Most people, when thinking of red eared slider feeding, imagine simply sprinkling some of those pellets you get at the pet store on top of the water and walking away. In some ways, this is what the clerks at the pet store would like you to believe—that feeding a red eared slider really is that easy! So go ahead and take one home; we’ll sell you everything you need! While it’s not that simple, pellets do contain much of the nutrition your turtle needs.
While there is a lot more to red eared slider feeding than pellets, you can get by with just pellets for a little while. Optimally, pellets should only comprise about 25% of your turtle’s diet for a variety of reasons. First, consider your own diet. While you could survive on some sort of processed food that contained all the vitamins and nutrients you needed to live, would you enjoy it? Certainly not! The same applies to your turtle. While he may live on pellets, he certainly won’t be getting the most out of his life as your pet. Your slider wants to chase live food and have more of a variety in the vegetable matter in his diet. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
Another thing to consider when feeding your red eared slider a pellets-only diet is the nutrients he is getting. While the manufacturers of pellets claim that all the nutrients your slider needs will be found in their pellets, the fact of the matter is that nutrients are lost in the process of making those pellets. There is simply no substitute for the pure vitamins and minerals you get from fresh food, whether you’re talking about meat or vegetables. In the course of making those pellets, the ingredients are frozen, thawed, dried, refrozen, thawed again, pumped full of nutrients and packaged—hardly an all-natural process.
In the end, when it comes to red eared slider feeding, an all-pellet diet is not a best-case scenario. You should only use the pellets as a 25% supplement to a diet rich in parasite-free live food, dark, leafy green vegetables, aquatic plants, and shredded veggies such as carrots and squash. Your turtle also needs a multivitamin specially made for reptiles with calcium and vitamin D3. Do right by your pet slider and make sure that you provide him with everything he needs to live a long, healthy existence.