Can Tortoises Eat Peas? (Healthy Veg Options)

Yes, tortoises can eat peas. Vegetables should only make up a small part of a tortoise’s overall diet, but importantly, peas are not toxic or harmful in small amounts. There is some concern around legumes as they’re high in proteins, small amounts are fine.

Can Tortoises Eat Peas

Are Peas Good for Tortoises?

One of the vegetables that draw a lot of different answers from the tortoise-owning community is peas.

This is because garden peas are legumes, and it’s widely believed that legumes are not good for tortoises. There is some truth in this, but you could say similar about a lot of vegetables.

The bulk of a tortoise’s diet (80%) should come from greens, weeds, flowers, and grasses. Vegetables, in general, should only make up a small amount of their diet, so as long as you stick to this, a few peas are fine.

I wasn’t able to find any concrete scientific evidence that the few peas can cause a tortoise any serious health issues. If you want to err on the side of caution and avoid them, however, that’s fine.

Should Tortoises Eat Raw or Cooked Peas?

Generally speaking, raw vegetables are always better than cooked as cooking reduces their nutritional content.

Some vegetables can be a little hard or tough, but this certainly isn’t the case with peas. The main thing you have to be careful of when feeding your tort vegetables is that they’re clean and free of pesticides.

Interesting Fact: Tortoises are great at knowing what they can or can’t eat in the wild. If they seem to be avoiding foods you’re offering, stop offering them.

Can Tortoises Eat Frozen Peas?

Freezing food for your tortoise is fine, but be aware that some foods freeze better than others.

Peas are one of the better vegetables to freeze as they last a long time, thaw out quickly, and do not spoil or make much of a mess.

Your tort may not crunch them while they’re frozen, but it certainly helps to have frozen foods available as it’s not always easy to pick up fresh foods.

What Should You Feed Your Tortoise?

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 consist 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.

Weeds and Plants Tortoises Can Eat

Tortoises love weeds, and I love being able to get rid of weeds by feeding them to my tortoise – so it’s a win-win.

I’ve done some research, and here is a list of just some of the weeds that are known to be safe – and tasty – for tortoises:

  • Hawksbit
  • Hensbit
  • Mallow
  • Filaree
  • Wild onion
  • Wild mustard
  • Wild Garlic
  • Smooth Sow thistle
  • Prickly Sow thistle
  • Nettles
  • Trefoil
  • Wild onion
  • Wild mustard
  • Wild Garlic
  • Clovers
  • Milk thistle
  • Goat head weed
  • Cats ear
  • Broadleaf plantain
  • Narrow leaf plantain
  • Chick weed
  • Hawksbeard

You don’t just have to feed them weeds, there are loads of plants that are also great for tortoises and provide all of the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

Here are some of the plants that are safe to feed tortoises:

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

Vegetables Tortoises Can Eat

Vegetables are one of the best ways you can provide nutritionally dense foods for your tort. Here are some vegetables that tortoises love:

Fruits Some Tortoises Can Eat

There is a long list of fruits that are safe for tortoises. Just keep in mind that some are high in sugar, and fruits spoil quickly.

Some of the fruits I’ve been able to confirm are safe for tortoises, and most of which I fed my tortoise over the years are:

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

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

Fruits, Vegetables, and Foods to Avoid

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

Author Tip: Variety is the key, the more different foods you can offer the better. Make a list of what your tortoise enjoys, and you can narrow down the foods you offer.

Can Horsefield Tortoises Eat Peas?

I can’t speak for yours, but my Horsefield certainly enjoys the occasional pea. I haven’t given her any of the stalks, pods, or other parts of the plants though.

It’s really only on a rare occasion I will drop a few peas into her enclosure. Usually, when we have some and think about it, I’ll drop 3 or 4 in to give her something different.

Can Desert Tortoises Eat Peas?

It’s very unlikely – if not impossible – that a desert tortoise would come across peas or many other vegetables in its natural environment.

For this reason alone, I wouldn’t advise giving peas to a desert tortoise. Their diet should mainly consist of weeds, grasses, and the other plants they’d graze on in their natural habitat.


Peas are perfectly fine for tortoises to eat. My Horsefield loves them, and they provide some decent nutrition – as long as they’re given in moderation.

Keep in mind that vegetables should only make up a small part of a tortoise’s diet behind weeds, plants and leafy greens.

As long as you’re providing a wide variety of the foods your tort would eat in the wild, you’ll have a healthy and happy tortoise.


Image credits – Taken by author; copyright

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