What do wild turtles eat in ponds

Subject turtle food - what do turtles eat?

Aquatic turtles are pretty high on the pet's popularity list. Above all, it is about the genus ornamental turtles (Chrysemis), which comes from the North American continent, but also about silver turtles (Pseudemys or Trachemys) and mute turtles (Graptemys). In the following, we will mainly concentrate on keeping ornamental turtles and point out the special features of the other aquatic turtle genera.

Water turtles are fascinating

The reptiles are entertaining, easy to care for and, if kept appropriately, extremely durable. The ornamental turtles are suitable as pets for all ages - from elementary school children to senior citizens. The turtles, however, represent certain Requirements for the housing conditions. In this guide, we are only marginally concerned with the general problems of caring for a turtle. Rather, the focus is on providing food for these pets.

On the one hand, we would like to inform you how an optimal feeding schedule for an ornamental turtle, and the other most popular feed introduce individually. If you follow our advice, the turtle will thank you with a long and healthy life.

Ornamental turtles - neat North Americans as friendly pets

Most of our aquatic turtles, including ornamental turtles, silver turtles and mute turtles, belong to the New World pond turtles family and are at home all over the North American continent.

The ornamental turtles, for example, are in depending on their areas of origin

  • Eastern,
  • Mediterranean,
  • Southern and
  • Western ornamental turtles

subdivided. There are mainly external differences between the regional subspecies, but there are also some differences in eating habits or, for example, the duration of winter rigor.

Note: You will find a large selection of turtle food in our shop. Bachflohkrebse.de has specialized in a high-quality and selected range of food for turtles for more than 10 years. Just have a look:

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Keeping turtles - set up an aquaterrarium

The turtles spend most of their lives in their element, namely in the water. There they look for food and hunt their prey, in the water they find their partners and mate. It goes without saying that an ornamental turtle's artificial habitat should not be without water. The turtles have no problems with deep water either. However, a turtle always goes ashore to warm up and dry off.

That is why it is essential to be in a pool with turtles a piece of land or a sunny island (To the swimming islands for turtles), where the reptiles should have enough space to rest. When setting up the land section, you have the choice between several options, including a floating element made of cork, a large root protruding from the water or an elaborately built land section made of stones and sand.

tip: The land section should be so large that all turtles living in the aquaterrarium would have space there at the same time and would feel completely free - even from below! - can dry off.

A basin in which a water and a land part can be found is called an aquaterrarium. The name Paludarium can often be found.

The aquaterrarium and especially the sunny island should be illuminated intensively. Metal halide lamps, preferably those with a UV component in the light spectrum, impress with their high luminous efficacy and are therefore ideal for illuminating the land area.

When planting the aquaterrarium, however, one should proceed rather cautiously, since most ornamental turtles are aquatic plants "like to eat". Vigorous mother plants from the genus Echinodorus will usually thrive in a turtle paludarium. Otherwise, living plants must be placed out of the reach of turtles or replaced with indestructible artificial plants.

The pool also has a powerful filter, ideally an external filter, and a heating element for the water.

The maintenance of an aquaterrarium mainly consists of regular cleaning, whereby the excretions of the turtles can also be removed manually with a landing net.

The daily work in the paludarium includes, of course, feeding the animals. We want to devote ourselves to this aspect of care in the following.

Turtles in the wild - day in and day out foraging

A turtle may appear slow at first glance and give the impression that it is spending its time sunbathing, but actually the reptile is almost always on the lookout for something to eat. In its element, the rather clumsy turtles move rather nimble and fast on land. Most aquatic turtles, especially the ornamental and ear turtles, are omnivorous, that is, these animals need both vegetable and animal food.

However, the relative weight of animal and vegetable proteins varies depending on the species of turtle and the age of the turtle. The daily ration of ornamental and silver turtles is average 50 - 60 percent from plant-based food, while the mute turtles are designated carnivores and on their diet 80 to 90 percent of small organisms stand. The natural food of the turtles is almost exclusively of aquatic origin and is often taken in the water.

Note: While young animals love to hunt and feed mainly on protein-rich, growth-promoting animal food, the proportion of vegetable food increases continuously over the years, without, of course, completely displacing animal food.

The omnivorous turtles mainly eat aquatic plants that they find in their waters. Their prey primarily includes invertebrates, water worms and insect larvae. Small fish and fry are also considered prey. But insects that were unlucky to fall into the water are also eaten with pleasure.

Interesting: Hundreds, if not thousands, of plant and animal species are on the menu of turtles. The diet of the ornamental turtles and other aquatic turtle genera and species is therefore extremely varied. This versatility benefits the turtle's organism, but it is not a conscious decision, but rather vital in view of the food shortage and shows the reptiles' high flexibility. No wonder the turtles have populated our earth for millions of years.

The most important feeding rules in the aquaterrarium

Silkworms are ideal as additional feed

The range of natural food of turtles is so wide that it cannot be adhered to when keeping it in an aquaterrarium. However, there is a good chance of feeding the ornamental turtles & Co. in a species-appropriate manner, even under domestic conditions.

In order to feed the turtles healthily and avoid any digestive problems, the following rules must be strictly observed:

  1. Vegetable food should be given every day;
  2. Animal diet is to be fed four to five times a week, once or twice a day;
  3. There is a need for variety. Dry food alone is not enough for a healthy diet;
  4. Always have several types of feed animals in stock;
  5. Turtles need time to deal with their serving. For hygienic reasons, put away what has not been eaten after an hour;
  6. Do not feed too much, the volume of animal food per feed addition corresponds approximately to the size of the head of the turtle;
  7. Only give fresh food, turtles are not scavengers and are also sensitive to spoiled food.

Plant-based foods for turtles - Aquatic plants are your best choice

Ornamental turtles and other aquatic turtles need plant foods every day. This should be available in sufficient quantities, because the animals do not overeat with it.

Fruits and vegetables are not suitable foods for turtles. The animals get serious stomach problems from this diet.

Various aquatic plants, but also some wild grasses, are best suited for the natural nutrition of turtles.

Forage plants for turtles at a glance

  • Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum). An undemanding, finely feathered aquatic plant that can be found in almost every aquarium. Since the hornwort is a fast-growing plant, it is not a problem to provide for the food replenishment;
  • Mermaid (Well conferta). Another delicate, fast-growing aquatic plant that does not make high demands on its care and forms up to 70 centimeters long stems;
  • Waterweed (Elodea). A frugal aquatic plant with small rounded leaves that thrives submerged.
  • Frog bite (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae), a small, bright green floating plant. Maintained for shade in fish aquariums, frog bite is one of the favorite food plants of turtles;
  • Pond liver moss (Riccia fluitans). This plant species, which remains small, can be cared for as a floating plant or anchored in the ground.
  • Shell flower (Pistia stratiotes), also called water salad. Another floating plant that can grow up to six inches wide. The plant reproduces very quickly in the aquarium through the formation of runners. However, maintaining the mussel flower over a longer period of time is not necessarily easy;
  • Water lilies (Nymphaea). The water lilies are one of the most popular pond plants. While their roots are anchored in the ground, the leaves and flowers float on the surface. Water turtles love everything about water lilies and like to eat leaves and pretty flowers.
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum sect. Ruderalia) is one of the wild herbs that turtles not only taste good, but are also good for the animals. In this plant, too, both the leaves and the flowers are eaten;
  • Chickweed (Stellaria media). Another weed that is well suited as a food plant for ornamental turtles and other omnivorous turtles.
  • Romana lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. Longifolia) may be fed to turtles in moderation. Most other types of lettuce should be administered with even greater caution.

Finally, on plant feeding for turtles, the following should be noted:

  1. Plants of aquatic origin are clearly preferable to all other plants;
  2. Get aquatic plants only from well-stocked specialist shops, online or offline;
  3. If possible, wild herbs should either be grown in your own garden or on the windowsill, or collected from streets far away from traffic.
  4. Only buy lettuce from the health food store, guaranteed to be free of harmful substances and toxins;
  5. Wash all plants thoroughly before feeding, water plants may even water for a few hours to rinse out any fertilizer residues.

In order to save on the purchase of aquatic plants, you can fill a smaller tank (from 54 liters, depending on the number of your turtles) densely with aquatic plants. In-vitro plants are usually the cheapest option if you have patience and give the initially thin plants enough time to develop. After that it is only important - to cut the plants regularly and to feed the cut to turtles.

Ready-made feed - yes, but ...

Turtle sticks for water turtles

In every pet shop and also with us Ready-made food for turtles in the form of pellets and sticks available. It is an extruded feed made from vegetable and animal ingredients (in different proportions) under the influence of high temperatures. In principle, ready-made food for turtles is far better than its reputation, because modern types of food are made from a large number of high-quality ingredients, so that they successfully simulate a versatile diet.

However, we advise against providing the ornamental turtles and other turtle species with the complete food (sticks and pellets). Compared to a natural diet, the finished feed usually contains too little dietary fiber and minerals, which are necessary for properly functioning digestion and for the structure of the shell. The complete feed also usually contains too many proteins, which puts an excessive strain on the turtle's organism.

tip: Our recommendation - do not exclusively use finished feed.

Food animals - nutrition like in the wild

Small organisms, including invertebrates, smaller fish species, worms and larvae, play a role that can hardly be overestimated in the nutrition of turtles, since the daily ration of a turtle consists of between 25 and 90 percent animal food.

We offer small creatures in three forms:

Thanks to today's preparation methods like Flash freezing or sublimation drying (Freeze-drying) most of the nutrients and vital substances are retained in the feed, so that there are no serious differences in quality between frozen and dry feed and live feed.

The following small creatures are available as food animals for turtles

  • River flea shrimp (Gammarus pulex and Gammarus fossarum). These small (1.5 to 2.5 centimeters) river and brook crabs are an important link in the aquatic food chain and serve as food for many fish and other water dwellers. Like most crustaceans, the river fleas also contain the carotenoid astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant and a natural dye that makes red and pink tones more prominent. In addition, the Gammarus feed contains numerous dietary fibers and minerals;
  • Crickets and grasshoppers. With around 20 percent protein and 12 percent fat, it is a nutritious food, but after buying it in a pet shop, you can usually feed it with fish food and wild herbs for a few days.
  • Mysis and other types of shrimp. Food prawns are welcome to the turtles as live, dry and frozen food. Just like other crustaceans, shrimp provide the turtle's body with carotenoids, fiber and minerals. All invertebrates are also rich in easily digestible proteins and do not contain too much fat.
  • Mosquito larvae. The larvae of the dancing mosquitoes, tufts or mosquitoes are popular ornamental fish food and are available as red, white and black mosquito larvae, respectively. This food is particularly suitable for rearing hatchlings and young turtles. Thanks to their size, which rarely exceeds one centimeter, the mosquito larvae are a bite-sized treat for turtles of all ages. The feed animals are rich in protein (for example, the red mosquito larvae contain around 50 percent protein), easy to use and tasty,
  • Mealworms. The mealworm larvae, known as mealworms, are a real delicacy for turtles. With 50 percent protein content, mealworms are not only rich in protein, but also an excellent source of energy with a fat content of over 30 percent. However, the mealworms should be fed extremely sparingly due to the risk of obesity. By the way: It's not that difficult to start a small mealworm cultivation. You can find out how to do this from our guide.
  • Worms. The earthworms are usually really popular with the turtles, this food is rich in protein and not too greasy. Note: Earthworms are beneficial insects, so please only feed them rarely.
  • The by-product of sericulture, silkworm pupae are very popular as a nutritious food. A silkworm soup is a dead cocoon of the silk moth in which the silk threads have already been unwound. What remains are mainly the remains of the pupated caterpillar. Like mealworms, silkworm pupae are rich in protein (51 percent protein) and fatty (28 percent fat), but not particularly rich in fiber or minerals. Most ornamental turtles and other aquatic turtles like the food, but it should be strictly rationed and given no more than once a week or even less.
  • European smelt. These food fish are available in sizes between three and five centimeters and are therefore suitable for feeding turtles. Smelts are available as dry food as well as frozen. Smelts contain up to 60 percent protein and around six percent fat, so it is a nutritious, but not too greasy food. In addition, since smelts are sold with bones and scales, these food animals provide the turtles with minerals and fiber.
  • Tubifex or river tube worms. These narrow worms, up to eight centimeters in size, are not too nutritious with up to ten percent protein content and are also rather poor food with around three percent fat content. When buying Tubifex, it is essential to pay attention to the origin, because these small creatures do not have high demands the water quality and even survive in sewer pipes.
  • This food is also rich in protein and is always available in stores.
  • Water turtles may be fed with snails, whereby the snail shell must be cracked before feeding. It should be noted that some species of snail, such as the Roman snail, are beneficial insects and are protected by species.

Finally, a few thoughts

Water turtles are interesting to watch and at the same time calm. Even suitable for beginners, these animals require their owner to have a certain amount of prior knowledge and sensitivity when caring for them. Please don't make it too easy for yourself and make sure you feed the turtles as varied as possible! Before getting a water turtle, keep in mind that the reptiles are between 8 and 40 inches in shell length and are quite durable - a water turtle can live up to 50 years.

Your online shop, bachflohkrebse.de, wishes you good luck with your pet. We always have suitable food for your turtle in stock!

You will find a large selection of turtle food in our shop. Bachflohkrebse.de has specialized in a high-quality and selected range of food for turtles for more than 10 years. Just have a look:

To turtle food >>

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River flea shrimp