During my visit to the local zoo in the reptile department, our guide mentioned that not all reptiles are suited to eat fruits. In this post, I share the results of research I did to find out which tortoises should be fed Grapes.
Can tortoises eat Grapes?
Fruit-eating tortoises can eat grapes. However, the Mediterranean and Grazing tortoises should have grapes sparingly or none at all since their digestion system cannot cope with the high sugar of grapes. Nonetheless, all species of tortoises can have the young fresh leaves of grapes vines moderately.
Fruits have a poor mineral content but are a good source of vitamins especially vitamin A for tortoises. They therefore should only be part of the diet but not the largest part of the diet.
A good well-balanced tortoise diet should consist of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, weeds, and flowers plus a high percentage should be composed of food items high in fiber such as hays like alfalfa hay or grass.
You can also feed your tortoise high-quality commercially made tortoises pellets such as these ones from Amazon, that have been made with the nutritional requirements of tortoises in mind.
Can I give my tortoise grapes?
If your tortoise falls into the category of fruit-eating tortoises, you can feed them grapes. However, if they are not fruit-eating tortoises they should have grapes sparingly since their digestion system is not designed to cope with the high sugar content of grapes.
To understand more about the tortoises that can eat fruits comfortably also known as fruit-eating tortoises we composed the tables below.
|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)|
The Mediterranean tortoises may eat some grass and hay sparingly.
|Grazing / Desert Tortoises||Preferred Diet|
|African Sulcata tortoises||70-80%Mixed Grasses and Hays|
|Leopard Tortoises||20-30% Flowering plants, weeds, and succulents|
|Indian Star Tortoises||Limit or avoid: Fruits, Vegetables and Salads|
|Agassiz’s desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)|
|Morafka’s desert tortoise (Gopherus morafkai).|
|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|
|Vitamin C||3.2 mg|
|Vitamin A||3 µg|
|beta carotene||39 µg|
|vitamin K||14.6 µg|
Benefits of Feeding Grapes to tortoises
Keeping tortoises Hydrated
Tortoise needs easy access to fresh, clean, and chlorine-free water every day as opposed to popular that since these animals come from arid and semi-arid environments they do not need water.
Water is very important to maintain the metabolism of tortoises at its optimal. Water is very helpful in the excretion of nitrogenous waste such as excess oxalates and phosphorus.
Without enough water in its diet, a tortoise can suffer from kidney and bladder stones.
While it is essential for tortoises to have easy access to water, the foods they eat such as fruits like grapes help to keep them hydrated.
When providing water to tortoises always ensure that they can also bathe in the water without drowning as they like staying in the water especially during the day when the temperatures are high. Check out these tortoises watering basins with a ramp at Amazon.
Vitamin deficiencies have been reported among tortoises that are fed a poor diet that does not have variety but contains a single food item.
Deficiency of some of these vitamins such as vitamin A can lead to life-threatening complications such as fractured bones.
However, fruits and vegetables are some of the best sources of vitamins to tortoises besides vitamin supplements.
Grapes are a good source of vitamin A plus its precursor beta carotene.
Symptoms of vitamin A deficiencies include
- Inflammation and swelling of the eye lids
- Difficulty breathing accompanied with wheezing
- Abnormal growth of the horny part of the tortoise mouth
- The horny parts of the skin thicken
- Weak immune system
- Liver failure leading to limp swelling
Providing a fruit diet or vitamin injection can help correct these problems.
However, you should ensure that injecting vitamins into the tortoise is done by a qualified veterinarian since the wrong dosage can lead to a condition known as hypervitaminosis that can lead to liver failure.
Grapes are also a good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is synthesized from the kidneys or the gut of the tortoise using microflora.
Therefore, its deficiency is quite rare, unless the tortoise’s kidneys are not working properly or the tortoises’ microflora in the gut has been disrupted by medications or poor feeding such as feeding citric acid such as oranges in excess.
Grapes are also a good source of vitamin K, especially when mixed with other fruits. Like vitamin C, Vitamin K is also produced from the intestinal gut of the tortoise.
Its deficiency can occur if there is a prolonged period of antibiotic medications.
These medications can alter the populations of the microflora in the gut leading to poor processing and extraction of this vitamin.
Fruits are a poor source of minerals maybe apart from a few such as figs. However, they have a small percentage of minerals such as calcium and phosphorus though not high enough to be considered as a good source of minerals for the tortoises or other reptiles.
Therefore, the best way is to offer mineral supplements is by dusting vegetables such as kale and spinach plus other greens when feeding tortoises.
Collectively when fed with other fruits and vegetable fruits can also contribute to the mineral requirements of tortoises.
However, you should always ensure that calcium is always high than phosphorus to avoid a condition known as nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism, which results in excessive production of parathyroid hormone that leads to demineralization of the bones consequently resulting in fractured bones and deformed shells.
However, there is no adequate research to determine how much calcium to phosphorus ratio is safe for tortoises as a result, most experts recommend using the ratios that have been successful and safe for other reptiles such as bearded dragon.
The recommended ratio of calcium to phosphorus is either 1:1 or 2:1 respectively. With injured, laying or young tortoises falling into the 2:1 ratio.
Are grapes bad for tortoises?
Grapes can be bad to tortoises when fed to tortoises excessively. Like all fruits, grapes are high in sugar that can end up harming the digestion system of the Mediterranean and Grazing tortoises that are not accustomed to digesting the high sugar content of grapes and other fruits.
High sugar content will lead to diarrhea and can also affect the microflora of the gut which will affect the absorption of vitamins absorbed from the gut such as Vitamins C and K.
Can Russian Tortoises Eat Grapes?
Russian tortoises can eat grapes sparingly, however, experts recommend against feeding grapes to Mediterranean tortoises such as the Russian tortoises and Hermann tortoises since they cannot digest the high content of grapes. However, Russian tortoises can eat grapes vines moderately.
can sulcata tortoises eat grapes?
Sulcata tortoises can eat fruits sparingly. However, experts recommend against feeding grapes or other fruits to Sulcata tortoises or other desert tortoises since their digestion is not equipped to deal with the high sugar levels of grapes or fruits. Sulcata tortoises food should have high fiber content.
Fruit-eating tortoises such as tropical tortoises can eat grapes without issues, however, for the Mediterranean and grazing tortoises, you should avoid feeding grapes or feed them sparingly. Grapevines are, however, safe for all tortoises to eat. Grapes like all fruits are a good source of vitamins for tortoises, but their high sugar can cause diarrhea and affect the population of the microflora in the intestinal guts.