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

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It’s a widely known fact that turtles, tortoises, and terrapins like to eat vegetation as part of their diet.

You love your reptile dearly, so it’s only natural to want to feed them new and exciting vegetables that you know they will love.

Giant tortoises eating cabbage

Your pet will need to be fed a varied diet so that they get a good amount of nutrients to keep them happy and healthy.

But can turtles, tortoises, and terrapins eat cabbage?

Because they are all slightly different reptiles, it’s important to know that while one food item might be okay for one of them, it’s not necessarily okay for all of them.

So that’s why we’re going to cover everything you need to know about feeding your turtle, tortoise, or terrapin cabbage!

Without further ado, let’s get stuck into everything you need to know about cabbage.

Can Turtles Eat Cabbage?

The short answer is that yes, turtles can eat cabbage. However, there are a few caveats to this.

Cabbage should only ever be given to your turtle in moderation, because it has high levels of a compound known as goitrogens.

Can turtles, tortoises and terrapins eat cabbage

When eaten in excessive amounts, this compound will affect the iodine uptake for your pet turtle, which can then cause them thyroid problems.

So you should only ever feed your turtle small amounts of cabbage sometimes, and you should also avoid feeding it alongside other foods that are rich in goitrogens.

These include broccoli, collard greens, mustard greens, and kale.

There is also a high content of phosphorus in cabbage, which can be harmful for your turtle when consumed in large amounts. It will be best to only give them a very small amount occasionally.

How Much Cabbage Should I Feed My Turtle?

So as we have discussed above, it will be best to only give your turtle a small amount of cabbage.

It will be best to give this alongside other vegetables so that they can bet the balanced diet that they need, too.

Cabbage is highly beneficial for your turtle when given to them in small amounts. This is because it has high amounts of key vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K.

By feeding your turtle a small amount of cabbage sometimes alongside other beneficial foods, they will be able to gain all the benefits from this leafy green but without having to worry about any potential health issues.

If you were to feed your turtle too much cabbage, this would cause thyroid, kidney, and liver problems.

Can Tortoises Eat Cabbage?

Yes, tortoises can indeed eat cabbage. But because they still have those goitrogens compounds in them, you will still only need to give them a small amount at a time.

You should also always feed them alongside other vegetables so that your tortoise is getting the healthy, balanced diet that they need.

Big tortoise eating cabbage

There is actually some debate whether you should feed your tortoise cabbage because of these goitrogen compounds.

Some pet owners argue that it’s fine to give your tortoise small amounts of cabbage if you do so very rarely, and make sure to include a good variety of other veggies at the same time.

However, other pet owners feel that the risk is too large for feeding your tortoise a vegetable that could actually harm them. Ultimately it will come down to your personal judgment whether you feed your tortoise cabbage.

How Much Cabbage Should I Feed My Tortoises?

So we now know that tortoises can indeed eat cabbage, however, much like with turtles, this needs to be done in moderation.

If you feed your tortoise too much cabbage, it could overwhelm their system with that goitrogen compound, which could then affect their iodine uptake.

This will then cause the thyroid problems, as well as potential kidney and liver issues.

Moderation will be crucial for ensuring that you don’t give your tortoise too much cabbage.

Make sure to only give them a small handful of cabbage along with plenty of other vegetables. Opting for other types of leafy greens will keep your tortoise happy.

Since tortoises are strict vegetarians, they will need a diet comprising 80% vegetables.

So by giving them a small amount of cabbage alongside other tasty vegetables, such as green beans, Swiss chard, and sweet potatoes, you will be keeping them happy and healthy.

Can Terrapins Eat Cabbage?

So turtles and tortoises can eat cabbage in moderation, but what about terrapins?

Fortunately, there is much the same rule for terrapins – they can eat cabbage, but it needs to be given to them in moderation, and alongside other leafy greens or other vegetables so that they can get the healthy, balanced diet that they need.

Terrapin in the tank

You should also avoid feeding your terrapin any other vegetables that are rich in goitrogens at the same time. This is of course because it will overwhelm their delicate digestive systems.

It will prevent them from being able to take in a healthy amount of iodine, which will then pose thyroid problems for your terrapin.

Some pet owners tend to avoid giving their terrapin cabbage just to be on the safe side. Ultimately, it will be up to you whether you feed your terrapin cabbage as an occasional treat.

How Much Cabbage Should I Feed My Terrapin?

As with turtles and tortoises, you will need to exercise caution when it comes to feeding your terrapin cabbage.

Because terrapins are largely omnivores, they will only need around 20% to 30% of their diet to be made up of leafy greens.

So you should only ever give your terrapin a small amount of cabbage occasionally.

It should also be given alongside other tasty vegetables so that you don’t overwhelm their bodies with the goitrogen compound.

We would suggest sticking with giving your terrapin cabbage once a month just to be on the safe side.

As long as you offer your terrapin cabbage in moderation, then it shouldn’t cause them any harmful health issues.

In Summary

So there you have it! You now know everything there is to know about feeding your turtle, tortoise, or terrapin cabbage.

Because cabbage contains a compound known as goitrogens, it will always be best to exercise caution when feeding this vegetable to your reptile.

Turtles can eat cabbage, but you will need to feed it to them in moderation.

These reptiles are known to be omnivores, so they won’t need much more than a small amount of cabbage every now and again.

You should also avoid feeding cabbage to your pet turtle alongside other vegetables which have large amounts of goitrogens, such as kale, broccoli, and collard greens.

It will be best to only give them a small amount of cabbage along with other beneficial vegetables.

Tortoises are much the same in regard to cabbage. They can eat it, but only in very small amounts, and alongside other vegetables which are highly beneficial for your tortoise.

This will mean giving them a small amount of cabbage along with sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, and green beans.

You should avoid feeding other types of cruciferous vegetables with cabbage that are also rich in goitrogens.

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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.