Can Tortoises Eat Cabbage — (Nutrition, Toxins & More)?

When it comes to owning a tortoise, it is so important to ensure that you are feeding them the correct food. As you will already be aware, tortoises eat a lot of vegetables. This is because it makes up a lot of their diet, in addition to hay.

While they can eat a certain amount of fruit, vegetables are the far better option. This is because they are lower in sugar, and provide better nutritional value. There are so many types of vegetables that are safe for a tortoise to eat, however, there are a handful that should be avoided.

In this article, we will be talking about cabbage in particular. We will be discussing whether it is safe for tortoises to eat, its nutritional value, and any potential toxins too. 

Can Tortoises Eat Cabbage?

Yes, tortoises can eat cabbage. In fact, cabbage is food that is often recommended feeding to a tortoise. This is because they need a good amount of leafy greens and vegetables in their diet in order to survive and remain healthy. 

In addition to this, turtles love crunchy vegetables that they can take their time to chew on. While it is food that is in general safe for tortoise to eat, it still should be fed in moderation, and as part of a balanced diet.

Cabbage is a fantastic food, but overeating it can lead to some unpleasant side effects for a turtle. As a result of this, you will need to be mindful of the portion size. 

All types of tortoise can eat cabbage, as long as this is in moderation. This includes all types of cabbage, such as green, red, and purple. It is worth noting that while it can be fed, there are some experts that do not suggest it. 

As a result, it is always worth seeking veterinarian advice if you are unsure of whether to feed your tortoise cabbage. 

How Often Can You Feed Cabbage To A Tortoise?

As we have already covered, tortoises can eat cabbage. However, this is a good you will want to feed your tortoise in moderation due to the high amount of goitrogen levels it contains. 

Leafy greens are great for tortoises, and do make up part of their diet, but care should be taken with cabbage. It is not really a food we would recommend feeding your tortoise daily. 

Instead, it should be fed as an occasional treat, perhaps a handful of times a month. When feeding cabbage as a treat, you will want to give a reasonably small portion size. It is easy to overfeed a tortoise.

As a result, can needs to be taken, we would recommend a very small handful, perhaps a third of a cabbage leaf. 

While cabbage does have some great health benefits, given the risks, it is not worth over feeding. When feeding cabbage, you will need to ensure that you are washing it thoroughly first.

We would also recommend cutting up the cabbage into smaller pieces, this makes it easier for the tortoise to eat.

You can place a dusting of calcium supplements onto the cabbage to ensure that your tortoise is having enough calcium when eating it too. 

What Are The Health Benefits Of Cabbage For Tortoise?

While there are some health risks that come with overfeeding cabbage to a tortoise, it is useful to know that cabbage does have some health benefits too.

This is important because you don’t want to feed your tortoise fruit and vegetables that have no nutritional value. Foods that have no nutritional value are not good for a tortoise. 

When it comes to the different types of tortoise, both African tortoises, and Mediterranean tortoises do enjoy eating this as an occasional treat. Here are some of the nutrients that cabbages contain:

  • Protein
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Sodium
  • Folate
  • Vitamin A
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin C

These are just a few of the nutrients and health benefits that cabbage contains. As you can see, there is a lot of goodness in cabbage. 

The source of fiber and protein is great because tortoises need this in their diet. If a tortoise does not have enough fiber in their diet, this will lead to diarrhea, which in turn will lead to dehydration, which needs to be avoided. 

The minerals and vitamins within cabbage are great because these are important in maintaining a tortoises’ health. Calcium and phosphorus are fantastic for bone growth too. Some other health benefits of calcium include muscle growth, and improved kidney function.

This is why it is acceptable to feed cabbage as an occasional treat, as it does have some great benefits. Even so, it is not food that should be excessively consumed. 

What Are The Health Risks Of Feeding Cabbage To A Tortoise?

While there are some great health benefits for feeding cabbage to your tortoise, there are a few risks and toxins you need to be aware of. The main risk of cabbage is the high levels of goitrogens. 

If your tortoise has high levels of goitrogens in their diet, this can lead to some adverse health side effects. The main issue is linked to the liver and the kidneys. If cabbage is eaten in excess, this will lead to these organs not being able to function properly.

In addition to this, too little in an adult tortoises’ system can also lead to health issues. Cabbage can lead to problems with calcium absorption, which you will need to keep a close eye on. 


We hope you have found this article useful. As you can see, there are some great health benefits linked to cabbage. However, given that it can be potentially dangerous to eat, care will need to be taken to ensure that overfeeding doesn’t occur.

Feeding cabbage as an occasional treat is perfectly fine, however, you will want to ensure that the cabbage is being thoroughly washed and cut into small pieces before feeding to your tortoise.