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Do Turtles and Tortoises Have Teeth? All You Need To Know!

You might have wondered whether turtles and tortoises do have teeth if you are keen on what they eat. A turtle’s diet contains proteins such as fish, insects and pellets, meat, fruits, and vegetables. Considering what they eat, I was left wondering how they chew their hard foods like fish. Determined to cure my curiosity, I opened my turtle’s mouth and to my surprise, I found no teeth. I was left wondering how do turtles to chew their food with no teeth at all. I have always found turtles to be mysterious creatures so I dived into research to unravel this new mystery. Stay tuned to know what I find out. 

Do turtles and tortoises have teeth?

It is surprising to know that turtles do not have any teeth. The only turtles with teeth are the young ones. They have egg teeth which helps them to break out of their egg. These ‘teeth’ eventually disappear after a while. To survive, turtles have developed some mechanism to help them with the chewing of their food. These mechanisms also help them to protect themselves from predators.

You can tell what food a turtle or a tortoise eats just by looking at the mouth. Their mouths are in such a way that they help in eating specific kinds of food. Herbivorous turtles cannot eat carnivorous food. This is due to the design of the mouth. Let us now look at the various types of mouths that tortoises and turtles have.

The Different Types Of Turtle And Tortoise Mouths

The Different Types Of Turtle And Tortoise MouthsDepending on what type the turtle is, they can have sharp beaks or flat beaks. These types of mouths serve different purposes. The turtles will have different mouths depending on whether they are carnivorous, herbivorous, omnivorous or they are sea turtles. Carnivorous turtles have the sharp-pointed beaks because they eat meat a lot. They will need beaks that will help them pierce and break bones on meat. They will also use these beaks to protect themselves from predators as I mentioned earlier. For herbivorous turtles, they will need beaks that will help to cut and mash plants, fruits, and vegetables. Their beaks are broad and flat. On the other hand, omnivorous turtles will need beaks that can do both carnivorous and herbivorous. This is because they will eat meat as well as plants. Their beaks are a combination of carnivorous and herbivorous beaks. For sea turtles such as the leatherback sea turtle, they have spikes in their mouth that prevent them from hurting when they feed on other sea creatures such as the jellyfish. This is important because jellyfish are known to sting. The spikes, therefore, play a very important role. Some of these turtle’s mouths are very scary to look at for instance the leatherback sea turtle. The spikes look very scary.

Do Turtles And Tortoises Have Teeth?

Turtles and tortoises have no teeth. They have developed some adaptation over the years that help them cope with their situations. Different turtles and tortoises have varied meals. They, therefore, need beaks that will serve them well with the meals they take. Just like the turtle’s mouth, the tortoises also have mouth edges that function in the same manner as a bird’s beak. They have pointy edges that are tough for effective biting. For chewing their foods, they have upper jaws that are flat and also tough to help in grinding of the food. With these adaptations, the turtles and the tortoises are very much content and comfortable. They have no issue with feeding. Although these beaks may not be as effective as teeth, they do serve the purpose.

What Kind Of Turtles Have Teeth?

There are not turtles with teeth. Although there were turtles that are now extinct which were said to have teeth. These turtle species include millerettids, lanthanosuchids, nycteroletorids, and acleistorhinus. In the modern world, there is no instance of a turtle with teeth. The only turtle that may be said to have ‘teeth’ are the young turtles that have not hatched yet. They use the teeth to crack the eggs. After hatching, these teeth will disappear after some time. These teeth are known as egg-tooth. As they grow they develop these oddly shaped mouths that function as teeth. Some of them have ridges to make it easy to cut food. For the chewing part, they have these flat plates that help in grinding the food. Although they do not have teeth, you should not assume that they will not bite you. Stay tuned to know more about this.

Baby Turtles Are Born With An “Egg Tooth”

Like I mentioned earlier, baby turtles are the only turtles with a tooth that falls off after some time. They have one tooth at the front of their beaks. This tooth is known as the egg tooth. The egg tooth is a small protrusion that is sharp and extends from the front of the beak. This tooth has one purpose. To cut through the shell of the egg. Once the egg hatches, the tooth will fall off after some days and the young turtle will then have a mouth like the other turtles. The baby turtle adapts and will not need teeth for anything. That is the only purpose of the egg tooth.  Now that this is out of the way, let us find out whether turtles can bite you.

Do Turtles Bite You?

Do Turtles Bite You

So, as I had mentioned earlier, turtles have no teeth. Although this is the case, it does not mean that they cannot bite. Turtles only care about their survival and they will do anything to survive. If they find you as a threat, they will not hesitate to bite you. Their biting behavior is dependent on the turtle species. Some turtles are not violent and rarely bite such as some snapping turtles. They rarely bite humans.

Another example is the painted turtles. They have a docile temperament and they will rarely bite. Other turtles will bite when they get a chance. They will bite anything that is within their reach. They include the snapping turtles mostly the alligator. A turtles bite can be very painful even when they have no teeth. A turtle can bite and injure you to a point where you will need medical attention. This should not scare and prevent you from getting a turtle but you should be careful. Most turtles and tortoises are peaceful. However, do not make them feel insecure and don’t get to close to their mouth.


Are Tortoises Dangerous?

Tortoises are not harmful. They are docile creatures. Although they can bite you, it is mostly out of self-defense. Their bites are also not that alarming most of the time. They may be painful and nothing to worry about. Turtles are peaceful and they will not hurt anyone.

Can Turtles Recognize Their Owners?

Turtles have some intelligence in them. They will recognize you if you always provide them with their basic needs. They mostly recognize people who impact their lives. They will not care so much about you but they will recognize you.

Do All Turtles Nees A Heat Lamp?

A heat lamp is very important to a turtle. Although it is not a must, you must ensure that the turtle basks. When he is basking, he can absorb the heat as well. Also, check out our blog on how to clean a turtle tank effectively.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. priyal

    you know what turtal bite my finger

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