After you get a turtle from the store, one of the very first questions you’ll have is what to feed it. Turtles may not act like they need very much, but they certainly need to be fed like any other creature.
And though they’re mostly omnivorous, happy with whatever you throw at them, you’d do well to be a little more discerning with their diet.
Some specific foods that seem perfectly safe for turtles actually aren’t.
Papayas, for example,
can only be eaten by certain species of turtle.
Even if your turtle can enjoy papayas, it’s best to offer them in moderation and never allow them to eat the skins or seeds.
Papayas are often touted in the human world as a mysterious tropical fruit with fantastic health benefits. But papayas also contain a lot of antioxidants. These antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties that are excellent for healing in humans, but they’re less than helpful for turtles.
In this post, we’ll go over some of the risks and benefits of feeding certain species of turtle papayas in moderation.
We’ll also break down, species by species, which turtles you can safely offer papaya to as a treat.
Some of them will be delighted, others won’t.
Benefits of Feeding Papaya to Turtles
Before getting into the benefits of feeding papaya to certain species of turtle, let’s go over the few that won’t tolerate them at all. Red-eared slider turtles should never be fed papayas.
These turtles are semi-aquatic, and their diet should be made up of marine plant life and fish. Adding papayas to their diet would be too unnatural and would hurt their health.
The same can be said of green sea turtles and most other aquatic turtles.
To understand what benefits papayas do offer to turtles, we need to look at the nutritional data on papayas.
Papayas contain a lot of nutrients and vitamins that a turtle relies on.
There are two main vitamins that a turtle needs to stay healthy.
The first is Vitamin D, which the sun can provide. The other is Vitamin A, necessary for the turtle’s reproductive and immune systems as well as eyesight. This is where papaya can be a huge advantage for turtles. Papaya contains Vitamin A in large quantities.
It also contains numerous minerals that the turtle needs, including calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, fiber, fats, proteins and carbohydrates.
The same antioxidants that help us heal help the turtle, but in large quantities, it can be harmful. It’s always important that you offer papaya to your turtle with strict moderation.
Is Papaya Healthy for Turtles?
Papaya, in moderation, can be very healthy for turtles, but it’s important that you always peel and wash the papaya before giving it to your turtle.
The minerals and vitamins in the papaya can benefit your turtle’s health immensely.
But there are certain species of turtle for which the papaya is too foreign a fruit to introduce into their diet. If it’s given to a sea turtle, for instance, it might actually damage their health rather than benefit it.
Can Turtles Eat Papaya Skin?
There appears to still be debate about this online, but the answer is largely no.
You can feed your turtle papaya skin.
It’s not tough like the skin of a watermelon, so your turtle will have no problem chewing on it.
But the question becomes,
why would you?
Oftentimes, humans consume the skin of the fruit because it’s rich in nutrients. But that’s not the case with papaya skin.
In fact, the only thing the skin might contain is the residue of the pesticide or other chemical sprayed on the fruit before you purchased it.
Papaya skin may not be all that appealing to your turtle in the first place, so there’s no particular reason to offer a skin to your pet when it could be poisonous.
It’s best to peel your papaya before giving any to your turtle.
Is it Safe for Turtles to Eat Papaya Seeds?
Papaya seeds have long been used in traditional medicine by humans.
The leaves and seeds have been used to treat conditions such as malaria and smoked to help those suffering from asthma.
Their antibacterial properties have also been known to help with issues related to the liver, kidneys and eradicating any intestinal parasites.
But many of these benefits can only come from proper mastication – in other words, it matters that we’re chewing on them, something a turtle can’t do the same way.
There’s not much data out there about how the seeds affect the health of a turtle, and the general recommendation is not to offer them.
The risk of your turtle choking is too great not to take seriously.
There’s also the concern about what the seeds might do to your turtle’s digestive system.
It’s easy to assume that all turtles have the same diet, but it’s a terrible mistake. Somediets even change dramatically with age, switching from carnivores in their youth to herbivores in their old age.
Can Baby Turtles Eat Papaya?
Papayas are never meant for baby turtles, only adults in moderation.
Remember, the papaya is a treat for a turtle, not a necessary staple.
Baby turtles are at the most important state of their existence. What they eat will very much define their strength and development. It’ll even have a say in their longevity.
So baby turtles should not be getting treats, they should be getting growth food.
As babies, you should offer them specialized food from the store or maintain a strict regimen that has been approved by the veterinarian.
Can Yellow-Bellied Turtles Eat Papaya?
A Yellow-Bellied turtle’s diet is mainly dependent on leafy greens to stay healthy. However, there is some room leftover for fruity treats after dinner, so yes, papaya is an acceptable part of their diet.
Can Red-Eared Sliders Eat Papaya?
The Red-Eared Slider should never be fed papaya. Though these turtles are only semi-aquatic, their diet is entirely aquatic, consisting of sea plant life and fish. Introducing papayas into their diet would be too unnatural and unhealthy.
Can Green Sea Turtles Eat Papaya?
In the wild, green sea turtles spend their entire lives in the ocean. If a semi-aquatic turtle should not be fed a papaya, then a fully aquatic turtle should obviously never be offered one either.
Green sea turtles are vegetarians, however the vegetables they prefer are all aquatic. Introducing a land vegetable would be too unnatural.
Can Desert Turtles Eat Papaya?
Desert turtles are a species whose lifespan is dependent on their diet – the better its maintained, the longer they can be expected to live. But their diet is also incredibly varied, with fruit and vegetables making up only about 15 percent of what they require.
Thus, papaya can be offered to a desert turtle, however it should be done so in moderation.
Can Box Turtles Eat Papaya?
Out of all species of turtle, the box turtle has the most diverse diet, making them one of the most agreeable species to own.
They are capable of eating almost any fruit or vegetable that you might offer them.
In the wild, their diet is primarily made up of various fruits they find as well as tiny insects like mealworms, earthworms and crickets.
Papayas and berries are among some of their favorite fruits, and they can safely eat both.
However much they may like them, it’s still important that they’re given in moderation. Eating too much can seriously interfere with their sugar level.
Papaya is an important part of a land turtles’ diet, offering some very crucial vitamins and minerals that they’d otherwise be lacking.
Factors to Consider Before Giving papaya to Your Turtle.
The first is its species.
Aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles are not used to papaya, usually sticking to aquatic plant life and fish.
Introducing papaya could be seriously damaging to their health.
The second and equally important is how much to give your turtle. And the answer is always in very strict moderation.
Too much papaya can interfere with your pet’s internal sugar levels.
It’s also important to pay attention to what parts of the papaya you’re giving your turtle.
The seeds offer no known nutritional benefits, and the risk of choking makes it not worth experimenting.
And the skin is both not particularly appealing to turtles and potentially harmful if it was sprayed with any chemicals.
For the most part,
however, you’re safe offering papaya to your turtle as a once-in-a-while treat, provided they’re the right species.
Some of them would love nothing more than chewing on papaya all day, however there’s a reason moderation is important.