If you are considering getting a tortoise, or you have even recently adopted one, then one of those things you will need to be aware of is there pooping habits and behaviors. Its hard to know what to expect at first as all animals and pets are different. Having been interested in adopting a tortoise for a while now, I decided to conduct some research into the topic. Here is what I have been able to find.
So, how often do Tortoises poop? Tortoises poop every two to three days. They poop less often than other animals, pets and even us humans. This is due to their own genetic makeup and their own digestive prowess and processes. However, your tortoise may poop less frequently or more frequently than this and this could indicate a health problem. It is therefore essential you feed them a wholesome yet appropriate diet and monitor all bowel movement changes.
Let us now take a closer look at how tortoises poop, what is optimal and some things to monitor, look out for and other considerations around the topic.
Tortoises and Poop
Not all animals poop the same and poops come in all sort of shapes and sizes. Some have little log-like stools while other animals can manage to poop out little circles or squares.
Knowing how each animal poops therefore goes a long way to understanding what is normal and what to expect. This could not be more true for your pet tortoise, as their bowel movements differ quite a lot compared to us humans. Ultimately, observing and monitoring their defecation behavior is a recognized way for you to monitor their health.
How often an animal passes a bowel movement is a great indicator of a lot of different health concepts. Some animals seem to be always going to the bathroom while others seem to do it more sparingly.
Tortoises are one of those animals are seldom use the bathroom. When a tortoise is healthy, you can expect them to poop every two to three days.
Of course there is a lot of variation, and it isn’t a flawless predictor of health. Understanding the different reasons behind their fascinating dietary habits can help you understand this reptile’s health.
What Color Is Tortoise Poop?
Tortoise poop can very in texture, color, and consistency. There are many factors that contribute to these variations – including age, weight, diet and general state of health.
Generally speaking, you should be expected a brownish to greenish color. It should resemble the food within their diet, but of course take on a different disposition as it has gone through the digestion process.
Why Is My Tortoise’s Poop White?
If you are watching your tortoise’s bathroom habits, you may notice that it looks like there is a semisolid white materials in there. This is a phenomena specific to reptiles. When reptiles make a bowel movement they often urinate as well.
Urine is pretty similar between species. Generally this natural release of toxins look like a yellowish liquid. Tortoises also release something called urinates. This isn’t something that just tortoises do. This is also something that a lot of other reptiles do, including bearded dragons, turtles, some snakes, and several other lizards.
When humans go to the bathroom, we have to expel nitrogen. Mammals do it in the form of urea, a substance which can be dissolved in water. This means that our urine should be pure liquid and not sludgy or gritty at all.
Reptiles have a slightly different process of expelling the unwanted element. Nitrogen is excreted in the form of something called Ulric Acid. In contrast to the mammal variation, this can be very dry and doesn’t dissolve completely when the liquid toxins get passed through the body.
This means that the resulting products are a little gritty. It is generally released with both semi-solid and liquid waste. For someone who isn’t expecting it, this substance can easily get mistaken as feces.
Healthy urate with be white and have a similar consistency to toothpaste. Whether or not it is healthy also has to do greatly with the tortoise’s diet.
What Is A Healthy Diet For A Tortoise?
People often get their tortoises and turtles mixed up and it is pretty easy to see why. They look and act very similar and are closely related. Does this mean you can just feed your tortoise turtle food?
Not at all. One of their defining differences comes up when you take a look at their diet.
Unlike turtles, who are omnivores, tortoises are vegetarian. This means that they do not eat any form of meat. They don’t eat little rodents, small fish, or even bugs.
Because turtles often do, their food is specially formulated to include little bits of animal parts. Tortoise food is a nice mix of different veggies, fruits, and greens.
You can also make your tortoise its own personal salad. Just make sure to make it up of certain things.
80% of your tortoise’s diet should comprise of fresh greens. Solid choices that you should regularly include are:
- Collard greens
- Green or red-leaf lettuce
- Carrot tops
- Edible flowers (like dandelions)
- Kohl rabi
- Mustard greens
- Beans sprouts
- Cactus pads (obviously with no spikes)
While those are the best choices, you can also try to add in some of these other veggies sparingly. Things like watery lettuces (iceberg, romaine, and butter lettuce), spinach, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, peas, and celery can be added less frequently as a treat.
This 80% doesn’t only need to be comprised of veggies though. There are a number of fruits that can always be added to the mix.
- All kinds of melon
- Cactus fruit
- Peppers (bell, not the extremely spicy kind)
Just like with the veggies, fruits should be given more sparingly as snacks. The fruits above are considered the safer fruits to consume in higher quantities, although in excess, can cause health problems. Alone they do note suffice as a sustainable diet.
Fruits that you have to be most careful of given a tortoise in excess would be things like blueberries, blackberries, bananas, grapes, tomatoes, oranges, apples, plums, apricots, peaches, pears, and cucumbers.
The bulk of a tortoises diet should be carefully calculated. It needs to contain enough fiber, be complete with nutrition (vitamins and minerals) and also highly digestible. This will ensure they are pooping once every 2-3 days (their typical schedule).
This is why the Mazuri Tortoise Diet (available on Amazon) is so popular with tortoise pet owners. It provides complete nutrition; without the need to add any supplements and tortoises are known to respond really well to it. There’s countless positive reviews about how you can feed this exclusively to tortoises and they thrive.
Moreover, If you want to add a little excitement to their meals but don’t always have the time to get fresh produce and prepare it, you can purchase Fruit Mix.
Fruit Mix should not be the sole food source for your tortoise, but they can offer flavor and variety dry food couldn’t provide alone. The Zilla Mix Treat on Amazon are great to add to a basic diet.
These fruit cubes are a nutritious way to get your reptiles some nice fruit supplements when you just don’t have the time. Remember, they still prefer fresh fruits!
Alternatively, or in addition, if you wanted to provide a treat that you could give more frequently, you can get some excellent vegetarian treats, like Cactus Bites. Cactus is great for tortoises, and they really enjoy consuming it due to the crunch. All you have to do is let them soak for a bit and they are good as new! This lasts much longer than if you were to find fresh cactus.
What Are The Best Kinds of Store-Foods For A Tortoise?
A good, plant-based diet will have a specific ratio of different vegetation to keep food balanced and healthy. That being said, there is no reason in why you cannot opt for a store-bough brand if you opt for the right one.
While you do not need to prepare a gourmet meal for your tortoise every day, you should try to offer your little reptile a regular amount of diversity in their diets. They do need (and can enjoy) prepared food. It comprises of a healthy part of their diets that is important to promote good digestive health.
Try using a trusted brand of food so you know you are getting good quality. Also be sure that the food is ideal for the specific brand of tortoise you have. You’ll also want to be sure it comes with absolutely no artificial colors or preservatives and has
Ultimately, the food you choose should have been designed and formulated specifically for tortoises. They should mimic the vegetation and food sources found in the natural habitats of these creatures.
So back to our original question, how often do tortoises poop. It should be once every two to three days. While this may seem a little on the low side, its perfectly normal.
Consider that their digestion process works a lot slower than us humans, and the food passes through their system at a much slower rate.
If your tortoise is pooping a lot more, or a lot less than this, it could indicate a problem. Going to your vet is always advised in these situations.
Other than that by feeding your tortoise a nutritious diet, with plenty of fiber and natural food sources, you will ensure they live a healthy and happy life!
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.