Do Turtles Have Teeth? (Photos & Video Included)

Do turtles have teeth? The quick answer is, no, turtles don't have teeth. Instead, they have a beak. The only exception to this is some species of sea turtles that have spikes called papillae in their mouth.
Do Turtles Have Teeth

Do Turtles Have Teeth Or Beaks?

Turtles have a powerful sharp beak, not teeth. Turtles have different shaped beaks based on their natural diet, which I’ll go into more detail further down this post.

Do Tortoises Have Teeth?

Nope, a tortoise doesn’t have teeth either.

Do Terrapins Have Teeth?

You guessed it…no terrapins don’t have teeth.

Do Baby Turtles Have Teeth?

Baby Turtle Hatching

A baby turtle is born with a single ‘tooth’ on the outside of its upper beak known as an egg tooth, it’s not a tooth as we know it, it’s a sharp bump made from keratine.

It’s used for tapping on and breaking out of their egg when hatching but soon falls off when the baby turtle is free from its egg.

How Do Turtles Chew Their Food?

Turtles don’t really chew their food, they can grind or mush it down between their beak making it easier to swallow if neccessary.

They tend use their beaks to bite off chunks of food that are small enough to be swallowed without having to be chewed.

What Kind Of Mouths Do Turtles Have?

Turtles have been around for millions of years and evolution has given them a mouth to suit their natural diet. 

So whether a turtle is a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore will depend on what type of beak it has.

Carnivorous Turtles Beak

Common Snapping Turtle Beak

A carnivorous turtle has a diet mainly consisting of meat, so they need a sharp-edged and pointy beak to be able to crush shells and tear through chunks of flesh.

Herbivorous Turtles / Tortoises Beak

Tortoise Beak

Herbivorous turtles and tortoises eat plants, fruit and veggies. They have a shorter flatter beak with ridges along the edges that they use to cut through leaves and vegetation.

Omnivorous Turtles Beak

Yellow Bellied Slider Beak

An omnivorous turtle eats both meat and plants. Their beak is a combination of a carnivorous turtle and herbivorous turtle, allowing them to eat both meat and plants with ease.

Sea Turtle Mouths

Inside The Moth Of A Leatherback Sea Turtle – Photo courtesy of theconversation.com

Some sea turtle species (such as the leatherback sea turtle) have a mouth full of spikes called papillae that are made from keratin, the same protein found in our hair and fingernails.

The papillae point toward the turtles’ stomach and stop food from escaping from their mouths when they expel excess water.

They also protect the turtle’s mouth and throat from the stings of jellyfish.

Do Turtle Bites Hurt?

Now you know turtles don’t have any teeth you may be wondering if a turtle bite will hurt or not.

When it comes to working out how powerful a turtle’s bite is, there are a couple of things you can look at.

1. Diet

First up, does your turtle eat meat or not? A carnivorous turtle has a sharper beak that can cause deep puncture wounds, whereas herbivorous and omnivorous turtles have blunter and flatter beaks.

2. Size Of The Turtle

The bigger the turtle, the more muscles it will have in its jaw. If I had to choose to be bitten by either a 6lb red-eared slider or a 35lb common snapping turtle, I’d take the RES every time!

One other factor that will affect how much damage and pain a turtle bite inflicts on you is how overgrown their beak is.

If your turtle has a sharp and overgrown beak there is a product that can help keep it trimmed, the Zoo Med Turtle Banquet Block:

Zoo Med Aquatic Turtle Banquet Blocks

Not only do they provide an additional calcium-rich food source, but they also help keep your turtles beak trimmed and stop it from becoming overgrown.

They come in either regular or giant sizes.

Why Do Turtles Bite You?

Pet turtles are generally very mellow, but like any animal, provoke them enough and they may bite you if they feel threatened.

Most turtles bite their owners when they’re being hand fed. It’s not done on purpose, it’s more like when your dog takes a treat from you when they’re excited.

Another reason a turtle may be stressed is due to poor tank conditions.

If your turtle is stressed because of dirty water you should look at getting a better quality water filter and perform a water change.

If your turtle has outgrown its tank and needs a bigger home, check out my best tank for red eared sliders guide for some tank upgrade options.

Is A Turtle Bite Poisonous?

Thankfully not. Turtles bites are not venomous or poisonous. At worst they’re painful.

Which Turtle Has The Strongest Bite Force?

The turtle with the strongest bite force is the common snapping turtle which packs around a whopping 1,800 lbs per square inch of pressure….ouch!

Are Snapping Turtle Bites Dangerous?

Yes, very. An alligator snapping turtle, or common snapping turtle could quite easily bite a human’s fingers off.

Watch as former Brave Wilderness host Coyote Peterson lets an alligator snapping turtle bite down on his arm as requested by his YouTube viewers!

Final Thoughts….

So there you have it, you now know the answer to the question do turtles have teeth and got to watch a crazy guy having his arm chomped by an Alligator Snapping Turtle!

Check out my turtles section for in-depth product reviews and tips on keeping your pet turtles happy and healthy.