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The Tortoise Chef

Discussion in 'Tortoise Diet and Food' started by Will, Apr 9, 2017.

  1. TortoiseLover8

    TortoiseLover8 Member

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    No way my fam is about to get a Russian tortoise that's why I got the app, I have been obsessed with tortoises since I was 9
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  2. Turtlesfromcolo

    Turtlesfromcolo Active Member

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    I love this...This thread is so AWESOME!! Thanks for sharing all these great recipes. I'm a newer turtle owner, I've had my box turtles for 3 years. This is very helpful.
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  3. RosemaryDW

    RosemaryDW Well-Known Member TFO Supporter

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    My Russian tortoise was sick this week. Naturally being a new and nervoise tortoise owner, I rushed her to the vet where we spent $186 to confirm a stomach ache. :oops:

    Addy is still off her feed and stressed around us because we were giving her medicine. I imagine an experienced owner would just soak a tortoise and wait for it to feel calmer around the medicine god. I couldn't possibly be calm so I bought or picked everything I thought might peak her interest! Weeds have been rejected, as have nasturtiums which are going to seed and will soon be gone for the year. I'll see how she feels about them later in the week.

    I went all out at the farmers market but first I'm going to post a picture of a plant I didn't buy. It's sour leaf, also known as gongura. This is a plant in the hibiscus family and allegedly a native food for star tortoises in India. People eat it, too, which is why it is at the market. Addy does not care for anything from a large hibiscus or mallow plant; she never took a bite of it last year. But for those of you with a star or any tortoise that will eat hibiscus, it's available at my market about half the year: $2 for a good sized bundle.

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    We are getting a little of everything today, starting with a few okra. Okra looks like a vegetable but is actually a fruit so she won't get many.

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    At the expensive organic Asian booth, I buy a few leaves of Chinese lettuce; one tiny bok choy; a few leaves of mustard; a couple of stems of melon vine. It's $1.50 but they give it to me for a dollar. I try to pay full price, pointing out I buy something here every week and should not always get a handout. "I know you have a tortoise," says the young man at the counter. "Consider it a sampler pack."

    Chinese lettuce refers to quite a few lettuces, from what I see. This one is "youmaicai." It's a lettuce, not as hybridized as the lettuces in our grocery stores. I don't buy it often but she likes it and I like that the stems have a bit of fiber.

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    I get one little bok choy. Today's it's labeled as butter bok choy; I've also seen it as Snow White bok choy. There are seemingly one billion types of bok choy and they are all in the brassica family, just like radishes, cabbages, and mustard greens. My cat likes bok choy (don't ask) so it's a toss up who is going to end up with it.

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    It's crazy expensive for tortoise food; here is something more reasonable at a stall down the way. You can almost taste the bugs on this organic vegetable!

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    One thing I always find laughable at this stand is that they sell organic "dandelions" for $5 a pound. These aren't dandelions or even Italian dandelions (chicory). They are sow thistles! I'm pretty sure they just pull these as weeds from the fields; I've never asked what humans do with them. That said, they are a good tortoise food and I won't lie, I've bought a few on a rushed weekend. I love slow trips to the market but my time is occasionally more important than thirty cents. ;)

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    I find a few daikon radish leaves broken off in another stall. There is not a free turnip green to be found today. :(

    I'm willing to do anything today so I go to the very expensive lettuce/salad stall where they have everything: mizuna, pea greens, kales, mixes, baby chard, spinach. Everything is perfect, clean, no stems; ready for human consumption with zero effort. Not real useful for tortoises at their price but Addy is tiny and I am nervous so I buy some "spicy" mix and some arugula. As an outside tortoise, she doesn't get it often, because it dries up so quickly in the heat. We'll eat what she doesn't but I estimate her portion at $1.

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    I buy some collards for the humans, she'll get a leaf from the bundle. A few squash flowers (fifty cents?) and I am ready to go. On my way out, I price this smaller bundle of Italian dandelion (chicory) for $1 at the herb stand. It's an okay price for the size but way too much for a Russian. I don't think it keeps very well in the frige so unless they give me a few stems for free, I don't buy it.

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    At home I use my bare hands to pull the tiniest pad off our cactus plant. Addy has not been interested in store-bought cactus at all lately but when I scratch myself up, she thinks it's amazing and today is no exception. Of course I rip off another pad, she's worth it!

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    I wasn't watching prices today, under $3? Add in the vet visit and we're still under $200 per week, lol.

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    Last edited: Apr 29, 2017
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  4. Will

    Will Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Okra, killer good tortoise food. Gotta watch the seed size though, really small tortoises might end up blocked. If you can visualize ten or more seeds can fit in their mouth at once, that is my guide for safe. Remember seeds are slimy, and round so it's not like rocks, but better safe than sorry.
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  5. Will

    Will Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    K. erosa salad as fed out. 0% remains the following morning. I put food out at about 5:30am, about 1/2 after the light come on. By next morning I feel guilty non was left over.

    Salad content: cross cut mulberry leaves, through the hand crank food grinder - one frozen banana, zucchini, butternut squash, and opuntia. Hand chopped are lettuce butts from romaine, escarole, and naps cabbage, and papaya.

    The banana thaws pretty quick after being runs through the hand crank. Then all this is tumbled. Papaya and banana flavor everything.

    Some ate a few bites of plain mulberry. They really like cicada grubs. I find these under a stack of discarded palm fronds. Snails work too.

    Attached Files:

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  6. RosemaryDW

    RosemaryDW Well-Known Member TFO Supporter

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    She gets the smallest okras I can find. I can assure you everything that goes in, comes back out! :p
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  7. RosemaryDW

    RosemaryDW Well-Known Member TFO Supporter

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  8. RosemaryDW

    RosemaryDW Well-Known Member TFO Supporter

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    We are serving mostly weeds this week, as they are drying out for the year (an unexpected shower last night may change that). So not much to share about food I purchased.

    I've had some time off from work and when that happens, I sometimes wander through one or more of our ethnic markets; it's like a little foreign tour for me. (I also have the time to write up some lengthy food posts, lol.)

    On my visit to our Asian market, I noticed the following tort foods at what I thought were fair prices; I'm posting them here for single or small tortoise owners who might be looking to spice things up or multiple owners looking for relatively cheap produce by the pound. Many of us have Asian grocery stores around us and just don't realize it. Google "Asian grocery" or "Chinese grocery" and see what you get! If you're worried about imported foods, don't be; these are all grown in the U.S.

    For the record, I mostly buy snacks at this market; this time I bought some spicy-cuttlefish-flavored chips (yes, you read that right). @Grandpa Turtle 144 , they definately taste fishy!

    In the fruit section, Mexican papaya was on sale for .79 pound, which seemed reasonable to me? They also sell dragon fruit, a large cactus fruit, for much cheaper than other stores; definately MUCH cheaper than at my farmers market where it is still a specialty item.

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    There were at least ten varieties of choy, a brassica, mostly in the $2-$3 range per pound. But two types were on sale, one for .59 cents/lb; another for .79.

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    Daikon radish leaf, a brassica, was on sale for what seemed an outstanding price: $1 for four pounds!

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    They also had yam leaf, the Ipomoea type. This is in the Convolvulaceae family, which includes morning glory. Different opinions on this plant but several experienced owners feed it and lochroma has given his opinion on it as as a safe-to-feed plant. $2.99/lb.

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    They had several varieties of "Chinese lettuce" mostly at $2.99. Pricey for multiple owners but a nice change of pace for single or small owners. It's in the Aster family, the same family as all letuces, dandelion, and chicory, but with a little more fiber in the stem, IMO.

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    I couldn't help but take a picture of this "lettuce stem." It's just what it says, the stem of a large lettuce, grown for eating while it's young. It's the same plant as the Chinese lettuce celtuce that I mentioned above. Not cheap at $2.99/lb but I'd sure love to see a large tortoise take a crack at it.

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    I also found Shepard's purse of all things, in the frozen section! This is another brassica and I've always thought of it as a "true" weed, it's used in stir fry and sometimes sold fresh. I've never read, or perhaps never understood the Chinese name for it, it's always got an English label of "shepard's purse" along with the Chinese characters. If you're in the tundra or far desert and desperate for weeds, the frozen version may worth a try. At worst, you're out $2!

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    Less common in American markets, they sell at least a dozen types of mushrooms that aren't the Shitake and regular white/brown ones we see. They are fresh and cheap compared to a standard market--but I think most owners would go for plain white or brown; they are still much cheaper in a regular market. So much cheaper that I didn't bother to take a picture.
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  9. Alicia Hoogstra

    Alicia Hoogstra Well-Known Member

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    Ugh! I can't wait for our farmers markets to open! Organic Tortoise food feast!!!
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  10. Alicia Hoogstra

    Alicia Hoogstra Well-Known Member

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    I know I saw something, but how do you dry grasses, weeds etc for winter?
  11. Will

    Will Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I bought a food dehydrator that works well for cactus, as it is thicker heavy stuff to dry. I think I have 18 disks to stack up. When I dry leaves I just wash drip dry and then lay out on paper or cardboard and run a fan over but not "at" the leaves.

    A friend recently gave me a bunch of mulberry and I cut it across the leaf at about 1/4 strips and used it as it dried. It just sat loose, not packed down and it dried in about four days, such that refrigeration would have kept it for weeks. A few more days and it would have been brittle dry for closed bag storage not refrigerated.

    The key is to have moving clean air and not use temps above 112F, apparently that is the temp that many proteins start to denature.
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  12. Alicia Hoogstra

    Alicia Hoogstra Well-Known Member

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    @Will, thank you so much! I'm going to start today! MI winters are long:(
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  13. RosemaryDW

    RosemaryDW Well-Known Member TFO Supporter

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    Some of the tougher weeds are still going strong but the pickings are getting pretty slim around here! I've got to start looking at other foods. Just about everything on the menu is from our yard or fridge, rather than my scrounging. Our little Russian is dedicated to the yarrow and desert primrose in our yard anyway; she doesn't need much from me.

    First up is some lavatera, the one with the five-petaled pink flower. She''s not usually a fan of this mallow but I offer it pretty regularly, we have so much. The moons must have aligned because she's happy with it right now.

    Our cilantro is going to seed. I snuck in a few flowers just to see what would happen. A big fat NOPE is what happened!

    She got a little bit of dill, again to see what would happen. To my surprise she took a couple of good sized bites and a fair amount of stem.

    A couple of chives were tossed in. This is a giant "No" in the Tortoise Table but the reasoning for that has always been unconvincing to me: plants with bulbs are bad. I take the chance on occasion--she loves these and also the stems of green garlic.

    There is a handful of "wild" arugula that turned out to be too bitter even for me, a dedicated greens lover.

    She gets a few bites of yellow squash trimmed from the end of the one we're eating.

    I threw out a bag of mixed California wildflowers this winter. A single bright pink wildflower grew out of that. I don't know what it is but it's eaten with gusto, including the stems.

    I happened upon a couple of domesticated sunflowers that had sprouted near our community garden. They won't survive long without water so I grabbed a couple of leaves. These things are HUGE. The fiber content seems pretty good and she likes them more than the wild sunflowers she had earlier in the year.

    I finally got my hands on the saddest of turnip leaves at the farmers market and grabbed one beet leaf as well.

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  14. Will

    Will Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Bananas can be an appropriate food for tortoises in limited amounts. I buy a case, wash them, cut the ends off and then freeze them. This way I can utilize case quantities when on sale. Banana when mixed in with other food items helps vitamin-mineral powder to stick to the rest of the food. This type of food mix would be suitable for tropical forest species, not Testudo or grassland species.

    This morning I used about a pound of mushroom, a large whole acorn squash, a half dozen green zucchini, and about two pounds of chopped greens, and the rind of a mellon. Aside from the greend I used this same size cutting head for all the produce. The large cutting head works with mushrooms.

    This is fed-out to adult I. forsteni and, K. erosa & K.spekii hingebacks. Today several squished snails were included for the speckii.

    A video and a still.
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  15. Will

    Will Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    1494859878901.jpg
  16. RosemaryDW

    RosemaryDW Well-Known Member TFO Supporter

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    Is the skin still on those bananas. I can't tell.
  17. Will

    Will Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Yes, If you watch the video you can see me setting some aside, and my narrative says I will cut it up with a knife. Well I figure you did watch the video? So maybe didn't hear or see that part?

    I was thinking with the small blade I could do this with pealed bananas and top ice cream with it.
  18. RosemaryDW

    RosemaryDW Well-Known Member TFO Supporter

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    I did watch it with the sound off, I was at the doctor! I will try again.
  19. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Supporter

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    I love that food grinder. I have one too, and it's great for babies. But I caution about using it all the time for bigger tortoises because they need to keep their beak in shape by biting.

    That frozen banana tip is pretty handy - thanks.
  20. Will

    Will Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    The tortoises that get the large cut bits are in the 1 to 4 pound range.
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