Most aquatic turtles are omnivores and need a varied diet. Turtles can safely eat lots of snacks, but if you have a turtle in your home, is bread something that is healthy or suitable for them to munch on?
The answer is no. While not toxic, turtles should never eat bread—primarily because there is no nutritional content. But that isn’t the only reason! We’re going to go over all of the other reasons turtles shouldn’t eat bread here.
Bread Nutrition Facts
(Based on 1 slice of whole wheat bread)
- Calories: 82
- Fat: 1 g
- Sodium: 144 mg
- Carbohydrates: 8 g
- Fiber: 9 g
- Sugars: 4 g
- Protein: 4 g
- Manganese: 7 mg
Turtles Shouldn’t Eat Bread
Bread is not toxic to turtles. That means bread is unlikely to do any immediate severe damage. However, it has absolutely no nutritional value for turtles. This lack of nutritional content is useless and prevents the absorption of needed dietary aspects.
We want to be clear that no turtles should eat bread, no matter the specific type you have. So whether you have a red-eared slider, box turtle, or otherwise—no turtle reaps benefits from the nutritional contents of this yeasty food source.
Bread has tons of ingredients in the mixture—most of which are indigestible for turtles. Bread contains a large amount of sugar, dairy, and artificial additives that can wreak havoc on your turtle’s digestive system.
Plus, bread is full of empty calories that might make your turtle feel full but really does nothing to nourish the body.
Are Some Breads Worse than Others?
There are tons of bread varieties to choose from when you go to the supermarket. So, is one bread perhaps more nutritious for turtle consumption than another? Again, no bread is beneficial to your turtle’s diet.
However, bleached white bread is likely the worst due to the amount of processing involved. It contains unnecessary ingredients and a laundry list of preservatives that are hard to pronounce. So, we want you to steer clear of white bread especially.
Although, any type of bread lacks health benefits for turtles. In fact, if your turtle fills up on bread on a regular basis, it could lead to malnutrition or digestive health problems later down the line. Bread can be even more dangerous for juvenile turtles. When they are growing, it is a crucial time in which they need lots of rich protein-loaded insects and fish to keep them healthy. Bread can deplete these vital nutrients and lead to malnutrition.
Dangers of Bread for Turtles
So, now you know it can be dangerous to feed your turtles bread continually. Here are some potential problems that can arise from a poor diet.
Metabolic Bone Disease
Metabolic bone disease develops after a long haul of inappropriate diet. This serious disease is caused by inadequate calcium or vitamin D levels in their diet and/or related to poor husbandry. It causes softening in the bones and shell leading to deformities and potentially fractures.
Vitamin A deficiency can also occur when turtles are fed an inappropriate and poor diet. This particular deficiency affects the skin and organs and can cause a range of signs including swelling of the eyes and ears, skin lesions and infections of the gastrointestinal tract and respiratory tract.
What If I Gave My Turtle Bread?
Turtles are voracious eaters with bottomless appetites. If you tossed a hunk of bread into the enclosure, they might have gobbled it up before you had much chance to question it. If that’s the case, a little bread as a one off is unlikely to cause much harm to your turtle.
However, this could be very problematic if you were low on food for a few days and substituted their regular meals with bread. It could quickly lead to the depletion of much-needed nutrients in the diet. Discontinue bread offerings immediately if that’s the case.
What Can You Feed Your Turtle Instead?
The right diet for your turtle will depend on their species and age. However, no matter if you’re low on turtle pellets or just want to feed your turtle a little snack, there are many options. You can offer a variety of food items—many of which you should have on hand pretty consistently.
If you’re looking for some yummy snacks that are nutritionally friendly to turtles, here are a few you can consider:
- Unseasoned meat
- Dried shrimp
- Feeder fish
- Hard-boiled eggs
So, you’ll likely have some of these items in the home rather than offering bread as a snack. Just remember to always give any fruits or veggies a good wash before you serve them up to remove dangerous pesticides.
A Turtle’s Natural Diet
Ultimately, the diet you should feed your turtles depends on the species that you have and their age. A varied and balanced diet is the key to a healthy turtle. Most generally, your turtle will consume a commercial pellet diet supplemented with a variety of other food items to make sure they have all the nutrients they need.
Younger turtles will need much more protein in their diets than older turtles. But in any case, turtles should eat both plant and animal material to stay fit and healthy. There are plenty of fresh fruits and veggies that you can add to their standard diet to enhance health.
However, you should have extensive knowledge of the correct food items to feed your turtles to ensure you’re giving them the best diet possible.
Turtles + Bread: Final Thoughts
Turtles are opportunistic feeders and will most certainly gobble up bread if they’re given the chance. However, most of the ingredients in bread are indigestible and have no nutritional value for turtles, there are much better snack choices for your reptile friends.
Instead, focus on fresh fruits, veggies, insects, and fish. Research your turtle species to determine which snacks are the healthiest choices.