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Home > Turtles > Can Tortoises Eat Brussels Sprouts? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Safety Guide

Can Tortoises Eat Brussels Sprouts? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Safety Guide

Can Tortoises Eat Brussels Sprouts

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Brussels sprouts might be small in size, but they pack a real nutritional punch. If you’re wondering whether or not you have the green light to feed these cruciferous veggies to your tortoise, we have some good news—tortoises absolutely can eat Brussels sprouts, but you should avoid giving them too many.

Read on for the full lowdown and to learn more about a healthy tortoise diet.


Are Brussels Sprouts Good for Tortoises?

Brussels sprouts are a source of various nutrients, including vitamins K and C, and are high in fiber. Though there isn’t any information on how Brussels sprouts specifically benefit tortoises, they are considered safe to eat as long as they’re given in moderation.

The reason for moderation is that they contain goitrogens, which impact iodine absorption. Too many Brussels sprouts could contribute to an underactive thyroid gland. For this reason, they should only be fed now and then in small amounts, not at every meal. In any case, variety is the spice of life for turtles. Let’s take a closer look at a healthy diet for tortoises.

brussels sprouts
Image Credit: Matthias Böckel, Pixabay

What to Feed a Tortoise

In the wild, different tortoise breeds eat slightly different diets. The Hermann’s tortoise, Horsfield’s tortoise, African Sulcata, Leopard tortoise, and Indian Star, for example, eat leaf and stem-based diets.

On the other hand, some breeds eat more fruits. These include the Red-Footed tortoise, Yellow-Footed tortoise, and Elongated tortoise. Since diets may vary slightly, it’s a good idea to check with your vet the correct vegetable-to-fruit ratio for your tortoise’s breed.

In addition to a diet made up of plants, vegetables, and (sometimes) fruits, tortoises should always have access to clean water to drink and bathe in. You might want to soak your tortoise outside the tank a few times weekly, however, as they have a tendency to poop in their water bowls.

grassland tortoise eating dandelion in nature
Image Credit: Krasowit, Shutterstock

Plants & Edible Weeds

In general, pet tortoises’ diets mostly consist of plants/edible weeds and vegetables.

Plants and edible weeds make up the largest part of the diet and include (but are not limited to):
  • Dandelions
  • Geraniums
  • Chicory
  • Plantain
  • Hibiscus
  • Pansies
  • Chickweed
  • Heather
  • Hedge mustard
  • Shepherd’s purse
  • Coleus
  • Teazle
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Jute mallow


In addition to plants, tortoises should consume a variety of vegetables. These should be offered in smaller quantities than plants/edible weeds and each in moderation.

Options include:
  • Cauliflower
  • Lamb’s lettuce
  • Marrow
  • Courgette
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Watercress
  • Carrot
  • Parsnip
  • Pak choi
  • Brussel’s sprouts
  • Cucumber
  • Endive
  • Kale
  • Radish
  • Red leaf lettuce
  • White radish
  • Dill


How much fruit your tortoise eats will depend on what breed they are. Many popular tortoise breeds are Mediterranean tortoises, and these eat a diet that largely consists of vegetables and plant matter rather than fruits.

Fruit-eating species, for example, Red-Footed and Yellow-Footed tortoises, eat a higher percentage of fruits in the wild than Mediterranean species like the Russian tortoise. Some choose to offer a bit of fruit as an occasional treat to Mediterranean tortoises but be careful—too many fruits could lead to an upset stomach.

Again, we recommend discussing an appropriate feeding plan with an exotic vet due to the different needs of different species.

If you have a fruit-eating tortoise, popular safe choices include:
  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Grape
  • Apricot
  • Gooseberry
  • Melon
  • Tomato
  • Plum (pit removed)
  • Peach (pit removed)
  • Strawberry
  • Blackberry
Tortoises eating apple closeup
Image By: Oleg Kozlov, Shutterstock

Which Foods Are Dangerous for Tortoises?

Though tortoises can consume a wide variety of foods, some are toxic and should be avoided at all costs.

These include (but are not limited to):
  • Foxglove
  • Buttercups
  • Lupins
  • Daffodils
  • Crocus
  • Mistletoe
  • Avocado
  • Chilli peppers
  • Aubergine/Eggplant
  • Tobacco plant
  • Rhubarb
  • Ragwort
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Peony
  • Azalea
  • Rhododendron
  • Hydrangea
  • Hellebores



To sum up, tortoises can eat Brussels sprouts but only in moderation. Keeping things varied is key to keeping your tortoise happy and healthy, so be sure to rotate the vegetables and plants you offer. To reiterate, if you’re new to tortoise parenting, we strongly recommend discussing your tortoise breed’s specific dietary needs with an exotic vet as requirements can vary somewhat.

Featured Image Credit: Free-Photos, Pixabay

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