Can Turtles Eat Avocado? Poisonous Fruit Ever?

Dec 13, 2021

Can Turtles Eat Avocados

A popular substitute for butter among vegans, avocados have become a seasoned fruit boasting several health benefits. Maybe that’s what got the Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx to grow them on his farm.

Avocados possess numerous benefits for humans. They lower cholesterol, have higher potassium levels than bananas and are rich in antioxidants. 

But what about their effect on our little reptile friends? Can turtles eat them?

Let’s find out.

Can Turtles Eat Avocado?

You should steer clear from feeding avocado to your turtles. Avocado contains persin, a fungicidal toxin that is harmful to turtles. So although a turtle will not refrain from eating it, you shouldn’t serve it. 

There have been cases of turtles becoming seriously ill after consuming avocados. 

As a pet owner, you need to know which food is safe for your pets and which isn’t. And avocado is on the top of the list of harmful foods to turtles.

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Effects Of Persin In Turtles

Unlike in turtles, avocado doesn’t pose a threat to humans. In fact, laboratory studies have shown that it causes apoptosis ( programmed cell death) of breast cancer cells.

However, the same cannot be said for our reptile pets. In fact, it is shocking to hear about the effect avocado has on turtles. 

Here are some of the expected effects of persin in turtles:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Accumulation of fluid around the heart and lungs
  • Organ failures – liver, kidney, and heart
  • Non-rhythmic heartbeat
  • Death

Nutrient Content In Avocado

A single avocado fruit of 136 grams contains:

Proximates

  • Water (g): 98.4 
  • Energy (kcal): 227
  • Protein (g): 2.67
  • Total lipid/fat (g): 21
  • Carbohydrate, by difference (g): 11.8
  • Fiber (g): 9.20
  • Sugar (g): 0.41

Minerals

  • Calcium (mg): 18.0
  • Iron (mg): 0.83
  • Magnesium (mg): 39.0
  • Phosphorus (mg): 73.0
  • Potassium (mg): 690
  • Sodium (mg): 11.0

Vitamins

  • Vitamin C (mg): 12.0
  • Vitamin B-6 (mg): 0.39
  • Vitamin A (mg): 10.0
  • Vitamin E (mg): 2.68

(SOURCE: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3664913/)

Though the presence of persin alone should deter you from feeding avocado to your turtles, there are other reasons, too.

Fat Content Is High In Avocados

A single avocado (136g) has 21 grams of fat. Yes, we are talking about a lot of fat here. 

Nowadays, obesity has become a familiar case in captive turtles. Overfeeding and lack of space for swimming cause a turtle to become obese. 

Obese turtles can suffer from heart failure, liver disease, kidney failure, tooth and gum decay, and so on.

So, it will be a wise choice to avoid giving avocados to your turtles. 

Read:

Can Turtles Eat Peanuts? A Boon Or Bane For Turtles?

Can Turtles Eat Spinach? Spinach Have Oxalates!

Can Turtles Eat Kale? 2 Surprising Benefits!

Avocados Are High In Oxalates

Oxalates, also known as oxalic acid, are a natural compound found in many fruits and vegetables.

However, some fruits have higher amounts of oxalates than others. And avocado is one of them. A single avocado contains 19 mg of oxalates. 

And when turtles ingest high amounts of oxalate-rich food, the oxalates bind with calcium and prevent absorption of necessary minerals – even calcium itself.

This leads to calcium deficiency in turtles. As a result, they suffer from the metabolic bone disease (MBD). 

Early symptoms of MBD in turtles are:

  • Swollen legs
  • Arched spine
  • Bumps along the legs, spine, and tail
  • Bilateral softening of the jaw (commonly known as rubber jaw)
  • Tremors
  • Twitching of legs while at rest
  • Fractured bones

The Calcium To Phosphorus Ratio Doesn’t Match With A Turtle’s Requirements.

A single avocado has 18 mg of calcium and 73 mg of phosphorus. And ideally, the calcium to phosphorus ratio required for a turtle’s diet would be 2:1. 

However, the above mineral content reveals that the ratio is nowhere near the ideal range. 

When the phosphorus content is too high relative to calcium, it forms calcium phosphate in the turtle’s gut. 

In this form, the turtle’s system can barely absorb the calcium required by its body. 

So, calcium deficiency in turtles necessarily doesn’t mean that the turtle is intaking less calcium. It could also mean the food your turtle consumes has more phosphorus than calcium. 

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What To Do If Your Turtle Eats An Avocado?

Sometimes we feed fruits like avocado to our turtles without understanding the dangers. And if that’s what happened in your case, you need to do the following:

Observe Your Turtle’s Behavior

Monitor how your turtle reacts after eating an avocado. Look for signs like difficulty in breathing, vomiting, restlessness, and diarrhea.

If you believe the turtle is not acting normal, you should seek medical help. But most importantly, remain calm. 

If you stress out, you might end up making your turtle feel uncomfortable. 

Seek Medical Help

Call a vet immediately. Rundown a list of symptoms to your vet and inform them that you will be on your way to the clinic.

Once in the clinic, provide details like the age and size of your turtle and the amount of avocado your turtle consumed. 

The vet should be able to determine if your turtle requires any immediate medical attention. Then, he will guide you through support aid therapy if he believes you can follow his instructions.

One cannot tell if a turtle will always show symptoms after consuming an avocado.

Even after eating loads of it, there could be nothing wrong with your turtle. But you need to watch out for any unusual cues to avoid accidents.

Final Words: Can Turtles Eat Avocados

There are several reasons why you should strictly avoid giving avocados to your turtles. The primary reason is the presence of persin, a toxic element found in avocados. 

Secondly,

We all know how essential calcium is for our turtles. And we also need to know the risk of serving oxalate-rich food, which binds calcium and prevents turtles from absorbing it. 

Lastly, avocados have an abundance of phosphorus and fat, making them an unhealthy food choice for turtles.

Relevant Readings:

Can Turtles Eat Eggs? What About Frog Eggs?

Can Turtles Eat Ham? What To Do If Your Turtle Ate Ham?

Can Turtles Eat Grass? What About Flowers, Succulents, And Herbs?

Can Turtles Eat Crickets? Do They Like It?

rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.