Can Tortoises Eat Brussels Sprouts?

Brussels sprouts, you either love them or hate them in my opinion and I’m in the latter. Even though I’m aware of the benefits and nutrition they can add to my diet I still can’t bring myself to eat them. If you’re on this page I’m assuming you want to learn about your tortoise’s diet and not read about how bad mine is. Let’s get into it.

Can tortoises eat brussels sprouts? Yes, tortoises can eat brussels sprouts however they should only be given in moderation. This is due to them containing goitrogens which can interfere with thyroid activity and cause problems with slow growth and shedding. Although brussels sprouts actually contain iodine which can cause counter the effects of goitrogens.

In this article we are going to explain the possible health benefits of brussels sprouts, whether should you feed them raw or cooked, and some other things we think you should know.

Are Brussels Sprouts Safe For Tortoises?

Brussels sprouts won’t do any life-threatening harm to your tortoise, you will be glad to hear. However, like a lot of things, too much of it can have negative effects.

Brussels sprouts are considered a goitrogenic food, which means it interferes with the thyroid gland and how it functions. It can also lead to problems with the kidneys and liver by causing lesions.

Your tortoise needs healthy thyroid function as it’s important for skin cell health, metabolism, and growth.

Goitrogens cause iodine from entering the thyroid gland however brussels sprouts contain iodine which almost counters the effects making sprouts a healthier option compared to cauliflower, as there is no iodine in cauliflower.

Brussels sprouts won’t cause any harm to your tortoise if they are fed in moderation, it’s recommended you don’t feed them in quick succession the following foods as they are also goitrogenic: kohlrabi, turnips, rutabaga, radishes, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower.

Possible Benefits Of Brussels Sprouts For Tortoises

100 grams of brussels sprouts contains the following nutrients:


Very High In Vitamin K

The most prominent nutrient in brussels sprouts is vitamin K. Your tortoise needs this vitamin to protect and strengthen their bones. Enough vitamin K in their diet will reduce the chances they break a bone.

Vitamin K is also known for its blood clotting properties. This can help with preventing internal hemorrhages and healing wounds your tortoise gets, reducing bleeding.

Vitamin A

Brussels sprouts also contain vitamin A which is a vitamin essential for proper immune function. Without enough it they may get sick more than they should due to their immune system not being able to fight it.

Vitamin A is also known for its benefits it can have on vision and overall eye health.

Tortoises need vitamin A because a deficiency can cause swollen limbs as a result of liver failure, horny parts of the skin thickening, eyelids becoming inflamed and they will have difficulty breathing.

Vitamin C

Tortoises will use up a lot of vitamin C just by being alive and when there are under stress especially, therefore it’s important they get enough of it.

Alongside vitamin K, this vitamin also helps with healing wounds.

Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that helps your tortoise defend against oxidative stress. This is when your reptiles cells are attacked by unstable atoms called free radicals. If the number of free radicals overwhelms the number of antioxidants in the cells then your tortoise will have a higher chance of getting cancer or other chronic illnesses.


Manganese is an important nutrient involved in a variety of chemical reactions in your tortoise’s body, including glucose, cholesterol, and protein metabolism.

It’s also necessary for adequate calcium absorption, blood sugar management, bone health, and blood clotting.


Lastly, brussels sprouts contain folate. A group of B vitamins that are needed for creating red and white blood cells within the body.

Folate is important for converting carbohydrates into much-needed energy.

Raw vs Cooked Brussels Sprouts – Which Is Better?

Brussels sprouts as a whole are a pretty versatile food, meaning there are a number of different ways to prepare them so they don’t become boring and repetitive.

Your options are boiled, steamed, roasted, or even fed raw. I don’t like to give my tort raw sprouts due to them being goitrogenic. You can reduce the effects of goitrogens by cooking the food, the best way to do this with brussels sprouts is to boil them.

5-to 7 minutes in a boiling pot is the sweet spot for brussels sprouts to be cooked, any longer and they will start to become bitter.

Brussels Sprouts For Tortoises – Summary

Tortoises need a well-balanced plant-based diet in order to have a long, healthy life. Brussels sprouts can be given but shouldn’t feature too heavily in their diet. This is due to brussels sprouts along with cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and other foods from the same family being goitrogenic. Too many of these foods can interfere with your reptile’s thyroid gland and cause health issues.

However in moderation brussels sprouts are healthy and low in calories but high in nutrients making them a safe food for your tortoise to enjoy the benefits from.