African Side neck will only eat live what should I feed him

Zack swiger

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Hi. I have an African helmeted side neck turtle and he only eats live what should I feed him.
 

ZenHerper

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Welcome!

Not an uncommon situation with turtles, especially youngsters.

How old is your side-neck?

Was it from a breeder or a large online store?

What is your general water temperature? What is the basking temperature?
 

Zack swiger

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5
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NEVADA
It got him from PetSmart and I think he’s under a year old. He’s 4 inches in shell length. His water temp is in the low 80s. And the basking high 80s. He doesn’t like to bask though just like my other African side neck
 

ZenHerper

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PetSmart is known for selling wild-caught animals, and I'm pretty sure Crocodile turtles are non-CITES currently. It may not know what pelleted food is. Four inches is about half-grown, so he's likely older than 12 months.

Good news: these guys eat fish. You have to be careful of the types of fish you choose, since some contain an enzyme that breaks down thiamine (a necessary B vitamin). This is a recent discussion here about thiaminase and feeder fish:

Feeder fish are easy because they contain balanced nutrition (proteins, fats, minerals, etc.)...but they are best managed for at least a week in an aquarium at home so you can feed them up with a quality fish food before offering them to your turtle. Many keepers breed their own so they can control the fishes' nutrtional status at all life stages.

Otherwise, any live critters that are narrow enough to fit down your wee one's throat are fine. With insects you have to be careful about calcium imbalances...here are some reference materials to help you make choices:


Drop an insect directly onto the water to trigger a feeding response...this is an underwater-feeding species.

Side-necks will also eat pond lettuces and Anacharis, or you could float some curly endive leaves on the water surface if you don't want to cultivate and maintain live plants.

Make sure you have plenty of hiding spots so that your turtle feels safe enough to hunt and eat.
 
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