Is It Normal For a Turtle To Eat Their Own Poop?

If you’ve ever had a pet turtle that ate its food but also sometimes ate the dirt or mud around it, then you are probably familiar with your turtle’s habit of eating its own feces.

As they get older and bigger, turtles need more space in their tanks so they can move all of their waste through their digestive systems without having to constantly be near water where there isn’t much room to maneuver.

Often times when this behavior happens it is because the tank isn’t large enough for them to do what nature intended.

It may seem gross at first glance but I am here to tell you that turtles are actually pretty smart creatures, just like dogs and cats!

They use their sense of smell to help identify scents which allow them to find good places to hide or escape from predators such as raccoons or other animals.

Also, if you take away their ability to smell, you’ll notice how dependent they become upon us humans.

For example, some species of turtles don’t even know how to swim unless someone helps them learn.

Many people think that since they live underwater, they must not need oxygen as fish do, however, most turtles breathe air just like every other mammal on land.

So back to the question… Is it normal for a turtle to eat their own poop?

Its gross, but its normal. Some people get worried their turtle isn’t pooping because they never see any in the tank. The turtle just got to it quickly. Feeding the turtle more won’t stop the behavior…it will just result in a fat turtle that eats its own poop. 

Let’s get into more detail in this article

Is it normal for a turtle to eat their own poop?


It is very common for turtles to consume their own fecal matter.

This is especially true during warm weather months.

Turtles tend to spend most of their time basking in shallow waters under logs, rocks or any type of shelter.

In these areas, feces tends to accumulate due to constant contact with the substrate (dirt).

If turtles were able to easily digest this material, they would quickly exit the area rather than spending hours chewing on dead leaves and decaying matter.

The longer they stay in one place, the more bacteria build up in their intestines causing bloating and discomfort.

Because turtles naturally produce copious amounts of mucus, the presence of fecal matter makes it difficult for them to absorb essential nutrients leading to poor health and death.

A turtle needs access to clean water and well-balanced diets to maintain proper hydration levels and energy production needed for survival.

So, basically, they need water to drink AND the right amount of roughage to avoid constipation.

How often should turtles poop?

This varies per individual turtle, but generally speaking once a day is sufficient.

Some larger turtles will go twice or thrice a day while smaller ones only require once a week.

Baby turtles poop more often than once per day.

If your baby turtle isn’t pooping at least once per day, it is most likely because he/she is ill.

A healthy adult turtle should poop at least once per week.

If your adult turtle only poops less than once a week, then this is a good indicator that something is wrong with its health.

This means that the frequency of pooping depends on how often you feed your turtle.

If you feed your turtle once per day, then he’ll likely produce a bowel movement each day or on alternate days.

Why does my turtle keep pooping?

As mentioned earlier, turtles are slow moving creatures.

However, they do make efforts to exercise by swimming.

Unfortunately, they aren’t equipped to handle the stress of doing this over long periods of time.

Overuse causes them to become exhausted and unable to perform effectively.

Once exhausted, they resort to resting in a shady spot until they feel better.

This could be anywhere from 5 minutes to several days.

During this period they may lay down and rest completely motionless or start digging into their feces again.

What does healthy turtle poop look like?

Healthy turtle poop looks similar to earthworms.

You might see small bits floating along the surface of the water.

Or, you may observe turtle poop falling straight to the bottom of the aquarium.

Healthy poop floats because it contains no undigested food particles.

These materials remain buoyant until they pass through the cloaca, which is located at the end of the tail fin.

The length of the gut depends on the size of the turtle.

Smaller turtles usually have shorter guts whereas larger turtles have longer intestinal tracts.

After passing through the cloacal opening, the solid stool gets broken down by enzymes produced by special cells called goblet cells within the intestine.

The liquid remains behind after being diluted with water making way for absorption.

At this point, the material now known as “mucus” begins traveling towards the stomach.

There, the mucous breaks down into tiny pieces and absorbs into the bloodstream via specialized membranes lining the walls of the gastrointestinal tract.

Mucus serves two purposes.

First, it lubricates food passage ensuring easy digestion.

Second, it acts as protection against harmful pathogens found throughout the body.

Do turtles poop out of their mouth?


Most turtles’ mouths are sealed tightly shut.

Even though they have sharp teeth, they rarely bite anything except each other.

Generally, turtles swallow their food whole in order to prevent choking hazards.

Sometimes if turtles chew on something hard enough, they will break off chunks that fall into the water.

Since turtles don’t have lips, they’re unable to lick excess moisture off their feces.

So instead, they scoop their feces onto their tongues using their front claws.

Is turtle poop toxic?

Turtles can carry salmonella germs in their droppings, even while looking healthy and clean.

These germs can easily spread to their bodies, tanks, and habitats.

People can get sick after they touch a turtle or anything in their habitat


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