Having a Russian tortoise as a pet can be a totally new experience, especially if you don’t know the variety of foods these creatures eat. Well, rest assured. Russian tortoises are not picky eaters and would naturally eat anything as long as it belongs to their natural diets.
Unlike other tortoise breeds, Russian tortoises are herbivores. So they love to eat leafy vegetables and leafy products like weeds and dead plants. On some occasions, flowers and fruits can also make good additions to their feeding menu. However, grains, insects, and meat are not interesting food choices for these tortoises because they do not fall under their dietary charts. So from this brief collection, you must be wondering, what exactly do Russian Tortoises eat?
This article will provide answers to this very question while addressing the health problems and benefits attached to certain food preferences for Russian tortoises. Keep reading if you want to be equipped with all the information you will need for feeding your pet Russian tortoise.
What Can Russian Tortoises Eat?
As earlier stated, Russian tortoises survive on an all-plant diet. This includes vegetables and fruits. Such foods provide all the necessary nutrients required by the tortoises. However, there are certain factors that must be considered in selecting feeds for Russian tortoises.
Technically all vegetables can be fed to these creatures, but this does not apply to all fruits too. Also, not all vegetables and plants are considered healthy enough to be fed to tortoises in large quantities. So, learning the feeding habits and order for your pet tortoise can be a bit of work at times.
Taking all the aforementioned into consideration, here are a few good food options that Russian tortoises can eat, as well as the proportions required for their dietary needs.
Broccoli makes an excellent feeding choice for Russian tortoises, particularly because of its richness in nutrients. The vegetable contains a good amount of Vitamin A which is good for bone and shell formation; and Vitamin C which acts as a nutritional supplement. In addition, broccoli has hydration benefits, making it a really good food option for your Russian tortoise.
However, while Russian tortoises can attain all these possible benefits from consuming broccoli, they can suffer health complications if care is not taken.
This is because broccoli contains high amounts of goitrogens which can be harmful to the kidney, thyroid, and liver of tortoises. So feeding them broccoli once or twice a week or two weeks will be sufficient. Similarly, you can garnish your tortoise’s broccoli meal with other healthy vegetables like shredded carrots and green beans.
As a prenote, avoid mixing other goitrogen-high meals like kale and spinach with broccoli. This will be extremely harmful to your Russian tortoise’s health.
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If there’s anything Russian tortoises can eat but shouldn’t, it is definitely spinach. This vegetable has a steady stream of health benefits, as well as health complications if fed liberally to these tortoises.
Spinach is rich in calcium which is highly beneficial for strengthening the shell and eyesight of Russian tortoises. Similarly, it contains a good level of phosphorus content which helps to promote a healthy digestive system and skeletal growth in tortoises. It is for these reasons that some owners settle for a spinach-rich diet for their Russian tortoises.
But the downside is that spinach contains an excess amount of oxalic acids which inhibits the digestion of calcium and certain essential nutrients in tortoises. In addition, spinach has a substantial amount of calcium oxalate crystals which causes bladder and kidney stones in tortoises.
So, you have to be extremely careful when feeding spinach to Russian tortoises. But if your tortoise likes this vegetable and you would like to add it to their feeding menu, then you can mix it with other healthy vegetables like lambs lettuce, collard, carrot tops, kale, mustard greens, and even hay to make it more appetizing.
Naturally, cucumbers are great suppliers of water which, therefore, can help with hydration. Russian tortoises love this meal because of its coolness, crunchiness, and delicious taste. So, you might want to consider giving your tortoise this food, especially during summer.
Cucumbers are healthy and toxin-free, making them safe to eat. Over 96% of its nutritional composition is water while the remaining 4% consists of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Feeding Russian tortoises cucumbers will go a long way in building their skin and fighting diseases. However, you should note that over-consumption of this fruit will stop them from eating other healthy meals.
Cucumbers can be overfilled, especially due to their high water content. And so, too much intake of it can make your tortoise full and somewhat addicted. That said, you need to limit their consumption of cucumbers to once or twice a week.
Celery is nutritious for Russian tortoises. It contains sufficient amounts of Vitamins A and C which are beneficial to their bodies, shells, and digestive system.
However, celery contains a high level of oxalates which affects calcium absorption in Russian tortoises. Also, it has low carbohydrate content and high sodium content, both of which can result in quick dehydration in tortoises if consumed regularly.
So, you need to feed your tortoise celery in little quantities, preferably twice a month. This way, your tortoise won’t be susceptible to the toxic properties derived from over-consumption but will still gain all the nutrients present in the vegetable.
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Russian tortoises can eat strawberries, but only as a treat. Due to the high sugar content present in strawberries, these tortoises can suffer from diarrhea, beak decay, or obesity if they eat a lot of it.
On average, 3-5 strawberries a week is a moderate size for mature Russian tortoises and 2-3 strawberries a week is more than enough for young ones.
Strawberries are rich in calcium and phosphorus which are necessary for bone and shell development in young and mature Russian tortoises. In addition to that, strawberries contain a good amount of water which prevents dehydration in tortoises.
Go for strawberries whenever you feel like treating your tortoise to a cool and sugary snack. But beware of the health risks as you do so.
Apart from cucumbers, carrots also provide the same cool, tasty and crunchy texture most Russian tortoises look for in their foods.
Carrots are rich in fiber, phosphorus, calcium, and vitamins which are beneficial to the tortoise’s muscle, shell, and eye growth. Also, carrots contain a generous amount of water, so Russian tortoises will remain hydrated, especially in hot seasons.
Russian tortoises will eat carrots or carrot tops if fed at all, either moderately or liberally. So you have to be careful of the number of times you add this fruit to their meals.
Carrots have a host of benefits, as well as adverse effects. Over-consumption of carrots can lead to calcium deficiency and health complications like kidney and bladder stones in Russian tortoises. This is mostly due to the high level of oxalic acid present in it.
Hence, you should treat carrots as a treat and not a regular addition to a Russian tortoise’s daily diet. Feed your tortoise two or three carrots once a week and mix them with other healthy vegetables to make the meal more nutritious.
While it is not completely advisable for tomatoes to be fed to Russian tortoises, there are some health benefits these creatures can gain from consuming a modest amount from time to time.
Tomatoes are rich in Vitamin A which helps in boosting the immune system of Russian tortoises and Vitamin C which aids the development of blood, skin, and bones. Also, tomatoes are good sources of fiber, minerals, and water which are all essential nutrients required by Russian tortoises.
By feeding your tortoise tomatoes sparingly, you will meet its dietary needs rightly. However, excessive intake of this fruit will lead to extreme health hazards as a result of its high water, phosphorus, and sugar content. Thus, ensure that you feed your tortoise tomatoes once a week.
As an owner of a Russian tortoise, you won’t have any headaches when providing your pet with its basic food requirements. All the aforementioned foods contribute massively to a Russian tortoise’s health but the bottom line is that they should be served sparingly.
Also, it is important that these food options are not cooked or processed because this will decrease the natural nutrients present in the plants and increase the acidic content which may be harmful to tortoises. So, ensure that these vegetables are organic and thoroughly washed in order for your Russian tortoise to derive the most nutrition it can get from them.
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