During one of my visits to the local zoo, our guide mentioned that not all tortoises should eat fruits. Below is a research I did to find out if they can eat pineapples.
Can tortoises eat pineapple? Fruit-eating tortoises like Redfoot and Yellowfoot tortoises can eat pineapples and other fruits such as apples, watermelon, papaya, grapes, and berries. For the Mediterranean species, Horsfield’s, and the grazing tortoises they should either eat pineapples sparingly or none at all since their digestion system cannot cope with the high sugars and acidity.
Pineapple leaves are okay but should be fed rarely since they have bromelain that can cause the tortoises’ mouth to swell. Tortoises can also eat canned pineapple, but it is advisable to feed fresh pineapple as it is more nutritious than canned pineapple.
Too many fruits, especially to the grazing and Mediterranean tortoise, will result in loose feces, additionally, the high sugar content of pineapples will disrupt the gut flora and encourage the proliferation of parasites.
However, as a guideline avoid any plant that has high goitrogens and oxalates. Aim for feeds that have high calcium to phosphorous ratio, and avoid ones that have a high phosphorous content compared to calcium.
A healthy tortoise diet should have enough fiber, calcium, and low proteins.
Which tortoises can and can’t eat pineapples
Below are tables showing different types of tortoises and what their diets should include.
|Rainforest Tortoise Species||Preferred Feeds|
|Red-Footed tortoise (Chelonoidis [Geochelone] carbonaria)Feed 70% weeds flowering plants and other greens.|
|Yellow Footed tortoise||30% Fruits, and small amount of animal proteins|
|Elongated tortoises (Indotestudo elongata).|
This group of tortoises can eat fruits since in their natural environment they usually have a diet composed of fruits. Their digestive system can cope with the high sugar content of fruits such as pineapples, watermelon, and strawberries.
|Mediterranean TortoisesPreferred DietsGreek Tortoises, Spur Thighed (Testudo Graeca)100% variety of weeds and flowering plantsHermanns tortoise (Testudo Hermanni)Limit or avoid: Fruits, vegetables, and saladsMarginated Tortoise (Testudo Marginata) and theRussian / Horsefield (Testudo Horsefieldi)Egyptian Tortoise (Testudo kleinmanni)|
For these tortoises fruits should be avoided entirely or fed moderately since in their natural environment they do not encounter a diet made of fruits. However, a small portion of fruits in their diet will do no harm.
|Grazing TortoisesPreferred dietsAfrican Sulcata Tortoises70% mixed grass and HayLeopard Tortoises20-30% flowering plants, succulents and weeds.|
|Indian TortoisesLimit or Avoid: Fruits, vegetables, and saladsAldabra Tortoises|
Most experts recommend against feeding fruits to these tortoises, these species come from the deserts where fruits are almost nonexistent. Therefore, little or no fruits should be included in their diet.
Nutritional value of Pineapples to Tortoises.
The table below shows the nutrional content of 100 grams of pineapple.
|Vitamin C||47.8 mg|
|Vitamin A||58 IU|
Benefits of feeding pineapple to Tortoises
While pineapples are not favorable for tortoises other than rainforest tortoise. Feeding them moderately to the grassland and Mediterranean tortoise will not cause harm.
The highest percentage of pineapples is composed of water, therefore, giving pineapples to your tortoise help in keeping it hydrated especially when combined with other fruits.
Hydration is very important in keeping your pet tortoise healthy, we have written a detailed article on the importance of hydration and how to tell if your tortoise is hydrated right here.
However, do not substitute clean fresh water with water for keeping your tortoise hydrated.
Fiber,fat and protein
While pineapples have low fiber, fat, and protein content when fed as part of a balanced diet they can contribute to the overall diet requirements of a tortoise.
Just like other herbivores, tortoise needs a lot of fiber in their diet, this is due to the fact that they utilize the fermentative form of digestion.
The main source of energy in tortoises is carbohydrate which is derived from the breakdown of fiber.
Short-chain fatty acids are yielded from fermentation and are used for energy production. Feeding tortoises diet that has a low fiber content will result in diarrhea.
The recommended fiber intake of tortoise should be about 10% to 40% of dry matter with the optimal value being 18% to 28%.
Other nutrients such as fats though not needed in large amounts help in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A. Fats also serve as a source of energy and should be limited to less than 10%.
Proteins also serve as source of energy and just like fats they should be maintained at 15% to35%.
Overfeeding foods with a lot of protein can have life threatening repurcussions.
Tortoises come from an environment that does not have easy access to water, when protein is digested the end product is urea and uric acid which requires lots of water to excrete, consequently, due to inaccessibility of water this may cause kidney stones.
Minerals form an important part of the growth and development of tortoises. The table above shows the minerals that pineapples have, let’s discuss the importance of these minerals in the growth and development of tortoises.
The most important minerals in the tortoise body are calcium and phosphorus. These two minerals play very important roles in the growth of the tortoiseshell and skeleton structures.
Calcium is the most concentrated mineral in the body of a tortoise compared to other minerals.
Caution should be taken especially when feeding young tortoises since their calcium demand is higher than that of the adults.
Since calcium is poorly absorbed in the body compared to phosphorus which is readily absorbed.
When the phosphorus concentration of a diet exceeds that of calcium, calcium absorption is affected. Therefore for young torts aim for feeds that have high calcium to phosphorus ratio such as 2:1 or 1:1 respectively.
It is also recommended to avoid feeds rich in oxalates and goitrogens since they affect the health of a tortoise negatively, or feed them with a lot of caution.
Pineapples fall in this category of foods high in calcium and low in phosphorus, however, due to the higher sugar content, they should be fed moderately.
Functions of calcium include
- Building and maintenance of the skeletal structure
- regulates heartbeat
- Control acid-base balance
- Controls muscle growth and function
- facilitates enzyme activity
Functions of phosphorus
- Facilitates chemical reactions
- Facilitates energy production
- Control transfer of hereditary traits
- Promotes kidney function
The absorption of calcium is controlled by the body’s calcium needs and its availability in the diet.
Other factors such as fat, oxalates and phytic acid also affect its absorption of calcium.
Vitamins just like minerals play a very important in the health of a tortoise, some minerals are much more important than others.
Deficiencies of some of these vitamins can lead to life threatening health implications.
Vitamins are divided into two broad groups namely Fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins.
Fat soluble vitamins in pineapples
Fat-soluble is represented by vitamin A that is very important in the life of a tortoise. Vitamin A facilitates several functions in the body of a tortoise, however, when fed in excess it can lead to vitamin toxicity. A tortoise fed a balanced diet does not fall into the risk of this condition.
Most greens or fruits that are loaded with vitamin A also have beta carotene a precursor of vitamin A. A tort body will only convert beta carotene into vitamin A in the amounts that the body needs and get rid of the excess hence protecting the tortoise from vitamin A toxicity.
Importance of vitamin A includes
- Promotes healthy skin and mucous membrane
- promotes eye health and function
- promotes reproductive health
Another fat-soluble vitamin is vitamin K that is involved in blood coagulation.
Water-soluble Vitamins found in pineapples
Water-soluble vitamins are collectively known as the B complex vitamins.
The advantage of these vitamins is the fact that when in excess they can be excreted from the body via urine hence cannot cause any life-threatening health implications.
The table belwo shows these vitamins and their uses.
|Vitamin B1, thiamine||regulator in the carbohydrate metabolism|
|Vitamin B2, riboflavin||is a co-enzyme in energy release|
|Vitamin B3, niacin,||also crucial to the energy metabolism|
|Vitamin B6, pyridoxine||involved in energy conversion from glycogen and in the synthesis of haemoglobin and antibodies|
How to feed Pineapples to Tortoises
- Look for organically grown pineapples
- Peel it and remove the core
- Cut it into small pieces and do not offer the whole pineapple just a piece
- You can mix it with other fruits
Risks of overfeeding pineapples to tortoises
As mentioned earlier pineapples are loaded with sugar, apart from rainforest tortoises that can digest fruit sugars due to the fact that they encounter fruits in their natural environment.
Grassland and Mediterranean tortoise can have trouble digesting a lot of sugar, which will lead to digestive issues.
Therefore for these species you either avoid feeding fruits or feed them sparingly.
Pineapples should only be part of a balanced diet.
Can Russian tortoises Eat Pineapple?
Russian tortoises can eat pineapples in moderation. However, experts recommend against feeding pineapple to Mediterranean tortoises like the Russian tortoises since their digestion system cannot deal with high sugar in pineapples when fed in excess.
Frequently Asked Questions
can Hermann tortoises eat pineapple? Hermann tortoise belongs to the Mediterranean tortoises, experts advise against feeding fruits including pineapples to these tortoises. But if you have to feed pineapples to Hermann tortoise do so in moderation.
Can Tortoises Eat Pineapple Skin? No, the tortoise should not eat pineapple skin as it contains bromelain that can cause health issues and swelling of the tortoise mouth.
Can Tortoises Eat Dried Pineapple? As long as the dried pineapples do not have additives or preservatives, the tortoise can eat them. However, it is better to avoid dried pineapples altogether.
Can Tortoises Eat Frozen Pineapple? Yes, the tortoises can eat frozen pineapples after thawing to reduce the water content of the pineapple as due to the low fiber content of the pineapple added water intake may cause diarrhea in the tortoise.
While the rainforest tortoise can comfortably eat pineapples among other fruits. Grassland and Mediterranean tortoise should be fed pineapples moderately or none at all. Rainforest tortoises encounter fruits in their natural habitats as opposed to the other tortoises.
Pineapples are sugar loaded, when overfed these sugars will cause digestive complications in your tortoise.
Therefore, always make sure that if you have to feed pineapples do so in moderation and include other fruits that are safe for tortoises to be part of a balanced diet.
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