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Can Turtles Eat Tomatoes? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

Turtles belong to the same class of reptiles as alligators and crocodiles and their ancestors date back millions of years ago to the time o the dinosaurs. Most are omnivorous, eating a combination of animals, including worms and caterpillars, as well as fruits, berries, and vegetation. Some are herbivores and do not eat meat.

Commercial pet foods are available and can provide most of what your turtle needs daily, but by adding other food sources like fresh fruit and vegetables, you not only make the diet more interesting but you can offer some minerals that are otherwise very difficult to find. Tomatoes are one of a turtle’s favorite foods and because they contain vitamins C and K, as well as potassium and folate, they are considered a healthy addition to a turtle’s diet.

Read on to find out more about this turtle food and whether there are any precautions that you should take when feeding it.

divider-turtleTurtles as Pets

Turtles are an undemanding pet and as long as you provide them with suitable shelter and a good diet, they require very little attention. Box turtles, which are the most popular pet turtles, can live more than 50 years, so you will enjoy mostly stress-free pet ownership for a long time.

Although turtles can be picked up and may approach you in the hope of food, they are not cuddly or loving pets. In fact, they can become stressed with too much handling, so while they can make an intriguing addition to your family, they are not considered the best pets for families with children.

If you do intend to keep one as a pet, you will need to provide a suitable enclosure, offer appropriate lighting and heating, and you need to feed a healthy diet. Tomatoes are one food that can be included in your pet reptile’s diet.

Blanding's turtle on the ground
Image Credit: Brian A Wolf, Shutterstock

Are Tomatoes Safe for Turtles?

Tomatoes are safe for a turtle. They are a fruit, which means that they are naturally higher in sugar than most vegetable food sources, however. This means that while they can be safely fed as a treat or an occasional addition to a turtle’s diet, they should not be fed every day and you should ration the amount that you do give.

As well as the potential problems associated with a high-sugar diet, feeding them every day can cause your turtle to turn its nose up at other healthy foods. By feeding this as an occasional treat, you can avoid this.

You should only feed ripe, red tomatoes. Green tomatoes can be toxic for turtles, and so too can the leaves and vines.

Related Read: 12 Fascinating & Fun Turtle Facts You Never Knew

The Health Benefits of Tomatoes

Deficiencies in vitamin A and calcium are two of the biggest causes of illness in turtles. Tomatoes contain both of these nutrients. Reptiles need quite a lot of calcium in their diet. It is especially important in the growth and maintenance of their shells and claws but is used throughout the body.

Turtles Eat Tomatoes
Image Credit: Nenad Neomacki, Shutterstock

How to Feed

Feeding tomatoes is easy. Ensure that the stalk and leaves are removed and that the tomato is ripened and red before feeding. You can remove the green of the stalk, too, and then simply cut the fruit in half or into segments and feed. Research suggests that turtles are attracted to bright colors so they should easily spot and readily try the tomato to see if it is tasty.

Do not cook the tomato and avoid feeding if it is green or not fully ripe yet.

How Much to Feed

Just because tomatoes are good for turtles does not mean that you should feed too much. Feed tomato once a week. Start with a portion of one tomato, check their stools, and increase the amount you feed slightly, but do not feed more than one tomato every couple of weeks.

tomatoes
Image Credit: Gajendra Bhati, Pexels

Other Foods That Are Good for Turtles

Different species of turtles have different dietary and nutritional requirements, but there are some foods that are considered good for most.

The majority of a diet should consist of leafy green vegetables, although dark green veggies should be fed sparingly.

Because of the reptile’s love of bright colors, and because they tend to contain a lot of vitamin A, potassium, and vitamin K. This means that carrots and some bell peppers make an especially good choice to add to your turtle’s bowl.

Remember that variety also matters. Mix the foods up, offer a selection of food types at each meal, and you will not only provide more vitamins and minerals but you will stop your turtle from getting bored of its food and looking elsewhere.

divider-turtleCan Turtles Eat Tomatoes?

Tomatoes are rich in vitamin A and calcium, both of which are important to a turtle’s dietary requirements. Although they should be red and ripe and fed sparingly, these fruits are considered a beneficial food source. Remove the leaves and foliage and only feed every week to two weeks while still ensuring that you give a full and varied diet throughout the week.


Featured Image Credit: Kristina Arba, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.