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Home > Turtles > Can Turtles Eat Eggs? Vet-Approved Nutritional Science & Info

Can Turtles Eat Eggs? Vet-Approved Nutritional Science & Info

Can Turtles Eat Eggs

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Dr. Luqman Javed

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Turtles naturally consume a variety of different foods in the wild, including eggs. When it comes to feeding pet turtles, you want to ensure that the foods you feed them are not only safe but nutritious too. Whether your turtle can eat eggs will depend on their species, since not all turtles should be eating eggs often. For most omnivorous species, though, hard boiled eggs are considered safe. They are best when offered without the yolk.

There are over 350 species of turtle, but only a handful of these species are kept as pets. It’s important to research the dietary needs of your pet turtle before adding new foods to their diet. In this article specifically, we will be primarily focussing on the red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) and the Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina).


Are Eggs Safe for Turtles to Eat?

It is generally safe for turtles to eat plain, hard boiled eggs alongside their main diet. You should only feed your pet turtle eggs sparingly and focus on feeding them foods that meet the requirements of a species-specific diet.

The majority of pet turtles are omnivores. Hard boiled egg whites are considered a good source of protein for healthy adult turtles. In one study, healthy adult Eastern box turtles were offered hard boiled egg whites as 15% of their food intake and developed no adverse health issues 1. Other sources have mentioned hard boiled eggs in moderation (around 5%) for pet turtles as well 2.

Some turtles have been observed eating eggs in the wild since it is a natural source of protein and calcium for them. Eggs shouldn’t make up a large portion of a pet turtle’s diet, but they can be offered as a protein-rich treat.

Boiled Eggs
Image by: Bruno, Pixabay

Ideal Turtle Diet

It is important to consider what species of turtle you are keeping to ensure you can meet their dietary requirements when housed as pets. Feeding your turtle too many of the wrong foods can be harmful to their health.

Omnivorous turtles generally consume both plant and animal-based ingredients like turtle-based pellets, vegetables, insects, thawed feeder fish, and small fractions of fruit. The amount of protein your turtle needs will depend on their species and life stage since certain turtles need more protein in their diet than others.

Juvenile turtles can be fed a diet higher in protein (provided it is somewhat moderately low in fat). This is because they are still in the growing stage and the added protein may be beneficial for their development. As your turtles grow into adults, they don’t require as much protein. This is often true for most aquatic turtles.

Box turtles, on the other hand, seem to do best on a diet that’s around 50% animal-based foods and the other 50% as plant-based foods. These plant-based options are further divided into 75% vegetables and 25% fruits.

Box turtle eating raspberries
Image Credit: Adventuring Dave, Shutterstock

What Types of Eggs Can Turtles Eat?

Below is a list of safe eggs that can be fed to pet turtles.

  • Chicken
  • Duck
  • Quail
  • Goose

Furthermore, the following pet turtles, in addition to the two species we’ve mentioned above, can consume eggs as part of their diet.

  • Florida box turtles
  • Pond turtles
  • Painted turtles
  • African Sideneck turtles
  • False Map turtles
  • Musk turtles
  • Wood turtles
  • Spotted turtles
  • Yellow-bellied turtles

Regardless of your turtle’s species, be sure to check with an exotic veterinarian whether eggs would be suitable to include in your turtle’s diet.


What Nutrients Do Eggs Offer Turtles?

Eggs are naturally high in protein and the shell is a source of calcium for turtles. Let’s take a look below at the nutritional value of the various turtle-safe eggs according to the USDA.

One Chicken Egg:

Protein: 6.24 g
Fat: 5.01 g
Calcium: 24.1 mg
Phosphorus: 92.6 mg
Vitamin D3: 1.24 mcg

One Duck Egg:

Protein: 8.96 g
Fat: 9.66 g
Calcium: 44.8 mg
Phosphorus: 154 mg
Vitamin D3: 1.19 mcg

One Quail Egg:

Protein: 1.17 g
Fat: 0.999 g
Calcium: 5.76 mg
Phosphorus: 20.3 mg
Vitamin D3: 0.126 mcg

One Goose Egg:

Protein: 13.9 g
Fat: 13.3 g
Calcium: 60.0 mg
Phosphorus: 208 mg
Vitamin D3: 1.7 mcg

All of the above eggs can be fed to turtles as a nutritional treat. A single goose egg seems to have the most protein, making them a great high-protein snack for adult turtles. The most common eggs that get fed to turtles are chicken eggs, which only have around 6 grams of protein. Both duck and quail eggs are moderately high in protein, but geese eggs remain the highest source of protein. However, feeding your turtle too much protein isn’t always better and may cause issues with their shell formation. Chicken eggs remain the most widely available and safe type of egg for people to feed to their turtles as a treat in moderation.

We can see from the above table that all the eggs contain vitamin D3, an essential vitamin for turtles. It’s important to include vitamin D supplements in your turtle’s diet and allow them to synthesize vitamin D from the sun’s UV rays. The eggs also contain calcium and phosphorus which is important for a turtle’s bone and shell health.

Overall, turtles don’t get all the nutrients they need from eggs, so they shouldn’t be fed too often. Feeding eggs to your turtle won’t make up for a balanced diet and supplements.

hard boiled eggs
Image by: Piqsels

Feeding Eggs to Turtles

When it comes to feeding pet turtles eggs, they should be served cooked and not raw. It is best to stick to feeding your turtle boiled eggs. The shell of the eggs should also be removed. Eggshells are usually only safe for turtles if they have been ground into a fine dust that can be sprinkled over their food.

Simply remove the boiled egg from the shell and break it up for your turtle into bite-sized pieces. You can give your juvenile or adult turtles a single boiled egg once or twice a week alongside a healthy and balanced diet.


Final Thoughts

Turtles can benefit from the added protein and calcium from eggs, although they shouldn’t be fed too often. Eggs should only be included in your pet turtles’ diet alongside a complete daily diet specific to their species. Most pet turtles will enjoy eating boiled eggs from time to time, and the shells can be ground and sprinkled over their food as a calcium source.

Featured Image Credit: akirEVarga, Pixabay

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