Do Turtles Eat Apples? Can Apple Seeds Cause Cyanide Poisoning?

May 13, 2021

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. This Welsh saying from the 1800s holds a lot of significance for humans. For us, apples are some of the world’s healthiest fruits. Are they just as healthy for turtles? Not so much… 

Find out below! 

Do Turtles Eat Apples?

Yes, turtles definitely eat apples, and it’s good for their health as well. However, like all fruits, apples should only be given as a treat once in a while. Although apples are loaded with essential nutrients turtles need, they also contain high amounts of sugar and acid. And going by a turtle’s standard, it can cause ingestion. 

Actually, “do turtles eat apples” and “can turtles eat apples” are two entirely different questions with different weights. 

As omnivores, turtles have a taste for most food varieties. No wonder they’ll love to eat sweet, juicy, tangy apples. However, they also have a poor sense of judgment. They can go on and on without stopping. 

As I mentioned above, apples should only be fed within limits. We will discuss a few caveats associated with them. But first, let’s have a look at the nutrition chart. 

How Often Should Turtles Eat Apples?

Apples, like any other fruits, should only be given as an occasional snack.

You can feed apples twice a month mixed with other food. However, I do know some owners who feed apples weekly with no problem. But I’d suggest giving apples just once or twice a month.

How Nutritious Are Apples?

Universally, apples are one of the most popular and nourishing fruits we know. Loaded with vitamins and fibres, this fruit is also an excellent source of antioxidants like quercetin, catechin, and chlorogenic. 

Here’s the nutrition chart for 100 grams of apples:

Nutrient Amount
Protein0.3 g
Fibre2.4 g
Vitamin C4.6 g
Vitamin E0.18 g
Vitamin A54 IU
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)0.017mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.026 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 0.09 mg
Potassium 107 mg
Calcium 6 mg
Iron 0.12 mg 
Magnesium 5 g
Calories 52 Kcal 

As you can see, apples are packed with nutrients needed for a healthy body. But what do they mean for turtles? 

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Health Benefits Of Apples For Turtles

If given in limits, apples have a lot of benefits to impart to turtles. Their rich antioxidant content helps to fight infections, while the minerals ensure bone and shell development. Likewise, vitamin A helps to keep many eye health and respiration-related ailments at bay. 

Vitamin A Boosts Vision And Respiratory Functions 

Apples have a reliable concentration of vitamin A, which is crucial for a healthy turtle. In fact, vitamin A is one of the two most critical vitamins turtles need. For starters, it helps in maintaining eye health and boosting respiratory functions. 

Likewise, vitamin A also helps in the development of healthy skin and mucous membranes. And the lack of this nutrient can cause complications like Hypervitaminosis A and Squamous Metaplasia. 

Antioxidants Fight Infections 

Apples are super-rich in antioxidants like quercetin, catechin, and chlorogenic. These antioxidants help to bolster immunity in turtles. In addition to prevention, they also help heal ongoing infections and diseases faster by reducing potential infections.

If a turtle is sick, the chances of an infection being spread are pretty high since they live in water. Thus, food rich in antioxidants helps to reduce the chances of aggravation. 

Minerals Strengthen Bone And Shell Health

As you can see, apples also contain a generous serving of essential minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. These minerals play an important role in the overall growth and strengthening of the bones and shell. 

Lack of minerals, especially calcium, can lead to Metabolic Bone Disease, characterized by a weakened skeleton system, carapace, and plastron. 

Protein Helps With Overall Development 

Turtles, especially juveniles, need protein in their diet since it helps with healthy shell development. Luckily, apples make a good source of protein. 

Protein deficiency can cause stunning and several other lifelong impairments in turtles. 

So, as you can see, apples make nutritious treats for turtles if given sparsely. I usually give my pets twice a month as a refreshing treat, and they love it. However, there are few drawbacks attached to feeding apples if you don’t pay attention to portion size or the quality. 

Remember, apples can only be harmful to turtles if you overfeed them. Overconsumption of apples can often lead to complications like obesity, lethargy, and acid reflux. Likewise, it can also cause choking hazards and ingestion. 

Keep reading! 

6 Things To Consider Before Feeding Your Turtle Apples 

When overfed, apples can cause acid reflux, bloating, and indigestion turtles. They may also develop a taste for sweet food and avoid eating other healthy veggies and greens. Likewise, it would help if you were careful about the apples you buy since most available in the market are laden with pesticides. 

A sliced apple
A sliced apple.

They May Have Trouble Digesting Sugar and Acid

A turtle’s body doesn’t produce enzymes that mainly work to break down sugary and acidic food like apples. So, if your pet binges on apples, there’s a good chance that he will wake up the next day with a bloated, aching stomach. 

They May Become Picky Eaters 

Most turtles love anything with sugar in it. Now add a dash of tangy, and you get apples. If your turtle gets used to yummy treats like apples, he’ll most definitely try to deter away from other food like veggies, greens, and pellets. 

Fruits are super healthy, but turtles should be fed fruits sporadically. Suppose your pet’s diet is heavily inclined towards fruits. In that case, it will slow down his metabolism and lead to future health complications. 

Apples May Contain Toxic Levels Of Pesticides 

Unfortunately, apples are often one of the top contenders for the Environment Working Group’s Dirty Dozen food list. According to their 2021 report, apples contain an average of 4.4 pesticide residues, with some at very high concentrations. 

And obviously, your turtles can have adverse reactions to these pesticides. And to make matters even worse, studies have found that pesticide residues can remain in a turtle’s body for more than a decade! 

We can only imagine how badly these chemicals compromise a turtle’s life expectancy. That’s why you need to always buy organic apples from the sources you trust – there’s no room for errors here. 

Fructose May Cause Insulin Resistance 

A 100 grams apple contains 5.9 grams of fructose and 2.4 grams of glucose. Unfortunately, these sugar compounds have been known to cause sugar spikes in turtles. They’re also responsible for insulin resistance. 

Irregularities in these functions can lead to some quite severe disadvantages for your turtle, with obesity being just one of them. 

Apples Can Be Acidic For Turtles 

Some apples are more acidic than others. And if you feed the wrong kinds of apples in big volumes, it can cause acid reflux in turtles. Usually, green apples are more acidic than red ones – you might want to skip them. 

In the short term, your turtle will only experience minor side effects like an upset stomach. However, if you don’t guard the apple consumption, it could lead to potential mineral bone loss and disturbed kidney functions. 

Be Wary Of Choking Hazard 

Turtles are greedy eaters. On top of that, they don’t have teeth and saliva to aid chewing and swallowing. So, with fruits like apples, the chances of choking hazard increase quite substantially. Make sure you only give bitesize pieces and discard the apple core. 

Wow, these 6 pointers do feel like a lot! Is feeding apples worth the risks? Don’t worry!

While it’s good to be educated on a turtle’s dietary needs, Don’t let these considerations keep you from feeding your turtle apples. When given in moderation, apples are super healthy for turtles. 

Make sure you watch the proportion. 

I answered do turtles eat apples, but other apple parts demand a separate answer! 

Let’s see what they are.

Can Turtles Eat Apple Skin?

A skinned apple.
A skinned apple.

Apples with the skin on contain 50% more phytonutrients than peeled apples. Apple peels are an excellent source of antioxidants. So, yes, your turtle can definitely eat apple skin. 

However, if you are not sure if the apples you bought are organic and free of pesticides, you can peel the skin. These days, most fruits, including apples, are sprayed with insecticides and pesticides to preserve them for a long time. 

To make the matter worse, apples are often polished with wax in some parts of the world to make them look shiny and aesthetic. 

So, I’d again request to buy locally sourced, organic fruits whose origin can be traced! 

Can Turtles Eat Apple Seeds?

Apple seeds indeed contain amygdalin, a substance that releases cyanide into the bloodstream. A human will only suffer cyanide poisoning if he consumes over 150 apple seeds. However, the effects of cyanide or apple seeds on turtles haven’t been studied yet. 

We don’t really know how many apple seeds are too many for turtles. So, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure to remove all the apple seeds and discard them properly before feeding your turtle apples. 

Can Turtles Eat Cooked Apples?

Yes, you can give your turtle cooked apples if you’re worried they cannot swallow them. However, when cooking, the apple loses most of its vitamin C content due to heat. So, if possible. I suggest giving small pieces of raw apple. 

Also, cooking apples, also known as culinary apples, contain higher amounts of citric acids that can trigger vomiting and diarrhoea. It’s better to stick to regular ones. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do turtles eat apples
A Box Turtle in the wild.

Do Box Turtles Eat Apples?

No two turtle’s taste preferences are the same. My box turtle loves citrus fruits – apples, not so much. However, they do eat apples as well. 

For box turtles, the general practice is 50% animal protein, 40% veggies, and around 10% fruits. So, yes, you can give bite-sized pieces after removing the skin once in a while.

Can Baby Turtles Eat Apples? 

Yes, baby turtles can eat apples. But I’d suggest giving it even more sparsely. Maybe once a month if you really want to. Baby turtles need a diet heavily focused on animal protein to ensure proper growth. 

Conclusion On Do Turtles Eat Apples?

Do turtles eat apples? Yes, they do. But the right question to ask here is, “can turtles eat apples?’. Once again, the answer is yes. 

Apple is perfectly safe and healthy for turtles when given in moderation. However, they shouldn’t make up a major part of their diet every day. If overfed, turtles cannot digest the apple’s sugar and acidic content. 

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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.