When it comes to feeding your tortoise it’s important to get it right as they are sensitive animals and a bad diet will have adverse effects on their health. Tortoises are primarily herbivores meaning they eat foods like plants, flowers and fresh vegetables. Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family along with eggplant and potatoes, but are they safe for tortoises to eat? Let’s find out.
Can tortoises eat tomatoes? Yes tortoises can eat tomatoes in moderation the fruit itself is completely free from any toxins. Tomatoes contain a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K1, potassium and are high in antioxidants your tortoise can benefit. However the leaves and stem of the plant are poisonous to they can’t be given to tortoises.
In this article we are going to cover the health benefits tomatoes bring, any potential downsides and other things you should know before giving tomatoes to your reptile.
Are Tomatoes Safe For Tortoises?
Tomatoes can be considered largely safe for tortoises. The fruit itself contains an array of vitamins and minerals that can enhance your reptiles life. It shouldn’t be a staple in their diet however as there are other foods they should preferably have.
The leaves, stems and tops of tomatoes aren’t considered safe for them however as they are toxic so never feed this part of the tomato to them.
If given to tortoises on occasion as part of a well balanced diet tomatoes can provide them with health benefits like anti-cancer, immune system protection, cardiovascular benefits and other things we cover in the next section.
Tomato Health Benefits For Tortoises
100 grams of raw tomato contains the following nutrients :
Your tortoise needs vitamin C for many functions within the body, luckily tomatoes are high in it.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant. This means it can help reduce damage done to your tortoises cells. As they get older there are molecules called free radicals that accumulate in the body causing age related illnesses like cancer. Antioxidants are designed to counter them and keep a healthy balance slowing down or preventing any damage.
Vitamin C is also extremely important in strengthening your tortoises immune system.
Tomatoes also contain potassium, an electrolyte tortoises need for sending nerve signals throughout the body, regulating fluid balance and allowing for proper muscles contractions.
High Water Content
Tomatoes are around 95% water meaning they are an excellent way to ensure your tortoise doesn’t become hydrated, all while giving them much needed nutrients at the same time.
Vitamin K1 is a group of vitamins that primarily function to help your tortoise with blood clotting. This means if they get a cut, vitamin K1 works within the body to heal this wound and prevent any excess bleeding that can lead to further health problems.
It’s also important for bone health and strengthening, reducing the risk something happens to your tortoises shell.
Beta carotene is the most prominent antioxidant found in tomatoes. It’s known for it’s positive effects on eye health.
It can also prevent age related disease like cancer, improve cognitive function and keep your tortoises lungs healthy.
Lypocene is another strong antioxidant that can protect your tortoises from the harmful rays of the sun, improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of come types of cancer.
It’s found in tomatoes along with : watermelon, guava, papaya, pink grapefruit, and red peppers.
How To Serve Tomatoes To Your Tortoise
Before you give tomatoes to your tortoise you’ll need to remove the stem/top as they are toxic.
Giving your tortoise a whole tomato to snack on will be too much for them, it’s best to cut it up into quarters or bite-sized slices so they can easily digest them.
If you haven’t grown your tomatoes organically at home there’s a good chance there will be pesticides sprayed on them, chemicals to keep away insects while the food is being grown.
It’s good practice to wash your fruit and vegetables to prevent your reptile from ingesting these chemicals which can make them sick.
Can Tortoises Eat Tomato Leaves?
While the fruit itself is safe to eat and contains many benefits the leaves and rest of the plant shouldn’t be given to tortoises.
This is because they contain two harmful compounds : solanine and tomatine.
Solanine : A poisonous compound found in the nightshade family and contrary to popular belief it can’t be removed by boiling, only frying. Solanine poisoning can cause gastrointestinal and neurological disorders, the symptoms include :
- Stomach aches
- Death in some cases
Tomatine : A poisonous alkaloid that’s found inside the tomato plant and unripe tomatoes, which is why you should never feed your tortoise tomatoes that are slightly green in colours. There is some tomatine in ripe tomato but the contents are that miniscule it won’t poison your tortoise. Symptoms of tomatine poisoning include :
- Abdominal pain
Can Tortoises Eat Tomato Sauce?
No tortoises can’t have tomato sauce. They wouldn’t come across it in the wild therefore it shouldn’t be involved in their diet. Tomato sauce is usually filled with sugar, fats and other processed additives to make it more appealing for humans. All of which can have negative effects on your tortoise.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Russian Tortoises Eat Tomatoes?
Russian tortoises need a variety of herbaceous foods like grass, flowers, vegetation and a small amount of fruit. Russian tortoises can have a small amount of tomato in their diet but it shouldn’t feature too heavily.
Their diet should be high fiber and low protein along with being high in calcium.
Can Hermann Tortoises Eat Tomatoes?
Hermann tortoises diet should replicate wild foraging. A mixture of leafy greens like broccoli, cabbage and cucumber are all suitable to give them.
Hermann tortoises can eat tomatoes as they are safe for them, but they should not be included too often as there are other more suitable foods out there for them.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Tomatoes?
Sulcata tortoises need around 90% of their diet to be grasses and hay. Tomatoes should be limited for this species due to it’s high water content that can lead to watery stools and overall digestive upset for them.
Tomatoes For Tortoises – Summary
Given in moderation, tomatoes can be a safe nutritious addition to your tortoises diet. They contain many nutrients that can give your reptile a longer and better quality of live. Don’t feed them the leaves or stem of the plant as they are toxic for them.
Be sure to feed tomatoes as part of a well balanced diet full of flowers, weeds and other fresh vegetables – don’t just rely on tomatoes for their needs.