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Can Turtles Eat Celery? What You Need to Know


If you have a pet turtle, the food you provide for it will be a major factor in how long and healthy your turtle’s life is. Turtles in captivity suffer when they aren’t properly cared for and fed. Vitamin A and calcium deficiency are quite common in pet turtles and a poor diet is often the cause.1

This leads many pet turtle owners to question what they’re feeding their shelled pal. One question often asked by concerned turtle keepers is if turtles can eat celery. The answer is yes, turtles can eat celery. However, it’s important to know that celery doesn’t provide the essential nutrition turtles need to stay healthy.

Let’s delve into the turtle’s dietary needs, celery’s nutritional makeup, and some other foods you can give your turtle that are better choices than celery.divider-turtle

What Nutrients Does Your Pet Turtle Need?

eastern box turtle in the wild
Image Credit: JamesDeMers, Pixabay

Turtles in the wild eat a variety of insects, worms, fish, and snails. They supplement these protein sources with pond plants and other vegetation. You should strive to mimic the natural diet of turtles as closely as possible in captivity.

Unlike tortoises, which are herbivores, turtles are omnivores, which means they eat both plant and animal food products. Veterinarians recommend that you feed your pet turtles a balanced diet made up of:

  • 25% of the diet from a commercially available pelleted turtle food with at least 40%-45% of its content from protein
  • 25% of the diet from small fish and insects such as goldfish and worms
  • 50% fresh vegetables and fruits
  • Additional calcium and mineral supplements as needed or recommended by your veterinarian

It’s critical that your turtle gets enough calcium in its diet. Without it, they can experience serious health problems.

So, What’s the Deal with Celery?

Image Credit: Pixabay

To be clear, celery won’t harm your pet turtle as long as it is cut up into small pieces for them. They might even enjoy it. However, it doesn’t provide turtles with any of the vitamins, minerals, or nutrients they need.

Celery is very low in fiber, calcium, vitamin A, and more. It is mostly water and has little nutritional value. If your turtle is filling up on celery, they won’t be hungry for the other food they need that does provide them with nutrition essential for good health.

Furthermore, if you feed your turtles too much celery, the low fiber content might cause the turtle to become constipated because there isn’t enough fiber to push it through their digestive tract.

If you are going to feed your turtle celery, try sticking to the leaves instead of the stalks. The leaves are easier for them to digest and contain a little more calcium and potassium. They also contain less water which means your turtle is less likely to get too full from eating celery leaves.

Preparing Celery for Turtles

If you are going to feed your turtle celery, it’s fine on an infrequent basis. Make sure you chop the stalks into small pieces that are easy for your turtle to chew. When you feed your turtle celery leaves, mix them with other nutrient-packed veggies so that your turtle gets all the vitamins and minerals it needs.

eastern musk turtle at a garden pond
Image Credit: Tony Moran, Shutterstock

Better Fruit and Vegetable Choices for Turtles

While celery isn’t harmful, it also isn’t beneficial. Instead of celery, try feeding your turtle some of these more nutritious choices:

Turtle Safe Vegetables
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Mustard and collard greens
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Dandelions
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Squash
  • Sweet potatoes
Turtle Safe Vegetables:
  • Melons
  • Papaya
  • Mangos
  • Peaches
  • Berries
  • Bananas
  • Tomatoes
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Kiwi

Make sure you cut fruit and veggie treats into small, easy-to-bite pieces so they don’t have trouble chewing them.

Foods You Should Never Feed Your Pet Turtle

There are several things you should never feed your pet turtle. These foods can all cause illness or even death if your turtle ingests them.

Unsafe Foods for Turtles
  • Dairy products, including milk, cheese, or yogurt
  • Raw hamburger or other meat, as it can contain bacteria and parasites
  • Processed carbohydrates, including crackers, bread, and potato chips
  • Fried or otherwise processed human foods
  • Avocados
  • Tomato or potato leaves
  • Rhubarb

Final Thoughts

It is fine to feed your turtle celery from time to time. However, don’t overdo it or your turtle will miss out on the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs. When they eat too much celery, turtles can become too full to eat their other food.

It’s also very important to make sure you aren’t feeding your turtle any of the foods that are actively harmful or unhealthy for them. If you are in doubt about a specific food, ask your veterinarian. A good diet is the key to a healthy, long-living pet turtle.

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Featured Image Credit by Ahanov Michael_Shutterstock

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