Can Tortoises Eat Cactus

Can animals eat cacti, which are succulent plants? It makes sense for animals to eat the fruits, but they also consume the spines in addition to the sweet fruit. Many different species of animals eat the pieces of cacti.

Camels, Galapagos land iguanas, jackrabbits, woodrats, Gila woodpeckers, tortoises, squirrels, javelinas, and prairie dogs are some examples of creatures that eat cactus.

  • Cactus with prickly fruit
  • Calypso saguaro
  • Container cactus
  • Peruvian cactus Cereus

The most popular type of cactus for animals to consume is typically the prickly pear cactus. The fact that their pads do not have as many spines or thorns as those of other cacti plants may be the primary factor.

Some cacti species generate milk that is poisonous. Never, under any circumstances, try to consume a cactus by yourself. Even if you are certain that the cactus is edible, it is advised to avoid taking a chance unless you have confirmation from a reliable source.


Camels prefer to consume jumping cholla and prickly pear cacti as succulents. All cacti parts—from pads to spines—are consumed by camels. These cactus are heavy in fiber, yet camels can digest these high fiber plants quite well because they are ruminants.

Unlike humans, camels don’t have the same kind of oral structures. Although papillae are also present in humans, they are significantly more brittle in camels.

Camels’ strong palates enable them to easily break down the jagged thorns without experiencing any pain. Isn’t that fantastic? Additionally, they modify the function of their upper lips during eating.

Camel upper lips are divided into two halves. They feel the thorns with their lips while eating and use that information to guide their inner mouth movement.


It’s fascinating to watch these amazing rabbits eat cacti while fluttering their long ears.

Jackrabbits can be seen primarily devouring the cacti’s surface. They are quite discerning and clever when consuming cacti plants, therefore they stay away from the areas with the most thorns.

Jackrabbits consume the fruits and seeds of cacti in addition to the base. The seeds are quickly sent out during defecation since they are easily digested by them.

Jackrabbits may be particularly susceptible to the thorns of cacti due to their soft jaws. As a result, they move down the cactus from top to bottom. Before taking more bites, take a few nibbles and thoroughly chew them.

Galapagos Land Iguanas

The Galapagos land iguanas consume flowers and the pads of cacti. They don’t have any trouble with the thorns, but they use their feet to break up the larger cacti’s spines.

They consume both flowers and pads. They carefully remove the spines because they don’t consume them.

The land iguanas of the Galapagos are exceedingly sharp. It is quite familiar with its surroundings and always removes huge cactus spines with the aid of its front feet! In a matter of minutes, it consumes the entire cactus in a few gulps!


Fruit, flowers, and pads are all edible to turtles. Nevertheless, the majority of the time they eat pads.

Even while cactus can be consumed by tortoises complete with their spines, it is preferable to remove the larger ones. The Opuntia species is the ideal food for feeding a tortoise if you have one at home. Tortoises may easily eat the pads since they are not overly prickly.

Tortoises may find it challenging to eat cacti with huge spines since they are less adaptable when eating cacti than camels. But they expedite and simplify the process for themselves. They use their jaws to take enormous bites. They can quickly and easily split a cactus pad in half. They thoroughly chew the cactus juice while tasting it with their tongues.

The Gila Woodpecker

All varieties of cacti fruits are a favorite food of Gila woodpeckers. In addition, these beautiful birds adore eating off the saguaro cactus’ branches.

The method they employ while pecking into wood is the same! They begin poking holes in the saguaro cactus’ sides with their pointed beaks. Instead of using these locations for food, they occasionally use them to seek safety and protection from predators and extreme heat.


Desert-dwelling woodrats consume cacti plants, avoiding the sections with spines.

Packrats and trade rats are other names for woodrats. They differ from conventional rats by having long tails and relatively larger eyes.

Thorns and spines are avoided. They eat the pads of cacti, primarily those of the prickly pear cactus, which also serves as a water reservoir for them.

Woodrats navigate amid the spines of cacti using their keen sense of direction and small size. But they also utilise the thorns in a useful way. These thorns serve as a fence around their homes to keep off predators.


Javelinas, also referred to as collared peccaries, rip apart cacti with their tusks and consume every part of it.

All cacti parts, including the fruit and spines, are consumed by javelinas. These animals can consume nearly every variety of cactus that gets in their way, but they often prefer to eat Saguaro and Prickly Pear cacti.

Javelinas have pointed tusks that resemble elephant tusks. They are able to destroy the cacti plants despite having teeth that look to be weaker and smaller than those of an elephant. Additionally, they can determine which parts of the cactus are edible by using their snouts.

Prairie Dogs

The most prevalent desert dwellers are black-tailed prairie dogs, which are more prone to eat cactus if there are no other food sources nearby.

American desert regions are home to prairie dogs. These lovely, adorable rodents are found in nearly five species. However, all varieties of prairie dogs share a fondness of eating plants because they are herbivorous.

Are cacti healthy for turtles to eat?

Tortoises and other reptiles can eat succulent and cactus vegetation. These will absolutely enthrall your dogs! They are quite healthy and will add significantly to your pet’s diet.

Cacti can desert tortoises eat?

The Mojave Desert experiences brutal summers that make it challenging to be active, with temperatures that frequently exceed 105 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius) and little to no rain. The desert tortoise, however, has evolved to live with such harsh conditions by entering estivation (decreased physiological activity) in a burrow during the sweltering summer months.

The front limbs of a tortoise function as shovels and have long, strong claws that are useful for digging. Large, conical scales on the limbs shield the tortoise from potentially irritating foliage and aid in water retention. The tortoise cleverly creates basins in the ground to collect the scarce rainfall. After a light rain, the tortoise knows exactly where these “drinking holes” are and goes there. Another method of conserving water is by holding up to 40% of its body weight in water in the bladder, which is then absorbed when needed.

The homes of desert tortoises are underground tunnels. They are able to subsist on very little food because they spend so much time underground. Their burrow enables these cold-blooded creatures to stay cool in the hot weather because they are the same temperature as their environment. Tortoises brumate, a type of reptile hibernation, in their burrow with a wall of dirt at the entrance to keep out the rain and cold for the whole of the winter when food is limited. Tortoises emerge in the spring and soak up the light to speed up their metabolism. They then happily devour the plants!

The tortoises are also safe from predators in their burrows. Adult tortoises are prey for coyotes and kit foxes. Young tortoises and tortoise eggs can be preyed upon by badgers, skunks, ground squirrels, ravens, Gila monsters, and roadrunners. Interesting facts about other animals that use tortoise tunnels include pack rats, burrowing owls, kangaroo rats, desert jackrabbits, gopher snakes, banded geckos, and cactus wrens. They descend roughly 3 to 4 feet (1 to 1.2 meters) from the ground, usually at a 45-degree angle. One person, or sometimes a man and a female, lives in each burrow.

Additionally, desert tortoises have been known to dig horizontal dens or caves that can range in size from 8 to 30 feet into the banks of dry washes (2.4 to 9 meters). One den can house several tortoises at once, especially during brumation. According to one instance, 17 tortoises shared a winter den!

The tortoises’ movements are governed by temperature and rainfall; desert tortoises are most active in the spring, early summer, and fall, just before the colder weather arrives. They travel outside of their home territory to feed during the active season, using as many burrows as necessary. Tortoises may lay down after foraging in a spread-eagle position with their limbs and neck extended, probably to raise body warmth and aid with digestion.

Herbivorous desert tortoises eat things like cactus, grass, flowers, and fruit. Since desert tortoises can survive for up to a year without access to fresh water, their diets are very moist. Tortoises don’t have teeth; instead, they grind their food in a beak. Prickly pear, primrose, beavertail, white clover, hibiscus, globemallow, desert dandelion, and desert marigold are some examples of fodder that tortoises appreciate. Desert tortoises disseminate the seeds from their meals throughout their habitat as they poop after taking 20 to 30 days to digest their diet. This helps the Mojave Desert’s native grasses and plants repopulate.

Is it possible to grow a cactus in my tortoise enclosure?

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Because they can be grown both indoors and outside, geraniums make a wonderful addition to any home. Furthermore, there are numerous varieties, allowing you to have a great assortment of them in a pot indoors, on your windowsill, or outside in a flowerbed.

The fact that this plant is a perennial adds to its benefits because you will get a lot of use out of it. Both the flowers and the leaves can be eaten, offering various textures and nutrients.

Additionally, because these plants flower a little sooner than some other bedding plants, you can develop a more varied and seasonally appropriate food plan using the many plants you produce. The geranium’s leaves and blossoms are edible to tortoises.

Lemon Balm.

You can pick lemon balm all year long and it’s really simple to cultivate inside in pots. This is a popular kitchen item among homeowners since it smells so good and is excellent for experimenting with new recipes.

However, there is no reason why you can’t also add some leaves to your pet’s meal. They are packed with vitamins and ought to maintain your pet in good health.


The big, fibrous leaves of plaintain make it an intriguing choice because they can be quite helpful to tortoises. Many tortoise owners even put the plant inside the enclosure for their pet. To provide the turtle with interest, cover, and something they can munch on if they like, you can do with a more established plant. There aren’t many plants that provide this amount of enrichment for tortoises.

Turtle Vine.

This is a choice that savvy reptile owners may have addressed on forums or in other manuals. This plant, also known as Callisia Repens, is a favorite of many reptile species and is simple to include in a pet’s diet.

It requires damp, shady circumstances comparable to the tropical area from which it comes, so it isn’t the easiest plant to grow. If you have a greenhouse, you could grow it there.

Because it is tasty and there is a chance that tortoises will consume more than is healthy for them, there are warnings not to put this in an enclosure, just as you would with the Plaintain. Eat it in moderation and cut it into little pieces.

Aloe Vera.

If you own tortoises, aloe vera is a fantastic plant to have indoors. Due to owners’ frequent misunderstandings of their pets’ bathing and humidity requirements, tortoises are prone to dehydration.

Giving a tortoise something with a lot of water in it will help it rehydrate. Your tortoise will love the juicy, sweet aloe vera because it is so good for them.


In that they can provide juicy leaf fragments that are a considerable component of a meal and a good source of moisture, cacti are similar to aloe vera.

Cacti are not too difficult to grow and are very interesting to everyone in the home. There are many options, and you can cultivate established plants in your tortoise habitat.

Take a healthy piece of the plant, cut it off, and give it to your turtle as food. You must take extra care to remove any spines, though. The smaller spines can simply be burned off with a match, while the larger spines can be manually removed.

To save time and frustration, try to opt for spineless kinds while selecting the best cacti for tortoises. On Etsy, check out this fantastic store for succulents and cacti.

Our tortoises love prickly pears (Opuntia), of which there are many different varieties. The cactus known as opuntia is very nutrient-dense, containing calcium, vitamin C, fiber, and few fats.

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Can turtles consume succulents?

You can feed your tortoise a variety of plants that are safe for them. As herbivorous reptiles, tortoises only eat vegetation as part of their diet.

The best plants for tortoises to eat are included in this practical guide. We’ll also discuss any plants that are poisonous to tortoises so you’ll know exactly what to stay away from.

We have compiled a comprehensive list of 117 varieties of plants, fruits, vegetables, and more for your convenience, which you may download or print. To open, click the following link: Plants Safe for Tortoises.

Why should I buy plants for my tortoise?

In addition to serving as your tortoise’s primary food source, living plants offer an immensely enriching habitat for them. Plants help to create natural-feeling settings in your tortoise’s enclosure, which helps to keep your pet tranquil and stress-free.

This is due to the fact that they provide your reptile with lots of hiding and exploring spaces in both their enclosure and the garden. Tortoises require a lot of space to move around because they are larger terrestrial reptiles. The best option is to allow them out into the yard as well, even if they can be kept successfully in a tortoise table or other enclosure.

This suggests that you may establish a variety of plants that tortoises can consume to keep your reptile content while it roams around your backyard. To give tortoises some protection and nourishment in their little enclosure, you may also provide them with table plants. Tortoise table plants can be made from a few common houseplants.

The wellness of your reptile depends on providing a variety diet for your tortoise. It is always advisable to offer your tortoise a good selection of edible plants rather than relying just on store-bought salads. You can protect your pet from dangerous chemicals by growing your own plants.

Although salad greens and grasses should make up the majority of your tortoise’s diet, we’ll also include some common substitutes that make excellent additions to your reptile’s menu. For ease of use, we’ve divided our selection of plants into a number of categories.

Crops, Fruits, and Vegetables

Your turtle may consume the usual crops and salad plants in this genus. Your tortoise will benefit from having a healthy, diverse diet if you grow these plants.

We’ll also discuss some typical fruits and vegetables you can use to mix up the diet of your tortoise. Check to see if your tortoise species has consumed fruits in the past because not all tortoises will do so gladly.

If offered on sometimes, apples can be a delightful treat for tortoises. The high sugar content of fruits can be difficult for some tortoises to digest. If you give your tortoise apples, be sure to remove the pips because they contain cyanide.

Arugula (Eruca vesicaria), sometimes known as rocket, is a popular salad green that tortoises like. It is simple to grow and widely accessible. Arugula is one of the greatest plants for a Sulcata tortoise and is enjoyed by most tortoise species.

It’s better to avoid giving your tortoise arugula every day because this plant contains goitrogens. These substances have the potential to produce kidney or bladder stones in large doses.

If your tortoise is used to eating fruit, bananas are a wonderful treat to give them. Because of its high potassium content, bananas should not be consumed by species that cannot tolerate fruits.

In warmer weather, cucumbers can be a great treat to keep your tortoise hydrated. Cucumbers will give your tortoise some vitamins, but they have very little in the way of nutritional value.

Iceberg lettuce, one of the most common vegetables fed to tortoises, is OK for them but has very little nutritional value. Similar to cucumber, it might be an excellent treat to give your tortoise during warm weather to help it stay cool and hydrated.

Kale, a superfood for humans, and Collard Greens, another member of the Brassica oleracea family, are also excellent for your tortoise. These nutrient-dense leafy green vegetables are also very simple to grow. One of the most popular kinds is curly kale.

A typical salad leaf seen in grocery store bags of mixed salad is lambs lettuce (Valerianella locusta), often known as corn salad. The greatest plant for tortoises to eat, though, is this one. You shouldn’t have too much trouble growing it.

Fruit-eating tortoises will eat pears as an occasional treat as long as the pips are removed. Check to see if your species can withstand the high sugar levels because certain tortoises aren’t gastronomically suited to eat fruit.

Strawberries are an excellent treat for tropical tortoises, but they shouldn’t be given to species of tortoises that aren’t known to enjoy fruit. If the leaves are young and fresh, they can also be fed.

Watercress is another another typical salad green that can be offered to tortoises (Nasturtium officinale). Aquatic plants like watercress are frequently grown for our salad bags. Watercress should be included to your tortoise’s diet in moderation, just like many of these salad leaves.

Cultivated Flowers

You might have a passion for gardening and have a lawn bursting with colorful flowers like marigolds or pansies. However, your tortoise enjoys eating these blossoms as well! Your tortoise will appreciate a tasty lunch if you grow a selection of these common flowers in your garden.

Gazanias (Gazania rigens), sometimes known as the “Treasure flower, are native to South Africa but have spread to various parts of the United States. If you have a Sulcata-type desert tortoise, gazanias are a good flower species to grow. Large yellow and orange flowers with dark inner patterns are how gazanias look.

These hardy perennial flowers are very well-liked by tortoises. They are fairly simple to grow and are common garden flowers because of their eye-catching hues, like as pink and orange. Cranesbills, another plant in the geranium family, are secure for feeding to your turtle.

Another favorite of tortoises and a member of the larger Mallow family, Hollyhocks can be quickly consumed if grown in your yard. These tall flowering plants have broad green leaves and a variety of flowers that range in color from pink to crimson. Your turtle can consume the entire Hollyhock plant.

Even if some finicky tortoises won’t touch them, marigolds are still a tasty plant for tortoises. Make sure, though, that your turtle is consuming Field and Pot Marigolds, which are members of the Calendula family.

Chemicals that could be harmful to your tortoise can be released by the Tagetes branch of the marigold family. Calendula marigolds resemble big yellow daisies, however this family of marigolds will have very densely-frilled flower heads.

There are many different gorgeous hues available for both pansies and violas, which are essentially the same flowers. Both are common options for gardeners, and tortoises like them both. Tortoises can consume both the blooms and the foliage of these plants.

You can give your turtle small amounts of the brilliant star-shaped flowers from the Petunia family, which are well-known for them. Although petunias are linked to poisonous nightshade plants, there has never been any proof that eating petunias has harmed tortoises.

Violets are lovely flowers that tortoises can eat, like pansies and violas. Dog Violet (Viola canina), one of the most popular types of violets, and Sweet Violet (Viola ordorata).