What Vegetables Can Red-Eared Sliders Eat?

Thinking about giving vegetables to your Red-eared slider? Make sure you only feed them vegetables that are safe!

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • Which vegetables are safe for RES?
  • Which vegetables are NOT safe for RES?
  • What is the recommended diet for RES?
Vegetables for red eared sliders

Red-eared sliders have a very varied diet. In the wild, they normally feed off water vegetation and small prey. 

In their natural habitat, red-eared sliders are voracious eaters, hunting fish, insects, and small amphibians. They can eat many different foods, making their diet very adaptable to the environment they are in. 

In captivity, their diet should mimic the omnivorous eating habits they would have in the wild. 

When they are young, red-eared sliders require a mostly carnivorous diet, as they need more protein to grow and develop. As they grow, their protein needs reduce and they replace a great part of their meat intake with vegetables. Adults in their natural habitat eat mostly aquatic plants, such as Anacharis, Azolla, water hyacinth, duckweed, and water lettuce. Adult red-eared sliders only eat meat if it’s easily available to them as they don’t need as much protein as they used to. 

Regarding meal frequency, baby and juvenile red-eared sliders should have a daily feeding schedule, while adult turtles can be fed every two or three days. Although they do often come outside of the water for basking and exploring, red-eared sliders are aquatic turtles and always eat in the water.

5 Vegetables That Are Safe For Red-Eared Sliders

1. Carrots

Carrots have a very high vitamin A content, and they are perfect for your turtle. However, they do contain folic acid that can be long-term harmful for your animal, so try it is advisable to not feed carrots to your turtle more than twice a week. 

2. Lettuce

Red-eared sliders love leafy vegetables and lettuce is an easy and healthy vegetable for your animal. However, you should avoid iceberg lettuce, as it contains almost no nutritional value and it is an empty food for your pet. 

3. Green beans 

Green beans are perfect for your red-eared slider to nibble on. You can leave the green bean floating in the tank and it provides a healthy and tasty option for your pet during the day. They provide vitamins A, C, and K, which are very beneficial for your animal

4. Bell pepper 

Many red-eared sliders are drawn to the color red, so red bell pepper is a good choice for your pet. Cut the pepper in tiny pieces to make it easier for them to eat, or leave a bigger piece for them to nibble on. Red pepper is rich in vitamin A and vitamin C.

Which Vegetables Are NOT Safe For Red-Eared Sliders?

1. Chard

Chard has a really high content of oxalic acid (700mg per 100g). Oxalic acid is found on different types of leafy greens and blocks the absorption of calcium. A strong calcium intake is crucial for the shell and bones of your turtle, so chard is a food that should definitely be avoided. 

2. Spinach 

Along with chard, spinach also has a high oxalic acid content. Eating spinach once or twice is not going to have terrible effects on your pet, but long-term effects can be dangerous for their shell and bone consistency.

3. Cabbage 

Cabbage, broccoli, and brussel sproutsƒ are part of the brassica family, which can difficult the absorption of iodine. 

This does not mean your lizard cant ever eat cabbage, but excessive amounts of it lead to a damaging of the kidneys and goiter. 

4. Avocado 

Avocados contain an anti-fungal compound called Persin which is toxic to almost all animals. It should definitely not be a part of your red-eared sliders meals, as its toxicity can cause major health problems on your pet. 

5. Rhubarb 

Rhubarb can block calcium absorption, so it should not form part of your red-eared sliders diet.

What Is The Recommended Diet For Red-Eared Sliders?

The recommended diet for red-eared slider turtles is very varied. During the first years of their life, red-eared meat should make up for 70 percent of your turtle’s diet. As it grows, the meat percentage should reduce gradually. Adult red-eared sliders will have an almost fully vegetarian diet. 

Give your turtle a nutritious and varied diet by preparing vegetable mixes. Keeping their diet interesting and including a wide range of foods is key to keeping your red-eared slider in good health. Sometimes, if their meals get too repetitive, red-eared sliders stop eating. 


Red sliders can only eat when they are in the water, so you should place the vegetable mix in the water and remove it after 20 mins.

Occasionally you can also leave some vegetables -such as carrots or bell peppers- during the day for your pet to nibble on, but you should make sure that the water of your turtle’s aquarium is clear. 

You can also feed your animal live feeder fish, which you should only buy in a pet store. Feeding your turtle fish from unknown origins can be very risky for your pet’s health, as they might contain parasites.

Calcium should be a key element in your red-eared sliders diet. Slider turtles need a high calcium intake to keep their bones and shell strong and healthy. Providing your turtle with a calcium supplement will prevent shell deformities and bone problems. Some powder calcium supplements also include vitamin D3. and can be an easy option to complete your turtle’s diet. 

If you don’t want to give your animal powder supplement, you can also give your animal a cuttlebone to nib a couple of times a week. 

📚 Read More >> Best Turtle Food For Red-Eared Sliders

Including pellets in your turtle’s diet will make sure that your aquatic turtle is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs. Pellets can be given once every two during the first year of your turtle’s life. As they grow you should reduce the number of pellets you give to your animal. Pellets should not make up more than 25 % of your turtle’s diet. 


How long can a red-eared slider go without food?

In normal conditions, a red-eared slider should not go for longer than 3 -4 days without food. However, if your animal lives in an environment with temperatures under 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, it is possible that your pet goes through a state of brumation. Brumation is a state of torpor that reptiles have to fight the cold. Brumation is very similar to hibernation in hot-blooded animals and it is common for red-eared sliders to fall into this state between the months of October and February. If your turtle is brumating, it will reduce its vital needs to the minimum, allowing your animal not to eat for several months. 

What human food can red-eared sliders eat?

Red-eared sliders can eat many human foods. Like humans, red-eared sliders are also omnivorous and have a very varied diet. Sliders can eat many types of vegetables- such as green beans, tomatoes, lettuce, kale, and squash- but also a wide range of fruits – skinned apples, bananas, berries, melons, nectarine, and mango.

They can also eat meats such as cooked chicken, beef, and shrimp, although it is preferable that you keep their diet as similar as the one they would have in the wild. 

Like humans, sliders also eat fish. Although they can eat some fish that humans do eat, it is advisable to instead of giving them you to provide them with small fish they can hunt themselves, such as guppies, minnows, and small goldfish. However, it is not recommended to give your turtles live fish too often as it can contain parasites. 

What can red-eared sliders not eat?

Although red-eared sliders can eat many different things, there are a few foods that can be very damaging to their health. Some leafy greens, such as chard and spinach, can block their calcium absorption as they contain high levels of oxalic acid.

Cabbage, bok choy, and broccoli should also not be part of your pet’s diet because they can cause kidney failure and goiter problems. 

You should also keep an eye on vegetables that provide low nutritional content, as they will temporarily give your animal the feeling of being full, but they do not provide any nutrients. 

Can red-eared sliders eat bananas?

Yes, red-eared sliders can eat bananas. However, bananas are not a food pond sliders would have access to in the wild, so you should reduce their intake to special occasions and in small quantities. In other words, bananas can be a great treat for your turtle! 

Can red-eared sliders eat cucumbers?

Definitely. Red-eared sliders love cucumbers, although they should not eat them too often. Cucumbers have a low nutritional value, as they are mostly water, so it’s better not to include them as a part of their regular diet.

Lara Sotto

Lara Sotto

Lara Sotto is a marine biologist, freelance animal writer, and reptile lover. She is passionate about empowering reptile owners with the information they need to give the best care possible for their reptiles. She is currently taking up her Ph.D. in Marine Science and providing her knowledge to the ReptileKnowHow community.

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Lara Sotto

Lara Sotto

Lara Sotto is a marine biologist, freelance animal writer, and reptile lover. She is passionate about empowering reptile owners with the information they need to give the best care possible for their reptiles. She is currently taking up her Ph.D. in Marine Science and providing her knowledge to the ReptileKnowHow community.

About ReptileKnowHow

We’re a team of reptile owners and experts who are on a mission to share practical, science-based tips and recommendations to other reptile owners.

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