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Can Tortoises Eat Cilantro? Vet-Reviewed Nutrition Facts & FAQ

Elizabeth Gray

By Elizabeth Gray


Vet approved

Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Karyn Kanowski

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Whether your pet tortoise lives indoors or out, they need to eat the right foods to stay healthy. As herbivores, tortoises should consume a variety of plant materials daily. Tortoises can eat cilantro but the amount fed may vary depending on what else they eat.

Keep reading to learn how cilantro fits into a balanced diet for your tortoise, including nutrition facts. We’ll also cover some basics about the ideal tortoise diet and how often to feed cilantro.

Is Cilantro Healthy for Tortoises? Nutrition Facts

Cilantro, also called coriander in some parts of the world, is a dark green herb used in Asian, Middle Eastern, and Central American cooking. It is a controversial ingredient amongst humans; you either love it or you hate it! The leafy plant contains vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, folate, and manganese.

Proper amounts of Vitamin A help tortoises maintain eye, skin, respiratory, and reproductive health, among other functions. Eating foods like cilantro, which contain this nutrient, is necessary for tortoises to get enough Vitamin A from their diet.

cilantro plants
Image Credit: marsraw, Pixabay

How Much Cilantro Should Tortoises Eat?

Depending on the age and species, tortoises may have different nutritional requirements. You can always check with your veterinarian to ensure your pet eats a balanced diet. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Outdoor tortoises will often consumeweeds, shrubs, and other plant materials, with only the Sulcata Tortoise grazing on grass. Cilantro and other leafy greens should be considered more of a treat than a dietary staple for these reptiles as they are already meeting their “leafy green” quota.
  • Tortoises kept indoors can eat a mixture of hay, grass, and vegetables daily. Dark, leafy greens, including cilantro, can be offered, but check with your vet to determine how frequently to feed cilantro as part of the mix.

Cilantro is relatively high in oxalic acid, which can negatively affect calcium absorption, so it should only be fed as part of a balanced diet, and not a significant portion of it.

What Are Some Other Foods That Tortoises Can Eat?

Bermuda grass and plants like dandelions or alfalfa offer excellent nutrition for outdoor tortoises. Desert tortoises may also enjoy snacking on cactus leaves. Grass hay like Bermuda, Timothy, and orchard are good options for indoor tortoises. Besides cilantro, the following leafy greens are okay to feed:

  • Collards
  • Turnip greens
  • Mustard greens
  • Escarole
  • Parsley
  • Kale

Other vegetables that can be offered occasionally include:

  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potato
  • Bell pepper
  • Radish

Some tortoises may also benefit from commercial pellet diets, especially young ones needing increased protein to grow and develop. Check with your veterinarian for recommended options.

galapagos giant tortoise eating water spinach
Image Credit: toadkung2531, Shutterstock

Can Tortoises Eat Fruit?

Tortoises can be offered fruit as a treat on rare occasions. They have a bit of a sweet tooth and may ignore more nutritious food if they eat fruit instead. Some fruits tortoises may enjoy include the following:

  • Strawberries
  • Melon
  • Cranberries
  • Peaches
  • Pear

Avoid citrus fruits, avocados and bananas.

russian tortoise eating strawberry
Image Credit: Elena M. Tarasova, Shutterstock

Do Tortoises Need Supplements?

Whether your tortoise needs supplements will depend on their usual diet and whether they receive enough sunlight or UV lighting daily. Some reptiles may need calcium and vitamin supplements, including Vitamin A. Don’t start your tortoise on a supplement without checking with your vet first.


Most tortoises can eat cilantro as part of their balanced diet. However, the amount of cilantro you feed will depend on where your pet is housed and the other foods they eat daily. Cilantro provides beneficial nutrition to tortoises, but if you’re concerned about choosing the right diet for your tortoise, don’t hesitate to talk to your exotic animal veterinarian.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: ka_re, Pixabay

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