Can Tortoises Eat Celery? (Yes, Here’s Why)

Yes, tortoises can eat celery. The stalk and leaves of celery are not toxic or harmful. But as with all vegetables, you should feed celery in moderation. Celery is higher in oxalates than most veggies, which can be harmful long-term, but a little is fine.

Can Tortoises Eat Celery

What Do Tortoises Eat?

Vegetables like celery are fine in small amounts, but tortoises need a well-balanced diet to maintain optimal health.

The good news is, it’s not difficult to feed tortoises and it’s a load of fun handing them food to munch.

Basically, all you need to do is provide a good commercial feed, and provide some fresh greens, plant matter, or veggies each day.

The main consideration is knowing the species of tortoise you have, as their diets do vary a little from species to species.

Generally speaking, you can group most species of tortoise into; those that would eat mostly plants in the wild, and others that would have access to more fresh fruit.

Some of the species of tortoise that are commonly kept as pets that fall into these groups are:

Tortoises that eats mostly plants, such as stems, leaves, flowers, etc:

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

Tortoises that would eat plenty of fruits in the wild:

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

Obviously, that’s not a complete list of every tortoise but you get an idea. If you have a species that is not listed above, I recommend looking into what they would eat naturally in the wild and try to replicate that as much as possible.

Feeding Your Tortoise Plants

Plants and flowers make up a huge part of a tortoise’s diet in the wild, so you should find out what your pet’s favorites are and keep them coming.

The best part about feeding plants is that you can easily grow loads of edible plants at home, and you might even find Sam in your yard or around your neighborhood.

Here are just some of the plants that are safe for tortoises you should try offering to your hard-shelled friend:

  • Chicory
  • Hibiscus
  • Dandelions
  • Plantain
  • Chickweed
  • Clover
  • Aloe vera
  • Brambles (remove thorns)
  • Forget-me-nots
  • Mulberry
  • Mustard leaves
  • Evening primrose
  • Dock leaves

Author Note: You’ll find many of these weeds and plants tortoises love readily available – or you can easily grow them yourself.

Feeding Your Tortoise Fruits

Fruits are high in sugar content and tortoises do you have a sweet tooth, so you should give your tortoise less fruit than plants and veggies.

Some species do love fruits though, so you can try some of the following:

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

Feeding Your Tortoise Vegetables

Vegetables are great for tortoises as they are packed with a good range of nutrition. Here are some veggies that are safe for tortoises:

  • Broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkin
  • Squashes
  • Kale
  • Red cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Cauliflower
  • Parsnip

Is Celery Good for Tortoises?

Celery is widely regarded as one of the healthiest snacks for us – but is this also true for tortoises?

Well, the good news is that celery is not bad, toxic, or harmful for tortoises. At least not in moderation.

Celery is rich in a wide range of vitamins and minerals, it’s also low in sodium, which is a good thing. So, it does provide some good nutritional content.

The main concern when feeding celery to tortoises is the oxalate content. Oxalates are known to have an effect on magnesium metabolism. In large amounts, this can cause calcium oxalate to form, which is insoluble, indigestible crystals.

For us, a build-up of oxalate can form crystals, which can form incredibly painful kidney stones. I’ve read studies that say this will also happen in reptiles.

There’s no clear answer as to how much celery or oxalate is too much, so I certainly err on the side of caution and just feed as an occasional treat.

Other vegetables that are high in oxalic acid include; kale, broccoli, lettuce, parsley, and swiss chard.

How to Feed Your Tortoise Celery

As with most vegetables, you don’t have to chop celery up much as tortoises have a pretty hard bite on them and will take a bite out of a stick easily.

If you’re growing your own celery or buying raw and have the entire plant at your disposal, all of it is edible.

You can give your tortoise the main stalk part, as well as the leaves, aromatic seeds, and bulbous root. See what they eat or leave behind, and you’ll get an idea of what they prefer.

Things You Should Not Feed to Tortoises

It’s very important that you are aware of any foods, plants, vegetables, etc, that are potentially harmful or toxic to tortoises.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s always best to err on the side of caution if you’re unsure about anything.

That said, there aren’t a lot of foods that you have to avoid. I did as much research as I could, and I feel a list below of the foods you should avoid to stay on the safe side:

Fruits, Vegetables, and Foods

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

Plants

  • Morning glories
  • Tiger Lily
  • Hydrangea
  • Ivy/Poison Ivy
  • Mistletoe
  • Rhododendron
  • Holly
  • Azalea
  • Buttercups
  • Yew
  • Foxglove
  • Hemlock
  • Bleeding Heart

Author Note: This isn’t a complete list, it’s always best to do some research before giving your tortoise a new food for the first time you can’t see in this post.

Summary

Now you know, the answer is; yes, celery is perfectly fine for your tortoise now and again.

There is a small precaution around the oxalate levels, but this sometimes gets blown out of proportion, to be honest.

As long as you’re feeding your tortoise a balanced diet, a little bit of celery is more beneficial to their health than it is a problem.

Resources

Image credits – Taken by author; copyright PetAdviceHub.com

Comparison of oxalate contents – ScienceDirect.com

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