This is one of the questions that came to me by text in an interesting conversation with my buddy while I was sitting at the coffee shop. I picked up the phone and had a brief chat about different kinds of tortoises, their diet, and their taste for apples and other fruits.
Can tortoise eat apples? For most tortoise species, apples are safe to eat as an occasional treat. However, apples should not be given to Mediterranean Tortoises because of the high sugar content. Apples are nutritious and healthy for all fruit-eating tortoise species as they’re a great source of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
While certain fruit-eating tortoises can eat apples, they should only eat them in small quantities after making sure that all the seeds have been removed. Apples contain essential vitamin B, as well as vitamins A and C. They also provide potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and fiber. Moreover, the leaves and flowers of the apple tree are safe for tortoises to eat.
Since overfeeding sugar-rich food to any shelled reptile can be detrimental to their health, feeding them too many apples should be avoided.
It is no secret to us that every tortoise species can have different nutritional needs. This is why even if your pet tortoises can eat apples, you need to know the quantity of these fruits that is safe for them.
If you keep reading this article, you will learn about the varying nutritional needs of different tortoise species and how to fit apples safely into their diet.
Do tortoises like eating apples?
If you have never fed your shelled pet apples before, you must wonder whether or not they will like eating these fruits.
Let’s clear all your queries by stating that most tortoise species are either herbivores or omnivores, with fruits being a part of their diet in the wild. Therefore, feeding them apples in moderation is completely natural.
Moreover, tortoises can be quite insatiable when it comes to food. They have a large appetite and are generally not picky about what they’re eating.
So, if you are offering them apples, they will most likely devour these fruits, which is all the more reason you should be careful about moderation.
Can apples benefit the health of tortoises?
Now that we have established that tortoises would have no problem eating apples, we can move on to talk about the effect of eating these fruits on their health.
Even though you’re about to add apples to your pet’s diet only to treat them, wouldn’t it be great if you could also make them healthier?
But while apples are quite beneficial to our health, how would you figure out if they are healthy for your pets or not? We’re going to solve this problem for you.
To begin with, we have curated a table of apple’s nutritional composition to help you better understand the nutritional value of these fruits. Check it out:
|Vitamin A||54 IU|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.017 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.026 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.091 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||0.061 mg|
|Vitamin B6(Pyridoxine)||0.041 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folates)||3 mcg|
|Vitamin C||4.6 g|
|Vitamin E||0.18 g|
|Vitamin K||2.2 mcg|
|Sodium, Na||1 mg|
|Potassium, K||107 mg|
|Calcium, Ca||6 mg|
|Iron, Fe||0.12 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||5 mg|
|Phosphorous, P||11 mg|
|Zinc, Zn||0.04 mg|
|Dietary fibers||2.40 g|
Serving size: 100 grams
Now that we have an idea of all the nutrients present in apples let’s learn about the roles of these nutrients in your pet’s health.
Like us, tortoises also need vitamins in their diet to support their healthy growth and development.
Vitamin A, being a fat-soluble vitamin, helps them absorb the healthy fats from their food and promotes their eye and skin health. Moreover, it plays a key role in the smooth functioning of their reproductive system.
Vitamin B1 (thiamin) regulates the metabolism of carbs in their body, while Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is a co-enzyme essential in the process of energy release.
Vitamin B6 is another indispensable nutrient involved in the synthesis of antibodies and hemoglobin in the body.
Lastly, Vitamin K enhances their blood coagulation process.
As far as minerals are concerned, there are two essential to the tortoises, particularly the juveniles. These are calcium and phosphorus.
Let’s discuss the importance of these minerals in their diet separately.
Calcium fulfills the following functions in tortoises:
- Supports the formation of their bone structure and shell
- Maintains the balance of acid and base in their body
- Regulates their blood health and heartbeat
- Promotes nerve transmission, as well as the growth and contraction of muscles
- Activates enzymes in their body
The function of phosphorus in turtles:
- Essential in all the chemical reactions taking place within their body
- Supports skeletal growth and development
- Enhances kidney functions
- Aids energy production
Tortoises only need these minerals in substantial amounts; the other minerals are only needed in trace amounts.
In addition to all the vitamins and minerals we discussed above, there is more apples have to offer to your pets:
- Apples are rich in fiber, which is essential to the digestive health of all animals, including your shelled pets.
- Like most other fruits, apples also have a high water content that can go a long way in keeping tortoises hydrated.
Once you go through all the health benefits of apples for tortoises mentioned above, we’re sure you will feel much more confident about feeding them these fruits.
Risks involved with overfeeding apples to tortoises
Although apples have passed the health test in the last section, here, we will discuss why you must keep the amount of these fruits moderate in your pet’s diet.
The main concern with feeding too many apples to tortoises is their high sugar content. Even the fruit-eating tortoise species can only digest a small amount of sugar, which is why vegetables make the bulk of their diet, not fruits.
If your pets are eating more sugar than they can digest safely, they will suffer from digestive problems like diarrhea.
Moreover, too many apples can also make them fussy eaters. If they grow accustomed to the sweet taste of these fruits, they might not want to munch on vegetables all that much. This is true not just for apples but for every fruit you’re feeding them.
To help you practice moderation with apples, we will talk about how much fruit each tortoise species eats in the next section.
Apples for different tortoise species
There are about 49 different species of tortoise in the world, most of them inhabiting different regions and having different diets.
Can you expect apples to fit perfectly into the diet of each one of them? Even if all of them can eat apples, can the same amount work for all? Not really.
This is why we’re going to talk about the diet of some popularly kept species as pets and learn about how much fruits can safely be fed to them.
Can Sulcata Tortoises eat apples?
Also known as the “African Spurred Tortoise,” the Sulcata Tortoises are an African tortoise species that inhabit the Sahara Desert.
Being herbivores, these tortoises mainly feed on grass and plants, with occasional flowers and cactus pads. They don’t have access to fruits or other sugar-rich foods in their natural habitat. Therefore, it is best if apples, or any fruit, make only 5-10% of their daily diet.
Can Red-footed Tortoises eat apples?
The Red-footed Tortoises are a South American turtle species that primarily inhabit the forest edges and savannahs surrounding the Amazon Basin.
Being forest-dwelling tortoises, they have a diverse diet that changes along with the seasons. Dark, leafy greens make up 75% of their diet, while fruits like apples can rest. However, you must make sure to add a variety of fruits to their diet instead of sticking to just apples.
Can Russian Tortoises eat apples?
Also referred to as “Afghan Tortoise,” the Russian Tortoises are a tortoise species that are native to Central Asia.
These tortoises are quite sturdy and adaptable and should be fed leafy greens like plantains and lettuce in captivity. While fruits are not off-limits to these tortoises, only 10% of their diet should consist of fruits like apples.
Are the apple seeds safe for tortoises to consume?
While the flesh of apples is nutritious for most tortoises, can the same be said about their seeds? Unfortunately, not. The seeds of apples are not safe for your pets to consume because of the following:
These seeds contain amygdalin, a naturally occurring chemical compound that degrades into hydrogen cyanide when the seeds are broken. Hydrogen cyanide can interfere with the blood’s ability to absorb oxygen, thereby leading to fatal consequences.
While only a substantial amount of amygdalin can harm humans, for little reptiles like tortoises, even a couple of apple seeds can lead to cyanide poisoning.
And even if your toothless creatures cannot break the apple seeds, these seeds can still pose a choking threat to turtles.
Preparing apples for tortoises: things to remember
Now that we’ve discussed all aspects of feeding apples to tortoises, here are some pointers that might help you in feeding them these fruits safely:
- When buying apples for your pets, always go for the organic ones grown in a safe environment and are free from all toxic chemicals (like pesticides and insecticides) that could harm their health.
- Whether or not the apples are organic, you must wash them beforehand to get rid of any dirt that might be present on the surface.
- Remove all the seeds, along with the core of the apples, and feed your pets small, bite-sized pieces of apple flesh.
Conclusion: Can Tortoise Eat Apples?
Tortoises are a popular pet reptile despite their slow and sometimes inactive lifestyle. Fruit is more of a treat for tortoises than part of a healthy diet.
The most important thing to remember is that you should never feed a tortoise an excess amount of any fruit, even if it’s an apple. Most species of tortoise have a natural tendency to live in tropical climates which means they are not accustomed to eating any kind of tree fruits.
However, certain types of apples can be beneficial to their diets as long as they are given in moderation.
If you would like to try apples with your tortoise, then you must be prepared for a sugar overload. Due to the high sugar content of apples, your tortoise should only have one or two small pieces of apple at a time.
This article has come to an end, and now you know a little more about tortoises and apples!
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