We’ve all been there before. Your pet turtle swims up to the side of the tank, looks you straight in the face, and gives you those infamous “hungry eyes.”
Being the caring pet owner you are, you grab their turtle food and realize that you’re all out of it!
So, you open up your fridge to see what turtle-friendly foods are floating around.
They’re turtles, so they definitely shouldn’t be eating the same processed junk food that you’re used to eating. Then, those leftover celery sticks catch your eye.
… or are they?
If you’re reading this article, then chances are that you have a stick of celery in your hand right now. You’re debating whether or not it’s a good idea to feed your turtle the celery and figured you’d do a bit of research first.
Can turtles eat celery? Yes, turtles can eat celery without any problems. Just make sure that they are cut into tiny pieces for them to chew and digest properly. However, as celery lacks calcium and other vital nutrients, It should not be the only food you should feed your turtle.
Feeding Your Turtle Celery
As we said, it’s perfectly fine to feed your turtle celery. They can easily chew it and digest it.
It won’t cause them any problems whatsoever.
However, it’s not very rich in nutrients meaning that it won’t sustain them.
Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of feeding your turtle celery.
- They’ll Eat It
The nice thing about turtles is that they’re not picky eaters.
Turtles tend to be opportunistic, which means that they’ll eat just about anything they find. In the wild, they’re naturally foragers and spend most of their day looking for scraps and anything else they can find to fill their bellies.
If you give them a stick of celery, they’ll happily take it and make quick work of it.
You can see below.
- It Has Fiber
One of the advantages of celery is that it has a lot of fiber. Fiber will contribute to your turtle feeling “full,” and it will temporarily decrease their hunger and craving for food.
This is one of the reasons why humans eat it so much- it helps curb their appetite. Fiber is an important staple in most turtle’s diet and helps with their digestion.
- It’s Inexpensive
Another great point about celery is that it’s very affordable. You can get a pound of celery for the same price as you’d pay for a coffee. Who doesn’t love a cheap meal?
Now, let’s talk about why you wouldn’t want to feed your turtle a celery-based diet.
- It’s Mostly A “Filler Food”
While celery does have a good bit of fiber in it, which is important for turtles to consume, it’s relatively low on everything else. Celery is not a good source of protein or fat- nutrients that a turtle needs to survive.
Also, celery hardly has any calories. An entire stick of celery only contains 10 calories. That single stick of celery will completely fill your turtle up but will hardly give them any energy in return. That being said, celery is good when chopped up and used as a food additive, but it should never be a major portion of their meals.
- It’s Low In Nutrients
Although celery contains vitamins A, C, and K, it doesn’t contain these vitamins in high concentrations, meaning that your turtle would have to eat a lot of celery to get the nutrients they need.
Important Nutrients For Turtles To Eat
Now that we’ve answered your main question let’s look at some of the most important nutrients your turtle should be eating as part of their meals. Whether you feed them daily or every couple of days, make sure they’re getting a good balance of the following constituents.
- Vitamins and Minerals
Most animals need a good source of vitamins and minerals in their diet. These help them build and maintain their immune system, help to fight off infections, keep their eyesight strong, and contribute to healthy skin.
The most important vitamin for them to consume is Vitamin D3. This ensures that they’re able to metabolize calcium and phosphorous (both needed for a strong shell). They absorb this naturally from sunlight when in the wild. However, if they’re being kept in a tank, then you’ll need to supplement their diet with a good source of it. You can either give them a vitamin supplement or give them foods such as egg yolk, shrimp, or chicken that are high in D vitamins.
- Calcium and Phosphorous
Calcium and phosphorous are very important for your turtle. Without these vital nutrients, their shell may become weak, fragile, and can easily crack. Humans get most of their calcium from milk, but keep in mind that dairy is toxic for turtles and can make them very sick.
Instead, feed them a diet that has a lot of leafy greens. Foods like kale, spinach, and broccoli are excellent sources of both calcium and phosphorous. As long as they’re consumed with a D-vitamin containing food, they’ll be absorbed, metabolized, and help your pet turtle develop a strong, healthy shell.
Turtles should not be fed a lot of fat as it can literally make them fat. Unlike mammals, which have high fat needs, turtles only need small amounts of fat. These small portions of fat-containing foods will help lubricate their joints, contribute to healthy skin, and keep them full.
It’s okay to give them small portions of cooked meat or bugs from time to time. However, these shouldn’t be a major staple of their diet.
Protein is essential for your turtle while they’re young and growing. The protein will ensure that their body and shell grow strong and thick. It will help them develop the necessary muscle fibers they need for walking on land and strong swimming.
However, once they reach adulthood, their protein intake should be limited. If you continue to give them high protein concentrations, it can result in an odd phenomenon known as shell pyramiding.
This happens when the excess protein goes straight to the outer layer of their shell, causing it to stack up like a pyramid. The problem is that the shell will start growing faster than the turtle itself, which can lead to your turtle becoming lethargic and unable to move as quickly.
However, some small amounts are still good from time to time. Like their fat content, they can get all of the protein they need from small pieces of cooked meat or bugs.
You should generally avoid feeding high-carbohydrate foods to your turtle. Processed sugars in bread, crackers, and other common household snacks can lead to your turtle becoming obese. They can get all of the carbs that they need from eating fresh vegetables and the occasional meal of potatoes, yams, and carrots.
Turtles are very easy animals to own as they’ll eat almost anything that you give them without complaint. However, this means that it’s your responsibility to make sure that they eat a healthy diet!
The best foods to feed your turtle are usually dark, leafy greens and bright-colored vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, and beets. All of these are high in nutrients and vitamins and will provide them with a balanced diet.
Any protein and fat they need can be obtained from small portions of meat or eggs. This food group should come secondary to vegetables, though.
If you’re unsure of the exact ratios and nutrient levels that you should be giving your turtle, then your best bet is to order pre-made “turtle food sticks.” These sticks have the perfect balance of all of the nutrients they need, taking all of the guesswork out of it. If you opt to feed your turtle these sticks, you can always feed them some fresh veggies as a side snack.