How Does A Softshell Turtle Protect Itself?

How Does A Softshell Turtle Protect Itself

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

Turtles with hard shells can easily fight against the predators and protect themselves in the wild. But what happens to the softshell turtles? How does a softshell turtle protect itself in danger? If you are wondering the same questions, then this article is for you.

Though the soft shell is the weakness of the softshell turtles, they use their horny beaks, sharp jaws, and powerful claws to protect themselves. These turtles are more alert to dangers and act aggressively.

In this article, I will discuss the survival methods of a softshell turtle in the wild. If you are interested, do not forget to give this article a quick read.

Why Are Softshell Turtles Vulnerable To The Predators?

The hard shell is the main weapon of any turtle to protect itself. But biologically speaking, the softshell turtles do not have hard shells. Instead, this species owns a flat and rubbery carapace. The edge of the shell is pliable and has small spines.

This flat, rubbery, and soft shell make this species vulnerable and exposed to the predators. In case of any fight, the softshell turtles will get wounds on the shell easily. And the injury often leads to shell rot and other life-threatening diseases.

However, most predators consider the softshell turtles as a delicious treat. It is because these turtles have more meat compared to other turtles. So, whenever the softies are basking under the sun or come to the land, the predators keep an eye on them and look for a fair chance.

How Do Softshell Turtles Protect Themselves?

Till now, you may be thinking of the softshell turtles as a timid species, and always afraid of being attacked. But wait, that is not the actual case.

Because of the flappy, flat shells, the softshell turtles stay extra alert. In case of any attack or emergency, these turtles can act quickly and swiftly. However, the big-sized body of the softshell turtles also works in their favor. They use it as a shield against the small predators.

The wild softies follow another strategy to save themselves. They bury their bodies at the bottom of the muddy water and wait for the predator to go. You have to admit this one is a pretty good plan.

The softshell turtles are really good swimmers. They can swim in any water, let it be swift or a slow-moving river. Do not think the softshell turtles only protect themselves by hiding. They can also attack the predator even if they feel slightly insecure.

The attack of the softshell turtles is pretty intense. These turtles use their long necks, sharp jaws, and powerful clawed feet to attack the predators. The softshell turtles also have horny beaks, which indeed works as their weapon.

Believe me or not, the bite or attack of the softshell turtles is dangerous. The opponent will be badly injured if it gets attacked by a softshell turtle. Check this article to find out how aggressive a softshell turtle can be.

Survival Of The Softshell Turtles In The Wild

I have discussed how the softshell turtles protect themselves from the predators. But what about the wild survival? Do you know how a wild softie overcomes all the challenges? Let’s talk about those things.

When a softshell turtle wants to settle down at a place, at first it needs to select suitable habitat. Obviously, each softshell turtle species has its own natural habitat range, which it hardly crosses. Find out the geographical ranges of softshell turtles in this article. The softies always prefer the rivers, lakes, and freshwater sources with muddy or sandy bottoms and little vegetation.

Secondly, the softshell turtles in the wild depend on nature for food. If a turtle gets a suitable place to live in and a source of food, it will live an average life. Unlike the captive softies, the wild ones need to prey to survive.

The softshell turtles are carnivorous. So, they live on the amphibians, fishes, crustaceans, insects, and other small creatures. They apply an amazing strategy to ambush fishes.

You know these turtles have distinctive flat, leathery shells and long tubular snouts. They hide in the mud or sand, keeping the eyes and snout exposed. Whenever a fish or other small creatures pass them, the softies strike immediately. Using the three sharp bony plates in their mouth, the softshell turtles rip the fishes off. This is the feeding strategy of the wild softies.

You know the weather in the wild can be rough. Winter is a nightmare for almost all turtle species. As they can not regulate their body heat and depend on the environment, the winter can be harsh for the softies. To survive the cold weather, the softshell turtles hibernate during the winter.

The softies bury themselves in the sandy or muddy bottom of the lake or river and go for a long sleep. The turtles drop their metabolism and other energy consumption rate. The softshell turtles only need a little amount of oxygen to survive the dormancy period.

Are you wondering how the softshell turtles breathe underwater? Well, this is called pharyngeal breathing. The softies are biologically programmed to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide via mouth, throat, and skin.


The softshell turtles are somehow vulnerable because of their flat and lethargy shells. But they are programmed to use their long neck, horny beak, sharp jaws, and claws to attack the predator. These turtles have a survival instinct much better than most other turtle species.

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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