Plants Toxic To Turtles – Learn About Plants Turtles Should Not Eat

Turtle On Green Grass
(Image credit: shanelinkcom)

Whether wildlife rehabilitators, rescuers, pet owners, zookeepers, or even gardeners, it is necessary to be aware of toxic plants to turtles and tortoises. Aquatic turtles can be kept in an aquarium, but others may be free to roam in a prepared habitat or the backyard.

Recognizing Unsafe Plants for Turtles

It is best not to feed turtles anything you aren’t certain to be safe. When planting an enclosure, or the backyard if the turtle is allowed outside, first research the toxicity of all the plants that may be purchased or grown.

Also, identify all the plant species that already exist in the yard. If uncertain about specific plants, take cuttings of the leaves and flowers and take them to the local extension office or plant nursery for identification.

A turtle or pet will not know the difference between a toxic and non-toxic plant. Turtles often will eat a tasty looking plant so it’s up to you to know what turtles can eat.

What Plants Are Poisonous to Turtles

These are the most commonly known toxic plants to turtles, but many more exist.

Plants containing oxalates (oxalate salts)

Contact with these plants may cause burning, swelling, and pain:

Toxic or potentially toxic plants to turtles

These are plants turtles should not eat and could cause trauma to various organs. Toxicity level ranges from mild to severe, depending on the plant: 

Dermatitis toxicity

Sap from any of these plants may cause a skin rash, itching, or irritation. Cleanse with soap and water.

Potentially harmful plants

Some information suggests these plants could be harmful to turtles and tortoises too:

Susan Albert

After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a degree in English, Susan pursued a career in communications. In addition, she wrote garden articles for magazines and authored a newspaper gardening column for many years. She contributed South-Central regional gardening columns for four years to While living in Oklahoma, she served as a master gardener for 17 years.