There is a simple yet quite intricate question about turtles: do turtles have teeth? While some people believe that turtles have no teeth, some others are curious how they can chew their food if they do not have ones. The fact that some turtles are born omnivores,they have to chow on animal flesh, even shells. So, how does it work? Find out the answer here!
Do Turtles Have Teeth? Truth Is Revealed
First, there are no less than 280 species of turtles around the globe. They eat various food such as fish, insects, clams, fruits, and leaves. Interestingly, turtles do not have teeth to aid them eat this variety of food. Instead, they have specific apparatus to help them bite and eat as follows:
Most turtles have beak, the sharp edges along their upper and lower jaws. Though the form of beak may vary, the function is similar: to help them bite off chunks. The muscles exerts pressure, allowing them to bite food into pieces. Then, their tongues move the chunks for swallowing. Among other species, alligator snapping turtles have the strongest bite that it may amputate human fingers.
Some turtle species, soft-shelled turtles for instance,have soft lips but lack of sharp beaks. They use the lips to suck food to their mouth. The tongue muscles help swallow their food. Thus they do not chew and let their digestive system absorb the nutrition from the food.
Fun Facts about Turtle
Is the fact that turtles do not have teeth interesting to you? There are many more surprising facts about turtles correlated to this. Make yourself a turtle expert by knowing these:
Turtles can bite
Being toothless does not make turtles harmless. Some turtle species, such as snapping turtles, can be harmful that they may cut off your fingers. Even though they do not have teeth, they possess very strong beak to bite. Or else, there are also red-footed turtles that can bite. They commonly bite female turtles to court their mates.
Turtle’s beaks are sharp and some of them are finely serrated. This can cause wounds and draw blood that you may need to find medical treatment. However, most turtles are not aggressive. Biting is their self-defense when you are too close to them.
Turtles do not chew
Chewing is something turtles cannot do. Their jaws are not designed to chew, apart from the fact that they do not have teeth. Using their beak, turtles bite off chunks into bite-size. Inside their mouth, the food blends with saliva that makes it smoother and easier to swallow even though it comes in whole.
Hatchlings have egg tooth
Do you ever wonder how hatchlings break out their egg shell? Thankfully, hatchlings are born with egg tooth that helps them break out. Egg tooth is not a true tooth because it will fall off in the few days after the hatchlings leave their shells.
Ancient turtles have teeth
Not many people know that prehistoric turtles did have teeth. According to some specimens, the ancient turtles such as Proganochelysquenstedti turtle possess homodont teeth even though they come in small size. But these turtles are extinct, leaving current turtles with no teeth.
Do turtles have teeth? Turtles do not have teeth, but they have special apparatus known as beak to bite off their preys. Being toothless, a turtle cannot chew its food and swallow in whole with the aid of salivary gland. Though it does not have teeth, you may need to be careful as they do bite. Some turtle species have strong jaws and beaks that they can draw blood, or even cut off your fingers.