Do Turtles Have Teeth? – Real Turtle Teeth Picture

Have you ever got this, though? Do turtles have teeth? I was curious, so I tried to get the answer by inspecting my turtle. You know what? I was surprised to discover that my turtle does have many teeth. Doing a little research, I found out that turtles eat food by biting with beaks.

When a turtle is born, it has a little egg tooth which is way too different from a human child. They vanish after a few days. Not all turtle beaks have a saw-like beak, others have sharp beaks, and some have their mouths full of spikes. Continue reading if you want to learn more about it. 

How Do Turtles Chew Their Food?

Like birds, turtles have beaks instead of teeth. They use their beaks to chew food and bite as we know that turtles consume food by swallowing, not by crushing food, so the small pieces of food are easy for them to consume. If you look closely at turtles and a seagull, you will get to know that beaks are almost identical. 

You can look at the below-given video to understand how a turtle eats food using its beak. 

In this video, you can notice that the turtle does not have teeth, so it skillfully uses its beak to bite a tomato and consume it. Not all turtles eat every food item because what they eat is dependent on their mouth size.

Types of Turtle Mouths

Turtles are one of the ancient creatures on Earth, so their composition and characteristics vary if you compare turtles of different regions. For example, you can notice the noticeable difference between sea and box turtles. 

Carnivorous Turtles Mouth

Carnivorous Turtles mainly depend on animal-based food such as fish, mealworms, snails, etc. These turtles have to use their beaks to pierce through skins to get their food. The beaks of such turtles are sharp and pointy to assist them while eating.

The following are carnivorous turtles:

  1. Alligator Snapping Turtles 
  2. Sea Turtles
  3. Leatherback Turtles

Herbivorous Turtles Mouth

From the name, you can guess that these turtles eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based stuff. They do not have sharp beaks because it is not needed due to their vegetarian nature. Some of these turtles have ridges on their beaks, helping them to cut through plants.

The following are herbivorous turtles:

  1. Chinese Pond Turtles
  2. Red Eared Slider Turtles

Omnivorous Turtles Mouth

Omnivorous turtles can eat both plant and animal-based food such as meat, fish, worms, fruits, vegetables, etc. To help them eat both veg and non-veg meals, their beaks are sharp and have ridges on them as well. Simply put, I can say that beaks are a combination of the above two.

Sea Turtle’s Mouth

Sea Turtle Mouth is different from terrestrial turtles, and they have spikes to consume seafood. You know sea turtles are predators of jellyfish, so you can imagine how bad they would sting if there were no spikes inside the sea turtle’s mouth. Leatherback turtles are the largest cornerstone species. Without them, the ecosystem of the Earth would not remain in balance. 

Baby Turtles Teeth

No matter what turtle species it is, it is common for the baby turtle to have an egg tooth for the initial days of its life. According to some researchers, it is not a tooth, but a material that resembles a tooth. Turtles emerge from their eggs after this tooth breaks the shell of the egg.

Turtle Teeth Pictures

Following are the pictures of the turtle’s mouth:

Do Turtles Bite Hurt?

Despite their gentle nature, turtles can bite humans. When threatened, turtles become aggressive. The jaws of these creatures are powerful so that they can crush their food easily. A turtle’s instinct to protect itself most likely caused it to bite you. 

When you get too close to a turtle’s habitat, they may feel threatened by you because they are territorial. Whenever turtles feel threatened, they may bite. To crush their food (such as fish), they have extremely powerful jaws. 

As well as having beaks, they can also puncture human skin and cause bleeding if you are bitten on the hand or arm. With their bites, some turtles, like alligator snapping turtles, are even capable of breaking bones. You should never interfere with a turtle during feeding time and should let them go back into the water.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do Turtles Have A Sharp Beak For Eating?

Yes, turtles have sharp beaks rather than teeth, helping them to break down food, so they can easily swallow it. 

How Many Teeth Do Turtles Have?

As I have mentioned above, turtles do not have teeth. Only baby turtles have a single egg tooth for a few days.

Do Turtles Have Beaks?

Yes, turtles have beaks along with ridges to break food into pieces, so they swallow it because they do not have teeth to crush their meals. 

Do Red Eared Sliders Have Teeth?

Like other turtle species, red-eared sliders also do not have teeth. They have pointy ridges on the upper and lower jaw to chew food. 

Final Words

In this article, “Do turtles have teeth?” You can learn that turtles do not have teeth, so they eat their meals by biting with their bird-like beaks. Baby turtles can have an egg tooth that will disappear within a few days as its purpose is to help newborn turtles get out of the egg.

You may also like: How Long Can A Turtle Survive Without Food?

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Hey, I've done my Ph.D. in Marine Biology. I'm a turtle enthusiast and have been owning turtles for the last 22 years and dedicated to sharing my experience to help you in pet turtle upbringing.