Why Do Turtles Eat Jellyfish? + How Do They Eat Jellyfish?

Image of a turtle eating a jellyfish

Turtles eat jellyfish because they are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. In the wild, it is easy for turtles to catch jellyfish because they move very slowly in the water. That is why, if a hungry turtle comes across a jellyfish, it won’t hesitate to swim up to it and eat it.

You may think that they are very peaceful and only eat seaweed and algae. But when they are hungry, they won’t hesitate to catch other fish and eat them. You may now be wondering what else turtles eat and how many jellyfish they eat on a regular basis. So read on to discover the answers to these questions and more.

How Does A Turtle Eat A Jellyfish?

A turtle eats a jellyfish by swimming up to it and then taking a bite.

If it’s a small jellyfish, the turtle can swallow it in one bite.

But if it’s a bigger jellyfish, the turtle will take bites until it has eaten the whole thing.

Jellyfish moves very slowly, so a turtle can take it’s time to eat it.

Here’s a cool video showing a turtle eating a jellyfish from the National Geographic:

Can You Feed Jellyfish To Your Pet Turtles?

According to the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, sea turtles will eat almost anything you give them.

Some people even feed goldfish to their pet red eared slider turtles. We don’t recommend that you do this.

In theory, your pet turtle will eat the jellyfish that you get from your local pet store. But we don’t know anyone who has done it.

That’s why we recommend that you talk to the pet store to confirm that the jellyfish doesn’t have a sting.

This is because some types of turtles might be sensitive to stings, especially smaller pet turtles.

Can Jellyfish Swim Away From Turtles?

Jellyfish move incredibly slowly. They usually pump their bodies and can only move a few inches (2 cms to 5 cms) every few seconds.

Some jellyfish don’t swim at all; they just get carried along by the current.

A turtle can easily swim fast enough to catch the jellyfish. So if a turtle wants to eat a jellyfish, it always can.

Basically, the jellyfish won’t swim away from the turtle.

Why Doesn’t A Jellyfish Sting The Turtle?

According to the New York Times, almost all predator fish such as sharks, swordfish, and tuna love to eat jellyfish.

Turtles are a type of reptile in the same family as lizards and iguanas.

They have very thick skin on their insides, like hard leather. This means that the stings don’t get through.

On the other hand, humans have sensitive skin.

That is why when you brush up against a jellyfish or accidentally stand on one at the beach, it really stings.

This sting hurts so much that you need to put vinegar on your skin to stop it from hurting.

But a turtle’s skin is very thick and tough, so it doesn’t even feel the sting.

The North Carolina Aquarium says that the skin inside a turtle’s mouth is similar to what your fingernails are made of.

This makes it numb to a jellyfish’s sting.

It’s also the same for other fish that eat jellyfish, like sharks and tunas. Their mouths and insides are very tough.

But then, not all jellyfish sting the same. Some only sting a bit, and some don’t even sting at all.

Usually, a jellyfish sting is so small that a turtle doesn’t even feel it.

A jellyfish’s sting is only enough to zap tiny fish that accidentally swim into its tentacles.

No scientists have done detailed studies on it, but in our opinion, turtles only eat jellyfish that they know will not have much of a sting.

They avoid the very powerful and even deadly box jellyfish found around Australia.

How Much Does A Turtle Eat On A Normal Day?

Turtles are omnivores and eat a mix of plants and animals.

The small animals they eat include crabs, sea snails, fish, jellyfish, insects, and shrimp.

And the plants that they eat include seaweed, algae, coral, and also the fruit that falls into the water.

According to National Geographic, sea turtles eat about 73% of their body weight every day.

However, this is in the summertime when there is plenty of food for them to eat in the ocean.

Turtles will often eat a lot and then not eat anything for long periods of time, much like bears that hibernate in the winter.

But each species of turtle is different. Turtles can also go without eating for a very long time.

Adult turtles can go as long as 6 months without food. 

However, baby turtles need to eat more regularly – once every two weeks or so.

But as they get older, they can survive longer and longer without eating.

Related Questions

Does anything eat turtles? Turtles get eaten by sharks and killer whales. Although turtles have a hard shell that sharks or killer whales can’t break with their mouth, they will eat the fins, tail, and head of a turtle if they get the opportunity.

Can turtles stay out of the water? Turtles can stay out of the water for prolonged periods of time. However, they can be attacked by dogs, pigs, and other animals because they move very slowly. So, they generally only stay on dry land when it’s safe or to lay eggs.

Parting Thoughts

Turtles eat jellyfish because of their diet.

Jellyfish are easy to catch for turtles when they find them because jellyfish swim very slowly or not at all.

During the summer months, turtles eat an incredible amount of food.

So, they will quickly snap up a jellyfish if they come across one.

They don’t get stung by the jellyfish because their skin is very tough.

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