Tortoises are intelligent, and they are prone to becoming picky eaters. It is a common problem that many tortoises will have at some point. Your tortoise knows what they like and picks through their food, leaving the bits they don’t like. When a child is a picky eater, we have to get creative, and it’s the same with our tortoises.
Tortoises can be picky eaters, and the best way to provide them with the food they need but may not like is as followed. Shred your tortoise’s least favorite foods into tiny pieces and mix them up with the leaves they do want to eat. Making the pieces so small that your tortoise can not easily pick them out.
A simple little trick that is very effective in getting your tortoise to eat the food they need. It’s very similar to how people blend up vegetables and hide them in bolognese sauce for children. Below we will look at some of the reasons your tortoise may be a picky eater how to overcome it and stop it from happening again.
Does My Tortoise Being A Fussy Eater Even Matter?
A tortoise that is a fussy eater can ultimately cause themselves many health problems. As tortoise keepers, we don’t want to force our tortoise to eat things they don’t enjoy. We want them to eat something they may not like to eat. But just so they have a healthy, well-balanced diet that supports healthy growth, leading to a long healthy life.
Children are often fussy eaters, and if we left them only to eat fast food and not take on some healthy vegetables, they would become unwell. It is the same with any animal; if the diet they consume is not well rounded and balance, they will be more susceptible to illness and unhealthy life.
A tortoise in the wild does an excellent job at creating a well-balanced diet with plenty of green plants and a little fruit. If a wild tortoise is struggling to get the calcium, they required they have been known to eat small invertebrates like snails to take on extra calcium. However, this would be rare, and their diet would be manly greens.
Giving a wild tortoise a diet that is high fiber, high calcium, low protein, low carbohydrates, and virtually fat-free diet. There will be other minerals within a wild tortoises diet that make up a well-rounded diet, but the most significant part will be leafy greens. Wild tortoises are excellent at controlling their own diet in the wild and the reason they have survived for such a long time.
As tortoise owners, it can be hard to replicate a wild tortoises diet. The plants that they have access to and the little fruit can be hard to find in different parts of the world. The leafy greens and fruit that we buy from the store can be completely different from those in the wild. So getting the nutrients required can be hard to get right for many tortoise owners.
We can’t feel bad if we don’t quite get our tortoise’s diet right the first go around. It takes a little experience dialing down the perfect tortoise diet that has all the nutrients they need. It is challenging to get the right amount of calcium in their diet with captive-bred tortoises without adding a supplement.
A little tip would be to research the requirements of your tortoise before purchasing. Each tortoise species will have slightly different needs, and learning this before purchases is best practice.
How And Why Has My Tortoise Become A Fussy Eater?
Have your tortoises gone from munching away at a wide variety of different greens to picking out just one or two other leaves? You have a stubborn little thing on your hands, just like a small child that becomes a fussy eater. Your tortoise has decided that there are greens he enjoys more than others, and as it’s readily available, they are sticking to just that.
While this would be fine if your tortoise decided on the foods that he liked was a well-balanced mix. However, in most instances, this will not be the case, and it will be the fewer nutrient varieties they love. Just as a child never seems to fall in love with vegetables, it is the local fast-food restaurant.
Foods that are high in sugars are usually the cause of bad eating habits to begin. Sugary foods are not just tasty to humans, but tortoises also love the sweet taste. We don’t feed our tortoises with sweets we buy from the supermarket, but we occasionally provide them fruit.
Fruit should always be fed in moderation, and the main reason is that it is packed full of sugar. Once a tortoise gets the taste for high sugary fruit, it can turn its nose up at the leafy greens.
Giving your tortoise a bite of a strawberry is very unlike to cause them to become a fussy eater. I have found that feeding your sweet tortoise food over an extended period is much more likely to make them picky.
There is nothing better than seeing your tortoise run across their enclosure towards you as you dangle a strawberry. As great as this is, you should hold back the temptation to do this regularly.
Getting rid of bad habits with tortoises is not as easy as taking away the food, causing them to become fussy. Just like you can not do this with a child, your tortoise can become just as stubborn as a little child. Refusing anything you put in front of them until you offer the thing they want.
What To Do With A Tortoise That Is A Fussy Eater
A tortoise that develops bad eating habits is worrying for us as owners as we know how important it is for them to get a well-balanced diet for their health.
The best thing to do if you have a tortoise that has become a fussy eater is not to make sudden significant changes. While this may sound strange, it will weald best result. Just imagine taking a child’s favorite food away and put out a plate of vegetables. The results will not be great, and your tortoise is likely to react the same way.
We can all agree that significant changes are not the best method, so we need to look at better options. Mixing in the foods they refuse to eat with the foods they love is the first step. Don’t add too much of the good foods to start with a mix of 90% bad to 10% good.
Tortoises are very clever and will pick out the foods they don’t like. You will need to make them very small and mixed, so they are not easy to pick out.
Do this for 2-3 days before changing the ratio between bad and good foods. Again you want the changes to be minor, 85% to 15%, then 80% to 20% until you get all the way to 100% healthy foods.
The whole process can take a couple of weeks to months to totally clear your tortoise’s bad habits. You want to really mix in the healthy food with the bad at first; otherwise, you may be shocked at how good your tortoise is at taking out the healthy food.
Help “My Tortoise Eats Only Dry Pellets”
When I first got my tortoise, dry pellets were not a thing, or at least I was not aware of them. With that said, I do still have some now, but they are only ever used sparingly.
Dry tortoise pellets are pretty healthy and hold all the nutrients a tortoise needs, so a tortoise stuck on them should, in theory, not become unhealthy. However, they are pretty expensive when compared to what are considered natural foods. So you may want to cut them out of your tortoise diet for money reasons.
You should shred the pellets and mix them with natural foods to a 90/10% ratio, slowly increasing the ratio. Over the weeks, you will have slowly weened your tortoise off the dry pellets.
Help “My Tortoise Eats Only Lettuce”
I often see people with this problem and, in most instances, iceberg lettuce due to how readily available it is in supermarkets. Unlike dried pellets, lettuce contains very little nutrients to keep a tortoise healthy. Iceberg lettuce, for instance, is nearly all water and will soon lead to your tortoise being ill if this is the bulk of their diet.
Again the best method is to chop the lettuce small mixed in with other healthy green leafy plants. If your tortoise is particularly fussy, you will need to start small changes using a 90/10 ratio of bad to good foods.
Despite lettuce being common and less healthy than dried pellets, it is usually much easier to get them back onto a more nutritious diet.
Calcium Supplements For A Road To Recovery
If your tortoise has become a fussy eater, they are very likely to lack all the vital nutrients they need to live a healthy life. One of the primary nutrients your tortoise is likely to have missed is calcium.
Calcium is a significant part of keeping your tortoise healthy and is often not consumed enough, even by a tortoise with a great diet. A supplement of calcium can be added to your tortoise food to boost their calcium intake.
However, you don’t want to do this while you are weening your tortoise off the bad foods. Calcium supplements tend to be bitter, and you don’t want anything knocking your tortoise back to old eating habits.
Once your tortoise is eating a better diet, slowly add your calcium supplements to the food to give your tortoise the needed calcium boost.
Don’t Let The Old Habits Come Back
The biggest shame would be to let your tortoise slip back into their old unhealthy habits.
Feeding your tortoise with a healthy diet that is very diverse and varied with many different tastes and textures. We need to know that bad eating habits come from not offing variety and high sugar foods.
With this said, that doesn’t mean you can see your tortoise chewing on a piece of strawberry anymore. You just need to do it in moderation, just as we humans do with sugary sweets.
A tortoise that is a picky easter comes from our failings but ones that are easy to fall into. Feeding your tortoise a diet that consists of many diffrent healthy plants should be our goal.
Once a tortoise has terrible eating habits and becomes fussy, it can take weeks, if not months, to overcome the problem.
Make small changes and never punish your tortoise, as this can cause stress that can lead to many more problems. We should keep in mind that we cause your tortoise eating habits, and we should help rectify the situation at the tortoise’s pace.