Some of the Predators for Turtles and Tortoises to watch and prepare for.
Each part of the world has its own predators, so some of the
animals below will probably not be an issue for you. But, we
will list the primary ones that we know about. You may think
of others in your habitat that we haven't, so consider the
possibilities as you read.
If you live in North America, you probably know how smart
and capable raccoons are. They are amazingly smart, grow as
large as a medium sized dog, and not only are good climbers,
swimmers and diggers but have hands that work similar to
ours and can open locks and unlatch gates. And they love
reptile or fish for dinner. They hunt at night, and will
often carry the entire turtle away to eat elsewhere, so if
you have many raccoons in your area you may need to use
electric fencing around your water turtle pond and take your
tortoises inside at night.
Never leave your dog alone with your turtles. Some dogs are
very gentle with other animals, but remember that dogs are
predators, and turtles are prey, and temptation could
overcome them. This is especially true if there is more than
one dog present. The pack instinct makes a group of dogs
capable of things that the individuals might never consider.
Coyotes and Foxes
Coyotes are more pervasive (in North America) and more
likely to come around inhabited areas, but either animal
will eat turtle, and both hunt at night. Use the same
precautions you would use against neighborhood dogs.
Housecats may kill baby turtles, though they aren't likely
to bother larger ones. The larger wild cats may kill even a
large turtle, though they are much less a threat than the
European hedgehogs also hunt at night. They are good
diggers, and will chew off any part of the turtle that they
The American Opossum can also be a danger to your turtles.
`Possums are omnivorous; in fact, they seem to define the
word. An Opossum will eat just about anything that might be
edible, living or dead. Although they aren't wily and smart
like the raccoon, and aren't likely to carry the entire
turtle away, if they can get to the turtle they will chew
what they can grab.
Weasels, Mink, Ferrets, etc.
The Mustelid family are all fantastic hunters, and can
squeeze through amazingly small openings. They also usually
hunt at night, and if there are many in your area, they can
be almost as dangerous for your pets as the raccoon.
Skunks are a danger somewhere between the Opossum and the
Raccoon. They can dig, climb, and chew, and will eat turtle
eggs as well as turtles.
Ravens, Crows, Seagulls, Herons, Owls and other large
Any of the large carnivorous birds can and
will pick up and carry away young turtles, and possibly even
the adults. Herons and perhaps
seagulls will even snatch
water turtles right out of the pond. To secure your land
turtles, a cover for the pen is your best bet against aerial
attack. To help protect turtles in a pond, you might try one
of the motion-detector water jet sprayers.
Rats and Mice
Rats are more dangerous that the Weasel family because they
are great chewers and much more likely to invade human
living areas. They are opportunistic eaters, and may eat
turtle eggs and young if they find them. Mice are not much
of a danger except to hibernating turtles, who cannot defend
Ants, and particularly fire ants and army ants, can be a
real problem for turtle eggs and hatchlings, killing and
eating both. Ringing the perimeter of the pen with
Diatomaceous Earth after each rain is said to be an
effective barrier against ants. Wasps will sting any
perceived threat, including you and your turtle. Your turtle
of course cannot escape them, and wasps should not be
allowed to nest in the turtle area. By the same token, keep
the turtle habitat clean of old food and feces to prevent
flies and other insects from multiplying there, and keep
standing water changed or aerated to prevent mosquito larvae
If a human is after your turtles, you probably cannot stop
them. But you can take precautions against the neighborhood
children or someone else acting on a whim and snatching up
an available tortoise or turtle. Keep your pets in a well
As someone once told us, there are three kinds of predators
of turtles: The ones with wings, the ones with four legs,
and most sneaky and dangerous of all, the ones with two legs!