Can a Tortoise Eat Tomatoes? What to Feed a Tortoise

tortoise eating tomato

For most people, feeding a tortoise is not an easy task. Most don’t know what to feed them, and some are even scared of their prickly shells.

But many different types of food can be offered to the average tortoise. These foods vary from fresh fruit and vegetables to pellets and insects (alive or dead).

Let’s learn more about how to care for a tortoise and what a tortoise likes to eat.

Can tortoises eat tomatoes?

Yes, tortoises can eat tomatoes. In fact, one of the most popular fruits to feed a tortoise is the tomato. Tomatoes have high water content and are packed with nutrients that are beneficial to the reptile’s health, such as vitamin A and vitamin K, Vitamin C, lycopene, and beta-carotene.

However, it is important to note that not all tomatoes are created equal. While fresh tomatoes are perfectly safe for tortoises, those that are canned or pickled can be harmful. The high acidity levels in these foods can cause digestive upset in tortoises, so they should be avoided.

close up of tortoise eating tomato slice

How to feed tomatoes to your tortoise

When feeding a tomato to your tortoise, you might want to remove the skin and any seeds, as these can be difficult for a younger tortoise to chew. Cut the tomato flesh into small pieces so that your tortoise can easily eat it. You can offer the tomato raw or cooked. If you choose to cook it, make sure to not add any salt, spices, or oils.

Can a tortoise eat an unripe tomato?

Unripe tomatoes contain a chemical called tomatine. If ingested too frequently, or in high quantities, this chemical can cause adverse health effects. 

Tomato leaves and vines should also be avoided for this reason. Instead, make sure to only feed your tortoise ripe tomatoes. Accordingly, if you have any tomato plants in your garden it is a good idea to make sure that they are out of reach.

Can a tortoise eat a cherry tomato?

Yes, tortoises can eat cherry tomatoes. A cherry tomato can add some variety to your tortoise’s diet. Again make sure that you cut the cherry tomato into bite-sized pieces so your tortoise can enjoy this tasty and nutritious treat.

two tortoises eating a tomato

What will happen if a tortoise eats too many tomatoes?

Although tomatoes are a great source of minerals and nutrients, make sure to give them to a tortoise in moderation. Tomatoes are highly concentrated in sugar and because a tortoise does not exercise much, eating too many tomatoes can result in weight gain as they will not be able to burn off the excess sugar once it has been converted to fat.

If your tortoise eats too much sugar, it can get diarrhea which is uncomfortable and messy for your pet. Your tortoise’s beak is also delicate and eating too much sugary and acidic foods like tomatoes can lead to decay and other oral issues.

What else do tortoises like to eat?

A tortoise’s diet is a little different from the typical human diet. But what do they eat?

Well, it depends on what type of tortoise we are talking about, but most tortoises eat leaves, grass, fungi, and vegetables. Although most tortoises are herbivores, some are omnivores and will consume animal matter.

If you have a pet tortoise, you will need to feed it plenty of leafy green vegetables to ensure that it gets a varied and nutritious diet. Listed below are some common foods that  tortoises can eat:

  • Mulberry leaves
  • Fungi
  • Clover
  • Dandelions
  • Barley
  • Hay
  • Grasses – Alfalfa, Sowthistle, and Bermuda
  • Mushrooms
  • Melon
  • Apple
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Pear
  • Sweet potato
  • Worms
  • Snails
  • Slugs
  • Beetles

How much does a tortoise eat?

Wild tortoises typically forage for food throughout the day so keeping track of how much they eat can be tricky. However, if you have a pet tortoise, it is best to feed it a plate of food as large as its shell. This equates to roughly 5 percent of their body weight.

Tortoises need this large meal once a day for five days a week. The other two rest days give the tortoise’s digestive system a chance to catch up with the amount of food they need to consume.

Always feed tortoise fruit in moderation

Tortoises need a balanced diet to stay healthy, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy the occasional treat. Tomatoes make a good snack for tortoises because they’re high in Vitamin A and C, as well as other important nutrients. Just be sure not to give your tortoise too many tomatoes, as they can cause digestive problems and weight gain.

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