Do Turtles Fight Each Other?

do turtles fight each other

You might think turtles are shy, but in reality, they are not. They are aggressive and don’t even like sharing their habitat with other turtles. Turtles are solitary animals, and they like to live alone. The only thing which matters to them is their survival. Researchers believe that turtles do anything and everything to survive.

As a pet owner, you might have come across the thought of adding a few more turtles in the same tank. But is it a good idea of housing more than one turtle in the same tank? Can turtles live together, or will they fight with their inmates?

I suggest reading out this article before adding more turtles to your tank. Being a turtle owner myself, I have also tried putting turtles together. Sometimes I succeeded, and sometimes not. Based on my experience, I am giving all my thoughts in this article.

Related Article: Can Turtles And Fish Live Together?

Are turtles aggressive?

Yes, turtles of all species are aggressive to each other. But it is very unlikely for pet turtles to show aggression to humans. However, some species like snapping turtles are dangerously aggressive to humans, while others may bite when scared.

Turtles don’t like sharing resources, so survival is more or less competition for them. When kept together, turtles usually indulge in confrontations because of the following reasons: basking area, competition over food, mating rituals or smaller tank or living space.

Do turtles fight each other?

Now that you know how aggressive turtles are, you can think about the situation of putting two or more turtles together. I have tried putting two turtles together, and based on my experience, I think keeping them alone is best for your peace. 

Turtles don’t like living with other turtles. They start fighting with each other over resource sharing. The situation will be even worse if more than one male turtle is in the tank. Male turtles fight over dominance and for female turtles. 

Juvenile turtles can be kept together. However, when they hit puberty, they would start fighting. Similarly, adult turtles are much more tolerant than older turtles. There could be several reasons why your turtles are fighting, which we will cover a bit later in this article.

Do turtles eat each other?

It is not very common for turtles to eat each other. However, in extreme circumstances, they can show aggression and could harm each other.

Some species like alligator snapping turtles or common snapping turtles are known for their aggressive behavior. With their strong jaws and sharp beak, they can easily hurt each other. Other instances could be possible when a turtle is hungry for several days. 

There is not much evidence to tell if turtles can eat each other. Turtles fight over resource sharing, mating, or showing dominance in most cases. But they are mare fights. Chances are very less that they injure each other to death.   

Do turtles bully each other?

Yes, turtles can bully each other. Male turtles are infamous for bullying less dominant males in the same enclosure. Several factors such as the size and age of the turtle, habitat environment, food, and species of the turtles could cause them to bully each other.  

Turtles are not social animals, and survival is what they live for. You might see them in groups in the wild, but this is because they get everything there, so they can not leave the place. Sometimes different species of turtles don’t behave with each other. It is important to keep an eye on turtles to know how they behave with each other. 

Avoid keeping adult turtles with juveniles as they will start bullying them even for no reason. Juvenile turtles are well behaved, and they enjoy the company. However, it is best to separate them into different tanks as they reach adulthood. 

Make sure to feed your turtle with enough food, so they don’t get any reason to fight. Keeping female turtles in separate tanks would also be a good strategy to make peace among male turtles. Keep reading to know how you can stop turtles from fighting each other. 

Why do turtles bite each other?

Turtles biting each other is not necessarily aggression. Male turtles nip at the female turtle’s neck and tail to show their interest in them. It is a kind of mating ritual to impress their female partner. These bites are gentle and do not cause any injury.

However, it is not easy to differentiate between mating and fighting behavior. Turtles like their own company, and so they fight when kept together. Male turtles could bite other turtles for several reasons. The main reason for male turtles to fight with other turtles is territoriality. Dominant males do not like sharing space, food or other resources with less-dominant males. They fight until one gives up, but sometimes dominant males chase them even after they surrender.

It is important for a turtle owner to keep an eye on the turtle’s behaviour. If any turtle is showing a bullying nature, it is advisable to keep them away; otherwise, they can seriously injure other turtles.

Below are some situations which can trigger turtles to show aggression and end up biting each other:

1. Smaller tank

A smaller tank could be the reason why your turtles are fighting each other. It is important to select a large tank while keeping multiple turtles together. Turtles grow rapidly, and so they need more space to swim. A smaller tank means more chances of confrontation and thus more biting incidents.

2. Environmental condition

Turtles are sensitive animals. They get stressed out if they don’t find an enclosure suitable for them. Proper lighting conditions, optimum water temperature, hiding spaces, and basking area are necessary to feel safe. Other than that, a noisy environment also could make them feel threatened. In these situations, they can misbehave and bite their inmates.

3. Hunger

The most common situation when turtles fight with each other is when they are hungry. Many turtle owners feed their turtles once every two days, which is not right. Turtles fight over food, so it is important to keep their stomach full, so they won’t find any reason to fight.

4. Mating process

If female turtles are present in the tank, male turtles will show aggressive behavior. Fighting for females is very common for them. Male turtles also bite female turtles as a part of their mating rituals. These are gentle bites and in no way injure them. It could be tricky to differentiate between their lovemaking and fighting behavior, so be careful while disturbing them.

5. Dominance

As with any other animal, turtles also show dominance when kept together. Dominant turtles try to bully non-dominant or smaller turtles in the tank. To show their dominance, they can bite each other or engage in further fights. 

How to stop turtles from fighting?

While keeping two or more turtles in the same tank could be challenging, it can be made possible by following some simple steps. Turtles fight because of territoriality. For them, it is about resources. If you want your turtle to stop fighting, make sure they have sufficient space, food, and other resources available to them. Scarcity of any of the resources means more fights among them.

Below are some steps which can help minimize the fighting incidents among turtles.

1. Make sure your turtles have a bigger tank

As mentioned before, smaller tanks are the number one reason turtles fight. A bigger, specious tank is a must to keep more turtles together. It is advisable to accommodate a space of at least 10 gallons of water capacity for every one inch of a turtle. This is a bare minimum. However, the bigger the tank, the better it will be for your turtles.

2. Hiding spots

Turtles need places where they can hide in their habitat. These hiding spots could be wooden blocks, plants, rocks, PVC pipes, or any other decorative prop which solves the purpose. Hiding spots help turtles to hide when bullied by the dominant turtle of the tank.

3. Feed your turtle more often

Turtles fight when they don’t get enough food. They hesitate to share their food when supplied with very little quantity. Ensure to feed your turtle every day, so they don’t have any reason to fight.

4. Multiple basking areas

Turtles are seen to fight for basking areas. Dominant turtles don’t let other turtles sit on the basking area, leading to fights. If you are keeping two or more turtles together, make sure they have a few more basking spots where they can rest. You can also provide them with bigger basking platforms with visual barriers. By doing this, we need not invest in multiple basking lamps

5. Water quality

Turtles don’t like dirty water, and it can cause them stress. Dirty water also makes it hard for them to locate their food, so it creates an unnatural food scarcity, due to which they start fighting for food. Make sure the turtle tank has arrangements for water filtration and conditioning. 

Related Article: How Often To Clean Turtle Tank? 

6. Be careful while putting two or more turtles together

Male turtles are more often seen fighting. Male turtles are more aggressive when any female turtle is in the tank. While nothing can guarantee that turtles won’t fight, it is advisable to separate female turtles from male turtle enclosures.

Another thing that you should keep in mind while putting turtles together is their age. Never put juvenile turtles with adult turtles. Adult turtles fight a lot with juvenile turtles. Try different turtles and decide which one could live peacefully with each other. This method is so far the best which works for me.


Turtles like to live alone, and they start fighting when kept together. Male turtles are the most notorious when it comes to fighting. They fight to show their dominance and for female turtles. Dominant turtles bully smaller ones as they don’t like to share resources with them. You can avoid fights between your turtles by feeding them in abundance, providing them with larger tanks, and giving them hiding spots where they can hide at times of fights.