Best Food for Sulcata Tortoise

Sulcata tortoises are large and native to sub-Saharan Africa. They’re known as the largest continental species in the world, and can be up to 200 pounds. Due to their large size, it is important that you know the best food for a Sulcata Tortoise.

Today’s article will cover everything you need to know about a Sulcata Tortoise’s diet.

Best Food for Sulcata Tortoise

The best food for Sulcata Tortoises are grasses and hay, vegetables, fruits, commercial pet food, and occasional treats.

Sulcata Tortoise Diet

A Sulcata Tortoise diet should consist of around 80% grasses and hay, 15% vegetables, and 5% fruits. Supplements and commercial food should consist of between 0%-5% of their diet.

Grasses and Hay (Around 80% of diet)

It is important that your Sulcata tortoise has access to grasses and hay 100% of the time. This should be around 80%-90% of their diet. It is important that the grass and hay you feed them is free form fertilizers and pesticides. My two recommendations are timothy grass and orchard hay.

Timothy Grass

Timothy Hay will provide your Sulcata Tortoise with a lot of fiber which will help with digestion. This particular Timothy Hay is farm grown and has no preservatives.

Orchard Hay

This Orchard Hay is a great option for your Sulcata Tortoise if they don’t like the taste of Timothy Hay.

A great type of grass to feed your Sulcata Tortoise is Bermuda grass. Another great type of grass for your tortoise is clover. Your tortoise can eat wild clover, just make sure it doesn’t have pesticides. Medow grass and lawn fescue can also be fed to your Sulcata tortoise.

Your tortoise can consume a wide range of hay. However, don’t overfeed your tortoise alfalfa hay because it can lead to digestion issues. To learn more, check out the best types of hay for tortoises.

Vegetables (Around 15% of diet)

It is also important that you feed your tortoise vegetables. Leafy green vegetables such as kale, collard greens, dandelion greens and romaine lettuce are great options to feed you Sulcata tortoise. Vegetables should make up about half of a baby Sulcata tortoise diet.

However, it is important that you limit vegetables that have a lot of oxalates, such as spinach and parsley.

Some other vegetables that you can feed your Sulcata tortoise include carrots, chopped sweet potatoes, and dandelions.

Fruits (Around 5% of diet)

While fruits shouldn’t make up a large portion of a Sulcata tortoise’s diet, it is still important that they make up around 5% of their diet.

Some good fruits for Sulcata tortoises include melon, bananas, strawberries, kiwi, peaches, prickly pear, blueberries, and apples. However, it is very important that you don’t feed your Sulcata tortoise fruits that have pits or large seeds in them. This can cause a choking hazard. You can learn more in my article on what fruits can you feed a Sulcata tortoise?

Also, make sure that you chop up the fruit into small pieces so that your tortoise can easily consume the fruit. Lastly, make sure that you discard any uneaten fruit so that it doesn’t attract wasps or other insects.

Commercial Pet Food (0%-5% of diet)

Commercial pet food is a bit of a controversy when it comes to food for a Sulcata Tortoise. If you feed your tortoise the correct diet mentioned above, you shouldn’t have to feed your tortoise any commercial food. While some experts say you shouldn’t feed it, others recommend it because it provides essential nutrients that your tortoise might not get from other food in their diet.

If you decide to buy commercial pellets for your tortoise, make sure they are formulated specifically for tortoises. The upside is that tortoises usually love the taste. Below is a list of some common commercial food that you can feed your Sulcata tortoise.

Treats (occasionally)

You can also feed your tortoise treats occasionally. My favorite treat to give my Sulcata tortoise is cuttlebone. They love to chew on them, and they are a great source of calcium. Calcium is essential for a Sulcata tortoise’s diet because it helps their shells grow and stay strong.

If you need help making it’s habitat, you should check out my article on how to make a diy Sulcata tortoise enclosure.

Foods that are bad for a Sulcata tortoise?

Now you’re familiar with some best foods for the Sulcata tortoise. Let’s discuss the foods you should avoid feeding your pet.

  • Animal proteins such as meat, fish, or insects.
  • Fruits with pits in them
  • Citrus fruits such as lemon and grapefruit (oranges are fine in moderation)
  • Beans, corn, and rice
  • Spinach and potatoes

Six Common Dietary Problems in Sulcata Tortoises

If you don’t feed your Sulcata tortoise a balanced diet, it will certainly affect their health and reduce their lifespand. Below are the most common mistakes people make when feeding their Sulcata Tortoise.

  1. Providing too much protein in their diet
  2. Lack of fiber and calcium
  3. Don’t give unlimited access to grass and hay
  4. Feeding fruits and sugary foods often
  5. Feeding too much phosphorus or foods high in oxalic acid.
  6. Overfeeding

Aside from diet, you should also know the best substrate for a Sulcata tortoise.


As you know, the Sulcata tortoise spends most of its life in a semi-arid environment and where they get dry grasses and weeds for most of the year. No doubt, grass should constitute 80% of your Sulcata tortoise diet, and it should be rich in fiber.

Feeding the wrong or improper diet can result in the quick growth of your turtle, but it can result in tortoise shell pyramiding. Moreover, they develop other health issues that reduce their lifespan significantly.

After reading this detailed guide, I hope you have a good idea of the right food to feed your Sulcata tortoise. So, ensure that you follow this guide and choose the best food for the Sulcata tortoise to ensure that they remain healthy and live a long, healthy life.

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