Can Turtles Eat Cheese? Why This Is Not a Good Idea

Turtle owners often tend to give their turtles some human food. While, in most cases, it is cooked vegetables or meat, you should remember that not all the human foods are good for your little pet. So, can turtles eat cheese?

No, turtles cannot and shouldn’t be eating any type of cheese or dairy. It is highly toxic for your turtle and won’t get any nutrients or even energy due to your turtle’s incapacity to even digest dairy products. Read the article below if you want to find out more on this topic. 

Are Turtles Allowed to Eat Cheese?

pieces of cheese

No, turtles aren’t allowed to eat cheese. Cheese, and other dairy products, are toxic for your turtle. Technically speaking, turtles are allowed to eat cheese. Moreover, some turtle owners feed their turtles dairy products due to their high calcium content. However, you should remember the fact that a turtle’s digestive system cannot break down these kinds of products. Therefore, your turtle won’t absorb any beneficial nutrients. 

Even if a turtle’s body would be able to absorb some nutrients out of cheese, it would be mainly proteins. Yes, turtles need proteins. But the amount of proteins that a slice of cheese contains is too high for a turtle. A little source of protein every 2-3 days should be enough for a turtle. Every day proteins will only mess up your turtle’s digestive tract and general health. 

Also, there are so many other protein sources that are better than cheese in every possible way. Shrimp, for example, consists of 25% clean protein. That means that if you gave your turtle 10 grams of shrimp, 2.5 of would be clean proteins. Here is a list of some other important sources of protein for your turtle:

  • Crickets 
  • Grasshoppers
  • Hard-boiled eggs 
  • Moths
  • Slugs 
  • Worms
  • Silkworms 

Is Cheese Toxic to Turtles?

Cheese isn’t actually toxic to turtles. It is just impossible for your turtle to break down the cheese and digest it properly. A turtle does not have the right pack of enzymes to break down all the elements that a piece of cheese is containing. 

The only thing a piece of cheese will ensure your turtle is indigestion. While you might think that it isn’t a big problem, think again. 

While the indigestion isn’t really a big problem, the consequences of that can be catastrophic. Even the smallest amount of cheese can lead to loss of appetite and serious digestive problems. Now, if it gets there, it is a serious problem. Your turtle won’t start eating after indigestion and you will be required to force-feed it. Hopefully,  your turtle will drink the water on its own. 

When a turtle isn’t eating, the biggest problem isn’t actually the food. It is the water. A turtle can go a week or two without any food and will be just fine. But without water, it is a serious issue. So, try not to feed your turtle not only cheese but also all other dairy products. 

You may also like: What Can Turtles Eat From Human Food?

Why is Cheese Bad for Turtles?

parmeggiano cheese

Turtles don’t have the enzymes to break down cheese or other dairy products. But what does this mean? There isn’t much information about this. However, we can imagine what feels like a turtle when you feed it some cheese or other dairy products. 

First of all, if any product cannot be digested, it slowly rots inside your stomach. Indigestion is the last thing you should worry about when it comes to this. The fact that the indigested cheese starts to rot inside your turtle can cause serious food poisoning and, as a consequence of that, loss of appetite and dehydration. 

On top of that, cheese isn’t even nutritious for turtles! Yes, you heard me right. Even if a turtle could break down the slice of cheese you gave it, it won’t have the right nutrients for the turtle. Yes, it has a lot of calcium. However, besides that, cheese is literally useless for a turtle. Now, why do you need to feed your turtle dairy products? 

There is no explanation for a turtle owner to poison their little pet with cheese or other dairy products. Just assume these products are highly toxic for your turtle and don’t feed them at all. There are so many other products that can provide the same beneficial nutrients, the same amount of calcium and other vitamins as dairy products. On top of that, these products will provide these nutrients without hurting your turtle. 

Can Tortoises Eat Cheese?

No, tortoises cannon eat cheese. Not only is it toxic for them but also, tortoises are herbivorous. This means that their diet is based only on veggies and fruits and the cheese would simply destroy its digestive tract microflora. 

A well-balanced diet for tortoises consists of 80% leafy greens, veggies, and herbs and 20% of fruits. Due to the high sugar content, fruits cannot be fed constantly. As a source of proteins tortoises use vegetal proteins. Here is a list of veggies that contain high amounts of protein:

  • Cabbage 
  • Broccoli
  • Beans 
  • Leafy greens 
  • Beet greens 
  • Chicory 
  • Collards 

As you can see, a tortoise can get its daily dose of protein from so many sources it basically doesn’t need any animal protein. 

Remember that, while carnivorous and omnivorous turtles are able to survive dairy products due to their digestive tract being adapted to some animal products, tortoises won’t. Their digestive tract is adapted to fruits and veggies, so don’t even try to feed them some cheese or other dairy products. It will end badly for your little pet friend. 

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Now you know that cheese is not the best product to feed your turtle. Not only will it mess your turtle’s health up but also won’t bring any essential nutrients to the table. It is a good idea to completely forget about dairy products if you are a turtle owner. There are lots of alternative products, some are even more nutritious than dairy products will ever be. Remember, a balanced diet will ensure your turtle has a long happy life. 

Dorothy Razo

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