvenile Red eared slider (RES) turtles are primarily carnivorous and may not tend to eat a lot of vegetables. But once they turn into adults, they become perfectly omnivorous, which means it can eat both vegetables and meat.

RES turtles are generally voracious eaters so they are constantly craving for food. So, to make it a habit for them to intake vegetables daily, it is to be taken care that they are getting the proper amount of nutrients from the vegetables.

Moreover, it is very necessary to provide them an adequate amount of vegetables every day as it directly supports their growth and overall health.

But what to Do If Your Red Eared Slider Doesn’t Eat Vegetables?

There are a few possibilities that you should be aware of to understand it:

  1. The first possible reason might be that your turtle is too young. Baby and juvenile red eared sliders tend to not eat vegetables. When they are at those life stages they are growing a lot faster than adult red eared sliders, and to grow this fast they need a lot of protein that they get from meat. But it doesn’t mean that there is no way you can feed them any vegetable. You can start with small portions of cabbages, red leaf salad, etc. Make sure that you are keeping variety in their diets. Also as they need to be fed continuously at small ages, it will be a wise decision if you maintain the ideal amount of nutrients in their diets by keeping different kinds of vegetables every day.
  2. If you are not confident about how old your turtle is, you can try to identify it either from your nearest turtle shops or from websites that indicate the nature, size and other attributes of RES turtles with pictures. Here’s my article on how to determine turtle age.
  3. The third possibility is that you got a turtle who used to eat only meat, pellets, and other protein diets, and so now it doesn’t want to eat anything else. This might be a situation when you get your RES turtle from the wild. Fortunately, this is a common problem that has a simple solution. You just have to stop feeding your turtle so much meat and pellets and start by replacing it with vegetables. If it still doesn’t eat replace more of its food with vegetables.
  4. Do this for a few days until it starts eating the vegetables. Don’t worry about keeping your turtle starved a little as it is just a begging phase for them to get used to a new diet with tasty vegetables. Moreover, being in the wild there are situations where they are used to go entire months with very little food, and you are not snatching all the food away, you are still giving it the possibility to eat a lot of newer kind of food items.
  5. After a couple of weeks or a month of using these methods, your red eared slider will start eating vegetables soon enough, and in the end, it will also start to enjoy some of them.
See also  Greens To Proteins: A Guide To Feeding Red-Eared Sliders

How Much To Serve?

The amount you will be targeting to feed the little buddy will depend a bit on the individual turtle. Very young and juvenile “RES” turtles need to be fed a lot every day as it is their growing phase. For the adults, care should be taken that they are provided a balanced diet consisting of a good amount of calcium and very less amount of phosphorous.

After owning a pet either from the wild or the pet store, you should never force it to start eating a certain diet. Hatchlings and juveniles need to be fed daily. Adults can be fed at few days intervals. Calcium is really good for all the animals that have bones and since the shell of RES turtles is made of bones, they need to consume a lot of calcium from their diets.

We will get to know more about the healthy nutrients that they need to intake daily from the next section. For now, there are few things to understand regarding how much amount you should feed your RES turtles on daily basis-

  • As a good “rule of thumb,” you can try to feed them as much as they will consume in 15-20 minutes. In this way it will be easier to monitor how much and how fast your turtle eats if you feed in a separate container every time. It is important to offer a variety of food items in their diets. You should not just give your turtle its favorite items to eat since that might make them eat those food items and be habituated to only that food routine.
  • As an optional imperative, another common way is to give meals that are approximately the same size (in total volume) as the turtle’s head and neck. But even after doing all of these you will have to monitor your turtle’s health and body form and adjust if necessary.
  • Some people would like to think that feeding every day is a bit too much. But that is not the right way to approach them. You should keep in mind that even if you are feeding strictly by rules, feeding every two or three days might be too little. It does not mean you force-feed them. You will probably need to adjust the amount you give your turtle. The best guide is to monitor your turtle’s weight and condition weekly, and as the days pass, you will get to know better how much your turtle can eat and how they can stay in good condition.
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Pet Turtle Diet & Feeding Chart

Pet Turtle Diet Feeding Chart

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

Keep These Points In Mind While Feeding Red Eared Sliders

Make sure that the meals are provided in a separate compartment so that the habitat does not get messy. A dirty living place may interfere with their moods to eat ideal amounts of food at the proper time

There are few important things that one should keep in mind while feeding vegetables to their Red eared slider turtles:

  1. Put variations in the diets by making sure that they contain ideal amounts of nutrients per serving.
  2. Feed your turtle every once in a while. The act of chasing and catching its food will exercise your turtle and provide mental stimulation
  3. Wash the vegetables properly before feeding them
  4. Check on their health to see if it is in proper condition.

List Of Vegetables That Are Safe For Red Eared Sliders

While picking their diets, it is very important to give much time in choosing the appropriate items that will provide them a proper ratio of calcium to phosphorus which can be 1:1, 2:1, 5:1, 1:2, etc. A 2:1 ratio is what you should be aiming for as it is an ideal amount. If the ratio goes higher it’s ok, but ideally, this is the ratio that you should be aiming for.

But a 1:2 calcium to phosphorus ratio is really bad, there are not many vegetables with this ratio, so don’t worry too much about them. Just remember that if a vegetable has more potassium than calcium you should keep it away from your turtle.

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Here is a list of vegetables that are safe for the red eared slider turtles:

Name of the vegetable(s)Why it is a good choice
Red and green leaf Lettuce and dark leafs of romaine lettuceContains Vitamin A, C and Calcium
CarrotsContains vitamin A
Yellow or Winter SquashContains vitamin A
Swiss chardContains Potassium, Vitamin C and Calcium
KaleContains Potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Calcium
ParsleyContains Magnesium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Calcium
CloverContains Calcium and Magnesium
Sweet potatoesContains Vitamin A, C and Calcium
SquashContains Vitamin A, C and Potassium
PumpkinContains Vitamin A, C, Magnesium and Calcium
OkraContains Vitamin A, C, Magnesium and Iron
SpinachContains Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin A
Turnip and turnip greensContains Vitamin C , Magnesium and Iron
Mustard greensContains Vitamin A , C , B-6, Magnesium and Iron
EndivesContains Vitamin A , Vitamin C and Magnesium
Green beansContains necessary nutrients for proper growth
Aquatic plants: Submerged plants like “Anacharis” ,water hyacinth, water lettuce, duckweed and Azolla (fairy moss)Contains necessary nutrients for proper growth
WatercressContains Vitamin C
PeasContains Vitamin A
DandelionContains Vitamin A , Vitamin K and Vitamin C
Chickweed and plantain weedContains Calcium ,Vitamin A , B, C etc. and holds up extremely well in comparison to spinach.

List Of Vegetables To Avoid

RES turtles don’t benefit the same way from vegetables as we human beings do. Some of the vitamins and nutrients from vegetables that help people remain healthy have little to no beneficial effect on turtles.

Some vegetables don’t actually harm red eared sliders but they only manage to fill their stomachs. So, it would be better to just give your turtle something else instead. For instance, instead of giving your red eared slider Rhubarbs, you could give it a Greenleaf salad which contains a lot of beneficial nutrients, and most turtles will actually love it.

Moreover, phosphorus is not that great and too much phosphorus can also make the shell of your RES turtle a lot softer, and as a result much weaker when it comes to defending the turtle from predators.

Here is a list of vegetables that are not safe for the red eared slider turtles:

Name of the vegetablesWhy you should avoid it
Head (iceberg) lettuceShould never be fed as it contains very little nutrition
Celerycontains very little nutrition
Chard, Beets, Rhubarbcontains very little nutrition
Beans and Mushroomscontains very little nutrition
Cucumbers, eggplants, and mushroomsdo little to no good for the health of the turtle
CabbageHave goitrogens in them and can cause a deficiency in iodine
Bok ChoyCan cause goiter
Collard Greens
Can cause digestive complications
BroccoliCan cause digestive issues and goiter


From the above discussion, it can be said that fruits and vegetables not only constitute a tasty meal, but also provide all the animals including us with the proper nutrition that we truly require at every age.

For the same cause and benefits, vegetables, as well as fruits of different varieties, should be included in red eared slider turtles’ diet to ensure proper growth and health at every phase of their lives.

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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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