When it comes to feeding your tortoise, you may have wondered whether fruits are a safe and healthy treat. What about bananas specifically; where do they fall? Is this something that you can and would even want to feed? Here is what you must know.
So, can tortoises eat bananas? Most fruit-eating species of tortoise can eat bananas although should only do so in moderation due to the high sugar content and potential issues with ‘fussy’ eating. Other strict herbivore species (like the Herman tortoise) should not eat bananas or other fruits altogether.
While you need to be careful if you own a species of tortoise like a Herman, the other main species of tortoise often kept as pets (Russian, Red-Footed, Sulcata) can enjoy a little banana, here and there.
For the most part, many species of tortoises can eat fruit and vegetables and do well in doing so.
With this in mind, let us now take a closer look at bananas specifically and how you can go about feeding them.
Do Tortoises Eat Bananas?
Most tortoises will eat bananas if presented to them and the opportunity arises. Even if they are not a fruit-eating species and it could result in issues.
Just because some species struggle to process the sugars more than others, this generally does not mean that a tortoise will not try to eat it.
With that said, some tortoises do not like bananas and will turn their noses up at the sight of them.
For this reason, it is important that as a tortoise owner you understand your own species, their requirements, and their own individual needs.
When feeding your tortoise, there are some things you must consider, such as their natural environment and the type of tortoise that you have.
Many tortoises are indiscriminate eaters, but you must alter their diet according to their specific nature.
Otherwise, your tortoise could suffer much.
If you happen to browse some of the tortoise care forums online, there is a lot of misinformation regarding what you can and cannot feed tortoises.
Some owners are more cautious and would recommend not to feed fruits like bananas that have high sugar content.
Instead, they will recommend that you only feed the common vegetables.
It is commendable that they want to keep their tortoises healthy; however, most tortoises, (except for some species) can eat bananas, and it is perfectly safe for them to do so.
One primary concern for pet tortoise owners about bananas is that their pets can become fussy with their eating.
If overfed, tortoises can become dependent and expect treats over their normal feed; in this case, they’ll want nothing else.
The potassium-rich banana is no different.
Another understandable concern of tortoise owners is the issue of bananas and other fruits/plants causing beak rot in their pet tortoises.
Banana sticks to areas of the mouth that can decay over time, leading to health issues, which can end up being fatal.
Because of beak rot, you must only offer banana as an occasional treat and afterward gently clean the mouth of your pet tortoise with a damp cloth.
So, you must make sure only to feed a small amount of banana, as a treat, a couple of times a week.
Other than this, you must supply your tortoise with a varied menu that consists of an abundance of fiber, minerals, and nutrients.
Even fruit-eating species do best when 80% of their diet is in the form of fresh vegetables.
Fruit should only make up about 20% of their overall diet, commercialized tortoise pellet food and hay (timothy and alfalfa hay) can make up the rest.
When selecting a pellet feed, you should always seek out the best quality.
If you opt for a well-balanced and high fiber feed you can even make it the primary source of nutrition for them.
This is why the Mazuri feed is so popular among tortoise owners. Thankfully it can be picked up on Amazon for a great price:
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Tortoise Species And Bananas
Most tortoises are omnivores and can eat bananas without it affecting their health; however, certain species can’t eat bananas or other fruit and vegetables high in sugars.
We’ve already covered the Herman species briefly, but what about the main others?
Let’s look at some of the main pet tortoise species (Russian, Red Footed, Sulcata) and discuss how eating bananas affect them.
Can Russian Tortoises Eat Bananas?
Russian tortoises are quite hardy due to the hot, dry regions they are from originally.
Their hardiness and small size make them a popular pet throughout the United States and Europe.
These tortoises tend to be herbivores, so the bulk of their diet should be dark, leafy greens.
They can eat most fruits, including bananas; however, fruits should only make up 10% of their overall food.
Can Red-Footed Tortoise Eat Bananas?
Red-footed and yellow-footed tortoises are a tropical species found throughout some central and south American regions.
They are also herbivores, and the bulk of their diet must consist of dark, leafy greens.
Variety is the key to keeping these tortoises in optimum health, so feel free to experiment with different types of vegetables.
They need fiber in their diet which hay is a good source of. Pet Select offer a great fresh product that you can get in bulk on Amazon. You can also offer them commercial forest tortoise diets.
You can give them fruit, and bananas are safe for them to eat.
However, fruit should only make up 15% of their overall food.
Can Sulcata Tortoise Eat Bananas?
Sulcata tortoises come from hot, dry regions and, they are voracious eaters. They need a diet that is high in calcium and fiber and low in protein and fat.
They are strict herbivores, and when in the wild, they graze on the grass just like cattle.
As pets, dark-leafy greens must make up the bulk of their diet.
They can eat fruits, like bananas; however, only feed it to them in moderation, as over-consumption of sugar can make them unwell.
Can Tortoises Eat Banana Peel?
Many tortoises have insatiable appetites and will eat banana peel without a second thought. The problem with banana peel is that imported bananas are fumigated so that residual toxins could remain on the skin – so it shouldn’t be offered.
Human beings would not eat banana peels, and if we did the toxin load is considerably less so it’s not an issue for us.
But it could make your tortoise very unwell.
Washing the peel would not be enough to remove the toxins.
If you do want to feed banana peel to your tortoise, you could buy organic bananas and make sure that you lookout for a pesticide-free label.
However, there is no real benefit to feeding the peel so you would be better off avoiding doing this entirely.
Ways To Feed Bananas To Tortoises
You should only offer bananas as a treat to your pet tortoise and only offer tiny amounts.
You can feed the bananas in slices or chunks to your tortoise.
If you wish, you can get very creative and mix things up a bit with the banana and let your culinary skills shine through.
You can try out the following ways to serve bananas to your tort.
These serving suggestions are good for humans to eat and don’t involve any cooking.
However, remember that all fruits contain sugar and your tortoise needs a considerably smaller quantity than us humans.
If you have small cookie cutters that come in a variety of different shapes such as stars, hearts, squares, cats, boats, you name it; you could have great fun serving banana to your pet tortoise.
Banana and Fig Powerballs
Mash bananas and figs together and with your hands form the mixture into small balls (pea shape).
With the left-over mixture, add oatmeal and bake them into cookies for yourself!
Banana and Date Powerballs
Dates are absolutely delicious and very sweet, so you must only offer a minimal amount to your pet tortoise.
With the leftover mixture, why not make the most of it by adding flaked coconut to provide a protein boost that you and your family can enjoy!
The above are very straightforward and safe suggestions for your pet tortoise and you, but, as you get to know what your pet likes and doesn’t like, feeding should not merely be a chore. It should be fun for you and your tortoise.
The majority of tortoise species can eat bananas safely.
They generally enjoy doing so, although you will find the odd tortoise that never takes to this particular fruit.
If you want to offer banana, be sure to offer it in small amounts and in moderation.
While there is an abundance of vitamins and minerals in bananas (along with favorable fiber), the sugar can cause problems in excess.
You can also run into ‘fussy-eating’ which can be difficult to resolve.
Nonetheless, bananas are a fun and healthy treat that your tortoises can enjoy from time to time.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.