Tortoises are herbivores and require plant material to maintain a healthy digestive system. These plant eaters will eat the stems, flowers, and leaves of plants, with 90% of their diet consisting of a healthy mixture of alfalfa sprouts, beet sprouts, bean sprouts, cabbage (outer green leaves), broccoli leaves, mustard greens, turnip greens, dandelion greens, romaine lettuce, kale, and collard greens, with the majority of that plant matter being in the form of grass or hay, such as Timothy hay.
You may have seen a tortoise eat a cucumber, but is it safe? Can tortoises eat cucumbers? Yes, tortoises can eat cucumber but only as a treat once or twice a week.
Read on to learn more about the nutritional benefits (if any) cucumbers hold for tortoises and other valuable information.
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- Nutritional Benefits of Cucumber for Tortoises
- How to Feed Cucumber to Your Tortoise
- Why Should I Only Give Cucumbers in Moderation?
Nutritional Benefits of Cucumber for Tortoises
We’ve established that it is safe to feed your tortoise cucumber, but do they hold nutritional value? Cucumbers are made up of roughly 95% water, which provides an excellent hydration source for your tortoise, perfect for a warm day. Cucumbers are also low in calories, and they contain a small amount of vitamins A and C, which aid in a healthy shell and a healthy immune system. However, cucumbers do not hold much nutritional value, which is why you should only provide them as an occasional treat.
How to Feed Cucumber to Your Tortoise
Ensure the cucumber is fresh and firm, and cut it into slices or wedges that are easier for your tortoise to consume. Leave the skin on as it contains antioxidants and insoluble fiber that promote healthy skin and bowel movements. Try to buy organic to ensure the cucumber is not covered in pesticides, or be sure to wash them before serving.
Why Should I Only Give Cucumbers in Moderation?
Cucumbers can be filling for your tortoise, which means they may end up feeling too full to consume their regular, nutritious food. Cucumbers also have a slightly higher proportion of phosphorus to potassium, which is not ideal for bone health; just another reason to keep them as a “sometimes” food.
Cucumbers are safe to give your tortoise as an occasional treat, once or twice a week, particularly in hot weather. Their high water content means they provide little in the way of nutritional value, and their suboptimal sodium/potassium ratio means they are not a food to be fed in high volume.
A tortoise’s diet should be 90% quality grass and greens, with vegetables providing some of that content, and fruit given as a rare treat. Cucumber is a safe, hydrating treat to give, but provides little in the way of health benefits.