Serenity Born Sept. 4, 1928
Serenity Born Sept. 4, 1928

It's not the Destination, it's the Journey

This page will eventually contain lists of good plants for food, poisonous plants KNOWN to harm desert tortoises, and hopefully, in the future, either photos of the plants or links to photos for them.
For the present, please find for your use a list of plants and foods easily grown for desert tortoises, as well as a couple of sources where you can by seed mixes specific to their health and nutrition.
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR DESERT TORTOISE DIET REQUIREMENTS
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR DESERT TORTOISE DIET REQUIREMENTS
These new feeding guidelines, generated by the last 15 years of Desert Tortoise Diet
research, are provided to replace outdated feeding guidelines.
A desert tortoise should be allowed to forage and graze on a variety of naturally growing
plants to facilitate exercise, muscle development, and beak and nail growth control.
In the wild a desert tortoise may consume up to 150 types of plants in a season, with
preferences (per habitat environment) for 7 to 15 plants.
For captive desert tortoises, the basic diet should be 80-90 percent grasses and forbs
(weeds) and the only fruit they should be given is the tuna (apple) from opuntia (prickly
pear) cactus. Below you will find lists of food plants that can be easily grown to provide
a balanced diet; also a short list of acceptable greens that may be purchased to
supplement their diet should you be unable to grow a large enough variety of foods,
however-- there is no replacement for a natural diet.
GRASSES
Bermuda Mediterranean
Orchard Desert Indian Wheat(narrow leaf plantago)
Mexican Feather Grass Arizona Cottontop
Curly mesquite Desert Galetta and Needle Grass
Indian Rice Grass Fescue St. Augustine
ASSORTED WEEDS, LEAVES AND FLOWERS
Desert Dandelion Dandelion Chickpea
Common (Cheese) Mallow Apricot Globemallow Desert Chia
Desert Plantain Herons Beak Owls Clover
Desert Thistle Sage Sowthistle Shepherds Purse
Cassia (Senna) Redstem Storks Bill Fremont’s Pincussion
Brown Eyed Primrose Evening Primrose Mojave Spurge
Rock Hibiscus Hibiscus Flowers Trailing 4 o’clock
Sweet Alyssum Goldfields Nasturtiums
Plains Coreopsis Desert Marigold California Poppy
Tidy Tips Mojave Copeopsis Mulberry Leaves
Rose petals Grape leaves Beavertail Cactus (Opuntia basilarus)
Acceptable greens – Chicory, dandelion, endive, kale, turnip greens (would have to be
supplemented with dried or ground up Bermuda , Orchard or Timothy grass hays, and are
not as nutritious as natural graze items listed above).
Supplementation with calcium is required, cuttlebone with the hard backing removed is
ideal as it facilitates beak health and allows the tortoise to self regulate calcium ingestion.
Desert Tortoises NEED to LIVE OUTDOORS in sunshine with shade, burrow and water.
If a tortoise has to be kept indoors due to health or other reasons, it is recommended that
calcium with Vitamin D3 by used on all food 1 or 2 times a week , however, do not use the Vitamin D3 if housed outdoors. Should you need to use a calcium dust, be sure it is phosphorus free, but it is much better to use soft part of cuttlebone to allow self regulation of calcium intake.
Seed mixes for the plants listed may be obtained from various places, two of which are:
http://www.desertseedstore.com/category/Tortoise-Forage-Seed-Mixes-Edibles-76
Further info: http://www.tortoise.org

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