Can Tortoises Eat Radishes? (Not Toxic, But..)

Yes, tortoises can eat radishes.  The green leaf tops, seeds, and bulbs are all fine in moderation. While not toxic or harmful in any way, it’s worth noting that radishes do not provide a good deal of nutrition for tortoises though.

Can Tortoises Eat Radishes

Are Radishes Good for Tortoises?

To be honest, radishes are somewhere in the middle in terms of how good they are for tortoises from a nutritional standpoint.

Radishes are a decent source of fiber, which is important for tortoises. They are also rich in vitamin C, potassium, and some other important vitamins and minerals.

Another interesting thing about radishes is that they are around 95% water, so they are great for hydration.

So, while there are better vegetables to feed your tortoise, if they like radish and you have some, there’s no harm in giving some to them.

Can Radish Be Harmful to Tortoises?

Radishes are not toxic, poisonous, or harmful in any way to tortoises. I’ve read some articles stating that the glucosinolates in radishes can be harmful, but this is unfounded as far as I can tell.

I cannot find any reliable (in my opinion) sources that say this, and asking around in the community I’ve not heard any experienced tortoise owners say they’re aware of this being a problem.

Therefore, I have no problem giving radishes to my tortoise. I also know a lot of other people who have given their tortoises radish on occasion without issue.

Important Note: No matter how much your tort loves radish, remember, the key to optimal health for a tortoise is a wide range of different greens.

How to Feed Radishes to Your Tortoise

Feeding radishes – and most fruits and vegetables for that matter – to a tortoise is pretty straightforward.

The important thing is to give veggies a quick wash to ensure there are no pesticides on them. Then as long as your tortoise can easily take a bite, they’ll eat it if they want to. 

It’s always best to start out offering some small pieces of new food to your tortoise. Give them a few chances over a few days, and you will soon realize if they like it or not.

What Should You Feed Your Tortoise?

Ideally, you want to try and replicate what your tortoise would eat in the wild as closely as possible.

This usually isn’t very difficult as tortoises roam around eating bits of plants, weeds, and fruits.

There are also some good commercial feeds that provide a good range of nutrition tortoises need, this makes feeding them and ensuring they’re getting the right nutrients a little easier.

I use the combination of commercial pallets and bits of fresh plants daily for my Horsefield, as well as little bits of fresh fruits and vegetables that add some variation when I have them.

To help you know what the best foods for your tortoise are, you need to know what species you have and what kind of food they would have eaten in the wild.

Generally speaking, tortoises are split into two groups; those that live on terrains that provide plenty of plants, weeds, flowers, etc., and those that would have access to more fresh fruits.

Some of the common species of tortoise that are commonly kept as pets that need a lot of plants in their diets are:

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

Tortoises that would eat some fruits in the wild and benefit from fruits in captivity include:

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

This isn’t a complete list, so if you have a species that you don’t see above, my best advice is to look at what they would eat in the wild (or ask a local reptile seller).

Plants That Are Good for Tortoises

Most species of tortoises’ diets will be made up of plants, flowers, weeds, and foliage.

Some of the plants that are easy to come by in most areas that your tortoise will love includes:

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

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

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
  • Pumpkin
  • Squashes
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Red cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Cauliflower
  • Parsnip

Some Things That Tortoises Should Not Eat

It’s more important that you know which foods you should not give your tortoise as you don’t want to offer them something that could make them unwell.

The good news is that there aren’t many plants and foods we come across in our daily lives that are toxic to tortoises, but there are a few you need to be aware of:

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
  • Daisies
  • Hydrangea
  • Ivy/Poison Ivy
  • Mistletoe
  • Rhododendron
  • Holly
  • Morning glories
  • Hemlock
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Yew
  • Foxglove

Important Note: If you’re letting your tortoise roam outdoors or in a large enclosure, make sure you identify all the plants they have access to.

Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Radishes?

Sulcata tortoises are native to Northern Africa and their diets should comprise around 95% vegetables and plants.

Radish is fine, they provide a good range of nutrition and water content. I’d be very surprised if your Sulcata doesn’t eat radish, but it’s possible.

Can Desert Tortoises Eat Radishes?

A desert tortoise’s diet should comprise mostly of grasses, weeds, and leafy greens.

Radishes are fine, although desert tortoises should only have a small number of hard vegetables and moist fruit in their diet.

Summary

There you have it, radishes are fine for tortoises – although some species are going to appreciate them much more than others.

As long as you check vegetables are safe, give them a wash, and remove leftovers before they spoil, it’s fine to offer new foods to your hard-shelled friend.

Resources

Image credits – Taken by author; copyright PetAdviceHub.com

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