Turtle and Terrapin Complete Food

by Wilko (Wilkinson Plus)

As someone with a keen interest in turtles and their dietary requirements, nothing sets alarm bells ringing for me like a "complete food". This product, available from Wilkinsons, was relatively cheap, and claims to contain everything to be the sole food for your turtle or terrapin. However, compared to leading turtle pellet brands (which at best, should only be used as part of a balanced diet), how does it hold up?

Ingredients and suitability
This food is very similar to King British turtle and terrapin food. Both consist of a mixture of pellets and a large quantity of freeze dried crustaceans. Having had turtles develop Metabolic Bone Disease (caused by lack of calcium and/or Vitamin D3) whilst using King British food, I would be very wary of using this type of diet, which relies heavily on freeze-dried, protein rich ingredients. What is more concerning is that on closer inspection, the vitamin levels of the "Wilko Turtle and Terrapin complete food" are even less than the King British version.

The pellet part of "Wilko Turtle and Terrapin Complete Food" is made from (according to the packaging):

  • Fish and deriviatives
  • Cereals
  • Vegetable derivatives, oils and extracts
  • Yeasts
  • Algae
  • Molluscs and Crustaceans
  • Minerals, oils and fats

  • The freeze-dried portion of "Wilko Turtle and Terrapin Complete Food" consists of (according to packaging) Krill, Gammarus and Shrimp. It is worth being wary of foods with these freeze-dried elements, as in many circumstances the turtle will pick out these bits to eat, and neglect the accompanying pellets.

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    These ingredients, at face value, are pretty standard in pelleted turtle foods. Fish, vegetable matter, algae, molluscs and crustaceans are found in the natural diets of many turtle species, particularly North American freshwater species. Cereals are not representative of a turtle's natural diet, but are typically used to boost carbohydrate and dietary fibre content, particularly needed by turtle species which eat a large amount of vegetation such as Sliders and Cooters. Yeast is typically added to boost protein and B vitamin content.

    Vitamin contents, compared to other brands
    Vitamin content Wilko[1] King British[2] Reptomin[3] ZooMed[4] Mazuri[5]
    Vitamin A (IU/Kg) 13 330 29 000 29 550 5 950 19 500
    Vitamin C (mg/Kg) 285 1700 137 ? ?
    Vitamin D3 (IU/Kg) 1071 1500 1845 1760 1350
    Vitamin E (IU/Kg) 205 ? ? ? 363

    [1] - Wilko Turtle and Terrapin Complete Food
    [2] - King British Turtle and Terrapin Complete Food
    [3] - Tetra Reptomin turtle sticks
    [4] - ZooMed Aquatic Turtle Growth Formula
    [5] - Mazuri Fresh Water Turtle Diet

    Hopefully from the table, you will notice that this food has no significant vitamin increases over other pellets, and in some instances (notably Vitamin D3, the vitamin crucial for absorbing calcium from the diet, and preventing Metabolic Bone Disease), is significantly lower.

    My main concern with the Wilko Turtle and Terrapin Complete Food is its assumption that all turtles/terrapins have similar diets. The packaging designers even seem to have mistaken freshwater turtle species with marine turtles, referring to "flippered" species. The diets of freshwater turtles and terrapins vary greatly, depending on species, and age, however I can't imagine a situation where I would choose this diet over others:

  • This food contains a blend of both protein from crustaceans, molluscs, fish and yeast, as well as vegetable matter, implying it is designed around omnivorous species such as Trachemys, Chrysemys and Graptemys, but would not be ideal for more carnivorous species such as Pelodiscus or Sternotherus.

  • Young omnivorous turtles require large amounts of protein for growth (which this food provides), but also require large amounts of calcium (and by association, vitamin D3) for skeletal development, but this food has lower levels than other brands.

  • Omnivorous turtles often become more vegetarian as they age, meaning that this food may be too protein based for older turtles

  • Indeed, some turtle food manufacturers provide multiple varieties of food for different stages of life, such as ZooMed and Reptomin, which are far more useful than Wilko's one-size-fits-all food.

    In all instances, the preparation process for all pelleted foods causes nutritional deterioration and vitamin loss, and none should be used as the sole food for any turtle species. Pellets are beneficial as a regular food, as the specially tailored vitamin and mineral balances in most brands help ensure deficiencies do not occur. However, fresh food should also form a large part of the diet, and in all circumstances, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend brands such as Reptomin and ZooMed over the Wilko variety.

    Sadly, Wilko are selling a diet aimed at all turtle species, but in reality is suitable for few, if any.

    If you have any questions regarding this review, or require further information on this title, please contact me using the email address below:
    Paul Edmondson

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