Do Sea Turtles Bite? Yes, Here’s Why?

Unless threatened or provoked, sea turtles will not bite you. They are familiar as docile sea turtles, and they are not a danger to you when you think of attacking animals. A sea turtle bite isn’t common; instead, it’s a rare case.

Have a look at the mouth of the sea turtles and you will have a feeling of a beak of edgy ending. The beak-like hard jaws, which are made up of two sharp, curved mandibles, help them strike through the skin of the predators or any approaching danger. The absence of teeth doesn’t affect their attack.

Let us dive into the world of sea turtles to find out about their habitat, breeding, feeding needs and behavioral adaptations. It would help you understand them as docile and friendly creatures who deserve their own space in the world.

Do Sea Turtles Have Teeth in Mouth?

sea turtle mouth
Inside of a sea turtle’s mouth

Sea turtles have teeth, and they also do have mouths. However, their internal mouth and the esophageal tract are made to help them digest. Here is how we can feature their mouth:

  • Mouth adaptability for an omnivorous diet
  • Sharp-edged jaws tear the food apart
  • The shape of jaws and strength of muscles to break apart vegetation-algae
  • Mouth lined with a hard, bony palate to crush and grind the food

Well, among the species, there are categories according to the body strength and needs. The loggerhead turtle has mollusks and crabs to prey upon. For that, their jaws are stronger than others.

The Species of Sea Turtles that Bite and Their Insight

If you talk about the bite of sea turtles, talk about the species more. There are a variety of species of sea turtles. Among them, a group called snapping turtles rise to the top in biting.

There are three common types of snapping sea turtles:

  • The common snapping turtle
  • The Alligator snapping turtle
  • The Suwannee alligator snapping turtle

Both vary in their snapping power according to the habitat and feeding needs. Here are some points to see if they can bite hard and harm you:

  • \Don’t underestimate the flexibility of the neck when they snap.
  • The jaws are powerful enough to injure the skin and bone seriously.
  • The bite can be more dangerous because of the bacterial presence in their atmosphere. Bacterial presence can cause infection in the wound.
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An Insight of a Sea Turtle Bites to Finger Off: Bite Force in PSI

sea turtle

Can a sea turtle bite your finger off?  Yes, it can. The bite force of the sea turtle varies in different species. The snapping turtles are more flexible and jaw strong to bite hard on the skin.

It is said by the National wildlife federation that a turtle bite can break through your bone. It means it can be harmful. The two world-known types of snapping turtles have the mentioned bite force in psi:

  1. Common snapping sea turtle: 209 newtons of force
  2. Alligator snapping turtle: 158 newtons of force

Both lag behind when you study the common toad-headed turtle, also called Phrynosnasutus. Its bite force is 432 newtons of force.

Sea Turtle Bites and Their Adverse Effect: A Case Study

What happens if a sea turtle bites you? The bite can leave the skin of a human marked with a bruise or even the bitten part would come up with a broken bone.

This depends on which type of attack you have. 59 years old, Mrs. Liang shares her painful memory of being bitten by a turtle during snorkeling in Malaysian Pulao Reading waters.

Her skin resulted in a 7 cm long abrasion which became a swelling over the passage of time. However, as the swelling subsided and was treated, the only thing left was a bruise mark.

Sea Turtles vs Humans: A Sneak Peek

Are Sea Turtles dangerous for humans? Do they bite humans?


Sea turtles are naturally docile and would not attack you unless you disturb them or intrude into their breeding area.

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But yes, they can bite and hurt humans or even break a bone inside. The snapping turtles have a biting force strong enough to get you into trouble if they attack you.

It is better to stay at a safe distance and help them stay in their comfort zone.

Survive a Snapping Turtle Bite: My Opinion

So, how do you survive a snapping turtle bite?

Well, before I tell you about the survival tips, the first thing to consider is don’t take it lightly.

Snapping turtles snap suddenly, so if you happen to find them in water, don’t splash water or move quickly. Instead, move away slowly, not inviting them. 

Even if you are unlucky to be bitten, don’t pull or you will rupture your wound more. Pour water, stay still and the turtles usually leave the skin when submerged in water.

Next, take care of the wound, which may carry an infection. These turtles have salmonella bacteria in their mouths, so be vigilant to see if the bite causes infection.

Emergency Tips to Treat Sea Turtle Bites

The following tips would be the key to managing the bite chaos:

  • Call for medical assistance and information about the sea turtle type and bite.
  • Clean the wound by washing it as soon as possible.
  • Use sterile bandages to cover the wound after forcing the blood to stop.
  • Use antibiotics after medical consultation to help prevent bacterial infection.

A List of Antibiotics to Treat Turtle Bites

Certain antibiotics can be a treatment for turtle bites. However, the cautions you read here are a priority.

  • Not every such wound requires antibiotics.
  • Medical assistance should be a guide rather than your idea.
  • The use of medicine depends on the severity of the bite.

Some of the prescribed antibiotics are as follows:

  • Penicillin
  • Ampicillin
  • Cephalexin
  • Clindamycin
  • Doxycycline
  • Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole

Common 3 Reasons: Why Did My Turtle Bite Me?

If it distresses you to be bitten by your pet sea turtle, you don’t know them well.

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Biting is a behavior they have been bearing since birth. The reasons, though, are many, here are the common 3 reasons are as follows.

  • They can have poor eyesight to mistake your body part for food.
  • They may be scared enough to attack as a defense.
  • Sometimes, an illness or stomach issue can irritate and force them to bite.


Are sea turtle bites infectious?

Not every time the turtle bite will be infectious, but there are instances to be so. The sea turtles’ diet and habitat can get together to make the bite infectious.

sea turtle

The salmonella bacteria are in the mouth of sea turtles. Plus, you need to wash your hands after you have a hand on sea turtles. These bacteria can cause food poisoning and can be a trigger for many other illnesses.

Does a baby turtle bite hurt?

Yes, even a baby sea turtle of your palm size can bite you hard if you get too close or take it too easy. It is said that a baby turtle belongs to an egg tooth. This tooth isn’t the same as a human tooth. After a couple of days, this kind of tooth disappears.

Does touching sea turtles hurt them?

You need not touch them, and neither should you. They have a protective oily layer over them which you can pollute. Plus, you might exhaust or scare them, losing the vital energy which they require to carry out routine activities.


Sea turtles don’t bite or attack you unnecessarily. They must be treated respectfully and observed from a safe distance. Like other marine animals, they have their own part to play in cleaning the sea environment.

Try not to stress them by disturbing or touching them. You would definitely invite harm to your skin. The turtles might not damage you but only bite you as a defense mechanism.

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