Why Does My Turtle Eat Rocks?

Chelonians can be fantastic pets.

But, many turtle parents find their pet’s behavior to be quite peculiar.

And, one of the things that may seem most odd to guardians of turtles is their fetish for eating rocks. 

It’s no surprise why turtle parents ask – why does my turtle eat rocks?

In short the answer to this is..

Yes, turtles indeed eat rocks. In the wild, turtles eat rocks to substitute certain mineral deficiencies in their bodies. Yet, domestic pet turtles should not be provided with a habitat that includes rocks to prevent a health hazard that may well endanger your pet’s life. 

In this article you’re going to discover the following

  • What happens if your turtle eats a rock?
  • Why your turtle is eating rocks?
  • Should you put rocks in your turtles tank?

Lots to cover with interesting topics

Sound good?

Let’s get started!

What Happens If My Turtle Eats A Rock?

Why Does My Turtle Eat Rocks?

You see, there are many species of chelonians.

And there are many sub-species of turtles too.

So, if you have a soft-shelled turtle, the rock inside your pet’s tank may cause damage to your pet’s shell.

And, you may know that rocks do not break down into the digestive system.

And, yes, some turtles do eat specific kinds of rocks in the wild to maintain calcium levels in their bodies.

But, your domestic pet does not know the difference between an average pebble or a mineral rock. 

The digestive tract of your water baby doesn’t have the required equipment to digest such elements within the body.

And, if your pet turtle swallows a rock that is too big, there is a serious danger that it may become lodged in the digestive tract preventing food digestion. 

The obstruction can very well be fatal for your turtle and can only be removed through surgery.

Another dangerous scenario for your turtle is that when it swallows a big rock, the rock may get stuck in its throat, which can cause immediate death. 

Why Is My Turtle Biting Rocks?

As mentioned earlier, turtles eat rocks in the wild for supplementing specific micro-nutrients into their body.

But there are more reasons why your turtle may chomp down a pebble. 


When your turtle is all alone in its enclosure, it may not have any stimulation to keep it occupied.

If that is the case, your turtle will look for channels of entertainment for itself.

And, if you’ve added any gravel or pebbles to its habitat, then it may swallow a few pebbles as a way to keep itself busy.  

Mistaken For Food

Turtles do have good eyesight, but when there are pebbles in the turtle enclosure that are around the same size as the pellet food you offer to your pet, your turtle may swallow gravel or two thinking its food. 

So if rocks could be bad for your turtle

Should you put them in your turtles tank?

Let’s find out

Should I Put Rocks In My Turtle Tank?

Placing pebbles, gravels, rocks, or stones into your turtle’s enclosure is a definite no-no.

You want to avoid any form of danger that may cause a choking hazard or an obstruction in your turtle’s digestive tract. 

The surest signs of obstruction in a turtle are lethargy, loss of appetite, constipation, and depression.

And, if you notice any symptoms of obstruction in your turtle, it’s wise to head to the vet straight away. 

As for providing entertainment for your turtle, it’s a good idea to have an enclosure large enough for your turtle where it gets plenty of room for swimming.

You have to have a minimum of 20 gallons of water for baby turtles.

And, as your turtle grows, you need to remember that there should be 10 gallons of water per inch of the turtle.

Another way to keep your turtle busy is to provide it with a friend.

You can even offer your turtle a turtle bone to chew upon if you feel that your turtle appears particularly bored.

You can always try to play games with your turtle, such as hiding the turtle’s food in different places within the enclosure to keep your turtle on its toes.

Moreover, if you have an omnivorous turtle, then you can even put a goldfish into your turtle’s tank as a treat once or twice a month so that it may feel the thrill of the catch.

Furthermore, any mineral deficiencies in your turtle should be prevented through calcium and other mineral supplements.

Also, regular visits to the vet will ensure that your turtle has a clean bill of health.

Final Words

Rocks can be dangerous to your turtle as they can be a choking hazard

You should not put any rocks in the tank otherwise your turtle may chew on it especially if they are bored

You can keep your turtle busy by hiding their food in different places just to keep them on their toes and a little bit of adventure too!

Or you can add a goldfish, the thrill of catching it would surely entertain your little buddy!

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