How to Feed Baby Turtles

By: Laurie L. Dove  | 
feed pet turtle
A baby turtle, like this pet Macquarie River turtle, has special dietary requirements that must be met to keep it healthy. Danielle Kiemel/Getty Images

Baby turtles are cute little creatures that require slightly different care than adult turtles. To keep them alive and healthy, baby turtles will need greater amounts of protein in their diets. They're not only prone to many diseases that may require prevention or treatment but they also carry germs that can affect people. You can feed baby turtles food that is available in the pet store while supplementing their diets with vegetables, meat and fruit. Land turtles tend to eat more vegetables than those living in water.

Wondering what do turtles eat? Here are some tips on how and what to feed your little friend:


  • Feed your baby land turtle a combination of commercially produced food and fresh leafy vegetables, such as romaine lettuce and cabbage. Make sure you chop the food into tiny pieces.
  • Feed your aquatic baby turtle in a smaller feeding tank. Aquatic baby turtles are sloppy eaters and they relieve themselves in the middle of their meals. Therefore, they will dirty their aquarium if they eat in it.
  • Feed your pet baby turtle "feeder fish and crickets" for some meals.
  • Feed baby turtles two or three times a day.
  • Leave your baby turtle's food in the tank for a half hour, and then remove what's left. You can feed it to your turtle again later.
  • Give baby turtles vitamin supplements, especially vitamin D, which is good for shell development. It's also good to keep baby turtles in the sunshine, so they can get natural vitamin D.


Feed Baby Turtles FAQ

What can a baby turtle eat?
You can feed land baby turtles freshy leafy vegetables such as romaine lettuce and cabbage, as well as food you can buy for them at the pet store.
What do you call a baby turtle?
Baby turtles are called hatchlings.
Is my baby turtle a boy or girl?
The turtle's cloaca may provide a clue as to its gender. Females tend to have a cloaca located closer to their body that's shaped a bit like a star, while males have more of a straight line for a cloaca, which resides near the tip of the tail .
Do baby tortoises bite?
Yes, they may bite for various reasons.
Is it illegal to have a baby turtle?
Selling small turtles in the U.S. has been illegal since 1975, and some states don't allow you to have a turtle. The Humane Society advises calling your local animal shelter or animal control to learn about turtle ownership laws.