The Best Sulcata Tortoise Diet (Feed Your Pet The Right Way)

Providing the right diet is essential for the health and well-being of your Sulcata Tortoise.

In their natural habitat, these tortoises have adapted to a simple and bland diet that is crucial for their optimal growth and shell development. 

In this article, I’ll discuss the dietary requirements of Sulcata Tortoises, emphasizing the importance of mimicking their natural diet to avoid health issues such as pyramiding.

What To Feed Your Sulcata Tortoise

The Sulcata Tortoise (Centrochelys Sulcata) also known as the African Spurred Tortoise has a bland diet in the wild and needs it to remain that way to remain healthy.

Providing too much or too little proteins and calcium leads to pyramiding in their shell, this is when there is excessive upward growth of the scutes on the shell.

Pyramiding only occurs in captive-bred Sulcatas, this is why I recommend sticking to the diet they have in their natural habitat.

Sulcata Tortoises are simple when it comes to feeding though, as they’re grazers they’ll happily walk around all day eating grass and hay.

I recommend feeding your Sulcata Tortoise cuttlefish bone once a week, as it’s a great source of calcium they need in their diet.

You don’t have to stick to a plain diet of grass and hay though. Here is a table of safe foods to feed your pet Tortoise.

Foods Safe To Feed Your Sulcata Tortoise
Timothy HayGrassChilli PeppersMarigold
White PetuniaMaize LeavesWeedsHibiscus
GeraniumCat GrassAir PlantBoston Fern
GasteriaKidney WeedPampas GrassPansy Viola

Fun Fact: Reptiles have evolved their taste receptors for chili peppers (Capsaicin) to have no effect on them. Chili peppers are a great source of vitamins and minerals.

Something I add to the Sulcata Tortoise diet is the ZooMed Natural Grassland Pellet.

Fruits & Vegetables For Sulcata Tortoise Diet

You may be surprised but most fruits and vegetables shouldn’t be fed to your Sulcata Tortoise. They’re full of water and sugar and this will be difficult for your pet to digest. 

There are some fruits and vegetables such as watermelon rinds, pumpkin, and zucchini that have been deemed safe as treats for Sulcatas, however, I believe this is the difference in the wild and captive-bred Sulcata Tortoise health conditions.

Ensuring you feed your pet the right diet is paramount for their health and well-being. These reptiles can live 70+ years with the right care.

Foods To Never Feed Your Sulcata Tortoise

You should never feed your Sulcata Tortoise any of the foods from the table below, because they’re hazardous to their health.

Greens such as spinach and kale have been found to impede Sulcata Tortoises’ ability to absorb calcium, causing metabolic bone disease.

Foods To Never Feed Your Sulcata Tortoise
Avocado FruitAvocado TreeAubergineAzalea
ArnicaArum LilyAshAstrantia
AuriculaAutumn CrocusKaleRocket

Feeding Schedule

There isn’t a particular routine to build up when it comes to feeding Sulcata Tortoises; they’re grazers.

You simply supply them with their food and they’ll graze at their own pace and you’ll just need to top up their food supply a few times a week.

It’s a common misconception that Sulcata Tortoises don’t need water, this is incorrect. Keep a heavy bowl of fresh water always accessible for them to use as and when they require.


The significance of replicating their native diet cannot be overstated. In their natural habitat, these tortoises have thrived on a diet that may appear unassuming but is meticulously suited to their unique biology. 

By embracing this simplicity and avoiding the pitfalls of overcomplicated feeding regimens and unnecessary foods, we can help prevent the development of health issues and provide them with a long and healthy life.