So, Can You Eat Turtles for Survival?

Everyone talks about it, but few people really stop to consider what it means to do what you have to in order to survive.


Whether you are in a fight for your life in the middle of the wilderness or enduring a long-term, paradigm-shifting survival scenario in the remains of society, life is definitely going to change.

One of the most fundamental things that will change, if you want to keep on living, is your diet. You’ll probably have to eat animals that you normally wouldn’t eat, among other things.

How about turtles, by way of an example? Turtles are found all around the world, both on land, in freshwater, and in the sea. Is it possible to eat turtle in a survival situation?

Yes, turtles are good and safe to eat, and have been eaten for a very long time around the world. Turtles are easy to catch, generally easy to dispatch, and quite nutritious making them a good survival food.

Depending on your personal preferences, you might think turtles are gross, or else perhaps you think of them as harmless, good-natured animals or pets.

How you might feel about them, the situation might dictate that they wind up on your personal menu if you don’t want to starve to death.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about eating turtle meat in a survival situation…

Where are Turtles Found?

Turtles can be found all over the world in virtually every climate, both on land and at sea, except in the coldest Arctic and Antarctic regions.

Depending on the type of turtle (tortoise, terrapin, or sea turtle) they can be found living on the ground, in water, or a combination of both.

This is good news for any survivors since it means you should be able to locate turtles pretty much anywhere you happen to be.

From dry deserts to the vast ocean, placid wetlands to untouched forests, all you need to do is find them and catch them.

Turtle Nutritional Info

Turtle meat is reasonably nutritious, and although it is fairly low in calories it has a good variety of vitamins and minerals that can help keep you alive and thriving in the middle of a survival scenario.

A 100 g portion of turtle meat contains about 90 calories, has very little fat, no carbs, and around 20 g of protein. Something you shouldn’t pass up under the circumstances!

Concerning the vitamins and minerals found in turtle meat, you’ll have ample vitamin a, vitamin b6, vitamin B12, and a tiny bit of vitamin E.

The mineral profile is similarly varied, with tons of potassium and calcium, and some magnesium.

There’s also a little bit of iron and zinc and a surprising amount of sodium, which might help replenish your electrolytes.

Can You Legally Eat Turtles?

The legality of turtle meat varies depending on where you are and what kind of turtle you are dealing with.

In the United States, for example, it is legal to eat just about any kind of turtle except for the endangered ones, such as the heavily protected sea turtle.

In various countries throughout Europe then the protected species include many tortoises and freshwater terrapins as well as sea turtles.

In general, if you want to play it safe and not get into any legal trouble, then don’t kill and eat turtles unless you are in truly dire straits.

Now, just because you are in a survival situation doesn’t give you a free pass to break the law, but if it comes down to eating a turtle or starving then obviously you are going to have to make a decision.

It is much better to be alive and face what consequences could possibly arise from killing a protected species for food than to die!

In short, use your head, and never kill a turtle without a good reason!

What Does Turtle Taste Like?

Turtle meat is often described as having a basic taste somewhere between beef and chicken, with the texture of chicken.

Sea turtles are described as having a supple, succulent texture and all turtles with a partially or fully aquatic diet might have a fishy note to their flavor.

Generally speaking, the taste of a turtle is heavily influenced by what it eats.

If it is a creature that spends most of its time and gets most of its food in the water then it will typically have a fishier flavor, while turtles that are mostly terrestrial in their habits will taste more like chicken or beef.


Is Raw Turtle Safe to Eat?

No! Though popular conception and harrowing stories of desperate survival at sea tell tales of marine turtles being eaten raw by castaways, this is not good practice.

Turtle meat, like all raw meat and especially the raw meat of wild animals, is host to all sorts of bacteria, parasites, and other nasties that can make you seriously ill. That is the last thing you want when you are already in a desperate situation.

Turtles can harbor a range of diseases that are harmful to humans, including salmonella, listeria, and e. coli, all of which can cause serious illness or even death.

So unless you want to take your chances with food poisoning or a parasitic infestation (which could kill you!), cook that meat thoroughly before eating it!

Can You Eat Turtle Skin?

You can, but it is not very good. Generally, you will want to clean and skin the meat prior to eating it. The skin of a turtle is tough and leathery, not terribly appetizing or palatable.

Some people do use it for various purposes, such as tanning, but eating it is not recommended.

Can You Eat Turtle Eggs?

Yes, you can, and they are comparable to chicken eggs in preparation and nutrition, if not in taste.

Also, keep in mind that you are likely to discover that the eggs have embryos in them unless you happen upon them very shortly after laying, so be prepared for that.

Is it Safe to Eat Turtle Bones?

No. People aren’t designed to eat bones, unlike some true carnivorous animals. Bones can cause you to choke, break your teeth, or tear up your insides if they are swallowed.

You don’t want to deal with that, believe me! However, you should not throw out the bones just because you have turtle meat.

They can be used to make a healthy and nutritious turtle broth, or just extra nutrition, by extracting the bone marrow within.

All you’ll need to do is crack the bones open (be careful not to cut yourself!) and then simmer them in water for a good long while.

This will help to leach out all of the nutrients, including calcium, from within the bones and into the broth. This can then be consumed as is, or used as a base for soups or stews.

Alternately you can split or crack the bones open to scoop or suck out the marrow which can then be added to other dishes or just eaten on its own as a nutritious treat. As always, cook it first to prevent foodborne illness.

How About Turtle Shell?

Although sometimes served as a decorative component of a turtle meal, the shell of a turtle is not edible. Made from bone and keratin, the turtle shell is dreadfully hard and totally inedible. Discard it unless it has some use to you as a tool.

Can You Safely Eat Turtle Organs?

Yes, believe it or not. Most of a turtle’s organs are safe to eat, if not terribly appetizing. This includes the liver, heart, and throat.

As always, cook thoroughly before consuming, and make sure to pay attention to preparation as this can make all the difference in taste. Tainted organ meat will be a severe test of your willpower!

Caution: Some Turtle Species are Dangerous

Now, before you go splashing into every pond or riverbank you see looking for a big catch of turtle, I must caution you that some turtles happen to be highly dangerous.

Giant Tortoises at Full Speed

Not to mention, they can grow to positively immense size, tipping the scales at over a hundred pounds!

Most turtles have strong jaws, but two common ones, namely the snapping turtle and the alligator snapping turtle, take the cake and larger specimens can remove your finger just like a pair of big, scaly loppers or inflict a terrible wound to a limb.

They might be slow and seemingly defenseless, but you should always treat a turtle with respect, especially a larger one and be damn careful if you are venturing into muddy waters looking for larger game.

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