Can Turtles Eat Kale? 2 Surprising Benefits!

Oct 11, 2021

Can turtles eat kale?

We know that kale is laden with health benefits for us, but can it do the same wonder for turtles? Though turtles aren’t picky eaters, they can still avoid some foods, especially veggies. Baby turtles and juveniles need a diet that heavily leans towards protein rather than fiber. So, they might try to avoid veggies as much as they can.

Without further ado, let’s move onto the main topic and discuss if kale can be a suitable food choice for turtles or not.

Can Turtles Eat Kale?

Yes, turtles can eat kale, and it is an excellent source of calcium, vitamin K, fiber, and antioxidants. In addition, kale contains a minimum amount of oxalates; thus, there’s a negligible risk of minerals binding in a turtle’s intestines. So, yes, you can include kale in your turtle’s diet.

Turtles are omnivores and need an all-around diet, especially when they are young. Therefore, you need to provide them with both veggies and meaty options. Baby turtles require loads of protein and calcium, which they mostly get from meat-based diets. However, equal emphasis should be given to fibrous food like kale, too.

Turtles do not require every type of vitamin as we do. The two they need are vitamin A and vitamin K, and kale is rich in both.

The lack of vitamin A can cause unusual growth and thickening of cells in turtles. Vitamin A builds healthy skin, mucous membranes, and ducts. So, to fulfill this indispensable requirement, kale is the unlikely superfood for turtles.

Kale is also rich in vitamin K. The benefits of this nutrient are no less than vitamin A. Baby turtles require vitamin K for growing healthy bones and shell calcification. It ensures healthy and normal growth in turtles. Furthermore, it also helps build prothrombin, a protein made by the liver, which helps in blood clotting.

Nutrition Facts For Kale

A single cup of raw kale (21 grams) contains:

  • Total Calorie: 7.4
  • Carbohydrates: 0.9 g
  • Calcium: 53.34 mg
  • Iron: 0.34 mg
  • Potassium: 73.08 mg
  • Sodium: 11.13 mg
  • Vitamin A : 50.61 mcg
  • Vitamin K: 81.8 mcg

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Health Benefits of Kales For Turtles

Kale is rich in nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin K, and calcium, indispensable for a turtle’s wellbeing. Moreover, it’s low in sugar and has an ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio.

A Great Calcium Source

Kale has high calcium to phosphorus ratio – 2.4:1. This means turtles get an ample amount of calcium from kale without ingesting too much phosphorus.

Phosphorus is rich in oxalates, which can cause health complications. However, kale’s calcium to phosphorus ratio is ideal for avoiding health risks arising from overconsumption of phosphorus.

Rich in calcium, kale helps both infant and juvenile turtles build strong bones and contributes to their overall health.

Kale Has Low Sugar Content

We often overfeed our pets. In return, they get fat, and several health-related complications arise quickly. But, if you are feeding kale, you won’t have to worry about your turtles getting fat, as this vegetable has low sugar content.

Other complications from overconsumption of sugar in turtles are liver and heart diseases. Yes, turtles too suffer from high cholesterol. So, kale is an excellent choice of food for your turtle.

How Much And How Often Can Turtles Eat Kale?

You can feed a handful of kale to your turtles. You can even include it in your turtle’s daily diet. But make sure you are including other food as well in their diet regime. I give my turtle kale every other day.

How To Feed Kale To Your Turtles?

You can serve raw kale to your turtles. Like most leafy vegetables, cooking will deplete the nutrients in kale. So, giving raw kale is the best option.

Here’s how you can feed your turtles kale in 3 steps:

Wash Thoroughly

Kale is one of the most pesticide-contaminated vegetables available. Therefore, you need to wash it thoroughly every time before giving it to your turtle.

We also recommend buying organic kale. Even though it will cost you a bit more than regular kale, your turtle’s wellbeing is of utmost importance.

Clip Off The Leaves From The Stalk

Leaves are the most nutrient-dense parts of kale. So, you need to clip off the leaves from the stalk. Turtles often consume just leaves and leave out stalks, and this makes the tank dirty. So, you need to separate leaves from the stalk.

Chopping The Leaves.

Now, finely chop the leaves into tiny pieces – so your turtle won’t choke on them.

Why Is My Turtle Not Eating Kale?

Although kale is a superfood for turtles, sometimes, they may deter from eating it. If you are feeding kale after you’ve fed them other food like pellets, they will avoid it because they are already full. So, you need to feed them kale upfront and only provide pellets later.

And if you still find your turtle avoiding kale, maybe your turtle hasn’t acquired the taste for it yet. You need to find new ways of serving kale. You can mix it with other vegetables, and eventually, they will get used to eating it.

Can Turtles Drink Kale Juice?

Yes, turtles can drink kale juice, too, but only if you have made it in your home. Commercially available kale juice has additives in it, which might not be safe for your turtles. I have found people reporting how badly their turtles’ gut suffered from drinking store-bought kale juice.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can Turtles Eat Black Kale?

Yes, turtles can eat black kale, too. In fact, black kale, also known as lacinato, has more nutrient content than regular, curly kale. It is 5 times richer in beta-carotene than normal kale, which means your turtle will significantly benefit from it.

Can Turtles Eat Red Kale?

Red kale leaves are more coarse than regular kale. They are widely considered richer in antioxidants than normal salad green kale. So, it is an excellent choice to feed your turtles. Also, they are super rich in vitamin K, an essential requirement for healthy turtles.

Can Red-Eared Slider Turtles Eat Kale?

Yes, red-eared slider turtles can definitely eat kale. They can consume curly kale, black kale, and red kale. Make sure you clean and chop the leaves into tiny pieces before you feed them.

Can Turtles Eat Collard Greens?

Yes, turtles can safely eat collard greens. They contain an abundant amount of calcium and fiber, which keeps your turtle’s bones healthy and also keeps them full. Furthermore, it is rich in vitamin A and K, two of the most necessary nutrients for turtles.

Can Eastern Box Turtles Eat Kale?

Just like every other turtle, eastern box turtles too can safely eat kale. It is rich in calcium and fiber, making it an easy everyday food choice for box turtles. It is also rich in Vitamin A and K, the two most critical nutrients eastern box turtles need.

Final Words On Can Turtles Eat Kale

A superfood for humans, kale is also a nutritional powerhouse for turtles. It’s equally essential for baby turtles. It is rich in calcium, which helps in strengthening bones.

Before feeding raw kale, remember to clean and chop them into tiny pieces to avoid choking. If your turtle is avoiding kale, mix it with other vegetables, pellets, or other staple food.

Overall, kale is a nutritious vegetable for turtles. Feeding kale is easy too. It is also low in sugar – thus, removing obesity risk in turtles.

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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.