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What Do Baby Snapping Turtles Eat in the Wild and as Pets?

Oliver Jones

Humans have long held a fascination for turtles due to the way they retreat into their shells when they’re threatened. Sadly, there are many species of turtle that are almost extinct today, and the snapping turtle is one of those species.

Snapping turtles are mostly found in North America, and since they’re hunted for their meat, they are endangered. So, if you’re considering adopting a snapping turtle as a pet, you need to take great care of it, as it could be caring for part of a dying breed. Also, if you’re thinking of adopting a snapping turtle, then you need to know what to feed it. In this guide, we’ll discuss what baby snapping turtles eat in the wild and what you need to feed one that you’re raising in captivity as well.divider-turtle

What Do Snapping Turtles in the Wild Eat?

There are two species of snapping turtles, the alligator snapping turtle and the common snapping turtle. Both are endangered, and both are native to North America. Both of these breeds are omnivores and eat animals, plants, insects, and fruit.

In the wild, they tend to hunt and eat animals more than they eat plants and fruits. Small animals the snapping turtle eats in the wild include carrions, birds, frogs, shrimp, smaller turtles, fish, crayfish, snakes, spiders, worms, small animals, and even amphibians. So, as you can see, if it’s smaller than they are, a snapping turtle will hunt and eat it if they live in the wild.

What Should You Feed Your Pet Snapping Turtle?

While it’s best to take direction from what these same turtles eat in the wild, don’t feed your baby snapping turtle food that you catch outside, as it could contain unknown parasites or pathogens that can hurt a snapping turtle that’s being raised in captivity.

There’s commercially-made food that is designed especially for your turtle, but you need to feed them a balanced diet that includes live food as well. It’s important to note that this species of turtle will eat anything you throw in its cage, so you want to be careful what you’re giving them.

Make sure that you ask your exotic veterinarian about the use of supplements to ensure that your pet is getting all the nutrients and minerals he needs to be healthy and thrive in a captive environment. Feeding him the right way is key to raising a baby snapping turtle to adulthood and beyond.

Supplements and Live Food

Your snapping turtle needs certain supplements to ensure he grows into adulthood and is healthy. However, you also need to make sure that you feed him a balanced diet of live food as well. Always make sure to source your live food from reliable sources and don’t overdo it on feeding him live food either, as it can make him sick.

Why Does Your Baby Snapping Turtle Need Supplements?

Turtle supplements are essential if you want your baby snapping turtle to be healthy well into adulthood. While you would think that your pet turtle would be getting all the nutrients and minerals he needs from the live food and commercially prepared food you give him, he doesn’t. Snapping turtles need a wide amount of calcium, proteins, vitamins, and minerals to ensure they’re healthy. While live food can give your turtle the protein he needs to thrive and leafy green vegetables will add to his calcium levels, supplements help as well.

Vitamin D is important for proper shell development, and the other vitamins and minerals he needs to be healthy and happy are included in these supplements as well. When looking for supplements for your turtle, you can find them online, at your local pet store, and in some cases, even the local department store.

What Live Foods Should You Feed to Your Baby Snapping Turtle?

When it comes to live foods and your turtle, they eat pretty much the same thing that baby snapping turtles eat in the wild. There are a few foods that you can feed to your snapping turtle listed below. As previously stated, make sure to source these foods from a reputable, organic source for the best results.

  • Small animals
  • Frogs
  • Birds
  • Carrion
  • Shrimp
  • Snakes
  • Spiders
  • Small turtles
  • Birds
  • Fish
  • Worms/Blood worms
The best veggies to feed your pet snapping turtle are listed below as well.
  • Aquatic plants
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers

What Is the Best Commercial Food for Your Baby Snapping Turtle?

There are a ton of commercial foods on the market today aimed towards baby snapping turtles and all profess to keep them healthy. However, you want to do your own research, and speak to your vet, to determine what is best for your turtle.

You want a food that is high-quality, has a scent that your turtles are drawn to, and something they’ll love eating. One important thing to note is that commercial turtle food should only make up about 25% of your snapping turtle’s diet. The rest of their diet should be made up of live foods, fruits, and vegetables.

How Do You Feed Baby Snapping Turtles?

Feeding your new pet is one of the most fun parts of owning a baby snapping turtle. However, feeding turtles can be messy, so following a simple plan helps with the feeding and the mess.

You might also be interested in: Are Snapping Turtles Dangerous? What You Need to Know!

Give the Turtle Food in a Small Container

The best way to keep your turtle and his food clean is by using a small container to feed your baby snapping turtle in. Unfortunately, these turtles are famous for using the bathroom in their tank while they’re eating, and that can end up being one big mess for you to clean up.

Simply take your baby turtle and his food and put him in a separate aquarium or small container. Let him eat, wait at least 30 minutes, then move him back to his original tank. It is essential to keep fresh water in the main tank so he can drink whenever he gets thirsty and feels the need.

Related Read: Snapping Turtle vs. Box Turtle: What’s the Difference? (With Pictures)

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How Often Should You Feed Your Baby Snapping Turtle

Chances are that anytime you offer your baby turtle food, it’s going to eat it. However, constant eating is not good for your turtle. Overfeeding can cause health problems, and these turtles have a problem with obesity. Therefore, it’s best to feed your baby snapping turtle once or twice a day instead.

This concludes our guide on what baby snapping turtles eat in the wild and what you should feed them as pets. Remember, these babies are almost extinct and are certainly endangered, so if you adopt one as your very own, it’s important to take excellent care of him. Do this by keeping his cage clean, keeping up with any vet appointments, and feeding him a balanced diet of supplements, turtle food, and live food as well.


Featured Image Credit: Hoth Cook, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.