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Can Turtles Eat Shrimp? Vet Approved Nutrition Facts And FAQ

Oliver Jones

By Oliver Jones

cooked shrimp in black background

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Amanda Charles

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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One key aspect of caring for a pet turtle is to ensure that it gets adequate nutrition from the mixture of foods you provide. Omnivorous aquatic turtles require a varied diet to stay healthy, with the right balance of animal protein and plants for their species and age.

Shrimp is one food that a lot of turtle species would eat, and not only can they eat shrimp in various forms, but it is also considered a beneficial treat to give thanks to the protein and other nutrients it contains.

Read on for more information on an ideal diet for aquatic pet turtles, as well as more information on the benefits of feeding shrimp to your turtle as an occasional treat.

Turtle Diet

Juvenile and young turtles will eat every day while older turtles are usually fed every 2-3 days. And while the amount you feed may be determined by species and age, you should usually feed as much as your turtle can eat in 20 minutes. However, if you do give live food, you should allow a little longer because your turtle may not be that adept at catching live prey.

Most aquatic turtles, especially those species kept as pets, are omnivores, which means that they eat a combination of animal protein and plants. Younger turtles need a higher percentage of animal ingredients in their diet than adult turtles, but the exact ratio of animal protein to plant will depend on the species of turtle you are keeping.

A typical diet for an adult turtle would be around 50% leafy greens and vegetables, 25% animal protein, 20% commercial turtle pellets and 5% fruits. We would always recommend seeking advice and support from your veterinarian to get the right balance for your pet.

Neocaridina davidi or Rili shrimp in freshwater aquarium
Image Credit: M-Production, Shutterstock

Can Turtles Eat Shrimp?

One of the aquatic foods you can give omnivorous turtles is shrimp. You can feed some species of shrimp live. Not only does this give your turtle the nutritional benefit of the shrimp meat but it will provide exercise as they chase the shrimp around the tank, and it will provide some entertainment to prevent your turtles from getting bored.

Health Benefits Of Shrimp

As well as being a source of protein, shrimp also contains important omega-3 fatty acids.  They are also a source of calcium which is important for bones, shells, muscles and nerves. You will also find vitamins A and D in shrimp.

How Much and How Often To Feed

As beneficial as shrimp can be, it should only form a part of your turtle’s diet and it needs to be combined with other animal and plant-based foods. You can feed shrimp once a week. If you buy large shrimps, you will need to cut them into more manageable pieces, and in total, you can feed shrimp roughly the size of your turtle’s head.

Other Animal Protein You Can Give Your Turtle

1. Insects

mealworms in wooden bowl
Image Credit: Elena Schweitzer, Shutterstock

Depending on the size and species of your turtle insects such as crickets, mealworms and wax worms can also be fed as part of a varied and balanced diet.

2. Feeder Fish

Feeder fish are small fish that are put in your turtle’s tank as a food source. Species can include guppies and minnows, and they can give your turtle both exercise and mental stimulation.

3. Little Pieces Of Meat

shredded boiled chicken on the plate
Image Credit: jiaming xie, Shutterstock

Little bits of cooked meat such as chicken are okay as a very occasional treat and protein boost. They do not contain the right balance of calcium and phosphorus for turtles and should not be fed as a regular food source.

Can Turtles Eat Cooked Shrimp?

Turtles can eat cooked shrimp and they are usually less likely to contain bacteria and parasites.

Similarly, they can also eat dried shrimp and many turtles enjoy the texture because it is different from any other foods they are given in their daily diet but these tend to have a lower nutritional value.

Can Turtles Eat Raw Shrimp?

You can feed some species of shrimp live, or feed raw shrimp as long as they have been stored correctly and are not spoiled. Live shrimp may be the most appealing to some turtles, but bear in mind that shrimp are fast and are also very good at hiding out of the way of potential predators, so your turtle may have some work to catch these elusive little crustaceans. This can add to the excitement, but if your turtle is unable to catch its food, it may go hungry and can also become frustrated.


Shrimp is a good occasional snack for most aquatic, omnivorous turtles. It is a source of beneficial protein and contains other important vitamins and minerals. Shrimps can be fed live, raw, cooked, or dried, and they can usually be fed weekly. It is important not to overfeed them and make sure you are feeding your turtle the right balance of ingredients for their age and species. For any help formulating the right diet plan to keep them healthy, your veterinarian is your best source of advice and support.

Featured Image Credit: leonori, Shutterstock

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