During one of my trips to our local reptile pack, I was lucky enough to get a chance to feed tortoises. However, the guide insisted that vegetables have some compounds that can harm tortoises if fed wrongly. Since I fed a cucumber, I decided to learn more about it in the diet of tortoises and their potential harm.
Can tortoises eat Cucumber?
Tortoises can eat cucumber. However, tortoises should have cucumber moderately since it is mainly water and only 4% fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Cucumber is a good way to keep tortoises hydrated and offer medication to tortoises by hiding medication inside. Tortoises can eat cucumber leaves and flowers.
Fruits, vegetables, greens, weeds and flowering plants should also make up part of your tortoises diet based on the species of tortoises. A high quality commercially made tortoise such as these examples from Amazon should also be part of your tortoises diet.
Is cucumber safe for Tortoises?
Cucumber is completely safe for all species of tortoises, while there are some of species of tortoises that should not eat fruits such as the Mediterranean tortoises and Grazing tortoises. Cucumber is one of the fruits that do not have a dangerous sugar content is completeley safe for tortoises.
A point to note however is the fact that despite not being toxic to tortoises cucumber should be fed moderately.
The table below shows different species of tortoises plus what they should eat based on their diet in the wild.
|Mediterranean Tortoises||Preferred Diets|
|Greek Tortoises, Spur Thighed (Testudo Graeca)||100% variety of weeds and flowering plants|
|Hermanns tortoise (Testudo Hermanni)||Limit or avoid: Fruits, vegetables, and salads|
|Marginated Tortoise (Testudo Marginata) and the|
|Russian / Horsefield (Testudo Horsefieldi)|
|Egyptian Tortoise (Testudo kleinmanni)|
|Rainforest Tortoises||Preferred Diet|
|Red-footed tortoises||70% weeds, flowering plants, and other greens|
|Yellow footed tortoises [Geochelone denticulata]||30% Fruits and a small amount of animal protein|
|Burmese Brown Tortoises|
|Kinixys homeana (Home’s Hingeback tortoise|
|Grazing Tortoises||Preferred diets|
|African Sulcata Tortoises||70% mixed grass and Hay|
|Leopard Tortoises||20-30% flowering plants, succulents and weeds.|
|Indian Tortoises||Limit or Avoid: Fruits, vegetables, and salads|
These tables should only serve as a reference point of what is most suitable for a particular species of tortoises.
Is cucumber healthy for Tortoises?
The highest percentage of nutrients in cucumber is taken up by water about 96%. Making one of the most nutrient deficient fruit out there. Nonetheless, cucumber are healthy for tortoises if fed moderatel.
The table below shows the nutrient content of 52 grams of raw cucumbers. Source
Benefits of Feeding Cucumber to Tortoises
Keeping tortoises hydrated
Tortoise should have an easy access to fresh, clean and chlorine free water on daily basis. While most people may think that tortoises such as desert or grazing tortoises do not need water, they actually do.
Dehydration can actually lead to death of a tortoises. In the wild where they water is scarce, part of the water that tortoises neeed for survival comes fro the food they eat.
Vegetables and fruits that tortoises eat in captivity are some of the best sources of hydration for tortoises. Fruits like cucumber and watermelon are a good treat for tortoises especially during summer when it is hot.
A cucumber or two followed by a piece of watermelon or other fruits should go a long way hydrating the tortoise.
Tortoises need vitamins for optimal growth, lack of vitamins can lead to life threatening side effects. One of the best source of vitamins for captive tortoises is fruits and vegetables and greens.
Being a fruit, cucumber has vitamin A and Vitamin C that tortoises need for optimal growth of their shell and bones.
Vitamin A deficiency symptoms include
- Limb swelling due to liver failure
- Thickening of the horny part of the sjin
- Swelling and inflamation of the eye lids
- thickening of the horny part of the mouth
- Weak immune system
Vitamin C is synthesized and absorbed from the tortoise gut by microflora, therefore its deficiencies is rare unless the microflora of the tortoise guts have been affected.
This could happen when a tortoise is under medication or happens to eat high amount of fruits such as oranges whose sugar and acidic content can harm the microflora.
While fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamins and hydration for tortoises they are a poor source of minerals with the exception of a few such as kale which is rich in calcium and figs that is rich in calcium.
Cucumber has a very small calcium and phosphorus content, and even worse is the fact that it is not within the tortoises calcium phosphorus 2:1 ratio respectively.
However, when fed moderately, cucumber is completely safe for tortoises.
How do you give a tortoise a cucumber?
You can either give cucumber to tortoise in whole or cut it into pieces and mix it with other fruits and vegetables. You can also grate cucumber on top of greens that your tortoise enjoys eating.
- Organically grown cucumbers are the best and most safe for tortoises
- Make sure the cucumber is thoroughly washed
- Mix it with vegetables and other fruits
- Best time to offer these treat is during the afternoon when the tortoise has already eaten a high amount of fiber from hay and grasses and other nutritious food items.
Using cucumber to offer Medication
When a tortoise is under medication, fruits such as cucumber, tomatoes and oranges serve as a good mode of making sure the tortoises have taken their medication.
Hide the medication inside the cucumber or other fruits and give it to your tortoise.
Can Russian tortoises eat cucumbers?
Horsefield or Russian tortoises can eat cucumbers moderately mixed with other fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet. Cucumbers are an easy way to offer medication to Horsefield or Russian tortoises and also keep them hydrated.
Fuits and vegetables are a good source of vitamins and water for tortoises. Cucumber falls at the top of the list for fruits that can keep your tortoises hydrated. Cucumber can also make it easy to medicate tortoises by hiding the medication inside the fruit.