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Spinach

Discussion in 'Tortoise Diet and Food' started by fluffypanda17, Aug 21, 2012.

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  1. fluffypanda17

    fluffypanda17 Member

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    Why can't tortoises eat spinach?[hr]
    Oops I should've posted this in the diet section..
  2. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member

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    Rather than write at length, read this from The Tortoise Table Plant Database
  3. ellie99

    ellie99 New Member

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    Red footed tortoise should only have spinach once in while because it can cause the calcium leach out of their body !!
  4. fluffypanda17

    fluffypanda17 Member

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    Thanks JoesMum I read that and I'm glad I never fed my torts that! [hr]
    Thanks!
  5. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer

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    Spinach is fine in moderation. It would not be good to feed lots of it every day, but a little bit once in a while is a good part of a varied diet.
  6. ellie99

    ellie99 New Member

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    Your welcome :D
  7. ChiKat

    ChiKat Active Member

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    If I buy spring mix with spinach in it, I pick the spinach out. But if I miss some I don't stress over it. Nelson is pretty good about eating the right things anyways.
  8. fluffypanda17

    fluffypanda17 Member

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    Alright! Thank you guys for all of your input.
  9. Madkins007

    Madkins007 Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    The thing is that almost none of the above is true.

    Oxalates are a naturally occurring chemical compound that easily binds with certain metals, such as calcium (which is, technically a metal), magnesium, etc., forming crystalline structures. These crystals can get trapped and build up in the kidneys, etc. and become 'stones'- although most sources point out that there are usually other issues happening as well, such as dehydration, etc.

    A given oxalate molecule can only bind with so many calcium molecules, and it usually does it while inside the plant's tissues, creating a calcium oxalate. That is- the oxalates in spinach only bind with the calcium in spinach- not the calcium in other foods. It does not usually take it from other sources except in high doses- more like that in rhubarb leaves.

    Oxalates are toxic, and strong concentrations can cause problems for humans just through contact, such as the rash we can get touching the sap of certain trees. Different species have different tolerances for it- tortoises are well-documented as eating plants that have enough oxalic acid to be considered fatal for humans- FAR more of the stuff than spinach has.

    What it does in reptiles it does in humans too. While some people are at risk for oxalate-related issues, most dietitians and doctors would not worry about you eating spinach, drinking tea or cocoa, eating nuts, etc. IN MODERATION.

    As for poor spinach, it has 0.97% of the total food content as oxalates- mildly high if you go by one way to measure it. Other studies show it at 0.68%- only a little higher than beet or collard greens. On the other hand, spinach also offers TONS of bone-building vitamin K (181% of the USDA), 56% of yuor vitamin A, 5% iron, a bunch of omega 3 oils, and lots of other good minerals and vitamins. (http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2626/2 )

    By the way- did you know that calcium blocks iron absorption? Iron is a vital nutrient for strong bones, but animals getting high calcium meals all the time do not always get the iron they need. Oxalates are not the best way to do it, but they do block some calcium and allow iron intake. (http://www.drhoffman.com/page.cfm/120 )

    Also, a common way to offset foods high in oxalates is to simply boost calcium consumption, as in combining spinach with turnip greens.

    Finally- if spinach is so dangerous for tortoises, why are so many healthy tortoises eating the stuff so much? One thing you should ask yourself when someone says that 'such and such' is dangerous is 'where are the victims?'

    Bottom line- while spinach should not be a big part of the diet, there is really no reason to avoid it. It is fine as part of a balanced, varied diet.



    Here is an interesting article about this- http://oxalicacidinfo.com/
  10. Masin

    Masin Member

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    So tonight via trembling hand, I put a pinch of spinach in Echo's dinner. :D
    I've been meaning to throw her some and haven't had it on hand but finally got some last night.
    Let's hope I don't find her face down in her breakfast. :p I keed.
  11. fluffypanda17

    fluffypanda17 Member

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    Amazing information! You helped me (and I'm sure some other people) a lot! What other foods have good amounts of iron?
  12. Madkins007

    Madkins007 Well-Known Member Staff Member

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    Iron, as well as a lot of other good stuff, is pretty common in dark, leafy greens, and in lots of meats- especially oily fish and red meat. It is also in beans and other things we would not use for torts much.

    Some other good tort sources, depending on the species, would be pumpkin or squash seeds, apricots, broccoli, green pepper...

    This is not normally something our tortoises are short of in their diet, it is just not being absorbed well when we focus on high calcium in every single meal. But, when you use a balanced, varied diet, they are fine. Let's not add this to our list of things we fret over.
  13. GBtortoises

    GBtortoises Active Member

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    All I can say to Madkins post is-DITTO!

    Great information!
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