Hi! I just recently got a baby russian tortoise. I’ve been checking different sources as to find what things are best to feed him, and i can’t seem to find a concrete list of things that will be good for him. Thanks!
This is a good question. I had a lot of trouble with this at first. There are a lot of different sources some good, some bad, and all confusing. I know I always recommend this site, but I’ve found http://russiantortoise.net to be the clearest when it comes to guidelines for care/diet while also providing more in-depth info (and sources) for further reading/understanding about why things are good or bad for our shells… should you care to read further.
Here is a list of recommended foods and foods to avoid for Russian tortoises directly from Russiantortoise.net’s Diet page: ( I recommend visiting the link and reading it all through. Its not long and It explains the importance of variety, portion control for indoor torts etc. Really important stuff too. )
Most grocery stores have a decent selection of greens that Russians readily eat. Ideally the greens should be organic and pesticide free. However this is the real world and not all tortoise keepers have access to “ideal” food. So, I have this section as a starting point for a varied diet. The following greens are easily found in my local stores:
Romaine lettuce (fed on occasion)
Red and green leaf lettuce (fed on occasion)
Spring Mix (mixed salad greens)
cabbage (fed on occasion)
With the above veggies one can develop a good diet. Once again (and I can’t stress this enough) variety is the key!
Don’t feed the same food day in and day out. Mix varieties and choose a different green as the basis every few days.
OTHER GOOD CHOICES
Some other favorites of my tortoises that are available:
Hibiscus (flowers and leaves)
Hen and Chicks
Prickly pear flowers, fruit and pads (burn the spines off)
Plantain (not the banana type fruit….the weed plantago major)
Mallow (flowers and leaves)
Rose (flowers and leaves….make sure no systemic pesticides were used)
Cornflowers Plagiobothrys ssp
Forsythia (flowers and leaves)
Dayflower Commelina diffusa (flowers and leaves)
Californian Poppy escholzia
Chia Salvia hispanica
Make sure all are pesticide and herbicide free.
The following food items should be avoided for a variety of reasons. there are many books and groups that go into great detail…so I won’t repeat them here. At the end of the page are a few links).
All fruit (although fruit is often recommended, its sugar content can lead
to parasite blooms….just not worth it) the exception is apples due to the high quantity of pectin….but still not frequently.
All grains (including bread, pasta etc)
Dog and cat food
All human food except what’s been listed as “good”
Pellet type foods (An often overlooked factor of pyramiding is grain based diets. These are the pellet food that some claim to be essential to health. They typically contain soy, wheat and or rice. These are high in omega 6 fatty acids which has a negative effect on health. They also have an acidifying effect which causes a leaching of bone. They are high in phytate which binds calcium and other minerals. They also have an unfavorable ca/ph ratio and a low ca/mg ratio which has a negative impact on calcium metabolism. Grains alter Vit D metabolism. Diets high in grains can have a negative impact on bone growth in spite of adequate exposure to sunshine. (http://www.heinenchiropracticcenter.com//nutrition/Diet/Cereal%20article-1.pdf)
(Source Joe Heinen BS, DC, FIAMA, Dipl. Ac. (IAMA)
Copyright 2000- 2013 http://russiantortoise.org, http://www.russiantortoise.net)
The site also has a list of edible plants and toxic plants, useful should you want to have an outdoor enclosure/garden, or worry about any indoor plants your tortoise gets into.
As always, its important to note that I’m not a vet of any sort. I can only share the info I’ve learned through reading, advice from others, and what seems to work for Zoya.
I hope this helps!