What Do Turtles Eat In A Pond? – Diets & Toxins

Turtles are an amazing addition to any outdoor pond, and there’s a few species which you can choose from. There’s over 300 species of turtle, so we’ve chosen a few freshwater species which we feel are best suited too outdoor ponds, with easy upkeep. Along with trying to choose which turtle is best, you may be wondering, what do turtles eat in a pond? (Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to find ‘Other related articles you might like’, once you are done reading).

Through this article we will delve into the different dietary requirements for each of our chosen turtle species. From there, you can decide which is best for you. There are many different factors you’ll need to take into consideration before choosing the correct turtle in addition to your pond. So what do turtles eat in a pond, first of all, let’s take a look at our chosen freshwater turtle species.

Buying A Turtle

Choosing the correct turtle for your pond can be a hard decision to make. So there are some factors you should first make sure of. Turtles are very invasive, they’re very extremely reptiles and can survive in the toughest of conditions. Because of this you have to make sure that your pond is completely secure, and there’s no chance of your turtle escaping into other local freshwater ecosystems.

You’ll also need to make sure that your other aquatic species are compatible with your chosen turtle before making the purchase. Some turtles will feed on certain pond fish, so it’s crucial you know exactly which species are compatible with each other.

Lastly, you will have to know the optimal living temperatures of your chosen turtle. Some freshwater turtles need warmer climates then other to remain healthy and happy. You will also need to make sure the specie is legal in your country to own as a pet. So what do turtles eat in a pond?

Painted Turtles

The painted turtle species is natively found throughout North America, Mexico and Canada. They can be legally owner in the UK, however they must be housed in a secure pond, with no chance of escape into the wild. 

These turtles are pretty hardy reptiles and can thrive in the harshest conditions. That said, painted turtles have a preferred optimal water temperature of 70 Degrees Fahrenheit, or 21 Degrees Celsius. Their size commonly ranges between 5-7 inches in length, with some individuals exceeding this sizes on rare occasions.

Adult painted turtles feed mainly on plantations, small fish and aquatic insects, these turtles can make a good addition to any freshwater pond given you have the correct sized fish that it won’t see them as food. Young and juvenile painted turtle start their lives being carnivorous, but soon acquire a string taste and liking for plantations and aquatic greens.

Red Eared Sliders 

The red eared slider turtle is again native to Southern North America and Mexico and can be found throughout their fresh water rivers, ponds and lakes. The illegal reptile trade exports this species throughout the world, however they should only ever be kept as pets in the US. 

They spend just as much of their time on dry land as they do in the water, which means they are highly likely to try and escape their pond. Red ears are an extremely invasive species are are highly likely to want to explore their surroundings for somewhere new to live. This is why they should not be kept as pets outside of the US. This species can be kept in either a suitable sized tank, or an enclosed, secure pond.

Red eared sliders need commercial pellet diets. These pellets can be bought from any reptile store as these are pretty generic for turtles in general. You can also feed them freeze dried krill as a treat every so often. Non toxic plants can be put into their living environment which sliders will eat, but these plants have to be suitable for turtles. Water lettuce is the best and safest choice for slider turtles.

Common Map Turtle

The common map turtle is native to North America, but is often sold all around the world as they are less invasive than their cousins, the red eared sliders. In the wild they are usually found in rivers and streams, or locations with slow running water, so this will need to be incorporated into your pond with either a pump or waterfall feature.

Females can grow anywhere between 6-10 inches, with males commonly ranging between 4-6 inches, so roughly half the size of the females. Common map turtles need a water temperature which is between 72-80 Degrees Fahrenheit, this has to stay at the optimum as they are prone to bacterial infections which forms from lower temperature, low quality waters. 

Young and juvenile common map turtles usually eat more plantations than adults. This is due to the accessibility and freshness of the plants in the highly oxygenated rivers and streams. As they grow older, adults will start to eat small insects and snails, and crayfish in the wild. You can offer them freeze dried shrimp or krill as a treat every so often if kept in a pond.

Box Turtle

The box turtle species is native to North America and Mexico, with subspecies also located on the Asian continent. They’re typically sized between 4-8 inches in size with large shells which resembles a tortoise shell.

This species of turtle can be kept as a pet, but will need a lot of care. They become stressed very easily and this is usually bought on from incorrect living conditions. Box turtles need an environment with high humidity, a particular substrate in which they can burrow, and a hated water temperature which needs to stay constant.

A box turtles diet consists of pretty much anything which turtles usually eat. They eat aquatic plantations, small fish, insects, snails, crayfish, even cacti if it’s available. All of the above, they’re really not fussy eaters.

European Pond Terrapin

The European pond terrain is native Europe, Northwest Africa, as well as Western and Central Asia. The wide range of locations is thought to be due to the illegal trading of reptiles. This species is actually illegal to own in the UK and other countries across Europe so it’s best to do your research before purchasing any turtles.

European pond terrapins have a varied carnivorous diet. They feed on anything from insects, crabs, snails and small fish. They can also be fed the freeze dried shrimp and krill if house in a freshwater pond. 

Yellow Bellied Slider Turtle

This specie of turtle is very similar to the Red eared slider. They are a similar size too, which ranges from 8-13 inches in length. They’re native to the Southern areas of North America, and parts of Mexico. This specie is also legally sold in the UK as long as you can confirm your pond in secure with no means of escape.

They need an optimal water temperature with stays within the 75-80 Degree Fahrenheit range. Yellow bellied slider prefer shallow waters, and also need somewhere to bask. Being semi-aquatic these turtles need somewhere to rest on dry land, as well as a big enough location to swim.

Their diets are composed of 90% live foods such as insects, small fish, frogs, snails, but will occasionally eat plantations too. Having some suitable freshwater plantation which are non-toxic will be a good addition to to your pond for this particular turtle.

African Sideneck Turtle 

It’s kind if obvious that this specie of turtle is native to Africa, specifically the Eastern and Southern countries.These turtles are legally available in both the U.S and UK, however they are commonly overlooked as pets due to their plain looks and dull colours. Being from a hot climate you should keep one as a pet if you live in colder climate countries, unless housed indoors.

They do like to fight one another every so often if you house more than one in the same pond. Usually the main cause of fighting is for the best basking spot, so make sure you have enough allocated space for basking. Sizing at 8-18 inches makes this species one of the bigger freshwater turtles for pets.

African sideneck turtles diet is mainly carnivorous. It consists of insects, worms, small fish, snails, but will sometimes eat greens such as pond lettuce, and occasionally spinach if offered. Again you can offer freeze dried shrimp and krill.

What else you should know about?

Pond Mates Suitability

Okay, so you need to do some research into which fish are suitable pond mates. Not all fish can be housed with turtles and visa versa. As stated before, turtles will eat fish as a part of their diets, and some freshwater fish can be toxic for certain turtles.

Most turtles can live happily amongst a pond of Fathead Minnows, Goldfish and Koi Carps, but any of these fish (depending on their size) may become turtle food, if your turtle isn’t being fed correctly. The only issue you may have is if your fish reproduce, any smaller juvenile fish will most likely become turtle food. Unless they are quick enough to swim away every time, it’s best to remove the smaller juvenile fish until at a suitable size to reintroduce back into the pond.

In all cases you should monitor both your fish and turtles. Mainly keeping track of the healthiness of fish fins. Turtles will commonly bite at fish fins, so the damage will be clearly visible if this happens. Unfortunately, turtles won’t stop until they kill and eat the fish. So you may have to separate the fish from the turtles, or leave them be and hope for the best, but don’t expect your fish to still be there at the end of the week.

Remember they are reptiles

All turtle species belong to a group called ‘Ectotherms’, which means they cannot regulate their own body temperatures. They have no means to heat their bodies, so they always have to have a heat source to warm up in the mornings if they are cold.

Basking is a huge part of a turtles daily activities, so you have to make sure the turtle you buy is suitable for the environment you plan to keep them in. Usually speaking, the Northern parts of America and the whole of the UK is too cold to keep pet turtles outside. They simply cannot keep their body temperature at an optimal level to fend off illnesses and diseases.

What Do Turtles Eat In A Pond – Conclusion 

Hopefully this has answered everything you needed to know on ‘What do turtles eat in a pond?’. You should remember that not every specie of turtle has the same dietary requirements, so make sure you know the exact foods they can eat prior to purchasing a turtle.

Not all freshwater pond fish are suitably compatible to be living with turtles, so again make sure you now exactly what species can live together happily. Some fish may be toxic for your turtle, which they aren’t to know. Turtles will commonly eat fish species if they’re small enough, so this is another factor you should be considering also.

What do turtles eat in a pond is usually made up of live foods such as snails, small fish and insects. However many turtles do like some plantations for time to time, so having these on offer will help to provide a varied, staple diet, keeping your turtle happy and healthy.

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What Do Turtles Eat In A Pond? – Diets & Toxins

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