Cactus for Tortoises

Feeding your tortoise

The cacti and succulents on this site are recommended to be fed to tortoises as part of a varied diet, we suggest about once a week. Succulents can have a laxative effect if given more often than this.

Opuntia and other cacti are not only a food supply that is available to many tortoises in the wild, but also one that is loaded with both fibre and calcium.

It is also a tortoise pet food that is easily propagated both indoors and out, and provides a renewable food source. 

Spineless varieties are available, but it is also very simple to expose the finer spines to a source of flame, such as the burner of a gas stove or a small hand torch. The larger spines can easily be removed by hand with little danger of injury.

For more tortoise information - how to look after a tortoise - see our links page.

A recent field trip observed newly introduced tortoises and their feeding habits:



"We observed tortoises feeding on 28 plant species, but the most preferred species were Opuntia cactus, grasses, and forbs like Lantana and Justicia."

Tortoises associated strongly with the cactus in their habitat within the first two weeks after introduction, being more likely to be within 2 meters of a cactus than a random point in the vicinity .

Tortoises fed on fallen adult cactus pads, and also pushed down juvenile cactus to eat the trunks. A few individuals who found recently dead, large, adult cacti did not move from the cactus for weeks, feeding on all of the fallen pads." See full report here

So tortoises prefer eating cacti over most other plants!

In your home, you can plant cacti in your tortoise environment, or with a sharp knife, you can cut pieces from the living cacti and feed to your pets as required, leaving some live cactus, which will produce new shoots and keep growing.

Cacti are highly nutritious and are especially valuable for their water content and calcium