Planning the right diet for your pet tortoise can be a tricky business. If you have recently brought a pet tortoise home, it is natural for you to struggle with its diet planning. You are bound to have questions about what’s healthy for them, and what should be avoided. For instance, take green vegetables. As a pet parent to a tortoise, you must already know that green vegetables are an essential part of a tortoise’s diet. But are all green vegetables equally beneficial for it? What about celery?
So, can tortoises eat celery? Yes, they can eat it. However, due to the low content of carbohydrates and the high content of sodium, celery is not ideal for tortoise consumption. It also contains a high level of oxalates, and its seeds have a diuretic property. Thus, while an occasional consumption does not harm them, a regular intake might prove to be toxic.
How does celery affect tortoises?
As mentioned above, the contents of celery can pose a threat to the health of tortoises. Here is a chart that contains the nutritional information of celery. Take a look.
|Vitamin A||10% DV|
|Vitamin C||15% DV|
Now, let’s take an in-depth look at the celery contents to understand how they can harm them.
Celery leaves contain a high level of oxalates. These oxalates, when consumed by tortoises, bind calcium in their intestine. As a result, their calcium requirement is not fulfilled. This leads to calcium deficiency, which can cause Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD).
MBD is a medical condition where a tortoise begins to absorb calcium from its shell for smooth metabolic functions. Along with the deficiency of calcium, the lack of UVB light also gives way to MBD.
The pet tortoises are more prone to MBD than their wild siblings since they are dependent on their owners for nutrition and exposure to UV light.
Diuretic properties of the celery seeds
The seeds of the celery plant have diuretic properties, which increases urine production. This may lead to the excess loss of water in the tortoise, resulting in dehydration.
The problem of dehydration is more commonly seen in pet tortoises. It can weaken their shell, create digestive issues, and chemical imbalances in their bodies. In some cases, dehydration can also lead to the death of a tortoise.
Low carbohydrate content
A tortoise depends largely on carbohydrates for energy. While it requires about 25% and 35% of fats and proteins, it needs more than 55% of carbohydrates in its regular diet.
Celery has very low carbohydrate content, which does not fulfill the high demand for it in the tortoise’s nutrition.
High sodium content
Tortoises that spend a major portion of their time inside water need high sodium. However, most pet tortoises are on land more often than in water.
A high sodium consumption can, thus, make them thirsty often. Regular consumption of sodium-rich diet can also lead to dehydration.
Celery is rich in sodium and can problems for a tortoise if consumed regularly.
Calcium phosphorous ratio
Celery has a calcium/phosphorous ratio of 1.7:1. Many pet owners consider this ratio to be unfit for tortoises, who need a higher amount of calcium for their nutrition. However, it can vary in different species.
Do tortoises eat celery?
Tortoises are usually very flexible pets in terms of their diet. They will eat whatever you feed them without much discrimination.
They also love variety in their food. Those who live in the wild eat up to 200 different species of plants and vegetables every year.
Celery, being a green vegetable, is favored by them. They are fond of green and leafy vegetables in general and enjoy munching on them.
How often can you feed your tortoise celery?
Unless it is a part of their regular diet for a long period, celery does not harm tortoises fatally. Therefore, you can feed your pet tortoise celery occasionally without worrying.
However, you should also make sure to feed them celery in small to moderate servings to limit their intake.
Different species of tortoise and celery
Different species of tortoise have different dietary needs. Therefore, you should keep your pet’s species in mind before feeding it celery.
Also known as African Spurred tortoise, the Sulcata tortoise is the largest continental species of turtle in the world. They are native to the southern region of the Sahara and are strictly herbivores.
The Sulcata is the grazing tortoise that mainly eats a variety of grass and plants rich in fiber with low protein content. However, vegetables like celery rich in oxalic acid can harm the tortoise’s health in the long run. You can feed them celery once in a week.
Native to South America, the Red-footed tortoise is average in size with an omnivorous diet. They like eating a wide variety of fruits but can eat grass, fungi, and invertebrates as well.
They have more bones than the other species and require a larger amount of calcium. Therefore, they can consume more celery than the rest of the tortoise without affecting their health.
Also known as Afghan tortoise, the Russian tortoise is found in Central Asia. They are essentially herbivores, with their diet consisting of dark, leafy plants and vegetables.
Celery is a nutritious vegetable for the Russian tortoise. However, its high level of oxalates makes it unfit for regular consumption. You can feed them celery twice a month.
What should you feed your tortoise occasionally?
Celery is not the only food that can harm your tortoise as a part of their everyday diet. We have made for you a list of the edibles that you can feed your tortoise as a treat occasionally. Check it out:
- Red cabbage
What should you never feed your tortoise?
Following is the list of things you should never feed your tortoise:
Plants that are toxic to your tortoise
There are a number of plants that are toxic to tortoises. If you have a garden, avoiding growing these plants.
- Sweet peas
Why is it important to take care of the diet of your tortoise?
The dietary functions of a tortoise are different from that of the other pet animals. For instance, if a dog consumes cheese, it will suffer from Diarrhea the very next day. With tortoise, that is not the case.
Even if they are on an unhealthy diet, the tortoise will appear perfectly healthy to you. It might take years for the symptoms of their declining health to show. By then, there might not be any way to retrieve their health.
Therefore, it is essential that you plan their diet plan carefully and keep an eye on everything it eats.
To sum it up, let’s go back to our original question: Can tortoises eat celery? They certainly can. Celery is a low-protein, leafy green vegetable that makes up most of a tortoise’s diet.
However, due to its high sodium and oxalate content, a regular intake of celery can prove to be detrimental to the health of your tortoise in the long run. The low-carbohydrate content of celery cannot fulfill the dietary needs of tortoises either.
Therefore, if you want to feed celery to your pet tortoise, you should take care not to include it in the everyday diet. If tortoises eat celery at intervals, it will not cause any harm, and can even act as a tasty snack.