Can A Tortoise Eat Cucumber? Most Important Facts

In deciding what diet is best for a tortoise, many owners find themselves conflicted because of the various opinions they find. In order to keep the healthiest habits possible for your reptile companion, it’s important that 80% of their diet consists of fruits and vegetables.

Yes, a tortoise can eat cucumber. Cucumbers are a low-calorie, nutritious fruit which makes them a good choice for tortoises. Cucumbers may be in season during the winter months when other fresh fruits are scarce and out of season, so it would make an excellent substitute to give your pet variety.

If they don’t have any known allergies or digestive issues that might cause problems with cucumber consumption, then by all means feel free to include cucumbers in their diet.

Tortoises Like Cucumbers

You tortoise may enjoy this refreshing fruit even more than you do! The fiber content in the watery cucumber satisfies their need for roughage. The water found in the cucumber helps hydrate your tortoise.

A tortoise can survive without eating any fresh fruit or vegetables at all, but it’s always best for them to consume fruits and veggies like cucumbers as often as possible.

As mentioned above it’s important that 80% of their diet consists of fruits and vegetables. So, does cucumbers count towards the 80%? They do. This is great because pet tortoises love to eat cucumbers, and they are all safe in doing so. Moreover, one of the significant reasons tortoises like to eat cucumber is its bountiful taste and coolness. 

Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional facts and the benefits that a tortoise gets from eating cucumbers. 

Are Cucumbers Safe To Eat For a Tortoise?

Cucumbers are very safe to eat for a tortoise. You don’t need worry about offering a cucumber treat to your tortoise. It is a safe and toxin-free food. Moreover, cucumbers are safe for all tortoise species except a few such as Grazing tortoises and Mediterranean tortoises. Fruits and vegetables are not safe for these species.

Although cucumbers are safe for pet tortoises, you must consider their moderation in consumption to avoid opportunistic hazards. However, cucumber is a sugar-free ingredient that you can offer without any hesitation. 

Here are some tortoise groups organized based on their preferable diets.

Mediterranean Tortoises

Species

  • Marginated tortoise
  • Egyptian tortoise
  • Hermanns tortoise
  • Greek tortoise
  • Testudo horsefieldi     

Preferred diets

  • Flowering plants and weeds varieties up to 100%
  • Salads, vegetables, and fruits should be avoided

Grazing Tortoises

Species

  • Leopard tortoises
  • Indian tortoises
  • African Sulcata
  • Aldabra tortoises

Preferred diets

  • Grass and hay mixture up to 70%
  • Succulents, weeds, and flowering plants up to 30% 
  • Vegetables, salads, and fruits should be avoided
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Rainforest Tortoises

Species

  • Yellow-footed tortoises
  • Red-footed tortoises
  • Kinixys homeana 
  • Burmese brown tortoises

Preferred diets

  • Flowering plants, weeds, and other greens up to 70%
  • A small number of proteins (animal sourced) and fruits up to 30%

What Are The Health Benefits of a Cucumber For a Tortoise?

It is a fact that most of the nutrients portion in cucumber is occupied by water that is up to 96%. The remaining 4% include fibre, vitamins, calcium, and phosphorus. Therefore, it comes up among the most nutrient-deficient fruits.

However, cucumber offers several health benefits to a tortoise if given moderately. Let us first have a look at the nutritional content of a raw cucumber of 52 grams.

NutrientsValues
Water49.5 grams
Vitamin C1.5 mg
Vitamin A54.6IU
Fiber0.3 grams
Phosphorous12.5mg
Calcium8.3mg

The health benefits that a tortoise can get from feeding a cucumber are as follow:

1 – A source of hydration

Tortoises need plenty of water to maintain their optimum hydration state for normal body functioning. Moreover, pet tortoises tend to get more water from the food they feed. Therefore, watery fruits like watermelon and cucumber are the best treats to meet water requirements due to their higher water contents.

Dehydration is a severe concern of pet tortoises due to the stress of captivity and loss of humid and natural habitat. In such circumstances, you have no choice but to ensure the provision of plenty of fresh and chlorine-free water to keep them hydrated.  

Cucumbers lend a helping hand in maintaining the average water level in your pet tortoise in hot summers and avoiding the risk of otherwise fatal dehydration.      

2 – A Battery of vitamins

Vitamins are must ingredients in a tortoise diet (in fact, every animal, including humans) for optimal growth of shells and bones. In case of vitamins deficiency, a tortoise may lead to developing several skeletal and health abnormalities. Therefore, tortoises in captivity must need special attention to avoid such life-threatening abnormalities.

Cucumber contains nothing but water and a battery of essential vitamins that are much needed for normal metabolism. The presence of vitamin A and C are evident in a cucumber that is a blessing for your tortoise.

Just have a glance at what the deficiency of essential vitamins may bring about in your docile and lovely companion. 

Vitamin A deficiency

  • Swelling of limbs because of liver failure
  • Inflammation of eyelids
  • Mouth’s horny part thickening
  • Weakness of immune system
  • Thickening of skin
  • Greater chances of infections 

Vitamin C deficiency

  • Impaired wound healing
  • Internal bleeding
  • Anemia
  • Neurological symptoms

However, there are the least chances of vitamin C deficiency in tortoises due to the ability of their body to synthesize it in the gut. It’s all about the presence of a healthy gut biome that assists its synthesis.              

3 – A package of minerals

Cucumber is not a rich source of nutrients and minerals; however, it provides some of them, like calcium and phosphorus. Minerals like calcium and phosphorus play a role in healthy skeleton formation. 

So, you can offer a healthy skeleton and shell to your tortoise by ensuring the provision of cucumber treats along with other nutrient-rich fruits.

What Are The Best Ways To Offer a Cucumber To Your Tortoise?

The best way to serve a cucumber to your tortoise is whole or sliced cucumbers mix with other ingredients like vegetables and fruits. This will delight your tortoise. Grating of cucumber over your tortoise’s favourite greens is also appreciatable.

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There are a few useful tips to remember when serving cucumber to a tortoise:

  • Always try to provide cucumbers that are grown organically
  • Don’t forget to wash cucumbers before offering properly
  • It is best to mix with other fresh food ingredients like fruits and veggies
  • Offer cucumber to your pet tortoise during a suitable time, i.e., afternoon

As a pet owner, it is your duty to keep an eye on the health of your beloved pet tortoise. In case you neglect at least one of these tips, then you are inviting trouble and may be harming your pet as well.

Serve the cucumber in its most natural form without any additives. The addition of salt, spices and even lemon seems to bring undesirable side effects in your tortoise. It is always best to offer a plain cucumber treat to your pet tortoise.

Can My Tortoise Eat Cucumber Leaf?

Some owners may think that leaves also provide enough nutrition and may be a good addition to their tortoise’s diet. However, such thoughts are not correct as the leaves of cucumber are not a good option for your pet.

The absence of nutrients and vitamins in the leaf makes it as an unfavourable food for tortoises because the leaf contains more water than any other component, including vitamins. Foliage from a cucumber plant is not a good option for your pet tortoise.

Stick to only feeding your tortoise with the cucumber and not the leaves.

Can You Use Cucumbers To Hide Medication?

Yes, if your tortoise has enough stubbornness to refuse any medication, it will be best to hide them in a cucumber – their best snack. However, you can also use other treats for the same purpose, like tomatoes and oranges.

Wether or not it is a good idea to hide medication is a question we get quite a lot. The answer is that it is not a good idea. It is often not easy to get your tortoise to eat its medication, even though it is important for them.

Because of this it may well be the best option to trick your tortoise by concealing the medication. It might even be necessary. If your pet requires medication you cannot risk it not getting it all.

Cucumber is one of the best fruit treats for your tortoise that is scientifically proven safe. Although it is safe for almost all tortoise species, few are prohibited, like Grazing tortoises and Mediterranean tortoises. Cucumber is not a particularly nutritious ingredient but offers certain other benefits like avoiding dehydration.

Are Tortoises Picky Eaters?

Tortoises are not picky eaters and they will most likely enjoy a cucumber, but you should still be mindful of the following. Always try to provide organic grown cucumbers that have been washed before serving them to your pet tortoise.

Mix in other ingredients like vegetables or fruits for variety when offering this food as well.  Cucumbers can also serve as an effective vehicle for hiding medication if necessary so long as it is done discreetly without adding any salt, spices or lemon juice which would cause undesirable side effects with your tortoise.

The leafs of a cucumber plant are not great for feeding purposes because they don’t offer much nutrition and contain more water than vitamins, minerals etc., while foliage from the plant isn’t a good option for your tortoise either. 

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As with many other vegetables you can feed cucumbers to your tortoise in their most natural form without any additives. The addition of salt, spices and even lemon seems to bring undesirable side effects in your tortoise.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions About Tortoises Eating Cucumbers

Below we have collected the most common questions we get about tortoises when it comes to eating cucumbers. If you love your tortoise please take a few minutes to read on. You might find some of the answers useful.

Are There Health Benefits To Giving a Tortoise Cucumber?

There are not many health benefits to giving your pet tortoise cucumber as a usual diet. Cucumbers can be given sparingly for the following reasons:

  • Tortoises are picky eaters and may refuse other foods if they see them too often, so by occasionally serving cucumbers you might find it easier to feed your pet
  • A part of the natural diet of a tortoise would consist of leafy vegetables, which cannot be found in cucumbers. A small quantity of celery or cabbage chopped into pieces and mixed with whole milk yogurt provides an acceptable substitute when necessary (helpful link: What Do I Feed My Pet Turtle?)
  • To prevent dehydration during hot weather, vegetable slices may help provide moisture in their diets but should not be used at all times
  • Cucumbers contain vitamins

Why Are People Feeding Their Tortoises Vegetables Instead of Fruit?

There are many different opinions about what you should feed your tortoise, which can make it difficult to know where to start.

A good place to start is with their natural diet which would consist of leafy vegetables and certain fruits such as cucumbers. It’s also a good idea for them not be fed too much protein which could put too much strain on their kidneys or cause other health problems like bowel obstructions.

Cucumbers themselves are low in nutritional value but should still be offered sparingly mixed with other foods like carrot sticks, kale and celery pieces since they will help provide the necessary moisture for your tortoises.

Do Tortoises Like To Eat Cucumbers?

Tortoises generally like to eat cucumbers. They are omnivores by nature, just like humans. They will eat a variety of plants and fruits when offered to them as part of their diet.

Cucumbers make up a big percentage of both wild and cultivated tortoises diets in their natural habitat.

What Do Tortoises Usually Eat?

Tortoises usually eat things like dead leaves, flowers, fruits and veggies. They also eat worms (especially baby tortoises), insects, snails and small lizards.

Tortoises also like to eat apples, berries, papayas, figs, dates and melons.

Also, tortoises love lettuce.

They are not picky at all but they do love their veggies!

Here is a list of some other things that tortoises love to eat: cactus pads, grape leaves, coconuts (not the nut inside), dandelions and clover.

Why Don’t People Feed Their Tortoise Cucumber?

Well some definitely do. The reason that many don’t is probably because they are not aware that it is a great option for your tortoise.

Cucumbers contain a lot of water, so some owners may think that this makes them a bad choice in general. In reality you should just make sure to use it as a snack.

Not all tortoises like to eat cucumbers, but the ones that do eat them usually also enjoy eating them.