Why my red-eared slider turtle won’t eat?
This question is well known among people that keep or that have kept red-eared slider turtles.
And it is one of the biggest concerns that new turtle owners have. Consider this scenario.
You’ve bought a baby red-eared slider. The excitement is real. You are happy and you will do everything it is in your power to make sure that your little pal will live a healthy and long life. But the excitement slowly fades away when you notice that your turtle is refusing to eat. You are starting to worry about your turtle health.
You start to wonder what’s wrong and what you can do to solve the problem. You are even afraid that the worst might happen.
I can tell you one thing for sure. If you act fast enough, and if you find out what’s the reason causing your red-eared slider refusing to eat, you won’t have a problem finding a solution. In most cases, it’s something that you can act on.
In this article, we’ll cover all the possible reasons that may cause your baby turtle to lose appetite. In addition, we’ll talk about what you, as responsible turtle owners, can do to solve this situation.
Let’s get started.
Why My Baby Red Eared Slider Turtle Won’t Eat
There are many reasons why baby turtles may refuse to eat. Some of them are pretty normal, some demand further investigation. For example, many first-time turtle owners don’t realize that it’s pretty normal for turtles to not eat a day or two.
However, if you notice that your turtle is not eating for more than a few days, you need to look for possible problems. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you red-eared slider turtle stopped eating.
Change Of Environment
It’s pretty normal for baby red-eared slider turtles to stop eating if they changed their usual environment. If you just bought your turtle, there is nothing you need to worry about. It’s probably stressed out. Once it gets accustomed to its new home, it will start to eat again. It usually takes just a few days. If that’s not the case, and it takes a longer time, consider other factors causing its lack of appetite.
Baby red-eared slider turtles can be stressed out because of other reasons, as well. One thing that I’ve noticed is that many people like handling their turtles a lot. Don’t do this!
I know that you are careful and you think it’s harmless, however, believe me when I say that turtles don’t enjoy it. Especially baby turtles, which will definitely end up being stressed out.
And stress is one of the main reasons turtles refuse to eat. If you have kids, and they are in charge of taking care of the turtle, educate them on the subject.
Temperature Of Their Habitat
Turtles are ectotherms, and their body temperature will depend on the temperature in the room. If you keep your turtle in a colder environment, it may start to lose appetite.
Colder temperatures slow down turtles metabolism, therefore losing their appetite. It’s not advisable for baby red-eared slider turtles to stay in colder temperatures for a prolonged time. It will stunt their growth.
Turtles are not picky animals, however, it can be hard sometimes to accustom a baby red-eared slider to a new type of food that’s different from the food it was eating before. If that’s the case, start to experiment. Give them different types of food until they start to like some of them. Later in this article, I’ll explain some strategies to convince your turtle to eat, as well.
Lighting in the Tank
The lighting in your turtle tank is just as important as the temperature in it. Red-eared slider turtles require approximately 12 hours of a day-night cycle to function normally as they do in their natural habitats. If your turtle doesn’t have a normal biorhythm, it may show signs of losing appetite.
Overall Health of the Turtle
If all of the factors that I’ve mentioned in this article are on point, and the baby red-eared slider turtle is still refusing to eat, then it might have some kind of health problems. If that problem occurs, the best advice I can give you is to take it to the vet.
Some of the symptoms red-eared slider turtles have when they get sick are:
- Discoloration of their shells
- Difficulty of breathing
- Swollen, Irritated and infected eyes
Actions To Take If Your Turtle Refuses To Eat
Now, you know what are the reasons that may cause your baby to refuse to eat. And if your turtle is refusing to eat, it’s time to take action.
Different types of causes require different forms of action.
For example, if your turtle is refusing to eat the same food you give it every day, try to entice it with live food. Red-eared slider turtles are attracted to movement and will love to see some live creatures in their tank. Insects such as crickets, flies and some bugs are good choices for a start.
Smaller live feeder fish are also a great choice if your turtle is big enough to consume them.
However, you never depend on one source of food. Mix it with regular commercial prepared food.
What about red-eared slider turtles that refuse to eat pellets?
One trick that I’ve learned and read about, it’s to soak the pellets in canned tuna water. The smell from the tuna will attract your turtle, resulting in eating the pellets. Pretty awesome, isn’t it?
As we mentioned earlier, the temperature and the lighting in the turtle tank are very important.
Never leave your baby red eared sliders in a cold environment for a prolonged period. For adult turtles, that are fully developed, it won’t cause any significant problems.
On the contrary, baby turtles will stop eating and will postpone their growth. Frequent feedings in their early stages are crucial for them to grow up and become a healthy and fully functional adult red-eared slider. Always keep the temperature between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
As you have seen, there are lots of reasons that may cause your baby red-eared slider to not eat. However, the good part is that you can prevent many of them.
You should provide your turtle with the best possible conditions for living. If everything is done as it should be, the baby turtle will start to eat sooner than later. If that’s not happening, if it still refuses to eat after all you’ve done, and it shows some early signs of illness, take it to a veterinarian.
I hope you enjoy reading this article. Turtles can survive without food for a surprising period of time, however, we are not going to test it out.
Because we are responsible turtle owners.
Until next time, see you!