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Edible Plants for Tortoises

The pages that follow list plants of three categories. 1) Plants, which have been introduced into Florida, that are native to the diet of commonly kept tortoise species. 2) Plants, which appear to be safe, that are closely related to species native to the tortoises' diet. 3) Finally it contains plants that appear to be safe that are consumed by my tortoises.

This list is biased towards what can be found in Florida, but many of the plant species are widely distributed in the US and elsewhere.

If you have some time to kill, check out the site below. Enter some of the plant names that are known to be part of the diet of wild tortoises. If the plant has been tested, check out some of the properties of the plant and then you should understand why captive diets that rely on store bought produce are insufficient.

Dr. Duke's


Many weeds look alike. I trust that tortoises know better than to eat toxic plants. I have witnessed new imports carefully taste testing plants they have never seen before. But there is no reason to find out the hard way. Unless you are confident in your identification skills you should pick up a book or two to assist. A few books are listed on my Books page and there are some good plant identification links below.


Do not use plants that are from areas treated with insecticides and inorganic fertilizers!



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This section is far from done. Now that it is planted, it will grow like the proverbial weed.


Commelina diffusa --- Common Dayflower

Notes: Commelina benghalensis is listed as part of the diet of Sulcatas Geochelone sulcata. This species is found in Florida, but not as commonly as C. diffusa, which is eaten by all tortoise species I keep.


Dactyloctenium aegyptium --- Durban Crowfootgrass

Notes: Listed as a part of the diet of Sulcatas Geochelone sulcata

The base might be easy to confuse with other species but the seedhead it unique.

Musa_x_paradisiaca Common Banana

Notes: These provide shade and a tropical look in some of our pens and the fruit makes an occasional addition to the Redfoots' Geochelone carbonaria diet.

Opuntia cochenillifera --- Cochineal Cactus

Notes: Spineless cactus is eaten by all our tortoises. The cactus stand in the picture below is around 14' tall and the result of a single plant that fell. Individual pads rooted and sprung up.

Plantago virginica --- Virginia Plantain

Notes: Plantago lanceolata and P. major are listed as part of the diet of the Hermann's Tortoise Testudo hermanni. Both species are found in Florida, but are not as common as the Virginia Plantain.

Portulaca oleracea --- Little Hogweed

Notes: This is listed as part of the diet of Sulcatas Geochelone sulcata.

Close up of flowers.

Taraxacum officinale --- Dandelion

Notes: This plant is listed as part of the diet of the Hermann's Tortoise Testudo hermanni.

The flower and the well known puffball.