Feeding is one of the primary care requirements of sulcata tortoises. It is so important a topic that you MUST understand because it can either enhance your tortoise’s growth or shortens its lifespan.
Whichever is the result that you have is a factor of how rich or poor your diet is. I’ve seen many keepers feed fruits such as tomatoes and carrots to their pet sulcata tortoises simply because they thought the tortoise loved them.
Some others believed that sulcata tortoises get attracted to red colors and as such should be fed red fruits. It’s interesting to note that sulcata tortoises are desert-dwelling reptiles which means that they’re exposed to harsh atmospheric conditions in the wild.
For this reason, what they eat in the wild are grasses and weeds that are rich in fiber but low in protein. While it is okay to feed fruits and other brightly colored foods to them, these types of foods shouldn’t form the bulk of their diet.
Besides, they have special intestinal bacteria that help in digesting and extracting nutrients from the grasses and weeds that they eat.
Hence, when fruits are given to them in large amounts, the sugar and acid in the fruits alter the pH level of their digestive tract and kills the helpful bacteria in their intestines.
Once these helpful bacteria die in large quantities, they release harmful toxins that can get into the animal’s bloodstream and cause other health problems.
This is why knowing what to feed them is important and you should ensure to read this article to the end to find out what you should feed and what you should not feed to your pet sulcata tortoises.
What Do Sulcata Tortoises Eat?
Sulcata tortoises are herbivores. They feed on green leaves, grasses, and hays that are rich in fiber but low in protein and calories.
What Do Baby Sulcata Tortoise Eat?
Baby sulcata tortoises eat the same food as the adults but in more frequency than the adults. These include leafy greens and a variety of grasses.
While it is ideal to feed baby and juvenile sulcata tortoises everyday or every other day depending on the richness of the food, adults are fed three (3) times a week.
What Do Sulcata Tortoises Eat In The Wild?
In the wild, sulcata tortoises feed predominantly on grasses and green leaves. That is why they are called grazers.
What Do Sulcata Tortoises Eat In Captivity?
In captivity, sulcata tortoises are fed what they would normally eat in the wild. This includes grasses, weeds, hays, and flowers. To offer variety, they are also fed cactus and succulents.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Celery?
Sulcata tortoises can eat celery including the stalk. However, it’s not part of the food they should have every day or in a constant large amount in their diet.
Celery to sulcata tortoises only make up a part of their varied and complete diet. Why you need to feed celery to them sparingly is because celery leaves have high oxalate levels and the seeds have diuretic properties.
In a nutshell, the whole plant contains high amounts of sodium, carbohydrates, and a high calcium/phosphorus ratio which is not suitable for sulcata tortoises. As stated earlier, if you should feed celery to them make it once in a while and not an everyday food.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Carrots?
Carrots like with other types of foods listed below are food that should only be fed sparingly together with their staple grass.
Where your tortoise isn’t accepting grasses as supposed to, ensuring that it accepts vegetables is important. The rule of thumb in feeding sulcata tortoises is “the greener the better”.
They need the chlorophyll in green grasses and vegetables than they need water and sugar from fruits.
However, if you’ve been up to the task of feeding them a healthy diet, a little bit of carrots a couple of times a month mixed with other greens wouldn’t hurt anything.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Bananas?
Sulcata tortoises can eat bananas but in moderation. Aside from the fact that bananas are rich in sugar and water with no fiber content, one other problem is that bananas for sulcatas stick a lot to their beak causing rot if not properly monitored. This often leads to serious health problems.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Broccoli?
No, as much as you can avoid feeding broccoli to your sulcata tortoise. Broccoli contains goitrogens that interfere with thyroid activity and could damage the liver and kidneys.
Therefore, although broccoli is not actually toxic for humans or other reptiles, we would advise you not to feed it to your tortoise.
Check our guide on greens and vegetables for sulcata.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Watermelon?
Sulcata tortoises do enjoy eating watermelon. But give them watermelon only as a treat occasionally and not all the time.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Alfalfa Hay?
Alfalfa hay is richer in protein than grass hays. For this reason, you’re to avoid feeding mainly alfalfa hay to your pet sulcata tortoise.
Apart from being rich in protein, it is also high in oxalic acid and can cause stone formation within the kidney and bladder.
Thus, mixing it with other rich fiber grasses every once in a while is the rule of thumb.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Kale?
Yes, but you would have to be extra careful while offering kale to your tortoise. Kale as a vegetable has high amounts of calcium which your sulcata would need.
However, it contains as many oxalic acids and goitrogens as with other kinds of goitrogenic plants such as dandelions. The effect of this on your tortoise is that it’ll prevent the intake of iodine thereby causing thyroid problems.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Spinach?
Spinach is one of the foods we would recommend you should not feed to your pet sulcata tortoise although feeding it to your tortoise once in a while wouldn’t cause any great damage.
Spinach has high amounts of calcium, it also contains oxalic acids that will prevent the absorption of calcium into your tortoise’s body.
Besides, spinach has high levels of calcium oxalates in the form of some needle-shaped crystals known as raphides, such that when consumed in large quantities will affect the tortoise’s mouth and throat.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Apples?
Sulcata tortoises can eat apples but feed it to your tortoise occasionally. Majorly as a treat and not its main diet.
Apple contains lots of sugar that can cause intestinal problems to your pet when fed in large quantities. As sulcata tortoises aren’t built to handle such high amounts of sugar, offering it in moderation is the key.
Note Also That Apple Seeds And Pips Contain Cyanide Which Is Highly Poisonous And Should Be Avoided At All Costs.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Cucumbers?
Cucumber can be fed to sulcata tortoises but sparingly. Aside from a 4% dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals; cucumber has very little to no nutritional value that your sulcata tortoise will benefit from.
This is because it contains about 96% of water. Owing to the high water content of cucumber, it is often prescribed to sulcata tortoise breeders to treat dehydration.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Meat?
No, do not feed meat to your sulcata tortoise. In the wild, they are strictly herbivores and that should be maintained in captivity. Giving them varieties of vegetables and greens is ideal for their growth. Besides, they do not need much protein in their diet.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Zoo Med Grassland Tortoise Food?
Yes, Zoo Med Grassland Tortoise Food is highly nutritious and recommended for feeding to sulcata tortoises. It is made from various grasses rich in fiber but low in protein.
It is also fortified with essential vitamins and minerals which are needed by your tortoise for healthy and steady growth.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Mint?
Yes, sulcata tortoises can comfortably eat mint leaves, be it spearmint, garden mint, basil, or apple mint. And any of these leaves can be planted in their enclosure to mimic the wild.
But whether your tortoise is going to eat mints is its individual choice. Some tortoises found the strong mint aroma disgusting.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Orchard Hay?
To some extent, sulcata tortoises can and do eat orchard hay but I wouldn’t advise you to feed it to your sulcata tortoise all the time.
The reason I recommend feeding your orchard hay sparingly to your tortoise is because orchard hay is rich in both calories and protein. Its protein content measures between 10 – 12%.
Although orchard hay has high amounts of fiber as well, its high protein and calorie content may affect the tortoise as their body can’t handle high amounts of protein and calories.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Tomatoes?
Yes, sulcata tortoises can eat tomatoes. But should they be fed tomatoes? Tomatoes like carrots contain high amounts of sugar and the digestive system of sulcata tortoises cannot digest sugar properly.
Hence, this will cause digestive and kidney problems. However, tomatoes can only be given once in a while. That is once in two months as a treat together with their staple food.
In a nutshell, in as much as you’re feeding your tortoise grassy, high fiber, weedy, and high calcium diet; offering it a little tomato once in a while wouldn’t cause any harm.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Pecan Leaves?
Your sulcata tortoise wouldn’t die from having a bite of pecan leaves once in a while. However, we advise you to avoid feeding it to your tortoise.
Pecan leaves and the whole tree as a whole contain high amounts of juglone which is known to be toxic to its surrounding plants.
Although its high juglone content isn’t known to affect animals but its leaves are known to cause serious health issues such as laminitis in horses, gastric intestinal upsets, and seizures in other animals like dogs.
For this reason, you’re better safe by avoiding it than sorry. Chances are it’ll affect your sulcata tortoise if consumed in large quantities.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Rose Petals?
Yes, sulcata tortoises can eat rose petals. Any color of rose including the leaves is fine for them.
An interview with some breeders revealed that sulcata tortoises seem to love the red roses more than the other colors.
But before giving it to your tortoise, be sure that the plants are free from chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides
Grasses, hays, and greens are what sulcata tortoises need for healthy living and these foods should make up 90 – 100% of their everyday diet. The grasses and hays should be free of herbicide and pesticides as these chemicals will harm their health.
From this article, you can see that inasmuch as sulcata tortoises have a wide variety of foods to feed from, many of these foods are either toxic or low in nutrients to your tortoise. For this reason, such foods and fruits are to be fed in moderation or not at all.
While you can still feed some of the low in nutrient food or foods with oxalic acids and goitrogens, NOTE THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER FEED TWO OR MORE OXALATE AND GOITROGENIC PLANTS TOGETHER TO YOUR TORTOISE.
In fact, the total of goitrogenic and oxalate foods you should feed your tortoise in a month should not exceed the ‘sparingly’ range which is about once in a month or once in two months.