Can Tortoises Eat Sweet Potato? (Yes, Plus Other Vegetables)

Yes, tortoises can eat sweet potatoes. Vegetables should make up 10-15% of a tortoise’s diet, and sweet potato provides some great nutrition. Keep in mind the bulk of their diet should come from greens like romaine, weeds, collards, etc.

Can Tortoises Eat Sweet Potato

Is Sweet Potato Good for Tortoises?

There are two main things to keep in mind when feeding a tortoise; the first is that the bulk of their diet should come from greens, and the second is that variety is important.

Sweet potatoes are fine, they are not toxic or poisonous in any way – but at the same time vegetables will only make up a small part of your tort’s diet.

Therefore, sweet potato should be one of the foods that you give to your tortoise on a rare occasion if you have some scraps leftover.

How to Feed Sweet Potato to Tortoises

You may have heard that potatoes can be potentially toxic as they are part of the nightshade family.

This is true about other potatoes, but the interesting thing about sweet potatoes is that they do not produce the toxic compound other potatoes produce which is called solanine.

Therefore, you do not need to be worried about any toxicity. As long as the sweet potatoes are ripe, all you need to do is give it a quick wash, then chop it up into smaller bits and see if your tort takes to it.

All parts of the sweet potato plant are edible. This includes the leaves, flowers, stems, tuber (the potato), and roots. 

Can Tortoises Eat Raw Sweet Potato?

The question I hear most about feeding vegetables to tortoises it’s whether or not they should be given raw or cooked vegetables.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s often better to feed your tortoise vegetables raw. Cooking veggies reduces their nutritional content, means they spoil quicker, and they tend to attract more insects.

That said, sweet potatoes are incredibly dense and are often very hard. I suggest chopping it up into thinner slices to make it easier for your tort to have a munch on it.

Important Tip: Sometimes tortoises need a little encouragement, don’t be afraid to hand feed them new foods to see what they think!

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

So, when deciding what to feed your tortoise, this should give you a guide as to how receptive they’re going to be to plants, fruits, and vegetables.

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

Vegetables make for a nutritious addition to a tortoises’ diet in moderation. Here are some of the best vegetables to dice up and offer to your tortoise:

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

Fruits That Are Good for Some Tortoises

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

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

Important: Tortoises have sensitive digestive systems, it’s best to avoid any foods that might be toxic to err on the side of caution.

Can Hermann Tortoises Eat Sweet Potato Leaves?

You don’t often see the leaves still attached to sweet potato plants when buying them at the supermarket, but the leaves are perfectly edible and your tortoise might love them.

Hermann tortoises eat a wide variety of leafy greens and grasses in the wild, some vegetables also go down well and help provide extra nutrients.

Can Desert Tortoises Eat Sweet Potato Vines?

Obviously, desert tortoises wouldn’t come across sweet potatoes very often in their natural environment. It’s still perfectly safe to feed them some, however, and there is a good chance they’ll gobble it up in a hurry.

Summary

Tortoises can eat sweet potatoes, yes. In fact, they’re one of the better vegetables to give torts.

Just keep in mind that vegetables only make up a small part of a tortoise’s diet. As long as you’re feeding your tort plenty of leafy greens, weeds, and anything else they would eat in the wild, veggies complement their diet and add some variety.

Resources

Image credits – Taken by author; copyright PetAdviceHub.com

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