Feeding Cuora amboinensis : the dilemma
|Scientific sources (i.e. Ernst & Barbour) refer to Cuora amboinensis as entirely or "decidedly herbivorous" in the wild, but note that they eagerly take animal foods in captivity. This creates a dilemma:|
Simply put: Does the turtle need meat or will meat kill it?
The answer, put just as simply: I don't know for sure.
For healthy C. amboinensis, feed aquatic plants (duckweed, anacharis, water lettuce, etc.), weeds (dandelion, plantago, chickweed, etc.), grocery greens and lettuces (romaine, red lettuce, collards, endive, etc.), fruits (figs, cantaloupe, grapes, kiwi, etc.) and occasionally meats, such as insects, worms, and snails.
Something else to think about: Why do so many turtles love food items that they would never encounter in their natural habitats?
Many turtles enjoy the taste of canned cat food. Turtles that are not eating well can often be enticed with cat food. Unfortunately, these foods are not formulated with turtles in mind. (And, in any case, different species of turtles have different needs.) Cat food should be used sparingly. However, it should be mentioned that occasionally feeding dry cat food to aquatic turtles can help keep their beaks from becoming overgrown.
Cats with kidney problems are often fed foods that are especially formulated for them. These preparations are low in protein and fat, and utilize plant-based nutrients. This may be the better option for turtles who love cat food. Adding finely minced greens, carrots & other veggies to canned varieties will improve the nutritional value for turtles.
A similar healthy, palatable "patè" can be made by adding minced greens/veggies to the yolk of a hard-boiled egg--another favorite of many turtles.
Cheese is another unnatural favorite. The calcium content would seem to be good. But the protein and fat are way out of line for turtles. Further, reptiles do not have the enzymes required to metabolize dairy products.