pet turtles reaching over, wanting to fight, bite & flutter

Filed under aquarium, my pet turtles, photos, red ear slider turtles, turtle pictures, turtle tank, turtles

My turtles are silly.

They are separated, as per the many recommendations from turtle forums and experts. Turtles, particularly red eared sliders, are territorial and will fight with each other (when they aren’t basking) – especially when in the confines of an aquarium where there isn’t much space to go to after basking. If you have more than one turtle and they get along and don’t fight, consider yourself a very lucky turtle owner!

I had hoped really hard that my turtles would get along. When they were younger Cinderella, my female RES, was the smaller among the two turtles. She would constantly pick on poor Rex. She’d push him off the basking areas, knock him over, and kick him. They would flutter each other quite frequently and would constantly bite each other. I read of instances where a much bigger turtle would seriously harm (like bite an arm off) a smaller turtle, but I didn’t worry about that since their size difference wasn’t substantial – Rex wasn’t that much bigger.

Then I read about a turtle biting another turtle’s tail off. That was it. I knew I had to separate them before they do each other some permanent bodily harm. And so I’ve kept them separated since.

The first few months I would see them flutter each other through the divider. I’d also see them try (but always fail) to bite each by sticking their heads as far as they can through the divider openings. They still do, of course, but I don’t see it as much.

Anyway, here are some photos of my pet turtles either fluttering through the tank divider or sticking their heads through looking for the other turtle. Some of these photos are from the previous tank they were in, a tiny 5 gallon – but most of the photos are from the newer 150 gallon tank.

Enjoy the pictures!


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10 Comments for this entry

  • Ashley Cordell

    PLEASE HELP!
    I have two turtles that have never faught before until now. I have had them ince 2004. My female was very badly injured on her neck. I am keeping her in my bathtub currently. I have a large bow front tank, and I need to create a divider. What material did you use to create the dividers pictured? Also how can you circulate water properly to ensure both sides are filtered properly? Thank you!

    • forlogos

      wow, sorry to hear about your pet turtles. The divider I use is called egg crate, sometimes it’s called a light diffuser.

      I use two filters, one on each side. The filter outlets are on opposite sides of the tank and circulate around with a Hydor FLO Rotating Water Attachment each. The two water inlets are in the center of the tank.

      Best, share some photos when you’re done!

  • Phil

    I have one male and one female turtle as w?ell and I have recently noticed that the male turtle (slightly bigger) is biting the female turtle in the tail/foot are. I know that you separated them but I don’t think that my tank is big enough for a divider. Any Suggestions

    • forlogos

      you need a bigger turtle tank. And not just for separating them, but for the quality of life for the turtles.

  • Terry

    We have the same issue with our turtles, but they are both males.(Cuff & Link). Link is the bigger and has taken a good size bit out of Cuff’s shell. We have them in two different tanks now but would love to use one. Would love to know what you used to make your divider. And where to get the materials. Please help a fellow turtle lover… :)

    • forlogos

      ouch, sorry to hear that! It’s amazing the amount of damage one turtle can do to another!

      The divider I use I bought from Home Depot. They call it a plastic light diffuser. Sometimes, it’s called an egg crate.

      Why do I feel like I’ve seen their photos somewhere online before?

  • catherine

    So glad I found your blog…I’ve adopted 3 YB over 4 years and only today have I seen the smallest one (3rd) biting and holding on to the middle one’s foot (1st) which was confusing as miss middle(1st) only ever flutters at miss titanic (largest & 2nd) I’d like to find out that this settles down in time but somehow I’m not very hopeful,all 3 are female…was sure girls would get on better than this but….not so:(

    • forlogos

      Not all fluttering is a sexual mating call. Fluttering can also be used as a means of intimidation/ aggressiveness, particularly if your pet turtles are of a territorial species

  • Phil

    The turtles seemed to have stopped biting each other once spring started. My turtle was only aggressive in the winter and now she has stopped. Any thoughts?? And to Terry, I got my divider at petsmart.

  • Kevin89

    I have a large RES and a small one that get along just fine. But the large one keeps on biting the thermometer, making it clink against the side of the tank. At first i thought it was because he was hungry so i gave hime more food, but he still did it. Then I just moved it above the water level about an inch or so, but he started sticking his head out of the water to bite it. I’m afraid he will break the thermometer and ingest broken glass and the red stuff (mercury?). Should i just not have a thermometer in the tank?