10 Best Desert Tortoises Facts, What do desert tortoises eat?

In this article, I am going to describe to you an amazing species of tortoise which are “desert tortoises” “What do desert tortoises eat?” and their specific diet and what you should care about. So, guys, this article is basically about what do desert tortoises eat? This article is totally based on the diet and food of tortoises and what they should eat or not.

Desert tortoise diet sheet

These tortoises are found in the driest and harsh environments where water is lacking to a great extent so their diet mainly contains plant content containing moist leaves, grasses, herbs, shrubs, etc. 

So you can make daily a very simple salad even with the basic things available, which you can also grow in your backyard. For your baby tortoise to provide it the healthiest food which you can easily monitor and can keep a check on it. The first thing that you need to understand is that plant content you buy from the markets is full of insecticides and fungicides, which the tortoises don’t need at all. So, you have to make sure that they don’t eat any such food that contains harmful toxins, and to make this sure you can leave them in your garden to graze and eat grass and other materials but making sure that they don’t make your yard escape free. If you don’t properly know what amount of food should be given you are actually risking your pet’s life. Therefore, to know the right quantities and which quantity it is essential to that you carefully read the following. All these points will tell you what do desert tortoises eat?.  Do you want to know about all the types of tortoises

  • Most major content in the tortoise diet is grasses, weeds, and leaves making up almost 85% of the whole diet.
  • Some tortoises like to eat dead leaves instead of the fresh ones, leave it upon them what they would like to eat.
  • Green leaves should not be given in more quantity. It should be half of the diet.
  • Vegetables are also one of the main components in the tortoise’s diet. They should make 15% of the diet. For example, bell peppers, carrots, corn squash, lentils, peas, turnips, and sweet potatoes are among the basic veggies. Vegetables are important in their diet and this also gives us a clear image of what do desert tortoises eat?
  • Fruits are among those foods which should be given in rare amounts and on rare occasions. Just to maintain the level of a good nutrient. It should not be included in the daily diet.
  • Sunlight is also a superfood for tortoises as they ectothermic animals they obtain energy by absorbing the UVA/B rays and get vitamin D as well.
  • To maintain water content is also essential. You can use a bowl that is not too deep but make sure they don’t drown in it while drinking it from it because there are several cases reported in which the tortoises get drowned easily and die due to suffocation.

Desert tortoise food list

Generally, desert tortoises survive best in their natural habitat but when you pet them, they completely rely on you for their proper diet and nutrition. Also, they are very good eaters and you may have to stop them from eating that stuff as well which they are not supposed to eat. They basically need a which is fiber-rich and should contain low-fat content because their bodies are adaptive to dry environments.

Residential plants for desert tortoises:

Grasses made 80% of the tortoise diet. So you should actively put this in their diet. The grass is as important for them as other nutrients thus, it tells us that what do desert tortoises should eat?.  The famous and healthy grasses are alfalfa, deer, or Bermuda grasses which the tortoises will love to eat in both fresh and dry situations. Some plants include noble and plantain etc., they just don’t eat grasses or leaves but eat roots and shrubs as well.

Feeding them veggies:

These make 20% of the tortoise diet. Vegetables with green leaves are strongly recommended because they are high in nutrients and vitamins. Among vegetables, the best are turnips, peas, carrots, and other beans, etc.

Essential fruits for desert tortoises::

Foods don’t make as much of a tortoise diet. They may be beneficial for you but that does not mean the same goes for them as well. Fruits contain very high sugar content which is harmful to the tortoise’s gut. Fruits that can be fed include apple, pear, and some strawberries. Make sure to remove the hard content of the fruit like seeds etc.

Don’t feed them these:

Vegetables that are rich in oxalic acid should not be given to them frequently or in their daily diet. Also, some green vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and mustard greens are also in the avoidance list as they inhibit the absorption of iodine.

The above-given points are very essential for your pet tortoise especially if it is a desert tortoise. I hope these are clearing your concept about what do desert tortoises eat?. 

Basic care, desert tortoise

Some people don’t know that desert tortoises are among the endangered species along with the other. Due to the destruction of their natural habitat, their number is decreasing drastically. But to talk for the captive ones they are somehow populated but not in the natural setting. Also to release the captives into the wild environment is riskier because they are hybrid and can transfer diseases to the wild tortoises.

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Care for the captive tortoises:


We recommend keeping the tortoises outdoors to provide them in a natural setting. The enclosure should be of nature the tortoise can walk easily and it should be shallow enough so that tortoises don’t dig. For an adult tortoise, the cage should be of 19 square feet. As they go into hibernation as well the substrate should be natural organic soil. Avoid putting sharp objects like barks in the cage as they can engulf them unintentionally and can develop wounds. Provide them optimal temperature during the day, night, and basking times using heat lamps for the indoor tortoises. If it is indoor you have to artificially provide UVA/B radiations for basking. 

Diet for desert tortoises:

As they are adapted to dry environments they need that diet which is high in water content that means plants making them herbivores and also informs us about their food and clears the most asked question that what do desert tortoises eat?  The easiest way to feed them is to let them roam or graze in the grassy lands to fulfill their hunger needs or you can make them a simple salad as well. You can make their diet versatile on different days by incorporating leaves, vegetables, fruits along with grass.

Temperature of desert tortoises:

The temperature required in the day time ranges from 80-86 F whereas in the night time it ranges between 75-80 F while during basking they need the optimal temperature of 95-100 F OF temperature.

Desert tortoises Hibernation:

As the species make them buried in the winter season so therefore you have to make sure the burrowing substrate is enough and in optimal condition so that they can easily bury themselves for a peaceful sleep.

What do desert tortoises eat? 10 facts about the desert tortoise

All of these facts and figures are going to tell you what is the basic need of your pet and what type they belong to. What are suitable temperatures for them and many more to go including what do desert tortoises eat? 

  • At the maximum desert, tortoises can reach a maximum of 9-15 inches in length and can weigh up to 15 pounds.
  • Young baby tortoises are in lighter tan yellow than adults which are in a darker shade.
  • Their scales are quite bumpy and their shell is dome-like.
  • Desert tortoise is an herbivore and eats plant content only like vegetables, beans, grasses, etc.
  • They can endure 60 degrees Celsius.
  • They can be easily identified from their heavy scaled legs.
  • They spent the winter season from November to February in hibernation.
  • They release urine when they get scared or stressed.
  •  Their main predators are Gila monsters, foxes, desert mountain lions.
  • The mating season continues from summer to autumn.

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10 best foods for the desert tortoise

Below we have given you the 10 best foods for desert tortoises and made the purpose of this article clear that “what do desert tortoises eat?”

  • Alfalfa
  • Bermuda and deer grasses
  • Dandelion
  • Globes mellow
  • Carrots
  • Turnips
  • Green beans
  • Endive
  • Kale
  • Apples, pears, and strawberries

5 best ways desert tortoise eat

  • By providing them food indoors
  • By letting them graze in the field themselves
  • By planting specific vegetables in your yard
  • By making them a basic salad
  • By making a versatile diet by incorporating specific food like fruits and vegetables along with the grass.

Question and answers

What do desert tortoises eat in the wild?

In this article as I have talked about the desert tortoise, therefore they require a diet that is high in water content. That means desert tortoises are herbivorous. Their diet in the wild mainly includes wildflowers, grasses, leaves, cacti, and moist leaves.

What do desert tortoises eat in captivity?

As they are herbivores animals and they grow best when provided the plant diet. Thus as well as in captivity, the best diet will be the mixture of grass, leaves, veggies, and fruits.

What do baby tortoises eat?

Bay tortoises eat small leaflings and those plant contents which are easily chewable.

What plants do desert tortoises eat?

Alfalfa Bermuda and deer grasses, Dandelion, Globes mellow, Carrots, Turnips, and Green beans are among the common plants which desert tortoises eat.

Do desert tortoises eat insects?

As they are herbivores they only rely on plant content for their survival and need a diet that is high in fiber and low in fat.

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