Are Pothos Safe for Turtles?

The pothos plant is an excellent choice for beginner gardeners because it is easy to care for and has a long lifespan. This plant is also a perfect choice for aquarium owners because it helps clean the water from algae and significantly reduces nitrates. As a result, many turtles owners think that growing pothos in their turtle tanks will make them aesthetically pleasing and provide nutrients for the turtles. However, many plant experts consider pothos poisonous for pets, especially dogs and cats. In this article, we will talk specifically about turtles and what will happen if they eat pothos.

Can Turtles Eat Pothos?

Turtles can’t eat pothos because they contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that can cause irritation and swelling of the mouth and throat. Also, the plants contain tropane alkaloids that are highly toxic to animals and humans.

A woman holding a turtle in a garden

Get to Know the Snow Queen Pothos: Click here to read our article about this plant.

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What Is Going to Happen if A Turtle Eats Pothos?

If a turtle eats a pothos plant, the turtle will likely experience some gastrointestinal issues. The specific symptoms will depend on the size of the animal and the amount of pothos it has eaten. Generally, most animals will take a small amount of a plant that contains oxalate and won’t do it again because they will experience spitting and choking.

When a turtle ingests a lot of pothos, it may experience vomiting, diarrhea, colic, bloating, and urine discoloration.

A few potential additional symptoms may occur when the swallowed pothos are stuck in the turtle’s gastrointestinal system and do not move on to other areas of the body. In this case, the turtle may experience shortness of breath, fever, and increased salivation.

The signs of pothos poisoning in turtles usually appear within one to two hours after the animal has eaten the plant. In severe cases, death can occur within a few hours.

Read This Article to Find out The Best Soil for Your Pothos Plant.

What Should I Do If My Box Turtle Has Eaten A Pothos Plant?

You should verify the quantity ingested when a turtle eats a toxic plant like pothos. If the turtle swallowed a small part of the leave, then you should not panic. In this case, it would be enough to give your pet lots of water and wait until he naturally vomits this content out of his body.

However, sometimes turtles eat bigger chunks from the poisonous plants, which can cause serious health problems like blockage inside their stomach. In this case, you should call your veterinarian. They will be able to make a quick diagnosis and recommend a treatment. In many cases, treatment consists of helping the turtle remove the plant from his stomach and allowing the animal to recover at home.

You should also call the local poison control center. Their support will be beneficial, and they can help you treat or remove any poisonous plant from your turtle’s body.

Learn About the Elegant Marble Queen Pothos Here.

What Plants Are Bad for Turtles?

A turtle eating plants

Turtles are herbivores and prefer to eat plants, but some plants are bad for them. Some plants contain harmful toxins that can make a turtle sick. Other plants can cause a turtle to become overweight and sluggish. The most common dangerous plants for turtles are:

  • Yew (Taxus): This plant has a long history of being used as herbal medicine, but it does contain a toxin called taxine that can affect the nervous system.
  •  Castor Bean (Ricinus communis): The seeds of this plant contain ricin, which can be harmful to the liver. Also, the plant includes a lot of fat, which can make your turtle fat. It also has calcium oxalate crystals that can cause your turtle to get kidney stones.
  •  Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum): This plant is poisonous to a turtle. It can cause heart failure, and the only way to save the turtle is to use an antidote called succus oxalic acid which must be administered intravenously. This poisonous plant is found only in a few areas of the US, mainly in the North East.
  •  Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata): This plant contains reserpine, which can make your turtle sleepy. However, this is not the only thing it has; it also contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can cause vomiting and respiratory distress.
  •  Elephant’s Ear (Colocasia): this plant contains large amounts of calcium oxalate. The plant has a small round root that extends into the ground, and because it is so soft, it can easily be crushed.

Click here to find out the truth about pothos and insects.

What Plants Are Safe for Box Turtles?

Box turtles can eat various plants, but some are safer than others. Generally, a turtle-friendly plant must be low to the ground and have a broad leaf span. These plants provide a hiding place for the turtles in addition to all the nutrients that they may need. Here are some suggestions:

  • Dandelion Greens: this plant is known as a traditional Indian medicine herb that contains vitamins A, C, D, and K. Box turtles can eat this plant without worrying about toxicity.
  •  Romaine lettuce: This plant is one of the best turtle-friendly foods that many box turtles enjoy.
  •  Chickweed: This plant is commonly used as a traditional medicine in many cultures worldwide. It is not toxic to the box turtle and can be a good source of vitamins, protein, and energy.
  •  Silvervine: This plant is an excellent source of vitamin C and provides a pleasant fresh taste. It is also an excellent natural animal repellent.
  •  Red leaf lettuce: Besides being rich in vitamins A, K, and antioxidants, this plant has a taste that pleases box turtles.

Wondering if Your Pothos Plant Is Safe for Your Reptile? Find out The Answer Here.


Pothos is an excellent choice for gardening beginners and aquarium owners. However, this plant is not the best choice for a turtle box. In fact, pothos contains calcium oxalate, which can cause harmful complications when ingested by pets. Many plants are, at the same time, safe and nutritious for turtles. If you follow the list above, you will make your turtle box look nice while providing healthy nutrients to your turtles.

Click Here to Learn About the Dos and Don’ts of Watering Manjula Pothos

Diana Cox

I'm Diana from I love to spend my free time in my garden. It's a place where I can be creative, feel calm and learn new things about life. I started gardening when I was in elementary school and it became a passion of mine. Now I love to share my love of gardening with others by teaching classes and giving advice.

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