Tortoise eat some vegetables

Are Turtles Herbivores? No, not all turtles are herbivores; many species are omnivores, while some are strictly herbivores or carnivores depending on their environment and species.

Understanding Turtle Diets

Turtles have a diverse range of diets that vary significantly among species. Understanding what turtles eat is essential for proper pet care and ensuring their health and wellness.

Herbivorous Turtles

Herbivorous turtles primarily consume plant-based foods. Examples include:

  • Green Sea Turtles: These turtles are known for their plant-based diet, consisting mainly of seagrasses and algae.
  • Tortoises: Most tortoises are strict herbivores, enjoying a diet of grasses, leaves, flowers, and fruits.

Omnivorous Turtles

Omnivorous turtles eat both plant and animal matter. They have a varied diet that includes:

  • Box Turtles: Box turtles are a common example of omnivorous turtles. Their diet includes insects, small animals, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Red-Eared Sliders: These turtles start with a more carnivorous diet in their youth and gradually become more herbivorous as they age.

Carnivorous Turtles

Some turtles are primarily carnivorous, feeding on a diet consisting mainly of animal matter. Examples include:

  • Snapping Turtles: These turtles are known for their aggressive hunting behavior, consuming fish, frogs, birds, and small mammals.

Learn more about turtle care and turtle nutrition in our related articles.

Factors Influencing Turtle Diets

Several factors influence whether a turtle is herbivorous, omnivorous, or carnivorous, including species-specific dietary evolution, age-related dietary needs, and the availability of food sources in their natural habitat.

Regardless of their diet classification, all turtles require a balanced diet to maintain health, which includes essential proteins for growth and repair, fats for energy, and vitamins and minerals for various bodily functions.

For more on how to know if a turtle is sick, check out our detailed guides.

Feeding Pet Turtles

When feeding pet turtles, it’s essential to closely replicate their natural diet.

For herbivorous turtles, offer a variety of leafy greens like kale, dandelion, and collard greens, along with vegetables such as carrots, squash, and bell peppers, and moderate amounts of fruits like apples, strawberries, and melons.

Omnivorous turtles should be given insects and worms like mealworms, crickets, and earthworms, small fish and cooked meat pieces, and a variety of greens and vegetables similar to herbivorous turtles.

Carnivorous turtles benefit from live prey like fish and insects to stimulate natural hunting behaviors, as well as raw or cooked meat pieces appropriate for their size.

Common Misconceptions

turtle hiding inside plants

While some turtles are herbivorous, not all can thrive on a strictly vegetarian diet, making it crucial to understand the specific dietary needs of your turtle species for their health.

Turtles cannot be classified as vegan because even herbivorous turtles may unintentionally consume small insects or animal matter.

For detailed information on various turtle species, refer to Wikipedia.


Turtles can be herbivores, omnivores, or carnivores depending on their species, age, and habitat.

Providing a balanced diet that meets their specific nutritional needs is essential for their health and well-being.