What do turtles eat?

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We know the order Testudines as turtles or chelonians. Its spine and ribs are welded together, forming a very strong shell that protects its entire body. In many cultures they are the symbol of the warrior, but also of patience, wisdom and longevity. It is due to their slowness and caution, which allows them to reach a very long life.

Some species can live for more than 100 years. For this, these curious animals have to take care of themselves and, above all, eat very well. But, ¿know They eat turtles? If the answer is no, keep reading because in this AnimalWised article we tell you everything you need to know about the feeding of turtles, both marine and freshwater and terrestrial.

You may also be interested in: What do sea turtles eat? Index
  1. What do sea turtles eat?
  2. What do river turtles eat?
  3. What do tortoises eat?

What do sea turtles eat?

There are 7 species or types of sea turtles that form the superfamily of chelonoids (Chelonoidea). Their feeding it depends on each species, of the food available and of their enormous migrations. Despite this, we can summarize what sea turtles eat by dividing them into three types:

  • Carnivorous sea turtles: they eat marine invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, crustaceans or echinoderms. Occasionally, they may eat some seaweed. Within this group we find the leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), olive ridley or olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) and the flat turtle (Natator depressus).
  • Sea turtles herbivores: the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) is the only herbivorous marine chelonium. When they are adults, these turtles feed exclusively on algae and marine plants, although they tend to eat invertebrate animals when they are juveniles. It is the turtle that we observe in the photograph.
  • Sea turtles ormnivores: they are more opportunistic and their diet depends on what is available. They eat algae, plants, invertebrates, and even fish. This is the case of the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), the olive tortoise (Lepidchelys olivacea) and the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata).

If you want to know more, take a look at this other article on What do sea turtles eat, where we give you many more details.

What do river turtles eat?

We know as river turtles those that live associated with fresh water sources, such as rivers, lakes or swamps. Some of them can even live in somewhat salty waters, such as estuaries or marshes. For this reason, as you may have already guessed, what freshwater turtles eat too it depends on each species, where they live and the existing food.

Most of the water turtles it is carnivorous, although they supplement their diet with small amounts of vegetables. When they are small, they consume tiny animals, such as insect larvae (mosquitoes, mayflies, dragonflies) and small mollusks and crustaceans. They can also eat aquatic insects such as water bugs (Naucoridae) or cobblers (Gerridae). So, when asked what the small turtles belonging to this group eat, you can see that their diet is quite varied..

As they grow, these tortoises consume larger animals such as crustacean larvae, mollusks, fish and even amphibians. In addition, when they reach adulthood, they usually include algae, leaves, seeds and fruits in your diet. In this way, vegetables can account for up to 15% of your consumption and are essential for your health.

In some turtles, the consumption of plants is much higher, so they are considered turtles of water omnivorous. This is the case of the well-known Florida turtle (Trachemis scripta), a very opportunistic reptile that adapts well to any type of diet. In fact, it often becomes an invasive alien species..

Finally, some species feed almost exclusively on vegetables, although they occasionally consume animals. For this reason, they are considered turtles of water herbivores. An example is the terecay (Podocnemis unifilis), whose favorite food is the seeds of legume plants. For its part, the coastal plain tortoise (Pseudemys floridana) prefer macroalgae.

If you want to learn more about what river turtles eat, don't miss this other article on Feeding water turtles..

What do tortoises eat?

One of the main differences between water and land turtles is in their diet. Tortoises (Testudinidae) have adapted to living out of the water, but they are still slow animals, specialized in hiding. Thus, most of the tortoises is herbivorous, that is, their diet is mainly made up of vegetables.

Normally, turtles are generalist herbivores, that is, they consume leaves, stems, roots and fruits of different plants, depending on the season and availability. This is the case of the Mediterranean tortoise (Testudo hermanni) or the giant Galapagos tortoises (Chelonoidis spp.). Others are more specialized and prefer to consume a single type of food.

Sometimes these herbivorous chelonians supplement their diet with small animals, such as insects or other arthropods. They can eat them with vegetables accidentally or directly. Due to its slowness, some opt for the carrion, that is to say, dead animals. However, meat makes up a very small percentage of your diet.

On the other hand, if you wonder what baby turtles eat, the truth is that their diet is made up of exactly the same foods as that of an adult specimen. In this case, the difference lies in the amount, which is greater because they are in a state of development..

If you want to know more, we recommend this other article about What do land turtles eat?.

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