how do turtles fight

While turtles are generally a peaceful species, they do sometimes turn violent. In today’s article, I will explain how turtles fight, as well as why they fight in the first place. I’ll also give some tips on how to prevent turtles from fighting.

How do turtles fight?

Turtles usually fight by biting each other. They also ram their heads into each other, and they sometimes will scratch at each other.


Biting is the main way that turtles fight each other. Turtles usually try to bite each other’s limbs or tails. However, in some cases they might try to bite another turtle’s head, especially if it is much smaller. They might also bite another turtle’s neck, and hold onto it for an extended period of time.

Unfortunately, turtles have a pretty strong jaw. In some cases, their bites are strong enough to completely take off a limb or tail. This can unfortunately result in conditions such as prolapse.

While fighting is usually not fatal, it can have life altering effects on your turtle. If your turtle is aggressive, you might need to switch it to a new tank.

Ramming heads

This behavior is more common among tortoises, but turtles will sometimes fight each other by ramming their heads into each other. Sometimes, turtles will hiss at each other before they go in for the attack.


While it’s not as common, turtles will sometimes try to scratch each other during a fight. Usually, they will try to scratch each other’s shell. This can sometimes lead to scratches on the other turtle’s shell.

Now that you know how turtles fight, let’s discuss the main reasons turtles fight.

Why do turtles fight?

The main reason turtles fight is because of territorial/resource disputes. It is also common for them to fight because of mating.


While turtles are generally peaceful, they are not the best at sharing. It is natural for them to be territorial, especially when it comes to resources for their survival, such as food and their basking platform.

If a turtle feels like another turtle is getting too much in their personal space and taking their resources, they might attack the other turtle.


It is also common for turtles to fight due to mating, especially when turtles first hit puberty. This can involve them fighting females they want to mate with, or with other male turtles that they see as competition.

When male turtles reach the age of mating, they will typically seek a female turtle to mate with. As an initial move, they will sometimes gently nip at a female turtle to let them know they are interested. While this might look like fighting, most of the time it is just flirting and will not cause any serious damage.

If the female turtle is interested, she will accept the male turtle’s advances. However, if the female is not interested, they will likely swim away. Most of the time the male turtle will accept his failure and not persist.

However, in some cases, they male turtle might not accept the rejection and continue to harass the female. This might end up in the male and female aggressively fighting each other.

It is also common for males to fight each other over a female.

While females do sometimes fight each other, it is not as common.

Do turtles fight in the wild?

Yes, turtles do fight in the wild. While turtles often live in the same area, this is because there are good resources there, not because they want to be together. In fact, most turtles don’t get lonely and prefer to be by themselves. This is because in the wild there is constant competition over resources such as food, basking areas, and mating.

However, it is not as common because the less dominant turtle will typically just swim away and that will be the end of it.

Fighting is more common in captivity because turtles don’t have infinite place to run away. Even if a turtle doesn’t want to fight, another more aggressive turtle might continue to chase and stalk the other turtle because there is nowhere for it to go.

How to prevent turtles from fighting?

The best way to prevent turtles from fighting is to provide them with enough resources and a big enough tank. You should also consider the gender of your turtles.


The best way to prevent turtles is to provide your turtle with enough food and basking space so that they won’t get competitive and territorial. If your turtle has enough to eat and a large basking platform, they will be less inclined to be aggressive toward the other turtle.

Size of tank

Bigger is always better when it comes to the size of your turtle tank. This is especially true if you plan on housing multiple turtles in the same tank. Having ample space will give them space to swim away from each other and have their own personal space.

I also suggest that you put a lot of decorations in your tank in order to give your turtles places to hide. A great option is driftwood for your turtle tank.

It is also important that you keep your water clean. If the water in your tank deteriorates, it can stress out your turtle. Stressed out turtles are more inclined to show aggression toward each other.


If you have the ability to choose, it is best to house a male turtle with a female turtle. Another good option is to have two turtles. The most aggressive combination is multiple males, since they tend to show the most aggression.

What to do if your turtles are fighting?

If you notice that your turtles are fighting, you should separate them immediately. You should put the aggressor in a temporary tank or bucket to give it some time to calm down.

You should make sure that your turtles have an adequate amount of space, as well as clean water. You should also make sure they are getting enough food. You might need to start feeding them on opposite sides of the tank.

If you notice your turtles fighting again, then you should separate them permanently.

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