Ask a Vet

Can Turtles, Tortoises, And Terrapins Eat Broccoli? What You Need To Know

By Kerry
Updated on

When it comes to feeding your reptile different things, it can be such a minefield.

Big tortoises eating vegetables

Seeing as turtles, tortoises, and terrapins are so different from one another when it comes to their diet; you will, of course, want to ensure that you are giving your reptile the very best.

If you give them too much of a good thing, this could upset their delicate digestive system.

But what about broccoli? Is this green vegetable safe to give to your turtle, tortoise, or terrapin?

You will, of course, want to make sure that this vegetable is safe for your pet to eat before you feed it to them just to be on the safe side.

Because all three of these reptiles will have different dietary requirements, we have decided to put together this comprehensive guide to help you.

Today, we’re going to cover everything that you need to know about broccoli and whether you can feed it to your pet.

So let’s take a look at whether broccoli is safe to give to your turtle, tortoise, or terrapin!

Tip: Check our full guide, “What Do Turtles Eat?”

Can Turtles Eat Broccoli?

Even though the technical answer to this question is yes, you should actually only give your pet turtle broccoli on very small occasions.

This is because broccoli actually contains a wide range of nutrients that can cause health issues for your turtle if it were to eat broccoli on a regular basis.

This is all down to the riboflavin and glucosinolate compounds found inside broccoli.

When consumed by your turtle, these become converted to goitrogens, which can then mess with your turtle’s thyroid.

This will, in turn, affect the amount of iodine that your turtle is able to process.

Because of this issue, being exposed to too much of the goitrogens compound could cause kidney and liver diseases, which could even prove to be fatal for your pet.

So if they do really love broccoli, you should only give this to your turtle as a very, very rare treat.

It will be better to opt for other types of leafy greens or vegetables for your turtle so that they can avoid these potential health issues.

How Much Broccoli Should I Feed My Turtle?

As we have discussed in more detail above, you should only ever give your turtle a very small amount of broccoli occasionally.

Too much broccoli can result in a build-up of those harmful compounds that will cause potential diseases to develop.

Two turtle in the tank

Instead, you should avoid giving your turtle cruciferous vegetables altogether. It will be best to give your turtle vegetables such as parsley, Swiss chard, green beans, and other vegetables of this ilk.

If your turtle really loves their broccoli, you should only give this to them as an occasional treat so that they won’t come to any harm.

Can Tortoises Eat Broccoli?

Unlike turtles, broccoli can be a fantastic food for tortoises to eat. However, just like with turtles, you will also need to exercise moderation.

This is because eating large amounts of broccoli and other goitrogen-rich foods such as spinach and kale can impact the health of their thyroid, kidneys, and liver.

If your tortoise were to eat too much broccoli, it could make the tortoise very ill. It will be best to only give this vegetable to your tortoise in moderation to avoid causing them any health issues.

It will also be best to avoid giving broccoli alongside other goitrogen-rich foods such as kale and spinach.

Just as too much of a good thing can be bad for us humans, too much broccoli will be detrimental to the health of your tortoise.

Make sure that you only feed broccoli to your tortoise alongside other types of vegetables as well as specialized pellets.

How Much Broccoli Should I Feed My Tortoise?

So if you want to ensure that you only give your tortoise broccoli in moderation, it will be best to stick with only giving them this once a week.

Vegetables should only account for around 20% of your tortoise’s diet, which means giving them broccoli once a week will mean it accounts for 3% of this.

Tortoise eating in a bowl

For the vast majority of tortoises, it will be best to stick with giving them a pelleted diet. This will ensure that they are receiving the healthy, balanced diet that they need.

Remember that the same rule will apply to the leaves of the broccoli plant as it will to the veggies themselves.

The broccoli leaves will still have those compounds in them, which can cause potential health issues, so it will be best to stick with the rule of giving your pet a small amount one day a week.

Can Terrapins Eat Broccoli?

No, it’s not recommended to give your terrapin broccoli. While they can technically eat broccoli, too much broccoli will cause them harm.

Just like with turtles, eating too much broccoli regularly can cause lots of health issues for your terrapin.

It will cause a build-up of those goitrogen compounds, which can then impact their intake of iodine.

So even though a small amount of broccoli occasionally wouldn’t hurt your terrapin, veterinary experts would advise you to stay away from this.

Instead, you should opt for other healthy vegetables that won’t be harmful to your terrapin. These will include green beans, Swiss chard, parsley, asparagus, squash, bell peppers, or sweet potatoes.

There are lots of other vegetables that you should avoid giving to your terrapin, too. These include other cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.

How Much Broccoli Should I Feed My Tortoise?

If you really do feel like your terrapin would benefit from eating broccoli, then you should only give them a small amount of this once a month.

It will be best to stick with this general rule of thumb moderation will be key to ensuring that your terrapin doesn’t encounter any unpleasant health issues from eating excessive amounts of broccoli.

We would suggest listening to the advice of professional vets and sticking with giving your terrapin other types of vegetables instead.

It will also be important to remember that your terrapin will need to be eating a balanced, varied diet so that they can get all the key nutrients that they need.

In Summary

So there you have it! You now know all there is to know about feeding broccoli to your turtle, tortoise, and terrapin.

When it comes to turtles, you should avoid giving them broccoli as a regular food item.

This is because broccoli can actually be very harmful to your pet turtle when given as a regular treat.

This is down to certain compounds in the broccoli, which can affect their iodine uptake and even cause kidney and liver diseases.

Instead, it will be best to opt for other types of vegetables to keep your reptile happy.

As for tortoises, they can indeed eat broccoli. However, the same rule will still apply to them, as too much of the goitrogen compound can impact their thyroid, kidneys, and liver.

So if you stick with giving your tortoise broccoli only one day a week, this will keep them happy and healthy.

It will also ensure that they are getting the healthy, balanced diet that they need if you give them broccoli alongside other vegetables or food items.

Even though terrapins can technically eat a very small amount of broccoli, giving them this vegetable as a food staple or a treat isn’t recommended.

Instead, you will be better off erring on the side of caution and giving your pet something else to eat instead.

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.