Can Tortoises Eat Nettles? (Explained)

If you’ve ever wondered whether tortoises can eat nettles, the answer is yes! Nettles are a nutritious food for tortoises, and they can help to boost your pet’s health. But there are a few things to keep in mind, which I’ll discuss in this post.

Nettles provide a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and other minerals. They also work as an antioxidant.

So, here’s what you need to know about feeding nettles to your tortoise.

Is it Safe for a Tortoise to Eat Nettles?

Yes, it is safe for a tortoise to eat nettles. Nettles are a great source of food for tortoises and contain many vitamins and minerals that are essential for their health. Tortoises should only eat a small number of nettles each day.

There are a few things to keep in mind. It is best to only feed young leaves to your pet. Additionally, stinging cells on the nettle leaves can cause irritation to some tortoises, so I would recommend wilting them before feeding the leaves to your tortoise.

Nutrients in Stinging Nettle

  • Vitamins (vitamin A, C, K, and B vitamins)
  • Minerals (iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, and potassium)
  • Fats (palmitic acid, linolenic acid, linoleic acid, oleic acid, and stearic acid)
  • Amino acids (all of the ​essential amino acids)
  • Polyphenols (caffeic acid, quercetin, coumarins, kaempferol, and other flavonoids)
  • Pigments (luteoxanthin, lutein, beta-carotene, and other carotenoids)

Source: Science Direct

Stinging Nettles Vs. Dead Nettles for Tortoises

Stinging Nettles Vs. Dead Nettles for Tortoises

Tortoises are naturally attracted to stinging nettles, but is this the best food for them? Let’s find out the differences between stinging and dead nettles.

Stinging Nettles

Stinging Nettles have oval-shaped leaves with a fuzzy surface. Stinging Nettles may seem like an unlikely food for tortoises, but these unique creatures find the plant appealing. The stinging hairs on the nettles are harmless to tortoises but it’s always better to prepare nettles for your tortoise by simply blanching them to disarm the irritating hairs.

Stinging nettles contain more oxalates as they age. Young leaves have the highest concentration of nutrients. The oxalates in older leaves can bind with calcium and other minerals, making them risky for your tortoise if fed in large numbers. For this reason, it is best to feed only young leaves of stinging nettles to your tortoise.

Dead Nettles

Dead nettles have heart-shaped leaves and deeper veins than other members of the mint family. Dead nettles have fewer oxalates than stinging nettles, so they are safer for tortoises to eat. In addition, there are many varieties of dead nettles. Some of the most popular varieties include yellow archangel and white dead nettle.

How do I Prepare the Nettles for My Tortoise?

Nettles are a nutritious treat for tortoises, but they must be prepared properly to remove any sprayed insecticides.

To prepare nettles, start by wearing gloves to avoid getting stung. Then, cut off the leaves and stems from the plant and give them a quick dip in boiling water. This will disarm the stinging cells and make the nettles safe for your tortoise to eat.

You can then blanch the nettles in cold water before adding them to your tortoise’s mixed diet. Nettles are high in iron and other minerals, so they make a great addition to your tortoise’s regular diet.

Benefits of Feeding Nettles to Tortoises?

Tortoises are reptiles that originate from warm climates. In the wild, they eat a variety of plants and insects. Nettles provide a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and other minerals. They also work as an antioxidant food, which is important for tortoises to make their immune system stronger against diseases.

Do Nettle Sting the Tortoise’s Mouth?

Do Nettle Sting the Tortoise's Mouth

The answer is no, nettles do not sting the tortoise’s mouth. Tortoises are actually immune to the stinging properties of nettles. This is because their mouths are lined with a thick layer of mucus that protects them from the sting.

So, if you see a tortoise eating a nettle, don’t worry, they’re not in any pain. In fact, they’re probably enjoying it! Nettles are a great source of food for tortoises and help them to stay healthy and active.

If your tortoise does happen to eat a lot of nettles, don’t panic; just keep an eye on them for any signs of discomfort, and contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns.