Do Florida Softshell Turtles Bite?

Do Florida Softshell Turtles Bite

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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I always recommend knowing a turtle’s behavior before buying or adopting it. Why? Because you need to see if it is cool tempered or gets angry easily. Thus you can treat the pet the way it likes. In this article, I will only focus on the behavior of Florida softshell turtles. Let’s see if they bite and act aggressively or not.

A Florida softshell turtle definitely bites. Not only this subspecies but also the Spiny softshell turtles, Smooth softshell turtles, and other subspecies can be aggressive under attack.

If you are curious to know more about a Florida softshell turtle’s behavior, then read this article to the end.

Florida Softshell Turtles: An Aggressive Species

Florida softshell turtles are a very aggressive species. The turtles not only show aggression to predators or humans, but also towards each other. Experts suggest not to house more than one Florida softshell turtle in a single enclosure due to their temper.

However, if you house two male softshell turtles in the same pen, they will fight a lot. But if you put a male and female turtle, the female turtles generally play a passive role. The Florida softshell turtles have strong jaws and sharp claws. An attack with their beak or jaw can be severe.

How Does The Bite Of A Florida Softshell Turtle Feel Like?

Whenever anyone asks me this question, it reminds me of one of the quotes of a wildlife artist. He said that he was not afraid of snakes. But he would not dare to mess with the softshell turtles.

Believe me or not, the Florida softshell turtles bite like a Snapping turtle. And its bite really hurt. A large, grown up Florida softshell turtle can take the finger off by biting. Even the bites of the small or baby Florida softshell turtles are very painful.

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Blood can come out of the wound. The Florida softshell turtle bite will leave a deep mark or a single scratch on your body.

Do The Florida Softshell Turtles Have Teeth?

This question will naturally come to your mind when you learn the Florida softshell turtles can bite. No, the species do not have teeth. Instead, they have a horny beak that they use while attacking. The sharp beaks indicate that the species is carnivorous.

However, when the Florida softshell hatchlings emerge from the eggs, they have caruncles. The caruncles are known as the egg teeth. The hatchlings can not break the eggshell with their claws or any other parts. So, they use egg teeth to come out.

You will find a caruncle at the front of the upper jaw of a baby Florida softshell turtle. The egg teeth of the species fall off after one or two months.

In short, the Florida softshell turtle uses its long neck to reach up to the predator and the sharp jaw to attack.

Why Do The Florida Softshell Turtles Bite?

The shell of the Florida softshell turtle is soft, which makes the species vulnerable to the predators. Whenever it feels stressed, it can act aggressively. Here are some reasons why the Florida softshell turtles bite:

  • If a predator attacks the turtle, it will try to bite the opponent.
  • You may find a softshell turtle in a freshwater source. If you try to catch the turtle, it can attack.
  • The Flordia softshell turtle will bite if you pick it up in the wrong way.
  • When this turtle gets stressed or panicked, it can attack.
  • If you try to feed your pet Florida softshell turtle with your hands, always stay alert. It can bite your fingers in case the pet is too hungry.

So, do not mess with a Florida softshell turtle. It can attack you to save itself. And its bite is excruciating.

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How To Catch The Florida Softshell Turtles?

Most of the time, the Florida softshell turtle bites if you pick it up in the wrong way. You know these guys do not have a softshell. So picking them up can be a little bit challenging. Here is the trick I recommend:

Raise the bottom part of the turtle and slide your hand under it. Make sure the Florida softshell turtle’s plastron is over your palm. Now slowly lift the turtle. Your palms should not cross the midsection of the plastron.

The bottom part above the tail of the turtle will be bent down. Put your other palm there and hold the turtle gently, keeping its face slightly upward.

You need to be extremely gentle while picking up the Florida softshell turtle because they are very aggressive. If you try to hold them with their sides, they can kick you or slide and fall on the ground. However, if you catch it keeping its face towards your hand, you may get a bite.

A few days back, I saw a video where a guy suggested flipping the softshell turtle and hold. I highly discourage this act. Because flipping the turtle over and over can hurt and make it angry.

Picking up the softshell turtle can be challenging for the first time. It can kick you with its claws, but with the time you will master the technique.

Here is some advice for you. If you find any softshell turtle in the wild or beside a freshwater source, do not pick it up. Even if you catch it, leave it exactly where you find it. Do not mess with its direction.

Can The Bite Of A Florida Softshell Turtle Make You Sick?

In most cases, the bite does not make you sick. A deep bite can make your wound bleed and will leave a permanent mark. The wound can hurt, but nothing else.

In some cases, handling the Florida softshell turtle or its bite can make you sick. Some experts claim that the species carries a strain of cholera. So, if you get bitten by an ill turtle, you will need some medications.

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However, who does not know about Salmonella bacteria? A wild Florida softshell turtle or even a captive one can sometimes carry Salmonella disease. If it bites you, you will get Salmonella too.

What To Do If A Florida Softshell Turtle Bites You?

Do not get scared reading the previous section. The bite of a Florida softshell turtle may make you sick or may not. But you need to take immediate action after getting bitten by one. What should you do? Here are some advices:

  • If blood is coming out of the wound, clean it with a disinfectant, and do a bandage.
  • Even if you get a scratch, use anti-bacterial solutions to wash the area.
  • If a Florida softshell turtle with Salmonella bacteria bites you, you will fall sick. The symptoms of this disease are diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, etc. Generally, the Salmonella bacteria is not strong and goes away by itself. Drink plenty of water while you are sick.

If you worry too much about the bite, then you should consult with a doctor immediately. However, you must follow some tips to avoid any kind of biting. Such as:

  • Do not disturb the Florida softshell turtle.
  • Pick up or hold it gently.
  • Do not put your finger closer to its neck. It can reach up to your finger with its long neck and bite.
  • If you are feeding it with your hands, wear gloves.

If you need to handle the pet, use gloves. And wash your hands before and after touching the pet. Also, if the pet has Salmonella, keep it away from the children and pregnant ladies.


The Florida softshell turtles bite, and it hurts. But they are good pets and only attack if you make them vulnerable, stressed, or panicked. So, do not mess with them and treat them well.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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