Spinach is considered a superfood, and for good measure. Thanks to the old sailor cartoon Popeye, spinach is one of the most easily recognized foods associated with strength and excellent health. This green leafy vegetable is a wonderful source of iron, which is why it is trendy among vegetarians and vegans. But the question is whether or to tortoise eat spinach.
So, can tortoise eat spinach? Yes, the tortoise can be fed spinach but in moderation. You can feed tortoise three to four leaves of spinach in a week. Since spinach is so high in oxalic acids and Oxalates can lead to the formation of calcium stones, it can’t be fed daily.
However, how safe is spinach for a tortoise? Well, there’s an ongoing debate regarding tortoises consuming spinach. Many people believe you shouldn’t give spinach to tortoises, but with research studies yielding new results every day, it is a little hard to discern what’s what.
Health Benefits of Spinach
Kids might scrunch their noses at leafy green veggie, but did you know that spinach is a powerhouse of vitamins?
Apart from the much-touted iron benefits this vegetable provides, spinach is rich in vitamins A, C, D, and K.
Vitamin D helps stabilize calcium in your bones, and vitamin A is perfect for your eyes and strengthens your immunity levels.
We all know how important iron is for us – it helps make healthy, oxygenated red blood cells (RBCs). And spinach is full of this goodness.
Spinach provides you with plentiful magnesium — important for regulating biochemical processes — and manganese, which is required by the body to control the function of chemical processes in your body and reduces pre-menstrual cramps.
This is all well and good for human bodies, but is spinach beneficial for tortoises?
Tortoise owners usually give small amounts of spinach to their tortoises, that too irregularly. This is because spinach contains high amounts of the anti-nutrient oxalate, which binds itself with minerals when consumed and forms calcium. While this is normal for most individuals, calcium formations can get clogged inside a tortoise, and lead to the production of kidney stones.
The accumulation of calcium happens very easily in a tortoise’s body, and this leads to the birth of kidney stones inside, which can be fatal for your pet.
However, the abundance of vitamins and potassium makes spinach a good source of nutrients for your pet tortoise. Just be sure that you do not let your pet consume too much of this vegetable.
You can offer your pet tortoise small amounts of fresh spinach during the months with low quantities of oxalates in the soil. This period occurs in two parts in a year – during the fall and winter months.
Spinach is ripe with potassium, iron, and magnesium – all of which are required in your tortoise’s diet to grow and function normally.
Things to keep in mind
1. Spinach is not a toxic vegetable for tortoises, but it is best eaten in small amounts, and infrequently at that.
2. Since spinach is so high in oxalic acids, your tortoise would do well to avoid it. Oxalates can lead to the formation of calcium stones and blockages in humans as well, so creating stones in the body of a tortoise, no matter what its size is, is no big problem.
3. The body of a tortoise is mainly made of calcium and requires a lot of calcium as a result. However, overfeeding spinach to your tortoise will lead to problems that can fatally endanger your tortoise.
4. Oxalic acids can combine forces with minerals to form raphides. Raphides are thinly shaped, calcium-rich formations that can cause a lot of damage to your pet tortoise. These crystals, shaped in the form of needles, can cause irritations along the soft skin lining as well as cause little tears in the mucous membranes present along your tortoise’s throat and mouth.
5. The diet of a tortoise should consist of eighty percent fresh vegetables. However, spinach might not find a permanent or even frequent place on the list of essential foods on that diet because of the harm it can cause to your pet.
6. Even frozen spinach should be avoided. Frozen spinach has very high water content, and tortoises do not possess good metabolism. Your pet tortoise may face more than a smidge of trouble in trying to digest frozen spinach. The poor animal will suffer from diarrhea and dehydration, so you should avoid frozen foods completely.
7. Canned spinach should be avoided. Canned spinach is essentially spinach that has been cooked and preserved in a can of salt and water. Too much salt should generally be avoided in a tortoise’s diet; it can lead to some health complications. A dash of salt sometimes ensures a tortoise gets its share of iodine, but most foods a tortoise consumes already contain various salt amounts.
As mentioned before, spinach is full of vital minerals and vitamins. However, a tortoise does not need so many nutrients. There is such a thing as ‘too much’ when it comes to tortoises and their diet.
Oxalic acid is present in many vegetables, and since eighty to eighty-five percent of a tortoise’s diet consists of veggies, you need to be careful about what you feed your tortoise.
Ways to Feed Your Tortoise Spinach
Tortoises can be very finicky eaters. It is amusing watching a tortoise eat at its slow pace, going through the motions at its own speed. Tortoises enjoying their food at a snail’s pace are a good reminder that you should take life as it is given to you, and savor each and every moment that passes you by.
If you are keen to have a tortoise as a pet or already own one, there are some things you should keep in mind with regards to their diet.
You should avoid giving foods to your tortoises that contain too much sugar. Fruits like apples and melons should not constitute more than fifteen to twenty percent of their whole diet.
If you plan on giving spinach to your tortoise, make sure you give a certain small amount, and rarely at that. Never substitute a proper well-balanced diet with spinach or fruits only.
Some ways by which you can give tortoises spinach are:
Fresh vegetables possess a very important and high status in a tortoise diet, no matter what breed it may be. Vegetables, especially dark green leafy veggies, contain many good health benefits, which is also true for spinach.
If you have to give your tortoise spinach, make sure it is absolutely fresh. Tortoises dislike old vegetables, especially those veggies that have mold growing out of them.
If you offer spinach to your pet crawler, ensure that it is fresh, and most importantly, raw. Never give spinach that you have cooked, fried, or boiled to your tortoise.
Raw spinach should be absolutely fresh and completely uncooked. Offer no more than one or two leaves of spinach to your tortoise in a week.
Canned or processed spinach helps you make dishes faster. While that is fine for human consumption, do not give either canned or processed spinach to your tortoise. Avoid processed spinach in your tortoise’s diet at all.
Canned spinach is essentially spinach that has been cooked – either boiled or steamed. This spinach is then stored in water and salt, and there may be added preservatives in it. This could harm your tortoise.
Tips to Remember When Feeding Your Tortoises Spinach
As mentioned before, spinach is not a toxic vegetable. Tortoises can safely consume it.
However, you should avoid feeding too much of this leafy green vegetable to your pet tortoise, since spinach contains a lot of elements that are not required in as much quantity by a tortoise’s body.
Feeding to much spinach can lead to complications, so some tips to remember while feeding your tortoise spinach are:
1. Do not feed too much spinach to your tortoise. You can give them a couple of leaves at the most, but avoid giving them spinach more than twice a week.
2. Always ensure that your tortoise has plenty of clean water to drink, along with its food. Water is vital for tortoises, even for those that reside in deserts.
3. Tortoises can easily get kidney stones, so make sure you do not give foods, especially spinach, that contain oxalate. Oxalates can bind with minerals to form calcium compounds and raphides that can get lodged in the kidneys of your tortoise, or scrape their mucous membrane with the needle-shaped raphides.
4. If you must give spinach to tortoises, feed them with fresh spinach. Never substitute balanced diets with only spinach, fresh or otherwise, which can cause many complications.
5. Always provide your tortoise with unprocessed spinach.
To conclude, since there’s not much information and literature on the diets of tortoises, it’s all really touch and go. We depend on observational studies, but nothing concrete regarding the diet of these animals is known extensively.
If you are keen on giving your pet tortoise spinach, make sure you give them no more than a couple of leaves of the vegetable at a time. Avoid giving spinach more than a day or two in a week.