Tortoises and Snakes: 9 Things You Should Know

Tortoises are a docile type of creature that would usually cause no harm to other animals and even humans.

Yet, just like others, they have a tendency to be aggressive if they want to defend their territories and protect themselves.

But are they capable of hurting and even killing other animals like snakes?

Do Tortoises Kill Snakes?

No. Tortoises do not kill snakes as they are not aggressive animals.

Tortoises are recognized for their good temperament.

They are not the kind that will often fight other animals.

The dominance behavior may be usually observed on male tortoises which are very natural based on their gender.

Fighting usually takes place between two male tortoises to show superiority or to win over female tortoises.

To prevent such strife, it is recommended not to put adult tortoises together in captivity.

They are solitary creatures that prefer to be alone. Tortoises would commonly be together during the mating season only.

By nature, tortoises are not aggressive animals so there is no reason for them to kill snakes.

Snakes are also not part of their intake so they are simply not interested in eating them.

If the snakes attack them, they would simply hide inside their protective shells and there is no way they can be hurt.

Do Tortoises Eat Snakes?

No. Tortoises do not eat snakes since they are herbivores. Snakes are simply not part of their diet.

Tortoises are simply gentle creatures that bother no one as long as they are not being provoked.

Their slow and easy movements can tell you that they mean no harm and just want a peaceful life.

True enough, tortoises are not the type that will chase and kill just to get food.

Unlike other turtles that are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and meat, tortoises are purely vegetarian.

Tortoises’ main diet is composed of produce, fruits, and commercial food (if in captivity).

The produce makes up the majority of their intake. They usually love kale, collard, cabbage, carrot, cactus pads, mushroom, zucchini, peas, yams, and even edible flowers.

For fruits, they like kiwi, mango, banana, cherries, apple, strawberry, melon, and a lot more.

Under the care of humans, tortoises are being fed with commercial food and given supplements to make them stronger and healthier. For their source of proteins, some boiled eggs are a great option too.

Tortoises will not eat snakes as they are not consuming other animals as food.

Do Snakes Eat Tortoises?

Generally, snakes do not eat tortoises in the wild because of their shapes and hard shells. But if they are desperate for food, they may try swallowing the tortoise but will surely have a difficult time. In captivity, they will surely eat tortoises’ meat without their hard shells.

As meat-eaters, you can typically expect snakes to munch on any creature that can serve as food.

Some snakes are picky eaters which is also affected by their size. Some will eat anything that can fit inside their mouth especially if they are the massive ones. Snakes can eat food that are three times their size.

There are times when even as much as they want to swallow an animal, they simply could not as it has special characteristics just like tortoises.

Snakes will have a hard time eating tortoises due to their hard shells that they would just end up leaving them in peace.

But of course, food is food for snakes so some would still attempt to eat a tortoise even how challenging it could be.

Some snakes can feed on small tortoises and even their eggs.

In captivity, if you are to give your snakes some piece of tortoise’s meat without shells, they will swallow it whole as expected.

Do Snakes Bother Tortoises?

Yes. Snakes can bother tortoises as they can see them as a tasty treat during their food hunting.

Snakes are sly creatures that will attack their prey without any kind of noise.

Their prey will surely be startled by their assault.

A tranquil tortoise basking under the sun might be a snake’s next victim.

It will certainly disturb its peaceful time as it tries to eat it.

The presence of the slithering creature will certainly cause fear and anxiety to the tortoise knowing that it wants to eat it wholly.

Do Snakes Bite Tortoise?

Yes. Snakes bite tortoises. They can only bite body parts that are outside the shell like the head and feet.

Aside from strangling, biting is another tactic for snakes to successfully capture their prey.

Some snakes have a venomous bite that can paralyze or even cause death.

Snakes may try biting tortoises but may just end up getting injured. The shell of the tortoises are really strong and they may try to fight as well.

Do Snakes Attack Tortoises?

Yes. Snakes may attack tortoises.

Even though snakes are aware of the tortoises’ hard shells, they may still try their luck.

They will attack quietly as they aim to successfully catch their victim.

Any moving creatures can be good food for snakes even if they are double their size.

A snake may also attack if it gets threatened by a tortoise, in any way possible.

Do Desert Tortoises Eat Snakes?

No. Desert Tortoises do not eat snakes as they are vegetarian.

Just like any other tortoises, the Desert Tortoises are herbivores; thus, snakes are not in any way part of their diet.

A Desert Tortoise in captivity should be fed with various plants, grasses, fruits, and even flowers.

In the desert, this kind of tortoise needs food with lots of water to help it survive even up to one year without drinking fresh water.

Do Rattlesnakes Eat Desert Tortoises?

No. Rattlesnakes do not eat Desert Tortoises due to their physical characteristics.

Rattlesnakes are famous in North and South America. They are known as big and poisonous creatures that are stealthy hunters.

Just like other snakes, Rattlesnakes are carnivores. Small animals such as rodents, mice, rats, lizards, little birds mainly composed their diet.

In hunting food, they would commonly wait for their prey to come, and they would surprise them with the attack.

The Rattlesnakes will bite them and the venom will paralyze the victim. Once the prey is immobilized, they will swallow them whole, with head first.

Can A Tortoise Live With A Snake?

No. A tortoise cannot live with a snake. They cannot share the same environment as they are different when it comes to temperament, living conditions, diet, and most importantly, they can be threats to each others’ safety.

If there is one common thing between a tortoise and a snake, that is being both reptiles.

Reptiles breathe through their lungs. Their metabolism is slow, and they are cold-blooded too.

They own a unique set of skin composed of either scales, bony plates, or both. Their dry skin formation is significant as it holds moisture, preventing them from drying out.

Aside from the mentioned similarities, tortoises and snakes are way different from each other.


They cannot simply live together as they have a different nature.

In comparing their temperament, a tortoise and a snake can be both quiet and calm. Usually, you barely even hear or notice their movements with their smallest sound.

However, a snake can be way more dangerous when aggravated.

Tortoises are known for having a gentle and friendly demeanor. You would surely enjoy watching their slow movements as they walk, eat, and even play.

They are usually harmless and on defense as they are prey animals.

As for snakes, they can be wicked, clever reptiles that are always on the lookout for moving food since they are the predators of small animals.

Some snakes can be dangerous not only for other animals but for humans too since their bites can be venomous.

Living Conditions

You might instantly oppose upon reading that the required living condition of tortoises and reptiles is one of the reasons why they cannot be together.

Yes, they are both cold-blooded reptiles. Basically, this means that the setup of their enclosure is just the same.

They both need a big aquarium with a substrate or bedding.  

They need proper heating and lighting too to sustain their warm temperature, wellness, and growth. Adding heat lamps and UVB lights is the most convenient way to achieve this setting in an aquarium.

To achieve a closer look just like their natural habitat, adding some decors such as branches, plants, rocks, and hiding spots would help.

You can say that they can live in a similar enclosure since they require a similar setup.

However, one significant reason that will not allow them to be together is the basis that they are both solitary animals.

Though they need a similar environment, putting them together will not work since tortoises and snakes enjoy living alone.

It is recommended not to mingle tortoises and snakes even with their own kinds as by nature, they prefer to live on their own. Fights and even injuries can be expected if you will still push through with the living together setup.

Both of them will only come together to their same kind during mating and hibernating seasons.


The diet of tortoises and snakes is in no way related. Tortoises are herbivores while snakes are carnivores.

Tortoises have a plant-based diet. In captivity, they are eating commercial foods specifically tailored for their needs.

They would usually consume fruits such as berries, oranges, melon, mango, and other tropical fruits. Fruits should be 5% to 10% of their diet.

Tortoises are eating vegetables as well which should make 80% of their daily consumption. They like kale, carrot, cabbage, beans, mushrooms, yams, among others.

As for snakes, they are all carnivores that simply chase and devour animals of different kinds, big or small.

They do not have the time to chew so they simply swallow their prey whole!

Some small warm-blooded creatures are a favorite for snakes such as mice, birds, rodents, and rabbits. They also eat insects, fish, slugs, frogs, and even other reptiles too.

Some owners are also feeding their snakes with tortoises, but the dead ones already. The shell of the tortoise is being removed for the snake to swallow its meat swiftly.

Safety Issue

Above all the mentioned reasons, the safety issue is the most important as both the tortoise and the snake can cause harm to each other.

Being an absolute carnivore, the snake would try to eat the tortoise as it can be a portion of food. However, it might only get injured during the process of chasing as the tortoise owns a hard and bony shell that cannot be destroyed nor eaten by the snake.

The snake is not the only one causing a threat to the tortoise; the tortoise can also harm the snake in its own little way. It may bite the tail of the snake, mistaking it as food.


Animals Network. (2019, May 24). Rattlesnake. hAnimals Network. (2019, May 24). Rattlesnake.

Hess, L., & Axelson, R. (2021). Feeding pet snakes. vca_corporate.

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