Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Bell Peppers

I am frequently asked can Sulcata tortoises eat bell peppers? I have seen a lot of incorrect information on the internet and want to set the record straight.

Can Sulcata Tortoises Eat Bell Peppers?

Sulcata tortoises should not be fed bell peppers. While the pepper itself it not toxic, the stem and leaves are toxic for tortoises.

Additionally, bell peppers are not very nutritious for Sulcata tortoises.

Not natural

Remember, Sulcata tortoises originate from very dry areas where water and sugary foods are sparse. They would almost never stumble on a similar type of food in their natural habitat. Foods with too much water or sugar can cause digestive issues. 

Will your turtle die if you feed it bell peppers? No, it will probably be fine. However, it isn’t a great habit to get in. It can also eventually lead to tortoise shell pyramiding.

I have done an overview on the fruits and vegetables that a Sulcata tortoise can have and I recommend giving it a read. If you want to feed it a bell pepper as a treat, please do it sparingly. The bulk of their diet should be dark leafy greens and grass.

Risks of giving your Sulcata tortoise bell peppers?

The risks stem from the fact that bell peppers are very high in sugars and can disrupt their digestive system. Additionally, the calcium to phosphorous ratio is 1:2.1 which can cause digestive issues. You may notice that your tortoise may have a small bite of a pepper and respond favorably.

This is because of the sugar content, and although the taste may delight them, it won’t be good for their overall health. Additionally, if your tortoises get’s used to eating sugary foods, they might stop eating their hay/pellets which are much more crucial for their diet.

While sugary plants can be fed to fruit eating tortoises such as red-footed tortoises, it is not recommended for Sulcatas.

A good analogy would be feeding chocolate cake too frequently to a child. The cake won’t cause any long term damage if given sparingly. However, if given too often, the child will not be receiving the proper nutrition for their body to operate at 100%.

The impact may not be noticeable in the short term, but overtime the impact can be detrimental to overall digestive and organ functions. 

How often can Sulcata tortoises eat bell peppers?

If you decide to feed your tortoise bell peppers, a good framework to follow is that only 10% of their diet should come from foods high in sugars/starches (such as fruit). Feeding fruits, and even bell peppers sparingly is okay if you stick to moderation. However, because it is not necessary for their diet, I would recommend staying away from them and keeping their diet simple. 

If you really want to treat them, then ultimately, feeding bell peppers to your tortoise once per week will probably be okay. 

What is the nutritional value of bell peppers for Sulcata tortoises

The nutritional value of bell peppers include: Vitamin C, B6, and dietary fiber. All of these ingredients can be received from their daily diet of grass and hay, so I don’t think the positives outweigh the risk of giving your turtle too much sugar.

Alternatives to bell pepper

If you want to feed your Sulcata something sweet, you should feed them strawberries, bananas, squash, or apples. Just make sure to cut the pieces small enough so that your Sulcata can easily digest it.

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