Russian Tortoise

If you’re a fan of both tortoises and spinach, you may be wondering if it’s okay to let your tortoise eat some spinach. Spinach is a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, magnesium, and iron. But before you go giving your tortoise a plate of spinach leaves, there are a few things you should know. In this article, we’ll discuss the nutritional benefits of spinach for tortoises and whether or not it’s safe for them to eat.

Can Tortoises Eat Spinach Every Day?

No, tortoises should not eat spinach every day because spinach contains dangerously high levels of oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is a naturally occurring organic compound that is found in many plants, including spinach. It’s known for its ability to bind with minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium, making them unavailable for the body to absorb. This can lead to deficiencies in these essential minerals. Excessive consumption of foods high in oxalic acid can also lead to health problems. Too much oxalic acid can cause health issues and for this reason, it’s best to limit your tortoise’s intake of spinach.

How Often Can You Feed Spinach to a Tortoise?

There is a lot of debate on whether or not tortoises should eat spinach at all. Some claim that it is fine to feed spinach to tortoises occasionally, while others say that it should be avoided altogether. However, the general consensus seems to be that if you do decide to feed spinach to your tortoise, it should only be in very small doses. This is because spinach contains oxalates, which can interfere with calcium absorption and lead to health problems for your tortoise down the road. So, unless you are absolutely sure that your tortoise can handle small amounts of spinach without any adverse effects, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution and avoid feeding it altogether.

Should Spinach be Raw or Cooked for Tortoises?

Most leafy greens are best when eaten raw, and spinach is no exception. Cooking can remove some of the vitamins and minerals from spinach, so it’s best to eat it raw whenever possible; in fact, cooked spinach contains only about 33% of the nutrient value of raw spinach. That said, there are some cases where light cooking is necessary – for example, if you’re feeding your tortoise a frozen spinach mix, light cooking will help to thaw the greens.

Can Tortoises Eat Raw Spinach?

Yes, tortoises can eat raw spinach. However, it is best for them to consume only very small amounts of this leafy green vegetable as part of a balanced diet. As we have mentioned, spinach contains high levels of oxalates, which can interfere with calcium absorption and lead to health problems for tortoises if consumed in large quantities. While feeding your tortoise spinach, be sure to also offer plenty of other nutrient-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables to ensure that they are getting all the nutrients they need to stay healthy and strong.

How to Prepare Spinach for Your Tortoise

Although we do not recommend giving your tortoise spinach at all, if it is prepared in very small amounts as part of a balanced diet, it should be fine. Be sure to prepare it as below.

1. Choose the Freshest Leaves

It is important to choose the freshest spinach leaves for your tortoise. This will ensure that they are getting the best nutrition possible. Look for leaves that are brightly colored and firm to the touch. Avoid those that are wilted or have brown spots.

2. Thoroughly Wash

Give your tortoise a fresh start by thoroughly washing the spinach leaves. Doing so will help remove any dirt, debris, or potential toxins that could harm your reptile friend. After washing, gently pat them dry.

3. Finely Slice or Chop

To get the perfect size of spinach leaves for your tortoise, you need to slice or chop them finely. Depending on the size of your tortoise, you might need to adjust the size of the slices. For example, if you have a small tortoise, you might want to chop the leaves into even smaller pieces.

4. Mix with Other Ingredients

Start by mixing a small amount of the chopped spinach leaves with leafy greens. Then add some fruits and other ingredients to your tortoise’s meal. By doing this, you’ll provide them with a nutrient-rich meal that they’ll love.

5. Remove Before it Wilts

If your tortoise doesn’t eat it right away, just be sure to remove the meal from your tortoise’s bowl before all of the fresh food has wilted and gone brown. This will ensure that your tortoise gets the nutrition it needs and doesn’t end up sick. Plus, who wants to eat a wilted salad? Not even a tortoise!

What Happens if a Tortoise Eats Too Much Spinach?

A Tortoise would get very sick from eating too much spinach and because spinach is high in oxalates, you should take your tortoise to see a veterinarian immediately. These compounds bind to calcium and other minerals in the gastrointestinal tract, preventing their absorption. This can lead to deficiencies in these minerals and subsequent health problems. Additionally, the high levels of nitrates present in spinach can convert into nitrites in the body. Nitrites can interfere with red blood cell production and cause a condition called methemoglobinemia, which results in insufficient oxygen transport throughout the body.


So, can tortoises eat spinach? Yes, but it’s important to remember that spinach should only be eaten raw and in small amounts. Feeding your tortoise too much spinach or giving it too often can be damaging to its health due to the oxalic acid. Be sure not to overfeed your tortoise spinach and monitor how much they are eating so they stay healthy and happy!

How to Prepare Spinach for your Tortoise Infographic

Reptile Wrestler Tips!

“It is best to only give tortoises raw spinach – do not cook it!”

“If your pet tortoise has eaten too much spinach and appears unwell, take him to visit the vet!”

“Only give a little spinach to your tortoise as part of a varied diet along with other leafy greens and fruits!”

“Do not feed your pet tortoise spinach frequently and when you do, make sure it is only in small amounts!”


Is spinach OK for desert tortoises?

Although desert tortoises can eat small amounts of spinach, it is not a good food choice and should never be considered a staple part of the diet of desert tortoises. It is high in oxalates and can cause health problems, including kidney stones.

Is spinach OK for Russian tortoises?

Spinach is OK for Russian tortoises in moderation but should not be used as a regular part of their diet. Spinach is high in oxalic acid, which can bind to calcium and other minerals in the gut and form crystals that can damage the kidneys, liver, and pancreas.

Is spinach good for sulcata tortoise?

In very small doses, spinach can be a good source of vitamin A and other nutrients for sulcata tortoises. However, it’s important to avoid feeding them too much spinach because it is high in oxalic acid.

About Me

Hi, I’m Stuart and I’ve had reptiles for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I studied for a master’s in Herpetology. Over the years I have worked at several zoos before opening my very own reptile sanctuary. In my spare time, I run this website – which is a resource for people who want to learn more about their little beasties.

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