Turtles Fighting – Full Detailed Guide!

Copyright: talithait

Turtles are considered to be peaceful animals, and it is rare to see turtles fighting. They are also quite shy and reserved, making it even harder to see them fighting. These creatures hardly express aggressive behavior. There are, however, some instances where you may see turtles fighting and even hurting each other badly.

Below are some questions that most turtle owners ask regarding the fighting and aggressive behaviors in turtles:

Do Turtles Fight Each Other?

When you keep turtles in the same enclosure, they may or may not get along. When they do not get along, they will start fighting. They do this primarily through hissing, biting, and scratching.

One of the common reasons why turtles fight is because of their gender. Two turtles of the same gender in the same tank are more likely to fight than a male and a female in one tank. In addition, male turtles are more aggressive towards each other than females towards other females.

Your turtles might also fight each other if stressed, fighting over a mate, territorial issues, hungry, or when they are of different species.

It is crucial to put your turtles in separate tanks to discourage them from fighting. If this is not possible, use a divider to keep each turtle on either side of the tank. Allowing them enough space is crucial in ensuring peace. Turtles are considered solitary animals; hence, providing them enough space will appease them. A cramped tank makes the turtles stressed, and it can be a trigger for fights.

Do Turtles Fight For Mates?

Turtles, as with other animals, can be a bit territorial. A male turtle paired with a female will become aggressive when other males approach the female turtle. They will always be hostile against male turtles who invade their privacy. In addition, for turtles to mate, they usually first get into a fight, and the winner of the fight is the one who gets to mate with the female.

If you have two males and one female, there is a good chance that the males will fight to mate with her. In such a scenario, it is best to keep the turtles separate to avoid unnecessary aggression from either of the males.

Will Snapping Turtles Fight Each Other?

Snapping turtles are relatively calm despite their unfair vicious reputation. They rarely attack humans unless they have to. The turtle will run away whenever possible to avoid a confrontation in most cases. Snapping turtles will only attack as a means of defending themselves.

Fighting among snapping turtles usually happens on land as they cannot run as fast; they will just swim away in the water when threatened.

However, when it comes to other turtles, they can be vicious even to their species. A snapping turtle will mostly fight when defending its territory or establishing territorial dominance. They may also fight for mates or food when starving.

Their power jaws and long necks are adapted to these fights as they can easily swing them and bite hard. They also have powerful long legs that can kick and push the enemy away. As such, a snapping turtle will severely hurt another turtle if they fight.

Do Turtles Fight In The Wild?

Turtles in the wild are no different from those kept as pets. However, there will be less fighting in the wild since the turtles are in the open.

Turtles fight more in an enclosed place because there is nowhere to run; hence they will be more aggressive as they keep running into each other. In captivity, turtles may also have limited resources over which they may fight. In the wild, however, there are minimal interactions.

The common reason why turtles in the wild fight is because of mates. A male turtle will fight with another male to mate with the same female. In such cases, the two turtles will battle for dominance, with the winner getting to mate with the female.

Territorial dominance is another reason why two turtles may fight in the wild. It often happens when one turtle gets into a small pond or swamp inhabited by another turtle. In such a case, the two will fight to evict the other. In most cases, the fight only ends when the loser leaves to search for another habitat.

Besides fighting each other, turtles may also fight other animals over territories. If another animal invades their territory or habitat, a fight might ensue.

Fights among turtles in the wild may happen, but they are less common as turtles are far apart, leading to minimal interactions and less competition.

Why Do Turtles Fight, And How Do You Stop Them?

These hard-shelled reptiles mainly fight by biting each other. Due to their strong jaws and powerful beaks, turtles can cause serious harm to each other when they fight. Below are some of the reasons why your pet turtles might fight and what you can do to stop the fights:

1.     Territorial Dominance

Turtles are territorial, just like most animals, which means they will be hostile towards a new addition to the group. If you have some turtles living in a small enclosure, then you introduce other turtles chances are that there will be constant fighting. The old turtles will feel threatened by the newcomers. To establish territorial supremacy, they might start attacking the new turtles.

New turtles do not necessarily have to be hostile; in most cases, the old turtles, mostly the males, actually start these fights. The main aim of these fights is to instill fear in the new turtles and thus dominate them. In most cases, the new turtles do not stand a chance, and they ultimately end up yielding to the old turtles’ control.

Turtles that emerge winners in such fights get a higher social class. Your turtles living in the same enclosure might also start to fight over territorial dominance as they grow and the tank begins to feel more cramped.

2.     During Mating

When mating, the male turtles might playfully bite the females. A person who is not well-trained in turtles’ behaviors may mistake this to be an actual fight. A male turtle may also use these silly bites to check whether the female turtle is interested in mating. If she responds to his advances, it is a way of confirming that she wants to mate.

However, in the case where two males are involved, in most cases, it results in a fierce fight between the two for the female. The fight aims at deciding the stronger of the two turtles. In most cases, they will fight until one yields. The winning turtle gains mating rights with the female.

It is advisable to avoid having two or more turtles of the opposite sex in the same tank. Such interaction may result in uncontrollable mating, which can become a burden. It may also contribute to rampant fights in the enclosure which.

To avoid all these fights, ensure to keep the male turtles from the females. The separation will significantly improve the peaceful coexistence among your turtles. It also gives you peace of mind when away from the pet turtles.

3.     Environmental Stress

Like any other animal, turtles can experience stress if their surrounding factors are not okay. If, for instance, your turtles are in a crowded tank, there is a high chance that they will start fighting and biting each other.

In most cases, turtles residing in a stressful environment exhibit heightened aggression and low tolerance levels. Under such circumstances, it is easy to provoke them into fighting.

Other ways a turtle’s environment can be stressful include areas with very bright light, loud noise, and too humid or too hot. When placed in this environment, turtles will tend to look for ways to cope. They will constantly run into each other as they do so, causing them to become aggressive.

The best way to deal with this is to remove the nuisance. If you have a crowded tank, you can look for a bigger tank or move some turtles to another tank. If there is too much light, you may cover the source with a heavy material to prevent most of it from coming in.  If it is about the noise, you can use soundproof materials or get rid of the noise.

You should also ensure that the water temperature and basking spot are ideal for the turtle, and their stress is not from getting too cold or too hot. Another way of ensuring the enclosure is conducive is by providing UV light.

4.     Different Species

Turtles do not do well in a community. They prefer solitary living and are not very social. You will rarely see your turtles moving as a group other than when swimming or basking. Even female turtles do not take care of their young ones. After laying eggs, they don’t guard them or go back for the hatchlings.

Since turtles are not social animals, it is easy for them to see other turtles as threats and thus may attack. The situation gets worse when you are dealing with different turtle species.

When you place two turtles of different species in the same enclosure, there is a good chance that they will end up fighting. Due to the difference in their mannerisms, turtles of different origins will most likely fight each other.

The best way to prevent this from happening is by ensuring you have sufficient room for the turtles. It would be best if you also were keen to observe your turtles’ interaction with each other. If you notice any signs of aggression, you should take action immediately to minimize the risk of injury.

The most effective way of preventing turtles of different species from fighting is using a tank divider or keeping them in separate enclosures which can also be expensive.

5.     Lack Of Food

A turtle can go for a few days without eating. However, they will start starving when left for too long without food. When this happens, they might begin to bite each other to satisfy their hunger. These bites can be especially fatal in turtles with strong jaws like snapping turtles. They will start attacking each other.

Under extreme cases of starvation, a turtle might eat another turtle. Though rare, whn cannibalism in turtles occurs, it is often the more mature turtles that eat smaller ones.

To avoid this, ensure to feed your turtles frequently. If you are unsure how much food to give them, you can consult your vet. If you will be away from home for some time, it is advisable to leave someone in charge of feeding your turtles. Leaving them on their own is not only cruel but also dangerous. The new caretaker should have the basic skills to care for your turtles.

It is crucial to pay attention to any changes as a pet owner. A turtle may suddenly stop eating and lose weight. If this happens, the chances are that it is either sick or harassed by the other turtles. You should also check for any bite marks to give you more insight.

If this is the case, separate the turtle and keep it in a separate enclosure where you can feed and observe it. Once you have nursed it back to health, you can take it back to the other turtles. If the fighting continues, you may have to keep them separated permanently. If permanent separation is not possible, consider giving your turtle away.

How Do You Know If Turtles Are Fighting?

Turtles require close monitoring to understand their behavior. If you don’t do this, you might not tell that they are fighting or are becoming aggressive. If you suspect that your turtles are fighting, there are several things that you can look out for. They include:

  • Bruises and Bite Marks: If your turtles have bruises and bite marks on their legs and head, this is an indication that they are fighting. Scratches and swollen eyes are other indications that all is not well in the tank.
  • Changes in Behavior: If an active turtle suddenly becomes docile, it could indicate bullying. If it stops feeding and loses weight, you may want to consider taking it out of the tank.
  • Remaining Hidden: When turtles are fighting, the weaker one will always look for a place to hide away from the aggressor. If you have placed items in the tank, this turtle will, in most cases, try to hide under them. If you notice such behavior, it is time to take the turtle out.
  • Constant Chasing in The Tank: If you see lots of activity in the pool, where one turtle keeps chasing the other, it might be an indication of a fight. If only one turtle is chasing the other, you will need to pay keen attention.
  • Increased Activity in The Tank: If you notice that your turtles are becoming more active than they usually are in the tank, it may indicate growing aggression. A change in activity may mean that the turtles are fighting in the tank; you will need to observe them more keenly to know if they are fighting or just playing.

If your turtles exhibit any of the above signs, you need to watch them keenly for any fights. When you realize they are indeed fighting, separate them and attend to the wounded turtle. Call a vet if the injuries are severe to avoid the possibility of an infection.

How Do I Stop My Male Tortoise From Fighting?

Tortoises, like turtles, are generally calm animals, and they don’t usually show aggression towards humans, other tortoises, or other animals. They can, however, become territorial, especially with proper care. Tortoises will be ready to defend their home from any invasion. It will be necessary to know why your tortoises are fighting to understand how to stop them.

Below are some causes of fights among tortoises and how you could stop them from fighting:

1.     Tortoises In The Same Enclosure

When two or more male tortoises occupy the same enclosure, they will likely fight to show dominance. The dominant turtle will chase the weaker one throughout the cage to force them to submit. In cases where a female turtle is involved, the fights are more severe as the two turtles battle for mating rights.

If you have two male turtles, it is crucial to keep them separate to avoid any confrontation. If the area available is limited, you can use a divider to keep them from interacting.

2.     The Tortoise Is Hungry

When your male tortoise is hungry, he will exhibit aggression like the turtles. If they do not like the food you are feeding them, they will become fussy, fighting the other tortoises around them. If your tortoise is not getting enough food, it may turn to the weaker tortoise and try to feed on them.

The best way to take care of such tortoises is by providing an ample supply of food with different varieties. Get to understand the healthy, nutritious foods you can offer your tortoises. Constantly monitor their habits during meals to see if they are aggressive towards others.

3.     Incompatible Species Kept Together

You may have a problem when two or more male tortoise species are in the same enclosure. When two different tortoises are in the same section, chances are they will not do very well. While this pairing may not always lead to aggressive behavior, tortoise experts advise against putting two tortoise species that are vastly different together.

To avoid this, if you have two male tortoise species with vast differences, you should keep the two separate to reduce the chances of aggression by using a tank divider and providing an ample environment.

4.     Lack Of Stimulation In The Enclosure

Tortoise can become aggressive if they do not have any stimulation in their enclosure. Putting toys in can help reduce their stress levels. When the tortoises are more active and playful, there will be fewer chances of fighting with each other.

When selecting toys, choose those that are safe for your tortoises. Avoid small chewable toys as there is a good chance that your tortoises will try to eat them.

The above are some of the leading causes of aggression among male tortoises. Adopting the above tactics will help deal with most of the aggression. If the aggression persists even after taking all these measures, it would be best to call your vet for assistance.

 Are My Turtles Fighting or Playing?

Turtles can be pretty playful, and sometimes, as a pet owner, you may mistake this for a fight. It is essential to understand the playful behavior of your turtles so as not to mistake it for aggressive behavior.

Biting in turtles is used both while playing and fighting. However, when your turtle is being playful, it will just nibble the other turtle’s tail without any injury. Such behavior is typical for males when they are performing the mating ritual. If you have placed toys in their enclosure, turtles will push this about, and their interactions with each other are generally calm.

On the other hand, fighting turtles are more aggressive, and their interactions are more chaotic. You may also hear a menacing hiss from either or both of the turtles. Such behavior is common with male turtles in the same enclosure. You may also spot injuries on the turtle’s head and legs. Such injuries are clear indications that your turtles are fighting.

Paying attention to your turtles’ behavior will inform you whether they are fighting or enjoying each other’s company. Be on the lookout for such conduct, and at the first hint of aggression, separate the two turtles to avoid any severe injuries.


While turtles are usually calm reptiles, it is clear that they may become hostile and aggressive towards other turtles and their owners. While you may not always know why they are aggressive, closely monitoring them can help immensely. Ensuring proper care is one of the best ways to keep your turtles calm and happy.

If you notice strange behavior in your turtles, it is always good to consult separate the turtles immediately. Next, consult your vet before taking further action.

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