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Can Tortoises Eat Apples? What You Need to Know!

Genevieve Dugal

The tortoise is a perfect pet for people who do not want to vacuum all day long, who have ample outdoor space in the open air, and who are willing to take care of such a reptile for many years. If so, the peaceful and super patient tortoise will be your ideal pet reptile.

Its diet is not the most complex, but you should know that a tortoise does not eat only lettuce! Raw fruits, such as seedless apples, can and should be part of their diet. Just don’t make it the main part of their diet, and don’t be surprised if your tortoise stubbornly refuses to eat it: indeed, some of these peaceful giants can be real picky eaters!

divider-turtleAre Apples Bad for Tortoises?

No, apples are not bad for your pet tortoise. Moreover, they have many benefits for your pet reptile: it is a fruit rich in antioxidants, fibers, vitamins, and minerals. It has a relatively low content in sugars and calories compared to other more “fattening” fruits. Thus, the apple is a healthy snack for your tortoise. In addition, as it is rich in water, the apple has the advantage of being refreshing and hydrating, especially in periods of high heat such as summer.

Tortoises eating apple_Pavel Kruglov_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Pavel Kruglov, Shutterstock

What Is the Best Tortoise Diet?

Tortoises are primarily herbivores. They will require a mix of fresh vegetables (80% of the diet) and fruits (20%).

The food of the tortoise will depend a lot on the species to which it belongs. Among tortoises, there are several varieties with varying nutritional requirements. However, we can give you general recommendations to make your tortoise’s diet as balanced as possible.

Offer mixed meals with different types of vegetables, small portions of fruit, and a few extra supplements, such as herbs. This not only helps provide for your tortoise’s nutritional needs, but it also helps her not get used to just one flavor and subsequently refuses to eat anything else.

Other Important Tips

  • Tortoises love colorful food, so use a little creativity to create eye-catching dishes.
  • Wash all fresh foods, such as vegetables and fruits, to remove pesticides and other contaminants.
  • Next, cut the food into small pieces; remove the seeds if necessary.
  • Once you’ve chosen and cut your ingredients, toss them all together to create a beautiful, mouth-watering salad. This way, your tortoise won’t just pick what she wants and leave the rest untouched.
  • Don’t leave food all day; remove leftovers when mealtime is over.
  • Do not add salt or condiments.
  • Change the water once a day.

What Fruits Can Tortoises Eat?

Tortoises are especially fond of melon, oranges, bananas, kiwi, raspberries, blackberries, and grapes. Apple pieces are also an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Mango can also be offered, but be sure to remove any leftovers as it can attract wasps.

However, remember that fruit should not make up more than 20% of your tortoise’s diet; you should therefore offer fruit with lower sugar content to prevent obesity.

Tortoises side view eating tomato_TG23_Shutterstock
Image Credit: TG23, Shutterstock

How Often Should You Feed Your Tortoise Fruit?

Once or twice a week, you can give your tortoise some fruit in small quantities. In addition, it is essential to remove the seeds from the apples as they can be toxic due to the cyanide they contain.

As for the frequency of their “normal” meals, know that tortoises nibble throughout the day. Your tortoise’s hunger peaks when it wakes up and before sleeping. The ideal is, therefore, to feed her twice a day.

To feed your tortoise its meals, scatter her food all over your garden so that she can do some movement to collect her meal. In addition, in the wild, tortoises are apt to eat anything they find in their path and, therefore, are constantly on the move.

A little trick to get an idea of the daily ration your tortoise needs is to give her the amount of food her shell could contain.

What Vegetables Can Tortoises Eat?

You must offer your tortoise a variety of leafy vegetables, such as kale, collard greens, spinach. In addition, you can supplement your tortoise’s diet with a few carrots, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, cucumber, green beans, pieces of squash, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, and peppers. A few herbs like dandelions and mustard greens are an excellent addition to your peaceful herbivore’s diet.

What Foods Are Toxic to Tortoises?

Foods that are prohibited for tortoises are:

  • Legumes and seeds
  • Certain vegetables such as beets and zucchini
  • Mushrooms
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweets
  • Dairy
  • Dog and cat food
  • Any product of animal origin

divider-turtleFinal Thoughts

As you can see, apples can and should be part of a balanced and healthy diet for your tortoises. But, on the other hand, you should think of apples (and other fruits in general) as a tiny part of your pet’s diet, not an all-you-can-eat buffet. Indeed, you don’t want your tortoise to become a fussy eater and disdain her leafy greens just because she has access to her favorite treats all day long!


Featured Image Credit: Oleg Kozlov, Shutterstock

Genevieve Dugal

Genevieve is a biologist and science writer. Her deep love for capuchin monkeys, pumas, and kangaroos has taken her worldwide to work and volunteer for several wildlife rehabilitation centers in Bolivia, Guatemala, Canada, and Australia. As a Canadian expat, Genevieve now lives in Argentina, where she wakes up every morning to horses and cows saying hello from the vast plain next to her home office window. She is the proud mom of three rescued dogs, Lemmy, Nala, and Pochi, and a frisky kitten, Furiosa. Having the privilege of sharing her knowledge and passion for animals of all kinds is what makes her fulfilled and happy.