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Desert Tortoise Diet

Discussion in 'North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus)' started by bkn70, Aug 14, 2019.

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  1. bkn70

    bkn70 New Member

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    We are new custodians of a 20-year old desert tortoise (Cooper), raised in captivity. We live in Southern Arizona, in Tucson.

    He has free range of the back yard, in which there are several clumps of native grass, mallows, native wildflowers, and weeds (bermuda grass & etc.)

    However, he seems to only want to eat kale (and desert willow flowers, when find them for him). He refuses Timothy hay, and various natives listed above, which I've tried to add to his salad.

    I've held back on the kale various days and I think he probably forages a bit, but I don't want to deprive the little guy!

    Is a kale-heavy diet acceptable? Does anyone have recommendations for other plants I could consider planting and/or buying for him?

    Thanks,
  2. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    A kale heavy diet is not acceptable. Kale is high in goiterogens. A little bit once in a while is good, but not too much.

    Tortoises are creatures of habit. They eat what they've eaten before. It takes tome to get them used to eating new things, even when the new things are good for them. Try mincing up a tiny bit of the new food and mixing it in with the old favorites. Over time, up the ratio of new to old.

    I typed this up for sulcatas, but DTs eat the same stuff with less emphasis on grass and more emphasis on succulents like red apple ground cover, jade plant, ice plant, some sedums, and lots of spineless opuntia pads. https://tortoiseforum.org/threads/for-those-who-have-a-young-sulcata.76744/
    BeeBee*BeeLeaves likes this.
  3. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Double post.
  4. bkn70

    bkn70 New Member

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    Thanks for all of the info, this is exactly what I was looking for. I will move him off of kale and try mincing the more appropriate succulents/weeds you mentioned. He did like the spineless prickly pear I got for him once, that should be pretty easy to get a hold of here.
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