Painted turtle (Chrysemys picta), native to North America, is a popular semi-aquatic species. Their colorful stripes make them unique to other turtles. So, along with the iconic strips, is there any uniqueness in their diet as well? Let’s dwell more on what do baby painted turtles eat both in the wild and captivity.
What Do Baby Painted Turtles Eat? Baby painted turtles in the wild have to search for food on their own. In this phase, they feed primarily on other living beings to fulfil the protein requirements for healthy shell growth. They feed on blood worms, tadpoles, small insects and other small aquatic creatures, both alive and dead. During scarcity, they will also include algae in their diet.
For a captive baby painted turtle, you can feed it various foods that will provide the nutrients necessary for healthy growth. You can feed them live feeds, feeder fish, protein-rich insects, dried fish, and calcium-filled pellets. During this stage, they mostly prefer carnivore foods to a plant-based diet.
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How Often Should You Feed A Baby Painted Turtle?
Unlike adult turtles, you need to feed your baby painted turtle daily. They are highly active during this stage, so you need to supply them with a rigorous diet to keep them energized. You can feed your baby painted turtle diverse, well-rounded diets 2 to 3 times a day.
How Much Should You Feed A Baby Painted Turtle?
A baby painted turtle can eat more than an adult turtle in terms of body to diet ratio. This is normal because they require much more energy than an adult turtle. So, you can feed a baby painted turtle based on the size of its head or how much food it can finish within 15 minutes.
Should You Feed A Baby Painted Turtle Meat-Based Diet?
A meat-based diet is necessary for a baby painted turtle to grow. Protein, along with calcium, helps in the healthy growth of the shell required for every baby turtle. However, too much meat can cause the pyramiding of its shell. Though pyramiding doesn’t pose any severe impact on its health, it isn’t a natural way for a baby painted turtle to grow.
Is Feeding Too Many Pellets Bad For A Baby Painted Turtle?
You need to ensure that the pellets you feed your baby painted turtle shouldn’t comprise over 30% of his total food. Mix it along with other meaty diets like insects, blood worms, larvae, etc. While getting pellets for your turtle, consider buying ones enriched with minerals and calcium necessary for a growing turtle.
The one I feed to my turtle is the Reptomin Floating Food Sticks. My painted turtles go on an eating frenzy whenever I place these food sticks in the tank. I’ll leave the link below if you want to try feeding your turtle too.
Should You Feed Your Baby Painted Turtle Fruits?
As mentioned earlier, the baby painted turtle’s diet in this stage will mainly comprise meaty products. Fruits at this stage won’t be a preferable choice for your baby turtle. Also, they might be larger for them to eat. Their digestive function might not have been well adapted to Vitamin C, which is highly present in most fruits.
Where Should You Feed Your Baby Painted Turtle?
Most of you might think that placing food in the basking area is appropriate. But no, it isn’t true. The basking area is specifically designated for your turtle to rest and bask. Also, a baby turtle needs to have its mouth placed in the water during feeding. Only then will it be easier for them to feed on and digest. So put your turtle’s food in the water for it to find and eat.
When Should You Switch Your Turtle’s Diet From Carnivorous To An Omnivorous Diet?
Right when your baby turtle is about to reach the sexual stage, i.e., 2-4 years old, you can start giving him a plant-based diet. This is because male painted turtles reach the sexual stage when they are about 2 to 4 years, whereas it may take a female anywhere between 6-10 years. Again, this is because females are larger than males.
When Is The Best Time To Feed A Baby Painted Turtle?
A baby painted turtle will always be hungry. So, it would be best if you fed them twice a day. The best time to feed a baby turtle is in the morning and the afternoon. They are most active during the day and will sleep at night since they are diurnal species. If you feel like your turtles will be hungry at night, you can leave a few pieces of pellets to munch on when they get hungry at night.
However, they seldom eat at night because of their lack of visibility in the dark. Here’s an article if you want to know whether turtles can see at night.