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Can Tortoise Poop Be Used As Fertilizer?

Last Updated on October 10, 2023 by Samantha Harris

Tortoise poop is a quality fertilizer, especially on non-food crops (plants, lawns, etc.) It requires more careful handling than regular manure because tortoises carry the salmonella bacteria.

Tortoise waste has a higher pH level, which can burn plants if used haphazardly.

Let the tortoise poop remain in the compost bin for several weeks before using it. Also, you must dilute it with other materials to reduce the high ammonia levels.

Reptile poop isn’t commonly used as manure because it’s hard to collect enough. However, tortoise feces is used as a fertilizer because it’s an environmentally sustainable way to remove animal waste.

Can You Compost Tortoise Poop?

Composting tortoise manure isn’t just to allow it to decompose. Removing toxic gasses and pathogens is essential to making it a safe and effective fertilizer.

Always compost tortoise poop before using it on a garden or lawn. The composting process removes ammonia gas from the manure, preventing it from burning the grass and crops.

Also, the high temperature eradicates salmonella bacteria, depending on how the compost is set up.

Is Tortoise Poop Good for Compost?

The feces of herbivorous tortoises are more suitable for composting than omnivorous or carnivorous tortoises. Ones that feed on raw meat and organisms have more pathogens in their waste.

Animal Agriculture and Environment noted that the feces of meat-eating tortoises smell worse than tortoises fed plant-based diets. The nitrogen levels are higher, requiring more time to compost.

Only compost tortoise’s poop if the animal exclusively eats plants. Mix it with chicken poop and dry straw to give your plants or lawn more nutrients.

Is Tortoise Poop Good Fertilizer?

Tortoise manure can harm or kill the plants if applied to crops before fully decomposing.

Tortoise poop can make a good fertilizer if collected from herbivorous species and fully composted. At this point, the manure will be:

  • Free-flowing and easy to spread around.
  • Soluble in soil and water.
  • Free from harmful pathogens and contaminants.

Although it can still be beneficial, it’s better not to use tortoise poop (or reptile droppings) on food crops. Instead, mix composted tortoise poop with the soil for use on the lawn.

is tortoise poop good fertilizer?

Problems with Handling Tortoise Poop

We must emphasize the risks that handling fresh tortoise feces poses to humans, animals, and plants.

The dangers posed by reptile poop manifests in two different ways:


Most tortoises carry salmonella in their digestive tracts and externally on their skin.

These can transfer to humans when we come into contact with tortoise’s droppings. It’s hazardous to apply fresh droppings (as fertilizer) to foods that are eaten raw, like carrots and tomatoes.

Salmonellosis can kill humans. The National Institute of Health estimates that salmonellosis spread by tortoises causes over 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths annually in the U.S.

Other pathogens found in tortoise poop, albeit in rare cases, include:

  • Mycobacterium.
  • Serratia.
  • Flavobacterium meningosepticum.


Tortoise droppings have higher ammonia concentrations than cattle and goats, making their recently produced manure unsuitable for plants.

The effects of excess ammonia include burnt or drooping leaves, damaged roots, and the death of the plant. Never use tortoise manure in your garden before it fully composts.

How Does Tortoise Poop Help Plants Grow?

You can use tortoise poop as a fertilizer if you take the necessary precautions when handling it.

You can use the poop in two different ways:

Ordinary Manure

This involves collecting sufficient tortoise feces, composting them, and infusing them with the soil. Alternatively, apply the manure to a plant’s roots by digging a shallow hole.

The manure will break down to a powder-like consistency and become part of the soil.

Moreover, the ground’s microbes and bacteria will consume the manure’s nutrients, producing an enriched by-product called humus (organic matter from decaying animal matter).

Over time, the humus disintegrates and attaches itself to the soil, further enriching it with nutrients. When mixed with water, the nutrients seep into the roots of plants, giving them what they need to thrive.


Poop teas are a mixture of tortoise poop and water mixed in a ratio of 1:2.

The purpose of water is to lower the concentration of ammonia in the manure, making it safer for plants. Also, it helps the waste to decompose faster, unlocking more essential nutrients.

Poop teas work like ordinary manure, releasing nutrients into the soil, which the plants absorb.

Of course, manure doesn’t fully decompose immediately, but it releases soluble nutrients into the water, which the soil and plants absorb.

The insoluble nutrients don’t take long to decompose, provided you keep the manure moist.

The teas aren’t passed through high temperatures, so they still contain pathogens. Unfortunately, these can be transmitted to the recipient plants, animals, and people who eat uncooked produce.

How To Prepare Tortoise Compost

Here are some steps for creating tortoise poop compost:

  1. Dig a hole that’s about 3 feet deep.
  2. Add green and brown waste to the hole, including leaves, dead plants, wood shavings, and leftover foods. It shouldn’t include any manure from meat-eating animals.
  3. Put the tortoise feces on top of the pile.
  4. Mix the ingredients with a garden fork.
  5. Add some water to the heap, but not too much, as you only need it damp and not soaked.
  6. Leave the compost uncovered for 1 week and turn it so the contents at the bottom go to the top.
  7. Mix the content regularly until it has a brownish hue.
  8. Scoop 5-7 inches and spread it across the garden, leaving the rest to continue decomposing.

Tortoise poop can be used as fertilizer. As long as a tortoise is herbivorous, the nutrients from its meals will contribute positively to its waste. This can be reused as fertilizer for plants.

To make life easier, you can litter train a tortoise so the poop accumulates in one place.