How do you hand-feed a soft-shell turtle?

by Shirley

My (smooth) soft-shell turtle, has an eye infection (which we are treating) and while his eye is healing, he seems to have lost his appetite. Before, I would put food on a length of string and he would go and eat it, kind of like "fishing". He has almost never eaten the live fish in his tank, preferring to befriend them. I noticed that he would open his mouth whenever I took him out of the water, but I could never get him to open it wide enough or long enough for me to feed him meat or pellets. Is there some way I can make him open his mouth for a short period of time (long enough for me to feed him)? Also, if he starts to take food from me, how can I gradually teach him to eat by himself again?

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