what do baby red eared slider turtles eat

What Do Baby Red Eared Slider Turtles Eat? (Complete Guide)

You’ve probably bought a baby red-eared slider turtle and now you are wondering what you can do to ensure that it has a quality life. You’ve read some stuff before, but you are not quite sure that’s the information you are looking for. 

One of the first questions that popped up in your head was: What do baby red-eared slider turtles eat? 

Then other questions followed. 

How to feed your baby turtle? What kind of food is suitable for its needs? And many other questions, as well. 

In this article, I’ll answer all those questions. In addition, we’ll closely look into the fundamentals of taking care of baby red-eared sliders.  Sounds good enough? 

Let’s get started. 

What to feed a baby red-eared slider? 

Taking care of baby red-eared slider turtles is quite different from taking care of adult red-eared slider turtles. They are more prone to diseases, they need special attention and they need to be fed more regularly. 

And unfortunately, many of them will not survive the first years of their lives. That’s why in that period you need to be careful, and you need to make sure that your turtles have the best possible conditions for living. 

In their juvenile period, baby turtles most need proteins, vitamins, and minerals. It’s vital for their growth and development. 

In general, red-eared slider turtles are omnivores, which means their diet should consist of animals and plants. 

However, the diet of baby red-eared slider turtles should lean more on the animal side. 

Baby turtles will rarely accept foods that are not from animal origin. As they get older, their diet will shift from animal-based to plant-based. 

Don’t hesitate to give them plants once in a while, even though they refuse it to eat. Gradually, they need to accustom themselves to vegetables, as they present an excellent source of vitamins. 

What types of food to feed your baby red-eared slider? 


Commercially Prepared Foods

Commercial pellets are an excellent choice for a baby turtle. They are packed with the right combinations of nutrients, specially designed for your turtle needs. Juveniles need more proteins in order to grow and develop. 

Small Fish and Insects 

Baby turtles like to hunt and they’ll be happy when you feed them with live prey. However, don’t overdo it. Make that just a small part of their diet. Small feeder fish, bloodworms and shrimps are all great choices. 

Fruits and Vegetables 

Fruits and veggies are very good sources of vitamins and minerals and should be included in your turtle diet. 

How to feed a baby red-eared slider turtle  

One of the most important things you need to do for your turtle is to give it the right combination of foods in the appropriate quantities. Let’s explain everything step by step. 

Set up an appropriate place for feeding 

Red-eared sliders are messy animals. If you feed them regularly, which you should definitely do, your turtle tank will get dirty sooner than later. To make your life easier, set up a separate small plastic container where you can feed your turtle. When your turtle finishes eating its meal, just put it back in the tank. 

Learn your turtle eating habits and set up a schedule 

Young red-eared slider turtles should be fed at least once a day. Preferably 2 to 3 times in smaller quantities, if your schedule allows. As they grow older, usually around the seventh year, their appetite starts to decrease. That is the time you should consider slowly changing to a dominantly plant-based diet. When it gets an adult, feed it every other day. 

Experiment and find out what’s the best time of the day to feed your baby red-eared slider turtle. They are usually more active in the mornings. 

How much food should you give them 

There isn’t a right answer to this question. 

Some people believe that you should feed it as long as it shows appetite, however, that’s not the best practice. Try this method instead. 

Put small amounts of food in the container and observe the turtle. If it’s eating, repeat the process in a 20 minutes time period. That should be enough for your turtle to get the necessary nutrients for the day. 

Consider adding additional supplements 

In addition to their regular diet, baby red-eared slider turtles need supplements, as well. 

Vitamin or mineral deficiency is a serious thing that can lead to severe health problems. 

Calcium and Vitamin D are important elements for the health of the turtle shell and should be mixed in the regular diet of your turtle. 

What do baby turtles eat in the wild 

In the wild, baby red-eared slider turtles are not so fortunate like those ones kept as pets. They don’t have regular access to food, they have a lot of predators, and they need to compete with other animals. The first year is the most crucial, which determines whether the turtle will survive or not. Their diet in the wild usually consists of small fish, insects, and plants. 

Related: Do red eared sliders need to be in the water all the time?

What if my turtle is refusing to eat? 

Sometimes whatever you do, your turtle will still refuse to eat. What can you do to solve this situation? If your baby red-eared slider refuses to eat plant-based food, there is nothing you need to worry about. 

As juveniles, they prefer food from animal origin. As they grow older, their diet will change. 

However, if your red-eared slider refuses any food, then you need to look for possible problems. If you are interested to learn more about it, check out our guide on that subject: Why my red-eared slider turtle is not eating

Final Thoughts 

A good diet makes all the difference when it comes to raising a baby red-eared slider turtle. 

If you do it right, your turtle will grow up in a healthy adult red-eared slider turtle and will live a long life. Baby red-eared slider turtles are fragile and they need a lot of attention in the first years of their lives. Especially, when it comes to what they do eat. 

Make sure that you are confident that you can provide that. Otherwise, don’t even think about keeping a baby red-eared slider.

2 thoughts on “What Do Baby Red Eared Slider Turtles Eat? (Complete Guide)”

  1. I have baby slider like 1 inch shell size .
    Do I need to put lots of water in the tank ? I have logs 🪵 where he/ she can climb up for sun and air

    Do I need to take him / her out of the tank to feed since there’s water inside the tank ?

    Help ! First time my son wants to keep newborn turtle 🐢

    1. The turtle should have enough water to swim, as well as easy to access to dry area. You should not take the turtle out for eating, it will eat in the water.

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