Can Turtles Eat Chocolate? What To Do If Your Turtle Ate Chocolate?

May 23, 2021

can turtles eat chocolate

Chocolates are my favorite choice for desserts and treats. Although they’re notorious for being high on sugar and calories, they’re also excellent sources of essential minerals. But do they impart the same pros and cons to turtles? Today let’s find out can turtles eat chocolate or not. 

Can Turtles Eat Chocolates?

No, turtles absolutely cannot eat chocolates. They contain high amounts of sugar, milk, cocoa, butter, preservatives, and emulsifiers – all of which aren’t just harmful but deadly if given in high quantities to turtles. Their digestive and metabolizing functions aren’t capable of handling food filled with dairy and carbs. 

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Why Is Chocolate Dangerous For Turtles? 

can turtles eat chocolate
White chocolate

A turtle’s metabolism is significantly lower than ours. Thus, the toxins from chocolate stay in their body for a much longer time, which means they can travel to the brain and circulate throughout the body. In most cases, it will cause diarrhoea and muscle spasm. Worst case scenario – your turtle could have seizures and even a heart attack. 

Now that you know why turtles can’t eat chocolates, let’s dissect the reasons in detail below: 

High On Sugar 

100 grams of chocolate contains 24 grams of sugar. And a turtle’s gut doesn’t produce enzymes that can digest high amounts of sugar. It can cause. Sugar is known to cause insulin resistance and cholesterol spikes in turtles. 

One might think feeding tiny bits of chocolate here and there won’t cause a problem. In most cases, there are no immediate repercussions. However, in the long run, the sugar and cholesterol present in chocolates will definitely cause complications like obesity and stunted growth. 

Turtles Can’t Digest Dairy 

Reptiles don’t need dairy at any stage of their lives. Thus, they lack the enzymes necessary to break down and digest lactose. And no surprises – chocolates contain dairy products like milk or milk powders. 

As a result, this can irritate your pet’s stomach and cause diarrhoea. 

Loaded With Artificial Ingredients 

Store-bought chocolates are full of artificial flavours, colors, and preservatives. And, of course, these are all bad for your pet turtle. While we’re yet to have any concrete research that studies their effects on turtles, it’s a no-brainer to know that they’ll have harmful impacts. 

From hydrogenated oil and vannalin to fructose syrups and sorbitol, chocolates are packed to the brim with ingredients that will wreak havoc in your turtle’s system. 

Wrong Calcium Phosphorus Ratio 

The ideal calcium-phosphorus ratio for turtles is 2:1. However, 100 grams of chocolate contains 73 milligrams of calcium and 715 milligrams of potassium. That’s 0.10:1. Way off the mark, right?

Calcium deficiency results in bone disorders like Metabolic Bone Disease (MBI), which deforms the bone and carapace. 

I Gave My Turtle Chocolates. What Should I Do? 

If your turtle accidentally ate a piece of chocolate, make sure to monitor his behavior for a few hours or days. If you find anything suspicious, immediately ring the vet. In most cases, swallowing a small piece of chocolate once doesn’t cause any palpable reaction that needs medical attention. 

Across several forums, I read about owners accidentally feeding chocolates to their turtle. Fortunately, their turtles turned out okay since it was just a tiny amount once. 

However, you should never knowingly give chocolate to turtles. 

Can Box Turtles Eat Chocolates?

can box turtles eat chocolates
A Box Turtle

No. Box turtles, or any other kind of turtle, should not be given chocolate. Their bodies cannot digest the high dose of sugar, dairy, and artificial ingredients present in chocolates. 

For Box turtles, you need to feed a diet that includes 50% leafy greens and vegetables and 50% animal-based protein. 

Chocolate Alternatives For Turtles 

Treats are treats for a reason. You should never overindulge your turtle on treats. There are several options available for treats, ranging from fruits to live feed. However, you should only give these in moderation to keep your pet’s health in check. 

Here’s a list of healthy and delicious treats for turtles if given in moderation:

  • Berries 
  • Orange
  • Apple 
  • Cherries 
  • Papaya
  • Cucumber 
  • Shrimp 
  • Cricket 
  • Bloodworm 
  • Daphnia 
  • Slug 
  • Beetle 
  • Redworms 

Conclusion On Can Turtles Eat Chocolates

No, turtles cannot and should not ever eat chocolates. 

Saying that turtles cannot digest the ingredients found in chocolates would be an understatement. In fact, most of these ingredients are downright toxic for turtles. 

To cut it short, if your turtle indulges in chocolate repeatedly or consumes a large amount at once, it could cause grave issues like insulin resistance, spiked cholesterol level, muscle plasma, and seizures. 

If your pet accidentally consumed chocolates, make sure to monitor the symptoms and contact the vet as soon as you find anything fishy. 

Read Next:

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rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.