Can (Or Should) Turtles Eat Spinach?

  • By: Reptilia Planet
  • Date: September 26, 2021
  • Time to read: 9 min.

There are many species of turtles on the planet that eat a variety of things like insect larvae, snails, fruit, plants, squid, shrimp, crabs, jellyfish, the list goes on. Most foods they eat are packed with nutrients and minerals that keep the turtles healthy “but” what about other foods like spinach?

Spinach is a common green veggie that most people have seen in salads, omelets, or on the side of their meal. It’s also rich in vitamin A which turtles need for healthy eyesight and other bodily functions.

Can or should turtles eat spinach? Spinach contains high amounts of calcium which is part of their diet. Spinach also contains high amounts of oxalic acid that can block and prevent turtles from absorbing these minerals.

Now, this is not to say that turtles cannot eat spinach, and if you do own a household turtle and your thinking about feeding them these leafy greens then yes, they can, just feed them in small amounts.

With that said, there are some things you need to be aware of first before feeding them any of these greens which we are going to talk about in this article below.

Can Turtles Eat Spinach Leaves?

As mentioned, Spinach does contain high amounts of calcium which is good for turtles and part of their diet. The leaves can be very nutritious and easy for the turtle to digest but…

As before spinach does contain high amounts of Oxalic Acid, so if your thinking about feeding your pet turtle spinach leaves “you can” “but” first you should mix up their food with different types of greens so they have that healthy balanced diet.

Turtle can eat a wide range of Lefty Greens, their daily diet should be a mix of fresh produce, “preferably organic”. Their favorite veggies are usually dark leafy greens such as kale, collard, and mustard greens.

They can also eat carrots, squash, and zucchini which believe it or not actually have higher amounts of oxalic acid than spinach.

Turtles in the wild that mainly live on land will eat anything they stumble across. Their diet can range depending on regional factors and what they have access to within their habitat.

So turtles do eat all kinds of leafy greens and it is safe to say feeding turtles spinach leaves won’t necessarily harm them just as long as they are fed correctly.

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Can Turtles Eat Spinach Stems?

Stem vegetables are well known for being edible, In fact, the highest amounts of nutrients and minerals in vegetables and plants are located in the stems and the same goes for spinach.

But what’s good about feeding your turtle spinach stems is they are much less acidic than spinach leaves and are packed with vitamin A, B6, C, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium.

These stems are also very soft there not need to separate them from the leaves. With that said, turtles do have powerful jaws so they won’t have any problems tearing through and eating the hardest types of plant stems.

“However, if you have a small turtle and you still prefer to break their food into manageable pieces you can”

Spinach is one of the best sources of iron, and the same can be said about spinach’s protein content. Most of the calories in spinach come from protein which makes this a great addition to your turtle’s diet.

Just remember, spinach also contains high amounts of oxalic “that we talked about above” so make sure you mix the spinach with other vegetables so they have that balanced diet.

Is Spinach Healthy For Turtles?

You may have heard that spinach is a great way to get your greens, but did you know it’s also healthy for turtles? Spinach has plenty of vitamins and minerals that are important for turtle health.

Spinach can be healthy and provide plenty of health benefits for both humans and reptiles. However, with that said, too much spinach can be harmful to the turtle and deprive them of calcium.

This is why it’s very important if feeding your turtle spinach to mix it with other vegetables to balance out their diet “this can’t be stressed enough” very important.

Now, did you know there are at least 6 different kinds of spinach?

Take the younger type of leaves, for example, called (baby spinach) this type of spinach is actually more tender than mature leaves and has a sweeter taste.

Then there’s the (Savoy spinach) that’s is easy to identify by its crinkled leaves which are much thicker than the more common type of spinach.

(Red Cardinal) is another very common spinach that has noticeable red veins in the leaves and has deep red stems. “but” does tend to go bad quickly once picked.

(Nutritional Valve Of Spinach Per 100g)

NutritionPer 100g
Calories23 g
Protein2.9 g
Water91%
Carbs3.6 g
Fiber2.2 g
Sugar0.4 g
Fat0.4 g

How Much Spinach Can Turtles Eat?

It’s important to know how much spinach a turtle can eat. When it comes to feeding your pet, you want to make sure they’re getting the nutrients and vitamins they need in order for them to stay healthy and strong.

Spinach is a great choice because it offers many benefits such as being rich in fiber, iron, calcium, vitamin A and C. It also contains high levels of lutein which helps prevent eye disease!

But how much spinach should I feed my turtle? The number of servings will depend on the size of your pet. Some turtles, like red-eared sliders and African side-necked turtles, need more protein in their diet than other kinds of turtles do.

These types of turtles should get around 4 tablespoons (60 grams) per day while they grow up and about 2 tablespoons (30 grams) every day once they reach adulthood.

Other types of freshwater or land tortoises only need a little bit because their bodies store more fat than lean body tissue.

As you know, turtles can eat both spinach leaves and stems “but” as before, spinach also contains high amounts of oxalic acid which prevents them from absorbing the minerals.

So does this mean there is a limit on how much spinach you should feed your turtle?

Spinach is very healthy for your turtle and you can feed them these leafy green every other day, “But” because of the high amounts of oxalic acid you will need to mix the spinach with other greens so they get all the nutrients and minerals they require.

The average turtle can eat a variety of food, on a daily basis from earthworms, grubs, snails, beetles, and caterpillars to plants, fruit, berries, mushrooms, and flowers you can mix with spinach which will provide all nutrients they need.

First-time reptile owners should always speak with their veterinarian when planning a diet for their pet especially a turtle, as the diets of captive turtles vary with each species.

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How To Prepare Spinach For Turtles?

One of the most important things to know about turtles is how to prepare their food. Spinach is a healthy and nutritious vegetable that can be used for turtle feedings but there is some preparation involved.

If you are feeding your turtle spinach, it takes time for the plant matter to break down in order for them to digest it. In order to help this process along, you should soak the leaves in water before feeding them.

Feeding Tips: Because of the high amounts of oxalic acid in spinach you will need to mix it with other greens so they get all the nutrients they require for a balanced diet!

Spinach is one of those vegetables that have a lot of nutrients and vitamins which makes it perfect as an addition or substitution from other greens such as lettuce or kale when creating a balanced diet plan for your turtle.

Wash Thoroughly

You should always wash any fruit and vegetables before feeding them to your reptile, this is to remove any loose grit or pesticides that could give your pet stomach issues.

If your feed your turtle (Red Cardinal) spinach which has longer stems and leaves then you should give it a rinse under the tap to remove any trapped dirt.

Baby spinach on the other hand that is found in your local supermarkets are usually prewashed and sold in a sealed bag so there’s no need to wash the spinach again.

Once the spinach is washed you can either separate the stem and leaves or you can feed them the whole thing. Turtles have very strong jaws so don’t worry if the stems are slightly thick.

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Other Leafy Greens Turtles Can Eat

Turtles have different dietary needs than humans, so it’s important to know which veggies are safe for them and also how much they should be eating from each type.

For the most part, all vegetables are safe for turtles as long as they’re cut up into small pieces before serving.

Turtles can eat a wide range of dark leafy greens that are very healthy and provide all the nutrients and calcium their need. Preferably you want to feed them organic vegetables as they are much healthier for the turtle.

Not only are organic vegetables healthy for the turtle “but” they are not sprayed with any chemical or pesticides, unlike non-organic vegetables.

However, if all you can get is the non-organic vegetables this is fine just remember to give them a good wash before you feed them to your reptile.

So to give you an idea of other greens turtles can eat here is a list of just some of the vegetables they can eat including the calcium content per 100g.

(Leafy Calcium Content Per 100g)

Leafy GreensCalcium Per 100g
Mustard Greens118mg
Dandelion Greens187mg
Lettuce, Loose-Leaf33 mg
Collard Greens141mg
Cress188mg
Swiss Chard58mg
Beat Beans114mg
Turnip Greens137mg
Parsley138mg
Kale132mg

Foods Turtles Should Avoid

One thing you should know about turtles is that they have very delicate stomachs. This means that certain foods can make them sick if your not carful.

So there are some foods you should avoid feeding your turtle. Although these foods won’t necessarily harm your turtle, they won’t provide them with all the nutrition and fiber they need.

Foods To Avoid

  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Raw Meat
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Iceberg lettuce: Iceberg or head lettuce should not be fed to your turtle as they comprised mostly of water and has very little nutrition on offer to benefit their diet.
  • Raw Meat: You should never feed your turtle raw meat as it can contain parasites and is also very high in protein “too much for turtles”
  • Chicken: Chicken is another meat you should avoid feeding to your turtle and again is also very high protein and just wouldn’t benefit their diet.
  • Fish: Aquatic turtles in the wild eat a lot of fish “but” it’s not recommended for pets turtles as it doesn’t contain a balance of calcium you need.

So you see things like iceberg lettuce, raw meat, fish, or chicken does not contain the balance of calcium and phosphorus they need to survive.

Conclusion

The answer to the question of whether or not turtles can eat spinach is yes! However, before feeding your turtle a plant that you aren’t sure about, it’s best to consult with your vet first.

If you don’t know how old your pet turtle is it’s also important to find out what kind of diet he/she needs because young turtles require different amounts and feeding them too much spinach can be harmful!

Now there are some people that would say turtles cannot eat spinach however, as mentioned in this article, they can! “but” only if they are fed in small amounts.

Spinach should never be fed to your turtle as their main diet because as you know now spinach contains high amounts of oxalic acid that deprives them of calcium.

Just as long as you mix the spinach with other vegetables that are high in calcium then you turtle can eat these leaves without any problems and at the same time keeping their diet in check.

If your still unsure about feeding your reptile or are not sure what to feed them then you should contact your local veterinarian as they can advise you further.

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