All turtles must have access to clean water and a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Freedom from hunger and thirst provides a turtle’s most basic needs by allowing them to remain in good health and full of energy.
This law is called the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Act says that your animal has five groups of welfare needs. These are five groups of things that animals need to be healthy and happy. These five welfare needs are called the Five Freedoms.
Under the Animal Welfare Act all animal guardians (owners) need to provide these five groups of things for their animals. One of these Five Freedoms is: Freedom from Hunger and Thirst. In this section you will learn about this freedom and how you can make sure your turtle is always free from experiencing hunger and thirst.
Turtles are omnivores which means that they eat both animal and plant based foods. Turtles enjoy munching on oxygen weed, watercress, duckweed, waterlily leaves and other aquatic plants, shrimp, fresh and dried fish, blood worms, water snails, locust, quality dried pet turtle food, and occasionally fruit. It is always best to talk to your reptile veterinarian to ensure your turtle is getting all of the nutrients they need from their food.
Variety is essential in a turtle’s diet. This means that they shouldn’t eat too much of one type of food and not enough of another. Imagine if you could only eat one type of food for every meal! How boring would that be?
Depending on your turtle species, hatchlings (baby turtles) need to be fed every day, however adult turtles only need feeding every second day, unless your reptile veterinarian recommends otherwise.
Turtles are opportunistic feeders. This means that they will not stop eating, even when they’re full. It is important to only feed your turtle what it can consume in 5 min and then remove the remaining food from their tank with a net. This prevents your turtle friend from becoming overweight and stops the food from creating bacteria in their tank that can make them ill.
Some foods can make your turtle very sick or cause death. It is vital to know what these foods are so that you don’t accidentally give them to your turtle friend.
These foods can include:
If unsure, always consult a veterinarian that specializes in the care and treatment of turtles. Some species vary in what they can eat so it’s always best to double check!
In addition to drinking their water, turtles need water to swim, eat, and go to the bathroom! Since water plays such a huge role in turtles' lives, it must be kept clean. In addition to a filter, at least a 50% weekly water change is needed to help break down waste and prevent disease. When changing the water filter sponge, be sure to swish it around in the water before throwing it away. This keeps helpful bacteria in the tank.
If you find that there is an unpleasant odour coming from your turtle’s tank, this means the water needs to be changed/cleaned more often.
If you provide your turtle with an additional separate source of water for eating and drinking, this water should be changed daily to keep it clean and fresh.
Naturally, turtles will want to consume live plants. This normal feeding behaviour should be encouraged. Plants such as pond weed are appropriate to supply as they are safe for turtles. Never put a plant in your turtles’ enclosure unless you are sure it’s safe. Live plants have many benefits for turtles besides just being a tasty snack. They also provide oxygen, help stop bad bacteria, and reduce algae.
You must always make sure that your turtle gets the care and attention they need when you are on holiday. Your turtle is dependent on you so it’s important they are not left alone.
While you’re away, make sure whoever is caring for your turtle knows about your companion animal’s (pet’s) requirements. Leave a list of care instructions including your veterinarian’s contact details for emergencies.