Feeding a pet tortoise can be somewhat confusing; there is a lot of conflicting information and it can be difficult to know what is safe and preferable. What about apples? Are they a healthy option for a treat?
So, can a tortoise eat apple? Most fruit-eating species of tortoises can eat apples, although should only do so in moderation. While they can provide variety to the diet and a number of key nutrients, vitamins, minerals – they are quite high in sugar. Mediterranean tortoises, on the other hand, should not be eating much, if any, apple/fruit altogether.
Even though this fruit is a good treat for tortoises, you have to be careful with the species you have and how much you feed.
With any fruit, it is important to feed in moderation because of the naturally high occurring sugars.
This article will include everything you need to know about feeding your tortoise apples.
Do Tortoises Eat Apples?
The majority of tortoises will eat apples if they are given to them. Generally speaking, tortoises are omnivores and have voracious appetites, some owners will tell you that their particular tortoise eats without discrimination.
In one sense, this is a good thing, but it does mean that you will have to be vigilant and ensure that whatever they ingest is safe for them to consume.
However, some tortoises do not like apples and may even ignore it if provided.
Do not be surprised if your tortoise does this; they know what they like and don’t like and each have their own preferences.
Either way you need to finely monitor and control what they do and do not eat.
The diet of the average tortoise must consist of around 80% leafy greens; this includes kale, mustard, and collard greens, carrot leaves and other vegetables such as yellow or green bell pepper, cauliflower, and sweet potato.
You can also provide pelleted feed, but be sure to opt for a high quality, high fiber option that is abundant in vitamins and minerals. Just like the Mazuri feed on Amazon.
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Fruits can be offered, but only as a treat and should only make up around 20% of their diet. Fruits include melons, grapes and bananas.
Some tortoise owners balk at the thought of feeding apples to their pet turtles, but as long as it’s only given in moderation, it is perfectly safe.
The truth is that most species of tortoise, being omnivores, can eat apples without any negative consequences to their health.
With that said, you must be aware of the following factors when feeding apples.
Firstly, they must be provided raw. You should never cook cook apples for your tortoises. This can cause severe issue with your tortoise’s digestive system, making them very sick.
Secondly, you should never feed your tortoise apple in too high a quantity or frequency as apples are naturally high in sugar. In large amounts this is difficult for a tortoise to process and they can start to become fussy eaters seeking fruit over their more balanced feed. Tortoises require variety and do better on mostly vegetables.
Thirdly, you should only offer apples that are organic free from pesticides as this can cause stomach upset and other health issues.
Fourthly, aside from avoiding apples containing pesticides, be careful not to feed apple cores to your pet tortoise. The reason being is that it is difficult for your tortoise to break down and digest. Moreover, apple seeds contain cyanide at significant does to small animals. Cyanide poisoning can severely affect the health of a tortoise, and if not treated in time, it can be fatal. For the most part, feeding the core, even cut up, is just not worth the risk.
Fifthly, another concern for owners feeding apples too frequently is beak rot. Pieces of apple can stick to different areas in the tortoise’s mouth and decay over time. This can lead to very negative health consequences, and it can even cause the death of a tortoise.
For this reason, fruits must only make up a fraction of a tortoise’s overall diet. The mouth of your tortoise must be cleaned regularly, especially after eating fruit with its high sugar and acid content.
While this all sounds pretty precarious, in reality apples do not pose a health risk to most species of tortoise. Far from it. While there is some things you need to be aware of and consider, they are not reasons to prevent giving your tortoise an apple as a treat.
Tortoise Species And Apples
Most tortoise species can eat apples, and enjoy doing so. For the most part, it doesn’t make them unwell.
However, some species of tortoise should not eat any fruit at all, but must eat certain weeds because of their low sugar content. Its an important consideration as an owner; you need to know what species you have and plan accordingly.
Let’s now look at some of the main pet tortoise species (Russian, Red Footed, Sulcata) and discuss if they can and how eating apples affect them.
Can Russian Tortoises Eat Apples?
Russian tortoises are found throughout central Asia. They are used to dry, hot regions, and have developed hardiness and an ability to adapt to most environments. These small and rugged tortoises are popular pets throughout the United States and Europe.
These tortoises are herbivores, and their diet must consist of primarily dark, leafy greens. They can eat most fruits, including apples; however, fruits must only make up 10% of their overall diet.
Can Red-Footed Tortoises Eat Apples?
Red-footed and yellow-footed tortoises are a tropical-weathered species that are found throughout central and south America.
Because they are herbivores, their diet must consist of mostly dark, leafy greens, and they need variety to be healthy. They will enjoy trying the different vegetables and fruits on offer.
They must have fiber in their diet, and hay is a good source of fiber. Commercial forest tortoise diets are available to buy for good prices on Amazon for these tortoises.
Apples are good for them to eat; however, fruit, in general, should only make up about 15% of their overall diet.
Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Apples?
Sulcata tortoises hail from hot, arid regions, and they need their diet to be high in calcium and fiber and low in protein and fat. They are strict vegetarians, and in the wild, they like to graze on grass like cows and sheep.
In captivity, they need their diet to consist of mostly dark, leafy greens. They can eat fruit, including apples, but only in moderation (5-10%).
Can Tortoises Eat Apple Peels/Seeds?
When it comes to the peel of the apple, it is perfectly safe for your tortoise to eat so long as it is good quality and safely prepared.
Make sure that you wash the skin and that it is free from pesticides as the toxins can make your tortoise very sick.
The seeds on the hand are not safe for your tortoise to consume, and you should not feed an entire core of the apple to your tortoise under any circumstances. It is not worth the risk of your pet choking or developing cyanide poisoning.
The seeds of other fruits, outside of just apples, should be off-limits too. The flesh of most fruits are often suitable for your tortoise to eat, just not the seeds.
Some tortoise owners will tell you that their pet eats all the apple, including the seeds, and it hasn’t done any harm to their pet. This attitude is unhelpful, especially when you consider the very dangerous ramifications of cyanide poisoning, the effects are fast-acting, and it can cause the death of your beloved tortoise.
Many tortoises have insatiable appetites and will eat anything that looks interesting and is available. If you let them freely roam, this could include coins, toys, batteries. These things are dangerous, and we must make sure that they don’t consume these objects. Monitoring them at all times and restricting access to areas is essential.
Ways To Feed Apples To Tortoises
You can feed an apple to your tortoise by preparing the apple in a variety of ways. For the most part, it is good to break it down into a more manageable size.
Its also good to get your tortoise accustomed to eating apples in different ways, which include:
Your pet tortoise may not mind how apples are served to him, but some are fussy and may want the fruit served to them in a particular way.
It is interesting to discover how they like to eat their apple.
So back to our original question; can a tortoise eat apples? Yes, most tortoises can eat apples and will benefit from doing so. It is a tasty treat that offers variety, vitamins and minerals.
With that said, it is dangerous to provide apple too often just as it is with any other fruit. You also need to be particularly careful with apple seeds, as this can easily lead to cyanide poisoning which can prove fatal.
Also be sure that you are feeding only raw apples, never cooked. Cooked apples can severely affect your tortoise’s digestive system, making them very sick.
Aside from this, apples are a fun and healthy treat that your tortoises can enjoy in moderation.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.