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Thistles as food plants
Posted: 24/06/2010 by DavidWYork

I have often read that thistles can be fed to torts as part of a wild and balanced diet. Having kept torts for 40 yrs, and feeding a wild collected diet to torts...I have always thought it would not be good to feed thistles to torts, so avoided collecting them as fodder for torts.

This year though, there are bumper thistle crops in hedgerows where I collect food. I am a little nervous about thistle food for torts. I do feed yellow thistles, but would welcome members' views on those prickly purple ones as food for mature torts. Can a tortoise mouth cope with the spikes? Clearly I would choose softer young growth and flowers. So please reply with your experiences or strong views. We need to share good practise and improve the lot of our torts where possible. Anyone got photos of thistles being enjoyed by torts? David in York

Re: Thistles as food plants
Posted: 25/06/2010 by TPGDave

Hi David

I feed my tortoises thistle leaves. I do snip off the spines from the more mature leaves with a pair of scissors but I think it's worth the effort.

Re: Thistles as food plants
Posted: 27/06/2010 by VivTPG

Hi David, I do the same as Dave and snip them off. You can also feed them stinging nettles, my older torts love them,  have to pick them wearing gloves tho!

regards Vivienne

Re: Thistles as food plants
Posted: 27/06/2010 by DavidWYork

Wow, thanks u2 for replies!Click and drag me down to the editor ...I will give thistles a try (minus larger spines), they are so abundant where I collect fodder, it seems a shame to waste the chance of another plant variety as part of natural diet.

Now regarding stinging torts show no reaction at all? Hard to believe their tongues don't react to stings. Do you wilt the nettles or just place picked stems, leaves and flowers (such as they are) in fresh? This reminds me of watching cows browsing on holly bushes...they seem to relish the leaves and spines! Anyone else feed thistles and nettles? All  advice welcome, to give torts the nearest to perfect conditions, possible. Please reply with your experiences, that way our torts all benefit.                   

 David in York

Re: Thistles as food plants
Posted: 28/06/2010 by TPGDave

I've never fed stinging nettles to my tortoises but this is because of collection rather than other concerns. I have read that as well as neutralising the sting, boiling nettles also lowers the oxalic acid content ( oxalic acid being one of the active componants of the sting itself). You would face the bain of all plant boiling in that some vitamin content would be lost I suppose.

Viv do you feed your stingers raw? :)

Re: Thistles as food plants
Posted: 22/07/2010 by kerryl

Trevor loves stinging nettles he eats them young and straight from the ground as they grow in his enclosure he doesn't let them get very big Click and drag me down to the editor (saying that I dont think Trevor has ever refused any plant we have offered yet!)

Re: Thistles as food plants
Posted: 09/10/2010 by donnafj

We feed our six hermans stingers and they love them fresh from the ground.



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