Practical - Index > Urban Wildlife > Wild Animals > Tortoises

Practical - Index > Urban Wildlife > Wild Animals > Tortoises

Care, Husbandry and Diet of the Desert Tortoise

(Information provided by Sonora Animal Hospital, 410 W. Simmons Rd., Tucson, AZ 85705 Telephone: [520] 888-8988)

A diet composed of an assortment of these plants is nutritionally complete; additional vitamin, calcium or other mineral supplementation is not necessary and may be harmful. All tortoises must be kept outside, as temperatures permit, to insure adequate exposure to UVB to maintain normal calcium metabolism.

Native Growing Plants
cassia (senna), spurge, globe mallow, other mallows, prickly pear fruit, rock hibiscus, prickly pear pads, morning glory, trailing 4 o'clock, buckwheat, plantain

Native Grasses: Arizona cottontop, bamboo muhly, deer grass, curly mesquite

Other Growing Plants
bermuda grass (tiff), sweet peas, dichondra, nasturtium, alfalfa, petunias, clover

Produce: Produce is generally less nutritious than the other foods listed and should only be fed when other foods are unavailable or as an occasional supplement.

Acceptable produce:
beet greens, green beans, bok choy, kale, cilantro, mustard greens, dandelion greens, collard greens, parsley, endive, spinach, snow peas, turnip greens

Other Recommended Foods
grape leaves, mulberry leaves, hibiscus flowers and leaves, rose petals, hay (alfalfa, bermuda, timothy or combinations)


For more information, you can contact the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum's Tortoise Adoption Program at 520-883-3062.