Can You Overfeed A Tortoise?

My tortoise loves to eat which means he definitely takes after me. It’s gotten to the point I’m even questioning if he has a stomach as he always appears to be hungry. This led me to ask how much will a tortoise eat before they get full and is it possible to overfeed one? I was curious so I researched it and put my findings into one article for other tortoise owners. Let’s find out.

Can you overfeed a tortoise? Yes you definitely can overfeed a tortoise as they will keep eating as long as you keep feeding them. This can cause problems with their health as fatty acids will start to accumulate in their arteries and cause health issues. Overfeeding a tortoise can also leading to their necks becoming bigger which can limit them from retracting into their shell which causes an array of problems for them.

In this article we are going to explain what happens if you overfeed your tortoise, how much should tortoises eat as well as some other topics we thought were important!

Can Tortoises Get Fat?

Coming across a fat tortoise is much rarer than seeing an overweight cat or dog for example. It’s not like tortoises are more active than other animals so why do we see little to no overweight tortoises?

Tortoises will rarely become fat due to their diet. It makes sense if you think about what they eat on a day to day basis. Tortoises are primarily herbivores which means the eat things like plants, vegetables and grass.

What do all these foods have in common? They have little to no fat inside them.

It’s not a tortoises activity levels that keep them from becoming overweight, but the foods they eat. Your tortoise should still be somewhat active however for general health.

Tortoises aren’t immune to putting on weight however and they actually can get fat. In general if a tortoise becomes fat then the tortoise owner has done a poor job of taking care of the reptile.

For a tortoise to become fat you would have to feed it foods that shouldn’t naturally be in their diet that are high in fat and carbohydrates.

An incorrect diet combined with an inactive tortoise will 100% lead to it becoming fat which comes with a number of problems we will cover in the next paragraph.

What Happens If You Overfeed Your Tortoise?

Now that you know it’s possible to overfeed your tortoise and for them to get fat it’s time to tell you about the possible dangers that come with it.

Tortoises aren’t an exception to getting fat – which means that fatty acids will build up inside their body that you can’t see, but will still have negative effects on their health.

This can clog up arteries and reduce circulation which would eventually lead to heart disease or heart failure as the organ struggles to cope.

The other main problem that overfeeding brings is fatty deposits will start to build up around your tortoises neck. Why is this a problem you may ask? Because a tortoise with a swollen neck won’t be able to retract into it’s shell.

This leads to tortoises being vulnerable to attacks and injuries that they can usually hide away from.

Not being able to retract into their shell would also likely stress your tortoise out and panic them as it’s not something that’s familiar to them.

The added weight that a tortoise would have to carry can cause a number of issues too, they are designed to carry their shell so it doesn’t pose a problem to them, however added fat does.

Overfeeding a tortoise means extra weight is going to be put onto their muscles and bones which can lead to more strain on their joints and things potentially breaking.

How Much Should A Tortoise Eat A Day?

There’s no set amount as different species won’t eat the same, as well as baby tortoises or tortoises that are more active than others.

As a general rule of thumb you should feed your tortoise once a day, with a serving size that is around the same size of their shell. This limits the chances you overfeed them.

It’s also recommended you have two off days where you don’t feed your tortoise at all, only give them water.

Tortoises have very delicate digestive systems and two days off eating gives them time to process everything.

It’s important you make sure the two off days are the same every week. For example Monday and Thursday you won’t feed them anything and the next week you keep the exact same days.

What’s The Ideal Tortoise Diet?

The ideal tortoise diet is one full of foods they would come across out in the wild. This is why different species of tortoise have different nutritional requirements.

A tortoise that lives in a Mediterranean area would come across different foods than one who lives on the other side of the world.

Foods like fresh vegetebales, plants, grasses, hay, leaves, fruit (species dependent), insects (species dependent) and flowers are all generally going to be perfect for tortoises.

A further breakdown of these foods include :

Vegetables – Cabbage, carrots, kale, brussels sprouts, bell peppers, sweet potatoes and spinach.

Grasses – Wheatgrass, Oat grass, Barley grass, Couch grass, Timothy grass, Blue grass, Star grass, Bermuda grass and Cat grass.

Plants – Geranium. lemon balm. plantain. turtle vine. aloe vera. prickly pear cactus and clover

Fruit – Watermelon, strawberries, grapes, raspberries, blackberries, apple and mango.

Flowers – Dandelion, hibiscus and petunias.

Remember the best diet for a tortoise is a well-balanced one that has all of the vitamins and nutrients they need. Tortoises require a low fat, low protein, high fiber diet.

If you check all of them boxes then your tortoise is on it’s way to living a long and healthy life!

Can You Overfeed A Tortoise – Summary

Overfeeding tortoises is a thing as most torts will eat to their hearts content… or the food runs out. However a tortoise becoming fat means you as the owner have got their diet completely wrong.

A tortoises diet should consist of low to no fat foods such as plants and vegetables. If your tortoise becomes overweight it means you’re feeding them ridiculously high volume of foods or you’re feeding them the wrong kind of foods that are high in fat.

I hope you have found this article useful and learnt something new to improve your tortoises quality of life.

Don’t be afraid to share it with other tortoises owners to help educate them too!