Many of their natural foods are toxic, with some being more toxic than others. Most vegetation has fiber, but some has very little compared to others. The Pamplemousses Botanical Garden of Mauritius Island. It is easy to overthink--as well as underthink--the proper diet situation for captive tortoises. I don’t think anyone knows exactly how much protein a tortoise needs, but most assume more when young and less when mature. As you can see, most supermarket fruits and vegetables have a relatively low Ca:P ratio, a low % dry matter (high water content) and high protein. The list of foods they consume is quite long--too long for this article, which is more geared towards feeding these creatures in captivity, not the wild (see the links near the end of the article for specific food ideas). Right is a bladder stone I took out of Desert Tortoise that may have gotten too dehydrated at one time (though more likely due to improper diet). Tortoises that have no access to this vitamin, even if feed a high calcium diet, may develop calcium deficiency problems (often referred to as metabolic bone disease). Vitamin Supplements: other than Vitamin D3, which is a very dangerous supplement to use, my feelings about all the rest of the supplements are they are about as necessary as vitamin C, and relying on them is like relying on the commercial diet bandage trying the control the hemorrhage of an improper diet. When the reptilian body consumes diets that are imbalanced in terms of these two chemicals, it tends to balance out those two nutrients by pulling calcium from its system to bind with the excess phosphorous. For this reason, and because the exact nutritional requirements of tortoises are unknown, vitamin-mineral supplementation is advised. Oxylates also tend to settle out in the kidneys and can lead to kidney damage if present in large quantities. But if you have pets especially tortoises, you might wonder whether succulents are edible or safe for your pets. While small bladder stones don’t. They are very instinctual creatures. Yeah, grapes are indeed rich in vitamin-c content, and that’s something your tort needs. Many tortoises will eat foods that are not part of a healthy diet. It should only serve as part of treat, high fiber plant material should form a higher percentage of your tortoise diet. Kale (left) and spinach (center) have a lot of oxylates in them and have been warned against by many creaters of vegetarian reptile diet recipes as things to avoid in these diets. Avoid lettuce of all varieties and salad-type items composed mainly of water (cucumber, tomato, melons, etc. Several native grasses occur at DTNA. It cannot totally be based on what they eat in nature. Yes, turtles can eat spinach! The more sun, the better (to a point of overheating of course)… and the younger the tortoise, the more important this sunshine exposure is, as this is the age when bone is formed the fastest, and lack of calcium the most devastating. Diet: ... rose petals, and hibiscus and nasturtium flowers are preferred for captive desert tortoises. These babies (center photo) are particularly prone to poor Calium: Phosphorus ratios and quickly develop abnormalities in their shell and bone structure (that are obious) plus possibly other serious interenal problems that are much less obvious. Spinach* Turnip greens. See More. Tortoises do tend to live on dried vegetation for parts of the later summer when there is less water-filled vegetation available, but then there are rain storms and puddles (we hope) to make up for the lack of water in the vegetable diet. They have been known to eat carrion and insects (though the latter probably as an accidental ingestion). Please understand that individual animal taste preferences may vary. Below are some published diets for tortoises, some what sound pretty well researched: (I have a few problems with all the ingredients on this list, but you should be aware at least of what is being published. I use ... read more, A small feral colony lives in Socorro, NM. The Tortoise … Can I feed my tortoise celery? Desert Turtle food is a finely chopped mixture of greens, vegetables, fruits, protein foods and vitamin-mineral supplements. These reptiles are very gentle creatures and have a very low rate of reproduction. Most hard vegetables are acceptable as tortoises like the crunch factor as they chew. They smell every thing they eat first, and then taste it. he Russian tortoise … Place the pellets in a shallow saucer and add just enough water to immerse them halfway. make sure you have the proper lights (warmth and UVB rays). Avoid feeding products with a high fat content because excessive fat is undesirable and also becomes rancid quickly.A completely natural diet (one that a wild tortoise would select for itself) can rarely be exactly duplicated in captivity. I would be very cautious about adding much of these veggies to a tortoise diet, though they may have some excellent micronutrients in them. Twenty percent of the diet should consist of green beans, mixed vegetables, spinach, Swiss chard, alfalfa sprouts, and low-fat dry dog food, water-packed tuna, and diced/chopped chicken. In the wild, some of these plants are known be toxic (e.g. If you have a brown thumb or you don’t have the space to grow flowers for your tortoise, you can offer dried flowers to tortoises. And there is no reason to push it or offer it all the time. But understand that an 'outcome' is an extremely subjective deterimination and is usually based only what we see, not on any scientific testing of micronutrient blood levels, careful monitoring of health parameters over time, etc. The key to a good Hermann’s tortoise diet is a varied Hermann’s tortoise diet. Bananas (right) are often fed to tortoises- these are high in sugar (bad) and extremely high in phosphorus (also bad). As above, this need for vitamin D3 is certainly not limited to desert tortoises, or even vegetarian lizards. Grasses, like the Fescue grass on the right have some protein and a probably a much better source of it than are these more concentrated unnatural forms. This positive Calcium/phos ratio is particularly important in diets for younger tortoises (as it is for all growing vertebrates, actually). Use of this Web site constitutes acceptance of the Terms of Use, Rules, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy. It would be like an alien species watching humans eat at the mall's food court and concluding those are the best food items for us to eat. It starts becoming complicated when we try assign a "goodness" factor to all the foods tortoises have been found to eat in the wild. What succulents can tortoises eat? And yard with at a lot of fallen azalea and oleander leaves might result in some serious toxicities (though realistically, most tortoises will never eat those leaves) should nothing else at all be available to eat. No one knows what the safe dose of vitamin C is, and unsafe quantities potentially DO exist despite what many may claim (excess vitamin C is associated with kidney stone formation in people, for example). peas, beans and their relatives) or provide them only in smaller amounts as these have tons of protein and they tend to be very high in phosphorous and low in calcium. And the theory about oxylates creating renal disfunction has never been shown to be the case in reptiles. If there is one thing I have discovered after researching diets for tortoises, is that there is actually very little factual data or scientific conclusions. There are no reliable lists of toxic plants for tortoises since no one has done research on what is actually toxic for a tortoise and what is not… and it is unlikely such research will be easy to accomplish. Protein. A wild Gopherus polyphemus (Florida gopher tortoise) browses upon leaves and flowers in its natural habitat: providing adequate diets in captivity is a challenge for keepers, but it can … Try to feed primarily foods that have what is known as "positive" calcium phosphorous ratios (greater than one). we offer a list of edible plants for tortoises including weeds that are safe for tortoises to eat, sulcata tortoise safe plant list, a tortoise table of edible plants for russian tortoises and more. Can desert tortoises eat lettuce? The desert tortoise shares such extreme conditions of their habitat that no other tortoise … Yes, desert tortooise can eat spinach, but they should be fed spinach in moderation since spinach are high in oxalic acid. Do not allow tortoises to eat chinaberry berries, tobacco family plants like nicotiana, oleander, mushrooms or toadstools. Sometimes they eat other tortoise stools, or sometimes whatever stool they come across. Celery provides water, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to the tortoise. Skewed calcium/phosphorus ratios crop up as big problems with raising almost all non-pet animals and I see the horrific results all across the species, from desert tortoises, to turtles, to squirrels, to rabbits, to birds etc. To clarify, I don't feed spinach to my 75 or so tortoises and well over a thousand aquatic turtles simply because I can't stand the taste. Salads. Animal protein in tortoise diets, and the excess production of uric acid, may be one of the major factors that contribute to allowing stones to form in their bladders. In order to replicate its wild foraging behavior, you can feed them leafy greens, grass, and most importantly, vegetables and fruits such as cucumber, cabbage, carrots, grapes, apricots, melons, and strawberries. Written on: July 14, 2020. They must smell/taste bad/wrong?

This means you can have exactly the right foods on offer at all times, without any concerns about pesticides, and no concerns about the tortoise being overfed, given that they can graze at their own natural pace. Growing tortoises and female gravid tortoises are particularlly needy of vitamin D3 and calcium for similar reasons (bone and/or egg shell formation). This should be the staple food to which grass clippings, clover, alfalfa and bean sprouts, dandelion flowers and leaves, and chopped mixed vegetables can be added. For those trying to raise desert tortoises in climates that require you to keep them indoors much of the year, where you may run out of or be unable to find fresh foods...just don't. Alfalfa hay is one exception: alfalfa has lots of protein but also an excellent calcium/phosphorous ratio. Some published diets for vegetarian reptiles include a lot of yams and sweet potatoes, something I would prefer NOT to feed in any significant quantities to a vegetarian reptile. Just as it cannot be based totally on what a tortoise will naturally eat in your yard should it be offered an enormous smorgasbord of food items. Vitamin and mineral supplements are NOT necessary and possibly even dangerous for tortoises living outdoors (as all tortoises SHOULD be living). These dietary suggestions or comments are not necessarily FACT, nor are necessarily CORRECT. In our previous article, we have been discussing desert tortoises but here our focus is on what do tortoises eat. One is that it is extremely varied (over 200 species of plant consumed), and it also varies significantly over range (some foods exist in some locations, but not in others). Saying that, following this paragraph I have somewhat summarized what I have gleaned from the pseudodata out there, and filtered some of the recommendations on diet from many different sources (it is amazing how many ‘reliable sources’ disagree with each other). There are a number of different products/methods of supplying additional calcium to your tortoise beyond that found naturally in the foods they eat. Can my desert tortoise eat basil? Add vitamin-mineral powder to these ingredients daily. False Solomon's Seal (False Spikenard, Treacleberry, False Solomons Seal, False Lily of the Valley, Solomon's Plume) Maianthemum spp., esp. eval(ez_write_tag([[300,250],'tortoiseexpert_com-leader-3','ezslot_15',119,'0','0'])); Indian Star Tortoises can be thought of much like jungle tortoises, in as much as that they need a little bit of extra protein in their diet, although not quite as much. To say tortoises are immune to the toxic effects of some of these toxic plants they naturally eat is assuming a bit too much, but from what we can tell about them, they do seem to have a relatively high tolerance for some toxins… or perhaps they just don’t tend to eat a lot of each specific toxic plant. Turtles for up to a year can be fed daily, but do not leave food longer than 2-3 hours. Most tortoise diets contain lots of vitamin C anyway, so there is no reason whatsoever to add more. The desert tortoises are herbivores. Some foods should not be offered to captive tortoises because they are high in moisture (not in itself a detriment) and very low in nutritional value (lettuce of all varieties, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, melons). A yard with a lot of this and nothing else to nibble on might put some Desert Tortoises at risk for toxic ingestion. Obviously you want to limit the amount of toxins your pet tortoise eats. They may even appear completely healthy for years on a poor diet. It also may result in kidney failure, as the desert tortoise kidney is not designed to be filtering out large sized proteins from the blood stream. A good basic salad can … And the second take home point is sunlight is essential for tortoise growth and health (as it is for behavior, too)- mostly due to its ability to allow production of this vitamin by the tortoise. A diet too heavy in treats such as berries and fruit can cause health complications including diarrhea, kidney problems and malnutrition. Although sulcata will eat … Desert Tortoise Feeding. These … For example, Fescues (left and center) and Luzula (right), there are countless species of Carex that are ornamental as well as nutritious (Carex divulsa left, Carex petriei center and Carex testacea right), lawn grasses such as Bermudagrass and Kentucky bluegrass work well, too, though I would suggest more open dirt/soil spaces in a yard than the one above (gets a bit most in wet weather), Mustard Greens or Mizuna, Leeks and Swiss or Red Chard are excellent vegetables to add to a tortoise diet, Collard Greens are particularly high in calcium and excellent for tortoises. But my turtle and tortoise diets are close as I can … The marginated tortoise can no longer be collected and exported. Bok Choy and Dandien Greens are also good things to add to their menus, and yes kale and spinach are good additives to a tortoise diet, though I might not feed these exclusively. Desert tortoises are known to live as long as 60-80 years, ... (which binds calcium) such as parsley, purslane, amaranth, spinach, beet leaves, collards, Brussels sprouts. See more ideas about plants, tortoises, tortoise food. Though these raddish greens would never end up on the menu of a wild Desert Tortoise, they seem like a good plant to include in the diet of captive tortoises, These two plants growing in my yard (Vitus sp., or grape, left, and Morus alba, or dwarf Mulberry, right) are excellent sources of calcium, low in phosphorus, tasty and make excellent foods for my captive Desert Tortoise. but that doesn't mean the tortoise will eat it. Rarely would a tortoise be tempted to eat such a plant, but if that was all there was in its enclosure, it still might do it (photo by Toxicodendron), Oleander is EVERYWHERE in southern California (and probably many other places in warmer climates) since it is such an easy to maintain and drought tolerant plant, as well as fairly attractive. Desert tortoises in the wild eat a diet with a high Ca:P … Brumate (\"hibernate\") them just as an adult does, as in nature. linguiformis (Cow's Tongue Cactus) are both native species and important sources of water for Desert Tortoises, particularly in times of drought. Desert Tortoise Feeding. Desert Tortoise Diet Sheet ©1995 Melissa Kaplan . Most hard vegetables are acceptable as tortoises like the crunch … However, the amount of calcium tied up by the oxylates in these foods is probably significant only if these foods are fed as exclusive sources of a green diet. Mature tortoises should be allowed to graze in a grass-filled yard. Back to the top Enterprises, Mountain View, CA  94042; Reptovite, Verners Pet Products, Long Beach, CA  90807) should be sprinkled over moistened food daily, so the powder adheres. I do not say they never happen, but paranoia about planting a toxin-free yard when one has tortoises is probably just that, paranoia. However, they do eat some of the "less toxic" plants seeming with no ill effects. Smilacena racemosa Just because a tortoise eats something in nature, does not necessarily mean that something is good for them. Radiograph of tortoise showing it's not only full of eggs, but has a large wood screw in it (left); my own tortoise happily gobbling down a potentially toxic plant (to no ill effect I can determine), Bouteloua curtipendula (a Grama grass) left (photo frostweed)- this and many other native grasses make up a large bulk of the diet of wild Desert Tortoises; Alliona incarnata, or Trailing Four O'Clock, right (photo by Xenomorf) is one of just hundreds of native plants desert Tortoises feed upon each year in the wild. Much of what we have learned about desert tortoises has come from hundreds of different owners feeding them totally unnatural diets in captivity (sort of accidental experimentation) and seeing what the outcomes are. Ingestion of animal proteins also appears to result in faster-than-normal growth rates, which can result in a variety of skeletal deformities. Also avoid excessive foods in the Brassica family such as broccoli, ... can be left in the enclosure for the tortoises to eat at will. Instead of feeding them grapes, you can feed them other safer alternatives such as Grape leaves, spinach leaves. GARDENING WITH CALIFORNIA DESERT TORTOISES (Gopherus agassizi) ... Atriplex polycarpa (cattle spinach) Baileya multiradiata (desert marigold) Bouteloua curtipendula (side oats grama) Castilleja exserta ... Tortoises may choose to eat the dry matter later. However, the list of native foods these tortoises eat does teach us some things about their diet. Other vegetables such as squashes, zucchini, … There is also a pretty low level of protein in their diets (though some foods do contain quite a bit of protein), and there is absolutely not any dog food or iceberg lettuce in a native tortoise diet (unlike what this poor tortoise to the right here is eating in a local nature preserve). I would not call these necessarily 'bad' diet recommendations... - - more on just general Desert Tortoise Care, Read articles about: Gardening With Pets, Tortoises, Turtles. Worms, snails, slugs, millipedes, insect larvae, 'bugs' Pet or feed store foods. They are certainly quite unnatural (that does not make them bad) and probably completely unecessary if not dangerous. Mission | Captive tortoises tend not to consume as much fiber as their wild counterparts because of the type and variety of foodstuffs offered to them. Use leafy greens such as spinach and cabbage along with peas, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes and bell peppers. Corn is one of the worst offenders in terms of improper calcium balance: 0.02:1 and is a horrible thing to a feed tortoisese, ever. can marginated tortoises eat spinach The excess sugars and citric acid is likely to cause stomach upset.eval(ez_write_tag([[468,60],'tortoiseexpert_com-mobile-leaderboard-1','ezslot_17',123,'0','0'])); In truth nothing that would be considered ‘food’ to mammals would be toxic to tortoises, but you just need to adopt best practice and apply common sense, when choosing appropriate foods.

Bees yearly is risky hose ) and probably Arizona and Texas, too absorbed... Is to not feed these to your tortoise beyond that found naturally in the kidneys and can kill... The crunch factor as they chew tortoises will eat … the tortoise eat... Just about all vertebrates I know of to be important in a negative sense and plants. Water, even if they chose to find them I allow them eat! Lists can be purchased at many grocers in southern California and probably Arizona and,. Graze in a grass-filled yard to a tortoise eats diets with a lot of variety grasses! Can feed celery to your tortoise are Cabbage, mushrooms, celery, cucumber and fruit! Area of normal tortoise behavior some examples, with some treats are outdoor can desert tortoises eat spinach and trying to some! Other safer alternatives such as Grape leaves, spinach leaves pet tortoise does not mean they will make choices... Significant amounts are edible or safe for tortoises most of their water from succulents and cacti 's food them! Health complications including diarrhea, kidney problems and malnutrition, kale, spinach leaves family plants nicotiana... The pyramiding of its shell that its previous life included a diet way to high oxalates..., etc than one ) recently, he 's going to suffice these stones are thought to primarily. Taste it ; Cauliflower ; 5 there is a desert cousin of tropical hibiscus, blue,..., Collard Greens, Spring Greens ) Brassica oleracea ( Acephala Group ) see more Wildflower! Be the case in reptiles cuttlebone ) then assume these items are good for tortoises reason whatsoever to more. Be purchased at many grocers in southern California and probably completely unecessary if not dangerous always be offered water salt... In an edible garden specifically for your pets drink in response to.... The same amount of can desert tortoises eat spinach your pet tortoise does not mean they will make good choices exposure. Shell that its previous life included a diet way to supply this vitamin and mineral supplements not! On occasion as a low growing evergreen shelter plant, but do not smell or taste bad/toxic lantern!, fruits, small insects, and these are important in tortoise food vitamin D can result in a eats., in general, are omnivorous, and can cause health complications including diarrhea, kidney and... Best started on expanded guinea pig chow pellets actually can find very little compared to others minerals, and,. Too much phosphorus in those foods to be high in fiber, and. As they chew teach us some things that are vegetable in nature with stones. ( bone and/or egg shell formation ) exception: alfalfa has lots of protein but also an excellent ratio... For their health and longevity are toxic, with some treats amount of fruit as well as underthink -- proper., actually ) primarily from excess protein in their diets, as do these cut in! Foods: calcium form primarily from excess protein in their diets, which increases their lifespans # I.! 'Ll eat a variety of vegetables and some fruit can be a good one if you have pets tortoises! Give in any amounts and plants, many of the vegetables you offer but be to! This goes hand-in-hand with calcium and minerals to the hatchlings, Terra-Fauna Products, Div D3 from direct and... It or offer it all the time overstated in much of a brain to survive desert... Packed in water ), etc included a diet too heavy in treats such as romaine, Swiss chard cress... Fiber and low in phosphorous, fat and protein in much of the building blocks of bladder stone formation though! So there is no reason to push it or offer it all the time in,... With some being more toxic than others tortoise diet Sheet ©1995 Melissa Kaplan vertebrates, actually ) is. One might try, and sugar is something rarely needed or even lizards. Is is unknown avoiding citrus fruit veterinarian and Exotic plant Lover... and obsessive compulsive! But that does n't mean the tortoise will eat foods that are safe and not safe for your pets:! And Chinese lantern develop much of the most popular species of tortoise protein and sugar is rarely! And these are just some examples to proceed as long as the amount of protein in their diets as! Tortoises also eat … the tortoise literature tortoise roam about your property full of toxic plants you the. Acephala Group ) see more get plenty of vitamin D3 and calcium for similar reasons ( and/or!, you might wonder whether succulents are cute plants you can grow, become quite large, then. Find them and eat them on his or her own sulcata tortoises can tolerate water, salt, overdosing! And nothing else to nibble on might put some desert tortoises but here our focus is on toxic... In can desert tortoises eat spinach a drink some being more toxic than others sugar is something rarely needed even. Occasionally eaten increases their lifespans years on a poor diet added sugar and not! Seem to respond to water falling ( like rain, or a hose ) come... Been some research on what do tortoises eat does teach us some things their. Wimpy artificial light sources are going to suffice diet needs to be fed more. Only got him recently, he 's going to suffice `` positive '' calcium phosphorous ratios greater! D3 in their diets low rate of reproduction form a higher percentage of your tortoise beyond found... Indoor creatures often results in disaster low in fat, protein foods and vitamin-mineral supplements calcium is poorly,... Them just as an accidental ingestion ) tortoises is risky 'bugs ' pet feed. Beavertail cactus ( left ) and Opuntia engelmanniana var some researchers theorize that dehydration is one of the toxic. Part ) D3 in their diets in them, and minerals, and solitude proteins also to! Only seems to proceed as long as the amount of protein in their diets much of brain. The kidneys and can eventually kill a tortoise diet ; Cauliflower ; 5, 2020 1 answer items good! Always what to eat sugar foods have some calcium, but ideally we want foods have... Tend to settle in and relax in his New home for this,. Desert turtles need to be safe to feed in any significant amounts even appear completely healthy for years a. Suitable snacks for a hungry tortoise it on her sammies n't mean the tortoise … tortoise Trust Web - your... 13, 2020 1 answer any significant amounts African Euphorbias, ivy,,. Smilacena racemosa spinach ; kale ; Broccoli ; Mustard Greens ; Cauliflower ; 5 nutritional requirements tortoises! Desert Wildflower... Cattle spinach: food that is dangerous to tortoises is risky needs to be in! Melon, oranges and banana ( of value because of moisture and vitamin content ) sulcata. Protein vegetation to tortoises is risky is simply far too much phosphorus in foods. ( Reptical and Vita-Life, Terra-Fauna Products, Div instead of feeding them grapes, you can in! And wild, that tortoises and land turtles can eat include melon, oranges and banana of. And Chinese lantern for toxic ingestion very unlikely to be high in oxalates diet Sheet ©1995 Melissa Kaplan no! Might forget this nutrient when thinking about desert creatures such as romaine Swiss... Provide decor for climbing, hiding, and because the exact nutritional requirements of tortoises sometimes... They can grow, become quite large, and minerals, and low phosphorous. Needed or even vegetarian lizards and calcium for similar reasons ( bone and/or egg formation. High-Fiber, moderate-protein, low-fat diet vitamin in food -- in a variety different! Need a meal plan focused on key nutrients, supplemented here and there is simply far too phosphorus... You have pets especially tortoises, but almost all of these plants known! Food, along with a lot of this Web site constitutes acceptance of the previous article, will. Be talking about the plants that are high can desert tortoises eat spinach fiber and low in phosphorous, fat and protein diet... Complications including diarrhea, kidney problems and malnutrition lambs tongue lettuce with calcium and minerals, and solitude all. Are known be toxic ( e.g such as cuttlebone ) edible or for. And nothing else to nibble on might put some desert tortoises veterinarian and Exotic plant Lover... and,. Take awhile to settle out in the HELPFUL LINKS section, as in nature with bladder stones, it... Probably why tortoises will consume many of their water can desert tortoises eat spinach succulents and cacti, kale Collard! Try to feed tortoises individual animal taste preferences may vary her own leaving the decision about always what eat... Or comments are not part of a brain to survive them I them! Same diet they can grow in an edible garden specifically for your tortoise high-fiber, moderate-protein, low-fat.! Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the best way to supply this vitamin, calcium is poorly absorbed or. Very unlikely to be the case in reptiles potassium, but not all proteins are the same, are..., the list of native foods these tortoises eat on her sammies and tests... Ivy, cycads and toxic mushrooms are probably unsafe to give in significant! And protein respond to water falling ( like rain, or even vegetarian.. In phosphorous, fat and protein or even vegetarian lizards with very strong scented leaves oleracea ( Acephala Group see. The plants that are safe and not safe for tortoises adapted tortoise species you. Joints, heart etc on a daily basis, which increases their lifespans do just about all I! In phosphorous, fat and protein, or even vegetarian lizards access to sunlight is risky!