Can turtles eat cilantro?

What makes people adopt turtles? Well, they are one of the most loved and adorable animals, to begin with. Their quiet, shy, and calm presence are what is admired about them the most. So it is no surprise that their popularity as pets is increasing with time. Even though they seem like less work than dogs and cats, what many people do not realize is that turtles require more attention than what some people may perceive. Amongst other requirements, their diet has always been and still is an important factor for consideration before adopting them. But there is not much literature available to guide the pet parents in this regard. For example, you are more likely to land on an article about cats or dogs if you try searching can turtles eat cilantro in the Google search bar! 

What do turtles normally eat?

Turtles are reptiles, and their feed depends upon their species. Knowing what to feed your turtle is important so that a nutritious, healthy meal is delivered to them to fulfill their dietary needs. 

Some turtles only feed on plant sources that include fruits and vegetables. These are herbivorous turtles. However, there are a few turtles that feed on both plant and animal sources, and they are called omnivorous. Usually, a protein-rich diet is considered good for turtles, especially baby turtles, as they need it for growth and development. This helps them increase in size and the development of their organs. Besides a good protein source present in their meal, good fats along with minerals and vitamins are also important. Perhaps the most important mineral is calcium, as turtles need it for their shell, which is made up of bones.

The nutritional recap! 

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Is cilantro healthy?  Cilantro’s nutritional profile shows it to contain vitamins AC, and K, and the leaves of Cilantro have also shown to possess folatepotassiumcholine, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and manganese. This means that it contains a good composition of vitamins and minerals, but is it enough? Well, a good source of leafy vegetative plants assures the delivery of essential vitamins and minerals to the turtles, making cilantro a good addition to the diet. We daresay cilantro has enough to make it to your turtle’s dinner plate! 

Can turtles eat cilantro?

As most of the pet turtles can consume vegetation and plant-based diets, cilantro seems like a good option. There are a few acceptable edible vegetables that should represent a high percentage of the diet, and cilantro, being a safe and nutritious option, is one of them. It is a known fact that anything dark green and leafy by appearance should make up a significant part of the turtle diet. Vegetative options for diet can be offered in the form of a cooked meal or a raw form. Although, like many vegetables and other foods, raw form is more natural, and it would retain more nutrients, which are mostly reduced by the different forms of cooking.

The good thing about cilantro is that even though it is easily available at local grocery stores, it can also be grown at home. Besides the beneficial nutritive effects mentioned about cilantro, it also has other health benefits that are associated with it. For example, many studies have shown that there are preventive effects of C. sativum (the species of cilantro) seed oil on bacterial and fungal activity. With all these advantages mentioned, why think further?

How to feed cilantro? 

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Now that we have established that it is okay to give turtle’s cilantro, the question is not if but how? It is usually better to give turtles a different variety of foods mixed so that they do not start depending on a single diet. Vegetables should be chopped into fine, small pieces. As mentioned before, they should be mixed with different other vegetative plants and mixed to make sure that a wide variety of food is being given to the turtle. Cilantro can be given with other vegetative plant foods such as mustard seeds, shredded carrots, kale, hyacinth, duckweed, lettuce, parsley, zucchini, etc. 

For a turtle that is an herbivore, it is better if most (80-90%) of the plant material diet is composed of vegetables and flowers, and the rest, which makes up about only 10-20%, should be fruits. Even for omnivorous turtles, the veggie portion of their diet can be composed based on the same division. While preparing to give turtles their meal, it is important to wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly. Hence, make sure the cilantro is properly washed. It should be presented to your box turtle in a shallow a clean dish. Baby turtles need to be fed every day, but adults need to be fed 4-5 times a week.

Are there any side effects?

Feeding Box Turtles | VCA Animal Hospital

Of course, any feed should be checked twice for allergies, harmful toxic effects, or any kinds of infection associated incidents before it is given. The history of cilantro consumption has never reported any animal death, nor does it represent any common allergen group. However, it might get contaminated during the handling process. One of the most notorious foodborne diseases in the world is caused by a bacteria called Salmonella. Salmonella is a potential health risk when consuming it in ground form, and there is a chance that it can have a prevalence of Salmonella if it is not taken or handled carefully.


Considering all the above facts about cilantro, the cilantro query is answered comprehensively. Something obvious from the above discussion about turtle diet is that they need a healthy, nutritious diet that contains all necessary vitamins and minerals. Cilantro seems to be relatively simple, but a wonderful option! So yes, go ahead and add cilantro to the diet and ensure a healthy and safe diet for your turtle. Thankfully, there is less scarcity of food in today’s age, and there are so many food options available for animals that one can make an informed decision about the feed that is to be given to their turtle without much fuss.

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