Do Turtles Eat Worms? (Snapping, Box and Painted Turtle Species)

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As omnivores, Turles have a varied diet which may include worms, snails, and small aquatic insects.

Turtles are omnivores and they need a balanced diet that is rich in protein, minerals, and vitamins.

They tend to eat any kind of worm they can get their claws on. In this article, we will show you more about what kind of worms they consume based on our hours of research.

Yes, turtles do eat worms. They do this for a few reasons—one is because worms taste good to them, and another is because they’re nutritious. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that not all turtles are equal. Different species of turtles have different diets and feeding habits.

Can I Feed My Pet Turtle Worms?

Yes, pet turtles can absolutely eat worms.

They are part of your turtle’s natural diet.

If you do decide to feed your turtle worms, do make sure that you don’t forget about other components of your turtle’s diet, such as leafy green vegetables.

Since turtles are omnivores, they will need more than just worms to stay healthy.

You should also be careful about the type of worm you feed your turtle.

While earthworms are a great choice for most types of pets, some species like jumping worms may contain too many chemicals for turtles and can be harmful if ingested in large quantities over an extended period of time.

The best choice would be:

  • red wigglers (Eisenia fetida)
  • nightcrawlers (Lumbricus rubellus)

These contain fewer chemicals and are easier for turtles to digest than earthworms.

How Many Worms Should I Feed My Turtle?

Turtle owners love to feed their little buddies, but they often don’t know if they are overfeeding their pets because it seems like they are always hungry.

This is why you need turtle-specific foods and the right number of meals to plan for your pet’s needs. Since turtles are voracious feeders.

Natural protein foods like worms are generally required for a turtle’s diet.

The amount varies on the type of turtle, age, size and the conditions in which the turtle lives.

Feeding pet turtles only once or twice a week is important to keep them healthy.

Overfeeding of worms may cause health issues. Feeding too many worms can lead a turtle to become obese.

This can lead to their shell becoming deformed which is known as tortoise shell pyramiding.

Can I Feed My Turtle Earthworms from My Yard?

Absolutely! Turtles love eating tasty and nutrition-packed earthworms from your yard.

These are the different types of worms which can be fed to your pet turtle, many of which can be found in your yard:

  • Earthworms
  • meal worms
  • red wigglers
  • bloodworms
  • silkworms
  • wax worms
  • super worms
  • grubs
  • red worms
  • hornworms
  • and butter worms

These are also readily available in pet stores and fish shops.

NOTE: Turtle pellets can also be fed to keep your pets away from health problems. A varied diet is essential to a pet turtle’s health.

Turtles need a well-balanced diet from various food sources that include both plant and animal protein since they are omnivorous.

What to Watch out for When Feeding Worms to Your Turtle

While earthworms may be a favorite food item for your pet turtle, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Parasites and Pathogens

First, wild earthworms may contain parasites that could make your turtle sick. While it’s rare, it does happen in wild worms.

It may be a bit safer only feeding your turtle earthworms that have been raised in captivity as a result, rather than from your yard.

Some worm parasites that turtles and tortoises can be prone to are:

  • flukes
  • flagellate organisms
  • nematodes
  • tapeworms
  • roundworm
  • pinworms/threadworms

If you suspect your turtle has worms, then by an effective over-the-counter wormer immediately.

Severe parasitic worm infection may cause diarrhea and a loss of weight.

If you notice these symptoms, there could be a link to worm infection, so treat it early if you recognize any of these symptoms in your turtle.


Second, avoid feeding your turtle earthworms that have been sprayed with pesticides.

If your turtle eats these chemicals, it can be harmful to your pet.

If you’re unsure whether or not the earthworms in your yard have been sprayed, it’s best to err on the side of caution and not feed them to your turtle.


These can be environmental or accumulated via their food.

For example, feeding them jumping worms that have accumulated lots of toxic metals.

There is a link between high toxic metal content and kidney disease in turtles.

Avoid the use of this kind of worm when feeding your turtles, unless you know they are from soil low in these metals.

There are plenty of other things to feed them where they can derive nutrition.

Do Snapping Turtles Eat Worms?

Snapping turtles are opportunistic feeders and will consume a variety of prey items, including worms.

While not their preferred food source, worms can make up a substantial part of a snapping turtle’s diet.

Our research has shown that earthworms comprise a significant portion of the diet of juvenile snapping turtles in some areas.

Worms are an important food source for many animals, and they play a key role in the ecosystem.

So, it is not surprising that snapping turtles include them in their diet.

Worms provide essential nutrients that help these turtles grow and thrive.

Fun (or not so fun) Fact: The Alligator snapping turtle will even eat other smaller turtles. Grim!

Do Box Turtles Eat Worms?

Yes, box turtles do eat worms.

While earthworms are not the only food item in their diet, they are certainly a favorite.

Box turtles will also consume other insects, fruits, and vegetables.

Feeding them leafy greens like iceberg lettuce or water lettuce helps them have a well-rounded diet.

This is essential for turtles to live long and accompany you for decades.

It’s fine to feed earth worms, mealworms, hornworms, crickets, silkworms, waxworms, red wigglers, butter worms, and red worms to your box turtle.

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Do Painted Turtles Eat Worms?

Yes, painted turtles do eat worms.

Their diet consists mainly of aquatic invertebrates, such as snails, crayfish, and aquatic insects.

However, earthworms are also a common food source for these turtles.

As pets, they should be offered a diet that includes both plant and animal matter.

Being fed a diverse and nutritious diet is always the way to go.

This will help ensure they remain healthy and active.

Painted turtles are susceptible to metabolic bone disease, which is caused by a lack of specific nutrients.

They love vegetables, and you may consider feeding them things like romaine lettuce.

Do Red-Eared Slider Turtles Enjoy Eating Worms?

Red-Eared Slider Turtles really like eating worms.

They eat everything from worms to fish to crustaceans to mollusks and amphibians.

Worms may make up a significant proportion of a red-eared slider’s diet, although they aren’t their absolute favorite.

Earthworms have been shown to be an important component of the diet of red-eared sliders because worms contain many of the nutrients that these turtles need to stay healthy.

They contain nutrients for the red-eared slider such as:

  • protein
  • fat
  • essential vitamins like vitamin B1
  • minerals like phosphorus, and iron.

All are essential to keep red-eared sliders healthy and avoid veterinarian visits.

What Do Turtles Eat Other than Worms?

There are varying species of turtles that live in both land and water, with varying diets. But here’s some information below on some of their food choices in the wild besides worms

Land Turtles

A land turtle won’t have much access to aquatic food sources, so will mainly eat the following foods in the wild:

  • caterpillars
  • grubs
  • snails
  • other insects
  • carrion (decaying meat)

Aquatic Turtles

Aquatic turtles eat a variety of foods depending on their location and what they can get their hands (or mouth!) on in the water:

  • Plants and other plant material
  • Sub-aquatic vegetation
  • Small fish (feeder fish)
  • Small frogs and other amphibians

Pet aquatic turtles

They will eat pretty much anything humans feed them but be careful of portion sizes and varying the food sources. These can include:

  • Dark plants and vegetables like…
  • collard greens
  • turnip greens
  • swiss chard
  • green beans
  • fruits
  • small feeder fish (like guppies)

Make sure the feeder fish that go into their feeding tank are small enough to consume.

In our experience, it’s a good idea to feed them commercial food or various pellets like fish pellets to provide optimal growth and treat them to good health.

Do Turtles Eat Worms in the Wild?

Yes, but it depends on the species of turtle and the location or habitat in which they live.

It was once thought that only humans and birds pounded the floor to bring worms to the surface to catch them, but there is now evidence that wood turtles also do this to bring worms to the surface to eat!

A study showed wood turtles do this, so it stands to reason that certain other turtle species will do this in the wild too if they are hungry.


Feeding turtles worms is a good way to improve their health, containing many essential nutrients.

However, it is important to offer a variety of other food items to these turtles to ensure they receive all the nutrients needed.

Water turtles, such as red-eared sliders, love to eat them.

Painted turtles and box turtles will consume worms as well.

Wood turtles also like to eat worms on occasion.

They almost always like to eat plants and vegetables too.

The food portions and content measurement must be strictly adhered to.

This will keep adult turtles away from diseases such as metabolic bone disease.

It must be remembered that too much protein can lead to health problems such as liver and kidney damage, so a healthy and balanced diet is essential, whether your turtle is on land or in water.