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Posted: 19 Apr 2019, 23:32
Hello everyone. At home it's that time of the year when the smilax comes out. While I absolutely love eating them I can't seem to find either a yes or no indication of whether my 2 girls (marginated and sulcata ) can eat them. Any thoughts?
Posted: 20 Apr 2019, 12:30
Smilax doesn't really grow in the UK, but I've had a look at the scientific literature, and I think I might proceed with a bit of caution on this one.
First of all there are nearly 300 species of Smilax, and I don't know which ones you have. All the usual sites say that there is nothing toxic at all and the plant should be perfectly edible, but we also look for properties that we know are not great for tortoises (oxalates, goitrogens, saponins, etc.). I found several articles (like this one) http://www.botanicalauthentication.org/ ... lia_(root)
that talk about calcium oxalate crystals (raphides) that are present in the root, and this one https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23025085
regarding the leaves. These crystals are sharp and can cause irritation to the mouth and throat on ingestion. Also, many species of the plant grow from rhizomes and we tend to advise people to steer clear of plants that grow from rhizomes or bulbs.
Having said all that, I doubt that the raphide content is very high, or that the plants would in any way be dangerous to your tortoises so you are probably all right in allowing your tortoises to nibble a few leaves, but I wouldn't feed them in any quantity (and I certainly wouldn't feed the berries as your tortoises aren't fruit-eating species).
I'm sorry that I can't be more definite of this one, but if I were giving it a 'traffic light' code (as we do to the plants on our database), I would give it an 'amber-red' light, meaning feed sparingly, if at all.
Posted: 20 Apr 2019, 15:58
Thank you so much for your response. I was actually wanting to feed them the top 6-8 inches and stay completely away from the leaves and definitely not the roots. The top part for comparison is similar to asparagus. It is delicious to eat. I'm still relatively new to tortoises at least keeping them. My specialty for reptiles is snakes
I'll give my larger girl a small piece of the top part just to see and I will get back to you. On a side note both of my ladies LOVE the prickly pear!
Posted: 20 Apr 2019, 16:49
I thought they would love the prickly pear. Mine love it and at the end of eating a pad their mouths and faces are covered in that sticky sap -- bit like a child eating a chocolate bar! Did you decide to take the glochids and spines off or did you leave them on?
I think we should probably do an entry for Smilax, as even though it doesn't grow in the UK, it seems to be quite prevalent in parts of the States and elsewhere. If we do an entry, could you take some good photos for us (whole plant, close-up of leaves/flowers/berries, etc.), and we would credit you with copyright in the photos? We print the copyright notice on the photo itself. Not sure when we will get round to it, as we've got a big list to get through, but let me know if you're interested.
Hope you and the torts have a really lovely Easter!
Posted: 20 Apr 2019, 20:29
I would love to take the pictures for you! I took 2 small pieces of cactus pad and removed what I could see and feel but I know that I missed a few. Neither one was concerned about them though they loved it.
Posted: 16 Jun 2019, 00:44
Just a quick update regarding smilax. I gave both of my girls a few of the smaller leaves and they thoroughly enjoyed them with no I'll effects. I give them both a few a week now as part of a varied diet.
Posted: 16 Jun 2019, 08:43
That's great to know that there were no problems with the Smilax -- thanks for the update, Pete!