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Lettuce with nutrient powders?


New Member
Aug 14, 2019
Location (City and/or State)
New Jersey
Hey everyone,
So I've had my tortoise for about 3 years so far, a wonderful adult male Russian tortoise. Our vet has confirmed his great health, which I'm glad to hear.
I know that feeding lettuce to tortoises is widely looked down upon, due to the low nutrient content. I always try to get him a wide variety of leafy greens; spring mix, arugula, dandelion greens, collard greens, and hibiscus are regular meals for him. However, we mostly buy these veggies just for him. My family personally always has lots of romaine lettuce in stock. In a situation when we're out of other greens to feed him, would it be okay to give him some lettuce with calcium and vitamin powders sprinkled on top? My thinking is that the lettuce would be a vessel to get nutrients into his body, and the powders would make up for the lacking nutrients in lettuce.
This isn't something I would do regularly; just in a case where we can't go to the store to get more greens and only have lettuce available.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Thanks for reading!


Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
May 29, 2014
Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA
How about “yes” for a response. A few days of only X or Y or Z isn’t going to cause any harm. It’s important in the long term to provide a healthy variety of greens. It’s not the end of the world to only feed romaine lettuce for a few days. It’s not rocket science.


Active Member
Aug 20, 2018
Location (City and/or State)
There are plenty of good dried options that are available that you may want to look into. There are a couple dozen dried leaves/flowers/grasses along with a premade mix that I rotate daily. I don't have Testudo so hopefully someone will correct me if I'm wrong but I don't believe you would want the grasses for them. If you go to the "For Sale" forum KapidoloFarms has an ad for some of these items and he offers a variety pack so you can get just a couple ounces of a few different types. Tortoise Supply also has a good premade mix that includes something like 20 different herbs. All you do is sprinkle it on your greens in a similar way to how you sprinkle on supplements.
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The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 9, 2010
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
The problem with lettuce is threefold:
  1. It lacks fiber.
  2. It lacks calcium.
  3. It has a low calcium to phosphorous ratio.
Adding an herbal hay mix, or soaking some ZooMed Grassland pellets to mix in will solve this problem. Russians aren't grass eaters, but the bended up grass will add some much need fiber.

Go easy with the vitamin and calcium powder. Hypervitaminosis is a real concern. I wouldn't offer that more than once or twice a week and in small amounts. Calcium can be overdone too. Calcium interferes with the absorption of other important nutrients and trace elements. I don't like to offer supplemental calcium more than twice a week.

You should also consider making regular Mazuri (Not the LS) part of your feeding schedule. It offers great nutrition, fiber, and is high in calcium too.

Weeds and leaves are best. Here is a list of stuff you can grow or find:
Mulberry leaves
Grape vine leaves
Hibiscus leaves
African hibiscus leaves
Blue hibiscus leaves
Rose of Sharon leaves
Rose leaves
Cape honeysuckle
Leaves and blooms from any squash plant, like pumpkin, cucumber, summer squash, etc...
Young spineless opuntia cactus pads

There are soooooooo many...
Smooth Sow thistle
Prickly Sow thistle
Milk thistle
Goat head weed
Cats ear
Wild onion
Wild mustard
Wild Garlic
Broadleaf plantain
Narrow leaf plantain
Chick weed

Other good stuff:
"Testudo Seed Mix" from http://www.tortoisesupply.com/SeedMixes
Pasture mixes or other seeds from http://www.groworganic.com/seeds.html
Homegrown alfalfa
Mazuri Tortoise Chow
ZooMed Grassland Tortoise Food