If you have a tortoise that is a fussy eater, you can trick it by adding its favourite leaves along with the other foods it should be eating. To make this work, you should shred them in small pieces so the tortoise will not be able to just pick out what it wants. As a result, it will have to eat what you provide to experience its favourite treats too.
You’ve heard of children being picky with the food they eat, or you might be able to think of an example from your family of someone who is a fussy eater. But hearing that a tortoise can be picky with food might come as a total surprise.
It’s true, though. In some cases, tortoises will refuse to eat the food they should be consuming, and you will feel forced to only feed it the leaves and treats it wants. It’s completely understandable that you would do this; after all, your major concern will be that your pet will not eat anything and will starve. The upshot being you think the only solution is to give it what it wants.
And so the vicious cycle continues.
Fortunately, you can do something about this problem – you just have to learn a few crafty tricks. If your tortoise is a picky eater, read on to find out what to do to ensure your beloved pet eats everything you provide, and not just what it wants to.
Why May Tortoises Be Fussy Eaters in Captivity?
Some tortoise owners, especially new ones, are usually confused as to why their pet suddenly starts picking certain foods from their bowl while ignoring the others. Why would a tortoise only want to eat one thing, instead of having some variety like it surely used to in the past?
Generally, tortoises in captivity end up becoming picky eaters because at some point they tasted something they liked and got hooked on it. Knowing the delicacy they were freely offered, from that point means they wouldn’t so much as glance at the other foods you provide.
In the wild, tortoises have to search for their own food and the number of times they eat depends on the food sources readily available for them. They get pretty used to this routine and they know what to expect in terms of alimentation in the wild, so developing addictions to a specific type of food is hardly even possible.
Tortoises in captivity live a completely different life. On top of having a special enclosure prepared for them with all the necessary living conditions, they are also given food. If you end up feeding the reptile similar meals within a shorter period, then the pet will start preferring that food.
This is particularly the case when you give it unhealthy foods, such as fruits, which contain a lot of sugar. Once they get the taste of juicy, sugary fruit, they will not be impressed by the ostensibly bland leaves you flaunt in front of them.
It’s important to note that this habit doesn’t just appear overnight. It develops over a period during which the tortoise was offered the same food too frequently. In this regard, taking care of the picky pet will feel like caring for a spoiled child who was given chocolate one too many times and now refuses to touch the veggie plate.
What Are the Possible Adverse Health Effects as a Result of Fussy Eating?
Just as in humans, fussy eating is not a harmless pastime for tortoises. Unfortunately, if your tortoise is a picky eater for too long, it may develop some potentially serious health issues.
- Vitamin Deficiencies
A balanced diet is not there to torment the tortoise by feeding it something it doesn’t like, but to make sure it stays in optimal health. The right diet will provide the tortoise with the vitamins it needs to be healthy and happy.
Being a fussy eater can sadly lead to vitamin deficiencies – this issue is quite common in tortoises that lack a good diet. Vitamin A deficiency is one of the most common issues reptiles may face. If nothing is done about it, the tortoise can be negatively affected and might experience problems such as shell deformities.
- Upset Stomach
If you give your tortoise citrus fruits (which have too much sugar and acid and should not be given), you risk causing stomach issues. It may end up suffering with an upset stomach. This is particularly the case if you already fed it some citrus fruits and it got hooked on the taste.
- Loss of Musculoskeletal Strength
An improper diet can very often lead to a lack of calcium, which will also have a negative effect on the tortoise. In this case, the shell and bones will lose strength, and problems such as ‘soft shell syndrome’ may develop.
What You Should Do
The last thing you want to see is your tortoise starving. It’s normal to be concerned that your tortoise will refuse to eat anything instead of eating the right foods, and it might be tempting to give in to the guilt you feel by refusing to provide anything but the ‘correct’ foods.
However, there are some things you can do to help your pet go back on track to enjoying a healthy and balanced diet. First things first, don’t overfeed it. This approach simply will just not go well. If you must give your tortoise a little treat, make sure you do not go overboard with it.
A small piece of fruit now and then can be a welcome bit of variety in their life, but don’t continue with such treats for days on end. Doing so would likely result in making the tortoise refuse to eat anything else.
Create a more varied diet. Don’t just feed the same things all the time. The more variety there is, the less likely the tortoise will be to develop an addiction to a certain food in the mix.
If your tortoise is already addicted to one food, you can try shredding small pieces of that food and mix it with healthy foods. Make them so small that the tortoise has to eat the whole thing to reach the treat.
Lastly, make sure you don’t give in. Just because your tortoise wants only one thing, that doesn’t mean it should eat just that for the rest of its life. Tortoises aren’t the most intelligent of creatures, and they certainly aren’t self aware enough to know when something that tastes good, isn’t necessarily good for them!
Therefore try to reassess the diet and encourage your tortoise to eat balanced and healthy meals instead.
As you can see, tortoises can also be fussy eaters. Still, you must prevent that from happening to your pet so that you can avoid any health issues. Refrain from feeding it the same delicious treat all the time and it will not develop a preference for that food alon