Alfalfa/Sweet Clover?

orgetorix

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Hello, this recently popped up in one of my planters. Elsewhere it was identified as either alfalfa or sweet clover. Both are red no-no's ont he tortoise table. I caught my DT nibbling the other day. How much of a concern is this? It has been pulled but I am afraid it might come back.

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The_Four_Toed_Edward

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In sweet clovers case, the younger the plant the less concerning it is. The tortoise table says: "The coumarin content increases as the plant ages, and if allowed to become mouldy, coumarin becomes an anticoagulant which can cause internal hemorrhage, and has been known to cause death in cattle." So basically the warning is based the effects moldy sweet clover can have on cattle. Fresh sweet clover and tortoises is a whole diffrent ordeal. Tortoises are known to be able to eat plants toxic to mammals with no ill effect, so it is hard to say how concerned you should be.

As for alfafa, it is high in protein, but a little bit won't hurt. Even mazuri contains some alfafa meal.
 

Tom

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That looks more like "leggy" alfalfa to me, but I'm not certain. You'll know for sure when it flowers. Little yellow bunches for sweet clover or purple for alfalfa. Both are great tortoise food as a small part of a wide variety. I grow alfalfa on purpose, and I scavenge sweet clover to add in regularly.

The tortoise table is overly conservative on many items. They don't like these two due to the high protein content, because they mistakenly believe that protein is bad for tortoises and because they think a "normal" growth rate is bad and should be discouraged through forced starvation. This is the old way of thinking and raising tortoises, and it is simply wrong. High levels of protein in the diet are bad for most species. Moderate plant protein could be bad if the tortoise is dehydrated, as most are if the "conventional wisdom" is followed, but small amounts of legumes, like clover or alfalfa, mixed in to a varied diet for a well hydrated tortoise is very good for tortoises, especially young growing tortoises. When too much protein is fed to a dehydrated tortoise, urates are formed and over time can dry out, congeal, and form a bladder stone. This does NOT happen from a mixed meal with some alfalfa in it once in a while, if the tortoise is kept properly hydrated.
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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That looks more like "leggy" alfalfa to me, but I'm not certain. You'll know for sure when it flowers. Little yellow bunches for sweet clover or purple for alfalfa. Both are great tortoise food as a small part of a wide variety. I grow alfalfa on purpose, and I scavenge sweet clover to add in regularly.

The tortoise table is overly conservative on many items. They don't like these two due to the high protein content, because they mistakenly believe that protein is bad for tortoises and because they think a "normal" growth rate is bad and should be discouraged through forced starvation. This is the old way of thinking and raising tortoises, and it is simply wrong. High levels of protein in the diet are bad for most species. Moderate plant protein could be bad if the tortoise is dehydrated, as most are if the "conventional wisdom" is followed, but small amounts of legumes, like clover or alfalfa, mixed in to a varied diet for a well hydrated tortoise is very good for tortoises, especially young growing tortoises. When too much protein is fed to a dehydrated tortoise, urates are formed and over time can dry out, congeal, and form a bladder stone. This does NOT happen from a mixed meal with some alfalfa in it once in a while, if the tortoise is kept properly hydrated.
This is what I was guessing too. And the coumarin is a whole different thing. It has ill effect on cattle, but not necessary on tortoises.
 

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