Grass hay


Active Member
Sep 23, 2014
Hi all! So I've been doing a bit more in depth research on a sulcata tortoises diet and I'm confused about something.. grass hay. I know their diet should be 75% grasses and 25% weeds and greens. In all honesty i have not fed mind ANY grasses yet. He's just been getting greens like kale, collards, and dandilion along with mazuri 2 times a week. The reason being I have not had any access to grass and the outdoor tort garden that I'm making has not yet started growing. Yesterday I bought a thing of timothy hay. I soaked a bit of it for about 5 minutes and then put it in my little guys food dish. Now I've read babies won't eat it. But he definitely chowed down on it. He pigged out.. so I'm wondering, IF for some reason my grass doesn't grow....

1 - Can I feed him this soaked timothy hay as 75% of his daily diet?

2 - Is it nutritious enough?

3 - Will it cause dehydration because it's so dry? Will it cut his mouth up?

4 - Does grass hay have less nutrition than fresh grass?

Thank you all in advance for your help. I want to do what's best for my little guy.


The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 9, 2010
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
I prefer to feed younger ones fresh new grass. I don't typically introduce actual hay until they are around 10-12" and at that tie I start feeding them other foods on a bed of grass hay. I used to use bermuda hay, didn't like timothy much, and now I prefer orchard grass hay. I think occasional alfalfa hay is fine for older ones too.

For babies I would prefer to use chopped or blended hay, rehydrate it and mix it in with other foods. They sell horse cubes made of nothing but shredded grass hat with no additives. This is a more practical way to use it for some people. You can also buy finely shredded grass hays at pet stores or online. I also really like this related product from Tyler:

For you questions:
1. I don't know where you got the 75/25% numbers, or why that stuck in your head vs. all the other offered percentages. I have seen them raised and do well with 0% hay and 100% hay as well as everything in between. I like to use more weeds, leaves, succulents and Mazuri for babies. I think fresh grass is an important dietary component to introduce too. I use approximately 5-25% grass or rehydrated grass hay stuff for babies and young ones. You can buy organic wheat grass at most grocery or pet stores now. Just trim it onto the food and keep it watered in a window sill and it will last a long time. Or you can sprout it yourself indoors over winter. I don't make their diet 75% grass or grass hay until they are adult size.

2. I have not done enough experimentation to answer this. I don't know if tortoise nutrition has been studied enough for anyone to answer this. My preference is to offer a lot of variety from high fiber, high calcium foods, and that has served me well for decades of sulcata raising.

3. It could. It shouldn't. Its important to insure good hydration when feeding any dry food. Available drinking water in a container that the tortoise is comfortable using is a must. Regular soaks are a good idea too. A balanced and varied diet will also help with this. Cactus pads and succulents are high in water content.

4. I don't know the answer to this. Seems like it would to me.

Here is my sulcata feeding sheet. It addresses some of this and offers suggestion of what to feed:


10 Year Member!
May 6, 2010
Location (City and/or State)
In a nutshell, I like grass hay (or alfalfa hay) for babies AS ROUGHAGE ONLY! I find no particular use for it other than that...especially since they get all the nutrients they need (and then some) from fresh grass, weeds, greens, cactus and Mazuri (or Agrobs or Grassland or whatever)! I'm of the opinion that hay is a main staple for adults ONLY! But, keep whatever grass you offer them short. Remember the delicacy of their little systems, and if you let a 2.5" tortoise eat a 3" blade (or blades) of're asking for problems.

Now, a personal observation: If you offer Tyler's Herbal Hay early...keep it going! Because once you stop offering it to them, they may not accept it again! I haven't used it for the ITs in 3 months, and when I offered it today, they snubbed it! But then they went for the second pile of Mazuri that I offered with chopped/powdered alfalfa hay!

Good luck!

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