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can I give my tortoise banana?

Can I Feed My Tortoise Banana?

Tortoises have been found to choose the bright yellow coloring of a banana over other treats. So, we know that tortoises like bananas., but that doesn’t mean all tortoises should eat bananas.

In tropical species, bananas are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.

If your tortoise is a desert species, like a sulcata or leopard tortoise, it won’t have evolved to process that many sugars, leading to indigestion and diarrhea.

When fed in excess, the poor phosphorus-to-calcium ratio can lead to weakened bones and deformed shells. Banana peels are safe when organic, but be wary of pesticides.

Can I Give My Tortoise Banana?

Bananas are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. However, the amount that you offer will depend on the species of tortoise you own. Some types can eat more banana than others.

For example, tropical species like the red-footed and yellow-footed tortoises can have this fruit as a larger part of their diet. In the wild, they use it as a source of antioxidants and minerals. They encounter bananas regularly as they forage along beaches and throughout tropical forests.

Desert tortoises like sulcatas, however, won’t fare as well. Because they don’t encounter bananas natively, their digestion isn’t suited to processing them. Eating bananas regularly is unnatural and unhealthy.

No matter your species of tortoise, it’s wise to feed bananas sparingly. Fruits contain essential nutrients for fruit-eating species, but bananas are not a perfect choice, even among these fruits. That’s because they’re:

High In Sugar

One medium-sized banana contains 14 grams of sugar. Some kinds of tortoise can handle this, while others cannot. Grazing species, like the sulcata, are unable to digest a lot of sugar. Too much can lead to digestive issues.

Fruit-eating species, like the red-footed tortoise, will be less affected by the high sugar content. However, it’s better to choose fruits that are low in sugar. Good alternatives include strawberries and blackberries.

is banana good for tortoise?

High In Potassium

Bananas are known as a rich source of potassium. While this is healthy for humans, it’s not ideal for tortoises. High levels of potassium are linked to kidney disease in reptiles.

Phosphorus-To-Calcium Ratio

Bananas also contain too much phosphorus and too little calcium. Specifically, 100 grams of banana will contain 5 mg of calcium and 22 mg of phosphorus. 

Phosphorus isn’t harmful to tortoises. It’s an important mineral that is needed for healthy shell and bone growth. However, tortoises need more calcium. Since the two are closely intertwined, bananas create an unhealthy balance.

Phosphorus and calcium levels are inversely linked in the body. As calcium levels in the blood rise, phosphate levels will fall. Phosphate will always want to be less available than calcium. If there is too much phosphate in the body, it will pull calcium from other sources, like the bones.

For tortoises, this can be a problem. An unhealthy calcium-to-phosphorus ratio can lead to many diseases, especially those in the kidneys. According to The Veterinary Record, it can lead to deformed and permanently damaged shells, especially in leopard tortoises.

Is Banana Good For Tortoises?

Bananas can be good for tortoises, as long as they’re offered in moderation. As an occasional treat, tortoises gain health benefits like:

Nutrients

Bananas are rich in vitamins and minerals. Their ratios may not be ideal for a tortoise, but they are still essential for the body. When given sparingly, alongside a balanced diet that’s appropriate for your tortoise’s species, bananas can be good. They’ll improve and strengthen your tortoise’s health with a boost of:

  • Potassium
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Fiber

Notably, bananas contain very little protein and almost zero fat. Compared to the amount of nutrients they contain, bananas are low in calories, too. This makes bananas a nutrient-rich fruit.

Nutrition FactsMedium-sized banana
Calories89 kcal
Water75%
Protein1.1 g
Carbs22.8 g
Sugar12.2 g
Fiber2.6 g
Fat0.3 g

Digestion

Bananas contain two kinds of fiber, namely pectin and resistant starch. These help with your tortoise’s digestion.

Pectin is a type of fiber naturally found in plants. On the other hand, resistant starches are starch molecules that are not digested, which makes them act like fiber.

Both compounds won’t be digested in the gut. Instead, they are used as food for the gut microbiome. This microbiome helps break down food and absorb nutrients more efficiently. 

Antioxidants

Bananas, like most fruits, are rich in antioxidants. These compounds fight free radicals, which are molecules that can lead to cell damage. Free radicals cause oxidative stress, which has been linked to various health issues, including:

  • Age-related illnesses
  • Heart diseases
  • Neurodegenerative diseases

Bananas contain different types of antioxidants, including dopamine and catechins. According to CNS & Neurological Disorders Drug Targets, polyphenols (which include catechins) can lead to faster healing times and better resilience against outside infections.  

Can Sulcata Tortoise Eat Bananas?

In the wild, sulcata tortoises live in dry, arid, and sandy regions. Here, sulcatas feed on grass and hay, as well as weeds and cacti. This makes them an herbivorous grazing species. Bananas are not a naturally occurring food in their environment, so they will not eat it normally in the wild.

This doesn’t rule out bananas entirely. According to PLOS One, desert tortoises can still adapt to eating fruit. However, they can only tolerate it in moderation. Sulcatas haven’t evolved to digest the high sugar content usually found in bananas.

Instead, it can lead to indigestion and diarrhea. This can limit how many nutrients they’re able to absorb from other foods.

As such, bananas can be fed to sulcatas but in limited quantities. If you have the choice, it’s wise to choose other fruits that have less sugar.

Can Red-Footed Tortoise Eat Bananas?

Red-footed tortoises (and their close relative, yellow-footed tortoises) can be found in tropical regions. In the wild, they are omnivores, meaning they can eat both animal and plant proteins. Since they’re scavengers, you’ll find these tortoises feeding on fruits that have fallen to the ground.

As such, fruits like bananas compose a large part of the red-footed tortoise’s diet. Aside from fruit, they also fill their diet with veggies, leafy greens, and some animal protein from insects.

Their digestive tract has naturally evolved to process higher amounts of sugar. It should not be the only aspect of their diet, but they can handle it better than desert tortoises.

Bananas are still best fed in moderation. Other fruits that are more nutrient-dense, and contain a better phosphorus-to-calcium ratio, are ideal. Many owners prefer tropical fruits like mangoes, honeydew, and papaya. Notably, red-footed tortoises are known to love strawberries because of their bright red color.

can tortoise eat banana peel?

Can Leopard Tortoises Eat Bananas?

Leopard tortoises are native to dry, arid regions, specifically South Africa, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Like the sulcata, this tortoise is an herbivore. Its diet should be at least half to 80% grasses and greens. Leopard tortoises should also be given veggies to supplement their meals.

Leopard tortoises don’t need fruit in their diet. In the wild, they rarely encounter fruit and haven’t evolved to digest it properly. While they can sample bananas without immediate harm, any nutrients they find could be better sourced from other foods. If you accidentally feed your leopard tortoise too much banana, it can lead to digestive issues.

Are Banana Leaves Safe For Tortoises?

Banana leaves are safe to feed to your tortoise. They are not poisonous, and they work as a tasty, leafy green for your tortoise to enjoy.

Banana leaves are also inexpensive and common to find in bulk. You can search at your local supermarket, although you’ll have better luck in Asian supermarkets.

When feeding your tortoise banana leaves, there is little worry about pesticides. These leaves are prepared for use in cooking, so they have edibility in mind. A quick rinse is recommended to remove any dirt, dust, or debris. To store, wrap in plastic and keep in the freezer.

Banana leaves are healthy for tortoises. They contain many nutrients, but most notably the antioxidant EGCG. This compound is what equips green tea with its famous antioxidant properties. This can make banana leaves a tasty, fun-to-chew health boost.

Can Tortoise Eat Banana Peel?

Tortoises love to eat banana peels due to their color, texture, and flavor. On its own, a banana peel doesn’t contain any toxins that are harmful to a tortoise.

However, banana peels often have insecticides on their surface. For humans, washing the peel before eating will negate this. For a much smaller tortoise, the chances of residual pesticide are a concern. Additionally, banana peels aren’t nutritious. They do offer some health benefits, such as a boost of potassium, fiber, and antioxidants.

You can feed bananas to a tortoise, and most will enjoy the flavor and texture. However, limit the amount you offer since they’re rich in sugar and can overload your tortoise with minerals. Likewise, some tortoises eat them naturally in the wild, but others don’t so pick accordingly.