Do Tortoises and Turtles Bite?

Do tortoises and turtles bite?

The simple answer is yes. In captivity it normally happens by accident. Usually, it happens during hand feeding or when they are hungry and “test bite” to see if something they see is edible. In this video I filmed in the moment while cleaning our Russian Tortoise’s enclosure. It found my gloved hand “interesting” and possibly “edible” so he took some what I call “test bites” to see if my blue gloved hand was edible. It was not due to being “defensive” or “aggression”. So, if you do like to hand feed your tortoise or turtle be careful because they can accidentally bite your hand/figure by mistake.

Turtle Bite Questions

Do their bites hurt?

Yes, however, the severity of the bite depends a lot on the size and species of the tortoise or turtle.

Do they only bite when they are hungry/curious?

No, they can bite if they feel threatened. Some species are more defensive than others. Some males can become seasonally territorial and may bite more often during that time depending on the individual species.  In captivity, some species can be kept in groups. However, some species and certain individuals may not always cohabit well with others, which may lead to them biting one another.


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