Can Turtles Eat Tomatoes?

A wise old farmer once said, “Few things are as delicious and healthy as a vine-ripe tomato.” 

There’s a lot of truth to the saying. Not only are tomatoes delicious, but they’re packed full of vitamins and nutrients that are essential for life. 

Supplementing tomatoes into your turtle’s diet will not only make them happy, but it’s also a great way to give them a good dose of essential vitamins and minerals. Like anything, just remember that moderation is key

In today’s post, we’ll outline some of the key nutritional benefits of tomatoes, what type of tomatoes turtles can eat, how often they should eat them, and how to feed them to your turtle. It’s dinner time! 

Nutrition Benefits Of Tomatoes For Turtles

Your turtle is an omnivore, meaning that they’re happiest when they’re eating a balanced diet of meats and plants alike.

Your turtle’s pellet food should have all of the essential nutrients that your turtle needs for survival.

However,

variety is the spice of life,

And turtles can get tired of eating the same old food day after day. 

If you look in the review sections of most turtle pellet food brands, you’re bound to see a couple of bad reviews from customers saying that their turtles didn’t like the food.

Nine times out of ten, the turtle is just picky because they don’t have enough variety.

If you had to eat cereal for every single meal, you would probably get tired of it too! 

One of the best ways to make your turtle happy and ensure that they keep on eating is to supplement their regular pellet food with natural fruits and veggies.

Tomatoes happen to be one of the healthiest foods you can give your pet. 

Botanically speaking, tomatoes are considered “fruits” due to their flowering nature and seeds.

However, most nutritionists consider them to be vegetables due to their low-calorie content relative to the nutritional benefits.

Here are some quick reasons why tomatoes are a healthy choice for your aquatic turtle:

  • Tomatoes have as much Vitamin C as an orange but contain 70% fewer calories. Vitamin C will ensure that your turtle maintains a healthy immune system and reduces the likelihood of respiratory illnesses and “colds” in turtles. 
  • Tomatoes have much less sugar than oranges and other juicy fruits.
  • Tomatoes have high amounts of Vitamin A (an essential antioxidant associated with healthy aging).  
  • Tomatoes have high potassium content. 
  • Tomatoes are low in calories, so you don’t have to worry about your turtle overeating too much. 

The One Danger: High Sugar Content

With so many benefits, it’s hard to think that there would be anything negative associated with tomatoes!

However, there is one small detail that you should keep in mind. 

While tomatoes are high in vitamins and low in calories compared to other citrus fruits, they also have a good deal more sugar than other vegetables (such as leafy greens, squash, broccoli, etc.).

The riper the tomato is, the higher the sugar content and the more “unhealthy” they are for your turtle. 

Of course, this isn’t to say that tomatoes are unhealthy for your turtle; it’s merely a warning to exercise moderation and caution when feeding the red fruits to your pet turtle.

Instead of giving them an entire palm-full of tomatoes, it’s best to limit their tomato consumption to a few small slices or quarters.

This ensures that they don’t consume too much sugar. 

How Often Can Turtles Eat Tomatoes? 

So, that being said, how often can you feed your turtle tomato? 

You can feed your turtle tomatoes every day if you want to.

However, if it’s going to be a daily staple of their diet, then you’ll want to give them smaller portions. 

That being said, we recommend switching it up a little bit.

While tomatoes are high in Vitamins C and A, they lack certain other vitamins and nutrients.

It’s best to switch up tomato days with days when you give them leafy greens like kale, spinach, or bib lettuce.

Or better yet- mix up a small amount of each to create a balanced meal! 

Also, remember that your turtle’s pellet food should make up the majority of their caloric intake.

Their food is specially formulated to contain all of the vitamins and minerals that they need to be healthy and active.

If they consume too much of one food or another, their biochemistry can become unbalanced. 

Can Turtles Eat Small Cherry Tomatoes? 

Yes! In fact, cherry tomatoes are often a healthier choice for turtles to eat than regular vine tomatoes.

This is because the smaller cherry or “grape” tomatoes tend to have lower sugar content than the larger, juicier tomatoes.

They’re also small and bite-sized,

which means you won’t have to cut them up as much as you would a larger tomato. 

How Do You Feed Your Turtle Tomatoes?

Before you feed your turtle any fruit or vegetable, your first step should be to thoroughly rinse them off underwater.

During the growing process, the tomatoes are often sprayed with chemical pesticides and herbicides to prevent bugs from eating them.

Additionally, many of the tomatoes are also sprayed with a chemical preservative to help them last longer. 

All of these chemicals can be harmful to your turtle.

Thankfully, however, they’re all designed to be water-soluble, which means that a quick 20-second rinse is all you need to ensure your tomatoes are clean and safe for your turtle to eat. 

After rinsing, just chop up a couple of pieces and drop them into your turtle’s tank or let them eat on dry land while they’re basking. 

Warning: Don’t Let Your Turtle Eat Tomato Leaves

As a quick warning- don’t let your turtle eat the leaves or vines of a tomato! The leaves contain two toxic alkaloids: 

  • Tomatine 
  • Solanine

In small amounts, they can just cause trouble with digestion and minor discomfort.

In larger amounts, they can be deadly or cause serious stomach illness in turtles. 

Conclusion

Tomatoes are a healthy and delicious food to feed to your turtle.

They’re high in Vitamins A and C, contain healthy minerals, and have low-calorie density.

As long as you wash them off, cut them into bite-sized pieces, and exercise moderation, your turtle will be perfectly fine, enjoying fresh, vine-ripe tomatoes. 

Sources:

  1. https://laidbackgardener.blog/2017/08/15/garden-myth-tomato-leaves-are-poisonous

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