What Do River Cooter Turtles Eat? Food List and Feeding Guide

What Do River Cooter Turtles Eat
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The first and foremost thing that we look for after getting a pet River cooter is for its food, 

In this feeding guide, we provide you with all the information you need when choosing the diet of your river cooter.

Firstly, River cooters are herbivores( animals that only eat plants and leaves throughout their lifetime), but in the early stages of life, they are also known as omnivores( animals that eat or prey upon other animals).

Diet of baby river cooters

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As stated above baby River cooters are omnivores, they prey on small insects, worms, mice, small fishes, and bugs too.

The baby River cooters also eat vegetables, plants, and also aquatic plants like algae, aquatic foliage, and even vegetables like carrots and spinach.

The baby river cooters should be fed every day.

Every day, feed him as much as it would fit within his skull without the neck. This portion can be divided over 2-3 feedings, but no more than that should be given.

Diet of adult river cooter

The adult River cooter is herbivores, they munch on aquatic plants, vegetables, fruits,  and flowers, but they feed on meat too sometimes.


Vegetables are the primary source of nutrients for the river cooter,

They eat the following type of vegetables:


sweet potato


Irish potato

green eas

bell peppers

spinach kale 






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All the above-mentioned vegetables are safe to be fed to your pet turtle.

 One thing to keep in mind while feeding your turtle with vegetables is to not repeat the same vegetable over and over again too often, this may get your turtle attached to that specific vegetable, and they will get irritated when not fed with that specific vegetable.

The calcium to phosphorus ratio in most plants might be 1:1, 2:1, 5:1, 1:2, etc. A 2:1 ratio is preferable since it indicates that the vegetable has more calcium than phosphorus, but a 1:2 ratio is not. Therefore, the better the vegetable is for a turtle, the higher the number on the right.


Fruits are edible to turtles. Turtles in the wild will consume fruits whenever they get the chance. Fruits should not be the sole source of nutrition for a pet turtle, but they should be included.

Fruits contain a variety of health benefits for turtles, but not all fruits are created equal. Some fruits are genuinely harmful to their health. So, let’s see which fruits you should avoid, which ones are healthy for them, and how many fruits you should add to your turtle’s diet.

Despite their many advantages, Fruits contain substantial levels of phosphorus, which is harmful to the health of any turtle. A decent turtle diet will have at least two times the amount of calcium as phosphorus because most fruits lack calcium, it would be difficult to achieve that ratio if you fed them fruits too frequently.

The turtle will develop bone problems if the amount of phosphorus is much higher than the amount of calcium.

If you want to give your tortoise fruits, then go for the ones with less amount of phosphorus.

Some of the fruits that you should avoid giving your river cooter are:







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Now you may question why fruits should be given to your tortoise if they have a harmful effect too , well, this is because fruits contain many vital nutrients and vitamins that are crucial for the growth of the turtle-like vitamin A, B6, and C.

The skin’s state is greatly influenced by vitamin A. Without enough vitamin A, a turtle will begin to shed excessively, making it more susceptible to diseases and causing the water to become dirty more quickly. Vitamin A also assists the body’s reproductive systems and keeps the eyes healthy.

Vitamin C, as you may know, plays a critical function in the preservation and growth of bones because the turtle’s shell is nearly entirely formed of bones, hence vitamin C is vital for them. Fortunately for turtles, vitamin C is abundant in most fruits, so they seldom suffer from a deficiency.

Vitamin B6 is extremely important for energy conversion. Simply said, vitamin B6 keeps turtles active throughout the day; without it, they will be exhausted all of the time. 

Berries, bananas and jackfruit  are a good source of vitamin B6.


The cooter turtles are herbivores, so it is no doubt that they eat plants, the plants take you a majority portion of their diet. The plants that are best for the river cooter and can also be kept in its enclosure are listed below : 

Hornwort. Without a doubt, this is a wonderful alternative to go with if you don’t have java moss.

Java moss is a moss that grows in Java. The true beauty of Java Moss is that it doesn’t require any additional lighting or ventilation.

Fern from Java, Another nice choice to consider is the Java Fern.

Dwarf Hairgrass is a kind of Dwarf Hairgrass.


Ludwigia crimson.

Lettuce de lead.

Hyacinth is a kind of water hyacinth.

Balls of Moss

These plants are a great source of vitamin C, potassium, iron, manganese, and copper, which help the turtles grow big and strong.

Although plants are great for turtles, there are some plants that we must avoid at all costs from giving our river cooter, these plants are very toxic and harmful to the turtle cooter.

The list of the toxic plants are listed below:  

Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)

Amaryllis (Amaryllis belladonna)

Avocado (leaves, seeds) (Persea Americana)

Bird of Paradise shrub (Poinciana gilliesii/Caesalpinia gilliesii)

Asparagus Fern (Asparagus springer)

Azalea,Rhododendron species.

Bird of Paradise shrub (Poinciana gilliesii/Caesalpinia gilliesii).


River cooters eat flowers like geraniums (Pelargonium species), Chinese Lantern (Abutilon hybridum Physalis sp.), nasturtium, borage, hyssop, hostas, hibiscus, carnations, daylilies, petunia, pansies, chives, dandelion, rose and rose hips. Any other flower that you decorate its enclosure with may also be consumed by the turtle.


The river cooters are mainly herbivores, but they do eat meat as well, some animals that the river cooters prey upon are:

slugs, waxworms, mealworms, zoophobas, pinky mice (live or pre-killed), cooked chicken or turkey, boiled eggs, fried fish

On rare occasions, it’s acceptable that the turtle eats cat or dog food. Lean beef ,hamburger and other fatty red meats should be avoided, and never use raw meats because of contamination dangers.

Cooters may hunt for and kill tiny fish and crustaceans, especially the juvenile ones that require a diet higher in protein.

Turtles can consume both cooked and raw meat, which is another crucial fact about them and meat.

 In general, try to avoid giving the turtle raw meat because there is a possibility that it may contain bacteria that heating the meat will kill. It’s simply a precaution, so if you don’t want to take a chance on giving your turtle germs, I’d advise serving it cooked meat rather than raw.

Giving your wild-caught turtle fish is another thing you should avoid doing when it comes to fish.

 A wild-caught fish will undoubtedly have a lot of microorganisms that might harm your turtle, especially if it is consumed uncooked.

 Even though they share habitat in the natural, your turtle is not from the wild, therefore it is not used to the germs there.

Additionally, stay away from fish that have a lot of bones. Since turtles can’t break the fish’s bones apart, they will eventually consume them. And when they do, there is a possibility that the bones will inflict some internal injury to their mouth or stomach.

Some fishes that have proven to be beneficial for the river cooter are Bluegills, killifish, platies, guppies, crappies, and bass.

Some fishes that are not good for the turtle are Goldfish, carp, gizzard shad, feathered minnows, and rosy minnows.


The finest calcium/D3 supplements for reptiles are Reptile Tri-Cal or Rep-Cal. Rep-Cal is pricey, but it lasts a long time in a jar. Tri-Cal is also available as a shaker bottle. Once a week, use. Supplements with vitamins may also be utilized.

(Avoid calcium supplements that include phosphorus.)

Always keep calcium on hand in a different form, such as a cuttlebone, so the turtle may control their own calcium intake.

Items that a river cooter should not eat.

Bakery items 

Bakery items such as bread, biscuits, and cakes must be avoided at all costs. Yes, your river cooter will eat them, but this will result in digestion problems for the turtle, So avoid giving the turtle any item that is baked.


Sweets are very bad for your river cooter,  keep your river cooter away from sweets as they will want to have a bite, but sweets are very harmful to the turtle they cause several health diseases.

Snacks and pasta.

River cooter are animals and do not enjoy eating foods and snacks that the humans usually eat, these snacks make them fall ill and eventually die if not treated, so don’t feed any sort of snack like chips, fizzy drinks, etc to your adorable turtle.

Dairy products and eggs

Can river cooters eat eggs?

The answer is that turtles may consume eggs as long as they are fresh. Eggs should be boiled and peeled first, in my opinion, If you want your turtle to have an easier time, chop the eggs into little pieces first, or at the very least hold the egg while it eats; else, you’ll wind up with something similar to his.

Can river cooter consume dairy products?

No, you should not give any sort of dairy product to your river cooter.


Nuts, just like some vegetables contain high amounts of oxalates, which disrupt the absorption of calcium. So turtles shouldn’t eat nuts.

Nuts like almonds, cashews, and other dry fruits must not be given to the river cooter.

How much and how many times to feed your river cooter?

The general rule is to provide what would fit inside his head minus the neck each day. You can split up this portion into 2-3 feedings, but do not give any more than that.

For hatchlings or immature ones, you should feed them every day or other every day. The adult river cooter needs to be fed two to three times every week.


The river cooters are easy to be fed, and their diet is very simple. The diet of the turtle comprises of plants and vegetables mostly. The river cooter can also be fed with meat, but they like their greens more.

Along with plants and vegetables also give your turtle supplements of calcium so that they can grow properly,

In this article we have also mentioned the food that is harmful to your turtle, they must not be fed to your turtle, this food causes a number of diseases in the turtle’s body,  so keep your turtle away from such foods.


What is a river cooters diet mainly comprising of?

 The river cooters’ diet mainly comprises vegetables and plants,

Do river cooters need water to eat?

No, the river cooter eats in water so there is no need to provide it with more water, just make sure to clean their enclosures water afterward so no bacteria grows.

Do river cooters eat in winters?

The river cooter usually goes underwater for a few months in winters, during that time the river cooters eat alot less than they usually do in summers so do not panic.

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