Do Turtles Eat Their Own Poop? (Is it normal?)

While human beings have thankfully evolved beyond the point of eating their own poop, it’s not that uncommon for many members of the animal kingdom to do so.

You may have seen your trusty canine companion eating poop one day, but did you know that other animals engage in the same behavior?

Today, we’re going to take a look at whether or not turtles eat their own poop.

We’re also going to explore the reasoning for this kind of behavior and some of the potential hazards of turtles eating their own poop, particularly if a turtle has been living in the wild beforehand.

Do Turtles Eat Their Own Poop?Yes, turtles do eat their own poop and its completely normal. Its called coprophagia. The reason red eared slider turtle species eat their own poop is to get all left over nutrients from poop. This kind of behaviour is noted in other species of turlte as well other animals. 

The first reason why turtles eat their poop is to get some of the helpful bacteria from the poop into their digestive systems, ensuring that they maintain their gut flora.

The other reason why turtles may eat their poop is to ensure that they got all of the possible nutrients out of their meal.

Why Do Turtles Eat Their Own Poop?

As we just mentioned, one of the main reasons why turtles eat their own poop is to harvest some of the helpful bacteria from their feces.

However, when turtles are eating poop to maintain the health of their digestive systems, they typically aren’t eating their own poop because they won’t get any bacteria that they don’t already have out of it.

One of the most common sights of a turtle eating poop is when a younger turtle will eat the poop of an older turtle.

While this may seem strange to us, turtles have a very valid reason to do so.

Older turtles tend to have gut bacteria that isn’t present in younger turtles, and eating poop is one of the easiest ways to get this bacteria.

When young turtles are born, they typically don’t have all of the bacteria in their digestive systems that they need to ensure that it’s healthy.

As they age, turtles will eat the poop of older turtles to start building up their gut flora, and this will eventually go on to be passed to the next generation through the turtle’s poop when it grows up.

Another reason why a turtle may eat another turtle’s poop is to get any nutrients out of the poop that the other turtle didn’t absorb.

If a turtle has had its fill of a certain vitamin or mineral, it will be deposited in its poop, and then another enterprising turtle can come along and scoop up whatever remains in there.

Wild Turtles and Fecal Parasites

One of the most important things to consider when bringing a new turtle into your enclosure is whether or not it has been exposed to parasites.

If you’re bringing a turtle from the wild into your home, its feces may carry harmful parasites that can hurt other turtles that consume its poop.

Parasites can diminish a turtle’s nutrition to the point that it starts suffering from malnutrition, and this can have long-term negative effects on your turtle’s health.

Along with ensuring that you have to feed the turtle more, parasites can shorten a turtle’s expected lifespan and may be costly to treat.

Do Captive Turtles Need to Eat Their Own Poop?

While young captive turtles may sometimes need to eat their parent’s poop to maintain a healthier system, most captive turtles should be healthy without eating poop.

This is especially true if you’re feeding your turtle a healthy, varied diet that’s easy for it to digest.

If you ever see poop lying around in your turtle’s enclosure, you’ll typically want to clean it out to ensure that it’s as hygienic as possible.

Conclusion

While wild turtles typically eat poop to build up their digestive systems and get extra nutrients, this typically isn’t required of pet turtles that are being kept in captivity.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this guide!

Also read

Why is my Turtle Eating Rocks

Can Turtles See in the Dark?

Why Is My Turtle Floating?

Why Do Turtles Dig Holes?

References and sources

Why Do Some Animals Eat Their Own Poop?

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