HomeTurtle CareFlorida Softshell Turtle - Do Softshell Turtles Bite?

Florida Softshell Turtle – Do Softshell Turtles Bite?

Learning a turtle’s behavior before purchasing or adopting one is always a good idea because it is necessary to determine whether it has a cool temper or can be easily irritated. Therefore, it will be easier for you to treat your pet how it likes. 

You must have stumbled upon this article when searching for the Florida Softshell Turtle and do Florida Softshell Turtles bite or not. We will be discussing all of it here today. It will be interesting to watch if they act aggressively and bite. 

There is no doubt that a Florida softshell turtle bites. Other subspecies of softshell turtle, such as the Smooth softshell turtle, the Spiny softshell turtle, and others, can also become aggressive under attack.

Read this article to the end if you are inquisitive about learning more about the behavior of Florida Softshell Turtles.

Florida Softshell Turtles


There is a high level of aggression among Florida softshell turtles. It is not only the aggression towards the predators or humans; these turtles also display aggression towards one another. 

In order to sidestep the temper tantrums of Florida softshell turtles, specialists suggest holding no more than one Softshell turtle at a time.

Nevertheless, an enclosure with two male softshell turtles will result in many clashes between them. On the other hand, female turtles normally have a passive role if you combine a male and a female turtle. 

In addition to having sharp claws, the Florida softshell turtle also has strong jaws, and attacks with their beak or jaw can harshly injure them.

Do Softshell Turtles Bite?


Yes, Softshell Turtles do bite, as they can claw, scratch, and bite to defend themselves when trying to escape. On the ground, they can even pull short bursts of speed that are remarkable for their size. 

Despite their soft shells, these turtles are also capable of biting with their sharp cusp if handled recklessly. As a result, the bite can be quite painful. 

Depending on its size, a large Florida softshell turtle can bite off a finger. A great deal of pain is associated with the bites of even the tiniest Florida softshell turtles.

The possibility of blood coming out of the wound is high because of the severe bite, as your body will be scratched or left with a deep mark from the Florida Softshell Turtle bite.

Do The Softshell Turtles Have Teeth?


As soon as you learn that the Florida softshell turtles bite, this question will intrinsically arise in your mind. 

But, no, the Softshell Turtles do not have any teeth. Instead, they possess a horny beak that they use for attacking others and defending themselves.

These species are carnivorous, as indicated by their sharp beaks. 

The Florida softshell hatchlings, however, have caruncles when they appear from the eggs and are known as the teeth of the eggs. 

Neither claws nor other parts of the hatchling are capable of breaking the eggshell. Therefore, they emerge by utilizing their egg teeth.

The egg teeth of a Florida softshell turtle fall off after a few months, and you will discover a caruncle at the front of the upper jaw.

To put it simply, Florida softshell turtles use their elongated necks to reach up to predators and strike with their snappy jaws.

also read: What Does A Turtle Look Like Without A Shell?

Why Do Softshell Turtles Bite?

Due to the soft shell of Softshell turtles, they are defenseless in front of predators. And you can expect aggressive behavior when they feel stressed. Some of the reasons why Softshell Turtles Bite can be attributed to the following factors:

  1. In order to defend themselves from the attacking predators, the turtle will attempt to bite their challenger.
  2. During times of stress or panic, this turtle species may attack.
  3. Trying to capture or acquire a softshell turtle in the freshwaters can lead to its attack.
  4. When feeding your pet Florida softshell turtle with your hands, always be mindful that the turtle may bite your fingers off if he is extremely hungry.
  5. Picking up the Florida softshell turtle inaccurately can result in a bite.

Therefore, it is advised to not interfere with or hinder a Softshell Turtle species as if it senses danger, it can strike you to protect itself, and the bite can be agonizingly painful. 

How To Pick Up Florida Softshell Turtles?


Picking up the Florida softshell turtle incorrectly will usually prompt it to bite you. Therefore, it can be somewhat challenging to pick them up, and here is how we recommend you do it:

Make sure the Florida softshell turtle’s plastron is over your palm by raising its bottom part and sliding your hand underneath it. Then, take your time lifting the turtle carefully, and do not cross your palms or fingers across the plastron’s midsection.

The Softback turtle will have its bottom parts bent above its tails, from where you can gently hold the turtle with your other hand, keeping its head slightly upward.

It is significant to be extremely gentle when handling Florida Softshell Turtles since they are exceptionally aggressive. You may get kicked, or they could slide out of your hands and fall on the ground if you try to hold them by their sides. Consequently, you may get bitten if you try to catch it while its face is facing your hand.

You may have seen others try to flip these turtles on their back and get a hold of them, but we highly discourage this behavior as this can further infuriate them to attack or bite you. This approach is also not healthy for the turtle’s well-being.

Softshell turtles are challenging to pick up for the first time because they can kick you with their claws, but with practice, you’ll become more comfortable with it.

We advise you not to pick up any softshell turtles you find in the wild or by freshwater origins. It doesn’t matter if you catch it or not; leave it exactly where you encountered it, and do not try to change or alter its direction.

Can The Softshell Turtles Bite Make You Sick?

There is a high possibility that you will not get sick from the Softshell Turtles Bite. You may bleed from a deep bite, leaving a permanent scar behind.

Besides pain, there is no other effect from the wound.

But, in some cases, you might get sick from the Softshell turtles bite as experts believe that they carry a strain of cholera, so handling it or its bite can make you sick.

As a result, you will need medication if you get bitten by an unhealthy turtle.

What To Do If Softshell Turtles Bite You?

You don’t need to be frightened after reading the previous section. Still, it would be best to act immediately after being bitten by a Florida softshell turtle, regardless of whether the bite makes you sick or not. So, what should you do after a Softshell Turtles Bite? Here are our recommended suggestions:

  • The wound should be cleaned with a disinfectant, and a bandage should be applied if blood is oozing from it.
  • It is a good idea to wash your scratched skin with anti-bacterial solutions no matter what.
  • Getting bitten by a Florida softshell turtle carrying Salmonella bacteria will make you ill. A variety of symptoms are associated with this disease, including diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever. The Salmonella bacteria are typically weak and go away on their own. If you are sick, make sure to drink plenty of water & stay hydrated.

If the bite is causing you too much concern, you should contact a doctor immediately. However, you can do a couple of things to avoid biting:

  1. A Softshell Turtle should not be bothered or disturbed in any circumstances.
  2. Take proper measures and care when picking it up or holding it.
  3. Its long neck can reach and bite your finger if you place it too close to its neck.
  4. You must wear gloves if you intend to feed it with your hands.

Ensure you wear gloves when handling these aggressive pets, and wash your hands properly before & after touching them. Additionally, if your pet has Salmonella, then prevent children and pregnant women from handling them.


It is painful when a Softshell turtle bites, but they are generally safe and only attack if they feel stressed, scared, or defenseless.

So, you should not mess with them and make sure they’re well taken care of.

Fishkeeping Expert
Fishkeeping Expert
With years of collective fishkeeping knowledge, we are pleased to share the tank maintenance tips and fish care advice we've picked up along the way. Fishkeeping Expert is home to all fishkeeping tutorials and guides that will help you keep your fish healthy.


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