Can Tortoises Eat Cabbage?

Can Tortoises Eat Cabbage?

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Tortoises and other herbivores enjoy the taste of green vegetables, but not all green vegetables are safe for all herbivores. Tortoises are vegetarians, meaning they prefer a diet high in vegetables, fruits, grass, hay, and weeds. They can also be given berries and a handful of the highly nutritious alfalfa hay on occasion.

Cabbage is highly healthy food for both humans and tortoises. It has an excellent nutrient profile and is exceptionally high in antioxidants like vitamins C and K. In this article, we'll look at the health benefits of cabbage in tortoises' diets and whether they can consume it without harm. 

Can Tortoises Eat Cabbage?

Yes, tortoises can eat cabbage. Cabbage is a nutritious vegetable for humans, but it shouldn't be given to tortoises. Although it is not toxic, cabbage contains goitrogens that can interfere with thyroid activity and could damage the liver and kidneys. Therefore, it is not advisable to feed too much cabbage to your tortoises.

Cabbage is a nutritious food that is frequently recommended for tortoise diets. Cabbages served alone can malnourish your tortoise, so they require a sufficient amount of leafy greens and vegetables in their diet to remain healthy. Tortoises also enjoy cabbage because it is crunchy. Crunchy vegetable aid in the trimming of the tortoise's beak, preventing it from overgrowing and making chewing uncomfortable. While it is generally safe for tortoises to eat, they should be fed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.

Nutritionists advise against feeding many vegetables high in oxalates and goitrogens, such as cabbage. Feed your tortoise foods high in fiber, calcium, and vitamins instead. Due to its high calcium, vitamin, and water content, cabbage is okay to be given moderately, not more than once per week, as part of a healthy diet. 


Health Benefits Of Cabbage For Tortoises

Even though overfeeding a tortoise cabbage carries some health risks, as was mentioned at the outset of this article, it's still important to be aware of the positive health effects of cabbage. The positive effects are significant because you don't want to feed your tortoise unnutritious fruits and vegetables, which will cause them to become malnourished. A tortoise should not eat foods with no nutritional value. Some of the nutrients that cabbages contain are listed below: 


One of the many benefits of feeding cabbage to tortoises is that they get protein. Tortoises, like other herbivores and omnivores, require protein in their diet, even if they do not require much. According to a recent study, herbivorous tortoises require between 14 and 35% of their body weight in dry protein. Any more than that could be harmful to your health. Cabbage contains 1.28 g of protein per 100g serving. 

Dietary fiber

Cabbages are high in dietary fiber and will help your tortoise meet its daily fiber requirements. There is 1.28 g of fiber in 100 grams of cabbage, which is the recommended serving size. Fiber aids the tortoise's digestion and bowel movement. Although cabbages are suitable for tortoises, they should be fed in moderation because too much fiber reduces carbohydrate intake and prevents minerals from being absorbed.  


Tortoises require a lot of water to stay well-hydrated, and most of this fluid can be found in fruits and vegetables such as cabbage. Cabbage is a good water source that helps keep your tortoises hydrated. There is 92.18 g of water in 100g of cabbage.

Dehydration in tortoises can negatively affect how well their bodies usually function. During the hot summers, cabbages aid in preserving your pet tortoise's average water level and reducing the risk of fatal dehydration.  


Cabbage is packed with a lot of minerals, which is essential for the overall health of tortoises. Two of the more important minerals for tortoises are calcium and phosphorus. Calcium and phosphorus in tortoises play a role in healthy bone and shell formation.

So, providing cabbage treats along with other nutrient-rich fruits would keep your tortoise in good shape. 

Cabbage has a very small calcium and phosphorus content. The calcium to phosphorus ratio in cucumber is 2:1, the recommended value. Plants rich in minerals that you can substitute for cabbage are kale, rich in calcium, and figs, rich in calcium.


Vitamins are antioxidants that are essential for tortoises' overall health. Vitamins, like minerals, are crucial components of their diet. Cabbage is high in vitamin A and vitamin K. Vitamin A promotes healthy skin, eyes, and reproduction, whereas Vitamin K aids blood clotting. 


Health Risks Of Feed Cabbage To Tortoises

While giving your tortoise cabbage has many positive health effects, you should be aware of some hazards and toxins in this vegetable. The high levels of oxalate and goitrogens in cabbage pose the biggest threat.

There may be adverse health effects if your tortoise consumes a diet high in goitrogens. Goitrogens are a substance that significantly harms the kidneys and liver. These organs cannot perform their functions if your pet tortoise overeats cabbage.

Furthermore, having too little cabbage in an adult tortoise's system can have adverse health effects too. There should be moderation and balance as to how you feed them. You must also closely monitor the calcium intake of your tortoise because it can cause issues. 

Other vegetables can be eaten with cabbage, but be sure that they do not also contain goitrogen. Keep in mind that no more than two goitrogenic plants should be given together with cabbage, and the overall amount of goitrogenic foods consumed should not exceed the recommended level of moderation. By doing this, goitrogenic consumption will be kept within acceptable ranges. Cabbage should only be given to tortoises once a week, at most. 

Final Thoughts

Cabbage has several health benefits. However, because it can be potentially dangerous to eat, caution must be exercised to avoid overfeeding this vegetable. Feeding cabbage as an occasional treat is the best approach; however, you must ensure that the cabbage is thoroughly washed to remove pesticides and dirt and cut into small pieces before feeding it to your tortoise.

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