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Do Turtles Eat Each Other? (Why It Can Happen)

Do Turtles Eat Each Other? (Why It Can Happen)

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The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Keeping pet turtles can be a very satisfying experience. Some people choose to have just one pet turtle, but in many ways, it makes sense to have multiple turtles.

You might want your pet turtle to have a buddy so that it won’t get lonely. This is a reasonable train of thought, and you can have a great time caring for multiple turtles.

Before you bring another turtle into your home, it is good to learn about potential problems. For example, you might be worried about whether the turtles will fight.

Do turtles fight with each other sometimes? Would turtles eat each other if a fight got too bad?

Keep reading to learn more about turtles and whether or not one turtle would choose to eat another turtle. This should help you to feel confident when choosing to keep multiple pet turtles in your home.

Turtle Cannibalism Isn’t Unheard of

Disturbingly, it is indeed possible that one turtle could eat another turtle. Turtle cannibalism isn’t completely unheard of.

However, you should know that it’s pretty uncommon for turtles to eat each other. This is a fairly unlikely scenario, and it likely isn’t something to be concerned with if you’re buying pet turtles.

If you’ve spent a lot of time caring for pet turtles, then you’ll know that they eat pretty much whatever you put in their tank. If you put something in front of a turtle, then it’s going to eat it.

Turtles that are desperate for food will certainly try to kill and eat another turtle. It simply wouldn’t be the first choice that a turtle would make.

Incidents of turtle cannibalism are exceedingly rare when talking about pet turtles. It isn’t that common in wild turtles either.

What Might Cause Turtles to Fight?

Turtles Swimming Near Each Other

Before one turtle decides to eat another turtle, they’re going to need to fight first. You might be wondering what would cause two turtles to start fighting.

Below, you’ll see several reasons why turtles decide to fight one another. Once you know this information, it might be easier to make it so that your turtles won’t fight.

Territory Issues

When you have turtles living in the same tank, they might wind up squabbling over territory. This is more likely to happen when there isn’t enough space for both turtles to live happily.

Sometimes, you might notice turtles fighting to protect their personal space. You could see one turtle biting at the other.

To keep this from being an issue, it’s best to put turtles in tanks that are more than big enough for them. Give the turtles enough space and ensure that they won’t feel the need to fight over basking spots.

If you do your best to put the turtles in a habitat that is large enough, then you’ll have a much better experience. You might want to seek out specific advice for how big a turtle habitat needs to be based on the species of the turtles that you’re caring for.

Problems with the Environment

Issues with the environment could cause the turtles to act aggressively. When a turtle doesn’t have a healthy environment to live in, it’s going to cause the turtle a lot of stress.

This stress will make it more likely that the turtle will be ornery. It could wind up taking things out on the other turtle in the tank.

You can keep your pet turtles from getting stressed by doing your best to provide them with a healthy environment. Give the turtles what they need to thrive while also ensuring that you keep things clean.

Turtles aren’t necessarily hard to care for, but you do need to put some effort into it. You must take care of the environment so that the turtles can remain healthy and happy.

Not Getting Enough Food

Two Turtles Eating Lettuce

The most likely reason why a pet turtle would try to eat another turtle has to do with hunger. A turtle isn’t going to try to kill another turtle unless it is very hungry.

If you’re feeding your turtles as normal, then there shouldn’t be a problem. Neglecting the turtles and not feeding them for a long time will make them desperate.

You need to make sure that you’re feeding your turtles often enough. It’s also prudent to check to see if you’re giving the turtles the high-quality turtle food that they need.

Do your utmost to give the turtles the nutrients that they need to thrive. If you’re feeding the turtles well, then it’s incredibly unlikely that one turtle is going to eat the other.

Mating Disputes

Mating issues can sometimes cause turtles to fight. There are a few things to know about this.

First, a male turtle might bite a female turtle as part of the mating process. The biting that occurs shouldn’t be aggressive, and it likely won’t draw blood.

That type of mating issue isn’t really anything to worry about. If you have multiple males in the tank, then they might fight over the right to mate with the female turtle.

It’s likely not a good idea to put two male turtles in the same tank. At the very least, having an uneven number of turtles is a bad idea.

If you have a large habitat, it might be fine to keep multiple males in the same tank. It’d be better to have even numbers of males and females, though.

Turtles From Different Species Will Be More Likely to Fight

Mixing and matching different turtle species won’t be a good idea. You shouldn’t buy two different types of turtles and stick them in a tank if you want things to be peaceful.

You’ll be more likely to have peace if you have two turtles from the same species. This is generally always what turtle experts recommend when people are picking out pairs of pet turtles.

In fact, it’d be wise to go ahead and pick out a male and a female of the same species. You’ll be very likely to have a good experience this way.

When you mix and match different types of turtles, it’s very likely that one turtle will be larger than the other. The larger and stronger turtle could wind up bullying the other.

It could even wind up being a situation where the large turtle will try to eat the smaller one. Be mindful of the potential of this and make good choices.

How to Keep Turtles From Fighting

Slider Turtle in a Tank

You now know more about why turtles might fight each other. Sometimes fighting could escalate into one turtle eating the other, but that’s still pretty unlikely.

Regardless, you don’t want the turtles to fight and injure each other. This means you need to figure out how to keep the turtles from fighting at all.

There are some good things that you can try to do to keep the turtles safe. One great idea is to place a divider in the habitat so that each turtle will have its own personal space.

This might not be necessary if your turtles appear to get along pretty well. If you’ve seen the turtles fighting a few times, then it might be worth getting the divider to be safe.

Make sure that you get the biggest turtle tank or habitat that you can. If the turtles have more room to move around, then they won’t feel the need to fight over territory.

You also need to take care of the basics to keep the turtles from becoming stressed. Check the water temperature often so that you can ensure that it’s comfortable enough for the turtles.

Significant dips in temperature might bother the turtles a lot. You’ll also need to watch out for problems with algae.

Never allow the tank or habitat to get too dirty. You’ll need to put in some work to clean the turtle tank or habitat on a regular basis.

Be sure to feed your turtles enough food as well. If you need any advice about how much to feed your pet turtles, then it might be wise to ask an exotic veterinarian.

If the turtles try to fight over the turtle food, then it’d be safer to feed them separately. Separate one turtle and finish feeding it before you go and feed the other turtle.

Final Thoughts

Sadly, it is possible that a turtle could choose to try to eat another turtle. This isn’t something that happens all that often, though.

For the most part, only a turtle that is desperate for food will try to eat another turtle. It’s also somewhat possible that turtles that fight each other could end up trying to eat one another.

In all likelihood, the fighting won’t get to that point. However, it’s still wise to try to limit turtle fighting.

You don’t want either of your turtles to get hurt. If you follow the advice above, then you should be able to keep turtles from fighting as much as possible.

Don’t hesitate to get pet turtles if you feel that you have the time to care for them. So long as you’re willing to take care of them right, it can be a very positive experience.

Just remember not to put two male turtles together since they’ll be more likely to fight. It’s also best not to pick two turtles that are from different species.

You could even try to get pet turtles that are known to be fairly docile. Once you’ve made your choice, just be a proactive turtle owner and everything will be fine.

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