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

Nicole Cosgrove

Shy, slow, yet delightfully unique animals, snapping turtles can make wonderful pets for the right people. Growing to weigh between five and 25 pounds, a snapping turtle feasts on a variety of foods. In the wild, snappers will dine on aquatic vegetation, fish, frogs, worms, beetles, and even the occasional small mammal.

But what can you feed your pet snapping turtle that resembles his natural wild diet or flora and fauna? Here’s a list of what snapping turtles eat in the wild and as pets.



Though it may seem gross to you, slimy worms are one of a snapping turtle’s favorite meals. They can safely snack on worms in your home and also in their natural habitats. You can pick up some mealworms at your local pet store or online. Consider buying worms at a fishing bait shop too.

Image Credit: ivabalk, Pixabay

Minnows or Other Small Fish

Wild snapping turtles love spending their days sunning themselves on rocks, snoozing, and catching delicious minnows. Small fish are a staple in a snapper’s diet and a great source of essential vitamins and minerals. Pick up some minnows or guppies and plop them into your turtle’s tank. Your pet will stay occupied for hours hunting down his prey.


One insect that snappers can consume in the wild and as pets are crickets. These chirpy little bugs are affordable and can be easily dumped into your turtle’s tank. Stock up on weekly cricket supplies at your local pet shop.

Image Credit: Filip Kruchlik, Pixabay


Vegetation makes up about 65% of a snapping turtle’s diet. While wild snappers dine on algae and wild plants, your pet turtle can enjoy household leafy greens. Celery, lettuce, and carrots all make great foods for pet snapping turtles.

How Much Should You Feed Your Snapping Turtle?

The amount of food you offer your turtle will depend upon his size and age. For growing snapping turtles that are five months or older, feed them every other day until they reach their full size. Once your snapper is fully mature, feed him two to three times per week.

Be careful not to underfeed or overfeed your snapping turtle. If your turtle’s skin appears to be unfolding out of his shell, you’re overfeeding him. If you can barely see his skin on the outside of his shell, he’s being underfed.

What Should I Feed a Baby Snapping Turtle?

Feed a snapping turtle that is younger than five months once or twice per day. Since he’s an omnivore, your baby snapper will need both plant- and animal-sourced foods. Give a baby snapping turtle about five leaves of veggies at each feeding. Pellets or insects should be the size of your baby turtle’s head.

small snapping turtle
Image Credit: Scottslm, Pixabay

What Animals Eat Snapping Turtles?

In the wild, a large variety of predators kill and eat snapping turtles. These include crocodiles, bears, and coyotes. Despite the fact that snapping turtles are unable to hide their heads in their shells, their strong jaws and aggressive personalities typically scare predators away.



Snapping turtles are omnivores and need to consume both plants and animals. Snappers can eat small fish, crickets, worms, and leafy greens in both the wild and as pets. It’s important to feed your snapping turtle a balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals. Never feed your adult snapping turtle more than three times per week.

By offering your snapping turtle plenty of dietary options, he’ll thrive in your home as well as he would in the wild!

Featured Image Credit: Scottslm, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.