Can You Overfeed a Turtle?

Turtles are considered as an opportunistic eater. That means whenever they get access to food; they will keep eating it until the supply is over. If you are maintaining pet turtles in captive, then you may notice that the turtle is always like begging for food. They do it because of the voracious nature.

Such behavior may make you think that “Can you overfeed a turtle?”. Actually, you can overfeed a turtle, and it can be harmful. Keep reading the pieces of paragraphs to know how you can overfeed a turtle and the risk of doing so.

Can You Overfeed a Turtle

How Can You Know You are Overfeeding a Turtle?

Most turtle species are voracious, which means they will literally beg for food all the time even when they are in full stomach. Any novice turtle owner will offer more meals to the turtle whenever they find the turtle is looking for food. And the turtle will eat all the foods provided to eat because of its opportunistic eating habits. Turtles in the wild are very slow and don’t get many chances to eat high protein sources. That is why they are an opportunistic eater.

It is believed that the turtle can familiarize peoples. As a result, if you are holding the turtle for a while in captivity, they should remember you. And, they will go crazy for food whenever you come in front of them. Usually, a turtle will require around 20 minutes to enough foods for in a serving. If you feed the turtle afterward, there are chances of overfeeding the pet.

There is some easy way to understand you are overfeeding the turtle. Such as, there will be the development of folded fats in the leg of the turtle. More so, the scute in the turtle’s shell will be widely-separated as the line that separates the scute will become bigger. Besides, the shell of the turtle can also turn upwards as a sign of overfeeding.

How Much Food Should You offer to the turtle?

As we said earlier, a turtle typically requires around 15 to 20 minutes to eat enough food. If you are feeding pellets to the turtle, you should offer it a quantity that will be equivalent to the turtle’s head. Here is how you can do this – put some pellets in a small plastic bag and then put it close to the turtle’s head. Then add more pellets or remove if there are excess to make equivalent to the turtle’s head.

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Now let’s talk about how much vegetables you should offer to the turtle. The quantity of the food will depend on the turtle’s age as they require different amounts of food at different spans of life. As an example, when the turtles are mature, you should offer them minimal protein-source and the maximum vegetables. You will need to feed the adult turtle every other day.

The juvenile or young turtle will require more food for development. As a result, you will need to feed them once a day. The dietary plan for a juvenile turtle should include more protein than the vegetables. Though they will ignore the plant-based diet at first, you should offer them the plants to ensure proper nutrition.

Side Effects and Signs of Overfeeding a Turtle

A turtle can survive for a long time without any food; sometimes, it can be even a month. While providing less food to the turtle will not cause a lot of issues, overfeeding can be dangerous. It can lead the turtle to a variety of diseases and sometimes even death. Here are some of the signs which describe you are overfeeding the little exotic pet:

Liver/ Kidney Damage

Overfeeding a turtle can lead it to do diseases like fatty liver disease or hepatic lipidosis, along with different kidney diseases and damage. Such things eventually lead the turtle to liver failure. Due to excessive consumption of the protein-based food, the turtle will b become unable to digest all the fats. That makes the turtle can become prone to bacterial and fungal infections.

The kidney failure can also occur due to the quicker growth and development of the other body parts, as the organs cannot keep up with the growth and require overworking.

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Obesity is the most common sign of overfeeding a turtle. However, you may not notice that the turtle is becoming fatter than even in bare eyes. There is an easy approach to know whether the turtle is becoming obsessed or not. Give a closer look when the turtle is retracting the leg in the shell. If you find that the legs are folding, then it means the turtle is obese.

You can check the turtle’s obesity more easily if you have two or more male turtles of the same age. Give a closer look at the turtle and search for a noticeable difference in their size. If one turtle is larger than another, then that means the particular turtle is obsessed. This way may not be valid for the female species, as their size can vary even when the same age.


Another thing your turtle may experience is pyramiding or shell pyramiding. It is a type of Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) that can cause excessive shell growth. It is quite easy to spot the shell pyramiding in the turtle’s body.  If the turtle scute is raised and pops up more than usual, it can be a sign of shell pyramiding. The disease can damage the organs of the turtle by squeezing it.

Typically, shell pyramiding happens when you overfeed the turtle too many pellets. Other factors that can lead the turtle to this disease include a lack of calcium and exercise. This disease can influence the turtle to death if not treated properly.


Here is the summary of the whole article – you can easily overfeed a turtle if you are not careful while feeding it. And, overfeeding the turtle can lead it to various diseases. Make sure that you are offering the turtle appropriate amount of the food to resist overfeeding.

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