Are Box turtles agressive?

Are Box Turtles Aggressive? A Helpful Guide

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Many box turtle enthusiasts have asked the question, “Are box turtles aggressive?” If you’ve asked this question yourself, we’ve got the answer for you. 

Short answer: Towards people, mostly no. Towards other turtles, sometimes. 

Looking for more information? We’ve got that, too. Keep reading for all the information you need about aggression in box turtles.

Are Box Turtles Aggressive to Humans?

Box turtles are not aggressive to humans or kids, but they can be aggressive towards other box turtles in their tank. They do not usually attack them, but they may bite them or chase them.

With that being said, box turtles are still wild animals and have been known to bite a finger from time to time. We recommend being cautious anytime your kids put their hands in front of the turtle’s face.

Are Box Turtles Aggressive with Kids?

Box turtles are not aggressive towards kids, but they may be more active when around them due to the novelty of their visitors and new sights and sounds. This can often result in box turtles trying to get away from kids.

turtle being held by a kid

Also, like any other animal, if the turtle feels unsafe or threatened, they naturally may bite to protect themselves. It’s best to teach kids how to handle a turtle properly.

If they are rough or throwing the turtles around then, it would not be a surprise if the turtle did a quick bite for their protection.

Can you put more than one Box Turtle Together?

Yes, you can. However, it depends on a few factors, such as age and the type of box turtle.

First off, box turtles are solitary creatures in the wild, and they still prefer that in captivity. Even though you may get them a companion or adopt multiple turtles at once, they prefer solitude over companionship.

However, if you have multiple turtles, they may enjoy each other’s company and may even become companions over time.

One big thing is to never have two male turtles in the same tank with a female turtle. This will likely cause fighting between the male turtles.

Guidelines for housing multiple box turtles together

The Ages of the Turtles Matter

As long as they are about the same age and size, they will generally get along. As long as box turtles are not aggressive toward each other, they can be housed together in the same tank.

If they are of different ages and sizes, then there may be a natural need to show dominance over the small turtle, which can cause fighting.

When box turtles fight, though, it usually only lasts for a few minutes and is typically harmless. Their claws cannot grip onto shells easily, so box turtle fights will more likely end up being pushing and shoving matches or individual box turtles trying to run away.

It's Important to Note the Type of Box Turtles Living Together

The most significant difference to be aware of is having an Asian Box turtle and an American Box Turtle together.

Each of these turtles has a different immune system, pathogens and viruses, and behaviors that don’t mix well together. Other different types of turtle species also may not mix well together, so if possible, get two of the same kind of turtles to help keep them healthy.

What are the Different Types of Box Turtles?

There are four main box turtle species: the Asian Box Turtle, Western box turtle, Gopher box turtle, and the Eastern box turtles.

The type of box you have will determine how to care for it as well. For example, an American box may not like a wet environment, while an Asian box prefers that its tank is damp.

box turtle outside

The box turtle’s shell also makes a difference in the care provided. For example, box turtles with domed shells need to have their environment heated, while box turtles with flat or depressed shells will not require heating, but may enjoy an area about 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

It takes some research and time before adequately caring for your box turtle to ensure they are healthy and happy.

Helpful Tips for Housing Multiple Box Turtles Together

If you do have multiple box turtles in the same area, here are some helpful tips to make their time together optimal:

  • Try and keep the age and size of the box turtles the same. This will help keep fighting at a minimum.
  • Make sure that the terrarium is exceptionally large. This ensures that the turtles will have enough space to separate from each other.
  • Try and create a separate “living” space for each turtle on opposite sides of the turtle tank. This gives each one their own space.
  • You may need separate tanks for male box turtles if they continue fighting
  • Male and female box turtles can be in the same tank; however, they still may fight. It’s best to have many different obstacles and hiding places for the female turtle should the male get aggressive
  • Keep their feeding times the same and the same type of food so that there are no issues over food.
  • Never have 2 male turtles with 1 female in the same tank. The male turtles will fight for dominance and the female.

How to Reduce Fighting in Box Turtles

If box turtles are fighting in the tank, first try and identify which box turtle is being harassed or bullied.

Next, take that box turtle out of its environment for a few days so they can get used to it again. They will be less aggressive when reintroduced back into the cage with their bully box turtle.

If box turtles are fighting and you cannot identify the bully, then it’s best to remove them all from their environment for a short period.

The box turtle may still be aggressive when reintroduced, but this behavior should decrease over time as they get used to each other again.

Dealing with Turtle Aggression

What is the Best Way to Prevent Fighting in Box Turtles?

The best way to prevent box turtles from fighting is to provide them with ample space. This includes room for the box turtle to move away if another box turtle is threatening them.

Make sure there are plenty of hiding spots and obstacles in the tank so that box turtles can get away from each other quickly when needed as well.

It’s also essential to have the box turtle’s food in different locations. This will encourage them to explore more around the tank and not just focus on one area or another that a box turtle may occupy.

If you still see fighting, it could mean there is an underlying issue such as bullying from other box turtles or that box turtles are not getting enough space.

When Not to House Multiple Turtles in the Same Tank

If box turtles are aggressive with humans, kids, or other box turtles in their tank, it’s best not to house them together. This will help avoid any injuries that may occur due to box turtle aggression towards each other.

Also, if one of the turtles is sick, it is best not to house box turtles together because one will likely get sick, and the other box turtle could contract that illness.

The tank should have plenty of hiding spots for each box turtle so they can feel safe and have enough space where box turtles can be alone if they want or need time away from others in their environment.

Can Fish Share a Tank with Box Turtles?

Box Turtles need their own spaceFish can be a great addition to box turtle tanks, but they need careful consideration.

It’s best not to house box turtles with fish in the same tank if you notice aggressive behavior from one or more of them. Fish are much smaller than box turtles and may be chased by either gender box turtle for food or as part of mating rituals.

A healthy box turtle and small fish can share the same environment, but you need to check on them regularly to ensure that the box turtles are not hurting the fish.


Box turtles are not naturally aggressive with other box turtles, but they may fight if in the same tank. Fighting is usually due to an underlying issue, such as space or bullying.

You can still have box turtles together even if they’re aggressive; just be careful so that no one gets hurt.

It’s best to provide many different obstacles for box turtles to play and explore, so that box turtles are less likely to get into fights.

Box turtles can coexist with fish as long as the tank is large enough for all inhabitants, but they will need careful observation. When box turtle aggression becomes too much, removing them from their environment may be necessary to identify which box turtle.

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