A Nutritious Green Feast: Can Turtles Eat Broccoli?

Can Turtles Eat Broccoli?

The turtle world is full of diversity, from aquatic turtles gliding gracefully through the water to desert turtles basking in the sun. As a turtle owner, you may wonder if your shelled friend can enjoy some of the green goodness we humans appreciate – specifically, can turtles eat broccoli? In this revamped article, we’ll explore whether broccoli can be a healthy addition to your turtle’s diet, considering box turtles, aquatic turtles, and desert turtles.

Can Turtles Eat Broccoli?

There are many fruits and vegetables that turtles can eat. Whether or not they should eat it is an entirely different question.

In this article, we’ll discuss what broccoli is and the nutrients the vegetable contains. We’ll also share what parts of the broccoli a turtle should and shouldn’t eat, how often turtles should eat broccoli and the pros and cons of giving this veggie to your reptile friend. Finally, there are many different species of turtles. So, we’ll explain which turtles and tortoises can have broccoli and which can’t. 

What Does Broccoli Contain?

Broccoli contains many health benefits for humans and can have some nutrients for turtles as well. For instance, broccoli contains the following nutrients:

Can Turtles Eat Broccoli?
  • 90% water content
  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Vitamins A, C, and K1
  • Minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese, folate, and potassium

In addition, broccoli is low in fat, low in carbs, and is a low-calorie snack.

It sounds great on paper, but should your turtle eat broccoli?

Can Turtles Eat Broccoli?

Technically yes, turtles can eat broccoli. However, it shouldn’t be a staple part of their diet. In fact, it might be best to stay away from this vegetable altogether, just to be on the safe side. The biggest reason for this is that broccoli has many health benefits for humans, but not for turtles. For example, broccoli contains goitrogens, which can disrupt the functions of your reptile’s thyroid.

Can Turtles Eat Raw Broccoli?

Turtles can eat broccoli no matter if it’s raw or cooked. However, if you’re going to give your turtle this veggie, it’s best to cook it first. Cooked broccoli is softer. Therefore it’s easier for your turtle to chew, swallow, and digest. Also, cooking the broccoli gets rid of some of the goitrogens inside the vegetable.

Can Turtles Eat Broccoli Leaves?

Yes, turtles can eat broccoli leaves. This part of the vegetable is probably the easiest and safest part to feed your reptile. They’re easy to chew and swallow. However, the leaves still contain goitrogens, just like the rest of the vegetable, so it needs to be fed in moderation.

Can Turtles Eat Broccoli Stems?

Turtles can eat broccoli stems, but they shouldn’t. Stems are hard for turtles to chew and swallow. Also, it can be hard for them to digest. If they don’t chew it well, the stem could get stuck on the way down or cause a blockage.

In addition, broccoli stems also have goitrogens, which isn’t healthy for your turtle to consume. For instance, they’ll get sick if they overeat it. 

Can Baby Turtles Eat Broccoli?

No, you should not feed baby turtles broccoli. This is because goitrogens produce iodine, which baby turtles can’t absorb. Thus, it affects their growth. You don’t want to feed anything to your baby turtle that will affect their growth. Otherwise, they won’t be getting the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy. 

Is Broccoli Good For Turtles?

Unfortunately, broccoli isn’t all that rich in nutrients for turtles. For instance, turtles need high vitamin A, vitamin D, and calcium content.

Broccoli contains a little vitamin A and calcium, but not enough for turtles. In addition, this vegetable doesn’t have vitamin D at all. 

In addition, broccoli also contains phytoestrogens which mess up your turtle’s hormones and also decrease fertility.

Also, this vegetable has phytates, which reduce the bioavailability of minerals within your turtle’s digestive tract. 

Benefits And Problems With Turtles Eating Broccoli

Even though turtles shouldn’t eat broccoli regularly, this vegetable does have some benefits. On the other hand, there are some drawbacks to giving broccoli to your turtle, especially regularly.

First, let’s discuss the benefits of feeding broccoli to your turtle.

Broccoli Is Low In Calories

One of the great things about this veggie is that it’s low in calories. So, if you decide to give this snack to your turtle as a once-in-a-while treat, you won’t need to worry about them indulging.

Also, turtles will eat whatever is in front of them and won’t stop when they’re full. In other words, you can control how much broccoli they consume by only giving them a little bit at a time.

Broccoli Has High Water Content

In addition, broccoli is mainly made up of water. So, it sounds like a drawback because it contains little nutrients, but having high water content can be a good thing.

For instance, if you notice that your turtle isn’t drinking much, you can give them a little bit of broccoli to add some water into their diet.

Also, since broccoli should be fed in moderation, you won’t need to worry about overhydrating them.

Next, let’s take a look at some of the drawbacks of feeding broccoli to turtles.

Broccoli Contains Goitrogens

We’ve briefly mentioned goitrogens before, which affects your turtle’s growth. Goitrogens come from riboflavin and glucosinolate within the vegetable.

Goitrogens not only affect the thyroid functions of your turtle but will also limit the amount of iodine they get. Thus, leading to liver and kidney issues, possibly resulting in death. 

Broccoli Contains Oxalic Acids

In addition, broccoli also contains oxalic acids. Turtles need plenty of calcium to thrive as it helps grow their bones and shell.

Oxalic acids have the opposite effect, making it harder for your turtle to absorb calcium. A lack of calcium can lead to metabolic bone disease, which makes your turtles extremely sick.

For a quick look at the pros and cons of feeding broccoli to your turtle, take a look at the chart below.

Pros Of Feeding Broccoli To TurtlesCons Of Feeding Broccoli To Turtles
Low-calorie snackContains goitrogens
High water contentContains oxalic acids

The Broccoli Breakdown: Is it Turtle-Approved?

Broccoli is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making it a nutritious vegetable for humans. But what about our reptilian friends? The good news is that turtles can eat broccoli, including box turtles and aquatic turtles. However, the frequency and portion size may vary depending on the type of turtle you have.

tortoise eating brocoli

Box Turtles and Broccoli: A Delightful Pairing

Box turtles, known for their terrestrial lifestyle and diverse diet, can definitely enjoy broccoli as a part of their balanced meals. Offer small, bite-sized pieces of broccoli to your box turtle once or twice a week. The fibrous texture and nutritional content make it a valuable addition to their varied diet.

Aquatic Turtles and Broccoli: Swimmingly Compatible

Aquatic turtles can also benefit from eating broccoli, although it may not be their top choice due to their predominantly carnivorous nature. Introducing small portions of broccoli as an occasional treat can provide them with essential nutrients without disrupting their natural dietary preferences.

Desert Turtles and Broccoli: A Trickier Combination

Desert turtles, such as tortoises, have different dietary requirements compared to their aquatic and box turtle counterparts. While some desert turtles may nibble on broccoli, it is essential to research your specific species’ dietary needs to ensure their health and well-being.

A Balanced Turtle Diet: Variety is Key

While turtles can eat broccoli, it’s crucial to maintain a diverse and balanced diet for your pet. A turtle’s diet should consist of a mix of proteins, vegetables, fruits, and pellets formulated for their specific needs. Research your turtle species to understand its particular dietary requirements and consult with a veterinarian if you have concerns about your turtle’s nutrition.


The verdict is in: turtles can eat broccoli, but moderation and portion size are essential. Whether you have a box turtle, aquatic turtle, or desert turtle, be sure to consider their unique dietary needs and provide a balanced diet that supports their health and happiness. Remember, a well-fed turtle is more likely to thrive in your care, and as a responsible turtle owner, that’s the ultimate goal.

Click here to find out if turtles eat frogs and here to find out if they should eat mealworms. You can also learn more about turtles here.

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