It can be challenging to plan the proper diet for your pet tortoise because you don't want to put your tortoises in danger. If you've just brought a pet tortoise home, it is natural to be confused about its diet, especially if this is your first time. Celery is a marshy plant with a long fibrous stalk that tapers into leaves. It is a favorite in the sandwiches and burgers we eat. Just as humans require a proper diet for a healthy lifestyle, tortoises require proper diet planning to consume healthy and nutritious food consistently. Tortoises, as you know, need a diet of vegetables and greens, but is celery one of the safe plants for them? Let us find out.
Can Tortoises Eat Celery?
Yes, celery is edible to tortoises. Although they can eat it, feeding them this plant is not recommended due to its high sodium and low carbohydrate content. Additionally, it has a high concentration of oxalic acid, poisonous to tortoises, and its seeds have a diuretic effect.
The oxalate in celery can prevent a tortoise's body from absorbing calcium and result in kidney stones. Because of this, regular consumption could be toxic even though occasional consumption does not harm them. Celery is best fed sparingly to tortoises because it does not provide many nutritional benefits.
To meet a tortoise's nutritional requirements, pet owners should include fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, weeds, and flowers. As a result, celery by itself is not the best food for tortoises; instead, the majority of their diet should consist of pellets or other high-fiber fruits, vegetables, hay, and grass.
Celery is not poisonous, and it is best fed along with a varied diet rich in healthy fruits and vegetables to strike a balance and prevent underfeeding your tortoises.
Nutritional Benefits Of Celery In A Tortoise Diet
Celery is a crisp and crunchy plant high in antioxidants that your tortoises will enjoy. Giving tortoises celery protects their blood vessels, organs, and cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. The following are some of the general advantages of including celery in your tortoise's diet:
Magnesium can be found in trace amounts in celery. Magnesium aids calcium absorption and regulates the parathyroid hormone, which regulates metabolism in tortoises. It also controls muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. However, the amounts of this mineral are limited, and celery cannot be considered a magnesium-rich food.
Celery is an excellent source of calcium. Calcium is a mineral that tortoises must consume to grow and develop healthy bones and shells. Tortoises require a diet high in calcium, especially when they are young. The body's ability to absorb calcium from other minerals, such as phosphorus, may be affected, necessitating moderate feeding.
Therefore, it is advised to feed a tortoise a diet with a calcium to phosphorus ratio of at least 2:1 and preferably 1:1. Despite having a healthy amount of calcium, celery contains oxalates that combine with the body's calcium to form calcium oxalate in the intestine. As a result, it should be consumed in moderation or in combination with other greens to ensure a balanced diet.
Celery contains 24mg of phosphorus per 100g. Phosphorus promotes the growth and strength of the bones, beak, and shell. It influences how the body uses carbohydrates and fats. Phosphorus is also required for the body to produce protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues.
Vitamin A (Beta Carotene)
Celery contains vitamin A, just like other green leafy vegetables. Vitamin A is an antioxidant essential in tortoises for reproduction, digestion, and proper muscular and nervous system function. Too much vitamin A, on the other hand, can cause vitamin toxicity in tortoises and be fatal. Tortoises should therefore be fed celery sparingly. Celery also contains adequate amounts of a substance called beta carotene. Beta-carotene in celery breaks down into vitamin A (retinol), necessary for tortoises' healthy skin, strong immune system, and clear vision.
For a plant-eating tortoise, fiber is an essential part of its diet. In tortoises, fiber promotes healthy digestion and prevents constipation. The fiber in celery is sufficient to be broken down and serve as the primary energy source. To avoid loose stools and ill health, nutritionists advise a tortoise's diet to contain 10–40% fiber. Grass and hay are additional excellent sources of fiber for tortoises.
Things To Consider Before Giving Celery To Tortoises
Keep things in mind before feeding celery to tortoises, so you don't put them in harm's way. Celery is packed with nutrients, but it also has its downsides.
Celery contains Oxalates
Celery contains a high percentage of oxalates, so many people wonder if it's still ok to feed it to tortoises. You can, but only in moderation, as oxalates combine with calcium in the tortoise's body to create calcium oxalate, which is unsuitable for the intestines. As this calcium oxalate forms, it will result in a calcium deficiency and a metabolic bone disease that removes calcium from the tortoise's shell and reduces its capacity to defend itself from harm.
Celery has a low carbohydrate content
For energy production, tortoises require a daily diet that contains more than 55% carbohydrates. Celery lacks sufficient amounts of carbohydrates to sustain tortoises. Celery shouldn't be the main course of a meal; rather, it should be a component of the meal. Lots of celery can cause malnutrition and weakness in tortoises.
High sodium content
Sodium is abundant in celery. Foods high in sodium can harm tortoises because they can cause them to become more dehydrated over time because of their increased thirst.
Although most species of tortoises can safely consume celery, the vegetable does not provide enough nutrition. So, avoid feeding them this plant in excess. Celery is primarily made up of water, followed by sodium, both of which are toxic to tortoises when present in excessive amounts. For a balanced diet, celery must be supplemented with other green leafy vegetables because it is deficient in vitamins and minerals.