Who and What Eats a Turtle?

Published: 20th August 2008
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Turtles can boast their place as a vital link in many of the food webs. They are agents that disperse seeds back into the environment. There are a number of predators that prey upon the turtle for food and their eggs are harvested by many more to provide life giving sustenance.

Turtles are best known as omnivores, which mean they eat a wide variety of foods such as plant matter and smaller vertebrates. They are also opportunistic feeders eating anything that crosses their path. You may be surprised to learn that they will even try to eat the bait at the end of a fishing line.

Turtles eat frogs, small fish, the larvae and the adult variety of insects, tadpoles, and crayfish. They will also sup on shrimp, amphipods, crayfish and snails. The plant matter that turtles eat is fruits, roots, stems, seeds, duckweed and leaves. They will also nibble on herbaceous plants that are just emerging and algae both green and blue.

Turtle Predators

The human race is the greatest of the turtle's predators. We will shoot them for sport if they are spotted basking, they are often run over by cars as they travel from one place to the next, and often get hooked by an occasional fisherman that fails to put him back into the water. The eggs of the turtle are harvested so that the hatchlings may be used in the pet trade and children wandering woods, streams and ponds will think nothing of capturing them for a pet.

The question of what eats a turtle can be answered easily. There are many animals that will feast on an adult turtle, the hatchlings and especially the eggs. Fish such as bass and pike will eat a turtle hatchling, frogs and snakes will as well. Larger turtles may become a turtle's predator and skunks and raccoons enjoy the eggs of turtles. Wading birds such as heron will feast on turtle hatchlings as will mink, otters, and crows.

The eggs are in even more danger from common molds as well as insects such as maggots and ants. There are many creatures that will eat a turtle and with so many waiting for an opportunity to feast on these creatures, it is a wonder that the turtle has been able to survive as long as it has.

Turtles and Man

With so many natural predators, turtle species survival depends upon man taking himself out of the equation. Teaching your children to respect all animals and not just turtles is one way you can begin. Educate them on the importance of the turtle in a successful food chain, encourage them to leave their findings just where they discovered them so that the animals can go on to live out their natural life and contribute to fragile ecosystems. They will learn by example and the parent that pushes ecological education upon their child is a responsible citizen of the planet. Future generations are going to suffer greatly because of man's seemingly disinterest in the environment. Education is the key that will open the door to sustainability and living in harmony and balance with the natural world.


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