Desert Tortoise Diet Sheet
©1995 Melissa Kaplan
A desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) diet is comprised mainly of safe grasses and weeds, leafy greens, with small amounts of hard vegetables and moist fruits. A good basic salad can be prepared a week in advance and fed daily with selections from the following served in addition to it.
All tortoises need pesticide- and herbicide-free forage (grasses and weeds) for grazing. You can grow your own in your backyard and let your tortoises graze on it, after first making sure your yard is escape-proof. Another way is to build a safe pen or corral for the tortoises, and seed it with the forage. You can make it more decorative by planting edible ornamental plants around the perimeter and inside. Information on edible and harmful plants can be found at my Plant Information & Identification page. For tortoises that must be kept inside during inclement weather, you can seed nursery flats with the seeds and let them graze on them or take cuttings for them.
If you feed your tortoises too much of the foods that should be fed in relatively small amounts or occasionally, you risk causing health problems, ranging from diarrhea to kidney disease. There apparently has been a problem with people not reading this entire page, so I have reorganized it to put the emphasis on the forage.
85% Grasses and weeds; dark, leafy greens; cactus...
Grasses and Weeds
* These are high in calcium oxalates that may bind calcium causing metabolic bone disease, and may cause visceral gout (mineralization/crystallization of the soft tissues and internal organs). Feed sparingly. ** These are high in goitrogens, which impair thyroid function when fed in excess. Feed sparingly.
Don't feed at all
as they have little or no nutrition:
**These are high in goitrogens, which impair thyroid function when fed in excess. Feed sparingly.
sparingly as these are low in nutrition
Mixed Veggie Salad
1/2 cup shredded raw
Mix thoroughly together. Add in or sprinkle on salad a multivitamin supplement and a calcium supplement as recommended. Store in a sealed food storage container. Stays fresh for 6-7 days. Additional quantities may be frozen. Add a pinch of thiamine to the defrosted salad to replace the thiamin lost through the defrosting process
flowers and houseplants for grazing treats.
benjamina (note: the milky sap may be irritating to skin, eyes and
Plant Information & Identification - includes links to edible and harmful/toxic plant lists
Need to update a veterinary or herp society/rescue listing?
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© 1994-2013 Melissa Kaplan or as otherwise noted by other authors of articles on this site