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Proper Diet For Map Turtles In Captivity

Diet plays a significant role in raising a healthy map turtle. It is because a pet absorbs all the necessary elements like vitamins, minerals from foods. If you are planning to buy a map turtle, and do not have a proper idea about its food habit, this article can be a real deal for you. […]

Proper Diet For Map Turtles In Captivity

Diet plays a significant role in raising a healthy map turtle. It is because a pet absorbs all the necessary elements like vitamins, minerals from foods. If you are planning to buy a map turtle, and do not have a proper idea about its food habit, this article can be a real deal for you.

A map turtle is omnivorous, which means it tends to eat both plants and animal protein. Proper diet for map turtle includes krill, insects, dead fish, water lilies, etc. The diet varies according to the age of the map turtle.

In this article, I will discuss the proper diet for your map turtle in captivity. I will include which items are suitable for the pet, and which foods should be avoided. I will also explain how much food and how often to offer.

Also, I will illustrate the diseases that can occur to your map turtle due to overfeed or underfeed.

Foods For Map Turtles

The feeding habit of map turtles partially depends on its species. Though all of them are omnivorous, they have their preferences towards foods. This section will give you an overall idea about which food items to provide to your pet map turtles.

Protein-Based Items To Feed A Map Turtle

Map turtles prefer eating animal-based food items. The protein helps them getting healthier and making their shell well-shaped. The diet chart of the map turtle must contain 30 to 40% of the protein item. 

  • Snails
  • Crayfish
  • Frozen-dried shrimps
  • Krill
  • Mollusks
  • Feeder fish
  • Mealworms
  • Cricket
  • Bloodworm
  • Earthworm
  • Blackworms
  • Prawn
  • Mussels
  • Fiddlers
  • Green crabs
  • Minnows
  • Shiners
  • Periwinkles
  • Bettles
  • Homopterans
  • Wasps and ants
  • Mayfly nymph
  • Dragonfly nymph
  • Fly larvae

Plant-Based Items To Feed A Map Turtle

Plants and vegetation contain vitamins and minerals. The hatchlings prefer eating more plants than adults. But you have to choose the items carefully so that the map turtle can get all the necessary nutrients. 

  • Coontail
  • Waterweed
  • Duckweed
  • Pondweed
  • Eelgrass
  • Muskgrass
  • Algae
  • Hyacinths
  • Hornwort
  • Water Lilies
  • Frogbit
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Anacharis
  • Edible sea greens
  • Squash
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Zucchini
  • Kale
  • Mustard green,
  • Turnip greens
  • Green leaf
  • Red leaf
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion green
  • Parsley
  • Strawberry
  • Banana

Make sure the plants and vegetables are not poisonous and pesticide-free. 

Commercial Food Items To Feed A Map Turtle

Commercial food items are recommendable for your pet map turtles because these foods are compacted with all nutrients. Feeding these items will make your daily responsibilities towards the pet easier, and you do not have to worry about your turtle getting enough nutrition or not.

Commercial food items are available in the market, and here are some popular commercial foods for the map turtles. 

Your map turtle’s diet chart should contain 75% of commercial foods with other low protein and vegetation. 

Food Items That You Should Never Give To The Map Turtles

As map turtle is a semi-aquatic species, there are limited food items you can offer to it. Also, some food items are harmful to the map turtles, and you have to avoid them at any cost. Here is the list of foods that you should never feed your pet.

  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Mice
  • Animal with fur
  • Fireflies
  • Wild-caught snail
  • Wild-caught shrimps
  • Nuts
  • Junk food
  • Dog food
  • Poisonous food
  • Chemical induced food 
  • Canned food


Calcium supplements are crucial for map turtles. Without sufficient calcium, their body growth will be hampered. You can sprinkle the supplements on the food so that the pets can get the necessary calcium while enjoying their meals. You must not put the supplements on the water.

Cuttlebones or calcium pallets can be a great source of calcium, and also map turtles enjoy having them. If you are planning to feed them cuttlebones, make sure these items do not mix with water. 

Again, vitamin D3 is another significant element for a map turtle. Without adequate Vitamin D3, the pet may suffer from different physical conditions. So, if you are raising your map turtles in an indoor habitat, provide vitamin D3 with the calcium supplements. For an outdoor enclosure, the sun is enough for all necessary vitamins a map turtle needs.

How Much Food Should You Offer To Your Map Turtle

Many turtle owners often get confused while measuring the food portion for their pet map turtles. Well, there are many rules and methods for knowing how much food to offer to your pet. But I strictly follow two plans for feeding my pet map turtle.

  1. The 5 minutes rule
  2. The head size method

The 5 Minutes Rule

Well, it is quite simple. You have to provide more than enough food to the map turtle and let it eat. The quantity, the turtle can finish in 5 minutes is the perfect amount of food it needs. As their appetite changes with their age, you have to conduct the test each month. 

The Head Size Method

The head method is a popular and efficient method for measuring food quantity for the pet turtles. Your assumption is the greatest asset in this technique. You have to provide the amount of food that can fit in the map turtle’s head if it were empty. 

Never give more than enough food to the map turtles. They can eat more than their capacity due to their wild instinct. And overeating can lead to some severe medical conditions.

How Often Should You Feed Your Map Turtles?

Many people often ask me this question, and many have different theories on this topic. Honestly, this depends on the quantity of food you are offering and the age of your map turtle. I have subcategorized the map turtles into three groups to make it easier for you to understand.

For Hatchlings And Baby Map Turtles

Baby map turtles need more food than all other groups because they grow most at their tender age. The baby map turtles tend to eat more plants than protein. But you should not offer them vegetables only. Instead, provide them a balanced diet. 

You have to feed the hatchlings and baby map turtles every day. You can use a separate container to feed them to avoid a mess. Using 5 minutes method will be better in this case.

For Young Map Turtles

Young map turtles eat both plants and animal protein. You do not need to feed them every day. Instead, provide them food every two days. You can also feed them every day by reducing food quantity.

For Adult Map Turtles

Adult map turtles are mainly carnivorous but eat a little vegetation. Feeding them 3 or 5 times a week will be okay. Provide them more protein than vegetables or plants. 

I suggest feeding them commercial food or pallets on each diet and provide them vegetables twice a week.

Why My Map Turtles Are Not Eating?

It is a common problem for each turtle species. There can be many possible reasons why your map turtle is not eating.

  1. If the map turtle is new to the environment, it can lose its appetite.
  2. If the diet is not appealing to the pet, it will not eat.
  3. A slight change in the temperatuer or weather can make the map turtle lose its appetite.
  4. If the map turtle is ill or suffering from any physical condition, it will stop eating.
  5. Stress or anxiety can make the turtle lose its appetite.

How To Make The Map Turtles Eat Again

I have discussed the reasons why the map turtle may lose its appetite. Now here are the probable solutions to the problem.

  • If the map turtle is sick, take it to a vet and ensure proper treatments.
  • If the map turtle is new, give it some time to get adapted to the environment.
  • Make sure the tank temperature is suitable for the map turtle.
  • Try providing it different types of foods instead of feeding the same items every day.

Health Issues Of Map Turtles

I have mentioned earlier that the map turtles can fall sick due to overfed or lack of proper nutrients. The common health problems of a map turtles are,

  1. Pyramided shell – It occurs if you feed to much food to the map turtle.
  2. Kidney failure -If you overfeed your map turtle, this medical condition can occur to it.
  3. Liver failure– Liver failure occurs due to overfeeding the map turtle.
  4. Vitamin A deficiency – If the map turtle does not get enough Vitamin A from the food, the pet will suffer from vitamin A deficiency.

Are Map Turtles Carnivorous Or Omnivorous?

Carnivorous means the pet turtle lives only on eating the small pieces of animals or insects, whereas omnivorous defines that the turtle can eat both animal-based and plant-based foods. Map turtles can eat both protein and plants.

But they prefer eating insects or protein-based foods. They are considered omnivorous animals as their diet includes a small portion of plants in captivity. 

At The End…

Choosing the perfect diet for your map turtle can be a challenging task. But with the article, I hope the job has become easier for you. Thank you for reading the whole article. 

Soumik SarkarS

Soumik Sarkar

I am an animal lover from India. It's a trusted website for animal lover.

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