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Home > Turtles > Can Tortoises Eat Cucumbers? Nutritional Facts & FAQ

Can Tortoises Eat Cucumbers? Nutritional Facts & FAQ

Can Tortoises Eat Cucumbers

Tortoises are actually omnivores, which means that they will eat a wide variety of foods and food types, although they are commonly thought of as being herbivores. In the wild, tortoises would eat any carrion that they come across and would also eat snails. In particular, their shells, and can be seen occasionally eating bones for the calcium that they offer.

In captivity, tortoises are most often given a vegetarian diet that consists primarily of fruit and vegetables. Cucumbers can make up a portion of their diet because they do not contain any toxic ingredients and are low in calories. However, cucumbers are primarily made up of water and contain only trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, so they should only be fed once or twice a week.

Read on for more information on cucumbers, their role in the diet of tortoises, and some other foods and ingredients that can be fed to pet tortoises.

divider-turtleCucumber Nutrition

Cucumbers are approximately 95% water and can be a good source of hydration. They are also low in calories, so they won’t cause excessive weight gain.

Half a cup of cucumber contains the following:

Calories 8 kcal
Fiber 0.3g
Protein 0.3g
Carbohydrates 1.9g
Vitamin A 54.6 IU
Vitamin C 1.5mg
Vitamin K 8.5mcg
Potassium 76.4mg

The main benefits of occasional cucumber feeding are:
  • Hydration – Most tortoises will drink water from a bowl, but as with any animal species there are exceptions. Offering food that has a high moisture content is a good way of supplementing their water and ensuring that tortoises stay well hydrated. Cucumber is 95% water, and most tortoises enjoy eating it, which means that they get good hydration from this unassuming salad.
  • Vitamins A and C – Cucumbers do have reasonable levels of vitamins A and C—certainly enough to supplement other fruits given to them. These vitamins help maintain a strong and healthy shell and also support the immune system, protect organs, and prevent conditions of the eyes and skin.
  • Enjoyment – Cucumbers are fresh, taste cool, and have a nice crunch that most tortoises enjoy. Feeding the occasional cucumber treat gives you a way of providing food that your tortoise will enjoy.
  • Beak Grind – Cucumbers are somewhat crunchy, and this means that your tortoise will have to crunch and grind the food down. This can help grind the hardened section that hangs over their mouth (called the beak) down, preventing the need to have it manually ground by a vet.
Image by: PeterVrabel, Shutterstock

Why You Shouldn’t Feed Too Much Cucumber

Although cucumber is a good source of dietary water and is said to be high in potassium and fiber, there are several reasons you shouldn’t feed too much cucumber to a tortoise.

  • Calcium/Phosphorus Ratio – Cucumbers have minimal calcium and phosphorus, and they do not contain these minerals in the ideal 2:1 ratio that reptiles need. It is possible to balance this out by feeding other foods, but this poor calcium-to-phosphorus ratio means that you should avoid feeding too much cucumber too often.
  • Filling – Although cucumbers are low in calories, they can be filling. If your tortoise is eating a lot of cucumbers, it will fill them up without providing all of the necessary protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Feeding Cucumbers to Tortoises

Cucumbers should be given as a treat, rather than the main food source. Feed them once or twice a week. Slice the cucumber into thick slices and feed two or three slices at a time. Don’t feed it to them too much or too often.


The 3 Other Foods to Feed Tortoises

So, cucumbers can be fed occasionally and in moderation. They should not make up the majority of your pet’s diet. Below are three foods you can give your tortoise to help ensure a well-balanced diet and good nutrition.

1. Grass

Image By: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

Ideally, in good weather, you should let your tortoise out to graze on grass and even some of the weeds on the lawn. Grass is not only nutritionally beneficial for tortoises, but it needs grinding down, and the grinding motion can help keep the tortoise’s beak at a desirable length.

2. Dark Leafy Greens

romaine lettuce
Image Credit: BLACK17BG, Pixabay

Romaine lettuce is especially popular as a tortoise food because it is high in vitamin A. Other leafy greens, especially dark ones like kale, are also considered good food for most tortoises. Some owners sprinkle calcium powder on the greens they feed to help ensure a healthy diet.

3. Pellet Food

freeze dried pet food
Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

Commercial food comes in pellet form and should be balanced to include all the necessary vitamins and minerals in the correct amounts. Pellet food is also quite brittle or hard and, again, this helps your tortoise maintain their beak.


Cucumbers do not contain any toxic ingredients that will make a tortoise ill and they can be fed occasionally and in moderation as a treat. They are made up primarily of water, and while this does offer the benefit of ensuring good hydration, it also diminishes the nutritional content of the cucumber.

Feed a few slices of cucumber once or twice a week and ensure that the rest of your tortoise’s diet contains all the necessary vitamins and minerals, paying particular attention to vitamins A and C and to the calcium-to-phosphorus ratio of their diet.

Featured Image Credit: Amir El-Sayed, Shutterstock

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