Pond turtles are omnivores but mainly feed on smaller animals. Like most of its species, they will eat basically anything that fits in their mouths. Due to the lack of food sources in ponds, these turtles have adapted to eat anything they can find.

They are also known to be opportunistic feeders. The diet of pond turtles usually consists mainly of fish, insects, worms, and crustaceans. They will also feed on algae, aquatic plants, and even carrion if it is available for them to consume.

In this article, I will talk in detail about what pond turtles eat in a pond.

What do pond turtles eat in a pond: Everything about your turtle’s diet

As you are petting turtles in your pond, you have to handle and pet them with proper care. And feeding them the right way tops that chart. Proper consumption of a safe diet will ensure their healthy existence.

Pond turtles come with a lot of diversity. There are hundreds of their species with varied tastes. Carnivore turtles exist, so do vegetarians, but the majority of turtles are omnivores.

While this explains food type, what exactly is a proper diet for turtles in your pond? That’s what we’ll explore today.

I have tried to cover everything relevant to their food so that you have an excellent understanding of their overall feeding process.

What Do Pond Turtles Eat In A Pond

Best Foods for Pond turtle: Based on food types

1. Plants, Fruit, and Vegetables

A balanced and mixed diet is crucial for pond turtles’ health. Around 50% of turtle food plants.


Plants like kale, mustard greens, waterweed, anacharis, green leaf lettuce, duckweed, aloe vera, hyacinths, hibiscus flowers & leaves, dandelion greens, etc are excellent for your turtle.

A wide range of fruit can be easily included in their regular food. For example apple, strawberry, mango, banana, and cantaloupe, etc.

They will also love vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, pumpkin, squash, green beans, and cucumber, etc. You must provide these after chopping the vegetables.

2. Insects

We all know that turtles are carnivorous, but do you know what they eat? Most of the time they prefer insects like crickets, earthworms, and mealworms. They also enjoy mollusks, snails, small crabs, tadpoles, crayfish, krill, etc in wildlife.

You can also offer your turtle beef heart or chicken, which provides your turtle with more protein than insects.

Let’s see how they get nutrients from several types of insects and also worms.

Pond turtles, like many other reptiles, will eat almost anything, but not everything they’ll eat is good for them. To help you on your journey to happy and healthy turtle keeping, here are some nutritious foods that pond turtles might enjoy.

An important thing to remember is that your turtle’s diet should consist of more than just one type of food. A healthy pond turtle diet contains a mixture of all the foods listed here, as well as earthworms and other live prey.

  • Earthworms – Earthworms are very popular with turtles and can be bought at almost any bait or fishing store. Earthworms are an excellent source of protein and should be the staple food in all pond turtle’s diets.
  • Wax Worms – Wax Worms are also very high in protein but contain less fat than earthworms. Because of this, wax worms may not make the best staple food for your turtles.
  • Mealworms – Mealworms, like wax worms, are high in protein and low in fat. Mealworms, however, have a harder shell than wax worms and tend to resist being eaten for a longer time. This is beneficial because it means that the turtles will be forced to chew their food thoroughly as opposed to gulping down wax worms whole.
  • Crickets – Crickets are also high in protein. Like wax worms, crickets do not have a very strong shell and can sometimes be eaten without much effort on the part of your turtles.

3. Pellets

Feeding pellets can be very nutritious, and often more affordable than feeding the same amount of food in the whole form. However, pellets are not the only food that can be given to turtles.

Pellets should never be the main diet of pond turtles in captivity or they would have health problems in the long term.

Turtle Pellets have good quality sources. It is made from high nutrient ingredients including fish meal, shrimp meal, etc. Hence, it can provide turtles with high protein.

Turtle pellets contain high levels of calcium so you can feed that on top of their usual diet

However, feeding too many pellets can cause indigestion because they are floating on water for a long time after turtles eat them. Hence, pellets should not be more than 25% of their overall diet chart.

Below, I am giving you a list of top-notch pellet food for your turtle buddies. I am sure they’re gonna love it!

4. Shrimp

Turtles would enjoy multiple foods and one of them is shrimp. Shrimp is indeed a super addition to the turtle’s diet. Turtles can get an adequate amount of fat from shrimp. Plus they add more to the variation in their regular food.

So it’s important to know how you can feed them shrimp with the precise amount that’s healthy for them.

Types of shrimp for pond turtle

Turtles can consume shrimp in three different states and these are raw shrimp, cooked one, and dried shrimp. You can buy shrimp in the form of a shrimp pellet.

That does not mean that you just give them as it is. The shrimps need to be well prepared and safe for the turtles. The amount of shrimp can occupy 25% of the overall diet of your pet buddy.

1. Raw shrimp

They will love the taste and the texture of raw shrimp. You must ensure that your raw shrimp is properly frozen and 100% ready for safe eating.

Don’t provide them with too big shrimp compared to their mouth. It would be better to give them raw shrimp in a small chunk so that they can enjoy their feeding time.

2. Cooked Shrimp

You can give turtle-cooked shrimp once in a while. You don’t need to peel anything from the shrimp because they are top to bottom full of nutrients.

Cooked shrimp is good in one way and that is when you boil them the bad bacteria die.

3. Dried Shrimp

Turtles are fond of any kind of dried shrimp. They will be very happy while munching the dried shrimp.

The texture of dried shrimp will allow the turtle to enjoy a different level of flavor.

4. Shrimp Pellets

Shrimp pellets are mostly made for different types of aquatic animals but can work really fine when you treat them to turtles.

You can give them a few pellets 2-3 times a week but don’t try to include them in the regular food. They will get a good number of nutrients from these pellets.

Here in the following, I am giving you a list of shrimp pellets that would be highly valuable from both taste and nutrient perspectives.

Best pond turtle food: Based on age

I’ve cleared what you can feed your pond. Now it’s time for me to explain which of these are best for a turtle of a specific age. What you should feed a baby is different from what you should give to a grownup. You’ll find out about it next:

What does a baby turtle eat?

The diet for baby pond turtles is usually more diverse compared to adults. They feed on aquatic invertebrates and vertebrates. At a young age, they mostly eat like carnivores.

Baby turtles must eat a sufficient amount of protein for proper growth.

So pellets can be a major proportion of their food chart. And include vegetables plus fresh fruit with that.

What does an adult turtle eat?

Once it reaches adulthood, the majority of its diet consists mainly of fish, worms, snails, carrion, and eggs from other species that inhabit the same ecosystem.

Adults will only consume plant matter when their food source is scarce or if they are needed to bulk up their weight before hibernation season.

The best food combination for them is to provide a mixture of meat products, fresh vegetables, and fresh fruits.

Additional Read: Best Food For Turtles

How to feed your turtles in a pond?

There’s a procedure to feed turtles. You have to wash your hands with mild-warm water. Please avoid the use of any kind of soap.

Most important is that you must drop turtle food directly into your pond. It’s best to feed them when they are inside the pond water and that helps a lot with their food digestion process.

Don’t feed them when they are roaming around on the land because it can increase the risk of choking plus problems in the digestion process.

Feeding Schedule for Pond Turtles

Maintaining a pond turtle’s feeding schedule is extremely important. It helps you to mark any change in the eating behavior of your pet turtle. Any alter in their appetite might indicate a sign of illness.

The eating pattern might vary from one species of turtle to another. Unlike pets like your dogs, cats; turtles do not need food multiple times on a single day. Their maintenance is very low.

A young turtle can easily grow and survive if it gets food every day. Once they become 1+ years old then you can provide them food after every 24 hours.

Usually, at 6-7 years of age, they enter into their adulthood. When you own a 10+-year-old turtle then its appetite would be much lower. Any mature turtle can live fine if you provide their food after every 72 hours.

How often should you feed your turtle?

You might have a question about how much you can feed your pond turtle, Right? If you have a plan to give your turtle sticks and pellets as regular food then you can give them food for 15-20 mins so that they can eat up to their needs.

After that remove the extra food to keep the pond environment fresh and it also prevents them from overeating.

Whenever you are feeding a pond turtle don’t give more than 1 cup of food. And yes this one has to be a combination of pellets, plants, vegetables, fruits, dead fish, worms, insects and shrimp, etc.

What foods are harmful to turtles?

Some food can be really deadly for turtles. So please be cautious about their food list. Food like leaves of potato, tobacco plants, seed & peels of avocado, etc.

In the wild environment, wild turtles are not used to eating raw meat. Plus raw meat like chicken and beef is a bit risky for them as it contains parasites. Also, this food is too high in terms of protein for them.

How long can turtles go without food?

A turtle is a symbol of longevity. They live for decades. Pond turtles can live without any source of nourishment for weeks at a time; however, remember that not eating for a long period can affect their overall health and survival.

They may not eat if they are sick, pregnant, or stressed as a result of the environment which makes them more vulnerable to predators as well as food shortages. In captivity, some may become finicky eaters that only want certain types of food instead of the usual meal that’s given at feeding time.

However, some pond turtles will still feed even if they are sick but I recommend that their meal should be smaller than usual to avoid ingesting parasites or debris found in the digestive system.

If your turtle refuses to eat any type of food after 3 days, then you should bring him/her to the vet immediately because there could be something wrong with its health status.

Although many sources recommend that they can survive up to 6-8 weeks without food, there are certain circumstances in which they may die of starvation even with the presence of water.

For instance, turtles living in northern regions or during wintertime will not have any available prey for them to feed on due to lack of sunlight and cold weather.

Parting words

The most important thing is that you provide pond turtles with a proper diet with ample nutrition so that their health can stay strong!

Starting from plant food, vegetable & fruit food to shrimp & insects; make great food sources because they contain protein, and other vital nutrients which will be essential in their growth process, as well as help keep them healthy.

I hope you find my article helpful when deciding on what do pond turtles eat in a pond!

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