Food for Aquatic Turtles

Red eared sliders and other aquatic species of turtles are easy to feed thanks to a variety of commercial pelleted turtle foods that are widely available. We get different brands donated to the rescue and do not recommend one over another. Whichever type you chose for your turtle, however, make sure it is age and size appropriate, as a turtle’s nutrition needs change over time.

  • Hatchling food is intended for baby turtles from the time they hatch until they are six to eight months old. Hatchling food is high in protein, fat, and calcium and is intended to support rapid growth. Hatchling food is very small and is sometimes called baby turtle food.
  • Juvenile food is for turtles up to four inches long and probably says “growth” somewhere on the label. Juvenile food is larger than the tiny hatchling pellets but is not too big for young turtles to swallow. The growth formulas are still high in protein, fat, and calcium, although not as high as the hatchling formula.
  • Adult, or maintenance, food, is appropriate for turtles over four inches long and can be used throughout a turtle’s adult life. The amount of protein and fat is reduced because the turtle’s growth rate is much slower as they age. Good adult turtle food should be fortified with calcium and other vitamins and minerals, especially if your turtle lives indoors.
  • Large or jumbo adult food is intended for older female turtles or large aquatic species who prefer a larger pellet size.
handful of chopped greens and grated carrot for turtles

Dandelion greens, swiss chard, and shredded carrots is one of our rescue turtles’ favorite veggie combos.

As they age, your turtle will be healthiest when provided fresh greens and vegetables in addition to pellets. Safe and healthy greens that our turtles enjoy include:

  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Red leaf lettuce
  • Swiss chard
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion greens
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Bok choy
  • Romaine (the least desirable but most readily available)

Other vegetables you can offer occasionally are:

  • Grated carrots
  • Grated squash
  • Sliced sweet potato
  • Green beans

If you are interested in keeping a turtle pet, please visit our adoption page for a care sheet, which includes all the housing and food basics, and to meet our adoptable red eared sliders.