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Can Turtles Eat Avocado? Facts & Safety Guide

Ashley Bates

By Ashley Bates

hand holding a slice of avocado

Turtles are very popular reptiles to keep because they have such a versatile diet and easy care needs. When creating a menu of fresh fruits and vegetables for your little shelled friend, you might wonder which are safe and which are not so much.

Avocados are notoriously toxic to pets, and your turtle is no exception. Even though the superfood is excellent for human beings, the same sentiment does not extend to your tank friends.

Here we will explain why avocado is a bad choice for your turtles and the dangers of consuming any part of them.

Turtles Cannot Eat Avocado

All parts of the avocado plant are toxic to turtles and many other pets. There are plenty of other fruits and veggies to enjoy, but avocado is not one of them. Turtles should not have any part of the avocado plant, including:

  • Roots
  • Leaves
  • Pit
  • Stems
  • Flower
  • Fruit

Avocados contain a component called persin, a toxic compound to many domestic pets. For this reason, eating avocado can cause gastrointestinal upset and even death.

Image Credit: Jumpstory

What Is an Avocado?

Common Name: Avocado fruit
Latin Name: Persea americana
Family Name: Lauraceae
Native to: Mexico

In the human world, avocado is a godsend. It has many health benefits, healthy fats, and other nutrients that aid our overall health. However, the same sentiment does not extend to many animals, including our closest domestic pets.

Avocado is a tree-grown fruit with soft green fruit flesh and a hard, round pit. This pear-shaped food is often enjoyed in its native habitat by animals like mice, rats, squirrels, and birds.

Why Is Avocado Bad for Turtles?

Avocado is bad for your turtles for several reasons. As we mentioned above, the fruit contains persin. It also has high amounts of phosphorus, oxalates, and fat. This can throw your turtle’s system off balance and be incredibly harmful to their systems.

Persin Content

Persin is a harmful fungicidal toxin plentiful in the fruit itself. If your turtle consumes persin, it can wreak havoc on their internal organs and even cause death from organ failure.

Signs of persin poisoning include:
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Body fatigue
  • Fluid buildup
  • Organ failure

Sadly, persin poisoning is not a treatable condition. Veterinarians can only administer fluids to flush the toxin from the system. So it’s best to avoid any consumption of persin at all.

Phosphorus-to-Calcium Ratio

High phosphorus can throw off the calcium-to-phosphorus ratio in your turtle’s body. For example, an avocado has a phosphorus-to-calcium ratio of four to one. A turtle requires an ideal one-to-two phosphorus-to-calcium ratio to maintain optimal health.

Oxalic Acid

Avocados contain a high amount of oxalic acid. Oxalic acid binds to calcium which prevents the calcium from being absorbed correctly in your turtle’s system. Since calcium is such a critical part of your turtle’s daily diet, maintaining a healthy shell quality, they do not benefit from high amounts of oxalic acid.

If there is a high amount of oxalic acid in your turtle system, it can eventually cause a calcium deficiency. This deficiency leads to weak shells and bones, which can diminish the life quality of your turtle.

Female Wood Turtle Laying Eggs
Image Credit: Brandt Bolding,Shutterstock


What’s the takeaway? Never feed your turtle avocado for any reason.

It’s really a shame that our turtles can’t enjoy avocados. They contain a myriad of components that nourish a turtle’s body. However, the harmful aspects of the avocado cancel out any positives they could gain from eating this fruit.

Featured Image Credit: Louis Hansel, Unsplash

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