Can Tortoises Eat Kale? [How Much & When Should They Eat It]

As our tour guide said on one of our visits to the zoo we frequented, some vegetables should not be fed to turtles because they contain substances hazardous to them. I performed some studies to find out if kale is one of these veggies.

Can Tortoises eat Kale?

All kinds of tortoises can consume kale, which is a rich source of calcium for them. Kale does not contain enough oxalic acid to be harmful to tortoises. Goitrogens in kale can potentially interfere with iodine absorption. On the other hand, Kale has significant quantities of iodine to compensate for this.

For a tortoise diet to be considered nutritious, it must be rich in fiber, calcium, vitamins, and low in protein content. Vitamins may be found in vegetables, greens, and fruits; however, they should be consumed in moderation because they are deficient in minerals. Non-fruit-eating tortoises, such as Mediterranean and Grazing tortoises, are at risk from the high sugar content of fruits when they are given in excess.

Goitrogens, which are present in vegetables and greens, can affect tortoises’ thyroid, liver, and kidneys if eaten in large quantities.

To be on the safe side, make sure you know how to identify the species of your tortoises and what should constitute a significant portion of their food.

Note that fruits and vegetables should be served in moderation and that most of a dog’s diet should consist of high-fiber foods like grass and hay. There are commercially prepared tortoise pellets specifically designed for tortoises, like this one from Amazon.

The information in the following tables outlines the many species of tortoises and the appropriate diet for each.

ALSO SEE: Can Horsefield Tortoise Eat Axella?

Mediterranean Tortoises

Mediterranean Tortoises

Preferred Diets

Greek Tortoises, Spur Thighed (Testudo Graeca) 100% variety of weeds and flowering plants
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 agree that feeding fruits to Mediterranean tortoises are a bad idea since their digestive systems aren’t equipped to handle the high sugar content of fruits. Even yet, this tortoise species is able to eat fruit when fed fairly.

Rainforest Tortoises/ Fruit-eating Tortoises

Rainforest Tortoises

Preferred Diet

Red-footed tortoises 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

Due to their natural habitat in the rainforest floor, where they come across sugar-rich fallen fruits, this species of tortoise may easily consume fruit without discomfort. Because they also eat carrion or the carcasses of deceased animals, their digestive tract is used to processing sugar and animal protein at high concentrations.

Grazing Tortoises

Grazing Tortoises

Preferred Diets

African Sulcata Tortoises 70% mixed grass and Hay
Leopard Tortoises 20-30% flowering plants, succulents and weeds.
Indian Tortoises Limit or Avoid: Fruits, vegetables, and salads
Aldabra Tortoises

Desert and grassland tortoises should avoid or consume fruits sparingly since their digestive systems aren’t equipped to handle the high quantities of sugar in fruits. They eat a lot of grass and succulents in the wild.

Can Tortoises eat Kale and Spinach?

In general, tortoises should not be fed kale and spinach at the same time, even if kale is okay for them to eat. Spinach has a high concentration of the toxin oxalic acid, which prevents calcium from being absorbed, as well as goitrogens, which can harm the thyroid, kidney, and liver.

Veggies rich in oxalic acid and goitrogens should be avoided or fed in small quantities, according to experts, who also advise against eating these veggies all at once.

Can Tortoises Eat Kale

Tortoises: Is Kale Safe for Them?

As previously stated, tortoises may safely and healthily consume a little amount of kale, which is an excellent provider of calcium.

Dietary information about kale may be found in the table below.

Nutrient Amount in 1 cup
Energy (calories) 42.5
Carbohydrate in grams (g) 6.3, including 1.4 g of sugar
Fiber (g) 4.7
Protein (g) 3.5
Calcium in milligrams (mg) 177
Iron (mg) 1.0
Magnesium (mg) 29.5
Phosphorus (mg) 49.6
Potassium (mg) 170
Sodium (mg) 18.9
Zinc (mg) 0.3
Copper (mg) 0.8
Manganese (mg) 0.6
Selenium in micrograms (mcg) 1.1
Vitamin C (mg) 21
Folate (mcg DFE) 76.7
Betaine (mg) 0.4
Beta carotene (mcg) 2,040
Lutein + zeaxanthin (mcg) 5,880
Vitamin E (mg) 1.9
Vitamin K (mcg) 494
Vitamin A (mcg RAE) 172

Benefits of Tortoises eating Kale

  • To keep tortoises hydrated

Every day, tortoises need access to water free of chlorine and easy to get. Without water, tortoises are at risk of suffering dehydration, which can have life-threatening consequences.

To keep your tortoise well-hydrated, you may give it water in a dish. But tortoises also obtain water from the food they consume, including fruits and vegetables.

As with other vegetables, kale has high water content, so be sure to moisten it before giving it to tortoises.

The buildup of nitrogenous waste in tortoises’ bodies can lead to health problems; thus, tortoises need water to flush them out.

The indicators of dehydration in tortoises and how to quickly dehydrate a tortoise may be found on this site.

  • A source of vitamins

Tortoises need to consume a food rich in vitamins daily. Vitamin A is a critical nutrient for tortoises.

Vitamin A and its precursor beta carotene may be found in a wide variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables. Nutritional deficits are quite uncommon in tortoises that consume enough fresh vegetables, fruits, and other plant matter in their diet.

deficiency symptoms of vitamin A include

Eyelids swollen and irritated.

Horny skin thickens, making it harder to breathe.

The horny area of the mouth is abnormally developed.

Swollen limbs are a symptom of liver failure.

  • Immunodeficiency Syndrome

Hypervitaminosis, the accumulation of dangerous vitamins in the liver, is a disorder caused by the overconsumption of fat-soluble vitamins.

As long as you’re not giving your dog the same type of vegetable or fruit every day, you should be able to avoid this problem.

Other vitamins that kale offers to tortoises are either metabolized from the tortoise’s digestive tract or kidney, and deficiency is quite uncommon. Because they are water-soluble, they are generally eliminated in the urine at high concentrations, which helps to keep them from becoming harmful.

Minerals are just as critical to tortoise growth and development as vitamins are. The tortoise’s bones and shell are made up of minerals.

Bone fracture and shell deformity can occur if tortoises lack minerals in their bodies.

For tortoises to grow and develop, they must consume calcium and phosphorus.

Kale is an exception to the rule for vegetables, as it contains a decent amount of calcium. However, it is vital to remember that calcium and phosphorus interact differently, and excessive phosphorus levels inhibit calcium absorption.

As a result, nutritionists recommend that foodstuffs include calcium levels two times higher than phosphorus levels to ensure adequate absorption of the mineral. Calcium to phosphorus should be mixed in a 2:1 ratio.

However, tortoises can still be fed food that does not follow this criterion.

Tortoises may safely eat kale’s calcium content. More calcium is required by laying, damaged, or immature tortoises.

How to Feed Tortoises with Kale

Organically cultivated veggies and greens, as well as salads, are the healthiest option.

Spinach should be well washed.

You may even sprinkle it with mineral supplements if you’d like.

To ensure that the tortoises have enough food for the entire day, the vegetables should be provided first thing in the morning, together with the hay and grass.

Can Kale harm Tortoises?

Kale, as previously mentioned, has an oxalate molecule that hinders calcium absorption. Kale’s oxalate content, on the other hand, is rather low (approximately 20 grams per 100 grams of kale). Kale may only be hazardous if served in large quantities or with other vegetables high in oxalates, such as spinach.

Aside from that, kale contains goitrogens, which can interfere with the thyroid glands’ ability to absorb the iodine needed for thyroid function. High doses of goitrogens can potentially harm the kidneys and liver.

Aside from kale’s goitrogen content, the iodine content compensates for any loss of iodine due to the consumption of goitrogens.

Experts, on the other hand, advise against feeding a lot of goitrogens and oxalic acid-rich vegetables to tortoises at the same time to avoid hazardous quantities of these chemicals building up in the tortoises’ systems.

Can Russian Tortoises eat Kale?

Kale is not toxic to tortoises, including Hermann’s and Russian’s. The calcium in kale is essential for the proper development of tortoises’ bones and shells. Kale can be hazardous to all tortoises, but Russian tortoises should consume it in moderation to avoid the buildup of oxalates and goitrogens contained in kale.

Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Kale?

Fresh vegetables like kale, dandelions, mustard, and collard greens should make up roughly 80% of your tortoise’s daily diet. Sweet potatoes, squashes, and cauliflower can be added to the mix for some fun.

Can Russian Tortoises Eat Kale?

A wide variety of leafy greens may be used to make salads, such as kale, endive, spring mix, romaine, watercress, mustard greens, turnip, and dandelion greens, among others. There should be no more than one serving of spinach, kale, or swiss chard each day.

Can Tortoises Eat Curly Kale?

For Herman tortoises, curly kale has just half the oxalic acid of dandelions, making it an excellent source of nutrition. On rare occasions, you can give tomato and dandelion greens and broccoli and packaged salad. As a diet component, Hermann tortoises may consume kale in tiny amounts.

Can Horsefield Tortoises Eat Kale?

Plants are the tortoise’s primary source of nutrition. Leafy greens like dandelion and clover, as well as Brussel sprouts and curly kale, are among the best meals to eat. Leafy greens should make up the majority of the vegetation.

Can Desert Tortoises Eat Kale?

The remaining 20% of a desert tortoise’s diet can be supplemented with vegetables, particularly dark green, leafy vegetables, high in vitamins and minerals. Carrots, green beans, endive, kale, and turnip greens are suitable options.

Can Tortoises Eat Ornamental Kale?

All kinds of tortoises can consume kale, which is a rich source of calcium for them. Kale does not contain enough oxalic acid to be harmful to tortoises. Goitrogens in kale can potentially interfere with iodine absorption. On the other hand, Kale has significant quantities of iodine to compensate for this.

Can Redfoot Tortoises Eat Kale?

For food, leopard tortoises need lots of fiber, which they get from broad-leaved plants and high-fiber, high-protein grasses such as Timothy and Orchardgrass Hay. Avoid eating a lot of kale and spinach since it impedes the absorption of dietary calcium. They should not eat iceberg lettuce since it lacks the necessary nutrients.

Can Redfoot Tortoises Eat Kale?

This is the case with most tortoises, including the red and yellow foot varieties, largely herbivorous. A large portion of their diet should be made up of dark leafy greens, such as collard and mustard greens, as well as beet and carrot tops.

Can Hermann Tortoises Eat Kale?

This tortoise’s diet is made up entirely of plants. Leafy greens like dandelion and clover, as well as Brussel sprouts and curly kale, are among the best meals to eat. Leafy greens should make up the majority of the vegetation.

Can Baby Sulcata Tortoises Eat Kale?

Vegetables should make up roughly 15% of your daily calorie intake. Greens like collards and dandelions and collard greens like escarole and kale can also be used in a raw vegetable salad.

Can Greek Tortoises Eat Kale?

Fresh vegetables like kale, dandelions, mustard, and collard greens should make up roughly 80% of your tortoise’s daily diet. Sweet potatoes, squashes, and cauliflower can be added for a dash of color.

Can Yellow Foot Tortoises Eat Kale?

The majority of one’s diet should consist of dark leafy greens. Leafy greens such as chard, kale, and parsley are the best options. Iceberg and romaine lettuce are low in nutrients and should be avoided.

Conclusion

Tortoises may acquire plenty of vitamins and water from vegetables. Vitamin A and calcium are both found in kale, making it a rich source of both. However, the bulk of your tortoise’s diet should consist of fiber, calcium, and low-protein foods.

You should only feed your tortoises vegetables and fruits as treats, not as their primary diet, save from tortoises that can handle the high sugar content of fruits.

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