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Red Ear Sliders are omnivores who can be fed a variety of foods. This variety is important as it enables you to provide a healthy diet. The range of food can include pellets, aquatic plants, vegetables, insects, fish and treats (shrimp, fruit, etc.) as well as the occasional supplement. While it is important to offer variety, it is also important to offer a balanced and nutritional diet that offers additional calcium and vitamins. As with many captive animals, there is a tendency to overfeed them, causing unnecessary and irreversible health risks.

Younger RES are generally carnivorous. As they grow larger and older, they become increasingly herbivorous. Being carnivorous means a greater protein intake and young RES should take in a greater percentage of protein than older RES. Sliders of all ages will choose live prey or carrion if the opportunity exists, but it should only be provided occasionally. RES should also be supplied additional calcium to help harden the shell and accommodate growth.

The primary diet of a RES should consist of a commercially made pellet, of which there are many types and varieties. With the addition of the appropriate vegetables and calcium, you can provide a balanced diet required for a healthy turtle. It is important to avoid foods that can block calcium absorption. Certain prey, vegetation and treats should be avoided. For example, spinach contains oxalic acid and mealworms have a bad calcium/phosphorus ratio. Either of these can interfere with absorption of calcium. A small portion would not be harmful, but regular and extend use will affect shell and bone development.

RES need to be in water to swallow since they do not produce saliva. They may take food that's on land but will bring it into the water to consume it. Furthermore, feeding a RES in a separate container will create a cleaner tank that will require less frequent cleaning and water changes. Thus, if your turtle cooperates, it would be in a healthier environment and would require less cleaning maintenance.
Comment: It is not possible to list every product, fish, insect, vegetable or prey out there. We will do our best to update and add what are common and healthy choices and we will list what is not recommended. Turtles may try to eat anything but it is obvious that not everything is good for them. While there are some in the turtle community that have their own different opinions and experiences, there is also very faulty information from unknowledgeable pet store employees and keepers. Do not be tempted to offer your turtle what you may think is “interesting” (e.g., “I found a bee, can I feed it to my turtle?”). If you want to try something different, there are plenty of options listed.
Related WIKI: Feeding Tank (Includes water temp explanation and eating difficulties, intake accuracy)

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This page updated: 2011/01/28 Copyright © 2005-2011 Red Ear Slider. All rights reserved.