Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Can Tortoises Eat Green Beans? Vet-Approved Nutrition Facts & FAQ

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Green beans

Vet approved

Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

MRCVS (Veterinarian)

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

Learn more »

Although you can buy commercial Tortoise pellet food, the best Tortoise diet tends to consist of a varied combination of leafy greens and vegetables. This can include plants and grass from your garden but should also incorporate leafy greens and vegetables that you feed intentionally. You shouldn’t feed your Tortoise meat, cat or dog food, or sweet or processed foods designed for human consumption. Also, some plants, such as lupine and rhododendron are toxic or poisonous to Tortoises so you should make sure that your shelled pet doesn’t have access to these when in the garden.

Although Tortoises would not naturally find green beans in the wild, some owners do feed green beans to their Tortoises. Green beans are not an ideal source of nutrition for tortoises due to their high protein content and 1:1 calcium phosphorus ratio (would ideally be higher calcium). As part of a varied and balanced diet though, green beans can be fed to tortoises in moderation.

Tortoise Diet

In the wild, Tortoises cover long distances to access the food they eat. As pets or in managed care, food is handed to them, and they do not need to cover the same miles to find it. This can lead to captive Tortoises eating too much and ending up with problems like shell deformities. As such, it is important that you provide appropriate food in the right volume. Do not overfeed. A good general rule is that a Tortoise should be given as much as it can eat in 20 minutes, once a day. Alternatively, you can feed as much food as it would take to create a blanket the size of your Tortoise’s shell.

Wild Tortoises eat a wide range of different foods, and some experts claim that a single Tortoise might eat as many as 200 species of plant in any given year. This not only provides variety to keep their diets interesting but also ensures that your Tortoise gets all the vitamins and minerals they require.

Leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis) eating a slice of cucumber
Image Credit: PeterVrabel, Shutterstock

Can Tortoises Eat Green Beans?

Tortoises would not naturally find green beans in the wild, which means a lot of owners don’t feed this vegetable to their pets. Also, the beans themselves, as well as the pods they grow in, are known to be high in protein which can lead to overfeeding. They also contain small amounts of a toxic compound, (phytohaemagglutinin), that is only destroyed at very high temperatures. Therefore, you should avoid feeding green beans and their pods to your Tortoises on a daily basis.

Can Tortoises Eat Green Bean Leaves?

The leaves of the green bean are considered the safest part of the plant for Tortoises to eat so if you grow beans yourself, save the leaves and feed a few every couple of weeks to add some variety to your Tortoise’s diet.

Green Bean Nutrition per 100g

  • Water 90.32 g
  • Protein 1.83 g
  • Fiber 2.7 g
  • Fat 0.22 g
  • Sugars 3.26 g
  • Calcium 37 mg
  • Phosphorus 38 mg
  • Iron 1.03 mg

Green beans are high in water content and can make a low fat, hydrating snack. The calcium levels would ideally be higher than the phosphorus levels, more like a 2:1 ratio but they are acceptable in moderation.

Image Credit: Free-Photos, Pixabay

The 4 Facts About Tortoises

Tortoises are incredible animals. They can make good pets, although they aren’t likely to play, and you won’t be able to teach them tricks. However, they are intriguing animals that can outlive generations of their owners.

1. They Live a Very Long Time

If you think some breeds of dog live a long time with a life expectancy of 16 years, that’s nothing on Tortoises. Some Tortoises are believed to have lived 180 years or more. While your pet Tortoise is unlikely to live this long, you should plan for it to live between 50 and 100 years, which means that you will need to plan what will happen to your Tortoise if it outlives you.

2. They Can’t Swim

Tortoises are part of the Turtle family, but while other members of the family including Sea Turtles and Terrapins can swim, Tortoises cannot. Aquatic Turtles have flippers while Terrapins have webbed feet. Tortoises have neither of these adaptations, and they also have much larger and heavier shells which means that they can’t really float, and they cannot propel themselves through the water.

close up of african spurred tortoise resting in the garden
Image Credit: seasoning_17, Shutterstock

3. Sex Is Determined by Egg Temperature

Obviously, Tortoises can be male or female, but the sex of a Tortoise is determined while in the egg and is heavily influenced by temperature. Warmer eggs are more likely to be female while colder eggs are more likely to yield males. This means that climate change is going to lead to an increase in female Tortoises and a decrease in males and it could negatively impact the population of Tortoises.

4. They Are Quite Clever

Their slow, deliberate movements can make Tortoises appear a bit unintelligent. In reality, they have been shown to perform very well navigating mazes when there is food at the end of the maze, and they may also be able to recognize faces. So, your pet Tortoise may know it is you approaching.

hermann's tortoise walking on the rock
Image Credit: Lukas Zdrazil, Shutterstock


Tortoises are relatively low-maintenance pets because they don’t need walking and don’t need too much exercise, although it is a good idea to ensure yours does get a few laps of the garden. Their diet needs careful attention but it is relatively easy to find vegetation they can eat. This is especially true if you have a garden because most species exist on a diet that consists of around 80% grass and plant matter, with the remaining 20% being made up of vegetables and fruit.

With that said, while the young leaves and green beans are safe for Tortoises they do not provide complete or ideal nutrition and should be fed in moderation.

Featured Image Credit: MikeGoad, Pixabay

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database