Can Turtles Eat Oranges? Consider These 4 Points First

May 17, 2021

can turtles eat oranges

Do you know orange is the biggest citrus fruit in the world? And there are over 600 varieties of oranges! They’re delicious and juicy – definitely a refreshing treat on a sunny day. But can turtles eat oranges like we do? Will it help cool them down on a sweltering day or cause unforeseen mishaps? 

Keep reading to know!

Can Turtles Eat Oranges? 

Yes, turtles can eat oranges. But like all other fruits, it should only be given as a treat every once in a while. It’s loaded with essential nutrients turtles need but is also acidic and sugary. So, if you want to feed oranges, always make sure to give it sparsely, mixed with other food, once or twice a month. 

I dug and skimmed through dozens of pages and research papers, but I didn’t come across any concrete studies that dissected orange’s impact on turtles. 

However, on several forums, turtle parents reported that they occasionally give small orange slices and haven’t had any issues. But some also said to steer clear from giving anything citrusy. 

So, the choice is yours. But your turtle won’t run into any short or long-term problems as long as you are giving oranges sporadically. 

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Can turtles eat oranges
Orange peel and juice.

Can Turtles Eat Orange Peels?

Orange peels, especially the rinds, are packed with vitamins and antioxidants. But I’d still recommend against giving them. Peels are just as acidic as the pulp, if not more. On top of that, they are bitter, hard to digest, and often laden with pesticides. 

So, only resort to giving the pulp when you do. 

Can Turtles Drink Orange Juice? 

No, turtles cannot and should not drink orange juice. Naturally, the juice will have very high concentrations of citric acid, which will wreak havoc in your pet’s digestive tracts. Juices are also high in sugar, which can cause an insulin spike in turtles. 

Even more, if the orange juice in question is store-bought, it’ll be loaded with artificial flavors, syrups, and preservatives. Goes without saying, this will be even more detrimental to your pet’s 

Can Turtles Eat Orange Seed? 

Orange seeds contain traces of cyanide. And while the effects on turtles haven’t been studied, it’s definitely best to remove all the seeds before feeding. That being said, if your turtle accidentally swallows one or two seeds, you don’t have to worry about it. 

But always exercise maximum caution.

Here’s an ASMR video of a turtle eating oranges:

Now, let’s look at the pros and cons of giving oranges to turtles. Do the pros outweigh the cons?

Nutrition Facts For Oranges 

Oranges are primarily made up of water and carbs, but they also contain generous servings of fiber. And as you already know, oranges are packed with loads of essential vitamins and minerals. The most notable ones are vitamin C, thiamine, potassium, and folate. 

Nutrition Chart For An Orange (140 Grams Approx.)

Nutrient Amount
Calorie 69
Protein1.3 grams
Dietary Fiber 3.1 grams
Sugar 12 grams
Vitamin C138%
Vitamin A6.9% 
Iron 1%
Calcium 4.6%

Note: The percent values are derived on the basis of a 2000 calorie diet. 

As evident from the table above, you can see oranges are highly nutritious foods. But what does this chart mean for turtles? Let’s see. 

3 Health Benefits Of Oranges For Turtles 

When given in moderation, oranges impart many health benefits to turtles. Its rich vitamin C content helps bolster immunity, whereas vitamin A helps to upkeep eye and respiratory health, and calcium ensures proper bone development.

Vitamin A Helps Eye and Respiratory Health 

Oranges have a moderate amount of vitamin A, one of the two most essential vitamins for turtles. This nutrient is vital for turtles to keep eye infections and respiratory illnesses in check. It also contributes to maintaining healthy skin and mucous membranes. 

On the other hand, lack of vitamin A could lead to diseases like Hypervitaminosis A and Squamous Metaplasia. 

Vitamin C Strengthens Immunity 

It wouldn’t be wrong to say oranges are synonymous with vitamin C. And although this vitamin isn’t one of two imperative ones that turtles need, it definitely helps maintain immunity and fight disease-causing pathogens. 

When turtles are injured or ill, the chances of catching an infection heightens because they interact with water a lot. Especially in those times, food rich in vitamin C can definitely help to keep the turtle healthy. 

Calcium Nourishes Bones And Shell 

Calcium is one of the most critical minerals turtles need for the healthy development of bones and shell. And luckily, oranges boast of a pretty decent calcium profile. In turtles, calcium deficiency can lead to many grave consequences. 

And one such example is Metabolic Bone Disease, which weakens the entire skeleton system, including plastron and carapace. 

Oranges have long reigned as an immune-boosting superfood. They offer a host of disease-fighting nutrients and keep the immune in check. But still, why do we have to walk on eggshells when it comes to giving them to turtles?

4 Things To Consider When Giving Oranges To Turtles 

Orange in itself is never harmful to turtles. The problems will only surface if you overfeed them. If your pet consumes too many oranges, the fructose, citric acid, and pesticides present in oranges can pose dangers. For instance, there are chances of insulin resistance and imbalanced pH levels in the digestive tract. 

Oranges Have High Fructose Content 

Oranges contain fructose, fruit sugar – and a turtle’s digestive system isn’t built to process that. Also, fructose is known to cause cholesterol spikes in turtles. And overall, when turtles eat food with too much sugar in it, this will eventually cause insulin resistance. 

Always keep in mind not to go overboard when giving oranges to your turtle. 

Citric Acid Can Cause Upset Stomach 

Oranges have a generous serving of citric acid. If your pet eats lots of oranges, the citric acid present in the fruit can change the digestive tract’s pH levels! In turn, it will wipe out the colonies of beneficial bacteria, and toxins will cross the gut wall to enter the bloodstream. 

And when toxins make their way into the blood, turtles often suffer from Toxic Shock Syndrome, which can be fatal for them. 

So, always make sure to regulate the amount you give and altogether avoid giving orange juice. 

They Become Choosy Eaters 

Oranges are tasty – and your pet turtle will agree. If you give delicious snacks like oranges more often, your pet will develop a taste for it in no time. And before you know, he’ll start discarding dark, leafy greens you lovingly prepared for him. ‘

And it’s never a good idea to include too many fruits in a turtle’s diet. Obesity is just one of many side effects of feeding too many fruits. 

Orange Peels Can Have Pesticides 

Unfortunately, oranges are often laden with harmful pesticides like thiabendazole and imazalil. Several studies have reported that these pesticides are found in orange peels. And if you don’t know, traces of pesticides can remain in a turtle’s system for more than a decade! 

There are both short and long-term implications of giving food that contains pesticides. Thus, as long as possible, only buy organic oranges for turtles. Also, don’t give peels or rinds. 

That’s pretty much everything you need to know on can turtles eat oranges or not. Now that you know both pros and cons, I hope you’re well equipped to decide when and how much to feed oranges. 

Before you go, have a quick look at our FAQ section. Maybe there’s a query that has crossed your mind too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Oranges in kitchen sink
Oranges

Can Turtles Eat Mandarin Oranges?

Yes, turtles can definitely eat mandarin oranges, but you know the drill, right? You can give a few pieces occasionally as a refreshing treat. In fact, mandarins contain even more beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin than regular oranges. 

So, if you have decided to give oranges, mandarins can be a good choice. 

Can Aquatic Turtles Eat Oranges? 

In the wild, fruits like oranges never form a part of an aquatic turtle’s diet. They primarily eat critters, fish, and aquatic plants. You can definitely try introducing oranges to their diet, but don’t try again if they’re not receptive. 

Can Box Turtles Eat Oranges? 

Yes, box turtles can eat oranges. However, it’s not something they eat in their natural environment. So, when giving, make sure to regulate the frequency and portion. Also, if he doesn’t like it, don’t force it. 

Can Box Turtles Eat Mandarin oranges?

Yes, Box turtles can eat mandarin oranges just like they’d eat regular oranges – a few slices here and there occasionally. 

Can Painted Turtles Eat Oranges? 

As semi-aquatic turtles, painted turtles love eating animal-based protein and aquatic plants. Oranges don’t fit in their diet naturally. So, if you’d like to introduce oranges, don’t give more than a few small pieces once in a blue moon. 

Can Red-Eared Sliders Eat Oranges?

Just like Painted turtles, Sliders don’t get to eat citrus fruits in the wild. Thus, their digestive system is most probably not used to it. Yes, they can eat oranges in moderation, but let it be if they don’t seem interested. 

Can Red-Eared Sliders Eat Clementine Oranges? 

Clementines are more sugary and less acidic than normal oranges. So, it’s really tricky to answer this one. Yes, your Red-eared slider can eat clementines as long as you are giving it within limits. 

Can Tortoises Eat Oranges? 

Tortoises can eat oranges as long as you are feeding them within limits. Giving oranges occasionally can be refreshing and nourishing, thanks to its rich mineral and vitamin content. But overfeeding oranges can also lead to an unsettled stomach, insulin resistance, obesity, and so on. 

Unlike their aquatic cousins, tortoises are herbivores who only eat grass, hay, fruits, and veggies. They have a relatively limited palate compared to omnivore turtles. But fruits like oranges should never make more than 5-10% of their main diet. 

Conclusion On Can Turtles Eat Oranges 

Yes, turtles can eat oranges. But I cannot stress enough that oranges should only be given every once in a while as a small treat for being a good boy or a good girl! 

That’s because their digestive tracts aren’t built like ours. The food we deem super nutritious and healthy can be challenging for turtles to digest. 

Plus, their nutritional requirements aren’t the same as ours. Nutrients imperative to us can very well act like antinutrients for turtles.

Not just oranges – all fruits should only be given as treats. They should never be included in their regular, staple diet. 

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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.