A staple diet for humans, does rice have the same effects on our reptile pals?
Here’s a quick fact for you: There are over 43,000 varieties of rice.
With that many varieties, even if your turtle doesn’t eat one particular kind, will it eat others? Or is it impossible for turtles to digest rice?
That is what we are about to find out.
Can Turtles Eat Rice?
Turtles devour nearly every kind of food they are served, so they will eat rice, too. However, rice doesn’t contain the nutrients and vitamins that turtles need. Hence, you need to feed your turtles rice occasionally and moderately.
Here’s a nutrient content in a 1.3 cup of cooked white rice:
- Energy: 68 calories
- Protein: 1.42g
- Fat: 0.15g
- Carbohydrates: 14.84g
- Fiber: 0.2g
- Sugars: 0.03g
- Calcium: 5mg
- Iron: 0.63 mg
- Sodium: 1mg
- Fatty Acid: 0.04g
Is Rice Beneficial To Turtles?
Rice doesn’t hold many benefits for turtles except keeping them full. Although rice does have vitamins, it does not have the necessary ones that turtles need, i.e., vitamin A and vitamin D.
Feeding rice too much or too often can backfire with adverse effects.
In general, an adult turtle should have a 50% meat-based and 50% plant-based diet. And for a baby turtle, the ratio should be 70:30.
However, there’s no portion of diet reserved for grains.
Then, Does It Mean That Rice Has No Benefits At All For Turtles?
Well, rice does have carbohydrates and is rich in fiber. Carbohydrate provides energy, and fiber keeps your turtle full.
And while we are at it, let’s discuss further benefits of feeding turtles rice.
Rice has a high fiber content, especially brown rice. Fiber-rich food helps keep turtles full, meaning you won’t see your turtles begging for food after binging on rice.
Has Manganese And Selenium
Both these minerals are known for their antioxidant functions. Consuming rice will boost your turtle’s immune system and help in cell regeneration.
Rice lowers a turtle’s cholesterol levels and controls sugar spikes. If fed moderately, it can give energy without making your turtle obese.
Not only does it keep turtles full, but it also nurtures bacteria in the gut. Consuming rice will nourish the gut bacteria and help with everyday digestion.
It also helps in reducing a turtle’s chances of developing heart conditions.
Those were the benefits of serving rice to your turtles. What about the risks?
What Will Happen If You Feed Too Much Rice?
Binging on rice will definitely have its effects on a turtle’s system. Vomiting, irregular bowel movement, and obesity are effects of consuming too much rice.
Even worse, turtles that eat rice daily can suffer from heart diseases and kidney failure.
Here are some reasons why rice isn’t the preferred food choice for turtles:
Hard To Digest
It is a known fact that a turtle’s digestive system isn’t apt to digest most grains. Hence, ingesting rice, especially uncooked or overcooked, in large amounts can disrupt your pet’s digestive system.
You can tell it by observing its feces and vomit.
Lacks Necessary Vitamins
Turtles need Vitamin A, K, and D, which aren’t found in rice. Instead, rice has vitamin B and E, which is not significant to their system.
Too Much Of Carbohydrate
Carbohydrates are necessary for turtles. But, an abundance of carbs can make a turtle obese. Further complications of the heart, liver, and kidney can also arise.
How Much And How Often Should You Serve Rice To Your Turtle?
You can feed your turtle rice once a month. Make sure you provide it an amount that it can finish within 15 minutes.
Some turtles, especially babies, will find it hard to digest rice. Undigested food will result in unusual poop color.
If that is the case, observe further signs and contact a nearby vet immediately.
How To Feed Rice To Your Turtle?
You should never give uncooked rice to your turtle. Also, avoid serving overcooked rice. Provide only well-cooked rice.
Boiled Rice Vs. Steamed Rice. Which One To Serve Your Turtles?
It doesn’t matter how you serve rice to your turtles as long as it is properly cooked. Steam-cooked rice has a stickier form, whereas boiled rice will be more firm and fluffier. Rice cooked in both ways is safe for turtles.
Which Rice To Choose For Turtles?
Any kind of rice that you eat will do. But as brown rice is considered more nutritious than white (well, it is for humans), it will be better to serve brown rice.
Why Shouldn’t You Serve Overcooked Rice To Turtles?
Cooking will make it easier for turtles to digest the grains. However, overcooking has the reverse effect. Rice has its own specific enzymes that facilitate the digestive process.
Overcooking rice will destroy such enzymes – thus, making it indigestible.
Furthermore, overcooked rice has carcinogenic compounds; acrylamide is one such compound that can cause terminal illness in turtles. The formation of this compound starts at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, you shouldn’t ever feed overcooked rice.
Final Words On Can Turtles Eat Rice?
As a responsible pet owner, you should know which foods are safe and which aren’t.
Generally, turtles do not eat grain in the wild, so they are better off without consuming it. It would rather be healthy if they consume leafy veggies and meat.
However, if you want to treat some onigiri (Japanese rice balls) to your turtles, you can do that once a month. Make sure the rice is cooked correctly – not undercooked or overcooked.
And if your turtle shows signs like throwing up after eating, it means that either you are overfeeding or your turtle is allergic to grains.