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Can Turtles Eat Bananas? What You Need To Know!

Elizabeth Gray

Turtles come in many different sizes and colors, but one thing every turtle has in common is a love of food. As a turtle owner, you want to make sure you feed your small friend only the best and most nutritious food to keep them healthy. As you prepare your turtle’s daily meals, what are some good options to offer?

One food you might consider feeding your turtle is a banana. Can turtles, including the ever-popular box turtle, eat bananas? Yes, bananas are a safe food for box turtles and other turtles as well, but they should only be fed in moderation.

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Turtle Nutrition: The Basics

Unlike their tortoise cousins, who are primarily herbivores, turtles are mostly omnivores who need nutrition from both plant and animal sources. The ratio of plant to animal foods you should offer your pet will depend on the type of turtle, as well as their age and health. For example, a healthy box turtle often eats 50% plant-based foods and 50% animal-sourced foods.

Of the plant-based foods you feed your turtle, the majority should be vegetables rather than fruit like bananas. If given the choice, turtles—like many of us—would rather eat something other than vegetables. Fruit is not as nutritious as vegetables for turtles.

Feeding too much fruit can cause your turtle to fill up on sweet treats and fall behind on nutrition by neglecting to eat their vegetables!

Turtle Eating Fruit
Image Credit: Maya Shustov, Shutterstock

How To Feed Bananas To Turtles

To keep their enclosure as clean as possible, feed turtles in a shallow dish that can’t be overturned easily.

It’s a good idea to chop up better-tasting food like bananas and mix it in with other less delicious foods like vegetables. This makes it harder for the turtle to eat around the vegetables in favor of the bananas and other fruit.

Turtles can eat the entire banana including the peel! If you own a turtle, do your part to eliminate food waste by feeding your banana peel to your turtle instead of throwing it in the trash.

peeled and sliced banana
Image Credit: t_watanabe, Pixabay

Other Plant Foods To Feed Your Turtle

Besides bananas, your turtle may enjoy a wide variety of plant-based food sources. Flowers, alfalfa hay, and various vegetables can all be offered. Dark, leafy greens such as collards, kale, and dandelion greens are the most nutritious vegetables and should make up the majority of the plant materials offered.

Besides the dark greens, you can offer your turtle smaller amounts of other vegetables such as carrots, cucumber, or squash. Avoid feeding lighter green vegetables such as iceberg lettuce, as they will fill your turtle up with little nutritional value to show for it.

Other fruits to offer besides bananas include berries, peaches, kiwi, and apples. Again, keep the ratio of fruits to vegetables heavily weighted toward vegetables as you meal prep for your turtle. Wash all fruits and vegetables before feeding. Turtles can eat vegetables either cooked or raw but raw is generally the most nutritious for them.

What About Animal-Based Foods?

It’s a good idea to check with your veterinarian to determine if and how much animal-based food to feed your turtle.

If your veterinarian does suggest feeding animal foods, here are a few to consider:

  • Mealworms
  • Crickets
  • Slugs
  • Hard-boiled egg

A commercial turtle pellet food can also be a good source of balanced nutrition.

Also, it’s not a good idea to catch bugs from your yard to feed your turtle. Wild insects may contain traces of pesticides or bug-killing chemicals that might be toxic to turtles. Purchase your turtle insect and worm meals from a pet store instead.

box turtle eating outdoors
Image Credit: Pixabay

What Not To Feed Your Turtle

Besides wild-caught insects, what other foods should you avoid feeding your turtle?

Well, turtles shouldn’t be fed human junk food or snacks, even if they might enjoy them.

Don’t feed your turtle raw meat or dairy products such as yogurt or cheese.

Foods that are toxic to turtles and should never be fed include the following:

  • Chocolate
  • Avocado
  • Tomato leaves or vines
European pond turtle in rock
Image Credit: Karin Jaehne, Shuitterstock

Do Turtles Need Any Supplements?

Ask your veterinarian what is best for your particular type of turtle. In many cases, it’s recommended that turtles receive a regular calcium supplement and often a multivitamin as well.

Don’t start giving your turtle any vitamins or other food additives without talking to your veterinarian first. Too much of a good thing definitely applies when it comes to turtles and vitamins. Over-supplementation of certain vitamins can do more harm than good and even be toxic.

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Conclusion

Bananas can make a sweet addition to your turtle’s diet. Just make sure your wily turtle doesn’t ignore their other, more nutritious foods as a result. Turtles, such as box turtles, can make fun, easy-to-keep pets, but make sure you are ready for the responsibility of keeping your turtle healthy and safe. Sometimes that means not letting them eat as many bananas as they might like!

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Featured Image Credit: semper-scifi, Shutterstock

Elizabeth Gray

Elizabeth Gray is a lifelong lover of all creatures great and small. She got her first cat at 5 years old and at 14, she started working for her local veterinarian. Elizabeth spent more than 20 years working as a veterinary nurse before stepping away to become a stay-at-home parent to her daughter. Now, she is excited to share her hard-earned knowledge (literally--she has scars) with our readers. Elizabeth lives in Iowa with her family, including her two fur kids, Linnard, a husky mix and Algernon, the worldʻs most patient cat. When not writing, she enjoys reading, watching all sports but especially soccer, and spending time outdoors with her family.