Often we hear that tortoises poop a lot, and while this is not 100% correct, they do poop. When cleaning out their enclosure, you may not be seeing all this poop people are talking about in their enclosures. It may have you scratching your head first and only leave you with one bugging question: Do tortoises eat their own poop? And if your tortoise, is it normal or even healthy for them.
Yes, tortoises eat their own poop as many other animals are known to do, and in most cases, nothing to be of concern. A tortoise eating there own poop can be a sign that it lacks nutrients in its diet. If the diet is correct, a tortoise can eat poop to take on any undigested nutrients that were not absorbed in the first digestion.
Ok, so that’s a little ambiguous but isn’t everything with animals, right?
Let’s explore more of the issues that you can face with a tortoise eating poop and some ways of stopping it from happening.
Is it normal for tortoises to eat their own poop?
You might have caught it out of the corner of your eye, but you can’t be too sure. Did you see your beloved pet tortoise chowing down on its own poop? This is a common occurrence that has bothered pet owners for years. Do tortoises eat their own poop? And if so, is it harmful to them?
Yes. Turtles and tortoises have been known to eat their own waste. In fact, this is typical behavior in much of the animal kingdom.
Tortoises are incredibly not picky about what they eat. If they think they can derive some sort of benefit from eating their poop, they’ll do it. The taste does not bother them, and obviously, there is no social stigma to contend with in the animal world.
If you see your tortoise eating its own poop, do not be alarmed. It is normal behavior that is mostly harmless and will not cause any adverse health effects to your tortoise as long as your pet is healthy.
If you want to prevent this behavior, there are a few things that you can try. The art of eating your own feces is known as coprophagy, and it is seen in everything from tortoises to dogs and more.
Animal waste products often contain excess nutrients and microbes that animals sometimes find beneficial. If you want to prevent this behavior completely, follow these simple steps.
1. Make sure your tortoise is not hungry
Feed your tortoise enough food so that they do not feel hungry during the day. If a tortoise gets hungry and bored, it is more likely to try and eat its own droppings.
Having a stomach full of the proper food will cut down on the animal’s desire to eat its poop. Why would you eat your own waste when you could have a fully nutritious dinner in your belly instead?
If you think that your tortoise might be able to eat more than you are giving it, adjust the amount of food you give your pet each day until you dial into the perfect amount of nutritious greens. That way, you have a much lower chance of having a tortoise that wants to eat its own waste.
2. Make sure it gets proper nutrition
If your tortoise is eating plenty, they might not be getting enough of certain nutrients in their diet. Animals will often eat poop if they cannot find a particular vitamin or mineral in their natural diet. It is their attempt to find a free supplement to boost something they are lacking.
If you think your tortoise needs better nutrition, try diversifying their diet or looking into getting some nutrient-boosting powders to add to their food. If a tortoise has complete nutrition without any gaps, they will be much less likely to eat their own feces.
3. Clean up
Lastly, if nothing else seems to be working, you may simply need to clean out their habitat more regularly. They cannot eat a lot of poop if there is no poop to eat. While this may be an added hassle, it is a simple way to reduce coprophagy. No poop means no ability to eat poop. Simple!
Make sure to sweep out or dump out the substrate regularly to ensure that all of the droppings are being removed from the environment.
Do Tortoises Eat Other Tortoises Poop?
Yes. Tortoises do not have a fixed schedule for elimination, and they do not distinguish between their poop and other tortoises’ poop. It all looks the same to them.
If you have two or more tortoises together, there is a good bet that they are eating each other’s poop. Just like eating their own poop, as long as the population is healthy, there is minimal risk to this behavior other than being gross.
However, if the population is not entirely healthy, then eating one another’s poop could be dangerous. Eating the poop of another reptile infected with a worm or parasite could spread the infestation to other healthy members of the population quite rapidly.
The easiest way to prevent cross-contamination is to keep animals utterly separate from one another. If you have a hungry tortoise that keeps eating poop, you might not want to put it in with other tortoises. Eating its own poop is much safer than eating a wide variety of different animal poop.
If you do not want to keep your population separated, the next best thing to do is quarantine the prospective animals for two weeks. That way, you can observe them and spot any signs of disease or parasitic infection.
If you do see signs of illness within one of the tortoises during quarantine, you have time to get it treated before putting the two animals together.
Lastly, make sure that you are not cramping your animals within a small space. If each tortoise has room to have its own space and its own burrow, it will prevent poop from piling up too quickly and making it harder for the tortoises to eat one another’s waste.
Suppose waste is piling up speedily or becoming noticeable. In that case, you might need a larger enclosure, or you will need to clean more regularly in order to prevent cross-contamination from occurring.
Do Tortoises Eat Other Animal Poop?
Yes. Tortoises are not picky when it comes to eating. If they sniff another animal’s feces and think that it will give them some benefit, they will not hesitate to eat it.
Tortoises spend a majority of their time close to the ground or underground, where the presence of other animal’s waste is very common. They will eat it if they are in the mood, and they will not care.
You can prevent this by keeping your tortoise away from other animals or making sure that the area you have set up for them to roam outside is free and clear of pests and nuisance animals. Again, if there is no poop around, there is no poop for the tortoise to eat.
Tortoises are not picky eaters, and poop is not off-limits. In most instances, a tortoise eating poop will be nothing more than them attempting to take more nutrients out of their food. As much as it may make our tubby churn, it is entirely normal in the animal kingdom.
However, witnessing your tortoise do this can give us some signs that we may not be getting their diet just right. Reaccessing their dietary needs and seeing you have it on point should hopefully rule this one out.
Following some of the tips, we have outlined in our guide should help you minimize the problem and keep the health issues down. Cross-contamination is a big consume when it comes to tortoises but with some practical steps, it’s easily overcome.