Turtles are easy to feed because they can eat a wide variety of foods ranging from meat to plants and fruits. However, foods with high amounts of phosphorous are bad for turtles. Avocado is one fruit that turtle owners might not know about.
Can turtles eat avocado? No, turtles should not eat avocado. The fruit contains persin, a harmful fungicidal toxin that can be fatal to a turtle since too much of it causes organ failure. Avocados also have high amounts of phosphorous, fat, and oxalates, which are all bad for turtles.
Avocados may have a lot of beneficial nutrients, but turtles should stay away from them. Here’s how avocado affects turtles and what to do if your reptile friend eats the fruit.
Can You Feed Avocado To Your Pet Turtles?
Turtles should not eat avocado. Although the fruit has many nutrients that can benefit turtles, it contains other chemicals that are harmful to the reptiles.
According to NCBI, an average fruit of 136g contains;
- 228 Kcal of energy
- 98g of water
- 2.67g of proteins
- 21g of fat
- 10g of fiber
- 12g of carbohydrates
For 136g serving also contains several minerals and nutrients, including;
- Magnesium – 73 mg
- Potassium – 69 mg
- Phosphorous – 39 mg
- Calcium – 18 mg
- Sodium – 11 mg
- Iron – 0.83 mg
The fruit also contains some vitamins;
- Vitamin A – 10 mg
- Vitamin C – 12 mg
- Vitamin E – 2.68 mg
All these nutrients would make avocado one of the best foods for turtles, but the high phosphorous content in avocado can upset the calcium-phosphorous balance in a turtle’s body. An avocado’s phosphorous to calcium ratio is 4:1, far from the ideal 1:2 required for a turtle.
Avocados have a toxic fungicidal called persin, mainly found in the skin and seed, but small amounts also leak into the fleshy part.
The oxalic acid that avocados contain binds to calcium, significantly reducing the amount of calcium absorbed by a turtle’s body. Although small amounts of the crystals formed by this binding can help clean the digestive tract, too much is harmful.
Though turtles can handle small servings of avocado at a time, there’s always the risk of harm. Since the dangers of avocado outweigh the benefits, it is unwise to feed your pet turtle the fruit.
Do Turtles Like Avocado?
Turtles like avocado because it is fleshy, soft, and buttery. The flesh of an avocado is sweet, so turtles enjoy eating it. However, you shouldn’t let your reptile friend eat avocado just because he likes it.
Health Risks For Turtles Eating Avocado?
Although avocado has nutrients that can benefit turtles, there are huge health risks. These potential risks include;
Low bone density
Because of oxalic acid in the fruit, eating avocado leads to low bone density in turtles. The acid binds with calcium, preventing the mineral’s absorption, hence leading to calcium deficiency and low bone density.
The high amount of phosphorous also inhibits calcium absorption, compounding the calcium deficiency.
136g of avocado contains about 228 Kcal of energy and 21g of fat. If your turtle consumes a lot of the fruit without exercise, it will gain weight dramatically, becoming obese and unhealthy.
The persin that avocado contains is dangerous to turtles. This fungicidal compound interacts with a turtle’s internal organ in a reaction that leads to organ failure. If the amount of persin ingested is high, all the organs fail, causing death.
Why You Shouldn’t Feed Avocados To Turtles?
There are several reasons why you shouldn’t feed avocado fruit to your turtle. Some of those include;
Avocados Have Persin
Persin is an anti-fungal compound found in avocados that causes organ failure in turtles. The fruit’s skin, seed, and even flesh all contain some persin, with the most being in the seed. Some signs of persin poisoning are;
- Difficulty in breathing
- Increased or irregular heart rate
- General weakness
- Organ failure due to fluid accumulation around the organs
Persin poisoning is not treatable, so the vet can prescribe fluids to wash the toxin out of the system or provide supportive care if the poisoning is advanced.
Avocados Have Oxalates
Oxalates bind to calcium to form indigestible crystals, reducing the amount of calcium absorbed and causing calcium deficiency. Calcium deficiency during the growth stage of a turtle leads to weak bones and a poorly formed shell.
Signs of calcium deficiency include;
- Arched spine
- Soft jaw due to weak bones
- Swollen legs that also twitch while at rest.
How Do You Prepare Avocado For Turtles?
When preparing avocado for turtles, remove the seed and skin of the fruit and cut the flesh into small chunks. However, remember that turtles shouldn’t eat avocado since even tiny helpings of the fruit can be fatal.
Can You Feed Avocado To Baby Turtles?
No, baby turtles should not eat avocado. Persin will kill the baby turtle. If the turtle doesn’t die, there will be other problems like weak bones.
The inverted calcium-phosphorus ratio provided by the avocado fruit causes a calcium deficiency that will be compounded by oxalates when they bind with calcium.
Turtle enjoys an avocado outdoors.
No, box turtles should not eat avocado. Box turtles live on land, so you may think that avocado is safe for them. However, despite avocado’s rich nutritional content, it has compounds that are harmful to box turtles. Hence, avocado should not be part of a box turtle’s diet, no matter how tiny the servings are.
Red-eared slider turtles live in a semi-aquatic environment in the wild where they would never encounter avocado. Since these turtles eat most aquatic and land vegetation, they will eat avocado if served.
However, since avocado contains toxins and minerals that are potentially fatal to the turtles, they shouldn’t eat it.
Painted turtles should never eat avocado. Avocado fruit contains persin, a toxic fungicidal compound that causes general organ failure in turtles. Alternative foods like green vegetables, bananas, and nuts provide similar nutrients to avocados.
If you’re looking to supplement your painted turtle’s diet, feed it alternative foods instead of avocado.
Avocado has many nutrients that are good for turtles. However, it also contains persin, a dangerous fungicidal, and a high amount of fat and oxalic acid, making it a harmful food for turtles.