Why Does My Turtle Eat His Poop?

Turtles really do eat their own poop, definitely the poop from older turtles and sometimes even fish poop.

The technical term for this is coprophagy and turtles do this for a special reason

Turtles are very clever for eating poop.

Young turtles usually eat the poop of older turtles and they do this to benefit from any nutrients in the poop along with healthy bacteria that is in the faeces. 

This may sound shocking and disgusting but it is actually common in the animal kingdom as it helps the young turtles to stay as healthy as possible. 

As well as turtles, many other species of animals also eat poop including birds, rabbits, chimps and hedgehogs.

Even if you give your turtles a really excellent and varied diet, you may well still see them eating poop, probably because they enjoy doing so! 

Let’s get into more detail

How Often Does a Turtle Poop?

How often your turtle poops is usually linked to their age.

A mature adult turtle will usually poop two- three times a week whereas young hatchlings will poop once a day. 

The frequency an adult turtle poops actually depends on several factors which include their age, weight, sleep cycle – and most important of all, their diet.

Turtles can poop within minutes of eating, but sometimes do not do so for several hours.

Turtles love nothing more than having a poop in their water and they are really quite messy with their toilet habits so will need to be monitored!

Having good quality water in the tank at all times is of utmost importance so it is essential to invest in an efficient water filter to keep it in great condition. 

Do You Have To Clean Turtle Poop?

It is really important to clean away the turtle poop fairly quickly or to ensure that you have a good filter that breaks up the poop and disposes of it quickly before your turtle has the chance to forage for it. 

You must keep an eye on your tank, to ensure that your turtles are healthy.

If one of your turtles does become sick, he should be removed to another tank quickly because if your other turtles eat the excrement of a sick turtle, they may get sick as well. 

Do Turtles Poop Out Of Their Mouths?

You may well have heard that turtles are clever enough to be able to breathe through their butts and this is actually true.

The cloaca is a small orifice that can be found at the back end of your turtle, near to its tail. 

Cloaca can be found in many different animals including birds, fish and some mammals.

The cloaca has different roles depending on the species of the animal and in most species the cloaca is not used for breathing. 

In the turtle, the cloaca has four important roles and is used for:                                        

  • Execration  
  • Urination 
  • Reproduction 
  • Breathing                                                                                                                                                                               

When the female turtle lays her eggs she uses her cloaca to dispel them.

The faeces of a healthy turtle are quite firm and well-formed and will attract other turtles by their smell.

The faeces are usually brown or greenish-brown in color

Do Yellow Belly Turtles Eat Their Poop?

Yellow Belly turtles, Red-Eared Sliders and in fact, all turtles eat poop to try and get some more nutrients.

This may sound strange, but in all reality, a turtle does not usually manage to extract and digest all the nutrients from his food the first time round so by eating the poop turtles can still consume extra nutrition. 

Eating healthy bacteria is also really good as it helps the turtle to keep his gut in good working order – just as doctors and medical researchers have discovered the importance of having a healthy gut in humans in the last 15 years. 

The habit of eating their poop helps them to survive when they are living in the wild in harsh conditions.

What If My Turtle Starts To Poop Really Often?

If you find that your turtle is pooping very regularly and that the consistency of his poops have become loose or even diarrhea, this could indicate he has a gastrointestinal problem, caused by parasites such as roundworm

This problem is particularly common in Red-Eared Sliders.

If you suspect this, you must separate your turtle from others in your tank and get him to the Vet quickly as he can quickly start to lose weight. 

Leave a Comment