Do Turtle Bites Hurt? How To Prevent Turtle Bites

When you have a pet turtle, you should expect to get bitten at least once. If it hasn’t happened yet, it might be coming. It is common to wonder if turtles can hurt you when they bite. While turtles don’t have teeth, they do have a beak and very strong jaw muscles, but do turtle bites hurt.

Turtles bite as a defense mechanism to protect them from other animals. Wild turtles are much more likely to bite than domesticated turtles, but it can still happen. When you get bitten, you can expect it to hurt just like any other animal bite.

There are some species of turtles that are known to cause serious damage with their bites, while others might just draw a little blood or create a blister. Luckily, there are things you can do to treat a turtle bite when you get one, and there are ways that you can prevent a turtle bite from even happening.

Do Turtle Bites Hurt?

Turtles are an animal, and just like any other animal, they will bite if they feel scared or threatened. Turtles don’t have teeth, so it can be easy to assume that it won’t hurt you when they bite. Even though turtles don’t have teeth, they do have a sharp beak and a very powerful jaw.

The bite from a turtle can also cause some serious injury if not taken care of properly. A bite from a smaller turtle won’t do much harm to you and isn’t expected to be dangerous. Larger turtles and adult turtles can be more harmful and can cause more damage.

How bad a turtle bite is depends on the size of the turtle as well as their diet. Turtles that are carnivores have beaks that are very sharp and pointy to easily tear into their pray. Adult turtles also have a strong jaw, which can add some serious power behind their bite.

The bite of a turtle also depends on the person that is getting bit. For example, a turtle bite on a child is going to be more painful than it is to an adult. To avoid children getting bit by a turtle, always supervise interactions to make sure the turtle isn’t scared.

When it comes to the danger of a turtle bite, it mostly depends on the species, age, and size of the turtle. Small, young turtles will not have much of an effect on your skin as they might not be strong enough to break the surface.

Adult turtles, especially snapping turtles, are known to have enough power to grab hold of your entire foot or hand. Depending on how tight the turtle’s grip is on you, the results can be fatal. When you are around larger turtles, it is best to be extremely careful.

Do Turtle Bites Hurt Humans?

While turtle shells provide plenty of protection to turtles, but they will bite people if they feel threatened. It is most common for wild turtles to bite people, but pet turtles might also bite once or twice. This is generally not a problem for owners of small turtles, but larger turtles can do some damage.

Some turtles are famous for biting people. These turtles include the snapping turtle and alligator turtle. The snapping turtle and alligator turtle get their name from the way they react to meeting animals larger than they are. They will quickly move their head and try to bite anything within their reach.

While these larger turtles bite and can cause a serious injury, they are likely to only bite humans as defense. When you are around these species of turtle, it is best to give them plenty of space, so they don’t feel like they are going to be attacked.

Softshell turtles can also cause some serious damage when they bite a person. Like the snapping turtle, softshell turtles have necks that are so long that they can almost reach around their whole body. Even the smallest softshell turtles can have a painful bite, but larger ones will cause more damage.

Even turtles that are commonly kept as pets, like the red-eared slider, will bite if they are scared or not being handled properly. Turtles have different personalities, and some might not react well to human interaction. 

If a turtle isn’t fond of being handled a certain way, or at all, they will try to bite. Most turtles will be fine with being handled by people, but others might not be. You should always stay calm when you are interacting with your turtle, as this will likely make them feel more comfortable.

Why Do Turtles Bite Their Feet?

While it is not considered to be common, turtles will sometimes bite their feet. This can be caused by multiple different reasons. Some of these reasons include shedding, irritation, something stuck in their foot, or even mites.


When turtles shed their skin, it can make them itchy. They will likely bite their feet as a way to itch the skin. The turtle can also bite to help loosen the skin, speeding up the shedding process. This is a common process for turtles, and there is no need to worry if you see your turtle shedding. There is nothing you can do to help.


Another reason a turtle bites their feet might be that something is irritating their skin. They will try to bite and scratch to provide some comfort. If you think your turtle has a skin irritation, it is likely being caused by water parameters that aren’t up to the standards of the turtle.

If the water parameters are not properly balanced, you will need to take the proper steps to bring the water back to the proper parameters. You will want to complete a 30% to 40% water change every week until the water is back to normal. You can test the water with test strips.

Stuck Under Scale

There might be an occasion that your turtle has something stuck under a scale in their foot. If you notice your turtle won’t leave its foot alone, you should take some time to do an inspection. If you do notice something under their scale, use a pair of tweezers to remove it. After removing, apply Polysporin.


The last reason that a turtle might be biting at their feet is due to mites. Do a very close inspection of your turtle to see if you can spot any mites on its skin. If you do see mites, you will need to purchase an anti-lice shampoo.

To get rid of the mites, you will need to make a solution with the anti-lice shampoo and some water. Use around 500 mL of water and 10 mL of the shampoo. Let the turtle soak in this solution for 10 minutes a day for 2 weeks.

Go to see a vet

If none of these issues seem to be the cause of your turtle biting their feet, you should take the turtle to a vet. They will likely do an x-ray to see if they can determine what is causing the discomfort. In most cases, the vet will prescribe antibiotics to heal the turtle.

You should also avoid giving any kind of medicine to your turtle without consulting your vet first. If you don’t know what you are doing, you can cause more harm to the turtle than help. Your vet will know what the turtle can and can’t take, so give them a call if you think your turtle needs medicine.

Turtle Bite Force?

The bite force of turtles will vary based on their size and diet. Snapping turtles have a bite force that registers between 208 and 226 Newtons of force. 208 Newtons translates to roughly 46 pounds of force. 226 Newtons translates to just over 50 pounds of force.

The bite force of a snapping turtle would be like having a toddler jump on your foot with a pair of cleats on. This would be very uncomfortable and will definitely hurt. Luckily, there have not been any reported incidents of a turtle bite claiming a finger or breaking a bone.

Toad-headed turtles have the strongest bite force out of any turtle. They have a bite force of 432 Newtons, which translates to 97 pounds of force in their bite. This is just over the amount of force that comes from a wolfdog (406 Newtons or 91 pounds), which is a hybrid between a dog and a wolf.

Turtle Bite Treatment?

If you’ve been bitten by a turtle, the severity of the bite will determine how you need to treat the bite. If the bite draws blood, you will need to treat it immediately with antibiotics, as turtles are carriers of salmonella. Clean the bite well and head to the doctor to get the proper antibiotics.

If the skin is not broken and there is no blood, you will still need to clean the spot efficiently with plenty of soap and warm water. If the bite wasn’t strong enough to break the skin, you don’t need to worry about antibiotics.

For a deeper, more serious injury, you will need to seek out medical help immediately. In some cases, you might need stitches along with antibiotics. A doctor will be able to tell you exactly what treatment you are going to need to prevent the bite from getting infected or getting worse.


Well there you have it. Everything you need to know on the topic “Do turtle bites Hurt”. If you have a pet turtle or live in an area that has turtles living outside, you are probably wondering whether or not a turtle bite will hurt. This is especially important to consider when it comes to little children who play near them.

Turtles are animals, and they are going to bite as a defense mechanism. If the turtle feels scared or threatened at any time, they will not hesitate to bite whatever they can reach. It is best to make sure this isn’t you or your child.

It is most common for wild turtles to bite, but domestic turtles also have the tendency to bite if they are uncomfortable or scared. Turtles can have some pretty serious bite force and can cause a lot of damage to your skin when they bite. 

Turtles are known carriers of salmonella, so if you are bitten by a turtle you need to take immediate action and clean the wound properly. If the skin is broken, you will need to visit a doctor for the proper antibiotics. Doctors will be able to tell you exactly what you need to treat the wound.

Do Turtle Bites Hurt? How To Prevent Turtle Bites

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