Do Turtles Eat Rocks? Why Is My Turtle Eating Rocks? 5 Best Ways To Stop

Three things are unique to turtles, being the oldest living species, scientists say over 250 million years, long life span, 80 to over 100 years, and of course their leisure movement.

Pet turtle owners often wonder do turtles eat rocks. Turtles are classified as reptiles. Most Turtle breeds are omnivorous, meaning they eat meat as well as vegetables. Some Turtles are vegetarian and some carnivorous.

We shall be discussing generally pet turtles and their upkeep in captivity and mostly be looking after the question why is my turtle eating rocks.

Do turtles eat rocks
do turtles eat rocks – why is my turtle eating rocks


Why Is My Turtle Biting Rocks?

Many newbie turtle pet owners are taken aback when confronted by do turtles eat rock. Naturally, they want to know why do turtles eat rocks.

It is very natural for all animals to eat something different from their food if they are not feeling well. Like you might have noticed your dog sometimes eating grass or some twigs. This is just to balance his digestion.

Vets tell that turtle will eat or try to eat turtle gravel in its aquarium when it feels deficient in calcium, iron, and other micronutrients. This is a natural process. So it is important to know what to select for rocks for turtle tank.

Why is my turtle eating rocks must be investigated seriously. Calcium for turtles must be taken care of by selecting proper feed and frequency.

The food should take care of its calcium and other micronutrient requirements, so you do not have to worry about the slang my turtle ate gravel.


Should I Put Rocks In My Turtle Tank?

When a turtle is brought home as a pet, it is important to provide an environment as close to its natural habitat, so the turtle is not stressed in captivity. The aquarium must be aesthetic also.

The probe do turtles eat rocks must be taken care of by selecting the right type of aquarium substrate so the turtle is not able to eat the rocks.

Turtle eating rocks does not help him at all, as he cannot digest the gravel and we get the turtle pooping rocks, meaning the small solid rock will come out in its poop. This is not a healthy sign.


Do Turtles Like Rocks?

Often people wonder why is my turtle eating rocks. It is important to provide nice and comforting surroundings for the pet turtle in your home.

In nature, sometimes a turtle may eat or swallow a rock to treat its heath issue, which is very natural. However, in captivity, a turtle feeding rock is somewhat alarming.

Do turtles eat rocks only happens when the turtle lacks certain nutrients, or is bored and needs some activity. Proper feed should take care of this. Change in environment can also help.

One must be watchful and see the turtle does not fall sick by eating rocks. Consult your vet at first signs of sickness.


How Do You Know If Your Turtle Ate A Rock?

Do turtles eat rocks by choice? Well no. Rocks ingested by a turtle do not dissolve in its stomach. Rather they come out straight in its poo. In normal cases, if these are small in size, they will pass through.

If the gravel size is somewhat larger it can get stuck in its intestine. In severe cases can be a cause of the turtle’s death.

  • The first sign would be laziness. The owner can spot this difference immediately, by comparing its everyday activity.
  • Second, it will stop pooping. This for sure is more confirming symptom.
  • Third, it will stop eating. Another sure sign, it has digestion problem.

These signs are enough for immediate action, take the turtle to its vet. If the problem is serious, surgery may have to be performed, to remove the impaction.


What Food Kills Turtles?

Besides the threatening-looking phrase do turtles eat rocks, there are some plants also which can be poisonous to the turtles.

In the wild turtles will eat whatever they like, but in their natural habitat, it is by instinct they will not eat poisonous things which will kill them.

However in captivity if the pet turtle is hungry it will try to eat anything in its reach, be it some poisonous plant or even rock or gravel!

Do turtles eat rocks
do turtles eat rocks – why is my turtle eating rocks

Some vegetables normally used or found in a home should never be fed to the hungry turtle. Like

  • Avocado peels, seeds, and leaves.
  • Tomato plant and leaves.
  • Rhubarb, and tobacco plants and their leaves
  • Poison ivy, plant or leaves, normally used as decoration in home.

Similarly, there are plants with can give irritation on contact. There is an exhaustive list of such plants. For more information about foods that kills turtles, check Turtle & Tortoise Clubs near you. You can even choose to adopt from there.


Is Sand Or Rocks Better For Turtles?

Sometimes a turtle pet owner sees and wonders why is my turtle digging in the rocks. This is one of the best reasons to put some substrate in the turtle’s tank or aquarium.

Owners have also observed and ask why do turtles move rocks. Actually, such activity shows either it is looking for food, or just trying to find a hiding place, as may be distracted by the existing environment.

If a turtle digs sand with hind legs, it means she wants to lay eggs and bury them.

To make the pet turtle comfortable in its aquarium, the aquarium must replicate as nearly its natural habitat as possible. It is a good option to line the bottom with sand and rocks etc.

It is a matter of personal preference to have which choice of combination of sand, rocks, pebbles, etc. in the aquarium.

The only safeguard that is to be taken is that the pebble, rock, or gravel size should be slightly larger than the head of the turtle, so it cannot swallow it.


Can You Put Gravel In Turtle Tank?

Another misnomer is do turtles eat gravel. Turtles do not eat gravel at all times as food! However, in certain situations, they might take in their beak small size pebble or gravel or sand and swallow.

The rocks for turtles’ aquarium bottom must be so selected that pebble size is larger than the turtle’s head, so he cannot swallow it.

Normally to give an aesthetic appearance a mixture of rocks, river stones, pebbles, gravel, and sand are laid in the tank bottom. Just for the fear of swallowing or injury by scratching, gravel is not opted by some owners.

Crushed coral is another good alternative to the fear do turtles eat rocks, which can be swallowed and taken out easily by the turtle.


Final Verdict On Do Turtles Eat Rocks

One of the common queries turtle enthusiasts have is do turtles eat rocks. This is serious, as eating small rocks can endanger its life.

Normally turtle will not eat rock, but in captivity, if it is boring, hungry, improperly fed, its food lacks nutrients like calcium, iron, and other micronutrients, then it will try to eat gravel or rock from its tank bottom.

Do turtles eat rocks
do turtles eat rocks – why is my turtle eating rocks

The best thing is to keep its tank water clean and pollution-free and arrange for the environment, lighting, etc. to make it feel like it is in its natural habitat, so the turtle is happy & not stressed.

The pebble size in its tank should be such that the turtle is not able to swallow it. That is about the size of the turtle’s head.

At the slightest indication of turtle feeding rock, observe for ill-health symptoms and consult the vet as it can get serious.

Post Disclaimer


The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, food recommendation, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or for pet food related questions.

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