Do Turtles Bite Each Other? Why They Bite And How To Stop Them?

Image of a man biting himself

Turtles are considered to be peaceful creatures. So, you might wonder whether turtles bite each other?

Turtles do bite each other. Usually, they bite to show dominance. Wild turtles bite to protect themselves, while pet turtles can bite each other for territorial disputes, during mating, or if they are starving. However, there are several ways using which you can stop turtles from biting each other.

Now that you know turtles bite each other, let’s talk in detail as to what causes them to bite and how you can stop them from biting each other.

Why Do Turtles Bite Each Other?

As mentioned earlier, turtles bite each other over territorial disputes. It is mainly related to social status or showing dominance.

Apart from fighting over territory issues, they bite each other during mating.

During mating, a male turtle frequently bites the female one. However, the bite is gentle and not hard enough to injure the female turtle.

Also, if the turtles are hungry and do not find food to eat, they tend to bite out of starvation. In such a case, a young pond turtle often becomes a meal for the large Snapping turtle.

In aquariums and pools, if turtles are in large numbers, they bite each other as they feel threatened due to over-crowding.

While in natural habitat, you will not often find turtles biting one another as they tend to stay away from each other. You will find them together in groups only when they are basking in the sun on rocks or on logs.

Now, that was about turtles biting in wildlife. But, what about your pet turtles? Do they bite each other, and for what reason? Let’s talk about that part as well.

Pet turtles do not usually bite each other unless something is bothering them. They tend to bite because of the following reasons:

  • Habitat: Habitat is one of the key factors for any pet to be comfortable and happy. If you have multiple turtles, ideally, a bigger tank should be preferred. If you have a small tank and your turtles have outgrown the tank size, then there are chances that they will bite each other because of the lack of space.
  • Environmental Stress: Even external factors like loud noise and temperature do unsettle your turtles to the extent that they will start biting each other. Turtles do not like too much handling and prefer to stay on their own.
  • Mating Process: During mating, it is very common that the male turtle bites the female one. Again, keep in mind that the bite in such a case is gentle and is not harmful to your female turtle.
  • Does Not Get Along: Turtles live a solitary life and are not social animals that require company. Turtles do look very simple but are actually complex animals. Each species of turtles have their own unique traits that differentiate them from one another. If you have 2 different species of turtles, then chances are that they will not get along well. In such a case, they might sometimes bite each other.

This was about turtles in general. But what about red-eared sliders? Why do they bite each other?

Recommended Further Reading:

Why Do Red-eared Sliders Bite Each Other?

Red-eared sliders are one of the most popular aquatic turtles. While they are not highly aggressive in their nature, sometimes they do bite each other.

They bite each other mainly for the following reasons:

  • Dominance or Social Status: Showing dominance is commonly observed in most of the animal species. A male will always show dominance over other weak counterparts by shaking their claws or biting them. They usually create a higher social status for themselves and try to maintain it.
  • Territorial Issues: Like every other creature, turtles also do not allow other animals to enter their territory. Whenever some a predator like a crocodile enters their territory, they often try to stop them from entering by biting and fighting with them unitedly.
  • Rejection for Mating: Mating commonly occurs in all species. However, when a male red-eared slider touches the female turtle for mating, and if the female turtle is not interested in mating, she opposes it by biting.
  • Starving: This is a very rare scenario. But, cannibalism does happen in case of food shortage. If an elder turtle is hungry and cannot find food, it will eventually attack and eat the younger turtle in the pond to satisfy its hunger.

That was all about turtles biting each other. But you don’t have to worry about your turtle biting other turtles. There are several ways using which you can stop your turtles from biting.

So now, let’s have a look at the various ways to stop turtles from biting one another.

How Can You Stop Your Turtles From Biting Each Other?

As said earlier, in the wildlife, turtles do not usually bite one another as they live on their own. However, the chances of your pet turtles biting each other are high.

You can take the following steps to stop your turtle from biting each other:

  • Big Habitat: Unlike fish, turtles require a lot of water in the tank. The minimum water in the tank that is required is 10 gallons for every inch of the first turtle length. In addition, 5 gallons of water for every inch of any additional turtle’s length is required. If your turtles outgrow the tank size, they will be cramped for space and will start biting each other. So, make sure that the tank size is bigger, and all your turtles are pretty comfortable in it.
  • Sufficient Feeding: Ensure that all your turtles are fed well so that they do not starve. If any of the turtles is hungry and if it does not find food, it will eventually try to bite the other turtles.
  • Good Water Quality: If the water in the tank is not clean, it will cause stress to your turtle. In this case, the turtles will start biting each other due to stress. So you need to ensure that the quality of water in the tank is good. You can use a filter to maintain the quality of the water and also do frequent water changes.
  • Avoid Keeping Multiple Male Turtles In The Same Tank: Male turtles have a tendency to fight and bite each other if they do not get along with each other. So, in that case, you need to separate them to avoid biting.
  • Use Barriers: If one of your turtles is dominant, it will start chasing the other turtles who are less dominant. You can use plants, rocks, or other visual barriers inside the tank. This will provide a hiding place for the less dominant turtles and will keep them out of sight of the dominant turtle.
  • Large Basking Area: Turtles need sunlight to bask for their growth. If the basking area is so small that it cannot accommodate all your turtles, then you need to buy or build a separate large basking platform for your turtles. In this case, you can use separate basking lamps to cover the entire basking area.

Okay! So, it is pretty clear by now that turtles do bite and fight. But…

Related Further Reading:

What Happens If Turtles Bite Each Other?

Turtles biting each other is a sign of their aggressiveness.

When they become aggressive, their bite is more forceful and can cause injury.

You need to be careful if such a scenario occurs with your pet turtles. They need to be immediately separated before any one of them gets seriously injured.

Okay! Now you know that a turtle can get seriously injured if another turtle bites it. But can they kill each other?

Can Turtles Kill Each Other?

Turtles do not kill each other. They have the carapace for self-defense.

They cannot kill as they do not have any weapon to kill another turtle.

Moreover, sea turtles have their body designed in such a way that they are streamlined in the water, but it is not meant to fight or kill one another.

Interesting Further Reading:

Parting Thoughts

Turtles are peaceful creatures. However, if they become aggressive, they do bite each other with such power that it can actually hurt the other turtle.

Turtles bite each other mainly when they feel threatened, become aggressive, during mating, or due to environmental stress.

Red-eared slider turtles bite each other to show dominance, because of territorial issues, starving, or while avoiding mating.

There are various ways that you can use to stop your pet turtles from biting each other. Large habitat, sufficient feeding, good water quality, using barriers, large basking areas are some of the ways to name a few.

Turtles are not easy to pet and actually require a lot of work to take care of. They are however, beautiful animals and deserve the best from us.