Baby Painted Turtle Food: What To Feed Your Baby Turtle

Baby Painted Turtle Food

If you’ve recently brought home a baby Painted Turtle, then congrats! These turtles are a delight to have as a pet. However, they have some special needs when it comes to caring for them, including Baby Painted Turtle Food. For example, did you know that baby Painted Turtles have a different diet than when they become adults? So, what do you feed a baby Painted Turtle?

Baby Painted Turtle Food
Eastern Painted Turtle

In this article, we’ll give a brief overview of what a baby Painted Turtle is. Then, we’ll discuss what baby Painted Turtles eat in the wild. After, we’ll share what a healthy diet is for baby Painted Turtles, what you can feed them in captivity, how often you should provide it for them, and how to feed them. Finally, I provide a list of food that is safe for baby Painted Turtles to eat and a separate list of food to avoid feeding your baby Painted Turtle.

What Is A Baby Painted Turtle?

A baby Painted Turtle is a young Painted Turtle. For instance, they’re known as babies or juveniles until they reach the age of sexual maturity.

For males, Painted Turtles reach sexual maturity when they are between four and six years old. On the other hand, females may not reach sexual maturity until they’re six to ten years old.

During the early years, Painted Turtles will rapidly grow. However, when they reach adulthood, their growth will slow down or stop altogether. The average size of a Painted Turtle may be anywhere between four and ten inches long. Males are usually an inch or two smaller than females.

Painted Turtles are native to North America, and there are four subspecies of this turtle, depending on where they’re from. For example, there are Midland, Western, Eastern, and Southern Painted Turtles. 

These turtles are aquatic and reside in areas by ponds, lakes, rivers, or streams. In addition, they make excellent pets. Painted Turtles are friendly and enjoy the company of other Painted Turtles.

Also, with an excellent diet, Painted Turtles have an average lifespan of about 20 to 30 years. Sometimes, they’re known to live for as long as 50 years. However, you can also admire them from afar in the wild.

Watch this video:

What Do Baby Painted Turtles Eat In The Wild?

Baby Painted Turtles are carnivores and will eat a wide range of live food for protein. However, they won’t eat plant-based food until they are adults.

Painted Turtles are well-known predators. So, they’ll eat whatever they find and can catch. For instance, some Painted Turtles can be aggressive.

If they see another turtle eating, they’ll head over and eat the food the other turtle is trying to eat. Sometimes, they’ll take the food right out of another turtle’s mouth. 

For example, baby Painted Turtles will eat small fish, carrions, worms, insects, and tadpoles in the wild. As long as they can catch it and fit it in their mouths, they’ll eat it.

There are other options to feeding baby Painted Turtles when they’re your pet, though.

Best Baby Painted Turtle Food: What To Feed Baby Painted Turtles

So, what does a baby Painted Turtle eat? Remember, baby Painted Turtles are carnivores. So, they won’t want to eat plant-based food, fruits, or vegetables until they’re adults. 

For example, baby Painted Turtles can eat the following:

  • Small fishes
  • Worms, bugs, or insects
  • Snails
  • Frogs
  • Small lizards
  • Small snakes

Insects will include various types of worms and small insects such as crickets. 

What Is A Healthy Baby Painted Turtle Diet?

At first, you’ll think a healthy diet for your baby Painted Turtle is a wide range of fruits, veggies, and live food. However, that’s not the case for young Painted Turtles.

So, what do you feed baby Painted Turtles to provide a healthy diet for them?

You can feed them various aquatic live food, such as small fish, worms, insects, or tadpoles.

They’ll also eat snails, frogs, small lizards, or small snakes.

Honestly, Painted Turtles will eat whatever they can catch and fit inside their mouths.

In addition to feeding them live food where they’ll get plenty of protein, you also want to make sure that they’re getting enough calcium.

So, you can add supplements and multivitamins to their diet as well. Then you can be sure that your baby Painted Turtle is getting the nutrients they need to grow healthy.

For example, you can look at the chart below to see what to feed a baby Painted Turtle you found or your pet.

A Healthy Diet For A Baby Painted Turtle
Protein (Live Food)Commercial FoodSupplements
WormsAquatic turtle pelletsCalcium powder
CricketsFrozen fish foodTurtle multivitamins
SnailsDried fish foodCuttlefish bone
Livebearing small fishFloating food
Assorted insects or bugs

What Should You Not Feed A Baby Painted Turtle?

There are plenty of types of food to avoid giving your baby Painted Turtle. But, unfortunately, these foods can cause your young turtle to get sick. For example, they can pose choking hazards or cause blockages.

Here are some food ideas that you should avoid sharing with your baby Painted Turtle for a quick list.

  • Nuts
  • Raw meat
  • Goldfish
  • Seeds (flowers and from fruits)
  • Dairy products
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Canned or processed food
  • Foods that are rich in sugar or salt
  • Food with preservatives

In addition, remember that baby Painted Turtles shouldn’t have any fruits or vegetables. But, once they get older, there are some veggies and fruit choices for them. 

How To Feed A Baby Painted Turtle?

One of the unique things about Painted Turtles is that they’re aquatic turtles. So when they eat, they need to be under the water to ingest their food. This is one of the reasons it’s essential to give them only enough that they can consume within 10-15 minutes. If the food sinks to the bottom of the tank, it’ll be harder for you to take it out.

However, you want the water to remain clean. So, whatever food your Painted Turtle doesn’t eat, be sure to clean it out of the water promptly. Otherwise, it could taint the water and cause your turtle to get sick. Or they might eat it later, thus overeating.

How Often Should You Feed A Baby Painted Turtle?

In the wild, a baby Painted Turtle will eat whatever they want, whenever they want. However, as a pet, they have little control over their diet. So, it’s up to you to give them the right amount of food and the best food for them as they grow.

Baby Painted Turtles grow rapidly when they’re young. So they need a diet rich in protein and calcium to help them grow big and strong.

So, you can feed them two servings of food per day. Allow them to eat for about 10-15 minutes. You don’t want to give them food they can’t finish within that time slot. Otherwise, your baby Painted Turtle might overeat.

After eating, they’ll bask for a bit to help them digest.

Once your Painted Turtle gets older, you’ll only need to feed them about once every other day.

How Much Should You Feed A Baby Painted Turtle?

To avoid your baby Painted Turtle from overeating and possibly becoming obese, you’ll want to give them as much food as they can consume within 10-15 minutes.

In the wild, baby Painted Turtles will eat whatever they can find and eat at all hours of the day, except basking time.

In captivity, you have more control over their health and diet, so you want to ensure your baby Painted Turtle only gets what they need when they need it.


Live food allows your baby Painted Turtle to grow big and strong. They need a diet that’s rich in protein and high in calcium.

While eating small fish, frogs and insects don’t appeal to us. Your baby Painted Turtle will undoubtedly enjoy the meal. They’ll grow into healthy adults where you can add more variety to their diet.

Remember, a good diet helps create longevity, so you’ll have your pet Painted Turtle for a long time. 

Learn more about turtles here and read our full guide to what adult painted turtles eat here. You can also read our guide to what painted turtles need to survive here as well as our guide to how to set up a baby Painted Turtle habitat here.

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