What do tortoises eat?

For your reptile to be in optimal health, in addition to the environment, you have to take into account what land turtles eat to provide a complete and balanced diet. In this article we will teach you the basic care for your reptile to be healthy and well cared for.

The land tortoise has become increasingly common as a household pet. They are easy to care for and can roam freely around the house without the need for an aquatic environment, making them much more attractive than water turtles. However, they need to have a terrarium with everything they need (temperature, lighting and bathtub, for example) where they can sleep and rest. In addition, they should ideally be placed in a patio with a garden, since they live better outdoors.

What do these turtles eat in the wild?

Land tortoises follow a mainly vegetarian diet, based on leaves, stems, roots, flowers, seeds and fruits found in nature. They may also eat, depending on the species and on an occasional basis, insects, earthworms, slugs, snails, grasshoppers, etc. A very common mistake in feeding tortoises as pets is to provide them with a diet with an excess of animal protein, something that is far from their natural diet. Land tortoises are also scavengers and eat animal carcasses as well as excrement.

It is impossible to imitate 100% the diet followed by these animals in the wild, but it is very important to try to make it as similar as possible for them to be in good health.

Feeding in captivity

Before knowing what land tortoises eat, you must take into account their species, since each one needs to follow a different diet. Mediterranean tortoises should not consume any animal, while tropical tortoises do, although in a very low percentage and occasionally.

  • Testudo: 70% of green leafy vegetables, 20% of other vegetables and 10% of flowers or fruits.
  • Geochelone: 90% green leafy vegetables and 10% other vegetables. Flowers and fruits are offered occasionally as an extra in the diet.
  • Omnivorous tortoises such as the Terrapene: 70% vegetables, 10% fruits and 20% animal protein.

Once we know to which genus our tortoise belongs, we must take into account some general conditions:

  • Foods should have a 2:1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus.
  • Vegetables should be as varied as possible.
  • In omnivorous tortoises, animal protein should be offered only occasionally. In vegetarian tortoises, never.

Even knowing what tortoises eat, it is very difficult to provide them with exactly what they need, so the diet must be supplemented with calcium, phosphorus and vitamin supplements, which are necessary to maintain a strong and healthy shell. To obtain vitamin D, it is very important to get some sunlight every day.

Food for tortoises and turtles

The food should be offered in small pieces (depending on the size of the turtle), mixed as a salad so that they eat everything.

An example of a daily diet for a Testudo would be:

  • 70% leafy vegetables: dandelion, clover, spinach, cabbage, chard, lettuce, turnip greens, collard greens, fresh grass, endive, celery leaves. It is not necessary to offer all of them daily, combine a few and change them every day for different ones.
  • 20% of fresh vegetables: broccoli, tomato, cauliflower, pumpkin, cucumber.
  • 10% fruit: apple, pear, orange, melon, watermelon, strawberries.
  • Powdered vitamin and mineral supplements, mixed with food once a week.
  • Don’t forget the water always available.

Now that you know what tortoises eat, it is important to know the forbidden foods that can harm their health:

Dangerous food for turtles

  • Legumes and grains: beans, corn, rice, lentils, peas, crackers.
  • Vegetables and greens: carrots, zucchini, peppers, asparagus, beets. This group can be offered occasionally, but it is preferable to avoid them.
  • Fruits: banana, grapes, peach, kiwi, apricot.
  • Mushrooms: mushrooms.
  • Sugars.

Food for tortoises and turtles

In Tiendanimal you can find different extruded feed for turtles such as Trixie and Zoo Med. They are complete and quality foods that allow you to feed your reptile more comfortably and quickly. However, they should never replace fresh vegetables and should never be the basis of the diet. Ideally, you should supplement them or use the feed when you do not have enough greens.

Now that you know what tortoises eat, get imaginative and create the best and most varied and complete salads for your chelonian. Remember that we have other interesting articles for you such as the alojamiento y el sustrato. Or the light and temperature. With these two items you can have your turtle like a queen.

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