Most captive turtles are omnivores and eat anything from vegetables to small animals and fruits like watermelon. Young turtles and juveniles should eat every day, but adults can eat four or five times a week. However, watermelon should make up only 10% to 20% of your turtle’s diet. In other words, feed watermelon fruit to your turtles once a week.
Turtles love watermelon. Slice the watermelon into small manageable pieces for the adults and baby turtles, put it in a bowl, and place it in their basking area. They can eat a lot of the fruit if you don’t monitor them. However, watermelon has a lot of sugar that could pose significant health risks to your turtles if consumed in large quantities.
Note that turtles prefer the red, fleshy watermelon core, not the peels. Watermelon rinds are not only bitter but tough and difficult to digest. I have discussed some facts about turtles and watermelons below. You will also learn how safe the fruit is for your turtles, its nutritional benefits, and how to feed watermelon to turtles.
Can you feed turtles watermelon?
Give your turtle a watermelon, and it will most definitely eat it. Watermelons can help sustain their hunger before getting them high-quality turtle food. However, don’t give turtles too much watermelon in one instance.
Is watermelon safe for turtles?
Watermelon is safe for turtles if you feed them once a week. You can also give them watermelon as a treat, but not as the main course. Only 10% of the turtle’s diet should be made of fruits. The rest should be pellets, dark leafy vegetables, and live prey.
Although some people give turtles watermelon inside the pond, I recommend feeding them watermelon on dry land. That is because watermelon has a lot of sugar. It will absorb the pond water through osmosis and turn tasteless fast.
Feeding them watermelons on dry land also keeps the fruit from aquatic bacteria and fungi, thereby giving the turtles the nutrients in their natural form.
Therefore, watermelon is safe for turtles once a week, and it is also much safer to feed them on dry land than inside the pond. However, moderating the amount of watermelon you feed the turtle is also essential. Avoid giving them too much watermelon in one instance.
Can baby turtle eat watermelon?
Just like the adult turtles, baby turtles can also eat watermelon. The fruit has a high sugar content for energy and increased activity in your baby turtles. But since baby turtles have smaller mouths, I recommend slicing the fruit into small manageable sizes for them.
However, baby turtles need more proteins for their growth and development than they need fruits. Feed them plenty of animal products two or three times a day and give them watermelons once a week or as a treat.
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Nutritional benefits of feeding turtles watermelon
Here are the nutritional benefits of feeding turtles watermelon:
Increased resistance to diseases: Watermelon has vitamin A and vitamin C, which have significant antioxidizing properties. The antioxidants in watermelon are cucurbitacin E and lycopene. They reduce the turtle’s susceptibility to illnesses and acute termal fluctuations.
Provision of energy: As I discussed earlier, watermelons have a lot of carbohydrates in the form of sugar. Watermelon raises the turtle’s blood sugar levels and energy, and may make them quite active and playful in the pond. It will give the turtles the energy to hunt live prey.
Promotes healthy cholesterol level in turtles: 67% of watermelon is soluble fiber. The fiber reduces the turtle’s ability to absorb fats and keeps the bllod sugar and cholesterol levels in check. As such, watermelon promotes digestion and lowers inflammation in turtles.
How to feed watermelon to turtles
Peeling the watermelon is essential if you are feeding the turtle on a bowl. If you don’t have a feeding bowl, leave some watermelon skin to avoid direct contact with the ground. Alternatively, slice the watermelon in wedges that your turtle can fit in its mouth.
Here is a straightforward way to feed watermelon to turtles:
- Peel the watermelon
- Remove the seeds
- Slice the fruit into small pieces that can fit in your turtle’s mouth
- Place the slice watermelon in a bowl
- Feed the turtles on a dry land
The effects of feeding too much watermelon to turtles
Although turtles love watermelons, too much of it can be dangerous.
First, the sugar content can raise the turtle’s blood glucose and cause vision problems, rapid heartbeat, and excessive hunger and thirst.
Your turtle will even vomit or diarrhea due to too much watermelon.
Fruits should make only 10% of their diet and the rest should be small animals, insects, and vegetables. Feed watermelon to turtles only once a week, or after a high-quality meal as a treat. In other words, a balanced diet is crucial for turtles.
Can turtles eat watermelon seeds?
If you don’t remove the watermelon seeds, your turtles can accidentally eat them with the fruit. Although they are not poisonous to your turtle, watermelon seeds are tough and difficult to digest.
Besides, the seeds will only fill your turtle’s stomach and make it feel satisfied while in the real sense, the turtle is lacking essential nutrients.
Watermelon seeds can also make it difficult for your baby turtles to pass stool comfortably, which can cause them severe gastrointestinal problems.
Act fast if your turtle does not poop for a couple of days after eating watermelon seeds. Give the turtle proper nutrition and take it to the veterinarian. The bottomline is, always remove the seeds before feeding watermelon to your turtles.
Can turtles eat watermelon skin?
I also don’t recommend feeding your turtles watermelon skin for various reasons.
First, watermelon skin is quite tough. Not only is it difficult for turtles to chew, it is much more difficult to digest.
Secondly, watermelon rinds can stay inside your turtles stomach for a long time, during which the turtle might not show any interest in food.
Finally, watermelon skins are not tasty or nutritious. If you feed watermelon skin to your turtles, it will miss on essential nutrients from the food variety you have to offer.
- Adelphi University. (nd). Turtle Feeding
- Arizona Game & Fish Department. (2022). Captive Desert Tortoise Diet.
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