Tortoises are herbivorous in nature and can accept various veggies and fruits. However, they are divided into two groups based on their herbivory diet. There are those that can eat fruits and those that eat leaves and stems. Read on to find out whether your pet tortoise belongs to the fruits eating type.
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Can tortoises eat bananas?
Fruit-eating tortoises can eat bananas moderately. However, Mediterranean tortoises and Grazing tortoises should either eat bananas in moderation or none at all due to the high sugar content of bananas that their digestion system has a problem coping with.
The fruit-eating tortoise diet is made of fruits, therefore they should have no problem eating bananas but only sparingly due to the high sugar content that may lead to health issues such as diarrhea, tooth decay, and weight gain.
Always consult your vet so as to know whether your tortoise is a fruit eating tortoise.
Are bananas bad for Tortoises?
Only limited research is available on feeding pet tortoises, as such you should always consult your vet when acquiring a tortoise as a pet.
Tortoises are generally divided into two groups. The first group comes from a dry and arid part of the world and is normally accustomed to eating leaves and stems of plants.
This group of tortoise is composed of the following tortoises
- African Sulcata
- Indian Star (Geochelone Elegans) tortoise
- Horsfield’s tortoise /Russian tortoise(Agrionemys horsfieldii)
- Leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys [Geochelone] pardalis)
- Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni)
The other group of tortoises that is a fruit-eating group and mostly comes from the forest is mentioned abovementioned above.
There is a group of tortoises known as Mediterranean tortoises that should never be fed fruits at all and include the following members.
- Horsefield /Russian tortoise (Testudo Horsefieldi)
- Spur Thighed (Testudo Graeca)
- Marginated Tortoise (Testudo Marginata)
- Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni)
In addition to Mediterranean tortoises, you should also not feed grazing tortoises such as African Sulcata fruits. Source.
Generally, you should avoid feeding fruits to tortoises that are accustomed to eating leaves and stems.
The tables below summarizes the information presented above
|Rainforest Tortoise Species||Preferred Feeds|
|Red-Footed tortoise (Chelonoidis [Geochelone] carbonaria)||Feed 70% weeds flowering plants and other greens.|
|Yellow Footed tortoise 30% Fruits, and small amount of animal proteinsElongated tortoises (Indotestudo elongata). Burmese tortoise|
Your vet will stand a better chance in helping you identify the category to which your tort belongs to.
Can Tortoises eat Bananas
The table below shows the nutritional value of 100 grams of banana servings according to Food central.
Benefits of feeding Bananas to Fruit eating Tortoises
Minerals are very important towards the growth and development of tortoise.
Some minerals are required in large amounts than others. Minerals required in large amounts include calcium and phosphorus.
Calcium constitutes a very large portion of the body of a tortoise, more than all the other minerals.
To build its skeleton and shell a tortoise requires a substantial amount of calcium. You should therefore make sure that baby and juvenile tortoise gets enough minerals in their diet on daily basis.
The importance of calcium in tortoise body include
- Regulation of heartbeat
- Help in blood clotting
- Acid-base regulation
- Controls muscle growth, muscle contraction, and nerve transmission
- Helps in energy transmission
- controls absorption of iron
The other mineral that works hand in hand with calcium is phosphorus and together these two minerals make up about three-fourths of the tortoise’s body mineral elements.
Compared to phosphorus the absorption of calcium is very poor, when phosphorus content is high in certain foods it can impair the absorption of calcium.
The two react to form calcium phosphate, which will prevent calcium from being absorbed into the body.
Given that bananas have high phosphorus to calcium ratio, they should only be offered in moderation to avoid life-threatening conditions such as metabolic bone disease.
Two main factors that affect calcium absorption are calcium availability in the diet and tortoises’ body calcium needs.
Other factors that affect calcium absorption include oxalates and phytic acids, and excess fats that react with calcium and form a substance that is insoluble and absorbable.
Leafy veggies such as Spinach that have a high level of oxalates should be avoided or fed moderately if they have to be fed.
Importance of phosphorus in tortoise body includes
- Transfer of DNA materials
- Energy production
- Cell repair
- promotes skeletal growth and kidney health
When looking for staple food for your tortoise consider feeds that have a higher calcium concentration than phosphorus.
The ideal recommended ratio is of calcium to phosphorus is either 1:1 or 2:1 respectively.
Other minerals that are important to tortoises found in bananas but required in trace amounts include potassium, magnesium, copper, and zinc.
Like all reptiles tortoises too need various vitamins in the body for proper growth and development.
Deficiency of vitamins can easily lead to life-threatening health conditions. Therefore, you should ensure your tortoise gets enough vitamins in their diet.
Consult your vet if you are unsure of which vitamins that your pet needs or you suspect a vitamin deficiency.
Vitamins are generally divided into two broad categories, water soluble and fat soluble vitamins.
Fat-soluble vitamins if fed in excess can cause health issues since the excess gets stored in the body, unlike water-soluble vitamins that get excreted via urine.
Fat soluble vitamins
Fat-soluble vitamins include Vitamin A, tortoise fed a balanced diet is unlikely to suffer from any mineral or vitamin deficiency.
Vitamin A helps in the development of a strong immune system, vision, and a healthy skin.
Deficiency of vitamin A include
- Inflammation and swelling of the eyelids
- Breathing difficulties
- the horny part of the mouth develops abnormally and may become distorted
- the horny skin layers become thick
- weak immune system
For leave and stem-eating tortoise feeding, leafy greens should provide them with vitamin A and its precursor beta carotene.
Fruit-eating tortoise can also get vitamin A or betacarotene from fruits, beta carotene is much better since the body can convert it to vitamin A and get rid of the excess.
Contrary to vitamin A which when supplied in excess is stored in the body and can cause vitamin A toxicity.
Vitamin toxicity can cause life-threatening side effects such as liver enlargement, abnormal bone development, and slough skin that may lead to red and raw patches.
Vitamin E is the next fat soluble vitamin that is found in bananas that is beneficial to tortoises.
Vitamin E helps in growth and development of the tortoise and its deficiency leads to the following side effects.
- Liver necrosis
- Adhesion formation between abdominal organs
- Sloughing of the skin
- Tongue ulcers
Vitamin E deficiency may also affect the health of the cardiac and skeletal muscles.
Vitamin K is the next fat-soluble vitamin found in bananas, it is normally synthesized from the guts of the tortoise and its deficiency can easily occur among tortoise that is under medication.
Vitamin K deficiency can lead to bleeding spontaneously. Feeding bananas and other fruits in moderation can help provide vitamin K to your tortoise.
Vitamin C is also found in bananas and is synthesized from the kidneys of tortoises and the gastrointestinal tract, its deficiency is very rare.
The other category of vitamins found in bananas that are beneficial to the tortoise is the water-soluble vitamins commonly known as B vitamins.
The advantage of water-soluble vitamins over fat-soluble vitamins is the fact water-soluble vitamins get excreted from the body, while fat soluble are retained and stored.
B vitamins found in bananas include thiamin, Niacin, and vitamin B-6.
Bananas are a good source of fiber for any herbivore or omnivore that needs fiber in their diet.
Tortoise needs a considerably high fiber content in their diet, tortoises use fermentative digestion to obtain energy, meaning that food may stay in their guts for an extended period of time.
Especially for large tortoises, fiber is nromally broken down into carbohydrates and serves as their source of energy.
A tortoise that has low fiber in its diet will experience loose feces. Experts recommend that fiber should make up about 10 – 40%, optimal fiber content being 18% to 28% of the dry matter that they eat.
Like all fruits bananas too have high water content, given that keeping your tortoise hydrated is very important for their health.
Feeding fruits high in water content once in a while is very important to keep your tortoise hydrated.
However, given that most fruits have a high sugar content they should be fed in moderation.
Remember very limited information is available concerning the diet of the captive tortoise.
How to feed Bananas to Tortoise
The first step when feeding bananas to tortoises is to ensure that they are organically grown free from chemicals and pesticides.
Wash the banana thoroughly, you can either chop it in small pieces or feed it as whole for mature tortoises.
Do not feed the banana placed on a sad substrate, the best way is to feed fruits and veggies and any other tortoise food for that matter on a tortoise feeding slab.
Risks of overfeeding Bananas to tortoises
Bananas have very high sugar content just like most fruits when tortoises are fed fruits high in sugar content they will suffer from loose stool or diarrhea.
Secondly, due to the high sugar and sticky nature of bananas, if overfed they may lead to tortoise beak rot.
Therefore, feed bananas moderately only as a treat, and make sure you consult your vet to identify whether your kind of tortoise is safe to eat fruits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can tortoise eat banana peel or skin? Yes, the tortoise can also eat a banana peel, banana peel are an excellent source of fiber. However, just like the rest of the banana fruit banana peel should be fed in moderation.
Can Russian Tortoises Eat Bananas? Russian tortoises can eat bananas in moderation. However, most experts advise against feeding bananas to Russian tortoises and other Mediterranean tortoises since they might not be able to digest and cope with the high sugars of bananas and other fruits.
Can Red-Footed Tortoise Eat Bananas? Yes, the red-footed tortoise can eat bananas and most other fruits. Red-footed tortoises belong to a group of tortoises whose major diet is made of fruits and are also called forest tortoises.
can tortoises eat banana leaves ? Yes, the tortoise can also eat banana leaves and even pumpkin leaves, however, these should also be supplemented with other plant materials. Remember the secret is diversity.
Can Sulcata Tortoise Eat Bananas? Sulcata mainly feeds on the leaves and stems of plants. African Sulcata is an excellent grazer, therefore feeding bananas to Sulcata is not a good idea. However, sulcata can eat bananas in moderation.
While bananas are good for tortoises, it is important to note that not all tortoises are fruit-eating troises such as the Mediterranean tortoises.
Always consult your vet to help you identify whether your tortoise is a fruit-eating tortoise or not.
If you choose to feed bananas do so in moderation, as when fed in excess they can lead to adverse health effects.