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8 Animals That Eat Turtles (And How They Do It)

Turtles are omnivorous reptiles that can live up to 200 years. There are over 356 turtle species, and turtles can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Their strong shells are made of keratin, which is what human fingernails are made of. This shell serves to protect the turtle from predators that would eat them, but that doesn’t mean that turtles have no predators. Some animals are strong enough to break the shell, while others only dine on baby turtles, yet others have craftier ways of breaking the shell. This article discusses eight different animals that eat turtles as part of their diets.

Collage photo animals that eat turtles

8 Animals That Eat Turtles

1. Skunk

Skunk chasing its prey
Skunk chasing its prey | Image by Silvia from Pixabay

Skunks are known for their black and white fur and the smelly spray they emit from under their tails when threatened or scared. These omnivorous creatures eat plants, fruit, worms, insects, fish, and small mammals. They have also been known to eat small turtles and turtle eggs.

Skunks have strong jaws with sharp teeth and can easily break the shells of smaller turtles. They cannot handle adult turtles that well, so you won’t likely see a skunk preying on a larger turtle.

2. Raccoon

Raccoons in swamp
Raccoons in swamp | image by pedrik via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Raccoons are nocturnal mammals that will eat pretty much anything they can get their little paws on. They really enjoy eating turtles. Their strong sense of smell makes it easy for them to sniff out turtle nests underground so they can devour the eggs.

They are also surprisingly strong swimmers, so can catch turtles in the water. Their strong teeth can break the shells of smaller turtles, but they also use tools like rocks to help crack open the shells when needed.

3. Coyote

Coyotes are wild dogs that are native to North America. They have an opportunistic diet, meaning they will eat almost anything from small mammals and insects to fruit and grass.

Coyotes have been documented hunting turtles such as box turtles and painted turtles. They spend a lot of time gnawing on the shell in order to break it open and get to the soft flesh and organs inside.

4. Fox

Foxes
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Foxes are omnivorous members of the canine family. They are keen hunters with a strong sense of smell.

They can easily find turtle nests underground and consume the eggs and hatchlings. Though it is not a preferred dish for the fox, they have also been known to prey on smaller adult turtles by gnawing on the shell until it breaks.

5. Alligator

Alligator floats in the river
Alligator floats in the river

Alligators are large reptiles that can grow up to 14 feet and weigh over 1000 pounds. They have strong jaws with a bite force of over 2000 pounds per square inch.

Alligators often hunt turtles, but the turtle has to be small enough to fit in its open jaws. Then, they use their strong bite force to crush the turtle’s shell and swallow the turtle whole. Alligators do not chew their food, so they have strong digestive enzymes to break down the bones and shells of the turtle.

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6. Crocodile

Crocodiles
Crocodile | Image by miniformat65 from Pixabay

Crocodiles are large semiaquatic reptiles found in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Australia. Crocodiles can have a bite force of up to 3700 pounds per square inch, so they can easily crush a turtle’s shell.

Turtles are usually too small to be a full meal for a crocodile, but because they are slow, they make an easy snack. Crocodiles can digest bones and other hard material in their stomachs, so it is no issue for them to digest a turtle’s shell.

7. Predatory Birds

image by Ron Knight via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Birds may be a surprising addition to this list, but there are many birds that eat turtles. Sea turtle hatchlings are often scooped up by seagulls and other sea birds.

Predatory birds like owls, hawks, and eagles will swoop down to pick up a turtle, fly high up in the air, and drop the turtle. This method is used to break open the shell so the bird can get to the soft flesh inside. The hard shell is meant to protect the turtle, but that isn’t very helpful when a large bird can scoop them up into the air.

8. Great White Shark

Great white sharks are massive sea creatures that can grow up to 20 feet in length. They have rows and rows of big, sharp teeth designed for sawing the flesh and bones of their prey.

Great white sharks often eat fish, seals, and other marine life, but they also enjoy hunting sea turtles, even adult ones. The great white shark has such a strong bite force that it can easily crush the turtle’s shell, incapacitating it. The shark can then make quick work of its meal.