I ran a local aquarium shop mostly dealing with ornamental fish of all kinds. Recently, I have been looking forward to introducing turtles as part of the aquatic animals we sell. To be able to advise clients on the appropriate plant-based diet for turtles given that most of my clients are beginners. I did the research below on whether strawberries are safe as part of the diet.
Can turtles eat strawberries?
Turtles can eat strawberries. While young, turtles prefer animal to plant-based diets. Nonetheless, all turtles need fruits and vegetables. Strawberries serve as a good source of vitamins for turtles. However, turtles should have strawberries moderately as part of a balanced diet.
Turtles can also eat the young leaves of strawberries, but they should not be fed the old leaves of strawberries since they have hydrogen cyanide gas that is toxic to turtles.
During this research, I focused on West African mud turtles, Chinese and American box turtles also known as the terrapenes, aquatic [soft shells], and semi Aquatic turtles [sliders].
One thing is common among all these species of turtles, they are all omnivorous. However, when young most of them are more carnivorous requiring a high percentage of their diet to come from animals and then they change to herbivorous as they age.
Fruits and vegetables should only form part of their diet and not their stable diet. While fruits such as strawberries are a good source of vitamins that turtles need for proper growth and development. When fed in excess, they can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
As a rule of thumb, the balanced diet of these turtles should consist of plant material, animal diet, commercial diet, and calcium supplements.
Avoid feeding wild-caught animals or insects as they may carry diseases or parasites that may infect your pet turtle.
For a commercial diet always buy high-quality commercially made turtle pellets that are made with the nutritional need of the turtle in mind. Check these turtle pellets from Amazon.
The Tables below show different species of turtles and the foods that they should eat plus their percentages.
Aquatic & Semi-Aquatic Turtles Diet
|Aquatic and Semi Aquatic Turtles||Preferred Diet for adults|
|Semi-aquatic turtles [sliders] Trachemys spp.), painted turtles (Chrysemys), and map|
turtles (Graptemys spp.) mud and musk turtles (Kinosternidae), pond turtles
material: Greater than or equal to 50%.
diet: Less than or equal to 25%
protein: Less than or equal to 25%
|Aquatic Turtles [softshell turtles] (Apalone spp.) and matamatas (Chelus Fimbriata)||Most Aquatic turtles are considered true carnivores|
Box Turtle Diet
|Box Turtle Species||Preferred diet for all|
|Eastern box turtle (Terrapene Carolina Carolina)||60-80% vegetables, 10-20% fruit, 10% insects:|
|Gulf Coast box turtle (Terrapene c. major)|
|Florida box turtle (Terrapene c. bauri)|
|three-toed box turtle (Terrapene c. triungius)|
|Malayan or Amboina box (Cuora amboinensis)|
|Chinese box turtles (Cuora|
Benefits of Feeding Strawberries to Turtles?
Keeping turtles Hydrated
Most people think that since some turtles spent almost all their life in water, they do not drink water, On the contrary, these turtles also need to drink water.
While they can just drink water from their environment when they have the urge, they can also get part of their daily water requirements from the food they eat.
Fruits and other vegetables are a good source of water for both tortoises and turtles. Especially for tortoises and turtles that come from the desert environment such as the desert box turtle where they do not come by water regularly.
Given that strawberries’ highest nutritional content is water, when fed to turtles as part of a balanced diet will help keep them hydrated.
Turtles need vitamins for proper growth and development. One of the most crucial vitamins in the body of a turtle is vitamin A.
This vitamin facilitates the proper functioning of the turtle’s skin and the proper development of the shell among other functions.
The deficiency of this vitamin is normally observed among turtles that are more than six months old. Simply because as the turtle’s hatch, the egg yolk has enough vitamin A to last them that long.
Turtles that are fed a poorly balanced diet will mostly suffer from the deficiency of vitamin A after the 6 months after they have depleted the yolk’s vitamin reserve.
Symptoms of vitamin A reserve in turtles include
- inflamed and swollen eye lids
- Weak immune system
- Breathing difficulties accompanied by wheezing
- Swollen limbs due to liver failure
- Mouth infection
- Poor growth of the shell
Feeding fruits and vegetables as part of your turtle’s diet should help them replenish their vitamins. However, there are also some turtle pellets in the market that have all the nutrients that a turtle need for healthy growth and development. You can take a look at some samples at Amazon.
Most fruits and vegetables are not a good source of minerals such as calcium with the exception of kales and figs that have been proven to have a high level of calcium.
How to feed strawberries to Tortoises
The best form of strawberries are ones grown organically, however, if you cannot access strawberries grown organically follow these steps.
- Make sure the strawberries are thouroughly cleaned
- One strawberry mixed with other berries or fruits is enough
- You can move the turtle to a different tank to avoid contamination its main water tank
- Rememeber to remove the uneaten fruits to avoid contamination
Effects of overfeeding strawberries to tortoises
Just like tortoises, turtles will also enjoy strawberries and you might be tempted to overfeed the berries. Given that just like all fruits strawberries are high in sugar when fed in excess, the high sugar content will interfere with the bacteria load in the gut of the turtle that will result in poor digestion of the food.
Therefore, ensure strawberries and other fruits are part of a balanced diet and not the only source of vitamins.
Can turtles eat the tops of strawberries?
Turtles can also eat the strawberries tops, however, they should only have the young leaves of strawberries since the older tops have a high cyanide gas that is toxic to turtles in high levels.
Can red-eared sliders eat strawberries?
Red-eared sliders can benefit from eating strawberries as a source of vitamins that the turtles need for proper shell growth, a healthy respiration system, immunity, and overall body health. However, red-eared sliders should have strawberries moderately.
Fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamins that all species of turtles need for proper growth and development. Strawberries are a good source of vitamin A and its precursor beta carotene, mix strawberries with other berries such as blueberries, raspberries among others to provide a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables to your turtles.