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Can Turtles & Tortoises Eat Cilantro? (Read This First!)

Cilantro is an edible plant that makes it a vegetable. Other names of cilantro are Coriander, Dhania, and Parsley. Turtles and tortoises might look the same to the naked eye. But they are not the same despite both of them being reptiles.

Today, we are going to discuss whether turtles and tortoises can eat cilantro or not.

Can turtles eat cilantro?

Cilantro is a green vegetable that must be on the daily diet of a turtle. Turtles can eat cilantro and it is very beneficial for them. It contains a high amount of vitamins and minerals that can help the growth of turtles. Almost all the species of turtles can digest cilantro easily and effectively. 

Let’s look at different types of turtles and see whether they can eat cilantro.

Box turtles:

Box turtles need to eat a high amount of vegetables and fruit. Green vegetables are more suitable for a box turtle. Cilantro is a green vegetable and can be fed to a box turtle.

Painted turtles:

Painted turtles are seen living in fresh water. But they can be great pets too. Painted turtles can eat cilantro and it is highly beneficial for them as it is a green vegetable.

Red-eared turtles:

Red-eared turtles can be great pets. But they are a high maintenance species of turtles. You can feed your red-eared turtle cilantro. It works as a great substitute for lettuce.

Baby turtles:

Baby turtles need to be fed green vegetables for nutrients. That is why cilantro is an excellent choice of food for your baby turtles.

Yellow belly turtles:

Yellow belly turtles have a long life cycle. They can eat green vegetables as long as they provide nutrients. Cilantro can certainly be fed to yellow belly turtles.

Aquatic turtles:

Aquatic turtles do well as pets. They are fond of vegetables and fruits. You can feed your aquatic turtles’ cilantro.

Is cilantro good for turtles?

A huge portion of a turtle’s diet consists of fruit and vegetables. Turtles get great nutritional value from green and red vegetables and fruit. Cilantro is a green leaf vegetable and can be fed to turtles both as a plant and salad.

Especially, baby turtles require green vegetables for growth purposes. So turtles must be fed cilantro from an early age as cilantro is good for them. Cilantro is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and minerals. These are essential for the growth of baby turtles.

3 reasons why turtles can eat cilantro:

There are many reasons that allow turtles to eat cilantro. Let’s talk about some of them:

For growth and development:

Cilantro is a green vegetable that has a rich amount of vitamins and minerals. They possess a high amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. These vitamins help the growth and development of turtles. 

They also have Manganese, Potassium, beta carotene, and cryptoxanthin as minerals.

Safe components of cilantro:

Turtles need to be fed foods that have balanced phosphorus to calcium ratio. The turtles must eat foods that have twice the amount of calcium in them compared to phosphorus. This is where cilantro triumphs on the diet of turtles. 

It meets the phosphorus to calcium ratio of the diet for the turtles. Calcium is a much-needed component for turtles and phosphorus is not.

Availability of cilantro:

Cilantro can be found at vegetable markets easily. They are not rare vegetables. Cilantro is a cheap vegetable too and will not cost you a lot. Another benefit of feeding your turtle cilantro is that you can plant and grow cilantro in your home garden too.

What should you not feed a wild turtle? What foods are poisonous to turtles?

Let’s talk about some of the foods that are harmful to the health of the turtles. They are:

Foods made from milk:

Turtles are known to be lactose intolerant. Their metabolism system can not handle lactose ingredients. So any food that contains milk can be harmful and poisonous for turtles. This includes cheese, yogurt, and all dairy foods.

Cooked meat and sausage:

Humans and turtles do not share the same food diet. What is meant for the stomach of a human is not meant for the stomach of a turtle. So cooked meat, sausage, and other heavy lunch & dinner foods are not be fed to turtles.

High sugar foods:

Turtles are not used to eating candies, chocolates, ice creams, and other high sugar products. These should not be on the diet list of the turtles.

Can tortoises eat cilantro?

Tortoises can certainly eat cilantro. As tortoises are mainly herbivorous animals, they can eat most green vegetables. Tortoises get benefitted from eating cilantro because of the vitamins and minerals it provides. It also helps the tortoises to form a strong shell.

Let’s talk about some species of tortoises and see whether they can eat cilantro.

Russian tortoises:

Other names of Russian tortoises include Afghan tortoises and four clawed tortoises. The diet of the Russian tortoises is known to include green vegetables. So you can certainly feed your Russian tortoises’ cilantro.

Desert tortoises:

Desert tortoises got their name for living in the desert. But they can be adopted as pets too. Desert tortoises love eating plants and can eat cilantro too. Cilantro is beneficial for desert tortoises.

Greek tortoises:

Another name of Greek tortoises is spur-thighed tortoises. Greek tortoises like eating green leafy vegetables and they are good for them. That is why cilantro can be fed to Greek tortoises.

African sulcata tortoises:

African sulcata tortoises are also known as Geochelonesulcata tortoises. They are herbivorous in nature. It means they can eat both meat and vegetable. And cilantro is very good for their health.

Red-footed tortoises:

Red-footed tortoises are mostly found in South America. The diet of red-footed tortoises does contain cilantro. So red tortoises can be fed cilantro without any side effects.

Can tortoises eat fresh coriander?

Tortoises are omnivorous by nature. They can eat both meat and plants. Tortoises mainly feed on grass. But they can certainly eat fresh coriander as an alternative to grass.

Tortoises require calcium in their daily diet to have a healthy and hard shell. Foods that contain enough calcium are ideal for tortoises. Coriander meets this requirement by containing a high amount of calcium. They also have a low level of phosphorus. 

It is an additional benefit considering the fact that phosphorus is harmful to tortoises.

3 reasons why tortoises can eat cilantro:

Let’s discuss in detail why tortoises can eat cilantro and how they are benefitted from eating cilantro.

For the strong shell:

Tortoises are known for having strong shells. But to have strong shells, they need an adequate amount of food nutrients. Tortoises like to eat green leafy vegetables. Cilantro is an excellent choice as a green leafy vegetable. 

It helps the tortoises to possess a strong shell by providing enough calcium.

Food nutrients of cilantro:

The specialty of cilantro is its high amount of vitamins and minerals. It contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. These vitamins and minerals are extremely beneficial for tortoises. The tortoises gain strength with the help of these vital food nutrients.

Alternative to grass:

The main food of tortoises is grass. They like to feed on green grass. If you do not have enough green and healthy grasses in your yard, you can feed your tortoise cilantro as an alternative. 

Cilantro can be fed individually or you can mix it with other green vegetables and feed it as a salad to your tortoise.

What greens are safe for tortoises?

Let’s discuss in detail what green vegetables are safe for tortoises to consume.


Lettuce is a very important green vegetable on the diet list of tortoises. Lamb’s lettuce and Romaine lettuce are the safest varieties of lettuce for tortoises.


Collard is another green vegetable that is a must item on the tortoise’s diet. They need to eat collard because of the vitamins and minerals it possesses. Collard greens are safe for tortoises to eat.

Mustard greens:

Mustard greens are another vegetable that is safe and healthy for tortoises to eat.

Turnip greens:

Tortoises can eat turnip greens too. They do not pose any health threat to tortoises.

Dandelion greens:

Tortoises love eating dandelion greens. It is safe for them to consume dandelion greens as it helps them to grow strong.

Beet greens:

Beet greens are also good and safe for tortoises. They contain a rich amount of vitamins and minerals.


It is safe for tortoises to eat broccoli too. Broccoli provides the desired amount of water and vitamins for tortoises.

Final thoughts

Both turtles and tortoises can eat cilantro. Cilantro quickens the growth and development of turtles and tortoises. As turtles and tortoises feed on green vegetables, cilantro can be a great addition to their food diet. It is high in calcium and vitamins.