As a turtle keeper, replicating the natural diet of your animals poses frequent problems. Some plants and fish are available seasonally, and hard to find in Winter. Pellets are a good staple, but because the preparation of such foods removes a lot of nutrition, they are heavily supplemented with vitamins and minerals in delicate balances, making it easy for deficiencies and over-dosing to occur.
By making a blend of many ingredients, mixed with gelatine to hold it all together, turtle pudding can then be frozen, and fed as required simply by thawing the cubes out first. If you make it in large enough batches, you should have a steady supply of nutritious, healthy food for your turtle year round.
How is it made?
Very simply, everything you would usually include in your turtles diet plan is thrown into a blender/food processor, and blitzed to produce a paté like substance. By mixing this with gelatine and allowing it to set in icecube trays, the mix will form into bite-sized portions.
My recipe for Turtle pudding
I'm currently using a blend of 50% plant matter and 50% protein for my Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), as they are relatively omnivorous.
For my Musk turtles (Sternotherus odoratus) and Chinese Softshell (Pelodiscus sinensis) I use a 25% plant matter and 75% protein mix, due to their more carnivorous nature. The 25% plant matter in this case provides dietary fibre and 'roughage' to promote digestion.
1. Frozen Fish Foods To start with, I popped open a bunch of frozen fish foods, including bloodworm, mysis and krill. Bloodworm formed the bulk of this, with others added for variety. All together, these frozen foods formed about 1/8th of the pudding.
2. Supermarket seafood A further 1/8th of the diet was composed of frozen cooked mussels and prawns from the local supermarket. Using cooked seafood prevents the risk of Thiaminase poisoning.
3. Fresh seafood Another 1/8th of the diet was composed of fresh fish and shrimp. I normally would use trout or salmon meat here, as this is free from Thiaminase, however I had fresh minnow-type fish and krill, sold as diet for predatory fish, to use up. To avoid any Thiaminase in these foods, both were placed in boiling water, and essentially cooked before adding to the rest of the mix.
4. Dried foods The last meaty 1/8th of the diet was composed of freeze-dried shrimp, some sinking shrimp pellets, and a handful of my usual turtle pellets. These were added primarily to enhance the flavour of the pudding, and make sure the turtles would eat it, but also to ensure I wasn't missing out any essential vitamins/minerals.
5. Carrots A quarter of this particular diet was made up of shredded carrot, which was then blended in a food processor. Carrots are rich in fibre (roughage) to promote digestion, as well as antioxidants, minerals and are said to naturally boost the colour of captive animals.
6. Greens Another quarter of the diet was made of turtle-safe greens, including dandelion leaves (collected from a pesticide-free area away from roads, and rinsed under fresh water), Romaine lettuce, Pond weed (Elodea canadensis) and Duckweed (Lemna minor), all blended in a food processor.
7. Vitamins and Supplements Ideally, this 'turtle pudding' method is designed to use natural foods and therefore try to prevent overdosing or deficiences in particular vitamins, so before blending everything together, I only used a small pinch of vitamin supplement (designed for omnivorous reptiles), and a larger dose (about a tablespoon) of ground-up cuttlefish bone, for calcium.
8. Blend it all up It's up to you how fine you blend everything. I personally left it roughly mixed to make it more interesting for my turtles to eat.
9. Make up the Gelatine I've found that gelatine powder works better than leaf gelatine, so just follow the instructions on the packet before adding it to your turtle pudding mix. In my case, I found that I had to use the gelatine at double-strength to ensure the jelly was firm enough to hold all the mix together when in the water at feeding time, but this will vary between brands.
10. Pour it into moulds Once you've added the gelatine to the blended food, you need to place it into a mould to set. I put the mix into disposible food bags, before cutting a corner off and using the bag to neatly squeeze the mix into ice cube trays.
11. Let it set! Once in the trays, let the gelatine set by placing it in the refrigerator for a few hours. After that, you can start to feed it off, or store some for later in the freezer!
If you have any further questions regarding turtle pudding, diets or anything else on the site, please email me: Paul Edmondson firstname.lastname@example.org