Feeding Hermann’s Tortoises



As my tortoise has just emerged from
hibernation, I think it is a good time to write about the correct nutrition for
tortoises. I’ve accumulated information from several websites and books, but
it’s important to do your own research and ask exotic animal veterinarians for advice
as well. This information applies specifically to the tortoise species that I own, the Hermann’s tortoise.

  • Hermann’s tortoises are
    herbivorous (but may occasionally pick up a snail/slug if kept in the garden)
  • The diet should be high in
    fibre calcium and low in protein, fat, carbohydrate, sugar, and phosphorous
  • The basis of the diet should
    be non-toxic green leafy plants and flowers  that are pesticide-free
    • Green leafy plants are high in calcium, fiber and minerals
    • Chop up enough plants to make a mixed salad that they can eat in
      half an hour and give to the tortoise to eat five to six times a week
    • Options
      • Dandelion
      • Nettle
      • Bindweed
      • Daisy
      • Prickly
        pear cactus
      • Ice plant
      • Plantains (the
        weed, not fruit)
      • Mulberry leaves
      • California
      • Bermuda grass
      • Purslane
      • Petunia
      • White clover
      • Hibiscus
      • Honeysuckle
      • Curly kale
      • Brussel
        tops (not Brussel sprouts themselves)
      • Celeriac
      • Coriander,
        parsley, rosemary, oregano
      • Rocket
      • Shredded
        carrot, artichoke, fennel
      • Leaves of
        strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant and blackberry plants
      • Salad greens:
        endive, escarole, watercress, lamb’s lettuce, romaine (occasionally)
  • Provide a calcium and vitamin supplement
    daily to avoid metabolic bone disease and vitamin deficiencies (ideally with
    calcium carbonate, vitamin D3 and other trace elements, and without phosphorous
    and amino acids)
      • Vitamin D
        is needed to absorb calcium from the digestive tract
      • Calcium
        sources: calcium carbonate powders (to dust over the food daily), or a
        cuttlebone (can be left in the enclosure for tortoise to nibble on)
  • Fresh water should be available at all
  • Food to avoid
    • Peas, beans,
      cat or dog food – the liver and kidneys can’t handle high levels of protein,
      and beans contain phytic acid which blocks calcium absorption
    • High
      levels of fruit (including tomato) – fruit causes intestinal problems including
      intestinal parasites and diarrhoea
    • Onions
    • Iceberg lettuce
    • Buttercup
    • To give in
      very tiny portions (or not at all): spinach, broccoli, Brussel sprouts,
      cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, beet greens, turnip greens, mustard
      greens (vegetables of the Brassica family)
      – contain substances that block calcium absorption

Websites I used if you
want more information on other aspects of husbandry and more detailed diet

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