The Leopard tortoise is a large, magnificent tortoise that is mostly found in the countries of Sudan and Ethiopia and in southern parts of the Sahara. This tortoise species is the fourth largest in the tortoise family and the second-largest in Africa, trailing only the Sulcata tortoise in size.
It is best known for its intricate shell pattern, which is attractive to the eye and provides excellent camouflage in the wild. If you have a Leopard tortoise, you probably wonder what the best grass to feed them is. We will address this question in this article and provide some dietary advice for Leopard tortoises.
What type of diet does a Leopard tortoise need?
Most tortoises are herbivores that require a lot of fiber in their diet for proper digestion, gastric mobility, and energy production. Leopard tortoises, in particular, demand a high fiber diet that should consist primarily of broad, leafy weeds, grass, and grass hay. You can grow grass in your tortoise’s enclosure to provide them with fiber throughout the day, as well as allow them to forage and graze.
You can plant a variety of grasses for your tortoise, including barley grass, timothy grass, orchard grass, wheatgrass, cat grass, oat grass, and others.
Best Grass for Leopard Tortoise
The best grass for Leopard tortoises are timothy hay and orchard grass hay. Both are very high in fiber.
Timothy hay is a popular type of hay with high fiber content and a balanced calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. It contains about 8% protein, which is a healthy amount. It’s readily available in pet stores and feed stores, and it’s a favorite of many tortoise species.
Some tortoises prefer not to eat timothy hay because the stems are much harder, but some don’t mind the hard, crunchy pieces.
Orchard Grass Hay
Orchard grass hay is a naturally sweet and fruitier high-fiber hay that helps tortoises digest food better. It is a favorite of many Leopard tortoises because it is soft and lacks the stems found in timothy hay. Orchard grass hay has a higher protein content than Timothy hay, ranging from 10 to 12 percent, with more calories.
Should you feed grass to your Leopard tortoise?
Leopard tortoises are herbivorous grazers that eat all day. There are numerous advantages to feeding grass to your Leopard tortoise. The main advantage of grass is that it contains fiber, which is converted into carbohydrates and is a fantastic source of energy for tortoises.
Fiber also helps tortoises with gastric mobility and prevents constipation. Grass can also provide a small amount of vitamins and proteins; however, grasses high in protein should be avoided in young tortoises as they can result in a faster growth rate, leading to tortoise shell pyramiding. Young tortoises should also be fed grass in moderation because too much fiber can cause bloating and inadequate calorie absorption.
What else can you feed a Leopard tortoise?
You can also feed your Leopard tortoise clover, succulents, cactus pads, dandelions, plantain weeds, prickly pears, and sow thistle in addition to grass. Leopard tortoises also love to eat petals and blossoms, as well as mint, parsley, dill, and cilantro as treats.
What not to feed a leopard tortoise?
It is best not to feed your Leopard tortoise too much kale and spinach as it can prevent absorption. Also, avoid feeding your tortoise iceberg lettuce as it does not have any nutrients that your tortoise requires. If you can’t feed your Leopard tortoise any grass or grass hay, you can swap it with leafy greens high in vitamins A and C, and calcium.
Vegetables such as collard greens, romaine, escarole, red leaf lettuce, and others fall into this category. If you keep your Leopard tortoise indoors, you can supplement its diet with extra nutrients to compensate for the lack of sunlight. You can do this by giving your tortoise supplements or cuttlebone, which contains extra calcium.
Can you feed a leopard tortoise grass from your yard?
You can allow your Leopard tortoise to forage for grass in your yard as long as the grass is safe and free of insecticides and pesticides. You can also plant safe grass in your tortoise’s enclosure so that it can graze whenever it pleases. If you opt for grass hays, you can purchase them easily. Grass hays such as orchard grass hay and timothy hay are popular types of hay that you can purchase from pet stores, feed stores, local suppliers, or online.
To summarize, the best grass for Leopard tortoises is timothy grass and orchard grass. You can feed your tortoise other foods as well, but Leopard tortoises enjoy grazing on grass and require a high-fiber diet.
Temperament of Leopard tortoises
Leopard tortoises are generally friendly animals that can sometimes be very shy. When they sense a threat or disturbance, they will most likely retreat into their shells for protection. They usually don’t bite fingers, but they don’t like to be picked up frequently.
Leopard tortoises require more care than other tortoises, but hopefully, this article will help you take better care of your reptile friend. Best of luck!