Turtles are interesting pets with a very unique diet that factors in multiple criteria. So, if you’re wondering whether you can feed grapes to turtles, the answer largely depends on the species of turtle you own. Omnivorous and herbivorous turtles can usually safely consume grapes as an occasional treat, though.
Like all fruits, grapes should not be offered to your pet in excess. Let’s dive into exploring the ins and outs of feeding your turtles grapes!
Nutritional Value of Grapes
The overwhelming majority of a grape is water. This is followed by carbohydrates, and these are present in the form of naturally occurring sugars. These sugars are also what give grapes (and other fruits) their sweet flavor. The sugars are also the major source of calories that the fruit provides. Like most fruits, grapes are very low in fat and don’t offer meaningful amounts of protein either. 1
When analyzing any food item for your pet, context is important. As grapes would only be offered as a treat in moderation, their nutritional value would be largely offset based simply on the fact that they would make up a very small portion of your turtle’s diet.
The information above is for a 100-gram serving of grapes. If your turtle was fed just one or two grapes, the nutritional yield would be much less. However, the proportions of the nutrients in relation to each other would still be the same. Therefore, though grapes do contain several vitamins and minerals, they’re usually not present in enough amounts when offered to your pet to make a significant nutritional difference.
All in all, grapes can be summarized as a treat that can provide some additional hydration to turtles and a safe treat on occasion for turtles that enjoy it. Your pet wouldn’t miss out from a nutritional standpoint if you refuse to feed them grapes.
Downsides of Feeding Your Turtle Too Many Grapes
Too many grapes in your turtle’s diet are bound to cause a stomach upset, leading to diarrhea. The ratio of calcium and phosphorus in the grapes is also not the best for your turtle. The ratio that turtles need is generally around 2:1, but grapes have it as 1:2, which poses a problem.
Calcium naturally binds to phosphorus within the body, and, therefore, excess phosphorus in your pet’s diet will prompt their body to release calcium (stored in their bones) to restore metabolic balance. In the short-term, this isn’t an issue. However, prolonged dietary deficiencies of calcium can lead to health issues, such as metabolic bone disease.
The issue is made worse by the fact that grapes contain high amounts of oxalates. These are naturally occurring compounds found in almost all plants, though the amount found in each plant varies. Oxalates bind to calcium within the body. Therefore, not only do grapes offer a very low amount of calcium, the oxalates present within the fruit may also be detrimental in excess amounts.
How Often Can Turtles Eat Grapes?
You shouldn’t feed grapes to your turtle too often. Terrestrial turtles (such as the ornate box turtle) are considered to have the widest possible dietary freedom and seem to readily consume a variety of foods. Incorporating fruits into their diet in an amount not exceeding 15% of their total dietary intake is considered acceptable (but not always necessary).
For other turtles, the amount of grapes you could add to their diet would largely depend on your veterinarian’s advice. It isn’t possible to make a generalized statement about the safety levels and quantities of grapes without one personally examining your pet as an individual. However, it is safe to assume that a carnivorous turtle shouldn’t be offered grapes in any quantity.
How to Feed Grapes to Turtles Safely
Seedless grapes are the preferred option for your turtle. Many people with turtles prefer to remove the peels of the grapes to make them easier to digest, but there is no need. Turtles can safely digest the peel of grapes.
The best way to feed grapes to your turtle is by chopping them up into small pieces after thoroughly washing them. Remember that for most turtles, it should only be a once-in-while treat, not an everyday meal, to avoid digestive problems.
Turtles that are omnivores or herbivores can usually safely consume grapes. However, like most fruits, grapes should be considered an occasional treat and not something you should feed in excess, as they aren’t without their downsides.
Above all, it is very important to seek a veterinarian’s opinion before incorporating new foods into your turtle’s diet.