Malti Explains Redfooted Tortoises: Diet

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Malti with her face full of fresh MANGO. YUM.

Malti loves to eat. I mean….she LOVES to eat.

When I take her box turtle brother, Bruce, out of his enclosure and put him down on the lawn, he runs around on the lawn.

When I take Malti out of her enclosure and put her down on the lawn, she immediately dips her head and starts hunting for something to eat.

She is so food-driven sometimes I suspect she is the reincarnation of our last dachshund, J.P. Morgan.

J.P. loved to eat so much that right before he passed, one of his many slavish human fans made him a whole meal of ribs and mashed potatoes – just for him. (He ate the whole thing and licked up the juice.)

I think Malti would consider that meal highly satisfactory. Her favorite dishes are freeze dried mealworms, fresh cooked organic salmon, tinned organic tuna and mango – in that order.

The last time Malti saw her veterinarian, I watched with concern as she got poked and prodded all around her upper arms and shoulder areas. With a growing suspicion about what the problem might be, I tentively inquired, “Is she…..plump?”

Affirmative. So I had to put my 3-year-old tortoise on a diet.

Speaking of diet, Malti was sick a lot when she was little – more about that in a future post. So she often didn’t want to eat. I got in the habit of hand-feeding her and choosing the most tempting morsels to entice her to eat.

This habit far outlasted the actual need for it, which is how she, um, grew to the point where we needed to institute the current “healthy tort eating plan.”

There are some excellent online resources that describe exactly what a red footed tortoise should and shouldn’t eat. But basically this is what I do every other day:

  • 70 percent fresh dark leafy greens, plus cooked green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, cactus, the occasional fresh corn and mushrooms.
  • 20 percent fresh fruit like blueberries, peaches, figs, mango, papaya.
  • 10 percent protein like freeze-dried mealworms, fresh cooked organic salmon/tuna, the occasional organic edamame (soybeans).

This seems to be working well for us. Malti has lost her “muffin top” (the small visible fat deposits between her neck and front arms). Plus, she seems to feel full after she eats.

The green beans, by the way, are a trick I learned from my folks’ efforts to keep J.P. Morgan’s weight in check. The green beans are tasty and have lots of fiber, so they helped him feel more full and satisfied without tasting like a “diet” food.

They seem to have the same effect on Malti….thank goodness.

And remember….

Watch & Listen: Pearl & his mommy read from “Love & Feathers”

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Published by Shannon Cutts

Cockatiel, redfoot tortoise and box turtle mama. Author, writer, pet & people blogger.

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