If you own a pet turtle, it is only natural to question what they can and cannot eat. Especially when you consider the number of different species and their own dietary needs and requirements. But what about eggs? Are these safe, or even healthy to provide a turtle and is there any considerations that should be taken into account. With these questions in mind I spent some time researching the topic. You will find all that you need to know here today.
So, can turtles eat eggs? Omnivorous species of turtles can eat eggs, whereas some other species cannot. Even for Omnivorous turtles, they should only eat eggs in moderation to ensure they meet their full nutritional requirements and needs. Turtles require mostly calcium and vitamins rather than protein, and eggs are too rich in protein to be provided too often or in too high servings. Over-consumption of protein can cause kidney infections in turtles, so it must be managed in the diet.
There are over 350 turtle species that exist in the world today, and they live in all continents except for Antarctica – they are highly adaptive to their given habitats. A turtle’s diet varies largely depending on the environment in which they live.
In the wild, these reptiles spend their days foraging for food and retreat quickly to their nest after the sun sets to avoid nocturnal predators.
While there are more than 350 species of turtles in existence, only a fraction make suitable pets, some of the species grow too large for domestication. You must research turtles before acquiring one.
As a turtle owner, it is essential to discuss and plan or your own species diet with a veterinarian or professional, as the diets of captive turtles vary somewhat by species.
Nevertheless, you should not overfeed any one food to your turtle. They need a wide assortment of food in their diet to remain healthy.
It’s not ideal to feed too many eggs to your turtle; however, eggshells that are boiled and then crushed make an excellent source of calcium.
Your turtle will need vitamin D3 to process calcium properly, they can get that from direct sunlight or special reptile lights, and this will help them to produce this essential vitamin.
Are Eggs Healthy For Turtles?
Eggs are healthy for omnivorous turtles as long as they do not consume too many or too much. They are high in a number of vitamins and minerals, but they are equally relatively high in protein and fat – which is not healthy in high amounts.
With this being said, protein is beneficial and serves a purpose in omnivorous turtles diets. Its particularity important for growth; especially in juvenile and young turtles. So, it must be included in the diet; just managed.
Let us now take a look at the nutritional breakdown of eggs:
|74.4 Kcal (Calories)
As you can see, just one egg provides quite a lot of nutrition. One thing to note is that they do not have a favorable calcium/phosphorous ratio (1:4). This would therefore need to be balanced. But, importantly, they do contain Vitamin D.
With this nutrition in mind, are eggs even an appropriate dietary addition for your turtle?
Semi-aquatic turtles are omnivores. And if yours is an omnivore, they need a half meat-based diet and half vegetable-based. The percentage may however, vary depending on the species. A turtles diet depends on the species, with that in mind, you must adjust their diet consequently.
Do you know what your turtle would eat in the wild? Are you confident that he is an omnivore? It would be advantageous to know the answers to these questions before attempting to feed eggs or any food you’re unsure about to your pet reptile.
One other thing to consider are the eggshells. Eggshells are undoubtedly healthy for turtles. They are high in calcium and other essential nutrients so you can look to include these in your turtles diet to boost their intake. To do so, just make sure that they are boiled and crushed into a fine powder first.
Nevertheless, whether you offer eggs or not, your pet turtle’s food should consist of items that are high in minerals and vitamins. Vitamin D3, calcium, and phosphorus are essential to your turtle, and eggs can help meet these requirements.
Turtles usually get all the phosphorous in their diet; it’s the calcium intake that requires your attention!
So, eggs and any food high in protein should be fed sparingly and as part of a varied diet.
Species Of Turtles That Can Eat Eggs
Before we even look at feeding our turtles eggs, let us quickly run through some of the species that they are suitable for:
- Red-eared Sliders
- Yellow-bellied Sliders
- Box turtles
- Musk turtles
- Painted turtles
- Map turtles
- Wood turtles
- Spotted turtles
- Pond turtles
- False Map turtles
- African Sideneck turtles
While most of these turtles are commonly kept as pets, and while they are all omnivorous in nature, it is important to consider that protein and dietary requirements do differ by species.
Therefore how much egg you can theoretically feed them healthily will differ. It is best to consult your vet/professional ahead of any feeding.
How Much Egg Can Turtles Eat?
There are no documented recommendations around the amount of egg turtles can eat.
That being said, make sure that your pet turtle doesn’t consume too many in one meal. They should never be a staple in the diet either, as turtles need a wide variety of food.
If you own an omnivorous turtle, err on the side of caution, make sure that they eat a diverse range of protein and vegetable sources, before offering any egg.
Eggs are healthy for humans as they are rich in protein, iron, and other vitamins and minerals. However, even people are advised not to overindulge in eggs.
Understanding the effects of eating more than three eggs per day is uncharted territory. Egg yolks are considered high in cholesterol, which is linked to heart disease. If human beings must limit their egg intake, this is even more true with turtles.
How To Feed Turtles Eggs
You must only feed hard-boiled eggs to turtles. Never soft-boiled, fried, or scrambled, and certainly not raw.
You can chop the hard-boiled egg into smaller pieced or offer it whole and let your turtle eat it up as it is.
The egg yolk is considered to be higher in saturated fat than the white of the egg, so you can exclude the yolk and feed only the white of the egg if you prefer.
You can crush the eggshell and offer it to your turtle – crushed oyster shells, cuttlebone, and plaster blocks are excellent calcium sources.
You can also get slow-release calcium blocks, like this Zoo-Med product from Amazon which ensure that your turtle only consumes as much as they need at any one given time.
However, dietary calcium alone cannot be adequately processed if vitamin D3 is missing. Direct sunlight and reptile lights produce vitamin D3 in the turtle’s body. You can also give your turtle vitamin D3 supplements.
Other Foods That Are Good For Turtles
Semi-aquatic turtles are omnivores, and therefore need to eat lots of different foods each day.
More exotic species have special dietary requirements, and you must speak to an expert if you are unsure of their nutritional needs.
Before listing other foods for your turtle, it’s essential to adjust the quantities according to your turtle’s age. The following is a quick reference that should form the base of your pet turtle’s diet:
- Small crickets
- Dried shrimp
- Canned tuna
- Small feeder fish
- Dandelion Greens
- Mustard greens
- Green beans
- Cooked sweet potato
- Softened carrots
Remember, fruit must always be chopped up into small pieces.
- Water plants
- Water lettuce
- Water hyacinth
You can purchase these plants at your local nursery. They are an excellent food source for turtles, but they help reduce the amount of algae growth.
The Juvenile Diet
Young turtles grow very quickly and need lots of protein to make their shells strong. At this stage, most of their diet should be protein, in percentages, it should be 70% to 80%
Do not expect young turtles to like vegetables right away. You must keep offering vegetables and greens.
Offer your turtle a piece of fruit on occasion and make sure that their diet is varied, as long as it mostly consists of protein.
The Adult Diet
Once a turtle reaches 18 months of age, you can begin phasing out the amount of protein you usually feed them. At this life stage, a healthy diet must comprise of 50% to 60% leafy greens as well as some fruit.
Adult turtles still need protein in their diet, but at this stage, their shell is mostly developed, and too much protein can harm their health. As long as they have 50% to 70% leafy greens, the remainder of their diet can be protein-based.
Maintaining A Proper Balance
You must always be aware, that a pet turtle’s diet must equal what they would eat in their natural habitat.
It is not easy to maintain a suitable balance of vitamins, and you cannot be sure you have enough vegetables for your pet.
To ensure your turtle has the right balance of all the vitamins and minerals he needs, you can feed commercial pellets to your turtle – you will discover how they make light work of the feeding process.
With all of that said, pellets should only make up no more than half of your turtle’s diet.
Pellets, like any food, cannot be relied upon alone for proper nutrition. It’s a good idea to mix in pellets a few times a week; that way, you can be sure your turtle is receiving a proper varied diet.
Many turtle owners want to treat their reptilian friend; treats should comprise of what they eat in their usual diet.
If they like a specific type of food more than others, you can offer more of that as a treat. The following is some good examples of what to provide your turtle as a treat:
- Apple slices
- Pear slices
- Dries shrimp
If you do offer new foods to your turtle, make sure that you always supervise him to make sure he doesn’t choke. Consider using supplements in your turtle’s diet to make sure that they get the full range of micronutrients and vitamins he needs to stay healthy.
Many common turtles species are long-lived reptiles. While they tend to live longer in the wild, captive turtles can live for decades, and certain factors can influence their lifespan.
Treats are fine to offer your pet reptile now and again, but they never make the bulk of your pet’s diet.
Eggs are an example of a treat that should only be offered to your turtle in moderation. If your pet turtle is an omnivore, they can eat quite a variety of things, so don’t limit their diet to only one item of food, offer them a rich and varied diet with lots of leafy greens.
You must research the diet of your new pet turtle; most thrive with a mixture of fresh foods and commercial turtle pellets.
Exact proportions and of pellets and diet will depend on your turtle’s age and species, but you can always consult with an experienced turtle owner, or simply talk to your vet and get dietary advice there.
A proper diet can help prevent a vitamin A deficiency – this is one of the most common health issues for pet turtles.
Calcium and vitamin D deficiency is also a significant problem among pet turtles. Without a proper diet and lighting, turtles can suffer from weak growth and soft shells.
Aside from a proper diet, turtles need a clean enclosure, the right temperature, and regular visits to the vet to make sure that they are disease-free.
Are you wondering what else turtles can and should eat? Check out my feeding guides below:
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.