Turtles eat tomatoes, but only ripe red tomatoes. Green tomatoes, leaves, and vines are poisonous to turtles. Tomatoes are relatively high in sugar, so eating many of them causes loose stool and bloating in turtles. Tomatoes should be infrequent treats, not dietary staples for turtles.
Turtles can eat tomatoes, but this is only the short answer. There are many caveats to this statement. So, keep reading because, in the following article, we answer all your tomato-related turtle diet questions.
Why Are Tomatoes Good For Turtles?
There is a difference between something being non-toxic and it being good for your turtle to eat.
Think about it this way, as a healthy human, eating gummy worms is not poisonous for you, but they are hardly considered to be nutritious!
As you probably guessed, tomatoes fall into the category of being a good food for your pet turtle to eat.
This specifically relates to the ripe red fleshy tomatoes.
The red tomato flesh provides your turtle with essential minerals like calcium and phosphorus as well as vitamins such as vitamin A.
According to PetMD, calcium and vitamin A deficiencies are some of the most commonly diagnosed deficiencies in pet reptiles.
Can Turtles Digest Tomatoes?
A turtle’s body can absorb not all nutritious foods, and only the digestible foods will release their nutrients for absorption.
Luckily, tomatoes are not so high in fiber that they just pass undigested through your turtle’s body, nor are they coated in an indigestible skin that needs to be removed before your turtle can eat them.
So, turtles can digest tomatoes, and thus, they are able to absorb the beneficial nutrients contained in these juicy fruits.
However, you have to be careful which parts of the tomato you give to your turtle, how ripe it is, how it was grown, and how much you serve them.
Why Should You Or Should Not Feed Tomatoes To Your Turtle?
There are two main reasons to feed your pet turtle tomatoes:
- They are a good source of calcium, vitamin A, and water.
- They are tasty.
There are many reasons why you should not feed tomatoes to your turtle:
- You should not feed non-organic tomatoes to your turtle as they may be contaminated by pesticides, which are harmful to your turtle.
- You should not feed raw or green tomatoes to your turtle because they are poisonous to turtles.
- You should not feed the leaves and stems of the tomato plant to your turtle because they are also toxic to turtles.
- You should not feed a lot of tomatoes to your turtle because they are high in sugar (tomatoes are actually fruits). Too much sugar can cause your turtle’s stool to become loose and its stomach to bloat painfully.
- You should not feed a lot of tomatoes to your turtle because large quantities can become toxic to them.
- You should not feed tomatoes to your turtle if they are sick, as tomatoes can be inflammatory.
Tomatoes should be a rare treat, not part of your turtle’s staple diet.
How Are Tomatoes Toxic To Turtles?
Tomatoes actually belong to the deadly nightshade family of plants.
Another name for this family is Solanaceae because they all contain an alkaloid compound called solanine.
Solanine, or more accurately, a variation known as tomatine, makes tomatoes toxic to turtles.
Technically, tomatoes are also toxic to humans for this same reason, but it is less likely for us to ingest a toxic dose.
On the other hand, your tiny turtle can easily ingest a fatal amount.
The ripe, red fleshy fruit of the tomato contains only low amounts of tomatine, which is why it is safer for your turtle to eat this part of the plant.
However, the green flesh of the tomato plant, as well as the leaves and stems, have much higher tomatine levels.
Now, let’s get to some of the most frequently asked tomato-related turtle diet questions.
Can Turtles Eat Tomato Leaves?
Turtles cannot eat tomato leaves because the leaves of a tomato plant contain high levels of the toxic alkaloid tomatine.
This is not healthy for turtles.
Can Box Turtles Eat Tomatoes?
Box turtles can eat tomatoes, but only the ripe and red fleshy fruit; they should not eat green tomatoes, leaves, or stems.
You also need to be careful of the quantity.
A box turtle will prefer the higher sugar content in a tomato to their vegetables, so only feed tomatoes as a treat.
Can Aquatic Turtles Eat Tomatoes?
If your aquatic turtle was still living in the wild, the chances of tomatoes being included in their natural diet are extremely low.
VCA Hospitals recommends that the plant portion of your aquatic turtle’s diet be made up of vegetables.
However, if you were to give your turtle a small piece of red tomato occasionally, it should not be a problem.
Can Snapping Turtles Eat Tomatoes?
Snapping turtles are aquatic turtles that are found in freshwater habitats.
This means that tomatoes are not a natural part of their diet, but they can be given as a treat.
However, turtles should only be given the ripe and red fleshy part of the plant.
Can Baby Turtles Eat Tomatoes?
Baby pet turtles are typically very small.
In this case, it is much easier for them to ingest a toxic dosage of tomatine or a harmful amount of sugar.
Thus, it is safer to steer clear of tomatoes until they are older and therefore bigger.
Can Yellow-Bellied Sliders Eat Tomatoes?
Yellow-bellied sliders are aquatic, and tomatoes are not found in their natural habitat.
However, the occasional and small amount of ripe and red tomato should not be harmful to a yellow-bellied slider.
Can Red-Eared Slider Turtles Eat Tomatoes?
Red-eared sliders are aquatic turtles, similar to snapping turtles and yellow-bellied sliders.
So, a small amount of ripe tomato given as the occasional treat may not be harmful.
Can Musk Turtles Eat Tomatoes?
Musk turtles are another aquatic species; however, they are known to be primarily carnivorous.
This means that you can give them a piece of ripe and red tomato occasionally, but they are less likely to eat it.
Furthermore, the nutrition profile of a tomato does not suit a predominantly protein-based diet.
Can Map Turtles Eat Tomatoes?
Map turtles are one of the smaller species of turtles.
Given their size, it might be best to avoid tomatoes when feeding your map turtle.
Can Painted Turtles Eat Tomatoes?
As with the other aquatic turtle species, an occasional small amount of red tomato should not be harmful to your painted turtle.
Can Turtles Eat Cherry Tomatoes?
Turtles can eat cherry tomatoes, but only the red flesh of the actual fruit.
Green cherry tomatoes, as well as the stems and leaves, should never be fed to your turtle.
As with regular tomatoes, keep the portions down and only give them to your turtle occasionally.