Tortoises can eat a variety of vegetables and plants, many of which you can grow in an edible garden specifically for your tortoise. Tortoises will consume many of the vegetables you offer but be sure to avoid poisonous plants.
Use leafy greens such as spinach and cabbage along with peas, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes and bell peppers. Most hard vegetables are acceptable as tortoises like the crunch factor as they chew. In addition to vegetables, your tortoise will enjoy the occasional serving of fruit such as apples, peaches, pears and mangoes.
Your tortoise will forage in a garden space and eat grass and dandelions. Plant marigolds, artichoke, parsley, oat grass, fennel, hibiscus, sweet potato, watercress and petunias to create a variety of edible plants in your garden. Your tortoise also can consume most wildflowers, wild berries and grasses. He will consume any plant that is safe for human consumption as well.
Common toxic plants to avoid include rhododendrons, buttercups, honeysuckle, nettle, ivy, lilies, mistletoe and sweat peas. Toxic plants will cause illness and in some cases death. Monitor your tortoise for abnormal behavior and consult a veterinarian if you suspect a toxic plant has been consumed.
Exposure to toxic plants requires immediate treatment. Identify the plant and consult a veterinarian quickly to treat the tortoise.
Containing the Tortoise
Control the food your tortoise consumes by creating a dedicated living space. Plant only edible options in the living space and supplement with vegetables and fruits. Table scraps are perfectly acceptable for the tortoise. Containment gives you control and makes it possible to avoid poisonous plants. Supplement by turning the tortoise loose in a field of grass and dandelions when they are available and not mixed with anything toxic.
Zach Lazzari is a Montana based freelance outdoor writer and photographer. You can follow his work at bustedoarlock.com.