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Can Red-Eared Sliders Eat Apples? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

apple slice

Red-eared sliders are eye-catching due to their vibrant markings. These animals are members of the Emydidae family, which is one of the largest turtle families. Also considered one of the most popular types of pet turtles in the United States, the red-eared slider hails from Mexico and the United States.

One of the most important things that you can do as a red-eared slider owner is to provide them with a well-balanced diet for optimal health and happiness. You may have seen others feed apples to their turtles and wondered whether it’s a good idea to give your own pet turtle this sweet fruit.

The short answer is, no, red-eared sliders should not eat apples as part of their regular diet. This isn’t to say that apples are toxic to red-eared sliders. Apples can actually be a good source of nutrients, but they are also high in compounds like sugar and acid, which can cause health issues in the long run. Here is what you should know about feeding these fruits to your red-eared slider.

The Problem With Feeding Apples to Red-Eared Sliders

Apples are high in sugar, which red-eared sliders cannot effectively digest. Turtles do not possess the proper enzymes that are necessary to break down sugars, even the natural ones found in fruits like apples. Furthermore, sugar is not an ideal energy source for turtles.

The peels on apples may contain pesticides and other contaminants that are not good for a turtle’s health. The seeds in an apple can also be dangerous, as they can obstruct the digestive tract and be a choking hazard. Therefore, it’s best not to feed apples to your red-eared slider if you can help it. There are plenty of other food options to consider instead.

What If Your Red-Eared Slider Eats an Apple?

If your red-eared slider happens to get a hold of a piece of apple, there is no need to panic. Chances are that they’ll be fine. Still, keep an eye on them for signs of distress so you can contact your veterinarian or visit an emergency clinic before the problem becomes too serious. The important thing is to make sure your red-eared slider does not get a hold of apples regularly.

apple slices
Image Credit: PIX1861, Pixabay

Fruits That Are More Suitable for Your Red-Eared Slider

Red-eared slider turtles are omnivores, so they can eat various fruits that contain low amounts of natural sugar. All fruits contain sugar, though, so even those that are safe for turtles should be offered only occasionally as snacks or treats.

Fruits to consider feeding your red-eared slider include:
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Apricots
  • Cranberries
  • Bananas

Fruits should make up only a small percentage of your red-eared slider turtle’s overall diet. They should also eat a variety of vegetables and animal matter (depending on age and species) to stay fit and healthy throughout their lives.

Your turtle’s diet might be made up of:
  • Small fish
  • Small frogs
  • Freeze-dried shrimp
  • Commercial pellets
  • Leafy greens (romaine, collards, parsley)
  • Cucumbers
  • Carrot tops
  • Green beans

If you’re unsure about the pellet-to-fresh food ratio that you should be feeding your red-eared slider, you can schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

red eared slider
Image Credit: Tanya_Terekhina, Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions and Their Answers

How Should Fruits Be Fed to Red-Eared Slider Turtles?

Any foods that you feed your aquatic turtle should be cut into bite-sized pieces and offered in small amounts to ensure that the food does not end up rotting in the turtle’s habitat. Whether it’s leafy greens, freeze-dried shrimp, or green beans, offer just a few pieces at a time until your turtle has had enough and starts ignoring the food. Scoop leftover food out of their habitat after every feeding.

Are Any Types of Apples Better Than Others for Red-Eared Slider Turtles?

All apples should be considered equal when it comes to your red-eared slider turtle. They all contain the same components that aren’t healthy for turtles in general, which happens to be sugar and acid. No particular type of apple is better or healthier for your red-eared slider turtle than another.

Can Turtles Eat Any Products With Apples in Them?

You shouldn’t find any commercial food products made specifically for turtles that include apples in them. Most commercial aquatic turtle pellets and treats are formulated with animal protein and/or vegetable matter that’s low in sugar to help ensure a balanced diet as time goes on. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t come across commercial products that include questionable ingredients like sugar. So, it is always important to read the ingredients list of any product before buying it and offering it to your red-eared slider turtle. Always get your veterinarian’s approval before committing to a diet for your turtle, as well.


Red-eared sliders are not likely to die after eating an apple, but this food is still not an ideal option for them long-term, and it’s best to avoid feeding them apples overall. There are plenty of other fruits, vegetables, and animal products that your turtle can eat for enjoyment and optimal nutrition. Making sure commercial pellets are a regular part of your red-eared slider’s diet will help ensure that they’re getting all the nutrition that they need, both now and in the future.

Featured Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay

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