My Turtle Won't Eat His Pellets

If your turtle is refusing to eat their pellets, it can be a cause for concern. In today’s article, I will discuss ways to get your turtle to eat their pellets, as well as some of the possible reasons why your turtle won’t eat pellets in the first place.

If you are more of a visual learner, you can watch my video below that explains what to do if your turtle isn’t eating pellets.

How to get your turtle to eat pellets

A couple ways to get your turtle to eat pellets include dipping it in tuna water, trying a new pellet, supplementing with other types of food, raising the water temperature, and isolation.

Tuna water for turtle pellets

Just about every turtle likes the taste of fish, and especially tuna. If your turtle doesn’t like the taste of their pellets, you can try soaking the pellets in tuna water before you put them in your tank.

To do this, simply open a tuna can and drain the liquid into a separate container. Then place the pellets in the tuna water for a minute or so. You don’t want them to soak too long because this will cause the pellets to get soggy.

After you have soaked the pellets, put them inside the tank. Hopefully, your turtle will be attracted to the smell and start eating the pellets. You might have to do this a couple times in order to get your turtle to eat pellets regularly.

Try a new pellet

It’s important to understand that all pellets are not the same. They range across many different types of flavors, shapes, and sizes. Just because your turtle isn’t eating one pellet doesn’t mean that they won’t like another.

For example, you can see in my video below, my turtle certainly prefers some types of pellets over others.

If you suspect your turtle is just being picky, you should try to feed them at least two other types of pellets. Try to find some pellets that have different flavors and shapes so you can see which kind your turtle prefers. Below are some of my reccomendations.

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Tetra Tetrafauna Pro Turtle Food

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Aquatic Turtle Medley Food - Freeze Dried Shrimp & Mealworms for Aquatic Turtle

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Fluker’s Buffet Blend Turtle Food

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Supplementing with other food

feeding turtle other types of food

While pellets should be the staple of your turtle’s diet, you can certainly try to entice their eating by adding other types of food to their tank. For example, you might want to try feeding your turtle live fish, crickets, or worms.

This can help stimulate their hunger since these are what turtles would eat in their natural habitat. You can also try to mix in freeze dried shrimp with the pellets you give your turtle.

While you can certainly try this for a couple days or weeks, it’s important to note that you will still need the pellets to be the majority of your turtle’s diet. If you only feed them live food, it can lead do digestion issues and growth defects since live food has a lot of protein.

Raising the water temperature

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A common mistake that turtle owners make is that they don’t keep the water at the right temperature. Most aquatic turtle species require a water temperature between 75 and 85 degrees fahrenheight. If the water is too cold, it can lower your turtle’s metabolism and make them not hungry. Additionally, cold water temperatures can cause stress for your turtle.

For this reason, it’s important that you have a proper turtle tank heater and regularly check the temperature with a thermometer to ensure it is in the healthy range. Once you acheive the proper temperatures, your turtle should start to eat again.


If all else fails and your turtle will still not eat their pellets, you should try to isolate them and put them into a small container with water. Give your turtle an hour or two to get accustomed to their surroundings, and then try to feed them pellets in the container.

Since your turtle is in a smaller enclosure, it will be harder for them to avoid the pellets.

Now that you have some strategies to get your turtle to start eating pellets, let’s review some of the main reasons why turtle’s wont eat pellets.

Why is my turtle not eating his pellets?

The main reasons turtles will stop eating pellets are because of the pellet brand, illness, stress, and improper lighting/temperature.

Pellet brand

As mentioned earlier, you turtle might not be eating pellets because they don’t like the flavor of the pellets. They might also be turned off by the shape, size, or even color of the pellets. Therefore, if you suspect your turtle is just being picky, you should introduce a new type of pellets to their diet.


Unfortunately, there is a chance your turtle is not eating because they have an illness. While it may be hard to diagnose what illness your turtle has, you should look for other symptoms that could show that your turtle is sick.

For example, you should look out for irregular swimming patters, gasping, discharge on the mouth/nose/eyes, basking all the time, or shell deformities.

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should take your turtle to the vet to get it properly diagnosed and treated. A common illness among pet turtles is respiratory infection.


Another common reason that your turtle isn’t eating pellets is because they are stressed. This might be because their tank is dirty. It could also be caused by changes in their environment. For example, it is very common for turtles not to eat when they are moved into a new tank.

It is totally normal for your turtle to go the first couple of days without touching the pellets as they get acclimated to their new environment. You should only start to worry if they go multiple weeks without eating.

Also, your turtle might not be eating if they feel intimidated by other turtles in the tank. If you think this could be the cause, you should try feeding them in different sections of the tank.

Improper lighting/temperature

turtle basking

If you don’t have the proper basking platform/light for your turtle, it can interrupt their metabolism and their desire for food. If you notice your turtle isn’t basking, you should make sure their basking platform is easily accessible, and that the temperature is between 95 and 105 degrees fahrenheight.

You should also make sure that the water temperature is between 75 and 85 degrees fahrenheight.


As I discussed above, there are plenty of different reasons for why your turtle isn’t eating his pellets. While some are more serious than others, the good news is that there are plenty of strategies to get them to eat pellets.

I recommend trying all of the solutions I suggested, and if they don’t work, you should probably take your turtle to the vet.

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