How Often Should You Feed Your Red Eared Slider?

Knowing how often to feed your red-eared slider is a very important thing for someone who owns or wants to own one of these beautiful creatures. Here you will be able to learn everything you need to know how to make sure your red eared slider gets enough food and also make sure they don’t become overweight which can be bad for their health.

How much to feed a red-eared slider depends greatly upon their age. Baby turtles from the age of 6 months to 2 years old should be fed daily with turtle pellets and some dark leafy greens. Older turtles, around their teenage years from 2 to 5 years old can then be fed every other day or so. Half of their diet at this point can be turtle pellets and the other half various vegetables. Fully mature turtles, over 5 years can be fed about every two to three days, with the majority consisting of vegetables and the rest being turtle pellets.

How often to feed them and how much has many facets to it and overfeeding them accidentally can be quite an easy mistake to make so read for more details.

When turtles are very young they are much more active than when they are older and growing rapidly. For this reason they need to be fed much more often and fed a lot more protein in the form of turtle pellets to facilitate this growth.

Their fat stores are not as well developed so skipping feeding days hurts them a lot more than a more mature turtle.

As they age their activity levels tend to drop and their protein needs decrease. So generally as they age your going to slowly start feeding them less often and giving them more of their diet in the form of healthy greens.

  • Ages 6 months to 2 years old: Feed them turtle pellets daily with some supplementing with fresh leafy greens like kale or romaine lettuce.
  • Ages 2 to 5 years old: Feed them every other day with about 50% turtle pellets and 50% in the form of veggies like kale and romaine lettuce.
  • Ages 5 and older: feed them every two to three days with the majority of their food in the form of vegetables and maybe 30% or so as protein like turtle pellets.

What Can You Feed Them, and What You Should Never Feed Them

A red-eared sliders diet consists largely of protein and vegetables. They are omnivorous meaning they eat both plants and meat.

For their protein source some good commercial turtle pellets can serve quite nicely and easily. Some good commercial options are:

  • Mazuri
  • Zoo Med
  • Rep-Cal
  • Wardleys
  • ReptoMin

Any of these brands should give your turtle a nice well -balanced diet to serve their protein needs. If you want you can also occasionally give them some treats in the form of:

  • Mealworms
  • Snails
  • Crickets
  • Earthworms, though they need to be from organic soil to ensure your red-eared slider doesn’t ingest any pesticides.
  • Bass
  • Bluegills
  • Crappies

You also need to make sure they’re consuming some nice vegetables as well. A pure protein diet of turtle pellets make work for them when they’re young but could leave them lacking essential nutrients as they age. So as your red-eared slider grows older feed them more and more vegetables such as the following:

  • Kale
  • Collard
  • Mustard greens
  • Shredded carrots, squash and zucchini
  • Water lettuce
  • Romaine lettuce

All these vegetables should be chopped up to easy bite pieces as well as cooked to soften them.

Knowing what to not feed your turtle is very important as well, here is a list of foods to avoid for the health of your red eared slider.

  • Luncheon meat
  • Never feed them pizza
  • Iceberg, head lettuce and celery should be avoided as they consist mainly of water and are lacking in any significant nutrients.
  • Do not feed your red eared slider any raw meat or chicken from the grocery store.
  • Nor any wild caught amphibians or fish, which may contain dangerous parasites.
  • Oily fish like smelt and mackerel should be avoided as they contain to much fatty content that may lead your red eared slider to develop a vitamin e deficiencies
  • Never feed them dairy products like milk, yogurt or cheese as red eared sliders and turtles in general lack the necessary enzymes to digest them properly.
  • Also don’t feed them any bread for once again they don’t have the necessary digestive enzymes.

You can also feed your red-eared slider small chopped bits of fruit but this should be done rarely maybe only every few weeks, as the sugar content of the fruit can be too much for red-eared slider turtles.

How Much to Feed Your Red-eared Slider Pet

Feeding a red-eared slider the right amount to ensure they don’t over eat and become obese can be quite tricky. Nature made them into aggressive opportunistic eaters who will eat whatever they can whenever they can for as far as they know they don’t know when their next meal might come.

Red-eared sliders can be notorious beggars and will constantly ask you for more food. But for their long term health you have to resist the urge and try to feed them no more than the necessary amount.

Feed them about the amount that would fit into the size of their heads if they were empty. Or an alternative strategy is to feed them no more than they can eat in a couple of minutes.

For water as long as you keep their water quality clean with a strong water filter, than they should have plenty to drink whenever they are thirsty.

Calcium For Red-eared Sliders.

Calcium deficiency in red-eared sliders can be a terrible thing that will lead to a host of diseases with various symptoms such as:

  • Lack of appetite
  • A concerning rubbery and soft shell
  • Swollen lumps on their head
  • Weak swimming or walking

Giving them dark leafy greens like kale should provide them with a decent amount of their calcium needs, but since the important of calcium to a red-eared slider can not be overstated, there are some additional items you can add in too make sure your red-eared slider gets plenty of calcium

You may in addition to dark leafy greens provide your turtle with a stick of cuttlebone which is a white chalky substance that they can nibble at from time to time. However, it’s import to break off the hard backing of the cuttlebone and that part of the cuttlebone can choke turtles. Suppliers such as Zoo Med specialize in cuttlebone for turtles and finding a specialized vendor is the best recommendation to make sure your turtle gets what they need.


So to summarize, you need to feed your red-eared slider both protein and vegetables, with more protein for younger turtles (you can tell as their shells are very colorful and bright, while the shells of older turtles are darker and less colorful) and an increasing amount of vegetables as they age.

Turtles under 2 feed every day, turtle between 2 and 5 feed every other day and turtles older than 5 feed every two to three days. When you feed them, feed them an amount no bigger than there heads or then what they can eat in five minutes or so.

Provide them also with good sources of calcium and don’t be overwhelmed, but just do the best you can and your red eared slider should live a long healthy life.

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