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What Do Tortoises Eat?

Tortoise Diets (Land Turtle Feeding)

Tortoises, being primarily herbivorous tortoises, have a varied diet that includes a variety of vegetation and vegetables. Their digestive system is adapted to extract nutritional value from different plants. Therefore, understanding the nutritional needs of each species of tortoise is crucial for their well-being.

In captivity, ensuring a balanced diet for tortoises is essential. The best way to do this is to offer a variety of plants, including dark leafy vegetables, grass, hay, and weed. As a general rule, while they can enjoy fresh food like fruits occasionally, it’s essential to know how much fruit is suitable for them, as too many fruits can upset their dietary balance.

Interestingly, while most tortoises have a plant-based diet, very few species might act as opportunistic feeders, occasionally consuming animal-based foods like insects, worms, and mollusks. This behavior highlights the importance of understanding the eating habits of the different species of tortoises and their feeding habits

In this article, we discuss the dietary needs and preferences of the most popular tortoises kept as pets as well as what not to feed tortoises.

While many of us are here because we wish to find out what to feed our tortoises many have wondered, ‘What do tortoises eat in the wild?’ Generally, wild tortoises feed on grass, weeds, and shrubs found in their natural habitats.

It’s crucial to feed tortoises in a good place, such as a grassy surface, concrete, flat rock, or from a tray. This ensures that their body weight is well supported and reduces health risks. Avoid feeding on soil or gravel, as these might get ingested, leading to health problems. Additionally, always provide them with clean water in a shallow dish.

Commercial Diets, Nutrient Supplements, and Calcium Supplement Importance

Supplementing your pet tortoises’ diet with commercially produced diets is one way to ensure they acquire all the needed nutrition.

So what does a pet tortoise eat apart from the foods mentioned in the previous sections?

Some excellent commercial diets to offer include Rep-Cal Tortoise Diet, Grassland Tortoise Diet, and Mazuri Tortoise Diet. Other excellent choices include Fluker’s Tortoise Diet, Nature Zone Bites For Tortoise, Rep-Cal Maintenance Formula Tortoise Food, and Zoo Med Tortoise & Box Turtle Flower Food Topper.

Furthermore, for a healthy diet and to ensure healthy bones, it’s imperative to supplement the tortoise’s vegetables with calcium powder. I advocate for the Zoo Med Reptile Calcium, which doesn’t have Vitamin D. However, if your tortoise is housed indoors, supplementing with vitamin supplements, especially vitamin D3, becomes necessary. This is crucial in preventing metabolic bone disease, a common ailment among indoor tortoises lacking proper UV exposure.

Alternatively, you can offer cuttlefish bone. This provides calcium and helps with proper beak growth.

Tortoise Food List

Here’s a complete tortoise diet guide, detailing what to feed your herbivorous tortoises to ensure good nutrition and maintain their health.

Later in the article, when discussing specific types of tortoises like the Sulcata, female tortoise and young tortoises or juvenile tortoises might have slightly different ways to meet their nutritional needs. They might require different food sources to maintain their size of their shell and overall health.

Similarly, giant tortoises like Aldabra or yellow-footed tortoises from the tropics, known as tropical tortoises, might have specific needs. Always ensure to provide fresh water regularly and understand the maintenance cost associated with each species. If you’re unsure about feeding or notice changes in your tortoise’s health, a herp vet is a good place to consult.

Lastly, research on natural diet and consult experts in the field, such as Justin Gerlach, to further understand the right diet for your tortoise. With the proper care and balanced diet, you can ensure a healthy tortoise life for years to come.

Foods That Should Make Up 80% Of Their Diets

These foods can be fed to the tortoise daily (juveniles) or every other day (adults).

  • Bermuda grass (the chelonians can graze on bermudagrass lawns)
  • turnip greens
  • timothy hay
  • orchard grass hay
  • mustard greens
  • escarole
  • endive
  • dandelion greens
  • collard greens
  • cactus pear (prickly pear)
  • cactus pad/leaf (prickly pear)
  • alfalfa
  • broad and narrow leaf plantains
  • bindweeds
  • chickweed
  • hawkbit
  • nipplewort
  • violas
  • white nettle
  • flowers and leaves of  dandelions
  • flowers and leaves of hibiscus
  • flowers and leaves of rose of Sharon 
  • flowers and leaves of mulberry
  • flowers and leaves of a fig
  • flowers and leaves of clover
  • flowers and leaves of rose mallow

Vegetables and Fruits To Occasionally Feed Tortoises

  • grape leaves
  • cucumbers
  • fresh cranberries (fresh)
  • clover
  • cilantro
  • cherries (with no pit)
  • celery
  • uncooked carrots
  • cantaloupe
  • red cabbage
  • pears
  • peaches
  • pea sprouts
  • oranges
  • nectarines
  • honeydew melons
  • grapes
  • grapefruit
  • blueberries
  • blackberries
  • bell peppers
  • beans (pinto, lima, kidney, green, garbanzo)
  • fresh apricots
  • apples
  • uncooked yams
  • wheatgrass (pet grass)
  • watermelon
  • strawberries
  • raisins
  • radishes
  • uncooked pumpkin
  • prunes
  • pineapple
  • kelp
  • alfalfa sprouts

Foods To Rarely Feed Tortoises

  • soybeans
  • broccoli
  • beets
  • beet greens
  • tomato
  • Swiss chard
  • starfruit
  • rutabaga
  • rice
  • raspberries
  • potato
  • pomegranate
  • peas
  • parsley
  • corn
  • kiwi
  • red leaf lettuce
  • romaine lettuce
  • cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • banana
  • bell peppers

Some Foods To Avoid

  • Insects
  • broccoli
  • meat
  • bran
  • bread
  • pasta
  • dairy products such as cheese and yogurt
  • spinach
  • onion
  • iceberg lettuce
  • loose leaf lettuces
  • garlic
  • eggplant
  • Chives
  • Parsley
  • Spinach
  • Rhubarb
  • tomato leaves

Of course, the lists provided don’t include all the foods you can feed your tortoise, nor does it contain all the foods you mustn’t feed your tortoise. If you are unsure about a food choice, contact a breeder or herp vet. Some research online can also help you clear any doubts.

What Do Sulcata Tortoises Eat?

Sulcata eating leafy greens, most of which are a good source of Vitamin K
Sulcata eating leafy greens, most of which are a good source of Vitamin K

The sulcata tortoise also known as the African Spurred Tortoise is one of the most popular tortoise species kept as pets. While these species are massive, growing up to almost 3 feet and weighing up to 100 pounds, pet sulcata tortoises are easy to care for as they are desert tortoises.

The scientific (binomial) name of this chelonian is Centrochelys sulcata.

They are hard creatures and thrive with proper care. So what do these desert tortoises eat?

What Do Wild  Sulcata Tortoises Eat?

In the wild and in captivity, the Geochelone sulcata is strictly vegetarian. As desert tortoises, they get most of their water from succulents and cacti.

They also eat fibrous grass and weeds. Occasionally, they do eat fruits and blossoms.

What Do Pet Sulcata Tortoises Eat?

Since it’s difficult to feed tortoises the foods found in their natural habitat, you have to provide local foods that provide all the needed nutrients.

Feed pet sulcata a mix of dark leafy greens such as red leaf and romaine lettuce (or any of the darker lettuce, avoid iceberg lettuce as their nutritional content is low), mustard, and collard greens. Also, offer carrot tops and beet greens.

They also need to feed on grasses, weeds, and hay. I recommend a diet of alfalfa, timothy hay, and store-bought grasses for adult sulcatas. For juveniles, I recommend a mix of spring mixes and several leafy vegetables. Ensure that these foods make up about 80 percent of the tortoise’s diet.

In addition to the food items already mentioned, feed them dry pellet tortoise foods such as the Rep-Cal tortoise diet and the Grassland tortoise diet. This ensures they get all the required nutrients. Feed them these diets occasionally.

Sulcatas enjoy fruits, however, limit just how much you feed them. Fruits are high in sugar and too much sugar is bad for their health. You can offer fruits and berries once or twice every two weeks. Apples, bananas, figs, strawberries, and melons are all good choices.

Remember to dust their food with calcium and vitamin D3 supplements. Offer calcium twice a week and multivitamins once a week.

Don’t feed the tortoises on dirt or gravel as they can ingest rocks and soil. Feed them on a grassy surface, concrete, flat rock, or from a tray.

See our Sulcata care guide for more details.

What Do Russian Tortoises Eat?

Russian Tortoise in eating Dandelions
Russian Tortoise in eating Dandelions

The Russian tortoise is also known as the steppe tortoise, the Central Asian tortoise, or the Afghan tortoise. These chelonians make excellent pets. The Russian tortoise is a small species with adults reaching lengths of 5 to 10 inches. As small tortoises, they don’t take up much space and are easy to care for.

The scientific (binomial) name of this chelonian is Testudo horsfieldii.

What Do Wild Russian Tortoises Eat?

In the wild, Russian tortoises are herbivores. They feed on succulents and herbaceous vegetation such as grasses, flowers, twigs, twigs, leaves, and stems of native plants.

What Do Pet Russian Tortoises Eat?

What do these land turtles eat? Russian tortoises love to eat and will eat and destroy any outdoor plants which aren’t tortoise-proof. They like to eat broadleaf weeds but will accept any vegetable and leafy greens offered to them.

Provide these tortoises with spring mixes. (Mix the spring mixes with leafy greens). Leafy greens that I recommend include dark lettuces (such as romaine and red leaf lettuce), kale, turnip greens, and collard greens. Remember to vary their diet.

Plant dandelions, clovers, grasses, hibiscus, and other safe plants within their enclosure. As vicious eaters, expect them to eat the vegetation off these plants until there is nothing left.

You can partition up their enclosure, and rotate the tortoises between the separate spaces. This allows the plants to recover.

As always, sprinkle supplements over the foods fed to the tortoise and ensure they have drinking water when temperatures are high.

See the Russian Tortoise care guide for more details

What Do Indian Star Tortoises Eat?

Indian Star Tortoise - Geochelone elegans in Sri lanka walking in grass
Indian Star Tortoise – Geochelone elegans in Sri lanka walking in grass

The Indian star tortoise is so-called because of the star patterns on its back. It is sometimes simply called the star tortoise.

As you may have already guessed, this species is endemic to India. Apart from India, the species is also endemic to Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The chelonian lives in dry habitats.

The binomial name of the species is Geochelone elegans.

What Do Wild Indian Star Tortoises Eat?

As with most turtles, the Indian star tortoise is predominantly herbivorous. It is safe to consider the species a herbivore. The foods they eat in the wild include fruits, grasses, flowers, and herbaceous leaves.

Occasionally, they are also known to consume carrion, insects, and even dung, but this is rare. The species can also survive for long periods without food.

What Do Pet Indian Star Tortoises Eat?

In captivity, these turtles eat a wide range of plants.

Offer them leafy greens and vegetables such as Brussel tops, carrot, clover, coriander, curly kale, dandelion, honeysuckle, leafy salads, parsley, rocket, spring greens, bell pepper, courgette, parsnip, and watercress.

Grasses, weeds and other fibrous plants such as plantains, bindweeds, chickweed, corn poppy, goat’s beard, hawkbit, nipplewort, violas, and white nettle should be offered.

See the Indian Star Tortoise care guide for more details

What Do Marginated Tortoises Eat? 

Marginated Tortoise (Testudo marginata marginata) walking in straw in Athens, Greece
A Marginated Tortoise (Testudo marginata marginata) walking in straw in Athens, Greece . – Source

The binomial name of this turtle is Testudo marginata. This turtle, like most from the genus Testudo, is endemic to the Mediterranean region and southern Europe. You can find it in the Balkans, Italy, and Greece.

This turtle is the largest tortoise in Europe capable of reaching a mass of about 11  lb or 5 kg.

This turtle brumates through the winter.

What Do Wild Marginated Tortoises Eat?

In the wild, Testudo marginata feeds on plants (mostly herbs) that can be found in the Mediterranean.

What Do Pet Marginated Tortoises Eat?

This turtle feeds on herbs in its native range. As such offer similar foods. Offer leafy greens only and no fruits. Some good leafy greens include dandelion greens, endive, collard greens, turnip greens, cilantro, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, and watercress.

In addition to this also offer Mazuri LS Tortoise Food and Zoo Med Grassland Tortoise Food.

Offer desert plants such as prickly pear cactus, globe mallow, and sage. Mulberry trees are also an excellent source of roughage for this species.

See our Marginated Tortoise Care Guide for more details.

What Do Egyptian Tortoises Eat?

Egyptian Tortoise (Testudo kleinmanni) on sand with black background
Egyptian Tortoise (Testudo kleinmanni) on sand with black background

The Egyptian tortoise is also known as the Negev tortoise, the Leith’s tortoise, or the Kleinmann’s tortoise. This chelonian is endemic to Egypt, Israel, and Libya although the species is likely extinct in Egypt and can be only found in Libya. 

The binomial name of this chelonian is Testudo kleinmanni.

This turtle is quite small and as such commonly kept as a pet. The turtle lives in arid and semi-arid ecosystems.

What Do Wild Egyptian Tortoises Eat?

The diet of this turtle in the wild is unknown. This is down to the limited numbers in existence in the wild.

What Do Pet Egyptian Tortoises Eat?

It is recommended to feed subadults and adults a mix of leafy greens, grasses, weeds, and other fibrous plants about four times a week. On the other three days, you can offer them treats such as hibiscus flowers and leaves, mallow, and even sea lavender leaves. You can also allow them to graze on Bermuda grass. 

Babies should be fed dark leafy greens such as plantain greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, dark lettuce, collard greens, tender green, and watercress. 

Feed them daily or every other day. As with other tortoises, the Testudo kleinmanni will only eat as much as it needs.

You can also offer fruits such as apples and strawberries on weekends – small portions only.

Avoid greens high in oxalic acids such as spinach, parsley, chives, and rhubarb.

See our Egyptian Tortoise Care Guide for more details.

What Do African Pancake Tortoises Eat?

Pancake Tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri) sitting on a rock in Samburu, Kenya
A Pancake Tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri) sitting on a rock in Samburu, Kenya. – Source

This turtle is usually referred to as the pancake tortoise. This name is down to the flattened nature of their shells.

This flat shape makes them light and quite fast. They can run, dash, and climb their rocky habitat.

The scientific name of the species is Malacochersus tornieri.

The species can be found in Kenya and Tanzania.

What Do Wild African Pancake Tortoises Eat?

In the wild, Malacochersus tornieri feed on vegetation and dry grasses.

What Do Pet African Pancake Tortoises Eat?

Offer our pet pancake tortoise a variety of foods. These include leafy greens such as plantain greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, dark lettuce,  collard greens, hibiscus leaves and flowers, tender green, and watercress; hay; grasses such as Bermuda grass, and vegetables such as carrots, squash, endive.

You can also offer commercial diets.

As with all the other turtles supplement their diet with calcium powder and multivitamins. Offer calcium twice a week and multivitamins once a week.

See our Pancake Tortoise Care Guide for more details.

What Do Burmese Mountain Tortoises (Asian Forest Tortoises) Eat?

Burmese Mountain Tortoise (Manouria emys) in grass and sand in Sumatera Barat, Indonesia
A Burmese Mountain Tortoise (Manouria emys) in grass and sand in Sumatera Barat, Indonesia. – Source

This chelonian is known as the Asian forest tortoise, brown tortoise, or mountain tortoise.

Alternatively, it is also known as the Burmese mountain tortoise. This critically endangered species is considered one of the most primitive tortoises still extant.

The binomial name of this species is Manouria emys.

What Do Wild Burmese Mountain Tortoises Eat?

The species is considered a folivore as it feeds mostly on leaves and grasses. The species also feed on fruits and vegetables.

The species is known to feed on seeds, nuts, and grains. It also feeds on fungus. Although the species is herbivorous, it has been known to eat small animals such as amphibians and tiny invertebrates.

What Do Pet Burmese Mountain Tortoises Eat?

The care of Manouria emys (the binomial name of the mountain tortoise) can be tricky. They are not easy pets to keep. Regardless of this feeding them is not too difficult.

Offer substantial meals every other day but offer food every day. This turtle will eat local foliage, weeds, and grasses.

Offer them grasses, cactus pads with the spines removed, broad-leaf and narrow-leaf plantain, bamboo shoots, and elephant ears. Also, offer them flowers and leaves of dandelions, hibiscus, rose of sharon, mulberry, fig, clover, and rose mallow.

You can also offer a commercial diet and supplementation weekly.

Leafy greens to offer include green beans, zucchini, squash, carrots, sweet peppers, sweet potatoes, endive, and mustard greens.

Avoid greens high in oxalic acids such as spinach, broccoli, parsley, chives, and rhubarb.

See our Burmese Mountain Tortoise Care Guide for more details.

What Do Elongated Tortoises Eat?

Elongated Tortoise (Chelonoidis microphyes) walking on concrete by greenery in Chumphon, Thailand
A Elongated Tortoise (Chelonoidis microphyes) walking on concrete by greenery in Chumphon, Thailand. – Source

The binomial name of the elongated tortoise is Indotestudo elongate.

The species is endemic to India, Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal, Vietnam, and other parts of southeastern Asia. In Ban Kok in Thailand, these chelonians can be found everywhere.

What Do Wild Elongated Tortoises Eat?

In the wild, the species mostly feed on fruits and soft leaves. Occasionally, they eat carnivore scat, carrion, and mushrooms.

What Do Pet Elongated Tortoises Eat?

Feed younglings daily or four times a day. Feed adults every other day. Offer calcium powder twice a week and multivitamin supplements once a week.

Most of the food fed the species should be leafy greens such as mustard green, romaine, dandelion greens, turnip greens, dark lettuce,  collard greens, endive, and bok choy.

Offer fruits occasionally such as apples, and strawberries.

You can also offer them mealworms, and worms in small amounts.

What Do Chaco Tortoises Eat?

Chaco Tortoise (Chelonoidis chilensis) in enclosure on wood chip substrate
Chaco Tortoise (Chelonoidis chilensis) in enclosure on wood chip substrate

The Chaco tortoise is also known as the southern wood tortoise, the Patagonian tortoise, or the argentine tortoise. This turtle is endemic to South America, specifically Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina.

The scientific name of the species is Chelonoidis chilensis. This species is predominantly herbivorous.

What Do Wild Chaco Tortoises Eat?

In the wild, Chelonoidis chilensis feeds on cactus pads, shrubs, grasses, and fruits.

What Do Pet Chaco Tortoises Eat?

Offer this turtle leafy greens, weeds, and grasses. These include broad and narrow-leaf plantains, clovers bindweeds, chickweed, corn poppy, goat’s beard, hawkbit, nipplewort, violas, white nettle, Brussel tops, carrot, clover, coriander, curly kale, dandelion, honeysuckle, leafy salads, parsley, rocket, spring greens, bell pepper, courgette, parsnip, and watercress.

Offer calcium (twice a week) and multivitamin supplements (once a week).

What Do Red-Footed Tortoises Eat?

Red-footed Tortoise (Chelonoidis carbonaria) on small pebbles and grass in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil
A Red-footed Tortoise (Chelonoidis carbonaria) on small pebbles and grass in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. – Source

The red-footed tortoise is a south American tortoise. These small tortoises are popular pets all over the world.

While the length of an average adult red-footed tortoise is 12 inches, they can grow to be over 16 inches. Their shells, limbs, and heads are covered in dark red spots which gives them their common name.

The scientific (binomial) name of this chelonian is Chelonoidis carbonarius.

What Do Wild  Red-Footed Tortoises Eat?

The red-footed tortoise is not a strict herbivore as they also eat animal matter. These omnivores eat fruits during the wet season and flowers during the dry season

Throughout the year, they supplement this with carrion, stems, fungi, dead and living foliage, soil, sand, and pebbles. You read right. The red-footed tortoise ingests soil occasionally.

What Do Pet Red-Footed Tortoises Eat?

These tortoises are omnivores and eat a mix of plants and animal matter. However, their diet should be composed mostly of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and leafy greens such as dandelion greens, mustard greens, escarole, and endive.

They also graze on plants such as hibiscus flowers and leaves, grape leaves, and mulberry leaves.

Feed babies and juvenile spring mix with leafy greens such as dark lettuce, turnip greens, collard greens, and kale.

These tortoises need more protein than other tortoises. You can supplement their diet with the Mazuri Tortoise Diet which is high in protein compared to other tortoise diets.

You can also offer an adult 1 ounce of low-fat cat food or lean meat once every two weeks. If you must offer them animal protein, it should be minimal. Worms such as the superworms and mealworms can also be used to supplement their diet once every two weeks.

See the Red-footed Tortoise Care Guide for more details

What Do Greek Tortoises & Hermann’s Tortoises Eat?

Greek Tortoise (Testudo graeca) by Jim the Photographer
Greek Tortoise (Testudo graeca) by Jim the Photographer

Since these two species are closely related, they have the same dietary needs.

As Mediterranean tortoises, they inhabit the same geographical range. Other tortoises in the genus Testudo (Mediterranean tortoises) include the Egyptian tortoise (Testudo kleinmanni), and the marginated tortoise (Testudo marginata).

Both Greek and Hermann’s tortoises are alike and have the same dietary requirements.

The scientific (binomial) name of the Greek tortoise is Testudo graeca and the binomial name of Hermann’s tortoise is Testudo hermanni.

What Do Wild Greek Tortoises & Hermann’s Tortoises Eat?

What do these tortoises eat in the wild?

Mediterranean tortoises are primarily herbivores that feed on ground vegetation such as flowers, leaves, and grass. When vegetation is scarce, they may turn to animal materials such as slugs, snails, worms, and other small insects to fulfill their dietary needs.

What Do Pet Greek Tortoises & Hermann’s Tortoises Eat?

While both the Greek and Hermann’s tortoises accept animal protein such as cat food, avoid feeding them this. Instead, feed them foods high in fiber such as grass and weeds.

These tortoises love greens such as fresh parsley, dandelion greens, endive, and collard greens. Chop up Timothy hay, or alfalfa and add this to their meal. This ensures they get the needed fiber.

Supplement their diet with commercial tortoise foods such as the Mazuri tortoise diet. Additionally, lightly dust all the food offered to them with calcium (twice a week) and vitamin D3 powder (once a week).

See the Greek Tortoise Care Guide & Hermann’s Tortoise Care Guide for more details.

What Do Leopard Tortoises Eat?

Leopard Tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis) sitting in green and grass in Emining, Kenya
A Leopard Tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis) sitting in green grass in Emining, Kenya. – Source

The leopard tortoise is a stunning marked tortoise endemic to Eastern and Southern Africa. These markings closely resemble that of a leopard’s fur, thus their common name.

These markings fade as they age. Adult leopard tortoises can reach lengths of 16 inches.

The scientific (binomial) name of this chelonian is Stigmochelys pardalis.

What Do Wild  Leopard tortoises Eat?

In the wild leopard tortoise are folivores, with plant material making up about 98 percent of their diet.

They may eat fruits and berries which make up the remaining 2 percent of their diet. Unlike most herbivore tortoises that mostly consume grasses, the leopard tortoise mostly consumes forbs.

What Do Pet  Leopard tortoises Eat?

As herbivores feed the leopard tortoise with high-fiber foods such as grass hay (instead of timothy hay and orchard grass hay), and broad leafy weeds.

In addition to this offer sow thistles, plantain weeds, clover, and succulents. Succulents and cacti to offer include prickly pears, aloe vera, and spineless Opuntia cactus pads.

Supplement their weed and grass diet with dark leafy greens rich in vitamins A and C and calcium such as red leaf lettuce, endive, escarole, romaine, mustard greens, turnip greens, collard greens, and dandelion greens. Treats to feed this tortoise include parsley, cilantro, mint, and dill. Hibiscus flowers and grape leaves are also acceptable.

Sprinkle calcium (twice a week) and vitamin D3 (once a week) powder on their food.

Desert/Mediterranean tortoises need water only when the temperature is high. The leopard tortoise, on the other hand, drinks a lot of water. Provide water at all times.

See the Leopard Tortoise Care Guide for more details.

48 Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do tortoises eat?

Tortoises do not have teeth, instead, they have a beak that they use to tear their food which is mostly leaves and flowers.

They then process to swallow the leaves and flowers they bite and tear up. Here is a video of two tortoises eating salad.

2. How much do tortoises eat?

When it comes to the amount of food to offer the chelonian, you should allow it to eat as much as it can. As far as you are offering mostly grasses and weeds, the tortoise should be fine. 

3. What can tortoises not eat?

There are several foods that tortoises cannot read. Some of these include bread, bran, pasta, onions, garlic, rhubarb, and dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. Avoid offering tortoises processed human food, and foods high in oxalic acids such as spinach, meats, and insects.

4. Can tortoises eat raspberries?

You can offer new leaf growth as well as flowers to your pet tortoise. They can and will end it.

You can also offer the fruit to fruit-eating tortoises such as the ones in this article (do not offer fruits to Mediterranean tortoises) including but not limited to the mountain, elongated, Chaco, and red-footed tortoises.

5. Can tortoises eat pears?

Tortoises can eat the fleshy parts of the pear but not the seeds or pips. Remove all the seeds, pips, and stones of all fruits before you offer them to your pet.

6. Do tortoises eat watermelon?

Some species such as mountain, elongated, Chaco, and red-footed tortoises can eat watermelon. Almost all tortoise species kept as pets can and do eat melons.

However, offer them sparingly as they are high in sugar. This includes honeydew, ogen melon, watermelon, muskmelon, cantaloupe, and galia.

7. Can a tortoise eat a banana? 

Yes, a tortoise can eat a banana. However, there is a catch.

Only fruit-eating species can eat bananas and even so, you can only offer bananas in limited amounts because of the high phosphorus level and high sugar content. It may be best to not offer it at all.

8. Can tortoises eat apples?

Yes, chelonians can eat apples. Similar to other fruits, only offer them to fruit-eaters. Also, offer them in small amounts as it contains a lot of sugar.

9. Can tortoises eat grapes?

Yes, but only fruit-eating tortoises can eat grapes. You should only offer them occasionally as they are high in sugar.

10. Can tortoises eat strawberries?

Yes, but only fruit-eating species can eat strawberries. Regardless, they should be offered in limited amounts.

11. Can tortoises eat blueberries?

Only offer blueberries to fruit-eating species.

12. Can tortoises eat oranges?

Because of citrus’s strong smell and taste, do not offer them to tortoises. 

13. Can tortoises eat kiwi?

Yes, fruit-eating tortoises can eat kiwi. 

14. Can tortoises eat peaches?

Yes, fruit-eaters can eat peaches. Nevertheless, offer them in low quantities, for example twice or thrice a month.

15. Can tortoises eat blackberries?

Yes, they can eat blackberries. However, only fruit-eaters can eat them. These include the tortoises in this article. Offer fruits in very limited quantities. 

16. Can tortoises eat carrots?

Yes, they can eat carrots. However, offer them in moderation as they are high in oxalic acid and protein

17. Can a tortoise eat tomatoes?

Yes, they can eat tomatoes and they do enjoy them a lot. However, the high sugar content means that you have to offer them sparingly. You can also use them to administer medication to the tortoise.

18. Can tortoises eat celery?

While it is not toxic to the tortoise it has high oxalate levels, and high sodium & carbohydrate contents. The strong taste also deters tortoises. It is also tough to eat. I don’t recommend offering it to your tortoise. 

19. Can tortoises eat broccoli?

While they can eat broccoli, the high level of goitrogens in it means that it is not a good idea to offer them to the tortoise.

20. Can tortoises eat spinach?

While they can eat spinach. The high level of oxalic acids in spinach means that it is not advisable to feed it to your pet tortoise.

21. Can tortoises eat cabbage?

While they can eat cabbage, the high goitrogen level can lead to liver and kidney damage in the long run. The same goes for red cabbage.

22. Can tortoises eat cilantro?

Yes, they can eat cilantro also known as coriander. However, the high oxalic acid content means that they should only eat them rarely.

23. Can tortoises eat green beans?

Yes, they can eat green beans. You should offer them to the turtles in moderation. They can also eat string beans, french beans, and runner beans.

24. Can tortoises eat bell peppers?

Yes, they can eat bell peppers but you should only offer them in limited amounts. The calcium-to-phosphorus ratio is also not the best – 1:2.1. I recommend not offering bell peppers at all.

25. Can tortoises eat kale?

Yes, they can eat kale but only in moderation. This includes curly kale, spring greens, and collard greens. 

26. Can a tortoise eat radish?

While they can eat radish leaves in moderation, the roots are high in glucosinolates and should not be offered.

27. Can tortoises eat cauliflower?

While they can eat cauliflower in small quantities. I recommend not feeding it to them. This includes the leaf. 

28. Can tortoises eat grass?

Yes, they can eat grass and enjoy grazing. If you have a Bermuda grass lawn, you should allow them to graze.

29. Can tortoises eat lettuce?

They can eat dark lettuce. Do not offer light lettuce such as iceberg lettuce.

30. Can tortoises eat romaine lettuce?

Romaine lettuce is healthy and you should offer it. It along with other leafy greens play an important part in the pet’s diet. 

31. Can tortoises eat iceberg lettuce?

While they can eat iceberg lettuce, do not offer it to them. It has minimal nutrients and will occupy space in the tortoise’s stomach causing it to eat fewer nutritious foods. 

32. Can tortoises eat butter lettuce?

Yes, butter lettuce can be offered. It is a dark leafy green and a healthy one.

33. Can tortoises eat tomato leaves?

Tomato leaves are highly toxic and should not be offered to the tortoise. Only ripe tomatoes can be offered to the tortoise and no other part of the plant.

34. Can tortoises eat celery leaves?

This plant is high in carbohydrates and sodium so I do not recommend offering it to your pet chelonian. They can eat it but it is unhealthy for them.

35. Can tortoises eat dandelions?

Yes, tortoises can eat dandelions. Offer them the leaves and the flowers of dandelions. It should be an essential part of their diet.

36. Can tortoises eat eggplants?

While tortoises can eat eggplants in small quantities it is toxic to them and can cause alkaloid poisoning which leads to diarrhea and vomiting. To avoid this, do not offer them eggplants.

37. Can tortoises eat collard greens?

Yes, they can eat collard greens. These should make up a vital part of their diet.

38. Can tortoises eat onions?

No, they cannot. Onions are highly toxic to all turtles. In small quantities, it causes digestive problems. In large quantities, they can cause severe health complications.

39. Can tortoises eat parsley?

While they can eat parsley, the high amount of oxalic acid in it means that it can cause kidney damage over the long term. Avoid feeding them to your tortoise.

40. Can tortoises eat red cabbage?

While they can eat red cabbage, it is not advisable to feed them cabbage since the goitrogens can have long-term negative health effects such as kidney and liver damage. If you must feed them cabbage, do so in limited quantities.

41. Can tortoises eat mint leaves?

Mint leaves are perfectly fine and you can offer some to your pet although it may not like the strong scent of mint.

42. Can tortoises eat peas?

Tortoises should not eat peas. It is high in phytic acid and protein. This is bad for the health of the chelonian.

43. Can tortoises eat chard?

Yes, they do eat swiss chard. However, you should offer tortoises swiss chard rarely.

44. Do tortoises eat meat?

In the wild, some species of tortoises eat meat (carrion – decaying flesh). Some of these species include red-footed, Indian stars, and elongated tortoises.

45. Can tortoises eat mealworms?

While several species of tortoises such as greek and elongated tortoises do eat mealworms, this is rare. Most tortoises do not eat mealworms.

46. Do tortoises eat bugs?

No, tortoises do not eat generally bugs. On rare occasions, some wild tortoises will eat small insects.

47. What do baby tortoises eat?

Baby tortoises eat the same food that adult tortoises eat and these include leafy greens like plantain greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, dark lettuce, collard greens, tender green, and watercress; and edible grasses, weeds, leaves, and flowers.

They can also be offered fruits occasionally (once a week in limited amounts) and commercial diets.

48. Can tortoises eat bread?

While they may accept and even eat bread when offered, bread is unhealthy to chelonians. It is high in processed carbohydrates and this is detrimental to the health of all turtles.


If you ever had the question, ‘What can tortoises eat?’, I hope this article has helped you answer that. Knowing the right foods to feed our reptile friends ensures that they are healthy and grow well. 

It is important to keep in mind that tortoises are primarily folivores and as such should be offered herbs, grasses, and weeds the most. This should then be supplemented with dark leafy greens and commercial tortoise food. You can also offer fruits occasionally.

Foods to avoid include foods high in oxalic acids and processed human food such as bread. 

If you have any questions, additional information, or comments, kindly leave them. We would love to hear from you.

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Vicky von Nothdurft

Wednesday 6th of September 2023

This is wonderful information but I have two tortoises that don't appear. One is tan with a tan shell and the other is red with an reddish orange shell. I live north of Houston, Texas, and, up until now, all my passing tortoises have been green and would come in for cat chow in the mornings. In fact, one of them would eat withe the raccoons for whom the feed was intended. I have pitures of both the afore-mentioned tortoises so could you help me identify them? I wondered if the tan was albino.

Thank you for any time you bend to this endeavor.