Can Turtles Eat Broccoli? [Complete Answer]

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Can Turtles Eat Broccoli? Turtles are omnivores, which means they eat live food in addition to vegetation. They’ll eat anything and everything you put in front of them. But, depending on the species, most turtles aren’t too picky about what they eat. This includes foods that aren’t exactly healthy for them.

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

Which Turtles Can Eat Broccoli?

Did you know that there are over 300 species of turtles? There are land turtles, aquatic turtles, and tortoises. So, which ones can eat broccoli in moderation?

Most land turtles can eat broccoli safely as long as it’s in moderation. For example, Box Turtles and Eastern Box Turtles can eat broccoli. However, their diet should consist of 50% plants and 50% animal-based protein.

So, broccoli can be fed to them in small amounts once in a while. It’ll be a tasty snack for them.

On the other hand, aquatic turtles such as Painted Turtles and Red-Eared Sliders can eat broccoli but should probably stay away.

Broccoli isn’t part of their natural habitat. Aquatic turtles will mostly eat fish, small critters in the wild, and aquatic plants. Their digestive system won’t be used to eating vegetables such as broccoli.

You can try to feed them little bits of broccoli here and there, but it’ll be best not to feed your aquatic turtle this veggie.

tortoise eating brocoli

Can tortoises eat broccoli? Believe it or not, yes, they can. Tortoises are 100% herbivores, so their diet should consist of dark leafy greens and other vegetables.

However, you still need to feed this veggie in moderation and in small amounts because of the goitrogens within the broccoli.

In addition, most tortoises, such as the Desert Tortoise, the Russian Tortoise, and the Sulcata Tortoise, have a diet that contains mostly hay, flowers, succulents, grass, or even twigs. So, broccoli isn’t part of their natural habitat. Therefore, it’s not part of their diet.

In other words, you can try feeding your tortoise a little bit of broccoli, but they won’t know what it is and won’t be used to eating it. So, it might be best to keep this veggie away from them. 


So, can turtles eat broccoli? Yes, they can. However, they should only have this vegetable in moderation.

Broccoli isn’t one of the most nutritious vegetables for turtles. However, it’ll be a fun snack for them once in a while and small amounts. Otherwise, it might be easier to stay away from broccoli altogether.

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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Frank Kane

By Frank Kane

Frank is a huge animal lover with many pets of his own. He loves sharing all his knowledge of all creatures here and learning more whenever possible.