This question has been on my mind ever since I was a child. I have always wondered if the slow, long-life-loving creature that is the tortoise would enjoy the sweet taste of fresh pineapple. I don’t mean to bring back painful memories for you; I just want to know let you know the answer to this intriguing question.
Can tortoises eat pineapple? Not all tortoises can eat pineapples as the high sugar and acidic nature of pineapples cause problems for their digestive systems. Pineapple is a tropical fruit that contains many healthy nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Only tropical species of tortoise can safely consume pineapple in moderation.
The answer to this question depends on the tortoise species. Many tortoise species, such as Russian Tortoises, Sulcata Tortoises, and Leopard Tortoises, can only consume fruits on rare occasions as the high sugar content and acidic nature of pineapples don’t sit well with their digestive systems. The species that can safely eat pineapples in moderation are the tropical tortoises like the Red-foot Tortoises and the Yellow-foot Tortoises.
Can tortoises eat pineapple? Do they like it? How do you feed it to them? In this article, you will learn all about feeding pineapples to tortoises, including their nutritional value, the species that can and can’t eat pineapples, and more.
The nutritional value of pineapples
Originated in South America, pineapples are delicious tropical fruits that were named after their pinecone-like appearance. The outer skin of these fruits appears to be greenish-yellow and slowly darkens as they reach full maturity. The flesh on the inside is a vibrant shade of yellow and has a combined taste of sweet and tart.
Pineapples are nutrient-dense fruits that have tons of health benefits for humans. And since we’re going to talk about feeding these fruits to your pet reptiles in this article, we must brush up on our knowledge of their nutritional value first.
Given below is a table that will help with just that. Take a look:
|Vitamin A||58 IU|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.079 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.032 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.5 mg|
|Vitamin B4 (Choline)||5.5 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||0.213 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.112 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||18 mcg|
|Vitamin C||47.8 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.02 mg|
|Vitamin K||0.7 mcg|
|Calcium, Ca||13 mg|
|Iron, Fe||0.29 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||12 mg|
|Copper, Cu||0.11 mg|
|Manganese, Mn||0.927 mg|
|Potassium, K||109 mg|
|Sodium, Na||1 mg|
|Selenium, Se||0.1 mcg|
|Zinc, Zn||0.12 mg|
|Dietary fiber||1.4 g|
Serving size: 100 grams
Tortoise species that can eat pineapple
The tortoise species that can safely eat pineapples in moderation can be categorized as the Rainforest Tortoise species.
Because these species belong to the tropical regions where plenty of fruits are found, they’re used to eating fruits. They can, therefore, digest a small amount of natural sugar without any adverse effect on their health.
About 70% of these tortoises’ diet consists of mixed grasses, flowering plants, and weeds, with fruits and animal protein making up the rest. Some of the common rainforest tortoise species are listed below:
- Red-footed Tortoise (Chelonoidis carbonaria)
- Yellow-footed Tortoise (Chelonoidis denticulatus)
- Elongated Tortoise (Indotestudo elongata)
- Burmese Star Tortoise (Geochelone platynota)
Tortoise species that cannot eat pineapple
It might come as a surprise to many, but the number of tortoise species that cannot eat pineapples surpasses those that can eat them.
These tortoises can further be divided into two different groups:
Grazing tortoise species:
- Hermann’s Tortoise (Testudo hermanni)
- Leopard Tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis)
- African Sulcata Tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata)
- Aldabra Giant Tortoise ( Aldabrachelys gigantea)
- Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans)
Although these tortoise species do not find fruits in their natural habitat, a small number of fruits in their diet will not do them any harm. However, since pineapples have high sugar content, they cannot be fed to them.
Mediterranean Tortoise species:
- Spur-thighed Tortoise (Testudo graeca)
- Marginated Tortoise (Testudo marginata)
- Russian Tortoise (Testudo horsfieldii)
The Mediterranean tortoise species belong to the deserts, where there is no trace of fruits in their natural habitat. Therefore, most veterinarians recommend not feeding these tortoises fruits or any other sugary treats.
Health benefits of eating pineapple for tortoises
If you’ve come this far, it probably means that the tortoise you own belongs to the species that can safely eat pineapples in moderation. However, should you feed your pets these fruits just because they’re safe for them? Or do pineapples have more to offer to your tortoise?
That’s what we’re going to figure out in this section:
Pineapple can keep your pets hydrated
When you eat pineapples, have you ever noticed how juicy their flesh is? Well, this is due to the high water content of these fruits.
If your tortoise eats pineapples, they will gain enough water from it to stay hydrated throughout the day. And all of us know how easily tortoises can get dehydrated. In fact, most veterinarians claim that tortoises that live in captivity are often dehydrated.
Dehydration in tortoises, when it becomes severe, can also lead to the following health problems in them:
- Chemical imbalance in their body
- Stones in the urinary tract (bladder or kidney)
- Digestive problems
- Skeletal and shell issues
Pineapples in rich in fibers
Did you know that tortoises use the fermentative form of digestion (hindgut fermentation)? Due to this reason, these reptiles need a large amount of fiber for their digestive system to function smoothly.
A tortoise should ideally consume about 18-28% of the fiber in their daily diet. Eating pineapple can contribute to their fiber needs, promoting their digestive health.
Pineapples will not make your pets fat
Most tortoise owners do not even consider the possibility of tortoises getting fat while feeding their pets. However, the threat of being overweight is both real and problematic for these reptiles.
When too much fat gets deposited on their neck and limbs, they can no longer tuck themselves inside their shell. This increases their vulnerability.
As you can see in the table above, 100 grams of pineapple contains only 0.1 grams of fat, which is far too low to have any adverse effects on their health.
Pineapples can fulfill your pet’s protein requirement
Most people confuse the dietary needs of tortoises with that of turtles, which can be disastrous. You must always remember that, unlike the omnivore turtles, the tortoises are herbivores and need only a moderate amount of protein in their diet. In fact, too much protein can even be detrimental to their health.
Pineapple contains a moderate amount of protein, which is just right for your pet reptiles; neither too little nor too much.
Pineapples have Calcium and Phosphorus in abundance
Calcium is the most important mineral for tortoises, as it strengthens both their carapace and their bones. Therefore, these reptiles need more Calcium than any other mineral in their diet. The Calcium requirement of a growing tortoise is higher than that of an adult. Pineapples can help your pets by adding more Calcium to their diet.
Other than the maintenance of their shell, calcium also serves the following functions in your pets:
- It regulates their heartbeats
- It controls the acid-base balance in their diet
- It maintains their entire skeletal structure
- It facilitates their enzyme activity
- It controls their muscle growth and functions
Phosphorus fulfills the following functions in your tortoises:
- It is essential in their energy production
- It controls the transfer of hereditary traits (genetic materials)
- It supports the healthy functioning of their kidneys
- It facilitates the chemical reactions in their body
In addition to these, pineapples also have other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which ensure the good health and longevity of your pet tortoises.
Risks involved with overfeeding pineapple to tortoises
So far, we’ve only looked at the positive aspect of feeding pineapples to tortoises. However, there’s a reason why these fruits should be fed to them in moderation.
Here are the problems that your pets can face if you overfeed them pineapples:
Too much sugar
As you can see for yourself in the table above, roughly 10% of pineapple is made of sugar. And although this sugar is easier for your pets to digest than refined sugar, there’s still a limit to how much of it they can digest safely.
You must understand that the digestive tracts of tortoises are not evolved to digest sugar. Therefore, they can face difficulties in digesting high amounts of sugar and suffer from digestive issues like diarrhea.
Many of you might already be familiar with the fact that pineapples are considered to be one of the highly acidic fruits. In fact, many doctors suggest people who have acid reflux not eat these fruits.
Since too much acid can be detrimental to the sensitive digestive tracts of your pets, feeding them pineapples frequently is not a good idea.
Can tortoises eat pineapple skin?
When we eat a pineapple, we often discard its thorny outer skin and devour the juicy flesh inside. But what about tortoises?
Can they the outer skin of these fruits? No, they cannot eat it for two reasons. First, pineapple skin is too tough for them, just as it is for us. The second but more pressing reason is the presence of Bromelain in the skin. Bromelain is an enzyme that is harmful to tortoises and can swell up their mouths if they consume it.
What about pineapple tops? Are they safe for tortoises to eat?
No, pineapple tops are not safe for your pet tortoises to eat. While many people would argue that these tops are green leaves and can be healthy for the tortoises, that is not true.
These leaves are quite tough and your pets might face trouble in swallowing and digesting them. Moreover, the bromelain that is present in pineapple skin can also be found in the tops, which is another reason why tortoises shouldn’t eat them.
Conclusion: Can Tortoises Eat Pineapple?
Wow, now you know which species of tortoises can eat pineapple! Open your door to the world of feeding that can add variety to your tortoise’s diet (and keep them healthier and happier!)
Redfoot and Yellowfoot tortoises eat fruits such as pineapples, apples, watermelon, papaya, grapes, and berries. Fruit is very high in sugar so it should not make up the bulk of their diet.
Have you ever fed pineapple to your pet tortoise? If yes, please send us an email with your experience. We love hearing from our readers 🙂
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