Can Tortoises Eat Lavender? (Benefits of Herbs for Torts)

Yes, tortoises can eat lavender. Lavender is not toxic or harmful in any way to tortoises. My Horsefield will happily eat some when he’s in his outdoor enclosure, and there is the added benefit of lavender having some beneficial properties.

Can Tortoises Eat Lavender

Is Lavender Good for Tortoises?

Lavender is a powerful herb with a wide range of medicinal qualities and uses for us.

There isn’t a lot of research into how beneficial lavender is for tortoises, but we know for sure that it’s not toxic or dangerous in any way, and that’s what’s important.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to incorporate lavender into your tortoise’s diet if they enjoy eating it. Plus, you always have the added benefit that it smells great and is relaxing to be around!

Are Herbs Good for Tortoises?

I love herbs. I use them a lot in cooking, I use them for medicinal purposes, and I grow various herbs in the yard to attract certain insects, repel others, and create a nice aromatic atmosphere.

Herbs, animals, in general, have a mixed relationship. It’s always best to check if herbs can be too strong or potentially dangerous if you have pets.

In the case of tortoises, I wasn’t able to find any conclusive evidence that any of the commonly found herbs are particularly beneficial – or dangerous – in any way.

What I did find by speaking to other owners is that tortoises tend to ignore herbs for the most part.

When a tortoise ignores a plant, this usually means they think there is no need for them to eat it. Tortoises are exceptionally good at knowing what they should or shouldn’t eat, so just based on that I’m pretty impartial on the topic of herbs and torts.

Related Can tortoises eat clover?

What Should You Feed Your Tortoise?

The good news is that feeding tortoises really isn’t that hard and it’s not something you need to stress over.

The bulk of what tortoises eat is leafy greens and various plants. As long as you can keep a fresh supply of greens coming, you’re going to have a happy and healthy tort on your hands.

There is plenty of good commercially produced tortoise feeds, too. Generally speaking, tortoises can also eat most fruits, vegetables, and plants that you’ll find in your yard or outdoors.

The main consideration is always which species of tortoise you have. As there are some small differences between species that can be tied back to their natural habitat in the wild.

To make it easy, most people divide tortoises into broad groups; those that eat mostly plant matter, and those that get some fruit in their diets.

Some of the common species of tortoise that eat mostly leaves, stems, and plant matter include:

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

Some of the common species of tortoise that eat a lot more fruit in the wild include:

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

Important Tip: The more you know about your species of tortoise and how they live in the wild, the more you’ll discover about what they like to eat.

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

Fruits That Are Good for Tortoises

Some species of tortoise, like the yellow and red-footed tortoises, munch on fruits in the wild and will enjoy nibbling on some in their terrarium.

Some of the most well-known fruits that are safe are:

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

Vegetables That Are Good for Tortoises

Although most tortoises will not encounter vegetables in the wild, no vegetables are packed with good nutrition and make for nice additions to their diets.

Here are some of the vegetables you can try out that are safe for tortoises:

What Can Tortoises Not Eat?

As we’re responsible for giving tortoises stuff to eat, it’s important you know the foods that are potentially dangerous.

This isn’t a complete list, but here are all of the common foods and plants I was able to reliably confirm may be harmful:

Plants to Avoid Giving to Tortoises

Fruits, Vegetables, and Foods to Avoid

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

Important Tip: It’s hard to cover every possible food, plant, fruit, etc. When feeding a new food, always take the time to check if it’s safe for your tort!


I’m a big fan of lavender and always have some growing in my yard. My tortoise is happy to have a little munch on it if I put some in his enclosure, but he doesn’t go out of his way to eat it.

The important thing to note is that lavender is perfectly safe for tortoises to eat. So, it’s a herb to add to the list and try out if you have some to hand.


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