Domitrius Barkwood

Updated On:

What Do Baby Desert Tortoises Eat [12+ Foods They Feed On]

Heartgard Plus Chewables For Medium Dogs 26-50lbs (Green) 12 Doses

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Baby desert tortoises are born in late summer or early fall. They come out of eggs that their mothers bury in the sand. 

These little tortoises are tiny, about the size of a fifty-cent piece, and only weigh a few ounces. Their shells are soft, and their bodies have a thin layer of yellowish-brown skin.

When they’re young, desert tortoises spend their first few years in burrows they dig themselves. 

These burrows help keep them cool in the hot desert and protect them from predators. 

As they get older, they spend more time above ground, soaking up the sun and munching on plants. 

When they’re adults, they might only come out during the cooler months of the year. Baby tortoises are full of energy and love to play.

In the wild, desert tortoises can live for over eighty years, but in captivity, they usually don’t live as long. 

It’s illegal to collect or have them without permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because they’re a threatened species.

It’s important to understand what they like to eat and the kind of places they need to live, whether they’re in the wild or captivity. 

This article will discuss what baby desert tortoises eat, where they live naturally, and how to take care of them properly.

What Do Baby Desert Tortoises Eat: Food They Love


Baby desert tortoises really like eating different types of leafy greens such as romaine lettuce, kale, collard greens, and dandelion greens

These leafy greens give them important stuff like calcium which helps their shells and bones grow strong. 

In the wild, they eat herbs and weeds like plantain, clover, and sow thistle. These give them lots of good nutrients just like what they eat in nature. 

The grass is also a big part of their diet, giving them fiber and other good things for their stomachs and overall health. 

Eating high-quality grass hay, like timothy or Bermuda grass hay, helps their digestion and stops them from getting constipated. 

Sometimes they get to have a treat of fruits and veggies like strawberries, apples, melons, squash, carrots, and bell peppers, but not too often because they have lots of sugar. 

They can also have tortoise pellets sometimes, but it’s important to still give them fresh greens and veggies to make sure they’re eating healthy.

What do Agassiz’s Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) eat?

Well, they’re pretty common in the United States, especially in places like the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. They munch on whatever plants they find in these areas. 

This could be different types of grasses, wildflowers, and even cacti! But the exact plants they eat might change depending on where they live within these deserts.

What do Morafka’s Desert Tortoise (Gopherus morafkai) eat?

Morafka’s Desert Tortoise eats a lot of the same things as Agassiz’s Desert Tortoise. They mainly munch on grasses, herbs, wildflowers, and juicy plants. 

Sometimes they also snack on fruits and veggies if they can find them. 

Just like Agassiz’s Desert Tortoise, what they eat changes depending on what’s around in their habitat.

Where Do Baby Desert Tortoise Live: The Habitat

habitat of baby-tortoise

Baby desert tortoises live in places that match their natural home. You’ll usually find them in dry places like deserts or semi-deserts. 

These areas don’t have a lot of plants, and the ground is often rocky. The weather can be really hot during the day and really cold at night. 

Baby tortoises look for safe spots to hide from the heat and cold, like burrows, cracks in rocks, or dense bushes. 

They like places with soft, sandy ground where they can dig and hide. 

These places give them plenty of chances to find food, soak up the sun to stay warm, and find shelter when they need it. 

In short, baby desert tortoises are tough and can handle living in harsh environments like these.

Want to know more about tortoises, check these out:

  1. What Do Russian Tortoises Eat: A Guide to Their Nutritious Diet
  2. What Do Desert Tortoises Eat

Desert Baby Desert Tortoise Care: Captive Care Requirements

1. Enclosure

1.1 Outdoor or Indoor: It’s best to keep baby desert tortoises in a big outdoor area that looks like their natural desert home. 

But if you can’t do that, a well-kept indoor space can work for a while.

1.2 Size: Make sure the enclosure is big enough for the tortoise to move around, soak up the sun, and hide. 

A good rule is that the space should be at least four times the length of the tortoise’s shell.

1.3 Substrate: Don’t use sand or gravel because they can bother the tortoise’s eyes and make it hard for them to digest food. 

Instead, use a mix of soil, sand, and hay that’s like what they’d find in the desert.

2. Temperature and Lighting

2.1 Keeping Warm: Make sure the enclosure stays warm, with a sunny spot reaching about 95°F (35°C) for the tortoise to bask in. 

You can use heat lamps or heating pads to make sure it’s cozy. It’s also good to have cooler spots so the tortoise can move around and find the right temperature.

2.2 UVB Light: Give them UVB light to act like the sun and help them make vitamin D and absorb calcium. 

Make sure they have a regular day and night cycle like they would in nature.

3. Diet

3.1 Fiber-Rich Food: Baby desert tortoises need food with lots of fiber to help them grow healthy and digest their food properly.

Give them a mix of chopped-up, low-growing weeds like dandelions, mulberry leaves, and clover.

3.2 Hydration: Even though they might not need a water dish, soaking the tortoise in shallow, warm water for 15-30 minutes, 1-2 times a week, can help them stay hydrated and get rid of waste.

3.3 Supplements: Talk to a vet about giving your tortoise calcium supplements, especially if it lives indoors or is growing quickly.

3.4 Avoid: Stay away from iceberg lettuce, fruits, and foods high in protein because they’re not good for desert tortoises.

If you take good care of your baby desert tortoise and meet all its needs, it will grow up healthy and happy while living with you.


Baby desert tortoises need certain foods and care to stay healthy and happy. 

By knowing what they like to eat, where they like to live, and how to take care of them, people who love tortoises can make sure these special animals do well, whether they’re in the wild or being looked after by people.


What is poisonous to tortoises?

Some plants that are safe for humans can be harmful or even poisonous to tortoises.
Avoid feeding your tortoise plants like rhubarb, ivy, oleander, and plants from the nightshade family, as they can be toxic.

Do baby tortoises eat every day?

Yes, baby tortoises typically eat every day.
They have high energy needs for growing, so providing them with regular meals is important for their health and development.

Do desert tortoises eat cactus?

Yes, desert tortoises can eat certain types of cactus, but it’s important to be cautious.
Some species of cactus have spines or chemicals that can harm tortoises.
Make sure to remove any spines and only offer them small amounts of cactus as part of a varied diet.

Can desert tortoises eat lettuce?

While lettuce isn’t necessarily harmful to desert tortoises, it’s not the best choice for their diet.
Lettuce has a high water content and lacks many of the nutrients that tortoises need.
It’s better to offer them a variety of leafy greens like kale, collard greens, and dandelion greens for a more balanced diet.

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc, or its affiliates.