FEEDING SHORT-NECKED TURTLES
1. What conditions in the enclosure are needed to encourage a turtle to eat?
Turtles will only eat in the water. Your turtle needs the water temperature to be kept at 24-26 degrees Celsius. If your turtle is not eating, the water temperature needs to be raised to 26 degrees Celsius using an aquarium heater. A UV-B light plus regular access to sunshine helps calcium absorption and use. Good water quality is also necessary for a healthy turtle that eats well.
2. What feeding regime should I follow for feeding my turtle?
You need to feed your turtle in the water. Your turtle needs to eat vegetables such as carrot, capsicum, bok choy, spinach and other green leafy vegetables as well as whole fish such as whitebait (NOT fish fillets). Once weekly replace the fish with a meal of preferably bloodworms. Short-necked turtles also enjoy the occasional crustacean (prawns or yabbies) or live insect (crickets or woodies).
3. How often should I feed a turtle?
A young small turtle (10 – 50 cent piece-sized) should be fed every day. Older (1-2 year old) turtles should be fed every second day. Large turtles (butter plate to dinner plate-sized) should be fed 2-3 times weekly.
4. How much food should I feed my turtle?
Each meal should be equivalent to the size of the turtle’s head, with pieces no wider than its mouth.
5. Should turtles be fed when they seem hungry?
Turtles always seem hungry but do NOT feed them more often than recommended. Overfeeding will lead to dirty water, liver problems and severe skin and shell problems. They will also very quickly grow larger than the size of a normal dinner plate if overfed.
6. Will a turtle on a poor diet easily improve its eating habits?
Often turtles that have been eating poor quality food don’t recognize vegetables or fish. Initially (in the first week) try the vegetables and fish and if the turtle won’t eat them, feed it bloodworms or the old diet. After one week you may need to cut the vegetables or fish into smaller pieces and smear them with bloodworms or the old diet. Failure to feed vegetables and whole fish will lead to severe nutritional deficiencies and a soft shell from lack of calcium.
7. Are pellets or turtle dinners appropriate whole meals for a turtle?
No. At present most turtle dinners and pellets are not whole diet foods and, if fed as a major source of food, will lead to severe nutritional deficiencies. They can only be fed as an occasional treat.
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