Plant Nutrition

Herbivorous reptiles, like Uromastyx lizards and tortoises, have been removed from their native environment and have lost the instinctive avoidance of native plants that may be harmful. Safe plant nutrition for reptiles includes choosing plant foods without high levels of oxalates, goitrogens or other toxins. Since otherwise nutritious plants do contain these potentially harmful phytochemicals, you need to rotate them for varied diet.

In addition, obtaining an optimal balance of calcium to phosphorous in the diet is another concern. Too much phosphorous can result in calcium being pulled from the bloodstream or even the bones, resulting in Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). This is a condition that can affect all reptiles (and all animals).

The following chart is just one tool in the quest to provide the most well-balanced nutrition for our reptile pets. Those noted as safe for daily feeding have low levels of oxalates/oxalic acid and are not known to be goitrogenic. Most have a neutral to high Ca:P ratio. References cited below.

Class Item Oxalic Acid g per 100g Ca:P Ratio Water% Fiber% Sugars% Protein%
Beets Beet Greens 0.61 2.8:1 91.02 3.7 0.5 2.2
Notes: Considered a high oxalate food by many sources
Beets Chard (Swiss) 0.65 1.1:1 92.66 1.6 1.1 1.8
Notes: Considered a high oxalate food by many sources
Brassicas Bok Choy Low 2.8:1 95.32 1 1.18 1.5
Goitrogenic: Yes
Brassicas Broccoli 0.19 0.7:1 90.69 13.59 1.7 3
Goitrogenic: Yes
Notes: Not recommended
Brassicas Brussels Sprout 0.36 0.6:1 86 3.8 2.2 3.38
Goitrogenic: Yes
Notes: Not recommended
Brassicas Cabbage 0.1 1.5:1 92.18 2.5 3.2 1.28
Goitrogenic: Yes
Notes: Not recommended
Brassicas Cauliflower 0.15 0.5:1 91.91 2.5 2.4 1.98
Goitrogenic: Yes
Notes: Not recommended
Brassicas Collard Greens 0.45 14.5:1 90.55 3.6 0.46 2.45
Goitrogenic: Yes
Brassicas Kale 0.02 2.4:1 84 2 2.2 3.3
Goitrogenic: Yes
Brassicas Mustard Greens 1.3 2.4:1 91 3.3 0.8 2.7
Goitrogenic: Yes
Class Item Oxalic Acid g per 100g Ca:P Ratio Water% Fiber% Sugars% Protein%
Brassicas Nappa Cabbage (pe-tsai) Low 2.6:1 94.39 1.2 1.41 1.2
Goitrogenic: Yes
Brassicas Red Cabbage 0.03 1.5:1 90.39 2.1 3.83 1.43
Goitrogenic: Yes
Notes: Not recommended
Brassicas Turnip Greens 0.05 4.5:1 91 3.2 1 1.5
Goitrogenic: Yes
Brassicas Watercress 0.31 2:1 95 0.5 0.4 2.3
Goitrogenic: Yes
Asteraceae Endive 0.11 1.9:1 94 3.1 1.2 1.3
Notes: Considered moderate oxalates
Schedule: Daily
Asteraceae Radichio Low 0.5:1 93 0.9 0.2 1.4
Schedule: Daily
Flowers Hibiscus Flower Low 5.8:1 89.9 1.56 Low 0.96
Notes: Two conflicting Ca:P numbers for hibiscus flower, either 5.8:1 or .1:1
Schedule: Daily (seasonal)
Flowers Rosella Flower Low 2.7:1 86.2 2.5 Low 1.6
Schedule: Daily (seasonal)
Flowers Squash Blossom N/A N/A N/A 2.5 Low 1.6
Schedule: Daily (seasonal)
Fruits Apple None 0.45:1 83.9 12.25 10.1 0.91
Class Item Oxalic Acid g per 100g Ca:P Ratio Water% Fiber% Sugars% Protein%
Fruits Banana Low 0.2:1 74.91 2.6 12.23 1.09
Fruits Bell Peppers 1.2 1.2 92 2 2.6 0.9
Notes: Red (ripe) bell peppers have more vitamins A & C
Fruits Blackberries Moderate 1.5:1 86 5.3 7.9 0.7
Notes: Seeds are dangerous to hatchlings (impaction)
Fruits Blueberries Moderate 0.4:1 85 2.7 7.3 0.7
Fruits Figs Moderate 2.5:1 79 3.3 6.9 0.8
Notes: Seeds are dangerous to hatchlings (impaction)
Fruits Kiwi Moderate 1.1 83.07 3 8.99 1.14
Fruits Papaya Moderate 5:1 89 1.8 5.9 0.6
Fruits Prickly Pear Fruit Low 2.3:1 87.2 3.6 ~8 0.7
Fruits Starfruit 9.6 0.25:1 91 2.7 7.1 0.5
Notes: Avoid feeding
Fruits Tomato (Red) 0.05 0.41:1 94.5 1.2 2.63 0.88
Notes: Acidic. Leaves and stems are toxic.
Class Item Oxalic Acid g per 100g Ca:P Ratio Water% Fiber% Sugars% Protein%
Fruits Watermelon Low 0.63:1 91.45 0.4 6.2 0.61
Notes: Not recommended
Gourds Cucumber 0.02 0.66:1 95.23 0.5 1.67 0.65
Gourds Squash, Summer Low 0.7:1 93 1.4 2 0.9
Gourds Squash, Winter Low 0.7:1 89 2.5 2.1 0.8
Schedule: Daily
Gourds Zucchini (Courgette) 0.02 0.4:1 94.64 1.1 1.73 1.21
Grains Yellow Corn 0.01 0.02:1 75.96 2.7 3.22 3.22
Notes: Use sparingly
Grasses Bermuda Hay 1 2.4:1 8 27.6 Varies 11
Grasses Orchard Hay Low 1:1 11 30 Varies 8
Grasses Ryegrass Hay Low 1.4:1 14 26 Varies 7.4
Grasses Timothy Hay Low 2:1 11 30.2 Varies 6.3
Class Item Oxalic Acid g per 100g Ca:P Ratio Water% Fiber% Sugars% Protein%
Legumes Alfalfa Hay Low 7.8:1 10 27 Varies 15.3
Legumes Green Bean 0.36 1:1 90.27 3.4 1.4 1.82
Legumes Green Pea 0.05 0.23:1 78.86 5.1 5.67 5.42
Goitrogenic: Yes
Legumes Shepherd’s Purse High 2.4:1 86.8 1.7 7 4.2
Notes: Use caution with inorganic; problems due to high nitrate content in amended soils
Legumes White Clover (Dry-Hay) Low 11:1 8 20.9 Varies 21.40
Lettuce Iceberg Lettuce 0.33 0.9:1 95.64 1.2 1.97 0.9
Notes: Avoid feeding
Lettuce Red Leaf Lettuce 0.33 1.2:1 95.64 0.9 0.48 1.33
Schedule: Daily
Lettuce Romaine Lettuce 0.33 1.1:1 94.61 2.1 1.19 1.23
Schedule: Daily
Other Dandelion 0.02 3.3:1 85.6 3.5 Low 2.7
Notes: Considered moderate oxalates; diuretic
Schedule: Daily
Other Grape Leaf Low 4:1 73.3 11 6.3 5.6
Goitrogenic: Yes
Class Item Oxalic Acid g per 100g Ca:P Ratio Water% Fiber% Sugars% Protein%
Other Hibiscus Leaves (Dry)   3.2:1 0 15.5 Low 15.4
Schedule: Daily
Other Opuntia Cactus Low in young pads and fruit; mature pads high in oxalic acid. Spineless cultivars have lower oxalate content 10.25:1 94.12 2.2 1.15 1.32
Schedule: Daily
Other Rosella Leaves   2.3:1 85.6 1.6 Low 3.3
Other – Herb Chives 1.48 1.5:1 90.65 2.5 1.85 3.27
Notes: Be very cautious
Other – Herb Cilantro 0.5 1.4:1 92 2.8 0.2 2.1
Other – Herb Lamb’s Quarters 30 4.3:1 84.3 3.9 Low 4.3
Notes: Be very cautious
Other – Herb Mallow – Common Low 3.6:1 80.9 1.38 Low 4.4
Other – Herb Parsley 1.7 2.4:1 87.71 3.3 0.85 2.97
Notes: Be very cautious
Other – Herb Purslane 1.31 1.5:1 93.32 0.5 0.5 1.3
Notes: Use caution with inorganic; problems due to high nitrate content in amended soils
Other – Herb Tarragon Low 3.6:1 N/A 3.1 3.1 8.5
Goitrogenic: Yes
Notes: Based on dry values
Class Item Oxalic Acid g per 100g Ca:P Ratio Water% Fiber% Sugars% Protein%
Other – Veg Carrots 0.5 0.59:1 90 1.8 6.6 0.8
Other – Veg Mushrooms Low 0.055:1 91 1.5 3.7 1.45
Notes: Be very cautious
Other – Veg Spinach 0.97 2:1 91.4 2.86 0.42 2.86
Goitrogenic: Yes
Notes: Be very cautious
Other – Veg Sweet Potato Moderate 0.5:1 77 4.1 4.5 1.5
Goitrogenic: Yes
Sources: http://www.russiantortoise.org/hay.htm, http://www.anapsid.org/tortdiet.html, http://oxalicacidinfo.com/, http://www.donsdeserttortoises.com/6.html, http://www.beautifuldragons.503xtreme.com/Nutrition.html, http://www.turtlestuff.com/avoidthese.html, http://wholefoodcatalog.info, http://books.google.com/books?id=HmkrAAAAYAAJ

6 thoughts on “Plant Nutrition

  1. hello,

    this very interesting.
    could you precise which type of hisbiscus ? (rose of sharon or “tropical” hisbicus ?
    Thanks very much in advance.
    Beeest regards,
    Magali Delobbe

    • Both are edible, but try to get the tropical Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis). We’ve heard that Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is not as well-liked. Color can also affect how well the uros respond to them, some prefer yellow blooms but others will eat them all.

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