Why Is My Turtle Biting His Arm?

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

Though it is not a common occurrence, sometimes you may find your turtle biting his arm. It can happen due to a lot of reasons. I did some research and compiled all the information I found in this article.

So, let’s dive into it.

Why A Turtle Bites His Arm?

There can be a number of reasons for this kind of behavior. I am talking about each of them in details here:

  • The most common reason for this kind of behavior is the turtle is shedding skin. Shedding can be itchy, so they often bite or scratch their body. Also, biting helps to loosen the skin, which in turns help to shed. This is a common behavior and there is no need to worry.
  • Something can be irritation the turtle’s skin. That’s why it is trying to scratch or bite its arm for comfort. Generally, irritation occurs due to poor water parameters. Ensure that the water parameters are okay. The level of nitrate, ammonia etc. should be as low as possible (preferably 0).
  • The next reason can be something stuck under the scale of the turtle. Do a close observation. If you find something stuck between or under the scales, take a tweezer and carefully take it out. After taking out the object, apply Polysporin with a Q-tip.
  • The last probably reason can be an attack of mites. Again do a close observation and check if there are any mites on your turtle’s body. If there are any, you need to purchase a reliable anti-lice shampoo. These are available in the pharmacy. Make a solution with 500 mL water and 10 mL shampoo. Now, soak the turtle in that solution for 10 minutes for 2 weeks.

What Should You Do?

  • If the biting is due to shedding, there is nothing you can do. It is natural and completely okay. Just relax.
  • If the water parameters are not balanced, take proper steps to balance them. Do a 30-40% water change every week. Invest in a powerful canister filter. A good filter is the most important prerequisite for a turtle tank. To check the level of the water parameters, get a water test kit. I found this one really reliable.
  • If the situation is not improving, ask the help of a HERP vet. The vet will probably do an X-ray to find out what is causing this type of behavior. In most cases, antibiotic is used to heal the turtle. However, the prescription will vary according to the situation of your turtle.
  • Do not apply any type of medicine without the approval of your vet. Things can get ugly if you don’t know what you are doing.

So, this is all that I could find on why a turtle bites his arm. Generally, in 95% cases, it is due to shedding. So, there is no need to panic if you see this kind of behavior from your turtle.

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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