Ways to improve his current diet

chemprentice

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Hi all, I've been trying to improve my greek tort's diet and would like suggestions on what foods to add, minimize, or even eliminate from his diet.

Currently his food items (and their relative percentages of his diet) consist of:
- romaine lettuce (for hydration purposes) (28%)
- weeds (amongst them - dandelions, sow thistle, kidney weed, chickweed (he's not a big fan), filaree, mallow, catsear, broadleaf sorrel, and false dandelion) (24%)
- spring mix (I buy a bag once every other month and add it to his food regimen; included in the spring mix is radicchio, escarole, endive, arugula, chard, mizuna, green and red leaf lettuces) (15%)
- leafy greens (amongst them, mustard greens, collard greens, bok choy) (12%)
- hibiscus flowers and leaves (some days he likes the leaves, some days he doesn't; he's also not a huge fan of the flowers) (8%)

The weeds are what I can scrounge around and look for in the front lawn and backyard, so the ones listed here are what I have been able to identify with confidence.

Any there other food suggestions that would help improve his diet? And also, do you think grocery stores allow purchasing 1 or 2 stems of veggies, rather than a whole bundle?

Thank you for reading.

Bonus: here is a video of Spike eating his greens. :D
 

TammyJ

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If you need help, I'll be a monkey's uncle.
Not an expert on these tortoises at all but this looks just fine to me!:eek:
 

RosemaryDW

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I personally would try to add some more fiber, although he’s getting a reasonable amount in his weeds and hibiscus leaves.

For me that would most often be with squash (courgette) stems and leaves (cucumber and melon plants are also fine) and grape leaves. Other folks use mulberry leaves. If you can find bristly ox-tongue weed, that’s another plant I like for fiber.

Plenty of folks will say his fiber intake is just fine; so don’t take my word as gospel.

I’d add some occasional cactus in as well. You’re in California so you can easily find it at a Mexican grocery store.

Bristly ox-tongue: It has bumpy leaves and sticks to your clothes.

F6CD965E-15B6-4A67-8964-236608FF1339.jpeg

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chemprentice

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I personally would try to add some more fiber, although he’s getting a reasonable amount in his weeds and hibiscus leaves.

For me that would most often be with squash (courgette) stems and leaves (cucumber and melon plants are also fine) and grape leaves. Other folks use mulberry leaves. If you can find bristly ox-tongue weed, that’s another plant I like for fiber.

Plenty of folks will say his fiber intake is just fine; so don’t take my word as gospel.

I’d add some occasional cactus in as well. You’re in California so you can easily find it at a Mexican grocery store.

Bristly ox-tongue: It has bumpy leaves and sticks to your clothes.

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Thanks for the feedback. Do you think it is possible to feed too much plant protein to a tort? I am sometimes concerned that he is getting too much protein in his diet, and as such, he produces urates every so often. I don't supplement his protein intake with anything like mazuri. @Tom @Yvonne G @Markw84
 

Markw84

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Where do you think there is too much protein? The diet you list is really good for a testudo. Too much clover or alfalfa could be a bit much plant protein but you’re not feeding that. As long as we’re not talking legumes I don’t think you need to worry about plant proteins

Urates are a normal function of tortoise metabolism. If they are super hydrated they can expel most Uric waste as Uric acid in their water release. But processing further to urates is a normal function for a tortoise. As long as it is not gritty and stays soft and pasty I would not worry at all.
 

Tom

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Thanks for the feedback. Do you think it is possible to feed too much plant protein to a tort? I am sometimes concerned that he is getting too much protein in his diet, and as such, he produces urates every so often. I don't supplement his protein intake with anything like mazuri. @Tom @Yvonne G @Markw84
The solution for excessive urates is more hydration. Soak more or longer, and bump up humidity.
 

chemprentice

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Where do you think there is too much protein? The diet you list is really good for a testudo. Too much clover or alfalfa could be a bit much plant protein but you’re not feeding that. As long as we’re not talking legumes I don’t think you need to worry about plant proteins

Urates are a normal function of tortoise metabolism. If they are super hydrated they can expel most Uric waste as Uric acid in their water release. But processing further to urates is a normal function for a tortoise. As long as it is not gritty and stays soft and pasty I would not worry at all.

I was under the impression that dandelions have high plant protein levels? If that's not the case, then I guess the diet is fine. And what's the consensus on variety in their diets? Variety every day, once in a while, etc.? I've been feeding variety every day that includes the aforementioned foods, with romaine as a constant (albeit cutting back to relatively small amounts of it), is this a good approach?
 

chemprentice

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The solution for excessive urates is more hydration. Soak more or longer, and bump up humidity.

Thank you, Tom. I practice daily soaks for him, and I even see him drink the water sometimes! I'm thinking of starting to do soaks 2x a day.

What level is considered excessive urates? I've been recording the frequency of his bowel movements on my care record, should I start recording his urate movements too?
 

Big Charlie

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I was under the impression that dandelions have high plant protein levels? If that's not the case, then I guess the diet is fine. And what's the consensus on variety in their diets? Variety every day, once in a while, etc.? I've been feeding variety every day that includes the aforementioned foods, with romaine as a constant (albeit cutting back to relatively small amounts of it), is this a good approach?
I think you might be thinking of oxalates. Oxalates are known to cause kidney stones if you feed too much. Spinach and dandelion greens contain high levels of oxalates.
 

RosemaryDW

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What level is considered excessive urates? I've been recording the frequency of his bowel movements on my care record, should I start recording his urate movements too?

You might be overthinking this, lol. Urates are normal, just keep an eye on texture as mentioned above.
 

RosemaryDW

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And what's the consensus on variety in their diets? Variety every day, once in a while, etc.? I've been feeding variety every day that includes the aforementioned foods, with romaine as a constant (albeit cutting back to relatively small amounts of it), is this a good approach?

There isn’t such a thing as too much variety, I don’t think. Your tort would be sampling hundreds of foods in the wild, although not all of them every day.

When we talk about variety, however, it is more often for owners with limited food options, usually due to location and/or weather. Here in Southern California, we don’t just have access to weeds and plants from our yards most of the time, we also have all kinds of ethnic grocers, high end grocers, and farmers markets to try. I can feed my tortoise all kinds of healthy foods without making more than the one mile walk to my (largely Asian and Indian) farmers market, slowing down on the way back to get some weeds. Most people can’t.

Keep mixing it up but if for some reason you’re low on weeds or something for a bit, don’t stress. I’m already seeing we’ll have far fewer weeds in my area this year, due to the extremely limited rains this winter. I’ll start shopping at the market sooner than usual and I’ll probably be feeding more grape leaves this summer as well.
 

chemprentice

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and

There isn’t such a thing as too much variety, I don’t think. Your tort would be sampling hundreds of foods in the wild, although not all of them every day.

When we talk about variety, however, it is more often for owners with limited food options, usually due to location and/or weather. Here in Southern California, we don’t just have access to weeds and plants from our yards most of the time, we also have all kinds of ethnic grocers, high end grocers, and farmers markets to try. I can feed my tortoise all kinds of healthy foods without making more than the one mile walk to my (largely Asian and Indian) farmers market, slowing down on the way back to get some weeds. Most people can’t.

Keep mixing it up but if for some reason you’re low on weeds or something for a bit, don’t stress. I’m already seeing we’ll have far fewer weeds in my area this year, due to the extremely limited rains this winter. I’ll start shopping at the market sooner than usual and I’ll probably be feeding more grape leaves this summer as well.

Ironically, there was a random heavy downpour yesterday! But yes, I agree with there being limitless options for tort food in SoCal.
 

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