Painted Turtle Diet : What Do Baby Painted Turtles Eat? 3 Important Habitat Considerations

A lot is being researched & written on the painted turtle diet and especially what do baby painted turtles eat. Now with more knowledge and conveniences, adapting painted turtles as a pet is a new fad catching up with the masses.

what do baby painted turtles eat? The painted turtle baby likes to eat small fish, insects, tadpoles, and worms. Vegetation is not for baby turtles, it is an adult painted turtle diet. Painted turtle food must be well balanced with vitamins, minerals, and calcium. Feeding frequency and quality of food and habitat is also very important for their upkeep.

It is generally misunderstood that baby turtles occupy less space and require the least maintenance in captivity. Painted turtles need more special handling than other pets.

Here we answer all your questions regarding the painted turtle diet, what do baby painted turtles eat, and what do painted turtles eat. Read on and enjoy our discourse.

Painted turtle diet - what do baby painted turtles eat
Painted Turtle Diet


What do Painted Turtles Eat?

Since they are small, in the wilderness they eat small creatures like crickets, snails, spiders, fish, crayfish, tadpoles, dead animals’ meat, mussels, and the like.

Adult turtles will also eat any kind of vegetation in their reach. Like water hyacinth, water lettuce, duckweed, and algae, etc.

To compensate for the natural diet, Painted turtle diet in captivity has to be substituted with store-bought feed pellets balanced with all nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. Calcium is very important for its bones and healthy shell.

Painted turtle eat in the water, so the feeding is a bit messy and its aquarium and water needs frequent cleaning.

Do Turtles eat rocks?


How Often Do Painted Turtles Eat?

Besides the issue of painted turtle diet and what do painted turtles eat, the frequency of feeding is also very important in captivity.

How often do you feed a painted turtle is important for its health. Like most reptiles, the painted turtle does not eat every day. In captivity painted turtle diet should not be fed every day.

Vets recommend feeding the adult painted turtle once every 2 to 3 days. However common vegetables for painted turtles in small quantities can be offered daily.

They should be fed for a short time, about 15 minutes. Amount of feed pellets should be about the volume of their head, which they can finish in half an hour or so.

Do not leave food in water to rot. Besides choking the filters, the water will not remain clean. Clean the tank frequently.

Feeding more frequently will only make the turtle fat, which will have its own problems.

How long can turtles go without eating?


What Do Baby Painted Turtles Eat?

Baby painted turtles have different food priorities. Since they are growing, their energy requirements are high and require mostly proteins, calcium, minerals, and vitamins.

What do baby painted turtles eat in captivity? Unlike adults, they have to be fed daily. They get their protein from mostly small fish, insects, tadpoles, and worms.

Store-bought pellets are best. Feed a spoonful about the volume of its head, 5 to 6 times a week.

Give them morsels of par-boiled meat. No dairy food at all. Avoid giving rotten food. Vegetables should only be given when they mature into adulthood, which is about a year.

Use calcium supplements, or can crush eggshells, oyster shells, and cuttlebone and add to turtle’s food.


How Do You Take Care Of A Baby Painted Turtle?

Being miniature in size, a baby painted turtle needs special care. Its aquarium should replicate its natural habitat as closely as possible.

The aquarium must be with filters, water circulation, and temperature controls. Should have appropriate basking area with UVB light.

Substrate like sand and pebbles (smooth ones) will add to aesthetics. Vegetation is also necessary-artificial preferably, as the turtle sometimes need a place to hide.

Do not put natural vegetation as turtle will eat it, which is discouraged in the baby stage. Clean the aquarium frequently, remove all rotten food.

Add fresh water about 25% every time. Place a calcium block in water to adjust pH of water, for a healthy shell of the turtle.

As to the question of what to feed baby painted turtles, store-bought special feed formulated for baby painted turtles can be fed. Feed at appropriate intervals. It is well balanced with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

Supplement its pellet feed with natural feed, what it will eat in nature like small insects, fish, larvae, crustaceans, etc. Can give par-boiled meat-red or white. Assure its calcium intake is maintained.

Do not handle them, as painted turtles do not like to be handled much. Adjust the ambient lights for day/night cycle and basking for some hours daily.


How Often Do Baby Painted Turtles Eat?

With the question of what do baby painted turtles eat, the next question comes how often they should be fed.

Baby turtles grow at a very fast rate till adulthood which is a year. Their energy need is provided in form of protein in the shape of meat only.

Because of their growth and energy requirement, vets recommend daily feeding of baby painted turtles. Some owners suggest feeding once in two days, which seems to be a little off.

Drop the feed morsels on water surface. They will eat in water.

Sometimes people complain about why is my baby painted turtle not eating, or wonder how to get a baby painted turtle to eat.

Turtles are very resilient. Sometimes they will not eat up to a week or more. The owner needs to be very patient. If it is not sick, then it is stressed. Which could be due to not liking the environment, or there are other distractions.

Try to adjust the lighting and environment, change food, try different brands, or prepare exotic food at home. Try live bait like mosquitos, larvae, earthworms, etc.

Don’t keep on feeding one kind of food, as it will get used to it, and refuse eating other stuff. Always keep varying the variety and keep the turtle interested in his food.


Pet Painted Turtle Diet

When a turtle is adopted, the owner has to know what do painted turtles eat and what is the best food for painted turtles.

It is important to know what do painted turtles eat as pets in captivity. It is vital to control the feed, provide the minerals, nutrients, and vitamins to the turtle in right doses and at right time or frequency. Overfeeding is harmful.

An adult turtle is omnivorous and enjoys both meat and vegetables. Best is to get the right type of ready-to-feed pellets with balanced minerals, nutrients, and vitamins, from stores specializing in pet foods. Remember the importance of calcium.

Turtles can be given semi-boiled vegetables, but can also eat raw spinach, parsley, dandelion greens, romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, collard greens, apples, berries, and carrots.

Once in 3 weeks treat your adult painted turtle to protein food like snails, crickets, small fish, crustaceans, meat, tadpoles, etc.

Do not give lettuce as it has no minerals. Vegetables toxic for turtle are leaves & plants of potato, tomato, rhubarb, tobacco, avocado, and poison ivy.

Sometimes owners observe that their painted turtle won’t eat. If there are no symptoms of sickness, then need not worry. Just needs patience from the owner. Turtle may not eat for a week or two!

The pet may be stressed due to the new environment, surroundings, light, or other distractions.


Wild Painted Turtle Diet

Looking at the small size of the painted turtles one wonders what do wild painted turtles eat and how often do painted turtles eat in the wild.

First, let us have a look at what do painted turtles eat in the wild. Painted turtle diet is omnivorous. It is an aquatic turtle and like to spend most of its time in water.

Wildlife biologists tell painted turtles in natural habitat would eat whatever they can lay their hands on in water. They like to feed while in water. So one wonders what do painted turtles eat while in water.

In the wild adult turtles eat small insects like fish, worms, crickets, spiders, earthworms, snails, crayfish, crustaceans, dragonfly larvae, and even dead animals’ meat, whatever they can catch easily.

People often ask what plants do painted turtles eat? The turtles like to eat aquatic plants like duckweed, water hyacinth, water lettuce, algae, water lilies, and the like.

Painted turtle diet - what do baby painted turtles eat
Painted Turtle Diet


Can You Keep A Wild Baby Painted Turtle?

As this breed is quite ubiquitous, we keep hearing that I found a baby painted turtle. Normally all vets and pet enthusiasts will advise not to. You must follow your State’s Law.

If it is native species, then return it to wild, if it is identified as exotic breed-not local- then one can decide to adopt it, or return to its natural habitat, or turn it over to turtle rescue.

If only one baby turtle was found back yard, then one may adapt it, as the newborn turtle will have very little chance of survival alone outside.

The new owner is bound to provide all facilities to the newly adopted turtle, so it feels it is in its natural habitat and is not stressed.

An adult from the wild may not be adoptable due to it being not used to being handled by humans and living in captivity.


What Do Painted Turtles Eat In The Wild?

Adult painted turtle diet consists of mostly protein that is small life living in or near water.

This includes insects, small fish, tadpoles, worms, crickets, spiders, earthworms, snails, crayfish, dragonfly larvae, and even dead animals’ meat.

They supplement their meat food with vegetation from aquatic plants like duckweed, water hyacinth, water lettuce, algae, and water lilies.


What do you feed a wild painted turtle?

Painted turtle diet in captivity must closely match its diet in the wilderness. As this is not possible then store-fed pellets are the best substitute.

Feed them par-boiled vegetables and fruits easily. These can be given every day but in controlled amount. Parboiled meat (red and white) should also be given regularly.

Assure that minerals, vitamins, nutrients, and especially calcium are appropriately provided in their feed. Calcium is important for the health of its bones and shell.


What Human Food Can Painted Turtles Eat?

With the exclusion of dairy, oil, salt, and spices, most of the human food can be part of painted turtle diet. Par-boiled green leafy vegetables and fruits can be easily given to the adult painted turtle.

More energy should come from proteins than carbohydrates. Caution should be observed of not overfeeding the pet. Calcium should be an essential part of the painted turtle diet.

Morsels of par-boiled meat, both red and white can be given as a treat, once or twice a week.


Painted Turtle Habitat

When it comes to painted turtle care, after food it is its habitat. Its adopted home should let the turtle feel as if it is in its natural habitat. This way it will be less stressed and feed happily.

Herpetologists and environmentalists have divided the USA into four regions for painted turtle habitat. Namely Eastern, Midland, Western, and Southern Regions.

As a general rule habitat temperatures should be as per the guide table below.

Tank water75 to 80 °F
Ambient air80 and 85 °F
Basking area85 and 95 °F

Below 70 °F (20°C), the turtle will go hibernating.

Maintain pH of tank water between 5.5 and 7 i.e. it should be alkaline. A calcium block can be placed in the tank to aid this.

As for their diets, there is not much difference between the eastern painted turtle diet and the midland painted turtle diet, as they eat wild small creatures and vegetation of the region.


How Long Do Painted Turtles Live

In the wild, painted turtles live up to 50 years. In captivity, domestic painted turtles live anywhere from 25 to 30 years. Some are reported to live over 50 years.


What Insects Do Painted Turtles Eat

Insects, alive or dead are a favorite part of the painted turtle diet. Any insect or small creature found in water or near a water pond, the painted turtle will savor it.

The turtle will eat small fish, earthworms, crickets, tadpoles, larvae, dragonflies, beetles, crayfish, and crustaceans, and the meat of dead animals/fish.

Being very small in size people wonder if they fall prey and what eats painted turtles.

Newborn turtles are easy prey for birds, raccoons, snakes, skunks, foxes, and large fish. Wildlife biologists estimate that up to 90 percent of painted turtle eggs and babies from one nest can be lost to predators.


Painted Turtle Size

Painted turtles do not grow more than 8 inches long. Some species just grow up to 6 inches in length.

At birth, they are just around 1 inch in length. In a year they will grow to about 2 to 4 inches, which is an adult age.

Male painted turtles are considered mature when they are about 3 to 4 inches long. This will happen in about 3 to 5 years.

Female painted turtles achieve maturity when they are about 4 to 5 inches long. This happens in 6 to 10 years.


Final Verdict On What Do Baby Painted Turtles Eat

Generally, people don’t have much idea about the painted turtle diet, especially what do baby painted turtles eat. Painted turtle is a water-loving species.

In the wild, the painted turtle diet, comprises of any small insects in or near water, like earthworms, crickets, tadpoles, larvae, dragonflies, beetles, crayfish, and crustaceans, and even meat of dead animal/fish.

However, adult turtles start eating vegetation to supplement their meat food. They mostly eat aquatic plants like duckweed, water hyacinth, water lettuce, algae, and water lilies.

Painted turtle diet - what do baby painted turtles eat
Painted Turtle Diet – What Do Baby Painted Turtles Eat – what do painted turtles eat

In captivity, the best is to feed them store-bought feed pellets, which have been specially formulated to contain all the nutrients, minerals, and vitamins needed by the turtles.

Vegetables should also be given in captivity to adults only, so they feel the natural environment. It is important to feed them at the right internals, which is different for the baby and adult.

Their habitat should have water and atmospheric temperature controls, with arrangements for UVB basking.

Turtles are a source of salmonella and they do not like to be handled. Because of these two factors they are not a good pet for a home with children, especially small toddlers.

Post Disclaimer


The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, food recommendation, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or for pet food related questions.

Leave a Comment