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What Do Tortoises Eat?

Posted on 19th August 2022 by Green Lane Farm Team

There’s a lot of responsibility involved in looking after any kind of animal, and one of the most important things to consider is making sure that you’re providing the right kind of diet.

With common pets like cats and dogs, that’s generally not too much of a problem, because there are many commercial foods that have been carefully designed and developed over the years to meet their nutritional needs. But with less common pets, including the tortoise, you might need to take more care over what you’re feeding them.

The first thing to say about a tortoise’s diet is that although many people think they eat only a plant-based diet, they’re actually omnivorous like us! Some species will often eat things like insects, slugs and carrion in the wild, but generally it’s best to stick to plants and leaves when you’re keeping one at home.

The second thing to bear in mind is that there are a lot of different kinds of tortoises and, depending on where they come from, they may require different diets and prefer different plants and leaves. Be sure to check with your vet exactly what breed of tortoise you have before planning its diet.

Tortoise eating

Some of the more common breeds kept in the UK are:

  • Mediterranean spur-thighed or Greek tortoise
  • Hermann’s tortoise
  • Red-footed tortoise
  • Russian tortoise
  • Marginated tortoise

What can tortoises eat?

  • Common plants and leaves most tortoises eat include: dandelion leaves, clover, alfalfa, collard
    greens, Scotch thistle, mustard leaves and chicory
  • Common vegetables most tortoises eat include: carrots, curly kale, red cabbage, celery, cucumber and bell peppers
  • Common fruit most tortoises eat include: grapes, pears, apples, peaches and strawberries

Regardless of the breed, there are a few general rules you need to follow:

  • When buying plants, fruit and vegetables for your tortoise, avoid ones with chemicals in – try and stick to organic produce
  • Tortoises can eat lots of different things in a single day, so mix it up and don’t just keep feeding the same stuff every time
  • Feed them only a very little fruit – too much of the sugar that fruit contains isn’t good for them
  • You may need to supplement their diet with vitamins and minerals, especially calcium which is vital for their shell – these can usually be bought from your local pet store in the form of pellets
  • Remove any food left over at the end of the day and replace it with fresh food in the morning

Things not to feed your tortoise

There are a number of things you should avoid giving your tortoise. These include:

  • Citrus fruit
  • Buttercup
  • Daffodil
  • Rhododendron
  • Hydrangea
  • Rosemary
  • Foxglove
  • Iris
  • Avocado
  • Bean sprouts
  • Peas & beans

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Tortoises will generally have the sense not to eat things that are bad for them in the wild, but if they are fed them indoors they may inadvertently eat something that’s toxic to them. The best thing to do is to check before feeding them anything different or that you’re not 100% sure will be okay.

Here at Green Lane Farm Boarding Kennels, we’re experts at looking after all kinds of pets for those living in and around Chessington, Kingston and the wider Surrey area. Our expert and knowledgeable team will be able to make sure your tortoise is getting the right food to keep them happy and healthy while you’re away.

Get in touch with us now to find out more or to book a stay for your pet.

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