In one of my visits to the local zoo, our guide mentioned that not all tortoises should eat fruits. I did research later to find out which tortoises should eat fruits and ones that should not. Today we discuss strawberries.
Can tortoises eat strawberries?
Fruit-eating tortoises can eat strawberries. However, Desert and Mediterranean tortoises should have strawberries sparingly or none at all. All tortoises can eat the young leaves of strawberries but not the older leaves due to hydrogen cyanide gas in old strawberry leaves that can be toxic to tortoises.
Overfeeding strawberries can cause diarrhea due to the high sugar content of the strawberries. Therefore, strawberries should be fed moderately and more so to the desert and Mediterranean tortoises.
Additionally, strawberries should not make up a staple diet of the torts but rather should be used as part of a balanced diet for the tortoise.
Can Tortoises eat Berries?
Fruit-eating tortoises are the best suited to eat berries of all types, otherwise, for non-fruit-eating tortoises, you should either feed berries sparingly or none at all.
Tortoises are divided into three groups depending on where they come from.
The geographical origin of a tort will mostly determine what the tortoise eats even when in captivity.
You should strive to replicate the wild diet in the tortoise captive diet as much as you can.
The tables below shows the various groups of tortoise and what they should eat based on their origin.
|African Sulcata Tortoises
|70% mixed grass and Hay
|20-30% flowering plants, succulents and weeds.
|Limit or Avoid: Fruits, vegetables, and salads
Grazing tortoises should be fed fruits very moderately, too many fruits can cause health issues to them. This group of tortoises is used to eating the leaves and stems of plants.
|Greek Tortoises, Spur Thighed (Testudo Graeca)
|100% variety of weeds and flowering plants
Examples: hibiscus leaves and flowers and Mulberry leaves
|Hermanns tortoise (Testudo Hermanni)
|Limit or avoid: Fruits, vegetables, and salads
|Marginated Tortoise (Testudo Marginata) and the
|Russian / Horsefield (Testudo Horsefieldi)
|Egyptian Tortoise (Testudo kleinmanni)
Most experts recommend that this group of tortoises should not be fed fruits at all.
|70% weeds, flowering plants, and other greens
|Yellow footed tortoises [Geochelone denticulata]
|30% Fruits and a small amount of animal protein
|Burmese Brown Tortoises
|Kinixys homeana (Home’s Hingeback tortoise
The rainforest tortoise has a considerably high percentage of fruit in their diets. So feeding these tortoises fruits should not be a problem.
Actually, rainforest tortoises make a good tortoise pet for beginners since you can feed them a variety of feeds as compared to the other tortoises.
Are strawberries safe for tortoises?
When fed in moderation strawberries are safe for all tortoises, the leaves of young strawberries can also be fed to tortoises sparingly.
The table below shows the nutritional content of 100 grams of servings of strawberries.
|Total lipid (fat)
|Carbohydrate, by difference
Benefits of Feeding Strawberries to Tortoises
Veterinarians recommend that tortoises should always be hydrated to maintain their optimal health.
Dehydration can lead to life-threatening health issues such as bladder stones, chemical imbalances, shell, and skeletal issues, and digestive issues.
Therefore, you should ensure that your tortoise pet gets enough clean and fresh water on a daily basis in a shallow bowl where it cannot drown.
Like most fruits, strawberries have a high water content that can go a long way to keeping your tortoise hydrated especially when coupled with another fruit delicacy.
Fiber, Proteins and Fats
To promote healthy growth and development of young tortoises and maintenance of the health of a mature tortoise the right nutrition is very important.
To obtain correct nutrition for tortoises it is crucial to ensure that fiber, fats, carbs, proteins, minerals, and vitamins are well balanced.
You should diversify the ingredients that you feed your tortoise to make sure you provide all the required nutrients. Feeding one ingredient is never a good idea if you care about the health of your pet.
Most human foods such as carrots, lettuce, cabbage, and various fruits should not be fed as a staple food as they are poor in calories.
Tortoise utilizes fermentative digestion in their lower bowel as a way of obtaining energy.
This process breaks down fiber into carbohydrates which is then broken down into energy.
Through fermentation carbohydrates is converted into short chain fatty acids that used to provide energy.
Feeding your tortoise a diet low in fiber will result in loose stool. In fact, experts recommend that the optimal fiber content of fiber in a tortoise dry matter diet should range between 10% to 40% with optimal ranges being between 18% to 28%.
Fats and proteins also serve as a source of energy in the tortoise diet, fats should be limited to less than 10% while proteins should be at 15% to35%.
Starch is not a normal nutrient in most herbivorous reptile diets, as a result, they should kept at a minimum.
As a rule of thumb, aim for food that has high fiber content, green leafy vegetables, and fruits should be fed sparingly.
For instance, an example of a good tortoise diet is like 70% greens, a 10 % high fiber pellet, veggies 15 %, and lastly 5 % fruits.
For some tortoise such as Mediterranean tortoise are not supposed to be fed fruits according to most experts.
Some tortoise such as rainforest tortoise is used to eating fruits regularly in their diets. As such, they can withstand a higher percentage of fruits in their diet.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are very important towards the growth and development of young tortoises, additionally, these nutrients also serve a very important role in the health of adult torts.
Some of the most important minerals are calcium and phosphorus, calcium makes is used in the body for skeleton and shell development.
Calcium is directly affected by the availability of vitamin D, lack of enough vitamin D will negatively affect the absorption of calcium.
Therefore, it is very important to ensure that your tort gets a balance of vitamins and minerals.
Let’s take a deeper look at some of the most important minerals in the growth and development of torts and how strawberries can help in providing some of these minerals.
Minerals act as construction materials and chemical regulators, calcium specifically forms the largest mineral in a tortoise body.
It is also the most commonly deficient mineral in most young tortoises as it is needed in high amounts for the development of the tortoise skeleton.
It is also important to note that compared to phosphorus calcium is poorly absorbed.
When phosphorus is high in the diet as compared to calcium it will impede calcium absorption.
Therefore for feeds that have high phosphorus to calcium ratio, they should either be avoided or fed sparingly.
Experts recommend that a favorable ratio of calcium to phosphorus should be 2:1 or 1:1.
However, this does not mean that you should not feed fruits and greens that have a ratio above the recommended especially when phosphorus is higher than calcium.
What one should understand is that they should not act as a staple food. There are commercially made feeds for tortoises that you can feed as staple feed while using strawberries and other fruits as treats.
Apart from calcium and phosphorus other minerals that are found in strawberries include sodium, magnesium, potassium, and iron all of which are needed in trace amounts in the bodies of torts.
Strawberries are also a good source of several vitamins that are needed in the body of a tortoise. These vitamins include
Vitamin A, this vitamin is very important for the health of the skin and mucous membranes, the health of the eye, and finally promotes the function of the reproductive system.
However, when fed in excess it can be harmfull to most reptiles tortoise included as it causes hypervitaminiosis.
Feeding its a precursor known as beta carotene is much better since the body of the reptile will only convert beta carotene into vitamin A in amounts the body needs and get rid of the excess.
Vitamin B complex is a group of water-soluble vitamins. Being water-soluble ensures that these vitamins are never fed in excess since they can be excreted from the body whenever they are in excess.
Examples of vitamin B complex that are found in strawberries include Vitamin B1, 12, 3, 6 and 12.
Vitamin B1 also known as thiamin acts as a regulator during the metabolism of carbohydrates.
Vitamin B2 and 12 take part in the process of energy production and release.
Vitamin E on the other hand acts as antioxidants in the body of tortoises and helps against oxidative stress.
How to feed Strawberries to Tortoises
Now that we have already established that strawberries can be offered to torts, let’s discuss how to feed strawberries to tortoises.
- The first step is to ensure you have organically grown strawberries
- Wash them thoroughly
- You can comfortably offer them without cutting
- Make sure to mix them with other fruits or veggies
- Remember not to overfeed to avoid loose stool side effects
Risk of Overfeeding Strawberries to Tortoises
While strawberries are great treat for tortoise feeding them in excess can also result into a health hazard.
Strawberries have a high sugar content such that when fed in excess they can easily lead to decay of the tortoise beak.
Secondly, due to the low fiber content of strawberries overfeeding can also led to loose stool in tortoises.
With this information in mind make sure you use strawberries as a treat and not as a staple food for your tort.
Can Russian tortoises eat strawberries? Russian tortoises can eat strawberries, however, experts recommend against feeding fruits such as strawberries to Mediterranean tortoises such as Russian tortoises since their digestion tract is not used to digesting the high sugar content of most fruits.
How many strawberries can a tortoise have? Tortoises should have a few strawberries mixed with other fruits to increase variety. About 5 strawberries plus other berries should be okay to tortoises if fed sparingly.
Are strawberry leaves poisonous to tortoises? Young strawberry leaves are not poisonous to tortoises however, the old leaves of strawberry have hydrogen cyanide gas that is very poisonous to tortoises and should therefore never be fed.
can baby tortoises eat strawberries? Both adult and baby tortoises can eat strawberries. However, they should be fed in moderation as when fed in excess they will cause loose stool and also may result in tortoise beak decay when fed regularly.
While strawberries are okay for feeding to the tortoise, you should always consult your vet before starting your tortoise in a fruit diet. Apart from rain forest tortoises that are used to eating fruits, other tortoises do not come across fruits. Therefore, caution should be exercised when offering fruits to these torts.
Some experts recommend not feeding fruits such as strawberries to Mediterranean tortoise while others claim Mediterranean tortoise love strawberries.
To remove these doubts make sure to consult a vet.