Do Turtles Eat Lettuce? Or Does It Cause Diarrhea In Turtles?

Jun 25, 2021

Do turtles eat lettuce

Green, leafy vegetables should make up at least 50% of a turtle’s diet. And luckily, turtles aren’t too picky with what they eat. You have an array of healthy options to choose from. In this blog, we’ll discuss how lettuce fares. 

Do Turtles Eat Lettuce?

Yes, as omnivores, turtles eat lettuce. However, due to its high water content, lettuce isn’t the most nutritious vegetable to feed your turtle. You can give Romaine and red leaf lettuce occasionally as they are healthier. But avoid giving Iceberg lettuce since it has no nutritional value for turtles. 

Watch this fun video of a aquatic turtle feasting on lettuce!

Do Turtles Eat Lettuce Leaves? 

Yes, turtles can eat lettuce leaves. In fact, leaves make the most nutritional part of this vegetable as they contain a lesser amount of water than stems. 

When giving lettuce leaves to your turtle, make sure not to cut them into extremely finer pieces. This way, all of the nutritious juice will transfer to the chopping board – leaving not much value for your pet. 

Do Turtles Eat Lettuce Stems? 

Absolutely. But as you have already guessed, stems have the highest amount of water – offering negligible nutrition value. However, they make great treats for dehydrated turtles. 

If the stem pieces are too big, this can lead to a choking hazard. Make sure to give small, bite-size stems. 

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Can Turtles Eat Iceberg Lettuce?

Iceberg lettuce
Iceberg lettuce

Lettuce is a filler food with high water content. In fact, Iceberg lettuce is 96% just water. It can be a gym weight loss enthusiast’s dream, but turtles, not so much. He might enjoy nibbling on it, but since there’s no real benefit, you can switch to other better lettuce options.

Can Turtles Eat Romaine Lettuce? 

Romaine lettuce has a pretty good nutrition profile, although it too is mostly just water. It consists of several essential nutrients beneficial for a turtle’s health. It’s low in calories, sodium, sugar, and carbs but high in vitamins and minerals.

Let’s have a look!

Nutrition Facts For 100 Grams Of Romanian Lettuce 

Nutrient Amount
Calories 17
Fat 0.3 grams
Protein1.2 grams
Vitamin A174%
Vitamin C6.7%
Iron5.4%
Calcium2.5%
Potassium247 mg
Sodium8 mg

Note: Percent daily values are calculated with a 2000 calorie diet as a base. 

Is Lettuce Healthy For Turtles?

 

lettuce

Although lettuce is low in fiber, as you can see, it is naturally high in minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. On top of that, it is packed with Vitamin A, C, and K. Thus, when given in moderation, Romaine lettuce makes a nourishing snack for your turtle. 

Now let’s see what these nutrients mean for a turtle – why are they important?

Vitamin C 

In addition to boosting your turtle’s immune system, vitamin C’s antioxidant properties will also help fight infections. 

Vitamin A 

In turtles, vitamin A is necessary to develop mucous membranes, healthy skin, and ducts within organs. Its deficiency often results in eye and respiratory infections. 

Vitamin K 

A lack of vitamin K could lead to bleeding through the mouth in turtles. It’s essential for turtles to regulate blood clotting and blood calcium levels. 

Calcium 

Like most reptiles, turtles need calcium for healthy bone and muscular functions. It is also crucial to ensure proper shell development – especially in juveniles. 

Phosphorus 

Similar to calcium, phosphorus helps in the development and maintenance of healthy shells and bones in turtles. 

Can Lettuce Cause Diarrhea In Turtles? 

I have never experienced it with my turtles. But I came across several pet parents in forums who reported their pets had diarrhea after eating lettuce. While there is no concrete proof that lettuce is the real culprit, we cannot rule out the possibility since it’s mostly made up of water. 

And overhydration makes kidneys unable to process and excrete all the excess liquid in the body – resulting in unpleasant symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

So, if you’re giving lettuce, don’t forget to regulate the portion and gauge symptoms (at least for the first few times). 

How Much Lettuce Can You Give Your Turtle? 

Personally, I give my turtles lettuce about twice a month, mixed with other veggies and fruits. If you’re introducing lettuce to your pet’s diet, you can do the same. Overfeeding lettuce can lead to overhydration. Make sure to moderate the portion. 

When introducing your pet to lettuce, don’t forget to study his appetite and droppings for the first few days. Although I have never heard of a turtle having an adverse reaction to lettuce, it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?

Can I Give Steamed Lettuce To My Turtle? 

Yes, you can. However, when boiled, lettuce loses most of its nutrition content. The same goes for blanching. In fact, studies have shown that lettuce loses its vitamin C content by up to 50% when cooked. So, even though you can give boiled lettuce, it’s best to stick to raw options.

Also, most produce, including lettuce, lose around 30% of their nutrients within the first three days from harvest. So, as long as it’s possible, always strive to give fresh lettuce. 

Is Lettuce High In Pesticides? 

Yes, unfortunately, lettuce often always makes the list of dirty dozen foods with most pesticides. Reportedly, over 50 different pesticides have been identified on lettuce. 

Thus, always make a point to buy organic, locally-produced lettuce, which can be tracked to its source. 

What Can You Give Your Turtle Instead Of Lettuce? 

If you think there’s a bit too much risk with lettuce to your liking, don’t worry – there are plenty of other healthy alternatives. 

Here’s a list of healthy greens and veggies for turtles:

  • Zucchini 
  • Carrot
  • Squash
  • Parsley
  • Green Beans 
  • Turnip Greens 
  • Clover 
  • Collard Greens 
  • Swiss Chard 
  • Beet
  • Yam
  • Cabbage

Here’s a list of aquatic plants for turtles:

  • Duckweed 
  • Frogbit 
  • Anacharis 
  • Water Hyacinth 
  • Azolla

Here’s a list of beneficial fruits for turtles:

  • Apples 
  • Berries 
  • Guava 
  • Kiwi 
  • Mango 
  • Grapes
  • Peaches 
  • Melons 

Here’s a list of nutritious animal protein for turtles: 

Earthworms

  • Shrimp
  • Daphnia 
  • Snails 
  • Bloodworms 
  • Silkworms
  • Feeder Fish 
  • Wax Worms 

Does My Turtle Need Nutrient Supplement? 

It isn’t compulsory, but it’s definitely best if you bolster your pet turtle’s diet with some crucial nutrients. The general practice in turtle-raising communities is to give multivitamins with calcium and vitamin D3 a few times a week. 

Here’s one by Zoo Med that I give my turtles. 

While there are many brands and options to choose from, I like the fact that the calcium in these supplements comes from bioavailable sources. 

Another great option to fortify your turtle’s diet is to give a cuttlebone since it also helps to keep beak overgrowth in check.

Conclusion On Do Turtles Eat Lettuce

Do turtles eat lettuce? Yes, they definitely do. Turtles eat both lettuce leaves and stems. But don’t give boiled lettuce since it will have lost most of its nutritional properties. 

Likewise, it’s best not to give iceberg lettuce since it has a negligible amount of nutrients. 

On the other hand, Romaine lettuce can be pretty good for your turtle. It’s rich in nutrients like calcium, potassium, vitamin A, C, and K. 

And lastly, only buy organic lettuce from a reliable seller since most lettuce contains high amounts of pesticides that can wreak havoc on your pet’s health. 

Keep Reading!

Can Turtles Eat Crickets? Do They Like It?

Can Turtles Eat Grass? What About Flowers, Succulents, And Herbs?

Can A Turtle Live Without A Shell? Six Reasons They Cannot

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.