What to Feed Turtles in a Pond?

Pond turtles are fun to interact with and even more fun to feed. However, messing up is on the card if you aren’t educated enough about the rights and wrongs. Pond turtles are typically omnivores, meaning that they eat both plants and animals.

However, that still restricts them to a specific diet. You can’t expect to feed the pond turtles anything without any repercussions to their health. Typically, if you visit an official area where they are kept under watch, the authorities will tell you what to feed them.

Feeding the pond turtles the right food is part of taking care of them. If you aren’t aware of what you should ideally be feeding pond turtles, this article should help.

What do Pond Turtles Eat?

Almost every type of turtle that you find inhabiting the ponds is an omnivore. This means that they will feed off of plants and animals.

If you consider feeding pond turtles that are grown in captivity, pre-packaged turtle foods aren’t your only choice. They are convenient and easy to cook, but they are not the only available foods you can get.

Most experts suggest blending a mix of vegetation and natural animal products, and dried turtle foods. The variety reflects well on their nutrition and prevents them from struggling in the long run.

So, if you are looking for a comprehensive list, we have got your back.

Plants and Vegetation

Any kinds of leafy greens
  • Lettuce, spinach
  • Any kinds of leafy greens
  • Water lilies
  • Elodea
  • Apples
  • Melons
  • Berries (chopped)

Animal products


Keep in mind that these are some of the most accessible options. You can find them lying around in your house or the retail stores too. Just make sure that when you are feeding a pond turtle, keep the portion size limited. Cut and chop the food into smaller pieces, making it easier for them to eat their part.

Besides natural foods, pellets are an excellent store-bought option. They are nourishing and formulated to cater to the food requirements of a pond turtle. However, when making a food ratio, include 25% of pellets and compensate the remaining 75% with vegetables, fruits, and live feeding animals.

What to Feed Wild Turtles?

You must be thinking, “What is the difference between a wild turtle and pond turtle?” Besides the slight difference in their species, they are also different in terms of their food habits.

The wild turtles are also omnivores. But they do have differences in the amount of food they eat and the pattern of their eating habits.

That said, the following are some of the right kinds of diets that work for wild turtles:

Pond Snail Overview
  • Aquatic creatures like crayfish, pond snails, tadpoles, dead fish
  • Insects and reptiles like earthworms, mealworms, and even cockroaches
  • Aquatic plants like duckweed, water lilies, and other types of floating plants
  • Common water surface insects like mosquitoes, water striders, etc.

So, the wild pond turtles typically feed on a host of worms and other types of insects and vegetables as part of their diet.

Keep in mind that if you are caring for pond turtles in captivity, just leaving them in a pond is not enough. You need to supplement them with the right foods to ensure they live a long and healthy life.

Also, if you are worried about the difference in the diet of a baby and adult turtle, there’s nothing to worry about. Typically, they consume the same food. However, since they are in a growing phase, you must feed them a high-protein diet.

What Foods are Bad for Turtles?

Now that we have given you some background about the right foods, it is time to focus on the don’ts.

What should you not feed a pond turtle? With the extensivity of the list of foods we have mentioned, you might think there’s nothing off the charts.

However, this is where you are wrong.

The golden rule to feeding a pond turtle is to avoid anything that doesn’t fall under the category of fruits, vegetables, or the aquatic creatures we mentioned.

So, if you are breaking off a piece of bread and throwing it into the pond, you need to stop doing it immediately. Dairy is another big no for a pond turtle. Not just milk but any kind of dairy product is terrible for their health. Dairy can be fatal because their system lacks the enzymes needed to break down the dairy products.

Besides these, extremely salty and sugar-rich foods are not suitable for them too.

When feeding a pond turtle, another factor worth considering is sourcing them rightly. Typically, you should keep away from foods that don’t contain pesticides or insecticides.

How to Feed Pond Slider Turtles?

While we are discussing the proper diet for pond turtles, let us look into the correct diet for pond slider turtles.

These are profoundly found in ponds, too, and are often found living in the wild.

Although they do follow an omnivorous diet, there are some exceptions worth looking into. We have sorted out a quick follow list here:

  • Common prey items including earthworms, waxworms, silkworms, crickets, daphnia, shrimp, etc.
  • Host of leafy greens, including collard greens, spinach, lettuce, etc.
  • Aquatic plants like water lettuce, moss, water hyacinth, Azolla, frogbit, etc.
  • Common household vegetables like carrots, green beans, etc.
  • Fruits like berries, apples, etc.

These are some of the everyday food items that the pond slider turtles rely on. Keep in mind that you need to supplement their diet with pellets too. A 75-25 ratio of natural foods to canned foods are considered ideal for the slider turtles.


Feeding pond turtles can seem complicated if you have no preconceived knowledge. But that is all there is to it. You need to familiarize yourself with the basic nutritional needs and follow a diet that works for them. More often than not, sticking to the essential diet like we mentioned works out well. If you find your turtle refusing food, it is either because they are full or they are unwell. Keep an eye on their activity levels and seek medical help if something seems amiss.

Also read our guide on How To Fix Red Eared Slider Shell Rot?

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