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Spinach - it is not as bad as you may think.

Discussion in 'Tortoise Diet and Food' started by Kristina, Nov 5, 2011.

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  1. Kristina

    Kristina New Member

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    "Don't feed your tortoises spinach - it is bad for them."

    I see this statement a lot and it is completely incorrect. Spinach is just fine as part of a varied diet. It does have a higher concentration of oxalic acid, but the nutrition that it provides greatly outweighs any bad effects.

    Spinach is high in Vitamin A and Vitamin C. It contains Calcium, Potassium, and Omega 3 fatty acids. It also has a high water content.

    Spinach also is high in protein - which is what has lead to the mythology of spinach being "bad." For decades, it was thought that excess protein in the diet was the cause for pyramiding. We have found in recent years that this is less than true. Vegetable protein will not harm your tortoises.

    So please, don't be afraid to let your tortoises have spinach as part of their varied diet!
    Prairie Mom likes this.
  2. chase thorn

    chase thorn Member

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    i was always wondering why myself! thanks!
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  3. GeoTerraTestudo

    GeoTerraTestudo Active Member

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    Makes sense. However, over the summer I gave my torts spring mix with spinach, and they avoided the spinach. Either they were just not used to it, or else they could smell that it was not as good for them as other plants.
  4. Redstrike

    Redstrike Well-Known Member

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    Prairie Mom likes this.
  5. foxboysracing

    foxboysracing Member

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  6. jaizei

    jaizei Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    I think a lot of it's "bad" reputation also goes back to the misconception that oxalic acid would bind calcium from all the food they eat causing MBD, which (most) everyone now knows isn't the case.
  7. ascott

    ascott Well-Known Member

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    as part of a varied diet, alot of things are aok...spinach is indeed one of them....just can not be the bulk of the diet.... :D
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  8. Kristina

    Kristina New Member

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    More likely they were just being picky, and in favor of the sweeter lettuces that the spring mix contains ;) Spinach is quite bitter, but the whole point of my post is that it is NOT "bad" for them at all. In fact it contains more nutrition than the other plants in spring mix. Many of the plants that tortoises eat in the wild contain so much oxalic acid that it makes it toxic to humans and can cause severe burns in the mouth, but does not affect the tortoises at all. Since humans can obviously eat spinach with no ill effects, that gives you an idea of how low the oxalic acid is in spinach compared to something like pothos.
  9. zesty_17

    zesty_17 Member

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    i agree, the key term here is "varied." As part of a varied diet your torts can have many things, but spinach should not be a staple in their diet. Unfortunately, in many settings, reptiles are not given enough of a varied diet so that this statement has been implemented as a protective factor against ignorant humans, and not necessarily out of fairness of spinach nutrient content.
  10. Kristina

    Kristina New Member

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    Technically, there should be NO "staple" in any tortoise's diet ;)
  11. lushcious

    lushcious Active Member

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    I try to feed my sully spinach but it always avoids it :[
  12. GeoTerraTestudo

    GeoTerraTestudo Active Member

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    LOL ... Good example. Animals (including humans) do crave foods they need. However, those cravings have been shaped by evolution in their natural habitat. In the case of humans, we crave sweets, fats, and salt because they are comparatively rare on the savanna where we evolved. In "captivity" (i.e. industrial society) we have them in overabundance, which causes health problems. The same may be said for fruit in the case of redfoot tortoises; craving them is good in the wild, but not in captivity when they are available all the time. As for chocolate, some food scientists think the theobromine in it acts like an opiate, causing people to seek it out for the soothing feeling it brings them. Now, back to spinach...

    It could very well be that they were picky, or else simply not accustomed to this plant. I have offered it to them in a spring mix a few other times, and they generally eat around it. But perhaps in time, if I offer it in moderation as you suggest, they will accept it. Other plants contain higher concentrations of oxalic acid than spinach, making them more acrid. Do you know if tortoises eat those plants?

    I think it is tempting to focus on one aspect of a food, when really every food is a melange of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, secondary metabolic compounds, textures, and flavors. Tortoises can eat plants that contain compounds toxic to mammals without problems. For example, Russian tortoises regularly eat buttercup, even though they contain terpenoids that are lethal to sheep.

    I also think that toxicity and anti-nutrition are moderated by a varied diet, but I also think that different tortoises may tolerate different plants, depending on whether they have evolved to deal with them. In the case of spinach, it is native to Central Asia where Russian tortoises are from, but they don't eat it in the wild. Maybe there is something about this plant - whether oxalic acid or some other compound - that makes it unpalatable to them. Perhaps for some tortoises, you have to watch how much spinach you offer so they don't get too much of one thing. However, my guys seem already to sense that they shouldn't be eating too much of this stuff.
  13. maggie3fan

    maggie3fan Well-Known Member

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    I have always fed my tortoises spinach as part of a varied diet. I got called out by Stells and Danny several times for feeding it to my animals and recommending it and red and white clover. I have always said that spinach was good for you...I always believed Popeye...:D

    I am glad now that keepers are coming around to believing what I've been saying for years...:cool:
  14. Kristina

    Kristina New Member

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    Same here Maggie. I feed the red and white clover too - I buy wildlife pasture mix seed that contains several different varieties. ;)
  15. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer

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    I have fed it every once in a while to mine for the last 20 years. I just got a whole bag of it the other day from the lunch truck on set.
  16. AnthonyC

    AnthonyC New Member

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    I guess it just goes to show... Everything in moderation.
  17. evlinLoutries

    evlinLoutries Member

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    So it doesn't had any impact to our :tort:?

    And it is good for daily or just sometimes?

    Thanks..
  18. laramie

    laramie New Member

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    Thank You for that information :D I have not feed Wilbur any spinanch for that reason..I had heard that it was bad for them too.
  19. Kristina

    Kristina New Member

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    No, if fed in moderation, it will not have any negative impacts.

    I would not feed it daily, however. Moderation means you have to mix things up. I feed something different every day. Once a week or every two weeks is fine, however. It takes me about two weeks to cycle through all the greens that the grocery store near me carries.

    To better explain what I mean by cycling through food items and feeding in moderation, please refer to the article I wrote on "balanced diets." http://www.tortoiseforum.org/Thread...ises-The-Balanced-Diet-Revealed#axzz1d8ly7Q7I This isn't a care sheet aimed at one particular species, but rather a guideline on HOW to feed the foods that you buy, what foods are good choices, what to avoid and how much of each "group" of food to offer.
  20. AnthonyC

    AnthonyC New Member

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    So Kristina, if it has no negative effects on torts (if fed in moderation) does it have any positive effects? Is it high in a particular vitamin that our torts need? Naturally I'm being greedy here b/c when I say "torts" I'm referring to Sulcatas b/c that's what I have. :D:D
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