Can Tortoises Eat Squash? (Butternut, Acorn, Zucchini, Etc.)

Yes, tortoises can eat squash as these fruits are not toxic or poisonous. However, it’s not recommended that you give your tortoise fruit, not unless they are a fruit-eating species. The flowers and leaves of squash plants are better than the fruits.

Can Tortoises Eat Squash

What Kind of Squash Can Tortoises Eat?

Although commonly thought of as vegetables, squashes are technically fruits. It’s not advisable you feed your tortoise fruit, at least no more than the occasional treat.

Therefore, technically tortoises should not eat any kind of squash, this includes; butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, zucchini squash, crookneck squash, patty pan squash, and any of the other squashes!

If you’ve given your tortoise some squash on occasion, don’t feel bad. If you have a species that would eat the fruit in the wild, it is really not that big of a deal.

Even for species that would not have any fruit in their diet in their natural habitat, a little bit here and there is not going to cause any serious health issues.

When a tortoise eats fruit, the most common symptom is diarrhea. If they eat fruits regularly they can develop some more serious health issues. 

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.

Important Tip: The closer you can replicate your tortoise’s natural diet, the happier and healthier they’ll be!

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
  • Evening primrose

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:

Fruits Some 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.

Foods, Plants Etc Tortoise Should Not Eat

Building a list of foods that are safe and your tortoise loves is one thing, knowing what you should not give to your tort is equally as important.

There are some foods, plants, etc. that are potentially toxic, poisonous, or harmful in some form to your tortoise.

This is something I’ve always been very diligent about and done a good deal of research into, although it is a little bit of a grey area in places.

The best advice is to err on the side of caution. If you don’t know something is 100% safe to give to your tortoise, don’t offer it to them.

With this in mind, here is a list of some of the foods that have been reported to be potentially toxic:

Plants to Avoid Giving to Tortoises

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

Fruits, Vegetables, and Foods to Avoid

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

Author Comment: Providing a variety of foods is the key, the more different foods that you can offer your tort to see what they like, the better.

Can Russian Tortoises Eat Butternut Squash?

Russian or Horsefield tortoises do not eat a lot – if any – fruits in their natural habitat in the wild.

My Horsefield loves just about any fruits she’s been able to come across, but I keep them to a minimum and wouldn’t give her squash to err on the side of caution.

Can Hermann Tortoises Eat Spaghetti Squash?

Hermann tortoises are not natural fruit-eating tortoises. Their diet is made up mostly of fibrous plants in the wild, so it’s advisable you stick to similar foods to help your tort maintain optimal health and strong development.

Can Pancake Tortoises Eat Squashes?

Pancake tortoises are herbivorous, their natural diet includes a mix of leafy greens for the most part. It’s very unlikely they would eat squashes in the wild, so it’s not advisable that you give them squash of any kind.


Squashes are interesting, they come in all shapes and sizes and various colors, and are actually fruits not vegetables as is often assumed.

Regardless of the specific type of squash, you’re thinking about feeding to your tort, the answer is going to be the same;

Fruit should make up a very small part of a tortoise’s diet as the sugars are hard to digest. So, while not toxic or harmful, it’s not recommended you give your tortoise squash more than on a rare occasion as a treat.


Image credits – Taken by author; copyright

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