As a tortoise owner I’m always looking to introduce new foods into my torts diet to give him some variety as well as some added nutrition. I was having a celery snack last week and noticed I’d never given him share before but I didn’t know if it was safe for him to eat so I researched and put my findings into one complete guide for other tortoise owners who were curious like me. Let’s find out.
Can tortoises eat celery? Yes tortoises can eat celery it’s a safe vegetable for them to have and actually contains an impressive number of nutrients your tortoise can benefit from like vitamin A, C, K, potassium and folate. However it’s high in oxalates, the seeds have diuretic properties and the sodium content isn’t ideal meaning celery should only be fed on rare occasions.
In this article we are going to explain the possible health benefits of celery, the negatives and other things you’ll need to know before giving celery to your tortoise so read on!
Is Celery Safe For Tortoises?
Celery makes for a moderately safe food for tortoises can have on occasion. It’s moderately safe as it doesn’t contain any immediately harm toxins that will kill your tortoise, but it’s not a perfect food due to it being high in oxalic acid and some other things we cover in more detail below.
If celery is given in moderation to a tortoise that has a well balanced diet then it won’t cause any harm and can prevent them with a number of health benefits like eye health, improved cardiovascular system, wound healing and plenty more benefits we are about to explain.
Celery Benefits For Tortoises
A cup of chopped celery contains the following nutrients :
Celery contains vitamin A which tortoises need in their diet to fight off infection and protect their eyes. Tortoises who are deficiency in vitamin A may be more prone to disease, have swollen or inflamed eyelids, swollen limbs and trouble breathing.
Vitamin A deficiency is treated by fixing the tortoises diet to be more well balanced, sometimes a vitamin A injection is needed.
Celery also contains some vitamin C, however tortoises can produce it on their own through the kidneys so it doesn’t necessarily need to be supplemented in their diet.
Vitamin C is important for calcium absorption, reducing cellular stress, boosting the immune system and repairing tissues within the body.
It can be founds in almost all fruits and vegetables.
Tortoises need vitamin K in their body as it helps with bone health and strength. This is important for our reptiles as it keeps their shells healthy and reduces the risk they break a bone.
It’s also need for wound healing, as prothrombin which has many clotting factors, relies on vitamin K to prevent excess bleeding and clotting blood.
Potassium is a mineral that can improve the cardiovascular system, it does this by removing excess sodium from the body in turn lowering blood pressure. It also helps maintain a healthy heart rhythm.
Tortoises need folate as it works alongside vitamin B12 to help produce red blood cells. They are needed to transport oxygen throughout the body.
A deficiency can cause anaemia and neurological issues.
Possible Downsides Of Celery
High In Oxalates
Celery is high in oxalates which is a compound found in many foods. While oxalates aren’t particularly bad for tortoises, if they are too prominent in their diet is can lead to calcium deficiency.
This is because oxalic acid binds to calcium in the body, essentially preventing your tortoise from being able to utilize it.
Tortoises need a well balanced diet high in calcium as it’s important for growth of their shell, bones and skeletal structure, especially while they are young and in a growing phase.
A little bit of oxalic acid in a tortoises diet isn’t going to have any negative effects but be sure to limit it. Other foods high in oxalates are spinach, rhubarb, parsley and broccoli.
Celery has diuretic effects which means it can make your tortoise urinate more often. This means your tortoise is expelling water quicker than it can be replaced. The problem with diuretic foods is an increased risk of dehydration for tortoises.
You should ensure your tortoise has access to fresh water in their living area to prevent them from becoming dehydrated, as well as limiting foods that have diuretic effects.
One cup of celery contains around 88 milligrams of sodium, which is a high salt content for a vegetable.
Now sodium isn’t bad for tortoises as it’s needed in the body to survive however when it’s consumed in high amounts it starts to cause problems.
The main problem too much sodium causes for tortoises is that it can result in calcium loss, leading to them taking it from their bones instead. This can lead to a number of problems especially metabolic bone disease.
Metabolic bone disease is caused by an imbalance in calcium/phosphorous that can lead to your tortoises shell softening and a weakening of their skeletal structure.
How Often Should You Give Tortoises Celery?
I wouldn’t recommend giving celery to tortoises more than once every two weeks or twice a month. This is the perfect ratio for them to experience the health benefits celery can bring, while limiting the potential downsides.
Can Tortoises Eat Celery Leaves?
The majority of this post has been around the celery stalk itself but what about the leaves are they safe for tortoises?
Yes tortoises can eat celery leaves they contain calcium, vitamin E and fiber which can aid your tortoises digestive system, bone health and reduce the risk they develop infection.
You can chop some celery leaves up along with the stalk for them to enjoy both parts of the vegetable.
Can Tortoises Eat Celery Seeds?
Celery seeds are mostly used as a diuretic meaning it helps the body to eliminate water through increased urination. Diuretics are bad for tortoises as it can further lead to dehydration which comes with it’s own problems that can even lead to death in some cases.
Avoid feeding the seeds to your tortoise and just stick to the stalk and leaves of the vegetable.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Russian Tortoises Eat Celery?
A Russian tortoises diet is mainly herbaceous foods like grasses, twigs, flowers and the occasional fruit as a treat.
Russian tortoises can eat celery it won’t cause any harm to them but it’s also not the best nutritionally so it should be fed sparingly as there are other healthier foods they can have.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Celery?
The majority of a Sulcata tortoises diet should be grasses and hay on which they are able to graze on.
Sulcata can eat celery but it’s important they don’t eat more vegetables than they do grasses and greens. As 90% of a Sulcata tortoises diet should be made up of grasses and hay vegetables like celery should only be given around 10% of the time.
Can Hermann Tortoises Eat Celery?
Compared to Sulcata tortoises, Hermanns tortoises need a mixture of grasses and leafy greens in their diet.
This means Hermann tortoises can safely eat celery, more so than Sulcata’s.
Other foods Hermann tortoises should have are dandelions, kale, watercress, parsley, rocket and spring greens.
Celery For Tortoises – Summary
Celery won’t pose a problem to your reptile given that you don’t feed it very often. It’s high in vitamins and minerals but also contains oxalic acid, high sodium and can lead to your tortoise becoming dehydrated.
Your tortoises diet should mainly consist of herbaceous foods like weeds, grasses, flowers, fresh vegetables and some fruit if they are a fruit eating species.