Everyone seems to be surprised at whether the tortoises have teeth or not.

Well, the answer is simple, NO, Tortoises do not have teeth like humans or teeth at all.

It must be surprising, but the tortoises actually have a beak through which they chew and bite their food.

This beak works as their teeth. It is strong and curved, which looks kind of like teeth, to be honest.

Let us know furthermore about the tortoise teeth and the tortoise mouth in detail.

How Do Tortoises Bite Their Food?

Tortoises are one hell of a surprising species.

They do not have teeth, but they do have a beak-like that of birds. Although, this beak is nothing like usual birds.

a tortoise is yawning

The beak of a tortoise is really sharp and pointy and mostly looks like teeth.

The beak is really strong and helps the tortoise to bite down and chew their food easily.

It is only because the beak of a tortoise is pointy, and the tortoises have a lot of force in their jaws which do not let them feel the absence of that of teeth.

Can Tortoises Chew Their Food?

Tortoises have a beak that helps them in biting.

Although a tortoise can bite the food, it cannot chew it.

tortoise opening his mouth

The tortoise tries to make the food into a liquid form once it enters the tortoise’s mouth so that it can gulp it down easily.

The salivary glands of the tortoise help in converting the solid form of food into that liquid form.

Once the food is bitten into, the salivary gland comes into action. They form a lot of salivae inside so that the food becomes somewhat of a liquid.

Once the food is broken down into liquid form with the help of the salivary glands, the food is then gulped down as a whole and then continues to break down in the stomach of a tortoise.

This is how they are able to digest even food in solid form.

Different Shapes of Tortoise Mouths

Tortoise anatomy is one of the most beautiful and surprising things in the World.

If you do not know this, let me take the opportunity to tell you that tortoises are divided into a lot of categories that have different features, diets, and even shapes.

Different types of tortoises mean that there are different types of tortoise mouths as well.

Let me tell you about some of the types of tortoise mouths that I find fascinating.

Ocean Tortoises or Sea Tortoises

One of the intriguing tortoise mouths is that of ocean tortoises, also known as sea tortoises.

As the name recommends, these tortoises are constantly living in water and can inhale underwater.

While there are a number of seven distinct types of ocean tortoises, some of them, particularly the leatherback tortoise, can have truly terrifying mouths.

A portion of the ocean tortoise, for example, Leatherback tortoises, are the greatest buyers of jellyfish on the planet.

a close-up look inside a Leatherback tortoise mouth

What’s more, as we realize that jellyfish can truly sting and it will hurt badly, a sea tortoise, because of its mouth, can manage to eat one.

This is the reason they have those alarming spikes, to shield themselves from the sting of the jellyfish.

Leatherback tortoises are likewise the greatest tortoises on the planet, significantly greater than the renowned Galapagos tortoises.

There are a lot of speculations that recommend that ocean tortoises, fundamentally Leatherback tortoises contribute a ton in dealing with the seas and in this manner, in one way, ensuring the protection of our beautiful Earth.

Meat-Eating or Carnivores Tortoises

Then comes the carnivore tortoises.

These tortoises eat meat and need to be able to go through or pierce through the skin.

For this, these tortoises naturally have amazing strength in their jaws which can put pressure on the beak to go through the skin.

man carrying a snapping turtle

In addition, these tortoises also have really pointy and sharp beaks, which can pierce through almost any flesh.

It is dangerous to get a pet tortoise that is a carnivore, or a meat-eating one.

Plant-Eating or Herbivore Tortoises

The next type I want to discuss is that of herbivore tortoises.

These tortoises only depend on fruits or plants for their diet. Their digestive system cannot digest flesh or any meat.

They have strong jaws, but the beaks are not that pointy, which helps them in biting the food and crushing it, converting the food into a liquid form, so it becomes easier for them to gulp the food down and digest.

Everything, including the tortoise’s shell to the tortoise’s dreams, has a surprising element attached. You should always try to get these as your pets.

They make really good pets. Although even these tortoises will try to bite you, that will be unintentional.

Omnivore Tortoises

Lastly, it is the omnivore tortoise’s turn.

These tortoises, as the name suggests, can eat both meat and fruits or plants.

The digestive system is made to digest meat and plants. These tortoises bite and gulp down all of their food in order to swallow it.

The beak of these tortoises is made in ways that are sharp and strong at the same time, which helps them pierce through flesh and, at the same time, cut the fruits or plants in order to swallow them properly.

If you are looking for pets, these might look fine, but it is better to avoid these as they tend to bite a lot.

In case you want to get these, supervise that no child gets in their reach; otherwise, the child can get hurt as their bite can be very hurtful sometimes.

Do Any of The Tortoises Have Teeth?

When tortoises are young, hatchlings seem to have small teeth.

They do not possess a lot but are sufficient enough to be able to observe them and understand that they are teeth.

In general, tortoises do not have teeth. They have beak-like birds, but unlike most birds, the tortoises’ beaks are sharp and pointy.

They have a good amount of strength in their jaws to make their bite a dangerous one.

Do Tortoises Bite?

Yes, tortoises tend to bite a lot.

Even herbivore tortoises have a hurtful bite. Their bite can draw blood from the skin. Although the bite is mostly unintentional, the tortoises tend to do it again and again.

This is not something new. It does not mean that your pet tortoise is like that. Sometimes, it can also mean that your pet tortoise is irritated or is not comfortable, or is not feeling safe.

In order to make sure everything is okay, you can check the tortoise’s bedding or get it checked by the vet.

But usually, there is no need to hurry because tortoises tend to bite naturally, and you cannot do anything about it.

In order to understand this profoundly, let us look at why tortoises bite.

Why do Tortoises Bite?

The principal move behind why a tortoise would nibble a human would be that it would sense a threat around itself.

Like most creatures, in the event that it feels compromised in any capacity, it will presumably speak harshly to your fingers. The way it will speak might be hurtful.

These incitements can be anything from getting them to moving them or catching them.

Particularly if your pet is different from you, the person probably won’t be utilized to your sounds and scents yet, so try not to put your fingers reachable for their mouth.

tortoise is biting a man's finger

As they sense safety and comfort around them and they become accustomed to you, you can play with them until you are certain that they will not mess with you. You can even get some toys to make them feel comfortable.

At the point when I got my first child tortoises, they used to behave harshly toward us sporadically.

Since it’s been a couple of years, they know they’re protected by me and never, under any circumstance, nibble.

Tortoise chomps are more normal in the guys by and large since they utilize their solid snappers to set up predominance.

On the off chance that your tortoise has at any point taken a nibble of your hand with no evident explanation for it, this may have been it.

Male tortoises will utilize this strategy to build up predominance among the females also, which we will go into in the following area.

At long last, tortoises can chomp people when they botch them for something they can eat.

Albeit most tortoises are veggie lovers and once in a while eat any sort of meat, they can lash out at your finger in the event that they see it before them and slip up it for something delectable!

This isn’t on the grounds that they fundamentally discover your limits extremely tantalizing.

What’s more, it isn’t on the grounds that your finger looks like lettuce, all things considered. It’s just in light of the fact that tortoises are artful feeders.

These reasons ought to be mulled over to keep away from a considerable lot of the pointless tortoise chomps that could come in your direction.

In the same way as other creatures, now and then, they can be unpredictable.

Did Tortoises Ever Have Teeth?

The tortoises do not have teeth.

But a lot of specimen samples conclude that in prehistoric times, they did have teeth that were micro.

But those times are long gone, and now tortoises are left with no teeth but only beaks.

Tortoises and turtles are closely related. In fact, research shows that tortoises come from the family of turtles.

The main difference between turtles and tortoises is that tortoises are land habitual and cannot swim in the water.

Does a Tortoise Bite Hurt?

Tortoises tend to bite their owners and even their fellow tortoise friends as well.

The bites might not be intentional, but they come out to be pretty harsh at times.

Although there has not been proper research on the force with which a tortoise bites but it is surely observed that it is enough to make a human bleed.

Tortoises can bite really harshly, and that is why it is advisable that if you have a child at your house and a pet tortoise, keep them under supervision as the child might get hurt from the bite of that tortoise.

Sometimes, the tortoises can bite the figures so roughly that they might almost take the fingers off the human hands.

This is mainly in the case of carnivore tortoises and omnivore tortoises.

The beak and force power of carnivore tortoises and omnivore tortoises are much stronger and sharp.

This helps them to pierce the skin with not much force. That is why it is advisable to avoid getting these as pets.


There is no doubt that tortoises seem like a really simple species and yet, are so complex.

They might seem dangerous, but in reality, they make one of the sweetest pets ever. I am writing this with experience.

Tortoises require a lot of supervision and care in the beginning, but once they become comfortable and feel safe in your presence, it will bring out another side of the tortoise completely.

Lastly, there is no doubt that tortoises are one of the most fun pets to have, but it is important to understand which tortoise to get (omnivore, carnivore, or herbivore).

I suggest that you get a herbivore tortoise if you are getting it for the first time since they are easier to handle.

That being said, do not forget to do your research properly before getting one.

Similar Posts