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

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Every pet owner wants to make their pet happy by bringing some variety to their diet but unfortunately, a lack of research can often lead to disaster. 

All animals have a few things they cannot eat otherwise they face becoming seriously ill or even die from poisoning.

So, the responsibility comes down to a pet’s owner when it comes to finding out which foods their pet can and cannot eat – otherwise they will be putting their pet’s life at risk. 

Turtle eating on a box

If you own a reptile like a turtle, tortoise or terrapin as a pet, then you may be wondering what you can add to your pet’s meals to shake up their diet while still giving them all the nutrition that they need to be fit and healthy.

However, it can be scary as a lack of research could end up seriously harming your pet – but have no fear! 

We are here to talk about kale, what it is and if you can add it to your pet’s diet. We are going to be covering turtles as well as tortoises and terrapins, so keep on reading to find out if it’s okay to feed your pet kale. 

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

What Is Kale?

Kale is a leafy green vegetable that has been around for thousands of years. It was originally grown in Asia and Europe, however today it is now cultivated worldwide. 

Over the years, more and more people have started to include kale into their diet because of the many benefits it contains.

It is rich in nutrients and contains a lot of fiber to help with the digestive system, and calcium and iron that is key to growing strong and healthy bones.

It also contains lots of vitamin C and K which both work great for boosting the immune system. 

Kale is very high in antioxidants which helps protect against free radicals and other harmful substances that can cause damage to cells. It also contains phytochemicals which help prevent cancerous tumors from forming. 

It is also low in calories and fat, making it perfect for any weight loss plan.

Because of all of these benefits, it’s super easy to see why a lot of humans have taken  up eating kale as part of their regular diet – but can the same be said for turtles, tortoises and terrapins? 

Can Turtles Eat Kale?

Big turtle eating

Yes, they absolutely can.

Turtles already eat a lot of leafy green vegetables in their diet like collards, dandelions and mustard greens so kale is also a great choice to add to your turtle’s diet.

Kale contains a lot of calcium and fiber which is a great addition to your pet turtle’s diet.

However, it is important that you ensure that you have chopped the kale up into lots of tiny pieces.

Leaves can sometimes get stuck in the turtle’s throat or mouth and this can cause them serious discomfort, so make sure the kale is chopped up into tiny pieces to make things easier for your turtle. 

You should also ensure that there are no seeds on the kale as this can cause impaction and blockages in their intestines, so wash the kale first and inspect it for any foreign objects. 

Also, ensure that you purchase organic kale to reduce the changes of any toxins infecting your turtle and causing them to fall ill.

Washing your organic kale will also help ensure that it is clean and safe for your turtle to eat, as well as washing away any foreign objects. 

Turtles require a diverse diet so you should not rely on kale alone to sustain your pet turtle. Remember to also feed them plenty of other leafy greens, vegetables and fruit so they can receive all the nutrients they need.

Mix up your chopped kale with other foods like parsnips, asparagus, carrots, and broccoli – this will be a tasty meal for your turtle! 

Relying on too much kale can cause a condition called hypothyroidism as it contains a lot of goitrogens. This can seriously impact your turtle’s health negatively so give them kale as a treat but use it sparingly. 

The important thing to remember when looking for alternative foods for your turtle is to avoid foods rich in oxalate.

Avoid spinach and beet greens at all cost as they prevent proper nutrient absorption in your turtle’s digestive system, and use greens like kale sparingly to ensure your turtle has a diverse but happy diet! 

Can Tortoises Eat Kale? 

Yes, they absolutely do.

Tortoises are often fed a variety of different food items including fruits, vegetables and leafy greens. As such, they can easily consume kale without any problems.

As long as the kale is chopped up small enough for them to swallow, they should be fine. If you want to make it even more palatable, try adding some carrot slices or apple chunks to the mix. 

The only issue with tortoises eating kale is that, like with turtles, it can cause problems when fed in high amounts.

Kale does contain oxalate but not as much as other foods like spinach does but this does mean that we do not recommend that you feed your tortoise kale every single day. 

There are still many benefits to your tortoise eating kale like how it is an important source of vitamin

A which helps with your tortoise’s skin and eyes, and how it contains a lot of calcium and minerals that allow your tortoise to show a tough and strong shell.

These benefits do outweigh the negatives but you must be cautious when adding kale to your tortoise’s diet. Use it down and again but we would not recommend that you use it as a daily source of food for your tortoise. 

Can Terrapins Eat Kale?

Terrapins are very similar to tortoises and turtles but their diet does vary. Unlike tortoises and turtles, terrapins live mainly on meat like chicken and pork. They also eat snails and worms, and fish like tuna and salmon. 

However, terrapins are not carnivores. They are omnivores which means that they also like to eat plant foods like strawberries, lettuce and broccoli. 

They can eat leafy vegetables like kale but it is not recommended that you try and force your terrapin to live on a vegetable-only diet.

They need meat for the sources of protein that helps them grow happy and healthy while vegetables like kale and broccoli can also provide so much. 

As such, you can feed your terrapin kale but in small quantities and alongside plenty of meat like chicken and pork.

Just like all animals, terrapins need a varied diet so chop up some kale leaves and throw them on their food dish alongside some chicken and worms and your terrapin is sure to be one happy reptile! 


So – can you feed your turtle or terrapin or tortoise kale? 

The answer is yes to all but you need to take some precautions. 

Wash the kale first and chop it up into smaller pieces before serving. Remember to alternate feeding your pet reptile kale to avoid overfeeding it with oxalate and goitrogens that can lead to other more serious health issues. 

However, you can still treat your turtle/terrapin/tortoise to some kale now and again as long as you remember to take the extra precautions to keep them healthy.

Then, your pet will have a great varied diet that is sure to make them very happy too!

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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.