General Care Discussion :: Turtle biting itself..?

Taking care of your turtle's overall health.

Post Posted: Thu Oct 10, 2013 10:32 pm   Turtle biting itself..?

Hello! I haven't been here in a while, but things are going pretty well with Thomas and me. :)

I do have a concern though. Sometimes, Thomas will try to bite at his arm, he ends up spinning in circles trying to get at it. When he does get it though, he won't let go and just yanks and yanks at it and spins in circles all over the tank, bumps into the walls. Eventually he ends up just sitting in one spot, holding his arm.

When he does this, sometimes after a few minutes he'll just let go, but sometimes I take him out and he usually won't let go even then unless I poke at his other leg to distract him. It's really weird and I haven't found anything about turtles doing this.

Has anyone else ever experienced anything like this or have any ideas what could be causing it? I'd appreciate any thoughts. Thanks!
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:51 am   Re: Turtle biting itself..?

Do you think he's biting at the excess skin on his arm? Or maybe he's just itchy? Dumbork tries that but she stops once the itch is scratched. :)
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 11, 2013 3:13 pm   Re: Turtle biting itself..?

My male RES bites his nails at night and goes a bit crazy. Is it the same arm he bites?
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Post Posted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:05 am   Re: Turtle biting itself..?

My new turtle is doing the same thing.She is biting her leg not her nails is this a concern? Thanks
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Post Posted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 4:34 am   Re: Turtle biting itself..?

As long as there is no injury. I'm not sure how we can stop the behavior aside from taking the turtle out of the tank.
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 03, 2021 1:13 am   Re: Turtle biting itself..?

I know this is an old post, but I've been having the same issue with a 20 year old RES. I've described the issue at length on reddit but still have no solution to this issue. I'm hoping someone comes across this who has figured out why this happens. Here are the details:
    - RES is male, approx. 20 years old.
    - Shares a room with a male and female RES, which our vet said might be the cause due to sounds / smells. (It's the only thing we haven't tried yet due to lack off space.)
    - Happens only at night / once the lights go out. I've tried red bulbs and night lights, which worked at one point. I've even tried dimmers to simulate a sunset. (The change in seasons / daylight was also thought to affect this.)
    - I used to think it was caused by tank glass reflections or not enough room, but I've since moved him to a bigger space which is a tub.
    - I've had to set timers on the filters because the ripples in the water cause reflections of "another moving turtle".

I believe this has become a habit now and is severely affecting basking times. We've had to remove the turtle from the water at night as a temp solution.
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 03, 2021 1:26 am   Re: Turtle biting itself..?

Sounds like the same thing that my male RES (in his late teens now) still does. He doesn't do it as aggressively as he used to or as often, and fortunately he never hurt himself. My guess is that it is related to boredom, but after awhile they cause some irritation and bite it out of habit.
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 03, 2021 8:46 am   Re: Turtle biting itself..?

Thank you for the response. Yes, the tubs are "boring". Everything I put in there with him, he attacks, which then leads to him biting himself. We sometimes land dock him for a couple hours to give him exercise. But it doesn't seem to lesson the anxiety, aggression, or whatever it is, at night.
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 03, 2021 3:13 pm   Re: Turtle biting itself..?

He did that too... aggressively bite everything in his tank. His tank is now bare and he's got cork bark for his basking area. So when does bite it, it's pretty safe.
So your turtle is dry docked overnight? Does he have anything to burrow under?
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 03, 2021 5:40 pm   Re: Turtle biting itself..?

When I wrote dry docked, I mean he goes in a carrier with towels over a heating pad. I think the term is usually used to refer to a RES that roams around on a floor. Sorry the confusion.
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 03, 2021 7:15 pm   Re: Turtle biting itself..?

They never like small enclosures, it stresses them out. Larger areas where they can roam a little seems to do better. I used to block off a small section in a room and give them a bit more freedom.
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