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  Scott Thomson,

The food requirements of Carettochelys insculpta


If you want your turtles to grow steadily and be healthy, you have to feed them proper food. You should try to imitate the natural conditions as much as possible. I try to feed our Carettochelys insculpta as various food as possible. There are three basic rules according to which I decide which food to provide.

1. Species - of course, you must feed your turtle stuff that's appropriate for its stomach. This means the turtle should be fed only food that's available in its natural environment or adequate supplements. The species that I have are all more or less omnivorous, meaning they eat both animal and plant matter. The balance between animal and plant matter varies from species to species. For example, the Carettochelys species has the animal-plant ratio 1:2 (this info may differ from the information which you can come across within other sources, but it is based on my personal experience). The diet requirements can also vary according to the age of a particular turtle.

2. Season - no matter what species you have, the dietary requirements vary thorough the year. This is related to the climate changes within their natural environment and availability of certain food resources.

3. Experience - As you become more experienced concerning keeping turtles, you will know exactly what your turtles want and require. Here are some tips which you may consider.

Never ever feed your turtles the same stuff again and again. If you feed your turtle just one type of food, not only will the turtle get fed up with it, but you will also deprive the turtle of important minerals, vitamins, and other supplements. Therefore, the more items are on your turtle's menu, the better. Of course, make sure you don't feed your turtle stuff that could damage its health. First of all, I suggest you get appropriate literature or ask older breeders to find out what particular species of turtles eat.

Many turtle owners suggest to move turtles into a different tank when feeding them to prevent the water go off very soon. In my opinion, it is always stressful for the turtle to be moved around so I rather suggest strong filtration and regular water changes.

Irregular feeding pattern: Many turtle owners keep arguing how often should their turtles be fed. Some say turtles should be fed once a day, some say turtles should be fed every second or third day, some say differently. The common sense tells me that we should imitate the natural conditions. It's more than obvious that, in the natural environment, turtles eat when they come across or catch some food. Sometimes turtles have access to plenty of food and sometimes they're starving or eating less. I try to implement these 'chaotic' feeding habits. Therefore, there may be a time that I feed our turtles several days in a row with various foods and amounts, then I skip 1 or 2 days and follow with a few days of feeding, change the time of the day when the turtles are fed and so on. In other words, using this chaotic feeding pattern sort of creates the natural feeding conditions under which turtles eat in irregular time intervals, different types of food and different amount. Of course, I agree that hatchlings and juveniles should be fed more frequently than adults mainly to support their rapid growth.

"Carettochelys is omnivorous, but tending more toward herbivory than toward omnivory (Groombridge, 1982). In the Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea, it principally feeds on the unripe fruits of the mangrove species Sonneratia spp. possibly by cropping the fruits from the vegetation at high tide (Rose, unpublished data). Fruits from Xylocarpus sp., Nypa fructicous, Canorium indicum, Antrocarpus incisor, the wild pit pit Sachhorum robistum are also eaten. Animal foods included the molluscs Batissa violocea, Nerita sp and Centhidea sp, and the crustacean Siyellu serrata. In Australia, Carettochelys feeds on the leaves, fruits and flowers of riparian vegetation, especially the Fig Ficus racemosa, the bush apple Syzygium forte, and Pandanus aquaticus (Schodde et al., 1972; Legler, 1982; Georges and Kennett, 1989). Other foods include aquatic insect larvae, crustacea, mollusca, fishes and mammals possibly eaten as carrion, and aquatic plants such as algae, Vallisneria sp. and Najas tenuifolia (Cogger, 1970; Schodde et al., 1972; Legler, 1982; Georges et al., 1989; Georges and Kennett, 1989). The wide range of foods eaten provides great scope for opportunism, and the diet varies greatly with the foods available from locality to locality." (Georges A. and Rose M., 1993)

Here are some items that I feed our Carettochelys insculpta:

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