Three Things You Need to Know about Tortoise Food

As the proud owner of a tortoise, you know your reptilian friend needs good nutrition for its health and well-being. But what does a balanced, complete tortoise diet include?

“Tortoises make wonderful pets,” says Dr. Nichole Huntley, Mazuri nutritionist. “To keep them healthy, provide them with foods that are appropriate for their species, age and lifestyle, and make sure the nutrients they receive are available in the correct amount.”
Use these three tips to help make sure your tortoise’s diet is on target.

1. Know your species

A man holds a bag of Mazuri tortoise feed in one hand and his pet tortoise in the other while kneeling in his backyard with two other tortoises walking near him.

Tortoises can be found nearly everywhere in the world and different species have different dietary needs. While all tortoises eat plants, not all eat the same types of plants or in the same amounts.

“Learn more about the natural origins of your tortoise,” suggests Huntley. “Do a little research about its species and specific nutritional requirements to help you provide your pet with an optimal diet.”

Mazuri tortoise food is available in three formulas to meet the needs of different species and ages of tortoises.

  • Mazuri® Tortoise LS Diet is formulated for arid-zone and grass-eating herbivorous tortoises, like desert, sulcata and leopard, that need a low-starch, high-fiber diet. It comes in two convenient sizes, 12-ounce and 25-pound bags.

  • Mazuri® Tortoise Diet is formulated for forest, tropical and omnivorous tortoises, like the Burmese and Indian-star, elongated and red-footed tortoises that need a high-fiber diet with more protein. It now comes in 1.25-pound and 25-pound bags.

  • Mazuri® Small Tortoise Diet LS is a low-starch diet designed with higher protein for growing tortoises less than 1 year old.

2. What must be included in tortoise diets?

All tortoises, regardless of species, have five basic nutritional needs that must be met.

  • Water is essential for all animals. Tortoises need fresh, clean water to drink as well as some to soak in, especially on warm days while exploring your yard.

  • Protein is needed to support essential functions like developing and maintaining muscles and building antibodies. Providing the proper amount of protein through a pelleted diet to growing reptiles can prevent conditions such as pyramiding – the build-up or stacking of keratin in the tortoise’s shell.

  • Energy, also known as calories, is a dietary requirement, even for slow movers like tortoises. Younger tortoises need more than those that are older. But be cautious about adding too much energy in the form of starch or sugar for grass-eating, herbivorous tortoises, like gophers, Sulcatas and Russians. Choose a low-starch, high-fiber pellet like Mazuri® Tortoise LS Diet to meet their needs.

  • Vitamins and minerals are key to maintaining health and preventing issues like metabolic bone disease. Pelleted tortoise food formulated with a 1:1 to 2:1 dietary calcium to phosphorus ratio will deliver the balanced minerals your tortoise needs. Look for feeds with antioxidants, vitamin E and vitamin A to support your pet’s immune system and eye health.

  • Grass hay and treats like greens and veggies are also important dietary considerations.  Good-quality grass hay should always be available for your tortoise. Raw veggie treats add variety and are a fun way to bond with your tortoise. However, a pelleted tortoise diet should make up most of your tortoise’s food. Choose one that is formulated to allow feeding with healthy snacks.

3. Other dietary considerations

Reptiles like tortoises typically consume 1% to 4% of their bodyweight in food per day. Depending on the size of your tortoise, they may fall into the lower or higher range. Larger tortoises will consume a smaller percentage of their body weight, while smaller or juvenile tortoises will fall into the higher range.

“This estimate is a good place to start, but it is always important to adjust the amount you’re feeding based on the animal’s body condition and eating behavior,” says Huntley.

Pelleted tortoise foods like Mazuri® Tortoise Diet are balanced for protein and energy. They meet all nutrient requirements, including calcium and phosphorous – if fed at proper levels – so no additional supplementation is required. Just be sure to provide plenty of clean water and appropriate snacks, if desired, as part of a well-rounded nutrition program.

Have a question about Mazuri tortoise food or your tortoise’s nutritional needs? Send a message to one of the Mazuri exotic animal nutrition experts.


Suggested Articles:

4 Steps to Build the Perfect Reptile Diet

The Periodic Table of Reptile Nutrition

Related Products:

Mazuri® Tortoise Diet

Mazuri® Small Tortoise Diet LS

Mazuri® Tortoise LS Diet