It’s important to research things in your tortoises diet as there are a number of foods that aren’t particularly safe for them to eat. Some species of tortoises can have fruit now and again however it shouldn’t become a staple as they are typically high in natural sugars. Are all kinds of fruit safe for our tortoises though, what about pomegranate for example? Let’s find out.
Can tortoises eat pomegranate? No tortoises can’t eat pomegranate, while it’s not exactly dangerous there are a number of reasons which make it unsuitable for tortoises to eat. Pomegranate has an unfavourable calcium to phosphorous ratio, it contains a high level of tannins which can limit iron absorption and it’s too high in sugar for most tortoises.
In this article we are going to explain why pomegranate isn’t good tortoises, some healthier alternatives and other things we thought you should know.
Is Pomegranate Safe For Tortoises?
Pomegranate isn’t the safest fruit your tortoise can have in their diet. It’s not exactly dangerous as it’s not poisonous or toxic so if they eat some of it they won’t experience any serious health problems.
However there are a number of negatives that when are compounded together make pomegranate not suitable for tortoises to eat regularly.
These negatives include :
- Poor calcium to phosphorous ratio
- High number of tannins
Let’s look into them further.
Poor Calcium To Phosphorous Ratio
In 100 grams of pomegranate there is 10mg of calcium and 36mg of phosphorous. This isn’t ideal for tortoises as they need a 3:1 calcium to phosphorous ratio in foods and as we can see the amount of phosphorous in pomegranate largely outweighs the calcium.
Tortoises require a high calcium diet as it plays a major role in their shell and bone health, along with supporting the entire skeletal structure.
If they eat too much foods high in phosphorous it can stop them from using the calcium that they need for so many vital functions.
This can lead to further problems like weak bones, soft shell and other problems that arise due to a lack of calcium in a tortoises diet.
In order to prevent your tortoise from becoming calcium deficient feed them foods high in calcium such as dandelions, collard greens, kale, sweet potato and broccoli.
High Number Of Tannins
Pomegranate also contains a high amount of tannins, which are a group of bitter and astringent compounds. The problem with tannins are that they bind to iron in your tortoises body, preventing them from being able to make good use of it.
Iron is needed for your tortoise to create red blood cells and transport oxygen throughout the blood. If they aren’t able to use it in the body they may experience anaemia (iron deficiency) which can cause :
- Fatigue/lack of energy
- Shortness of breath
Iron also helps the immune system fight off disease, therefore if tortoises don’t have enough of it in their body they may be prone to illness.
100 grams of pomegranate almost has 14 grams of sugar which can have negative effects on your tortoises health.
Only fruit-eating species of tortoise are equipped to handle sugar.
This is due to it putting a lot of pressure on the digestive system in tortoises. Too much sugar can cause digestive upset like stomach cramps and watery stools.
Horsefield tortoises for example don’t have a strong enough digestive system to deal with sugar so fruits should be avoided, whereas Red-footed torts are equipped with a much stronger system so fruit can be a part of their diet.
Healthier Alternatives To Give Your Tort
Pomegranate isn’t on the menu for tortoises however watermelon is just as delicious and way healthier for them!
Watermelon is high in… you guessed it – water. This makes it a great way to hydrate your tortoises all while feeding them quality nutrients at the same time.
It’s high in vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, fiber and antioxidants that can slow down ageing in your tortoise.
There’s only 6 grams of sugar in 100 grams which is significantly less than what’s in pomegranate.
What this means is that tortoises who aren’t a fruit eating species might be able to enjoy it without the digestive problems. If they aren’t a fruit eating species then give them very little to see how they react to it.
Cucumber is also a safer alternative to pomegranate with it being made up of 96% water.
Foods high in water like watermelon and cucumber are a great way to prevent your tortoise from becoming dehydrated, especially if they don’t like drinking from their water bowl.
It’s also high in well needed vitamins and minerals such as fiber, magnesium, vitamin K and vitamin C. They can also eat the skin, flowers and leaves of the plant meaning there’s no need to be anxious about any harm coming to them.
Tortoises can become dependent on store-bought diets so cucumber shouldn’t be fed too regularly.
Kiwi is quite high in sugar so this fruit should only be fed to species of fruit-eating tortoises.
For them kiwi is a good source of antioxidants, fiber and a plethora of vitamins that all come together to provide tortoises with a number of health benefits.
Tortoises can safely eat the seeds and skin of the fruit, however the skin may be coated in pesticides which tortoises shouldn’t ingest so I wouldn’t recommend feeding it to them.
Due to the texture of kiwi skin it makes it hard to wash the pesticides off like you can do easily with other fruits such as apples.
Pomegranate For Tortoises – Summary
A bit of pomegranate won’t do any lasting damage to your tortoise however it shouldn’t be a part of their diet. Pomegranate has a poor ca:P ratio which can effect your tortoises calcium intake, along with hindering them from absorbing iron efficiently which can lead to a fatigued tortoise.
There are healthier fruits out there that provide similar or better benefits while being a lot safer, they include : pears, watermelon, cucumber, apples, strawberries, raspberries and grapes.