Can Tortoises Eat Daffodils?

Having a tortoise is almost like having a child, what this means is it’s incredibly rewarding but also quite challenging at the same time. As they are our pets it’s up to us to look after them and make sure they’re safe. A big part of this comes down to their diet and the foods we feed them. Tortoises are herbivores who feast on vegetables, plants, leaves and flowers. However are all flowers safe for them to eat? What about daffodils? Let’s find out.

Can tortoises eat daffodils? No tortoises can’t eat daffodils as it’s considered a dangerous flower for them to have. Daffodils contain a toxic alkaloid called lycorine which is highly poisonous when eaten in large amounts. It can cause your tortoise to vomit, convulse and upset the digestive system so it should avoided. Lycorine is present in the bulbs and flower so the whole daffodil should be avoided.

In this article we are going to explain further why daffodils aren’t safe for tortoises, flowers that tortoise CAN safely eat among some other things so we urge you to continue reading.

Why Are Daffodils Bad For Tortoises?

Poisonous Alkaloid

While daffodils may look pretty and appealing for your tortoise, they are deceiving.

Daffodils contain lycorine which is a toxic alkaloid found in the Amaryllidaceae species that includes others like snowdrops, amaryllis and chives.

This poisonous alkaloid is primarily found in the bulb of the daffodil and in small amounts can cause digestive upset, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. If your tortoise has one or two daffodils it shouldn’t be a cause for concern however in larger amounts the consequences are much worse.

If your tortoise has ate quite a few daffodils you should take them to a vet right away as they have been known to damage the nervous system and paralyse the heart which eventually will lead to death.

There are also 14 other alkaloids present in daffodils.

High In Oxalic Acid

Daffodil bulbs also contain a high oxalic acid content. Oxalate’s are a problem for tortoises because they block calcium from being absorbed and utilized. This is because it attaches itself onto calcium in order to form calcium oxalate.

As tortoises require a high calcium diet for their skeletal structure and shell health, oxalic acid becomes a problem for them. Particularly while they are babies as they are in a growing stage.

A diet too high in oxalic acid will eventually lead to a calcium deficiency due to oxalic acid stealing it all on them.

Calcium deficiency in tortoises comes with it’s own array of problems such as : they grow but their shell doesn’t, shell deformities, soft bones that can easily break and a number of other things that make calcium so critical for tortoises.

Other foods high in oxalic acid include : spinach, parsley, rhubarb, potatoes, beets and carrots. Oxalic acid itself isn’t toxic but it should be limited in their diet.

What Flowers Are Tortoises Allowed To Eat?

It’s no fun telling you what tortoises can’t eat and not providing you any safe more nutritious alternatives.


Tortoise owners often get daffodils and dandelions mixed which can be dangerous, so make you learn the differences in them.

Dandelions also have a high oxalate content but fed a few times a week this won’t present a problem as they are highly nutritious.

They are high in fiber that will aid your tortoises digestive system, as well as containing :

  • Vitamin A
  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin C

For them being just a weed it’s no surprise they are recommended for tortoises to eat as they come with an abundance of health benefits due to all the nutrients.

Tortoises love them due to the vibrant color and how easily they can eat them so it shouldn’t be a problem getting your tort to have some.

Some other examples of flowers your tortoise can eat are :

  • Aloe Vera
  • Geraniums
  • Lemon balm
  • Clover
  • Plantain
  • Aubretia
  • Arugula flowers
  • Chicory flowers
  • Chinese lantern flowers

Are Any Flowers Poisonous To Tortoises?

Dandelions aren’t the only flowers that pose a threat to our reptiles.


They contain a toxin called protoanemonine, which isn’t lethal in small amounts however there has been a recorded case of a tortoise dying after autopsy reports showed a large number of buttercups in it’s system.

Therefore buttercups should be avoided completely, although if your tortoise has accidentally ate one while you were unaware it’s unlikely to cause any harm just be sure to keep an eye on them and don’t hesitate to contact a vet.

Other flowers tortoises shouldn’t eat include :

  • Alfalfa
  • Barrenwort
  • Blue-eyed grass
  • Borage
  • Daisies
  • Foxglove
  • Ground ivy
  • Poppy
  • Purslane

This is just a small list of some of the most common flowers tortoises shouldn’t have. Be sure to do some research before giving your tortoise something you’re not sure of.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Hermann’s Tortoises Eat Daffodils?

For tortoises in general their diet should replicate foods they would eat in the wild. A Hermann’s tortoise would eat grasses and leafy greens so their diet should contain things like broccoli, watercress, curly kale, dandelion greens and some fruits.

Hermann’s tortoises can’t eat daffodils as they are considered toxic due to a poisonous alkaloid called lycorine, this applies to all species of tortoise not just Hermann’s.

Daffodils For Tortoises – Summary

Daffodils are visually appealing to tortoises however that’s all they must be. Under no circumstances should you feed them to your tort as all parts of the flower are considered toxic due to poisonous alkaloids. If your tortoise has ate just one or two while you were unaware then they are likely just to have some digestive upset. In larger quantities daffodils can cause damage to the nervous system along with death.

I hope this post has made you more knowledgeable about daffodils and potentially saved your tort from some harm. If you know other tortoise owners who could learn from this please share it.