Turtle Poop (Detailed Guide – All Questions)

Copyright: serawood

The poop is a crucial indicator of health, and this is truer in turtles. If the turtle is ill, you can quickly tell through the appearance and frequency of poop. A healthy turtle will occasionally excrete poop that should be green to brown with a non-distinct repulsive smell. Are you wondering about the turtle’s poop? You are not alone. Many turtle owners have been asking about the same. The truth is if you don’t know the basics about turtles and their poop, it might spell trouble for you as the owner.

What should turtle poop look like? Do turtles poop a lot? Why do turtles poop so much? Do you have to clean a turtle poop? Do turtles fart? Why do turtles eat their own poop? Why do turtles poop in water? Do some turtles bury their poop? Is the poop toxic? Some owners also think that turtles poop out of their mouths. We have compiled all the questions we found turtle owners asking about turtle poop and provided all the answers. Keep reading the rest of this article to learn more.

What Does Turtle Poop Look Like?

The color, consistency, and volume of poop will depend on what the turtle ingests. As such, it’s hard to dictate what the exact poop appearance should be like. But in most cases, the poop generally appears brown or greenish-brown or a mixture of both due to their plant-based diet. For a healthy turtle, the consistency should be a solid and compact mass with a distinct smell.

However, it may be hard to determine the consistency in water like on land. For the most part, though, turtles’ feces do keep their consistency. As for shape, it may be in pellet form or a log shape, just like what human poop looks like.

For species that primarily feed on grass like the Sulcata Tortoise, the poop is fibrous with some pieces of husk therein the poop. Smaller species like the Herman’s Tortoise, the feces may appear darker and more solid and can be in the form of pellets.

Most terrestrial turtles also have a white component in their stool, while aquatic turtle poop will not have the white part. Most new owners are alarmed by the white coloration, but this is perfectly healthy. An exciting fact about turtles is that they pee and poo through the same opening so that the consistency may turn runny if they drink too much water. Turtles also release urates when they pee, so that you might notice creamy white substances mainly caused by protein in their diet. The more protein it feeds, the more the urates.

If you notice too much white coloration, you only need to reduce the protein level in their diet. In excess, too much protein may cause pyramiding, a condition that affects the scutes, lungs, and hatching in females. Instead, provide more leafy greens and avoid including protein pet feeds.

If the turtle’s poop has an abnormal color, worms, or blood, it’s time to seek immediate medical attention. The pet may be suffering from a glitch in its digestive system or a more severe illness. Fortunately, turtles are hardy creatures with high immunity, so they should experience most of their digestive problems if given the right conditions. If they get sick, get an expert opinion immediately.

What Color Does a Healthy Turtle Poop Have?

Turtle poop varies depending on the turtle’s diet, but a healthy turtle should poop greenish brown poop with a whitish hue. The consistency is also solid and maybe fibrous, with tiny pieces of husks depending on the turtle’s primary diet. Smaller turtle species often have darker and less continent poop.

White Poop?

The whitish component in turtle poop is uric acid which is found in terrestrial turtle’s urine. When uric acid solidifies, it has a white color and is a byproduct of the protein breakdown process. When the uric acid gets filtered out by the turtle’s kidneys into the bladder, it precipitates into urate, which is the white paste that ends up getting excreted from the cloaca. Aquatic turtles lack this adaptation as their environment is abundant with water.

Protest Poop?

When turtles feel annoyed or threatened, they will poop or pee on you if you attempt to handle them. This natural defense against predators out in the wild results in protest poop getting passed that’s less solid and more liquid-like and quite stinky.

Does Turtle Poop Smell?

Yes! A common complaint from people who have adopted a turtle is the foul smell from their enclosure. Some say the stench can even disrupt your sleep because it’s heavy and occupies the entire room. This is a small but critical detail for first-time keepers who want to know what to expect when bringing in the pet.

Turtle poop can be highly smelly, especially when left in the tank for too long. To deal with this, make sure you clean the poop each day because it can attract unwanted visitors such as flies if left for too long. Bacteria will start to multiply rather quickly too. If left long enough, it can begin to mold.

Keep in mind that some species may not have pungent poop, but this may largely depend on the diet. The bottom line is that all excrements of turtles have a distinct smell regardless of the species. Of course, with improved cleaning and an appropriate diet, the smell may be unnoticeable. Sometimes, you may feel a terrible odor in their enclosure, but this is not always the poop smell.

Why Does My Turtle Tank Smell So Bad?

Well, too much turtle poop can smell somewhat offensive if left for too long. Apart from the poop, the damp substrate is another cause because it absorbs the pee and the liquid in the poop. It’s worth noting that turtle pee is also smelly, especially a few days after. Urine left in the can breeds bacteria, and then comes the smell. The damp substrate can also occur after the turtle soaks and then dries off on the substrate. This may not be the problem, though, if the enclosure is big and open.

Hidden food may also cause the tank to stink if the turtle drags the food to the corner. Also, the turtle’s leftover food quickly begins to rot and turn stinky if left for a long time. Vegetable matter decomposes much quicker, especially in the warmth of the turtle’s enclosure. Also, keepers may only be topping up the water without cleaning the water dish, leaving the dirt and food debris to accumulate and become smelly over time.

Therefore, the best way to deal with foul smell enclosure is to practice better hygiene. This includes picking up any droppings as soon as you spot them to prevent the smell. Secondly, ensure you wash the tank frequently and don’t forget the decorations and toys. Additionally, ensure you clean your buddy in clean water to remove any waste and food.

Do Turtles Poop a Lot?

The amount and frequency of any animal can go along to determine its health status. With pets, a turtle’s diet and species can vary from turtle to the other. If your turtle is rarely excreting, it’s mainly in their genetic composition and digestion system.

Healthy turtles may poop once or severally a week, but the amount of poop matters depending on the species. Some owners say the size of the poop is the size of the turtle’s head. This is debatable, but giant turtles are known to excrete more than smaller ones. It’s most likely because they eat more, their system can hold more.

Usually, turtles don’t poop a lot unless the individual reptile is giant. As long as they poop once or twice a week and there are no indicators showing health issues, the amount and frequency of poop should not worry you.

How Often Do Turtles Poop?

How frequently a turtle poops varies from individual to individual. Some turtles will poop once a day, others once a week, while others can take two weeks. Some turtles indulge in heavy eating but also take time to excrete or pee. It all depends on the individual system. If your turtles take a couple of days before excreting, it’s okay, and you need not worry.

You should only be worried if the pooping becomes inconsistent or has changed for the worse. Say it’s been a long time since your pet has excreted and is now reluctant to eat. If this happens, the turtle may become lethargic. In short, the frequency of the poop and their demeanor can show when something is amiss.

A turtle may not poop consistently because of a hitch in its digestive system, such as compaction. This is a severe condition when a turtle fails to release waste due to blockage. This is mainly caused by a portion of food getting stuck in their gut leading to tract blockage.

Keep in mind that sometimes turtles will eat their poop as soon as they release it. The thought of this is gross but standard practice for turtles.

Why Do Turtles Eat Their Own Poop?

Most turtle owners also ask if turtles eating their poop is normal. It’s normal and healthy. For one, juveniles eat the adult poop to eat the beneficial symbiotic bacteria for survival. Besides, they will sometimes eat it to gain the nutrients that might have been passed without being digested. In other words, consider that your turtle is trying to recycle the food not to miss essential nutrients.

Humans might seem disgusted by this idea, but this appears to be beneficial for turtle survival in harsh environments. Besides, it’s almost impossible to digest all the nutrients in one go. Red sliders in the wilderness are known to eat the poop of other sliders to consume symbiotic bacteria and undigested nutrients. Even in captivity, the red sliders seem to do the same thing even when their owners feed them a healthy diet.

There’s a disadvantage to this practice, though. If your turtle eats the poop of a sick turtle, it may transmit the disease as well. As such, you should stay vigilant and be around the tank during the poo time to remove it as soon as they excrete. If that’s not possible, you can get an excellent filter to break the poop and dispose of it before the turtle can forage it.

How Do Turtles Poop?

You’ve probably heard that turtles breathe through their butts, so you may be asking how they poop. The answer is turtles have a cloaca that’s able to do many things, including releasing extremities. For starters, a cloaca is a tiny orifice sound near the opening of a turtle’s butt. However, the cloaca acts differently from how most animals butts work. Apart from breathing and releasing poop, it’s also used for urination and reproduction.

Most birds have cloaca with some fishes and other animals. However, the part differs for different animals, but those that have it use it for excretion and breathing. The central part of a turtle’s cloaca consists of the Urodeum that receives urine from the ureter. Female turtles also use the cloaca to lay eggs.

What a Turtle’s Poop Tells you about Its Health.

Monitoring your turtle’s pooping habits makes it much easier to keep track of their health and wellbeing. During active months your turtle will poop on a regular basis, and its poop will often maintain a similar appearance and consistency when healthy. Changes in any of these factors can be an early indicator that something is wrong health-wise or diet-wise, as you can often tell what goes in by looking at what comes out. Changes in the turtle’s poop can indicate whether they are dealing with a parasitic infection or a digestive infection that needs immediate vet care. Changes in your pet turtle’s poop can also show possible changes in their body and whether they are on a balanced diet. Here are a few things you can learn from your turtle’s poop.


When a turtle is dehydrated, its feces will become noticeably crumbly and dry due to a lack of water. Dehydrated turtles are also likely to pass a lumpy and granulated urate paste.  Dehydration among turtles is often accompanied by other identifying factors such as lethargic behavior, sunken eyes, and dry, flaky skin.

If you suspect your turtle of being dehydrated, you should immediately switch out its water supply and ensure it has access to fresh water at all times. You can follow this up with a change in diet by providing fresh vegetation. If your turtle doesn’t have access to a water tank, you can use a spray bottle to mist their surroundings and spray on their shell and skin to keep the reptile hydrated.

Incorrect diet

While most turtles rely on a herbivorous diet, it’s essential to provide them with protein sources. Failure to feed your turtle a balanced diet will likely lead to digestive issues, which can cause runny feces or even diarrhea. An immediate solution is to provide a diet that closely matches what the turtles eat in the wild, depending on their natural habitat. 

Turtles require dietary fiber, and the absence of this can trigger watery poop and even interfere with your turtle’s gut microbial. Providing your turtle with enough fresh vegetables should fix the issue; however, avoid the common instinct to feed the turtle only one type of vegetable. This is due to the fact that most leafy vegetables have too much water content compared to the actual nutrients in them. Fruits should also be kept to a minimum, and avoid feeding your turtle overly sugary fruits as too much sugar can interfere with the gut microbial.

Parasitic infection

Parasitic infection in the gut of your turtle may trigger a bout of runny poop which can be accompanied by the presence of parasites in the feces, such as threadworms. If you notice these pesky parasites, you should speak to your vet immediately to get a conclusive opinion and start the treatment schedule for your pet turtle. Parasitic infection can also be spotted in the form of small white objects in the turtle’s poop or whitish sting-like spaghetti shapes in the poop. Keep in mind that only a few parasite species are visible, so the occurrence of diarrhea and accompanying symptoms such as loss of appetite should be enough reason to warrant a visit to the vet.


While constipation is rare in semi-aquatic turtles, dietary complications can lead to cases where a turtle will go for days even more than a week without pooping. A fast-acting solution to this problem involves adding Epsom salt to your turtle’s water tank as it acts as a laxative. Constipation can also be dealt with by increasing the amount of fresh vegetables available for your turtles, such as pumpkins and watermelons, although in moderation. You can also add a few drops of mineral oil to the turtle’s diet for three to five days. In case of constipation hasn’t cleared out in a week, you should take your turtle to the vet immediately. A possible cause of such prolonged constipation is bowel obstruction due to eating substrates or gravel. The vet might require an x-ray to determine the best treatment plan.

Excessive protein diet

Turtles can naturally control how much of each food source they want to consume; however, in captivity, they can end up consuming too much protein content leading to excessive urates. These are noticeable in the turtle’s poop and, if left unchecked, can lead to bladder stones and shell pyramiding. A quick fix involves reducing the amount of animal protein available for your turtle.

Protozoan infection

Turtles often have microscopic unicellular protozoa that grow in their gut and living environment. While most protozoa species are harmless to turtles, they can overgrow and lead to fatal amoebic dysentery in some turtle species, such as the red-footed turtle. Protozoan infection can be spotte4d in the presence of persistent diarrhea, and such cases should be reported to the vet immediately.

Bowel perforation

Dark black turtle poop is a bad sign and can be an indication of bowel perforation. Such gut damage occurs when indigestible sharp objects get swallowed and end up rupturing the gut lining. If you notice dark black poop, you should get in touch with your vet as this might be a severe health concern for your pet.

How Long Does It Take for A Turtle To Poop After Eating?

The answer differs from one turtle to the next and depends on what the owner feeds them. For most turtles, it takes anywhere between 20 – 30 minutes after eating. Other turtles can take as soon as 10 minutes. On the other hand, hatchlings poop almost immediately after eating, probably less than 5 minutes. The key is to study individual turtles so that you can know their pooping and feeding schedule.

Do Turtles Poop When Scared?

Interestingly, some turtles can release poop when they perceive danger to deter predators or even their owners. So, yes, when handled roughly, they can release poop and pee. You can expect them to defecate in such an instance. If the turtle lives in a comfortable environment and gets comfortable with you handling them, they won’t be scared.

Desert turtles are more likely to get scared and release poop at the slightest threat. Improper handling can scare them to death and cause them to empty their bowels, leaving the body without water reserves. If they fail to get water soon after, they can even die from dehydration. Those in captivity are far safer because owners are always giving them water and food.

Hatchlings are more likely to poop and pee than mature adult turtles. If you bring in a baby turtle, you need to be patient because they are easily scared. The biggest threat for them is changing the environment and handling since they fear predators. They are likely to poop when you handle them because the fear of predators is innate.

Besides, they are unfamiliar with the human touch, so you need to be more cautious when handling them. You also have to establish trust with them and allow them to grow fond of your presence. You can start by giving them gentle rubs for a few days before you can start holding them. Eventually, they will get comfortable with you and stop pooping.

Why Do Turtles Poop in Water?

There’s no scientific explanation as to why turtles like relieving themselves in water. However, most people share the same observation that they are likely to poop when in water. Notably, putting their feet in water triggers bowel movements. This is why turtles will find it best to excrete when you soak or bathe them. It happens almost suddenly, which might make it even challenging to continue the intended clean soak. If this happens, you are forced to replace the water before soaking the turtle.

A logical explanation from experts is that the turtles might have obtained this behavior from the wild. Besides, it might be on cue that when they poop in running water, it will wash down their waste and prevent infections.

Others say that water relaxes them and makes it automatic to relieve themselves. This can be seen when warm water is mainly used. It soothes them and soothes the bowels’ movements where they unintentionally poop. Owners can take advantage of this phenomenon and potty-train the turtles to poop whenever they enter the water. This is achievable, although you might not be able to bathe them this way.

Why Do Turtles Poop a Lot?

If your turtle is pooping every other day, then there could be a problem. One of the most common reasons why a turtle poops a lot is when he’s being overfed. For instance, some owners may feel guilty when they feed them only thrice per week. An adult red-eared slider, for example, will only need to eat three times per week. The diet should contain healthy veggies for all three times and protein once or twice. As they get older, you can reduce their protein intake further.

Another reason why turtles poop a lot is internal parasites such as roundworms. In the beginning, the parasites don’t cause many problems but may multiply and cause diarrhea. In this case, the turtle may poop more than expected and shed weight in the process.

Why Is My Turtle Not Pooping?

You may be noticing your pet isn’t pooping at all, which can be worrying. You may not be seeing the poop because the turtle eats the poop immediately after excreting. If the pet remains alert, active, and healthy, there’s probably nothing to worry about.

Another reason is constipation, where their diet lacks enough fiber, so you might need to make dietary changes. The water temperature can also affect digestion as the turtle struggles to regulate the body temperature, affecting the metabolism. If the temperature is not optimum, it can cause a lack of pooping. For this, get a digital thermometer to monitor the temperature and ensure it’s above 750F and not above 850F.

Lastly, lack of pooping can be caused by severe impaction. This happens when the pet accidentally eats fake plants or stones, blocking the digestive tract. Impaction also occurs when constipation becomes too severe. If this happens, you need urgent veterinary help to scan and identify what could be causing it. A warm water bath can also help if this is a case of constipation.

How Do You Remove Turtle Poop?

You must keep your turtle’s habitat clean, and part of that involves removing the poop before it piles up. You should use a poop scoop to remove turtle poop from the turtle’s home and be careful not to get into contact with the poop as it might have salmonella bacteria. Make sure you wash your hands after the cleanup exercise. 

The turtle’s tank should also be cleaned every month to eliminate all accumulated gunk and poop, even if you regularly switch out the water. Make sure you wear rubber gloves and start by taking out everything from the tank and cleaning it with a dilute solution of warm water and bleach. Rinse the tank and let it dry out in the sun for a few hours. You should replace substrates such as moss and shells with fresh ones, while rocks can be soaked in soapy water for at least 30 minutes to remove algae. Remember to check the water filters and replace them if they are clogged. You should also clean up the water pump by running fresh soapy water through it for a few minutes before running fresh water to rinse it out. After everything is clean and dry, set up the tank habitat, refill it with fresh water, and wash your hands with disinfectant soap afterward. 

You can ask your vet about the best water additives to add to your turtle’s water tank. These turtle water cleaners contain enzymes and friendly bacteria that help break down leftovers and poop so that they can be filtered out more easily from the water.

Can Turtles Be Potty Trained?

Turtles can be potty trained, although the exercise requires time on your part and patience. The process is more geared towards convincing the turtle to poop at given times than teaching the turtle a completely new trick. This way, you can get your turtle to poop at a specific place at a time of your choosing. 

How do you potty train a turtle?

Come up with a Potty Schedule

to start potty training your turtle, you need to come up with a regular schedule and a pre-poop routine. Start by observing how your turtle behaves regularly and taking note of when and where they prefer to poop. Also, note how long it takes your turtle to digest and poop out a particular meal by spotting the type of undigested matter in their poop. This will help you estimate how long it takes your turtle to poop after each meal. 

With the data on feeding and pooping time, start adjusting the feeding schedule, which will, in turn, change the pooping time towards the specific time frame you want to potty train your turtle on. Alongside this, you can also adjust other factors, such as bathing time, if you notice that your semi-aquatic turtle prefers pooping after a swim. In a week or two, you should get your turtle to poop during a specific time of the day, allowing you to start controlling when and where they get to poop. This task can be pretty odious, so be patient with your turtle and experiment with various diets to see how they influence the turtle’s pooping patterns. 

Get An Ideal Potty Spot

while it’s unlikely that you will get your turtle to poop in a litter box, you can get them to poop in a location and time of your choosing. Start by coming up with a surface that’s easy to clean and collect poop from, such as sand. You can then add the potty sand area to your turtle’s habitat and get them to stay on it when they are most likely to poop. You can accomplish this by moving their feeding bowl into the potty area, and your turtle will undoubtedly move towards the food source and most likely take a poop if its right along with the potty schedule.

After the turtle gets used to pooping on the ideal potty spot and during the scheduled time, you can start planning on how to move the potty spot to its final location. This step is needed to get the turtle to still poop on the potty spot but without introducing its feeding bowl on the same area. To get this right, you have to allow your pet turtle to get used to pooping on the ideal spot until they begin associating it with their natural urge to poop. You can start moving the bowl away from the pooping area a few inches each day without the turtle noticing. If the training has worked, the turtle will still move towards the ideal potty location every time they need to poop right after eating. In the end, your turtle will grow accustomed to this pooping schedule and function as if they are potty trained, while in reality, it’s just a matter of changing your turtle’s feeding pattern and a lot of observation.

Wrap Up

Your turtle’s poop is an excellent indicator of the state of health of any turtle. As such, ensure you know how normal poop for your turtle looks like. This can help you spot any warning signs if there’s an issue with the diet or any health issues that could be affecting them.

Sometimes, abnormal poop can be something slight, such as an imbalanced diet, which is easy to adjust. If unsure, this website offers loads of information about the proper diet for your turtles. Other times, the change can be caused by something more serious such as a parasitic infection. If you suspect there could be a condition like this, it’s wise to seek veterinary treatment to find a solution.

We hope this guide has answered all your questions about turtles’ poop. If you have more questions left, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section, and we will come back to answer them as soon as possible.

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