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Methods to Entice Eating

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In instances where a RES refuses to eat, you need to first make sure the water temperatures are correct (75-78F). Temperatures that are too cold will inhibit appetite and reduce activity. If you are a new red ear slider owner, you need to understand that you must feed them in water. You can simply drop food in and in some cases feed by hand. You may NOT want to try that initially, since being in a new environment will be very stressful and distracting.

RES must eat in water and food that is alive, has a strong odor and/or bright color usually work well. For instance, water from canned tuna fish may be used to moisten pellets to strengthen taste and smell. Remember, foods that are used to encourage eating are not a staple food or even the optimal treat. They should be rarely used or not at all and is only a temporary solution. Remember to not over feed and overcompensate for previously missed meals. Here are some suggestions from the previous lists to try to entice a reluctant RES.

Live prey
    Feeder fish
  • Guppies
  • Rosy red minnows
  • Crickets (pinhead)
  • Earthworms
  • Mealworms

Processed / cooked / canned foods
  • Boiled egg whites
  • Boiled white chicken, turkey meat
  • Salmon (Canned - in water)
  • Tuna fish (Canned - in water)
  • Bloodworm (Midge fly larvae)
  • Crickets (pinhead)
  • Gammarus (shrimp)
  • Mealworms (freeze-dried)

Related Topics: Overfeeding

Methods to Entice Eating Pellets, Vegetables

Pellets should be the staple of our turtle’s diet. If you haven’t done so already, you should purchase a new can of reputable pellets. As mentioned earlier, soaking pellets in tuna water is often worth an attempt. The strong taste and smell can make a pellet more appetizing. You can quickly dip a pellet in this water or you can marinate or soak for a short while and let it dry a little to harden up.

You can also crush and mix pellets with other foods (see above list). However, try to stick with pellets and gradually increase the pellet concentration. New turtles, whether a hatchling or adult, may be very reluctant to eat in a new, distracting environment.

Over time, pellets will dissolve and break apart in the water. Do not assume your turtle is eating because you no longer find pellets in the water. Remember to not over feed and overcompensate for previously missed feedings.

Since vegetables should be an important diet of RES, especially older ones, turtle keepers have also been able to apply this method for vegetables. It is worth noting that younger RES are more carnivorous and will be more accepting of pellets and prey. You should continue to offer it, regardless if your turtle shows interest. One option that has also worked well for others is adding aquatic plants. They are relatively maintenance free and will live in your tank until eaten. Make sure you rinse any aquatic plants before adding them into your tank. They are known to harbor snails, which your turtle may even be interested in but can over run your tank.

Related Topics: Aquatic plants / Pellets
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This page updated: 2011/01/28 Copyright © 2005-2011 Red Ear Slider. All rights reserved.