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    What Do Turtles Eat/Turtles are omnivores but hawksbill turtles prefer to eat sea sponges and leatherbacks prefer jellyfish.What Do Sea Turtles Eat?

     What Do Turtles Eat

    What Do Turtles Eat

    Turtles are aquatic animals. Sea turtles live in salt water of the oceans and seas and the fresh water turtles live in fresh water of ponds, lakes etc. The turtle’s food habit is depended on their species, the structure of their jaws, their habitats and the food sources availability.

    Where Do Turtles Live

    Turtles are omnivores but hawksbill turtles prefer to eat sea sponges and leatherbacks prefer jellyfish. As turtles are omnivore, turtles eat aquatic animals and vegetation as well as fruits, vegetables, leaves, grass, worms, insects, small land animals like mice, frog, snails etc.

    What Do Sea Turtles Eat?

    What Do Turtles Eat

    There are seven different species of sea turtles are found from the Indian Ocean to the colourful reefs of the Coral Triangle and also the sandy beaches of Eastern Pacific. The seven species are:-

    ·       Loggerhead turtle

    ·       Green turtle

    ·       Hawksbill turtle

    ·       Leatherbacks turtle

    ·       Flatback turtle

    ·       Kemp’s ridley turtle

    ·       Olive ridley turtle

    1.   Loggerhead Turtle

    Loggerhead Turtles are mainly carnivores. They have strong jaws that help them to crush the conches, bivalves, horseshoe crabs and other hard-shelled preys, which are their favourite food items. They also catch jellyfish, shrimps, fish, sponges etc. to eat. Although, sometimes the loggerhead turtles eat seaweed and sargassum.

    2.  Green Turtle

    Green turtle is omnivores but adults eat only plants so they can be called herbivores. The adult turtles eat sea grasses, seaweed, algae. Green turtles have serrated beaks that help them to tear grasses and seaweeds and also scrape algae off rocks. Juvenile green turtles eat invertebrates like crabs, sponges, and jellyfish.

    3. Hawksbill Turtle

    What Do Turtles Eat

    Hawksbill turtles like to eat sea sponges but they are omnivores. Hawksbill turtles are found near coral reefs because their favourite food sea sponges are found there. Sea sponges which make the turtle’s 70% to 95% of diet. However, they do not eat all species of sea sponges, they prefer to eat only selected species such as as Aaptos aaptosChondrilla nuculaTethya actinia, Spheciospongia vesparium which is commonly known as loggerhead sponge and Suberites domuncula

    As they are omnivores, Hawksbill turtle eat small fish, jellyfish, marine algae, mollusks, sea urchins crustaceans. Their unique beak-like mouths and sharp beaks help them to reach into small holes and cracks in coral reefs to find their food. Their beaks help them to crush, bite and tear the food. In a year, Hawksbill turtles eat an average of 1200 pounds of sponges. Some of the sponges and sea animals which are eaten by Hawksbill turtle are toxic but the body fat of the turtle absorbs the toxins without making them ill but meat of the turtle is poisonous to humans.

    4.    Leatherback Turtle

    What Do Turtles Eat

    The leatherback turtle is the most unique turtle. They have no body shell. Their carapace has a smooth, leathery skin that covers a flexible matrix of bone. Leatherback turtle eat mainly jellyfish or gelatinous prey so they are also referred to as gelatinivores. This turtle eats invertebrates from the water such as sea squirts and tunicates as well as fish, crustaceans, seaweeds. They have sharp, backward pointing spines, one on the upper jaw and one on the lower, jaw that help them to pierce, swallow the jellyfish and prevent the prey from escaping from their mouth.

    Leatherback turtles prefer to eat jellyfish. When they see plastic bags floating on the water, they are attracted to them, resemble jellyfish and eat plastic bags that often kill them.

    5.  Flatback Turtle

    Flatback turtle is omnivores and can eat sea cucumber, mollusks, bryozoans, jellyfish, prawns and other invertebrates. Flatback turtles also eat seaweeds, soft corals, sea pens and sea grasses.

    6. Kemp’s ridley Turtle

    Kemp’s ridley turtle is omnivore. The turtles eat fish, shrimps, jellyfish, crabs, molluscs, squids, shellfish and also eat seaweed and sargassum. Their favourite food is crabs.

    7. Olive ridley Turtle

    Olive ridley turtle is carnivore but occasionally the turtles eat algae, seaweeds and other marine vegetation. The Olive ridley turtles also eat fish, jellyfish, crabs, snails, shrimps, urchins, lobster etc.

    What Do Freshwater Turtles Eat?

    Freshwater turtles live in freshwater of ponds, lakes, rivers. The freshwater turtles eat aquatic plants, worms, invertebrate, insects, larva, algae, snails, fruits, vegetables, seeds etc. Some species of freshwater turtles eat frog, beetles, cricket, flowers, stems of the plants, snail, fish, small mammals, eggs also. Some terrestrial turtles also eat carrion.

    What Do Pet Turtles Eat?

    There are many turtle species in the world but all of them not make good pets, some species make better pets than others. Different people have different expectations; some people want a long living turtle and others like active and friendly turtle species. Here are the top ten pet turtles and their food habits-

    ·    Red-Eared Slider

    What Do Turtles Eat

    Red eared slider is a popular turtle species. They are omnivores. The turtles eat flesh of animals as well as other vegetation or plant materials. They eat leafy green vegetables, fruits, small fish, krill, shrimps, any insects like cricket, earthworm, wax worms, snails, daphnia, mealworms and sometimes dead aquatic animals. In captivity, the Red eared slider turtles eat commercial turtle food or pellets, fruits vegetables fish, carrot, green beans, squash, leafy vegetables etc.

    Red eared slider turtle like to eat aquatic vegetation such as anacharis, water lettuce, azolla or fairy moss, duckweed etc.

    ·    Eastern Box Turtle

    Eastern box turtle is omnivore so they eat plants as well as animals. Eastern box turtles eat almost everything like berries, roots, flowers, grass, leaves, vegetables, eggs, frogs, snails, snakes, insects etc. They are land turtle and can live 40 years.

    The leaves of rhubarb, potato, tobacco and tomato leaves and vines, avocado peel, seeds or leaves are poisonous to Box turtle. Chocolates and dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are bad for Box turtle.

    ·    Painted Turtle

    Painted turtle is omnivore. Painted turtles eat small fish, earthworm, snail, krill, shrimp, mealworms, parsley, lettuce, dandelion, red leaf lettuce, berries, apples, duckweed. They can eat meat and dog food also.

    The Western painted turtle’s diet changes seasonally. In early summer, 60% of their diet includes insects but in late summer 55% is plants. The Western painted turtles eat white water-lily seeds and disperse the seeds through their faces.

    This gorgeous turtle can live 30 to 55 years and can grow 6 to 8 inches so they are easy to manage.

    ·    Mississippi Map Turtle

    What Do Turtles Eat

    Mississippi map turtle is also referred as the “sawback” turtle. They have yellow stripes which run along their bodies. Mississippi map turtles are omnivores. The turtles eat leafy greens, spinach, lettuce, parsley, fruits,dandelion greens as well as cricket, mealworms, shrimps, fish, frog, snail, earthworm, commercial turtle pellets etc. In fact, they eat everything and only feed when they are in water. They are omnivores but the adults are carnivores and eat 4 or 5 times a week but young turtles eat once daily. Mississippi map turtle can live 33 years.

    ·    African Sideneck Turtle

    African sideneck turtle is omnivore so they eat both plants and animals. African sideneck turtles eat insects, fish, collard greens, leafy green vegetables mollusks, earthworm, leeches, crabs, frogs, shrimps, prawns, cricket, snails, earthworms, fruits, seeds, crustaceans and aquatic turtle pellets which include the calcium and vitamins and minerals. Meat is bad for the turtle.

    African sideneck turtle is a popular pet because of its cute smiling face and unique appearance. They are active all year round and easy to care. They can live around 24 years to 50 years.

    ·    Musk Turtle (Stinkpot)

    What Do Turtles Eat

    Musk turtle or stinkpot is a carnivore. The turtles eat variety of aquatic invertebrates such as snails, aquatic larva, crayfish, small fish, tadpole etc. But sometimes they eat algae and enjoy grazing on leafy greens. In captivity, they eat commercial turtle pellets.

    Musk turtle or stinkpot can grow 3 to 5 inches and can live up to 50 years. Musk turtle or stinkpot turtles are popular pet because of their size and ease of care.

    ·    Spotted Turtle

    The spotted turtle is a small-sized turtle species. They are omnivores. The spotted turtles eat shrimps, worms, cricket, spider, larva, slugs, salamanders, tadpole, millipedes, fruits, leafy vegetables, duckweeds etc. They feed only when they are in water. In captivity, the turtle eat commercial turtle pellets, canned fish and fruits like water melon cantaloupe.

    The spotted turtles can grow 4 to 6 inches and they can live up to 50 years. As they are small in size and look pretty for their distinctive spotted shell, so they become popular pet.

    ·    Yellow-Bellied SliderWhat Do Turtles Eat

    Yellow-Bellied slider is omnivore. They are water and land turtle. The turtles eat fish, tadpole, spiders, snails, bugs, crayfish, larva, dragonfly etc. They also eat seeds, roots, leaves, algae, foliage, stems, vegetables, fruits. Occasionally they are seen to eat dead carcasses of other animals. In captivity, Yellow-Bellied slider turtles eat vegetables, fruits, meat, sea-food, wax worms mealworms, turtle pellets etc.

     Yellow-Bellied slider can grow 9 to 13 inches and can live 30 to 40 years.

    ·    Reeve’s Turtle

    Reeve’s turtle is omnivore. The turtles eat aquatic food, meat products, dried food. They like to eat brown crickets. Reeve’s turtles eat cockroaches, shrimps, salmon, mice, chicken meat, locusts etc.

    Reeve’s turtle can grow 6 to 9 inches and can live up to 20 years. Reeve’s turtle is one of the most sociable turtle. Their charming personality makes them a popular pet.

    ·    Wood Turtle

    What Do Turtles Eat

    Wood turtle is omnivore. Wood turtles eat plants and animals such as slugs, snails, tadpoles, eggs, mice earthworms, as well as mushrooms, ripe fruits, specific fungi, moss, grass, and also consume carrion. The turtle likes to eat strawberries, blackberries, mulberries, raspberries, blueberries, banana, peach, melon, grapes. In captivity, wood turtles eat dog or cat food, and also commercial turtle pellets.

    Wood turtle can grow 5 to 8 inches and can live up to 50 years.  Wood turtle is very friendly species and one of the popular pet turtles.


       All sea turtles are considered threatened species of extinction.  Leatherback sea turtles are among the highest migratory animals on Earth. They travel about 10,000 miles each year in search of jellyfish. Sea turtle nesting beaches are affected by sea level rise due to global warming. Coral reefs, a major source of food for sea turtles, are at high risk. Warm sea temperatures can have a negative effect on the food resources of sea turtles.


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