Is Milk Good For A Turtle?

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

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Well, it is no secret that milk is a rich source of calcium. Over time, we have also learned that turtles need calcium for bone and shell growth. So, shouldn’t we offer our turtles milk every day? Will milk be a good option for these pets?

Milk or dairy products are not safe for turtles. These reptiles have sensitive stomachs, and their digestive systems do not carry enzymes to break down lactose. Hence, turtles can not absorb calcium or vitamin D from milk. Making these pets drink milk will cause them an upset stomach.

If not milk, then how will the turtles fulfill their calcium requirements? Find out below.

Key Takeaways

  • Turtles can not drink milk. Also, no dairy product is safe for them.
  • Add supplements to the turtle meals to back up the calcium deficiency.
  • Also, UV light should be installed in the turtle enclosure to promote vitamin D3 production and calcium absorption.
baby turtle close up
Owner: Cecille Hara-Recanel Cayetuna

Can Your Turtles Drink Milk?

You have seen turtles drink water. So, yes, turtles can drink milk. But is that good for them? The straightforward answer is no!

See, we humans have a digestive system entirely different from turtles and reptiles. Specific enzymes are present in our bodies to break down milk and dairy items. But a turtle’s digestive system lacks these enzymes.

As a result, turtles neither lactate nor digest milk. Even if you force the creatures to drink this calcium-rich liquid, they will not benefit from it.

Well, a small amount of milk causes nothing to the turtles. However, a large quantity of milk or dairy products will make the pets sick.

They will suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach irritation.

In short, turtles do not lactate and can not endure milk or dairy products.

What Are The Alternatives To Milk For Turtles?

Milk is of no use to turtles if they can not extract calcium or vitamin D3 from it. Right? On top of that, why would you go for milk when it hurts their tummy?

I know you are worried about their mineral requirements. But remember, milk was never on any turtle diet chart. Instead, you have to look for other sources to back up their calcium and vitamin D levels.

A rich diet is definitely important to provide turtles with minerals. But the meals are not enough. So, you must add supplements to the diet and make other arrangements to beat mineral deficiency.

Here is how you can do it.

Owner: Cecille Hara-Recanel Cayetuna

1. Add Calcium Supplement To Turtle’s Meal

The best way to tackle calcium deficiency in turtles is to feed them supplements. Calcium is available in different forms. For example,

Calcium Powder:

Most owners choose calcium powders because they are the easiest to offer. Just sprinkle the supplement on the meal, pour a few drops of water, and mix. There you go! The meal is ready.


These are dead cuttlefish bones. You need to scrape off the hard shell of the cuttlebones before offering them to the turtles. Water will soften the bone, and turtles will nibble off the calcium whenever they want. It also prevents their beaks from overgrowing.

Calcium Blocks:

Some turtles hate the bland taste of cuttlebones. You can go for calcium blocks in such cases. The blocks will dissolve into water and release calcium. Turtles will absorb the minerals while drinking water.

You can select any of the supplements mentioned above.

One more thing. Do not overdo calcium in a turtle’s meal. Generally, calcium supplementation is considered healthy thrice a week.

2. Offer A Calcium Rich Diet

Just do not select any safe foods for your turtle’s meal. Instead, go through their nutritional values first. Add the items only when you see a balanced mineral profile.

Some natural rich sources of calcium are,

  • Feeder Fish (Guppies, shrines, crappies, bluegills, platies, medakas, mosquitofish, bass, etc.)
  • Krill, shrimp, crayfish
  • Worms, insects, and invertebrates (Roaches, grasshoppers, cockroaches, earthworms, mealworms, etc. Never feed the turtles wild-caught insects or worms.)
  • Green leafy vegetables (Kale, spinach, collard green, cabbage, endive, rocket, dandelion, etc.

Only include vegetables with a calcium and phosphorus ratio of 1:1. The high phosphorus can prevent calcium absorption.)

3. Install A UV Light

You can not deny the significance of UV light in a turtle’s health. If you want your reptiles to thrive and beat calcium deficiency, UVB exposures are a must.

See, turtles require vitamin D3 to absorb calcium. What if there is not enough calcium in their system? Well, all these supplements will go to waste.

Yes, turtles receive vitamin D3 from their diet. But they require more than that. To trigger vitamin D3 production, you need to add a UV light to the turtle’s enclosure.

UVB rays influence vitamin D3 production, which leads to calcium absorption. As a result, your turtles will grow strong structures and immunity.

The sun is enough to provide the turtles with UVB rays outdoors, but artificial light is mandatory for indoor setups.

There are certain things to remember when buying a UV light for turtles. The UV percentage of the bulbs should be within 2.5 to 5. You need to readjust the setup height if you go with a higher UV percentage.

Install the 2.5% UV and 5% UV bulbs 12 and 18 inches from the dock. For a thorough guideline, follow this article.

red eared slider closeup
Owner: Heather Powell

What Should A Turtle Drink?

Who said a turtle needs a funky drink? The water is enough for turtles.

I know many of you think turtles do not drink water. But that is just not right. Turtles need water as much as any other animal. In fact, insufficient water intake can lead to death in these reptiles.

Some owners try to experiment by offering their turtles juices. Well, your turtles will not resist when you feed them anything, but such irregularity will definitely backfire.

Stay away from commercial or homemade fresh juice. While store-bought juices include preservatives, fruit juices are high in sugar.

As I have already mentioned, turtles have a sensitive digestive system. They can not process high sugar and eventually will fall sick.

Can Turtles Eat Cheese?

Cheese is made of milk. I have cleared that turtles can not process milk or any dairy product.

One or two bites at the cheese may not harm the turtles. But when the pets finish a cheese cube, they will fall severely ill.

The turtles will suffer from stomach irritation, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Before You Go…

So, it is clear that turtles can not drink milk. But is there any human food that you can share with your little friends? Surprisingly, yes! You will find the entire list in the attached article below.

What Human Foods Can Turtles Eat? [Food Chart]

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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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