The fact you have landed on this page means you care about your tortoise’s diet, which is excellent because they need a well-balanced nutritious diet to give them the best quality of life possible. The majority of your reptiles diet should consist of fresh vegetables and plants with some fruits added if they are a fruit-eating species. Are all vegetables safe for tortoises though? Let’s find out.
Can tortoises eat broccoli? Yes, tortoises can eat broccoli it’s a safe vegetable for them to eat. Broccoli like most leafy greens are a source of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, K1, fiber, potassium, and iron your tortoise can benefit from. However, it should be fed in moderation as it contains goitrogens that can interfere with thyroid function if given too regularly.
In this article, we’ll explain possible health benefits broccoli has, and whether should tortoises eat it raw or cooked among some other important topics.
Broccoli Benefits For Tortoises
One cup of broccoli (91 grams) contains the following nutrients:
Broccoli contains vitamin C which is important for your tortoise to fight infection as it boosts the immune system making it able to fight off bacteria more efficiently.
Vitamin C will also help your tortoise absorb iron better, heal wounds, reduce cellular stress and maintain healthier skin.
Tortoise can make their own vitamin C via the kidneys so it’s not necessary to supplement them with it.
Vitamin K is needed to produce a protein called prothrombin, this protein has a number of clotting properties that are needed for wound healing and clotting blood. It can prevent your tortoise from excess bleeding if they get a cut.
The other main benefit of vitamin K is the effect it has on your tortoise’s bones. It’s needed to make them stronger reducing the risk of breaks and improving shell health.
Broccoli also contains potassium, a mineral needed for regulating fluid balance, cardiovascular health, and its role in muscle contraction.
A Source Of Hydration
Broccoli is also a good source of water for your tortoise, as it’s made up of around 90% water.
Tortoises need water as dehydration can lead to a chemical imbalance, digestive issues, shell problems, and kidney stones.
Signs your tortoise may be dehydrated include the following:
- Dry feces
- Lack of appetite
- Sunken eyes
- Dry or flaky skin
You shouldn’t rely on foods to ensure your tortoise is hydrated. There should always be a fresh bowl of water placed in a cool area of their living space so they have access to it whenever they feel thirsty.
Finally broccoli contains manganese. This nutrient is important as it helps with calcium absorption, which tortoises need. It can also help with metabolism, regulating blood sugar levels and neurological functions.
Possible Downsides Of Feeding Broccoli To Tortoises
Goitrogenics are foods that interfere with the thyroid gland and unfortunately, broccoli is one along with kale, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, turnips, and cabbage.
These foods make it harder for the thyroid to produce hormones that are important for metabolism function by limiting how much iodine can be absorbed.
As the thyroid is important for skin cells, growth, and metabolism too many goitrogenic foods can lead to stunted growth and shedding in tortoises.
Broccoli contains oxalic acid which is a chemical found in many plants and it’s not actually harmful itself. However if tortoises have high amounts of it this can cause problems with how much calcium is being used in their body, as oxalic acid binds to calcium preventing tortoises from utilizing it.
This can lead to a calcium deficiency, which many tortoise owners will know is a major problem for our reptiles as calcium is needed for shell and bone health.
Can Tortoises Eat Broccoli Leaves?
Many people leave out broccoli leaves, however, they are safe for tortoises to eat but shouldn’t be given very often as they contain purine which can have negative effects on your tortoise’s kidneys.
Can Tortoises Eat Broccoli Stems?
The broccoli stem is where the goitrogens are found in broccoli, therefore this part of the vegetable should be avoided. While it’s unlikely anything bad will happen to your tortoise after eating one it’s best to avoid the stem altogether.
The vegetable itself is nutritious and delicious enough so your tortoise won’t be missing out on anything, apart from an enlarged thyroid.
Raw Or Cooked – Which Is Best?
With vegetables, a lot of nutrients can be lost during the cooking process.
Cooking broccoli can reduce the amount of vitamin C present however it can also increase the antioxidant content also. However, both raw and cooked broccoli is an excellent source of fiber along with other vitamins and minerals.
It’s been studied that steaming broccoli is the healthiest way to cook it as steaming retains the most amount of nutrients.
Broccoli For Tortoises – Summary
Overall broccoli is a safe food that can be given to tortoises. If added to a well-balanced diet tortoises can enjoy the numerous benefits broccoli can bring. Remember as broccoli is goitrogenic and contains oxalic acid it shouldn’t be a staple in your reptile’s diet as there are other safer foods.
It’s worth noting that broccoli can’t be given alongside other goitrogenic food like kale, brussels sprouts, or cauliflower as this will increase the chances they experience thyroid problems.