How often do painted turtles eatPainted turtles are no doubt one of the most beautiful and popular pet among all the turtles. However, when you own a painted turtle as a pet, it is a lifetime commitment. Hence, you must understand its care and maintenance, such as how often do painted turtles eat, how much they eat, and the best food for painted turtles.

In today’s article, I will include a detailed discussion on these topics so that you can feed your loving, painted turtle properly to help it grow happily and live healthily. Let’s go deep into the painted turtle feeding habit discussion without wasting your valuable time.

How Often Do Painted Turtles Eat?

Likewise, every creature, the feeding frequency, and habit of painted turtles will vary depending on their age, size, weight, and environment. For instance, an adult painted turtle will be happy with two to three meals per week, whereas juveniles will ask for daily feeding to grow correctly.

Since these turtles are omnivorous, they will devour almost anything you will give them to ardently. Hence, as a painted turtle owner, you may provide them live fishes, worms, crickets, brine shrimps, lettuce, green leaves, and what not!

But before we find the right menu for them, let’s see how their eating frequency changes over time with their age.

Adult painted turtles:

Painted TurtleAdult painted turtles; likewise, all turtles will eat far less than the juvenile turtles. In reality, a painted turtle is considered an adult when it reaches 7 years of age.

You can feed them every other day. It means the turtle will be happy with a one day gap between their two feeding sessions. What’s more, you can even opt for feeding them with a 2 days gap, which entices a feeding session every three days.

But you are feeding an adult painted turtle once every three days might be a little harsh on them even with the best nutrients on the menu. Hence, I would suggest you stick with the ‘every other day’ feeding frequency.

Juvenile painted turtles:

Juvenile or baby painted turtles grow extremely fast, and so, they need frequent eating too. In fact, juvenile painted turtles are GIANT and FREQUENT eaters. Hence, you will need to feed them ardently now and then.


You must provide them regular feed every day. Besides, you must also give the turtles’ supplements and vitamins every other day. You will find that baby painted turtles extremely friendly and active. Hence, they will love you playing with them.

And when you play with them or see them playing with each other, feed them precisely in those moments.  When you feed them during the paying time, the turtle will eat the food properly and help their digestive system.

As they grow bigger and older, you should slowly reduce the feeding frequency, and by the time they reach adulthood, it shouldn’t be more than once in every alternative day. Thereby, it is suggested that you find out a proper feeding pattern for the baby turtles over time.

What Happens During the Hibernation Period?

When the hibernation period closes in, painted turtles will slowly stop eating. And during the winter, when they hibernate, they won’t eat anything almost.

So, during the last few days of the fall, stop feeding your pet turtle. Instead, could you provide them with enough water? They will drink the water to bypass the effects of dehydration during their hibernation. Also, most painted turtles will love bathing in the clean water.

What A Painted Turtle Eats In Reality?

To put it shortly, painted turtles will eat almost anything since these are omnivorous. So, you can feed them anything from live worms and fishes to leafy vegetables.  You can also offer them brine shrimps, live creatures, homemade foods, commercial pallets, and many more to fulfill their nutrient and vitamin necessity.

These days, you will find various canned foods made particularly for painted turtles. You can find them to feed your turtle. Nonetheless, I have discussed the best food menu for painted turtles in the following section.

Best Food for Painted Turtle:

Although painted turtles are omnivorous, you shouldn’t try out feeding them anything available at home. Hence, it is recommended that you stick to some reliable food sources which will perfectly meet turtles’ nutrient necessity.

  1. Duckweed:

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I start our food recommendation for painted turtles with a plant. Although many people don’t consider proper duckweed food for turtles, the actuality is far from it. In fact, I have found that painted turtles love eating the soft leaves of the duckweed.

It contains many useful vitamins and nutrients for turtles. However, duckweed will be best as an occasional snack instead of a regular food item.

  1. Brine shrimp:

Whether you want to surprise your pet turtle with an excellent treat or boost their protein measurement, there’s hardly any rival of brine shrimp. These are available in the pet store as frozen brine shrimp.

Although turtles prefer live shrimps, the dried shrimps are a better option. It is because the dried and frozen brine shrimp is free of any harmful bacteria. Hence, you remain calm while providing the frozen shrimp as treats or snacks or even as a regular food item to the turtles.

The shrimp is high in protein and won’t create a mess in the water. So, with the brine shrimp, you actually need less maintenance of the terrarium or turtle pond too.

  1. Aquatic turtle diet from Mazuri:

Mazuri Aquatic Turtle Diet
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Mazuri builds the small floating pallets as a regular food item for turtles. The floating feature is convenient since turtles can stay in the aquarium and eat the pallets at ease without coming out of their comfort zone.

The pack comes with a 12-ounce capacity and literally supplies all the necessary nutrients for the painted turtles.

  1. TetraFauna ReptoMin:

Tetra ReptoMin Floating Food Sticks

The best thing about TetraFauna Reptomin is they have three different foods considering the age and size of your turtle. For baby turtles (size 1-2 inches) they have Reptomin Baby Turtle Formula, for juvenile turtles (size 2-5 inches) they offer Reptomin Juvenile Turtle Formula and for adult turtles they have Reptomin Adult Turtle Formula Sticks. So, you can choose according to your requirements.

As you may already know, turtles have different nutritional needs at different stages of their life. TetraFauna got you all covered. Moreover, with my personal experience, I can say that, turtles just love these floating sticks.

  1. Aquatic turtle food from Exo Terra:

If you look for a budget-friendly yet highly nutrient food pack for painted turtles, the aquatic turtle food from Exo Terra works more than satisfactory. What’s more, the label claims that the food contains rare Gammarus shrimps within the food. It is a superior protein boost for the growing juvenile turtles.

Exo Terra offers turtle foods specially manufactured for different age group as well –

Additional Read: Best Food for Turtles

Practical Tips On Feeding Painted Turtles:

  • The ideal food menu for painted turtle should contain 30% to 45% of protein, at least, especially during the juvenile state. The food should have low fat, high calcium, and enough vitamin D. It helps their shell and bone grow properly.
  • Although turtles are opportunistic eater, slowly, you should develop a feeding schedule for the turtles. Once you have build up the feeding schedule, follow the routine to feed them on time every other day.
  • Instead of providing the food directly in the aquarium, be competent to offer the food in a secondary container. It helps you keep the aquarium cleaner for an extended period. You should still provide the live food directly in the aquarium, and there’s nothing wrong with it.
  • Painted turtles are an almost continuous swimmer. And they love to eat while swimming in the aquarium. So, when you provide the turtles with food in the aquarium, try to clip them with the aquarium wall. Alternatively, you can opt for the floating pallets too.
  • You can use a suction cup clipping system to offer the leaves and lightweight vegetables to the painted turtles. It keeps the water cleaner by stopping the spreading of the food items.
  • Turtle bites are extraordinarily painful. So, it is advised that you avoid feeding them with bare hands to prevent accidental bites.
  • Turtles are notoriously famous for begging food even if their stomach is full. So, if you have fed them properly, and they still try to grab your attention for food, you need not be anxious. Simply ignore their requests. However, sometimes, you may give them treats.
  • Provide calcium supplements to the painted turtles at least twice a week. The calcium supplements are available in both liquid and powder form. It helps you choose the one you feel comfortable with ardently.
  • Along with these, make sure you provide basking area with proper UVB lights for your aquatic turtles for proper absorption of nutrients and shell growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I understand whether or not my turtle is hungry?

To be honest, there’s no proven method or gesture of the turtle that you can consider to understand their hunger. They are opportunistic eater and endeavor that comes in front of them. However, overfeeding can be detrimental to their health. So, I suggest you go with the routine when it comes to feeding the painted turtles. You can, nonetheless, offer occasion treats out of the regular food routine.

How long can a painted turtle go without food?

Like camels can go without water for days and even months if need be, the similar is true for painted turtles when it comes to food. If you have fed the painted turtles with proper diet during its earlier life, it will comfortably go without food for one to two months. But they will still need water for survival since the lack of water will dehydrate them. It will start cracking their shells.

My turtle isn’t eating for two to three days. What shall I do?

In the wilderness, turtles sometimes starve due to the lack of food. The starvation habit is carried even in their aquarium life. So, if your pet turtle goes without food for a few days, it is normal. So, stop worrying about it. However, if the duration goes beyond a few days or happens frequently, I would suggest you consult the vet for a solution.

Final Words

When it comes to how often do painted turtles eat, the answer is relatively straightforward. Baby turtles will eat two to three times a day, and with growing age, the eating frequency reduces. Hence, an adult painted turtle will happily live with food every alternative day.

However, it is best to develop a feeding routine for the painted turtles and follow it strictly. The food should contain more protein, vitamin D, and less fat and carbohydrate. Finally, cleverly feed the turtle in a secondary container to keep the main aquarium clean for a prolonged period. This will lessen your tank maintenance chores quite substantially.

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