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What Do Softshell Turtles eat?

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What do softshell turtles eat? A softshell turtle is an unusual choice for an aquatic pet if you’re looking for one. These strange-looking turtles don’t have a hard shell, as the name suggests, which is one trait that practically all turtles have. They become more vulnerable to attacks in the wild as a result. However, softshell turtles can move fast on land, unlike other turtle species.

Native to areas of Africa, Asia, and North America is this family of turtles. Softshell turtle meat is likely used in the recipe as turtle soup is a standard menu item. But for the appropriate owner, softshell turtles can make fascinating pets if they can stay away from the stew pot and the occasional alligator.

These turtles are better suited to observation than to being handled as pets. And it does take some work to put up their housing correctly. However, once you get into a habit, you can enjoy watching their nimble swimming and other antics for years.

softshell turtle

Are softshell turtles carnivores?

The majority of softshell turtles are carnivorous. It indicates that these turtles ingest foods derived from animals. For instance, worms, small fish, etc. However, a small amount of fruits and veggies won’t hurt them.

In general, the babies and hatchlings do not like to consume veggies at all. Their primary diet consists of animal products. They can digest a little serving of green or red veggies once they reach adulthood.

What Do Softshell Turtles Eat?

As I’ve already indicated, softshell turtles eat animal-based foods primarily with some plant matter. Even though softshell turtles don’t like eating plants, they are good for their health. However, feeding the turtle a lot of veggies could upset its stomach.

turtle eats plants

The following list of foods is appropriate for a pet softshell turtle:

  • Pellets
  • Grasshoppers
  • Crickets
  • Crustaceans
  • Insect \ Bug
  • phantom shrimp
  • little fish
  • tiny crayfish
  • Earthworm
  • Bloodworm
  • Mealworm
  • a little bit of prepared meat
  • Waxworm
  • Snail
  • Cuttlebone
  • worms in red
  • insect nymphs
  • Algae
  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Azolla
  • Hyacinth water
  • Frogbit \sAlfalfa
  • Cloves
  • lettuce romaine
  • leafy green vegetables
  • All of these ingredients can be used to prepare a delicious dinner for your softshell turtle. Incorporate more animal- or protein-based foods and fewer plant-based foods into the softshell turtle’s diet.

Which Foods Should You Avoid Feeding Your Softshell Turtle?

A softshell turtle cannot be fed anything at all. Naturally, there is a limit. You should refrain from giving your pet softshell turtle a few particular foods. Check out the list provided below:

  • Before the softshell turtle even consumes the raw meat or hamburger, they may already be spoiled or contaminated. But microorganisms that can make the turtle ill can be found in raw meat.
  • Anything that contains dairy—milk, cheese, yogurt, or any other dairy-based product—is detrimental to softshell turtles. It is simple to make the pet feel queasy.
  • Junk food: It’s common for people to give the turtle junk food. I strongly advise against doing such. Both softshell turtles and people should avoid using junk.
  • Food that has been processed or preserved: Some people feed canned or sausage to softshell turtles. These products are bad for pets and contain a lot of salt.
  • Many turtle keepers believe it is acceptable to provide candies to softshell turtles as a treat. However, specialists advise staying as far away from these things as possible.
softshell turtle closeup

How often should you feed softshell turtles?

When you give a softshell turtle the optimal diet in the right amount at the proper time of day, it will thrive on it. It implies that you should be aware of how frequently you should feed the softshell turtle.

The turtle’s age determines the feeding plan. As I’ve already indicated, a young or baby turtle needs more nourishment than an adult turtle. So, when creating a diet plan for your pet softshell turtle, keep this issue in mind.

What should be the feeding schedule of a softshell turtle hatchling?

As I’ve already indicated, a newborn softshell turtle needs more nutrients than an adult turtle. Why? Their developing bodies require extra minerals, vitamins, calcium, and protein. As a result, you must give hatchlings enrichment meals that are higher in nutrition.

The most crucial period is the first six months of a baby softshell turtle’s life. You must daily feed the pet hatchling throughout this time. Additionally, you can feed it twice daily by halving the full quantity.

Softshell turtles are predominantly carnivorous when they are young. It implies that they only consume animal products, such as shrimp, worms, and small fish. During these six months, don’t give your hatchling any plants or veggies to eat.

softshell turtle in grassy park

Without vitamin D, softshell turtles are unable to absorb calcium. The installation of a UV lamp is the sole technique to obtain vitamin D. The hatchlings’ bodies will produce vitamin D thanks to these rays. Supplementing with calcium and vitamin D is always advised by experts. Additionally, you can give them cuttlebone, which has calcium.

What do young softshell turtles eat?

You must feed the pet every other day beginning after the first six months. Now you can supplement the softshell turtle’s diet with a small serving of vegetables or other plant-based foods. Only feed the turtles every day if they show an interest in eating it because they don’t like vegetables.

Don’t forget to add some calcium and vitamin D to the pellet you give your pet little fish and snails. Additionally, feeding the cat cuttlebones is a better choice. Follow this schedule for a whole year. By dividing the total amount, you can feed the softshell turtle every day rather than every other day.

softshell turtle closeup

What do adult softshell turtles eat?

The softshell turtle’s appetite ultimately decreases as it grows. Therefore, you can change the softshell turtle’s feeding schedule to twice or three times per week. An adult softshell turtle is typically more likely than a juvenile one to be interested in eating plants or vegetables.

Feed the softshell turtle protein-based foods in addition to vegetables. The softshell turtle will still require calcium, vitamins, and other minerals as it ages. So keep feeding it a healthy diet.

How should you feed your pet softshell turtle?

Each species of turtle has an own method of feeding itself. For instance, the map turtles choose dining on the pier for sunbathing. However, you have to give food to softshell turtles in the water. If not, the pet turtle might skip meals.

Additionally, the turtles eat the most in the morning and evening hours. The animal may consume less food than usual if you feed them at any other time.

softshell turtles feed on plant matter

What happens if you overfed or underfed a softshell turtle?

Both humans and turtles suffer when they are overfed or underfed. If any of this occurs, it is evident that the softshell turtles would experience a variety of medical issues. For instance,

  • Lack of vitamins and minerals causes malnutrition.
  • Lack of vitamin A causes a vitamin A deficit.
  • Rapid growth – Protein overfeeding
  • Overfeeding causes shell shedding
  • You must give your softshell turtle emergency veterinary attention if it has any of these ailments.

Behavior of softshell turtles

As foragers in the wild, these turtles prefer to bury themselves in mud when on land. Softshell turtles can be violent due to their lack of a shell, which makes them exposed to predators. Pairs of them shouldn’t be housed together since they might fight each other. They can cause significant harm thanks to their powerful jaws and keen claws. In addition, these turtles typically dislike handling and won’t hesitate to charge at a person if they feel threatened.

Additionally, due to their aggressive behavior, softshell turtles should not be kept as pets in a home with young children. In addition, curious dogs, cats, and other animals may hurt themselves while harming a softshell turtle.

baby softshell turtle

Owners must be ready to find them a large enough enclosure because female softshell turtles grow to be significantly larger than the males. This is not a low-maintenance pet because the big enclosure needs some maintenance to keep it clean and warm.

Why is my softshell turtle not eating anything?

You could occasionally realize that your softshell turtle is no longer eating despite your best efforts. A softshell turtle may avoid eating for a variety of reasons. like as

  • The softshell turtles cannot fit in the enclosure.
  • There is no suitable UV or heating lamp for the animal.
  • The water in the tank is unclean and unsanitary.
  • The habitat does not have a suitable land space or dock for the softshell turtles to sunbathe.
  • Your softshell turtle diet is not a good one.
  • The feeding time or location is incorrect.
  • The pet softshell turtle is getting ready to hibernate throughout the winter.
  • The turtle is physically or mentally ill.


Whether a softshell turtle lives in the wild or is kept in captivity, its nutrition is essentially the same. Your responsibility as a responsible owner is to give these turtles a well-balanced meal. This article covers practically all of the information you require regarding a softshell turtle’s nutrition. I sincerely hope that the information was helpful to you.

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