Can Tortoises Eat Strawberries? Facts, Diet, Tips


You may think all a tortoise likes to eat is lettuce leaves and grass. If so, you are greatly mistaken. Not only can tortoises eat many different types of vegetables and fruits, but they seem to enjoy a varied diet as much as humans do. 

Strawberries can make for a delicious, sweet snack for humans, but what about tortoises? Can they eat these berries at all?

The simplest answer is, yes, tortoises can eat strawberries, but not too many. Frequent consumption of the fruit could lead to elevated blood sugar and potassium levels. And just because your tortoise can eat strawberries in moderation doesn’t mean it should make up a big part of their diet.

Tortoise eating a strawberry

Should Tortoises Be Fed Strawberries?

Tortoises are herbivores. This means their diet consists mainly of plants, flowers, fruits, and vegetables. 

A good rule to follow is 70% grasses, 20% vegetables, and 10% fruit.

Due to this, strawberries should not be a staple but instead used as part of a balanced diet, providing the tortoise’s body with a regulated level of energy and nutrients.

Can All Tortoises Eat Strawberries?

Yes, most tortoises can eat strawberries and other berries of all kinds. This doesn’t mean all tortoises like strawberries, and you may find several who do not eat fruits at all. When trying to feed your tortoise strawberries, either do so moderately if they seem to enjoy the taste or not at all should they not show a liking for the fruit.

Can Tortoises Eat Too Many Strawberries? Is This Bad?

Regular consumption of large volumes of strawberries increases the potassium level in your tortoise’s body. Although potassium is an essential mineral for all tortoises, too much can cause kidney disease and can be toxic in high concentrations. [Source]

What Are the Symptoms of a Strawberry Overdose?

Yes, just like kids can eat too much ice cream and get ill, tortoises can also overindulge on sweet, juicy berries and suffer the consequences. Feeding your tortoise too many strawberries can cause diarrhea due to the high level of sugar in the fruit, so you must always regulate how many they have access to. 

How Should I Feed Strawberries to My Tortoise?

Some people choose to give their tortoises whole strawberries. This shouldn’t be harmful in small quantities, but if you’re giving your pet strawberries on a regular basis, it is important to remove the leaves. 

All tortoises can eat old strawberry leaves. However, young leaves emit high levels of hydrogen cyanide gas which can be toxic. [Source]

The best way to feed strawberries to a small or young tortoise would be to cut them into pieces after washing and removing the leaves. This makes chewing easier and can also prevent choking. 

Are Strawberries Good For Tortoises?

Strawberries form part of the flower family. Because it is a flowering plant, strawberries contain a high concentration of nitrates, which increase the percentage of oxygen absorbed into the blood and improves blood flow to the muscles. 

Therefore, there is evidence that eating strawberries may help improve your tortoise’s blood flow and increase the amount of oxygen reaching its muscles.

Strawberries are also low in calories and contain high concentrations of vitamin C. 

Strawberries contain many other vitamins and minerals like:

  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Manganese
  • Vitamin B9

These nutrients are discussed in detail later in the article.

Strawberries also contain loads of antioxidants that can be beneficial to your tortoise’s health.

Can Tortoises Eat Other Berries?

Yes, most tortoises can eat a variety of berries, including: 

  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Marionberries
  • Huckleberries
  • Raspberries
  • Gooseberries

Besides Berries, What Other Fruits Can Tortoises Eat?

There are many different fruits tortoises enjoy eating. However, all fruits should always be provided in moderation as part of a balanced, grass-rich diet. 

Some of the best fruits to offer your tortoise include: 

  • Banana
  • melon 
  • grapes
  • Apples
  • Mango
  • Watermelon
  • Apricots
  • Peaches
  • Pears
Tortoise with a strawberry on the grass

What Should I Regularly Be Feeding My Tortoise?

As mentioned earlier, tortoises should be fed a diet of mainly grasses, plants, vegetables, and sometimes fruit. 

The best options within these categories are listed below: 

Grasses and Plants

  • Alfalfa
  • Dandelion 
  • Sowthistle 
  • Chicory 
  • Coleus 
  • Shepherd’s purse 
  • Mallow 
  • Hedge mustard 
  • Clover
  • Rye

Vegetables

These should all be offered fresh:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Collard greens.
  • Sweet potato 
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Brocolli
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Green beans
  • Bell peppers 

Can I Feed My Tortoise Store-Bought Food? 

Yes, many store-naught brands of tortoise food are formulated to provide your pet with the perfect combination of nutrients and calories it needs for a healthy lifestyle. However, you should always try to incorporate fresh produce into their diet as much as possible.

Proper Nutrition for Tortoises

Some people think tortoises can eat everything and anything that is presented to them. This is not true!

Turtle diets have become a very sophisticated and sensitive science, as most people begin to understand that turtles have specific nutritional needs. There are many ready-made foods on the market, although not all of them are of good quality, and none can replace the benefits of fresh produce.

It can be challenging to please tortoises when it comes to food, as they are considered shy, fussy animals. The most sure-fire way to keep your tortoise happy is to give them loads of green leaves, grass, and weeds. Most of the time, they should only be eating fruits 1-2 times a month because they are high in sugar.

What Should I Never Feed My Tortoise? 

Below are some of the foods that are definite no-nos when it comes to your tortoise’s diet: 

  • Chocolate
  • Dairy
  • Daffodil 
  • Azalea 
  • Foxglove 
  • Avocado 
  • Buttercup 
  • Auricula
  • Citrus fruit
  • Hydrangea 
  • Iris 
  • Avocado
  • Castor beans
  • Juniper berries
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes

Do Tortoises Need Water?

The amount of water you need to give your tortoise depends on how much food it eats each day. If you’re regularly feeding your tortoise strawberries, fresh, clean water is important to flush out excess potassium levels that may build up and make your tortoise ill.

If you choose to set up a large pool or pond in your tortoise’s enclosure, it is vital to ensure it has a way out of the water to avoid drowning. Many tortoises like basking in their ponds or pools, which can significantly improve their quality of life while also being pretty fun to watch. 

If your tortoise spends a lot of its time in its water bowl or pond, ensure you empty, clean, dry, and refill it regularly to avoid your pet getting sick. 

Should My Tortoise Get Exercise? 

Believe it or not, but exercise is of extreme importance to tortoises. They may not seem like they’re doing much, but even a little movement around their enclosure can significantly benefit their health. 

Some assume tortoises to be lazy and boring. On the contrary, you could find tortoises are amazingly active and fun animals, and you will be surprised by just how fast they are. 

Some tortoises walk several kilometers each year to reach their favorite nesting site every year. 

If you’re feeding your tortoise strawberries or any other fruit, it is important to provide it with enough space to get some exercise and lower its soaring energy levels, even if those energy levels only carry them to the edge of your garden and back.

What Are the Most Important Vitamins and Minerals for Tortoises?

A tortoise’s diet is its primary source of vitamins and minerals. The most important of these two groups are listed below: 

Vitamins

  • Vitamin A: Tortoises need Vitamin A to keep their eyes and immune system in good condition. Many plants contain carotene, which is converted to vitamin A, so a deficiency is very rare in tortoises.
  • B-Vitamins:  
    • Vitamin B1, or thiamine, is important in regulating your tortoise’s metabolism.
    • Vitamin B2, riboflavin, assists energy release.
    • Vitamin B6, pyridoxine, enhances energy production.
    • Vitamin B12 helps in the production of new red blood cells
  • Vitamin D: Also known as the sunshine vitamin, it is one of the most essential vitamins in a tortoise’s diet and is vital to maintain bone strength and assist bone growth
    • Vitamin D can be made in a tortoise’s body naturally when their shells are exposed to ultraviolet, or you can provide them with a powdered supplement
  • Vitamin C has many uses in your tortoise’s body and is present in almost everything they eat, so a deficiency is extremely rare.
  • Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. 

Minerals

  • Calcium: Calcium is probably the most critical nutrient your tortoise needs. Calcium is vital for helping build and strengthen bones and regulating a tortoise’s heartbeat.
  • Magnesium: The mineral is important for many processes in the tortoise body, including maintaining muscle function, regulating blood sugar levels, and managing blood pressure
  • Phosphorus: Phosphorus helps keep bones flexible enough to resist easy breakage. However, too much phosphorus in a tortoise’s body could weaken its bones and shell. 
  • Sodium: Sodium is important as a mineral and an electrolyte. It also helps maintain nerve and muscle function.
  • Sulfur: Sulfur is essential for the maintenance of vital tissues and cartilage. 

Is Lighting Important for Tortoises?

Definitely! 

If you’re feeding your tortoise strawberries, and you’re wondering whether or not they are good for it, you most likely care about your pet’s wellbeing. 

Not only do tortoises need a balanced diet, lots of water, and regular exercise to stay healthy, they also need the correct type of lighting, especially if they’re kept indoors, or the sun doesn’t shine a lot where you live. 

UV light is incredibly important for manufacturing vitamin D through the receptors on a tortoise’s shell. Unfortunately, strawberries, and many other foods your tortoise may like eating, don’t contain enough vitamin D to keep it healthy. 

In this case, either a vitamin D supplement powder or a special artificial light can help their body produce high enough concentrations of the vitamin to remain healthy. 

Tortoises are also cold-blooded animals and do not produce their own body heat. 

So, if you’re looking to spoil your pet with sugary snacks like strawberries and other fruits, make sure you also provide them with their essential needs like lots of sunshine or a high-quality UV lamp. 

Any Last Tortoise Diet and Care Tips?

Many basic things like keeping their water clean, cutting up fruit (including strawberries), and managing the contents of their diet carefully can easily slip the mind of new tortoise owners. 

One of the simplest measures to take to keep your tortoise healthy is always to wash your hands with mild soap and rinse them with plenty of water before preparing their food. 

Even the slightest hint of chemical disinfectants or soaps, or germs transferred from other animals, could make your pet sick and cause unnecessary worry. 

Pesticides on fresh vegetables and fruits could also harm your tortoise, so it’s important to wash these before serving too. 

Conclusion

Many people take a lazy approach to feeding their tortoises. They give them nothing but greens and care little about whether or not their diet provides them with the full range of nutrients they need. 

The fact that you found this article is a sign you are not one of those people. If you’re thinking about feeding your tortoise strawberries, you have the green light as long as you make sure to do so in moderation and accompany sweet treats with lots of water and exercise.

Brigitte Cave

Bridgitte grew up on a farm and eventually spent 5 years on Mahe Island in the Seychelles during her teen years. Her time living on a farm was spent mostly around animals including dogs, cats, cows, horses, and all sorts of fowl (chickens, ducks, and geese included). You can find out more about Bridgitte at https://mercurypets.com/our-writers/ Bridgitte is a keen horse rider and has competed in many showjumping competitions. She loves writing about pretty much all animals, and particularly dogs, cats, small mammals, horses and reptiles.

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