Bread has been staple food for humans for millennia, So is it good for turtles? There are many foods that are very good for humans that are also good for turtles but there are many foods that are good for humans but would be absolute poison for turtles. What a turtle eats can be a life or death question.So we must ask can turtles eat bread? And what will it do to them?
Turtles can not properly digest bread. They don’t produce their own saliva, which saliva is a key ingredient that allows bread to be broken down into nourishment in the body. Their stomachs also don’t produce the enzymes that would be able to digest bread. So while bread will likely not kill them it will also not give them any nourishment.
Bread is a human food that turtles should not eat. Without the necessary biological equipment to break it down and process it, makes bread just empty calories.
Also turtles don’t have any teeth so they cant really chew their food like people do. So with a food like bread it opens up the tragic possibility of the turtle choking on it if the pieces are too large to be easily swallowed whole.
In addition to this many types of bread as well as other human foods can contain extra added preservatives and spices. These are most definitely not good for turtles. This just making another really good reason why you should never feed a turtle bread.
While bread is not poisonous to turtles in the same way that dairy products are such as milk, cheese and butter its still not at all good for them and should be avoided at all costs.
Why Didn’t Turtles Evolve the Ability to Digest Bread?
Bread is a food that did not occur naturally in nature. While the key grain ingredients to of course occur in the wild bread does not. Humans you could say invented bread.
People take flour and water turning that into dough. Then with that application of heat to the dough, voila you have bread. While turtles can eat and digest just fine certain wild occurring grains such as corn. Bread being a food that is made through human processes that never occurred in nature thus turtles never had a chance to evolve to eat it.
In addition humans even have only been eating bread for several thousand years. Which may seem like quite a long time, but to evolution and mother nature is just a passing moment.
What Happens if Turtles Eat Bread?
As long as they don’t choke on it nothing is likely to happen immediately. But if they continue to eat it and it takes up space in their stomach preventing them from eating other foods. Then in a fairly short amount of time the turtle will begin to become severely malnourished.
Their shell will begin to become deformed as they are deprived of calcium. An extremely vital nutrient for a turtles health. Part of their shell may become too tight for some parts of their body. While others parts of the shell may give too much space preventing the turtle from being able to hide their body in their shell for protection.
Should You Feed Bread to Wild Turtles at Lakes and Parks?
While it can be very fun and relaxing to toss food to wild turtles in a nearby stream or pond. You should try to make sure that the food you toss them is never bread.
All the negative effects of bread upon turtles that has been described apply equally to both turtles kept indoors as pets and wild turtles. Turtles are extremely opportunistic eaters and will eat pretty much whatever they come across good or bad. As they never know when their next meal might come.
While normally this isn’t much of a problem for turtles and actually helps make them hardier survivors. When you throw humans into the mix it could have tragic results. Very well meaning people might want to feed a turtle some delicious human food.
On some level it might make sense, after all if people like then it might seem that it would be good for turtles as well. People sometimes give turtles pizza, beef, milk and bread thinking that the turtles would find them yummy. But these have tragic consequences as all of those foods are like poison to turtles.
If you want to give some treats to turtles instead of bread give them some nice slices of a dark leafy green such as kale. While that may not seem to be the most delicious thing to people. To a turtle green veggies are among their favorite things to eat.
Another alternative is to give them some fish such as shad, or if you happen to have a pocket of grasshoppers those can be very yummy too. We have to remember that turtles are not people and their food preferences both for taste and health can be wildly different from our own.
What are the Three Types of Food That All Turtles Need?
To have a healthy balanced diet turtles require three types of food. These are a good protein source, dark green veggies and calcium.
As long as turtles have access to these three things to eat then they will be very happy and healthy at least as far as food is concerned.
For protien some commercially made turtles pellets are very good. They will provide turtles with all the protein they need. In fact you have to be careful to not over feed it to them as it can give them way too much protein. You can also give turtles feeder fish and insects. Which can also make excellent protein sources though ones that admittedly require a bit more work.
On the vegetable front turtles love the following veggies.
- Dandelion greens
- water hyacinth
- Romaine lettuce
- green beans
Make sure you cut them up into bites no bigger than half the size of the turtles head, so that they don’t choke. You should also cook them somewhat to soften them up. But if you cut them into small enough pieces it may not be entirely necessary.
Then turtles also can use some extra supplements of calcium. These can be gotten through blocks of cuttlebone placed into their tank with the hard backing cut off (so that they don’t choke again). And some special calcium tablets that dissolve in water. The turtles skin will then absorb the calcium from the water whenever they go swimming.
Turtles lacking in calcium can get extremely sick. So you can almost never go wrong with giving them some extra calcium just to be on the safe side.
While turtles can eat bread and it wont kill them instantly or anything like that. It also cannot be properly digested and so wont give them any real calories or nutrients. Turtles fed bread for a prolonged time will become severely malnourished and will develop heartbreaking deformations in their shells.
This goes for wild turtles as well as pet turtles. So if you want to give some turtles a treat. Go for some strips kale or turnip greens. Their are many other veggies that can make great treats for turtles as well.
Some small feeder fish can make an awesome treat as well. Green things are like natures candy for turtles.