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Most tortoise species have a diet that is comprised mainly of organic grasses, leafy greens, and small amounts of hard vegetables or moist fruits. A good preparation can be made a week in advance and fed daily in portions. While tortoises do appreciate some variety in their diet, this doesn’t have to be all that often. Giving tortoises the proper fresh nutrition is highly recommended when compared with the “tortoise feed” that you can purchase from pet stores.

All tortoises need pesticide-free (i.e. organic) plants for grazing. You can supplement store bought foods by growing them in your own backyard and letting your tortoises munch on it, after making sure your yard has been made escape-proof. Another way is to build a safe outdoor space for the tortoises, and seed it with the plants to let it grow naturally. When tortoises need to be kept inside during poor or cold weather, you can make plant-beds with the seeds and let them munch on them for good natural nutrition.

If you give your pets too much of the food that should only be given in small amounts, you risk causing serious health-problems. These can range from mild diarrhea to kidney disease. Found below is the guidelines for feeding MOST tortoises. However, we recommend seeing information on each individual tortoise as each can have different dietary requirements.

The general rule is 85/15.

85% Grasses & dark, leafy greens

Grasses (40% of Total Diet):

Rye grass
Alfalfa hay or pellets
Fresh clover
Clover hay
Sowthistle
Rice grass
Mallow
Bermuda grass

Healthy Leafy Greens  (<50% of total diet):

Watercress
Grape leaves
Chard**
Cabbage**
Collards
Endive
Kale**
Parsley*
Mustard greens
Spinach*
Dandelion greens and flowers
Turnip greens

* High in calcium oxalates that may cause metabolic bone disease, and may cause visceral gout (mineralization/crystallization of the soft tissues and internal organs). Limited intake.

** These are high in goitrogens, which harm thyroid function when consumed in excess. Limited intake.

15% Vegetables

Broccoli**
Sweet potatoes
Butternut squash
Acorn squash
Bell Peppers, red and green
Carrots
Turnip
Lentils
Green beans
Snow peas
Peas
Potatoes (cooked, plain)
Pumpkin and other winter squash
Brown Rice (cooked, plain)

**These are high in goitrogens.

Occasional Fruits

Oranges (not for baby tortoises)
Plums
Apricots (no pits)
Peaches (no pit)
Bananas
Cantaloupe (with scrubbed rind)
Figs
Grapes
Mangos (no pit)
Avocados (no pits or leaves)
Papayas (ripe, no seeds)
Berries
Pears (no seeds)
Apples (no seeds)
Tomatoes (not for baby tortoises)

Mix thoroughly these ingredients randomly, according to intake.

And lastly, flowers and houseplants for grazing snacks:

Nasturtium flowers and leaves
Pansies
Geraniums
Rose petals and leaves
Hibiscus flower and leaves
Violets
Snail vine (Vigna caracalla)
Petunias
Pothos

Feed sparingly as these are low in nutrition:

Radishes
Cucumbers
Sprouts (alfalfa, bean, and grain)
Corn
Zucchini

Don’t feed to your tortoise as they have zero nutrition:

Iceberg lettuce
Boston lettuce
Romaine lettuce
Red- and Green-leaf lettuce

A desert tortoise eating prickly-pear cactus fruit.

Water:

It is recommended to keep an abundant amount of fresh water available for your tortoise(s). A large shallow bowl is best. Keep in mind smaller tortoises and all hatchlings are at risk for drowning if they fall over onto their backs and are unable to right themselves while in the water (they like to climb in it many times).

Sunlight:

Sunlight absolutely necessary for your tortoise to grow up happy and healthy. The UVA rays in the sunlight promote normal behavior and appetite; the UVB rays are necessary to enable the animal to synthesize vitamin D3, a substance crucial most animals. Be sure, however, to provide some shade; this is especially dependent on the individual species’ requirements.  Being too hot is just as dangerous as being too cold. If regular direct sunlight cannot be provided for them, you must have UVB-producing fluorescent lights for them to use while they are being kept indoors.