Can Turtles Eat Cheese?

Cheese is loved by humans and consumed by humans. However, turtles don’t have the same luxury. An excessive amount of cheese will lead to heart problems in the long run. By the end of this post, you’ll understand why cheese is not a great source of nutrition for your turtle. 

Can Turtles Eat Cheese?

Unfortunately No, turtles can’t eat cheese. Avoid giving turtles dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, or milk. Turtles are unable to digest dairy, as it will lead to illness. Give your turtles protein once every 2-3 days to avoid excess protein in the diet. Provide food in small pieces for your turtle to eat, especially the baby turtles. 

Reasons Why Cheese Is Harmful For Turtles 

Turtles have different anatomy than humans.

Turtles can’t digest cheese because their stomachs do not have the enzymes needed to break down lactose.

Giving dairy products to your turtle is a straightforward path to health problems.

If you’re buying a pet turtle, the pet store will have the food needed to help them grow. 

No Nutritional Value

Dairy products and cheese have calcium to strengthen bones, and protein helps our muscles grow. Since turtles are reptiles, they can’t get the nutritional value from cheese. 

Instead of giving them a tasty treat, you’re giving your turtle a calorie-shaped block that can’t be ingested. It doesn’t sound fun, does it? 

Since turtles have a smaller body type, they don’t need that much protein. Offering cheese to your turtle will give them an excessive amount of protein. It’s best to give your turtle digestible proteins such as earthworms, mealworms, snails, crickets, and boiled eggs. 

Is Cheese Toxic for Turtles?

There is little evidence to determine if cheese is toxic to turtles. 

As their bodies are unable to digest cheese and dairy products, turtles should steer clear of cheese! There’s always a health risk when turtles eat food; they will develop health issues later down the line. To ensure your turtle doesn’t eat cheese, just assume that it’s toxic to them. 

Make sure any cheese or dairy products are away from the food you give your turtle. You don’t have to worry about cross-contamination if you move the cheese before feeding the turtle. 

However, you should wash your hands before giving your turtle food. Doing so will protect the turtle from coming into contact with bacteria. 

What Should You Do If You Feed Cheese to Your Turtle?

If you feed cheese to your turtle, chances are you’ll cause problems in the digestive process. Their enzymes aren’t able to process the cheese, leading to more issues. If you have a pet turtle, keep them away from dairy products as much as possible. 

Rule of Thumb

Don’t feed your turtle anything they don’t have access to in the wild as a rule of thumb. If it’s processed food, then it’s a bad idea to feed it to your aquatic friend. Turtles are reptiles that can live on land and water. Their diet should have foods they might find in the wild like fruits, fish, flowers, and vegetables. 

Pellets make an essential part of a turtle’s diet. While this food is not in the wild, they’re designed to keep your turtle’s dietary requirements and needs in mind. 

What Other Foods are Bad For My Turtle?

Feeder Fish

However, you should give feeder fish as a treat. At most, you should offer feeder fish to your turtle 1-2 times a month. The main issues with feeder fish are that they might contain diseases, bacteria, and parasites. In fact, the bones can stick at your turtle’s throat once it consumes them. 

If you plan on giving your turtle feeder fish, give them crappies, bluegills, and baby bass. Avoid giving them exotic fish, fathead minnows, dangerous fish, and goldfish. 

Chicken, Fish, or Raw Meat

Why should you avoid giving your turtles raw meat? They have a high protein content and it might contain parasites. Turtles can consume a small amount of chicken as an occasional treat. 

What Can I Feed My Turtle?

Start by giving them turtle pellets from the store. They are designed for turtles and keep their dietary needs in mind. Plus, the pellets aren’t messy. They won’t lose nutritional value when they reach the water, they will float, and your turtle will love eating them. 

Vegetables and fruits are a great option to feed your turtle. You have a wide variety to choose from, and they’re safe for them to consume. Here are some snacks you can give to your turtle:

  • Give your turtle-dried shrimp to mix things up. Also, they feature the important nutrients to make your turtle happy. 
  • Meat, such as ground beef, is a great source of protein. Turtles will use their teeth to cut apart the large pieces of meat. However, you want to avoid giving your turtle raw meat, as it can lead to potential health problems.
  • Vegetables: You can feed your turtles leafy greens 3-4 times a week. Give them 1-2 teaspoons of mustard greens, collards, or kale.  If your turtle doesn’t eat the greens within 4 hours, remove them from the tank.  

Give your turtles ¼ cup of fresh food once a day. Adjust the portion based on how quickly your turtle will eat it. About 80% of their daily diet should have vegetables like dandelions and collard greens. For fun, give your turtles sweet potato, cauliflower, or squash. 


Cheese is not necessary for a turtle’s diet. Turtles cannot process it, and its excessive protein content will damage their digestive system. Alternatively, give your turtle leafy greens, chopped chicken, and fruits to maximize nutritional value. 

As a pet owner, you need to observe your turtle’s health. If your turtle consumed cheese by accident, chances are you should take them to the vet.

By feeding your turtle a balanced diet, they won’t need cheese to survive!


Can Turtles Eat Cheese Balls?

Avoid giving your turtle cheese balls. They are still considered dairy products, and some have preservatives in them. Instead, give your turtle a balanced diet of protein, vegetables, and fruit. That way, your turtle remains healthy. 

Also read

Can Turtles Eat Ham?

Can Turtles Eat Bread?

Can Turtles Drink Milk?

Can Turtles eat Bananas

Can Turtles Eat Chicken?

Can Turtles Eat Cherries?

Can Turtles Eat Eggs?

Sources and references

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