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What Do Tortoises Eat: A Comprehensive Guide for Grassland and Tropical Tortoise Diets


Proper nutrition is vital for the health and longevity of tortoises. Whether you are caring for a grassland or tropical species, understanding the specific dietary needs is crucial. This guide provides a categorized list of recommended foods for each type, making it easy for tortoise owners to maintain a balanced and species-appropriate diet.


Please ask me questions in the comments and together we will make this the best tortoise food list on the internet :)

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How Shadow's Reptiles feed their tortoises

I feed my tortoises a very strict and healthy diet. They have access to greens, grasses, flowers and edible plants all the time. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I feed them a tortoise pellet diet and sometimes I swap one of those days for treats like fruits or vegetables.


By growing grasses and plants for them in their enclosures I ensure my tortoises have access to a naturalistic life while providing the best possible diet and saving me work and money at the same time. ( This way I can technically disappear and never interact with my tortoises again and they will live a happy healthy life in their enclosures.)




General Feeding Tips

  • Variety is Key: Rotate through different food items to provide a range of nutrients and keep your tortoise interested in its meals.

  • Moderation: Especially with fruits, vegetables and protein, which should not constitute the majority of the diet for most tortoise species.

  • Avoid Processed Foods: Foods high in fat, sugar, or additives should be avoided.

  • Fresh Water: Always have fresh water available, as hydration is crucial for digestive health.


We can put tortoises into two categories: Grassland or Tropical. A stricter diet like mine is best for both categories of species but below you can find options that can be found in your local grocery store.


Grassland Tortoise Species

Grassland tortoises typically inhabit arid, semi-arid, or Mediterranean-type environments. These species are often found in areas with a sporadic supply of vegetation, influencing their diet to be primarily herbivorous. Grassland tortoises thrive on a high-fiber, low-protein diet, mimicking the sparse vegetation of their natural habitats. Here are the essential food items for species such as the Sulcata, Russian, and Leopard tortoises:

  • Grasses and Hays:

  • Bermuda grass

  • Timothy hay

  • Orchard grass

  • Leafy Greens:

  • Collard greens

  • Mustard greens

  • Dandelion greens

  • Avoid spinach due to its calcium-binding properties.

  • The usual go to for most people is romaine lettuce and while that is ok it is not ok to feed only romaine lettuce as it is mainly water.

  • Edible Flowers:

  • Hibiscus

  • Nasturtium

  • Rose petals

  • Cactus

  • Opuntia Cactus

  • Aloe Vera

  • Supplements:

  • Tortoise Pellets - My go to for all tortoises, I feed 3 times weekly and the rest of the time they get grasses, flowers and cactus.

  • Calcium (with no vitamin D3 if outdoors)

  • Vitamin supplements tailored to grassland species

Tropical Tortoise Species

Tropical tortoises are typically found in more humid, forested environments, which offer a richer diversity of food sources. These tortoises may have more opportunistic feeding habits, including a mix of herbivorous and omnivorous diets, depending on the species and available resources. Tropical tortoises, such as the Red-footed, Yellow-footed, and Elongated tortoises, benefit from a more varied diet due to the richer biodiversity of their habitats. Their diet can include:

  • Fruits (in moderation due to sugar content):

  • Papaya

  • Mango

  • Berries

  • Vegetables:

  • Pumpkin

  • Carrot

  • Squash

  • Leafy Greens and Flowers:

  • Romaine lettuce

  • Kale

  • Hibiscus and rose petals

  • Protein Sources (No more than once or twice monthly): (I never feed these)

  • Boiled eggs

  • Feeder Insects

  • Meat

  • Supplements:

  • Tortoise Pellets - My go to for all tortoises, I feed 3 times weekly and the rest of the time they get grasses, flowers and cactus.

  • Calcium with vitamin D3 (if kept indoors)

  • Multi-vitamin supplements suitable for tropical species


By providing these foods in the recommended proportions, tortoise owners can ensure their pets receive the nutrients they need to thrive. Whether you have a grassland or tropical species, tailoring the diet to the specific needs of your tortoise is essential for its health and happiness.

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I have always been passionate about animals and their care. As the founder of Shadow's Reptiles (An online pet store), I feel responsible to share my knowledge through my educational animal shows, blogs and videos. I have dedicated part of my life to educating others on the unique needs of reptiles and animals in general. I aggressively research all animals that are coming into my care and I write these care guides as proof to myself that I am knowledgeable enough to care for said animal. I don't know everything but I do however know that I go above

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