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Best Cuttlebone for Turtles (6 Options)

For many experts, the cuttlebone is an integral part of the turtle’s diet. This is because this food is high in calcium. Since it is a natural food, many consider it to be the best calcium supplement for turtles.

So what is cuttlebone? Well, this is the internal shell of the cuttlefish. As you may already know – bones and shells are high in calcium. Interestingly, cuttlebone isn’t a bone, but rather a shell as mentioned earlier.

This shell is found in all species within the family Sepiidae (also known as cuttlefish). So what are the best cuttlebone for turtles? Well, Zoo Med turtle bone is my pick for several reasons, it is well packaged.

When you buy Cuttlebone online, shipping can be rough on the product. It is also a real cuttlebone. Penn Plax E2 is another excellent choice.

While not real cuttlebone, it’s more affordable and turtles don’t care that it isn’t the real deal. They enjoy munching on it all the same.

Best cuttlebone for turtles

This is probably the most popular cuttlebone brand for turtles out there. Turtle bone can be found in many pet shops. It can also be found online on Amazon. The Zoo Med turtle bone floats and as such, you can place it in the water. The turtle will surely nibble at it now and then.

The edible surface of the turtle bone is rough. This helps trim the turtle’s beak and keep it from overgrowing. The rough surface also helps prevent bad chewing habits (such as chewing on scenery in the enclosure).

A single turtle bone generally lasts a month. If the cuttlebone isn’t consumed in a month, I recommend that you change it.  Some turtles love cuttlebones and as such a piece won’t last for a month.

Some may last just a few days. It all depends on the number of turtles in the enclosure as well as the fondness for cuttlebone.


  • Well packaged.
  • The cuttlebones are 100% real
  • Commercially made by Zoo-Med – a trusted producer of turtle accessories
  • The cuttlebones are sizeable


  • Slightly more costly than the other cuttlebones on the list

Although the product description states this as natural cuttlebones, they are only 40 % cuttlebones. Regardless, they are an excellent choice for turtles.

Although the product is labeled as for birds, they are better for turtles. They are less messy than actual cuttlebone (as it is less brittle) and they don’t have a hard backing.

These hard backings can be an annoyance to remove. They are also less brittle than the actual thing which is also great. Most importantly, turtles seem to love it. Additionally, they also help to trim the turtle’s beak.


  • The product is well-packaged.
  • These cuttlebones are very affordable.
  • The cuttlebones are sizeable. 


  • The product description is slightly misleading as this isn’t real cuttlebones.

This natural cuttlebone. Unlike the Penn Plax E2, Emour’s natural cuttlefish bone is 100% natural. As with any cuttlebone, this is a healthy source of calcium and it also helps trim the beaks. The cuttlefish bone can also be ground up and added to the turtle’s food if it refuses to eat the bone.


  • The cuttlebones are 100% real. 


  • These cuttlebones are quite small in size.
  • They are costly when compared to the others.

This is a box of 25 cuttlebones. When bought in bulk you can save money. However, unless you have a whole lot of turtles, I usually don’t recommend this as it can take ages before your turtle can go through all of them.  The bones come with metal holders that aren’t needed. 


  • The cuttlebones are 100% real. 
  • They are really affordable


  • The packaging could be much better.

Alternatives to cuttlebone

Cuttlebones can be tough to find at times, depending on your location. However, there are alternatives to it. These alternatives serve the same purpose as the natural ones. They provide the turtle with calcium and help trim the turtle’s beak. 

This product is perfect for terrestrial turtles such as box turtles and tortoises. This comes in block form and may be favored to taste like spineless cacti and vegetables, as these are made with real vegetables and cacti.

Feeder Banquet Tortoise is a great way to feed your land turtles calcium, especially those that refuse to eat to cuttlebone. It also helps wear down the nails and beaks of the turtles. 


  • These are affordable.
  • They are nicely packaged.
  • They contain real cactus and vegetables.


  • Some turtles wouldn’t like these as much as the real deal.

Another alternative to cuttlebone is the Dr. Turtle calcium block. There are two ways to use this product. You can either place it in the turtle’s water whole so it dissolves over time or you can break it up into small pieces. When broken up, turtles tend to snack on it as they would natural cuttlebone. Even when not broken up, the turtles may snack on it. If your turtle is particularly fond of it, it won’t even last a week.

According to the product description, a single block can treat up to 15 gallons of water. However, the number of blocks you will use in a month depends on how long the block lasts.


  • These are affordable.
  • They are beautifully packaged.
  • You can offer them to your turtle or allow it to dissolve into the water.


  • They are not real cuttlebones just a substitute.

Buying Guide

As mentioned earlier, the cuttlebone is the internal shell of the cuttlefish. This shell is also known as cuttlefish bone. To start with, cuttlefish bones are not bones but shells and cuttlefish aren’t fish but rather mollusks (one popular mollusk is the snail). Cuttlefish also belong to the class Cephalopoda which includes octopuses and squids.

The cuttlebone is made mostly of aragonite and helps the cuttlefish to move. It is chambered and gas-filled which is used for buoyancy control. When in live cuttlefish, cuttlebones can implode at certain depths (between 660 and 1,970 ft or 200 and 600 m).

Cuttlebone has many uses. It is used in lime production, and jewelry making and is even added to antacids and toothpaste.

Since cuttlebone is rich in calcium, it is also used as a dietary supplement for several pets including turtles. This bone/shell has a chalky feel to it and turtles can easily bite and chew it.

Getting cuttlebones on Amazon and other online stores is an option. Because shipping can be rough, a well-packaged bone is less likely to end up in pieces. For many, this isn’t a problem as breaking the cuttlebone up makes it easier to consume.

Cuttlebones can also be found in pet shops that see bird food and turtle products. They are relatively easy to find and cheap. You can’t go wrong here. Just remember to remove the hardback before offering it to your turtle.

Why buy Cuttlebone?

Is there any reason why you should even bother giving your turtles cuttlebone? Well, cuttlebone is high in calcium and turtles need calcium to grow and be healthy. Cuttlebone is a natural source of calcium and as such is favored by chelonians.

Calcium ensures that the turtle’s shell and bones grow as they should. For adult turtles, calcium ensures that the skeleton and shell of the turtle are healthy. Calcium also helps with muscle function.

A lack of calcium usually leads to nutritional metabolic bone disease.  This is where the shell and limbs of the turtle develop abnormally. The shell usually becomes deformed, and so do the limbs. Some of the limbs usually end up being longer than the others. When left untreated, MBD quickly causes permanent deformity and can even lead to death.

To prevent metabolic bone disease, you need to feed the turtle enough calcium. Most captive turtle diets don’t offer enough calcium so you need to supplement this. Cuttlebones are the best option. They are natural, they prevent beak overgrowth and turtles enjoy snacking on them.

Cuttlebones are natural products and you can’t go wrong here. Things to look out for is packaging and price. Zoo-med turtle bones are slightly more expensive but they are well-packaged. As such, you end up with broken pieces of cuttlebones.

While you can save by buying in bulk, you want to make sure that your turtle enjoys cuttlebone before acquiring large quantities. Some turtles do not appreciate cuttlebones.

How to use a cuttlebone & how long does a cuttlebone last?

Most turtle keepers usually keep cuttlebones in the aquarium until it dissolves. However, most cuttlebones only last up to a month, before you’d need to replace them. It all depends on the number of turtles you have in the aquarium as well as how fast the turtles eat the bones.

All you have to do is remove the hard backing and place it in the turtle’s tank. With cuttlebones packaged for birds, the cuttlebone may come with a holder (can be plastic or metallic). Make sure to remove the holder before offering it to your turtle. You don’t want your turtle to injure itself by accidentally biting into the holder.

Natural cuttlebones may float on the water. Boiling it for a few minutes ensures that they sink to the bottom of the tank. However, it is okay for the cuttlebone to float. 

Removing the hard backing

Natural cuttlebone comes with a backing that looks and feels plasticky. It may be necessary to remove this backing before feeding the cuttlebone to your pet. The backing may end up harming your turtle as it can choke on it.

Also to remove the backing:

  • First, break the cuttlebone into small manageable pieces. You can do this easily with your hands. Using a butter knife or even scissors carefully remove the hard plastic backing.
  • Check to make sure that all the backing is off. If your fingernail can dent the bone then it’s safe for your turtle.

Can you feed your turtle too much calcium?

This is a question that many ask and for good reason. Calcium is important to bone and shell development. Even adult turtles need an adequate amount of calcium. As many turtle keepers know, too much protein, phosphorus, or vitamin D3 can be very bad for your turtle. So can you feed the turtle too much calcium?

There are many different opinions on this. However, I recommend you allow your turtles to self-administer. Place the cuttlebone in their enclosure and let them decide just how much to eat. Replace the cuttlebone when it is all gone.


Cuttlebones can be an essential source of calcium for turtles. This bone isn’t a bone. Rather it is the internal shell of the cuttlefish. Regardless it is an excellent source of calcium. The chalk-like consistency of cuttlebone makes it easy for turtles to feed on. In addition to being an excellent source of calcium, cuttlebone also helps prevent overgrown beaks. The rough surface of the bone wears down the beaks and claws of the turtle.

Leave a comment, if you have any questions or information. Thanks.

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