Leopard tortoises require a high fiber diet that consists mainly of broad, leafy weeds and grass hay such as timothy hay and orchard grass hay. Also offer clover, plantain weeds, sow thistle, dandelions, spineless Opuntia cactus pads, prickly pears, and succulents.

A leopard tortoise diet consists of vegetation. Good foods include dandelion, clover, honeysuckle, leafy salads, watercress, curly kale, brussel tops, spring greens, coriander, parsley, rocket, carrot, parsnip, courgette and bell peppers. The bulk of the vegetation should be leafy greens.

Adult leopard tortoises will graze throughout the day.  Prickly pear cactus pads, mulberry and hibiscus leaves, and other fresh browse are relished.  Leopard tortoises eat fresh grass and leaves (hibiscus, mulberry) in the enclosure at all times.  Many other ornamental plants are safe for tortoises to eat. For more a list of edible plants, click here.

Diet Requirements

As grazers, leopard tortoises feed on a variety of grasses and vegetation. They require a high-fiber diet rich in calcium. In addition to grazing the captive diet may be supplemented a couple times a week with collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens and flowers, hibiscus leaves and flowers, grape leaves, escarole, mulberry tree leaves, spineless cactus pads (Opuntia spp.), carrots, zucchini, butternut squash, pumpkin, mushrooms, sweet potato, yellow squash, and bell peppers. Commercial diets may also be included in the diet.

A small portion of the leopard tortoise’s diet may include fruits, such as tomatoes, apples, papayas, cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, mangos and bananas. Fruit should be no more than about 5 percent of the overall diet.

Outdoor tortoises benefit from having their produce fed on a bed of timothy hay.  This hay provides lots of fiber and extra nutrients that are beneficial.  Some tortoises are reluctant to eat the timothy hay but will eat alfalfa hay.  Try mixing about one part alfalfa hay to three parts timothy hay to get your tortoise switched over to hay. The salad mix recipe for hatchlings listed below may be adjusted to provide a larger volume to feed larger tortoises.

What Do Baby Leopard Tortoises Eat?

Leopard tortoise hatchlings may be kept on rabbit food pellets (compressed timothy hay or alfalfa hay)or cypress mulch. Outdoor enclosures should have a nice bed of sod, usually a mix of Bermuda grass, rye, and fescue.

Offer a diet of grasses and straw. Leopard tortoises need a high-fiber, high-calcium, low-protein diet, so grasses and straw are the perfect food for them. Timothy, orchard, brome, oat, and meadow grass are all good choices for indoor enclosures. In the outdoor enclosure, let the tortoise graze on palatable weeds and wild plants such as clover, dandelions, and wild grass.

In an outdoor enclosure, you might want to plant some grass or alfalfa for the tortoises to eat.

Give the tortoise dark leafy greens and veggies a few times a week. Feed adults 2-3 times weekly and hatchlings daily. While grasses and straw should provide 50%-80% of your tortoise’s diet, dark, leafy greens like kale and collards are great supplemental choices. You can also offer veggies such as the following, cut into bite-size pieces: carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, and bell peppers.

Baby tortoises can eat similar diets to adults but need to have the food chopped into smaller pieces.  Avoid giving hard vegetables like carrots or sweet potatoes to baby tortoises unless they have been shredded.  Small chunks of chopped hard vegetables have cause intestinal impactions in young tortoises.

“Salad Mix” Recipe for Hatchlings:

1 cup of dark green leafy vegetables (e.g., romaine, escarole, green leaf lettuce, mustard greens, dandelion greens, kale, collard greens, etc.)  It is important to rotate what you are using as any one of these greens lacks everything needed for optimum tortoise health.

1 tablespoon raw beans (lima, pinto, garbanzo, or mung)

1 tablespoon yellow, red, or orange produce (sweet potato, strawberry, carrot, etc.). Hard produce should be shredded rather than chopped.

1/8 cup of Zoo Med™ Grass Tortoise Food, soaked in water for at least 15 minutes

Place ingredients in a container and shake so that they are thoroughly mixed

The recipe is a guideline only.  Other produce can be fed in addition to the kinds listed, but care should be taken to balance the diet.  It is a good idea to make up a week’s worth of salad, refrigerate it, and dole out a small amount daily.  Enough salad should be offered every day so that there is a little bit left over each night.  This ensures the young tortoise is eating enough to sustain a healthy gastrointestinal flora which helps with proper digestion and growth.

Can I Feed Oranges And Other Citrus Fruits?

A common question is whether or not the oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits that are grown in the backyards of Arizona are safe for tortoises to eat.  There are a lot of internet myths about citrus fruit and even some books warn about the hazards.  Citrus fruit does appear safe in moderation.  As with any other sugary fruit, citrus may cause diarrhea if consumed in large amounts.


Native: grass, various succulents, crassulas, thistles, prickly pear, pumpkins, beans, watermelons and toadstools.

Captive: the Leopard Tortoise is mainly vegetarian and prefers green vegetables to fruits but some will eat some form of meat and a mixed diet is therefore advisable for the adults. The babies and juveniles will need a calcium rich diet (watercress + Nutrobal supplement) and need roughage in the diet (grass).

The following food can be tried: beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cucumber, clover, dandelion, endives, grass, lettuce, kale, sprouts of the pulses. Of the fruits try apricots, bananas, blackberries, dates, figs, gooseberries, mandarins, mango, passionfruit, peach, pineapple, plum, orange, paupau, tomato and watermelon. Offer cuttlefish bone.

As the food you offer might be totally unfamiliar provide some hay or freshly cut grass and try to find some exotic fruits (prickly pear, melon etc) to start it feeding. Other foods can later be introduced into the diet. The animals are voracious feeders once acclimatised.

Cut-up fruit can be offered as a very rare treat, but less than once a month—the high water content would cause gastrointestinal issues if your tortoise eats fruit too often.

Iceberg lettuce has next to no nutritional value and is not an ideal food source for a tortoise.

Give commercial tortoise feed and/or supplements as recommended. Follow your vet’s advice about whether commercial tortoise food pellets are a good choice for your pet. The pellets may provide nutrients that are lacking in your tortoise’s regular diet, although most tortoises can thrive on a well-balanced grasses-and-hay diet.

If you’re diluting the pellets with greens and other food items, the diet may become imbalanced, so it’s best to talk to the vet to set up the best diet plan for your individual leopard tortoise.

Provide supplements only if (and how) recommended by your vet. Due to their rate of growth, a leopard tortoise’s demand for calcium and mineral trace elements is high. A calcium-D3 daily supplement might be recommended for juveniles and, less often, adults.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!