Can Turtles Eat Cabbage?

Can turtles eat cabbages? Yes turtles can eat cabbages and its perfectly healthy for them.

Bringing a turtle home from the store is unlike any other pet experience, in part because the creature – unlike a dog or cat – appears to have little use for humans.

It’ll be happy whenever it’s fed, it might even become accustomed to you, but turtles are solitary creatures, not meant for the attention of overly excited kids. 

Knowing what to feed a turtle can be difficult.

They seem to like eating virtually anything, and they’ll spend hours masticating on what’s in front of them.

As a regular part of their diet, turtle owners have often turned to simple cabbage and lettuce heads, which turtles love. 

In fact, cabbage and other greens are incredibly important to your turtle’s health.

They’re fond of a lot of greens, many of which are approved for eating including collard greens, beet greens, mustard greens, alfalfa hay, turnip greens, parsley and swiss chard, among many, many others. 

To help understand the nutritional benefits of cabbage in your turtle’s diet,  this blog will go over some health facts as well as the best way to feed your turtle cabbage. 

Nutrition Chart For Cabbage 

Cabbage is one of the healthiest greens out there, loaded with rich nutrients that keep you and your turtle well fed.  

It’s often an overlooked green, confused too easily with lettuce. It’s low on carbs and practically fat free. 


What follows is the nutritional information from 1 cup of chopped cabbage.

Calories: 22

Fat: 0.1g

Sodium: 16mg

Carbohydrates: 5.2g

Fiber: 2.2g

Sugars: 2.9g

Protein: 1.1g

Now that we have the numbers, let’s look at them a little more closely. 

  • Carbohydrates

One cup of raw, chopped cabbage contains slightly more than five grams of carbs. Half of these come from fiber and half from natural sugars. Moreover, cabbage has a low glycemic index (10).

  • Fats

As mentioned, cabbage is virtually fat free. So no stress about getting your turtle fat. 

  • Protein

With only 1 gram of protein per cup, cabbage is not a major source of protein. 

  • Vitamins and Minerals

Cabbage is an excellent source of potassium, vitamin K and folate. It also provides some iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin A and calcium. 

Benefits of Giving Your Turtles Cabbages

Rich in both minerals and vitamins and incredibly low in fat, cabbages are a great food for both humans and turtles.

Most turtles enjoy cabbage, but it’s a particular favorite among the red-eared slider. 

It’s very important to your turtle’s diet, however, that you never stick to just one kind of food.

The key to a healthy diet for turtles is diversity. 


Too much cabbage is never a good thing. Cabbage contains a substance known as goitrogen.

This can affect the thyroid hormones of your turtles. Over time, this hurts the overall health of your animal.

Cabbage, mustard greens and kale should all be offered in moderation. 

Excessive eating of any of these three vegetables can result in hypothyroidism, which can mean your turtle will have less resistance to cold weather or even get goitres on its neck. 

While all that sounds terrible, eliminating cabbage entirely from your turtle’s diet is not recommended.

You should just offer it with a mix of other vegetables.

Since cabbage is also not a viable source of protein, an assortment of mealworms and other bugs and insects like flies would be appetizing. 

Also read – > Can Turtles eat Crickets

But, again, with the other vegetables, one should always take caution that they aren’t sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals or are naturally poisonous to your turtle.

Some plants contain oxalate salts that can cause pain and swelling in your animal. 

This all sounds much worse than it is, as cabbage, when given correctly, is a very important part of your turtle’s diet.

Furthermore, they seem to love the stuff.

The high levels of goitrogen in the cabbage will only become problematic if your turtle subsists exclusively on cabbage, something that’s easily avoided.

Moreover, the cabbage contains some much needed calcium.

The Calcium: Phosphorus Ratio Of Cabbage 

Like any pet that requires some extra calcium, it’s important to know how much calcium there is in cabbage and other vegetables in relation to phosphorus.

Almost all vegetables have both calcium and phosphorus, and most of them contain a ratio of the two. 

So let’s begin by looking at what calcium and phosphorus do for turtles overall. 

Calcium is important to any animal in the world that has bones.

Considering that a turtle’s shell is made from bone, how strong it is depends on how well supplied the animal is with calcium. Vegetables like cabbage are where they get most of their calcium. 

In humans, phosphorus is a mineral that plays an essential role in filtering waste and fixing damaged tissue. In turtles, it’s not as helpful.

Phosphorus is what makes a turtle’s shell softer and weaker. A little flexibility is what you’re looking for, but too much and the shells are too weak to defend themselves. 

Most vegetables has simple ratios regarded phosphorus and calcium content. A 1:1 ratio means the food contains an equal amount of both. 1:2 is even worse for a turtle. 


What you’re looking for is any food with a 2:1 ration or higher on the calcium side. Cabbage has such a ratio. 

If your turtle has no interest in cabbage, there are two possible reasons.

The first is that you’ve overloaded their diet with meat, making it the only thing they crave.

The solution is,

obviously, to stop feeding your turtle meat for a while. 

The other possible reason it won’t eat cabbage is that it’s too young to enjoy it.

Babies and growing young turtles need the protein in various meat and other foods, so they tend to not care for cabbage just yet. 

Best and Safest Way to Feed Your Turtle Cabbage

The best way to ensure that the cabbage you’re feeding to your turtle is safe and healthy for them is to clean it.

While they may be used to eating it in the wild without any sort of preparation, your home cabbage is already a different kind of meal.

For one thing, if it’s store bought, it may have been sprayed with some chemicals that could be harmful to your turtle.

So the key to feeding them healthy cabbage is to wash it thoroughly, rinsing several times to make sure it’s safe and clean. 

Cabbage is an important part of your turtle’s diet, but too much is never a good thing.

The key to any diet for a turtle is to keep it as diverse as they would have it in the wild, with some upgrades to cleaning preparation so you know they’re always healthy. 

F.A.Q. 

Do Turtles Eat Raw Cabbage?

Turtles do indeed eat raw cabbage in the wild. And if you give it to them raw at home, they’ll happily chew on it, but it’s much better to clean the cabbage of any pesticides or chemicals with which they may have been sprayed.

Can Turtles Eat Cabbage Leaves?

It depends on what species of turtle. Cabbage leaves might be harder to chew for some turtles, while others have jaws that are made for it. 

Can Box Turtles Eat Cabbage?

Box turtles often love to snack on cabbage and it should be included as a regular part of their diet. 

Can Baby Turtles Eat Cabbage?

Baby turtles don’t have any interest in cabbage. As they are still growing, they will need a good deal of protein in their diet, something which cabbage is severely lacking. 

Can Turtles Eat Napa Cabbage?

Yes, leafy, green vegetables like Napa cabbage should always be a part of your turtle’s diet. 

Can Turtles Eat Purple Cabbage?

Turtles should and can enjoy all varieties of cabbage. Red, green and purple are commonly featured in their diets. 

Can Turtles Eat Red Cabbage?


Yes, turtles enjoy all varieties of cabbage. You should try to include a mix of cabbages. 

Can Tortoises Eat Green Cabbage?

Green cabbage is on the list of acceptable vegetables to feed a tortoise.

References

Feeding Box Turtles – vcahospitals.com

What do Turtles Eat – small-pets.lovetoknow.com

 

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