Can tortoises over eat/get fat?


New Member
Mar 21, 2020
Location (City and/or State)
*can tortoises over eat and get fat?*

Hi all! We have a debate rn in my family and I need some help! I got Theo almost two weeks ago and he’s been doing great especially with food. He’s sorta picky about the what but once it’s something he likes he’ll literally just keep on eating. My mom says to keep feeding him until he stops eating because that means he’s hungry. I know our other animals (two dogs six guinea pigs) don’t really feel full and our lab especially will eat until he gets sick. I’m trying to keep Theo to eating a shell sized handful of mixed greens a day for now since we don’t have weeds growing yet. He also gets calcium and everything. My mom and my fiancé both think that they can’t get fat anyway so it doesn’t matter. I’m just not totally sure and it’s now a huge debate so, can they get fat? Do they over eat or do they feel full?


Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
May 29, 2014
Location (City and/or State)
Glenn Dale, Maryland, USA
Let Theo eat away, just make sure it is good, healthy food. Not “snacks” or other food it shouldnt routinely have.
Mixed greens sounds good.

What kind of tortoise?


The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 9, 2010
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
If a tortoise is fed the wrong foods, kept at the wrong temps, and kept in a small enclosure, yes, they can get fat.

Fed the right foods, in a the right enclosures with the correct temps, no, they will not get fat.

Yes they do feel full eventually.

So all of you are correct, depending on the caveats I listed.


Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Jul 15, 2019
Location (City and/or State)
Even insects can get obese, we just don’t see what’s going on because of their exoskeletons.

I have seen that in poor conditions for breeding turtles, they often eat and eat and can’t move around, so the extra fat stresses their organs. They can still suffer from MBD and malnutrition even while obese. They just don’t physically show it as well as other animals.

Unlike the guinea pigs, tortoises can safely skip a meal if they don’t like what you’re offering. You are doing the right thing by sticking to the “shell size” rule!


Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Mar 20, 2014
Location (City and/or State)
Metro Detroit
I believe I allowed my boys to get fat, and I feel terrible about it. 😞

I always fed them a nice heap of food the size of their body. Once they hit 4 years old, I easily could have skipped a day of feeding per week but I love my boys so the spoiling continued.

When talking to some other Redfoot owners online, I realized my boys were much heavier. I just assumed their weight was normal but someone offered me this analogy and it sounds right and to me:

If your tortoise feels like it’s filled with feathers, it might be underweight.

If it feels like it’s filled with water, that’s a good weight.

If it feels like it’s filled with rocks, overweight.

My boys gained a pound a year...


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