Courgette/zucchini can occasionally be fed to a tortoise if they like it, as long as it forms part of a varied diet. Since this vegetable lacks nutritional value, it should be fed in conjunction with other more nutritional vegetables. Zucchinis are mostly water, so they largely serve as a hydrating snack in-between meals.
When it comes to cats and dogs, we often have a good idea of what we can or can’t feed them. However, with tortoises, things are more complicated, as they have a special diet to follow. But you might want to “spice” things up from time to time to diversify your pet’s meals.
I certainly always like to add a little bit of a variety to my tortoise’s diet every so often, you just have to be sensible about it, particularly with ‘treat’ foods.
For example, you might wonder if its safe to feed courgette/zucchini, and if so, how much and how often. Well, you’ve come to the right place because we have the answer for you. Keep on reading!
What Is Courgette/Zucchini?
The courgette, commonly referred to as a zucchini in the US, is a type of vegetable that is part of the cucurbit family. This means that the zucchini is a close sibling of cucumber, squash, and melon – with all of them having much the same nutritional value.
Zucchini is 95% water, which means that it is a highly hydrating vegetable. The zucchini plant is soft and warm to the touch once it has been out of the refridgerator for a while, so it’s certainly easy to chew. The outer layer is the hardest part of the vegetable, especially when it has not been cooked.
Zucchinis have a mild taste, slightly sweet with just a tinge of bitterness, making them a tasty choice for most herbivorous pets. Plants are often harvested when they haven’t matured yet so that their outer layer and the middle part are softer.
Is It Safe for Tortoises to Consume Courgette/Zucchini?
This depends. Some experts say that you should not feed courgette to tortoises. The only exceptions to this rule are tortoises that live on a natural fruit diet and normally eat high amounts such as red and yellow foot tortoises.
With that in mind, flowers coming from the courgette are perfectly fine. When it’s their season and you’re fortunate enough to be able to grow them at home, you may pick a couple of flowers for your tort to eat.
Still, you’re not by any means prohibited from feeding the vegetable part to your tortoise either.
Courgette (or zucchini) is by no means poisonous to tortoises, and nothing will happen if they do end up eating it. Therefore, if you catch your tortoise munching on a piece of zucchini when you weren’t expecting it, you should not worry.
Some tortoises do not even eat zucchini by choice; they simply do not like it. For example, if your tortoise is omnivorous, then they might frown upon zucchini. However, if they are herbivorous, you are more likely to find them munching on the vegetable given the chance.
Like humans, tortoises can also be picky eaters, so you need to consider the possibility that yours may just refuse to eat it. If you see that they don’t particularly enjoy zucchinis, there’s no need to try and force them into it.
Instead, switch to something that they will enjoy eating. Tortoises don’t eat too frequently, and adults on average only need to eat once every two or three days. Considering these circumstances, they might as well eat something they actually like, and that’s ideally more nutritionally beneficial.
Why Should Courgette/Zucchini Be Avoided?
The problem here is not that courgette/zucchini is poisonous to tortoises. The issue is that it has so little nutritional value that it will not do your tortoise any good. A healthy tortoise needs to have a varied, nutrient rich diet in order to grow up healthy.
Courgettes are just like cucumbers: mostly water, and little else of note. When your tortoise eats pieces of zucchini, they will certainly get hydrated, which is of course always important. This might be particularly beneficial to a tortoise that doesn’t usually willingly drink enough, especially on a hot summer’s day.
The snag is that just like other foods (such as the equally watery bell pepper), courgettes can give a false sensation of fullness when they reach the stomach. If you feed your tortoise courgettes and they grow to be particularly partial to them, they might no longer eat their regular food, and will therefore lose the nutritional benefit it provides. In simple terms it would be like drinking a cup of water instead of having a meal.
If your tort enjoys munching on courgette now and again, there should be no reason for you to deny them that pleasure. However, make sure that it is in small amounts and that your tortoise continues to consume and benefit from other plants, flowers and vegetables.
Does Courgette/Zucchini Keep Your Tortoise Hydrated?
Tortoises need to be properly hydrated at all times. Even if they are land creatures, used to basking in the sun, lack of proper hydration can lead to a significant number of health issues. It may weaken their shell, cause bladder stones, lead to appetite loss, and more.
This is why the enclosure of a tortoise needs to mimic its natural environment. The pet needs humidity, and water for drinking/bathing.
Since zucchinis should as a rule only be fed to tortoises sparingly, they will contribue to their hydration, but not nearly enough. You will still have to give them regular soakings and drinking water, along with keeping their enclosure at the right humidity.
To put it another way, if courgette/zucchini is giving your tortoise all the hydration it needs, it’s getting too much courgette/zucchini!
How Often Should You Feed Courgette/Zucchini to Your Tortoise?
If your tortoise likes courgette, you may offer them a few chunks once a week or so – maybe even less often. Since a grown tortoise may only eat about 3 times a week, you don’t want to push it too many times in their diet.
The amount of courgette you feed them will also depend on the size of the tortoise. For example, if you have a giant Galapagos tortoise in your backyard, you can easily feed it a whole zucchini before moving onto the next vegetable. However, if it’s a smaller tortoise, then just a quarter chunk of a single piece of the vegetable (or even smaller) should be enough.
The Bottom Line
Courgette/zucchini can certainly be fed to your tortoise, but due to its low nutritional content, you need to vary your tortoise’s meals if you are going to include it. Mix this vegetable with other veggies and foods that do offer nutrition. You should not make courgette/zucchini the basis of the tortoise’s diet. However, you may still give it as an occasional hydrating snack.