Can Tortoises Eat Broccoli? (+ Other Healthy Greens)

Yes, tortoises can eat broccoli. I do see some concerns around goitrogens, but I’ve never heard owners who feed their tortoise’s broccoli voice any concerns. Vegetables make up a large part of a tortoise’s diet and do provide some good nutritional content, but variation is the key.

Can Tortoises Eat Broccoli

Is Broccoli Good for Tortoises?

Broccoli is one of the most nutritionally dense vegetables and provides a wide range of benefits to us.

It’s not quite the same superfood tortoises, but there’s no doubting the wide range of vitamins, minerals, and fiber is beneficial for them.

The bulk of a tortoise’s diet comes from leafy greens and vegetables as they rely on well-balanced nutrients, minerals, and vitamins.

So, broccoli makes for a good addition to their diet, yes.

Can Tortoises Eat Raw Broccoli?

Raw broccoli is better than cooked broccoli as cooking vegetables in general, especially boiling them, reduces their nutritional content.

In my experience, tortoises and much more inclined to eat broccoli heads than they are the stems.

This isn’t really a surprise, the heads are much easier to eat and nibble on and the stems can be pretty tough raw.

If you have access to the whole plant, you can feed them some of the broccoli leaves or greens as they’re called.

Can Broccoli Be Bad for Tortoises?

Broccoli is one of the vegetables that come up as a point of debate for some tortoise owners.

I’ve read a few articles where owners say that they will not feed their tortoise broccoli as it contains goitrogens.

Goitrogens are substances that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland, and it’s true that broccoli contains this substance.

But at the same time, I’m I’ve also read plenty of articles and spoken to plenty of owners that have been feeding their tortoise bits of broccoli for many years without any issues.

So, so what is the right answer?

Moderation is the key, as always. Plus, it may depend on which species of tortoise you have.

Personally, I’d give my Horsefield broccoli on occasion if I had some spare. But I’m not going to go out of my way to give it to him.

Important Note: ‘Moderation’ is the key when feeding tortoises. The more varied a diet you can offer, the better.

What Else Do Tortoises Eat?

The topic of what tortoises should eat is an interesting one as it varies depending on the species, climate, and some other factors.

As a general rule of thumb, you should do your best to replicate what your tortoise would eat if it was in the wild.

Broadly speaking, tortoises can be split into two categories to help you better understand what their diets should comprise of.

Tortoises that are native to dry, arid areas, such as:

  • African Sulcata
  • Hermann’s tortoise
  • Horsfield’s (Russian) tortoise
  • Indian Star tortoise
  • Leopard tortoise

These tortoises would typically wander over a large area grazing on dozens, even hundreds of different plants.

Then there are tortoises that are native to rainforests and areas with a more diverse landscape, such as:

  • Yellow-Footed tortoise 
  • Red-Footed tortoise
  • Elongated tortoises

Typically, these species of tortoise will eat plants and leaves for the most part of the year, switching to fruits later in the year when they fall from their trees/plants.

The key thing to note is that in the wild tortoises will travel a wide area and graze on a wide range of different plants. More variety you can add to their diet, the better.

Other Vegetables Tortoises Can Eat

If you want know some of the other vegetables tortoises can eat, here’s a list of some of the more common ones that are known to be safe:

  • Cucumber
  • Collard greens
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Carrot
  • Red cabbage
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Parsnip
  • Fennel
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin

Vegetables you can offer over time, the better it is for your tortoise. Tortoises are very good at knowing what they want or need to eat, so won’t be long before you know which veggies are your tortoise’s favorites.

Fruits Tortoises Can Eat

If you have a Mediterranean or fruit-eating species of tortoise and want to see what fruits they enjoy, here’s a list of some of the fruits tortoise owners commonly give to their pets:

  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pear
  • Watermelon
  • Peaches
  • Kiwi
  • Apple
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Grapes
  • Melon
  • Raspberries
  • Banana
  • Figs
  • Papaya

Just keep in mind that fruits spoil quickly. Most tortoises will graze or take small bites out of fruit, so you may want to just drop a few bits in at first to see what they like.

Related – Here’s how I feed grapes, blueberries, and other fruits to my tortoise.

Plants Tortoises Can Eat

Tortoise love plants, leafy greens, foliage. Here are some of the plants and flowers etc that are known to be safe:

  • Forget-me-nots
  • MulberryChicory
  • Chickweed
  • Clover
  • Arugula
  • Cat’s ears
  • Hibiscus
  • Dandelions
  • Plantain
  • Dock leaves
  • Knotweed
  • Aloe vera
  • Brambles (remove thorns!)
  • Mustard leaves
  • Evening primrose

What Should Tortoises Not Eat?

It’s just as – if not more – important that you are aware of any foods that could be potentially toxic and harmful to your tortoise.

This isn’t a complete list, but below you’ll find most of the commonly found foods and plants that are believed to be potentially harmful:

Fruits, Vegetables, and Foods to Avoid

  • Citrus fruits
  • Parts of nightshade plants
  • Chili Peppers
  • Avocado
  • Yogurt
  • Beans
  • Rhubarb
  • Bread

Plants to Avoid

  • Azalea
  • Buttercups
  • Tiger Lily
  • Asparagus Fern
  • Hydrangea
  • Ivy/Poison Ivy
  • Hyacinth
  • Mistletoe
  • Rhododendron
  • Holly
  • Morning glories
  • Hemlock
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Yew
  • Foxglove
  • Parts of nightshade plants

Important Tip: There is a compound called solanine present in parts of nightshade plants. It’s best to just avoid nightshade plants to err on the side of caution.


Hopefully, you are now better informed as to what you can feed your tortoise and how you can provide them a nice balanced diet.

Broccoli is fine in moderation, as are many other vegetables and plants. Just remember, as a rule of thumb you should try to replicate what your tortoise would eat in the wild as closely as possible for them to maintain optimal health.


Image credits – Taken by author; copyright

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