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Home > Turtles > Can Turtles Eat Chocolate? Our Vet Explains

Can Turtles Eat Chocolate? Our Vet Explains

Can Turtles Eat Chocolate

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Dr. Luqman Javed Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

Veterinarian, DVM

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

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Having a pet turtle can be a fun and interesting journey. One of the coolest things is to give your turtle a treat and see just how happy it makes them. It’s a great way of bonding with your pet. Unfortunately, not everything we see as a treat is safe for a turtle.

One of the biggest questions asked by turtle owners is can turtles eat chocolate? It may make sense considering the human love of this sweet treat and our want to share tasty things with our pets. However, when it comes to chocolate and turtles, allowing them to indulge in a bit of chocolate is very dangerous. So, the answer to the question is no, turtles cannot eat chocolate, as it is toxic for them.


Why Is Chocolate Dangerous for Turtles?

If you’re a fan of chocolate, you most likely know it is made from cocoa beans. These beans are processed and ground before other ingredients like flavorings, sugar, and milk are added in. The main reason why chocolate should never be offered to your turtle is because, as mentioned above, it’s toxic for them. In addition, chocolate is also toxic for tortoises.

Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant that is found in cocoa beans. The amount varies depending on the type of chocolate; for example, 100 grams of dark chocolate may contain up to 80 milligrams of caffeine 1.

Chocolate also contains theobromine, which is quite similar to caffeine. Both caffeine and theobromine are toxic for turtles (and almost all other domestic pets).

The lethal dose for caffeine and theobromine hasn’t been established for turtles, presumably because, unlike other pets, they cannot easily access human foods due to the fact that they lack the ability to jump onto counters, etc. or roam freely within the house. Nonetheless, veterinary consensus suggests that chocolate is toxic for turtles, and therefore, they shouldn’t be offered chocolate in any amount.

bar of chocolates
Image by: Security, Pixabay

Calcium Deficiency

Calcium is extremely important to a turtle. If your turtle lacks proper calcium, its bones may be brittle, the shell can be spongy, and the nerves and muscles work improperly. Chocolate is not good for your turtle’s calcium ratio. To avoid causing your turtle issues with this, don’t allow them to have chocolate or other foods with bad calcium ratios.


What Do I Do If My Turtle Ate Chocolate?

To date, there are no reported cases of chocolate toxicity in turtles in medical literature. However, if you notice your pet eating chocolate, you should take them to the vet immediately. There is no antidote for chocolate toxicity. Treatment is entirely supportive, and it differs on a case by case basis.

It is also worth noting that a turtle would likely not find chocolate palatable and would likely spit it out, and therefore, unless you’re forcibly trying to feed them chocolate, you shouldn’t worry too much about them showing interest in it.

orange and brown box turtle on cream colored carpet indoors
Image by: C.Freshour, Shutterstock

Safe Snacks for Your Turtle

Instead of considering a dangerous snack like chocolate, here are a few safe alternatives for your turtle.

  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Bloodworm
  • Carrots
  • Cherries
  • Crickets
  • Cucumbers
  • Daphnia
  • Mango
  • Shrimp
  • Slugs

The diet of captive turtles is very complex, and it varies by several factors, including their species, age, metabolic status, health status, reproductive status, and the nutritional goals of the diet. Therefore, it is important to discuss your pet’s diet with your veterinarian at all stages of their life to ensure that they’re eating food that’s appropriate for them. As a general rule, keep in mind that no processed human food is considered safe for pet turtles.


Final Thoughts

As you can see, chocolate is a dangerous snack to give your turtle. With so many issues that this food can potentially cause, it would be best to steer clear of this sweet treat whenever your turtle is out and about. This is the easiest way to keep your pal healthy. However, if your turtle gets hold of a small piece of chocolate, don’t panic. Reach out to your veterinarian and monitor the situation.

Featured Image Credit: Tetiana Bykovets, Unsplash

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