Sea Life

Why In The World Do Turtles Pile On Top Of Each Other?

Why In The World Do Turtles Pile On Top Of Each Other

Turtles are one of the most remarkable and loveable creatures of the aquatic world but they are also capable of living on land. However, the unique adaption is that the turtles are sometimes found stacking on each other. This is quite an exciting view but the reason behind this behavior needs exploration. Here we go!

Turtle Stacking – What Is It?

Stacking is one of the natural and dominant phenomena among turtles, sometimes it is called an innate behavior. In stacking, turtles are found piling on or climbing upon each other. Turtles always try to get the top position of the pile, once they succeed, they rarely lose their position.

Why In The World Do Turtles Pile On Top Of Each Other?

Most of the time, turtles pile on each other for some reasons:

1: To Receive Enough Light

Turtles are ectothermic species that are dependent upon their body heat. To store the maximum amount of heat, the turtles pile on each other which is necessary for their well-being. The UV radiation from the sun helps them in the synthesizing of Vitamin D3 which allows the absorption of calcium from the surrounding.

Similarly, If they do not have enough light to absorb then it will lead to the condition called hypocalcemia which weakens the bones and shells of the turtles – ultimately affecting their health.

2: To Protect Themselves From The Predatory Animals

As we all know that in their natural habitat, turtles are more susceptible to vulnerability. They may even get attacked when they are basking in the sun. This indicates that solitary turtles are easier to prey on. To protect themselves from the predators, the turtles stack on each other to give an impression of a more stronger and giant creature to frighten the other predatory animals.

3: To Show Dominance In Pack

Turtles do not have a well-established hierarchy which is why only the enthusiastic and powerful turtles are always on the top. This indicates that the dominant turtles are exerting pressure on the weaker species. Stacking is not a social activity which is why the dominant one will get a chance to pile on others.

Does Stacking Pose Any Harm To Turtles?

Well, stacking is not harmful to the turtle on the top but yes for the bottom one, it is a bit dangerous. In a condition, where the bottom turtles are suffering from some disease or shell injuries then it would be difficult for them to hold the larger turtles on their back.

Another major defect of the stacking is that the bottom turtles do not receive enough UV light which is why they may develop a condition of hypocalcemia – the lack of calcium in the bones or the shell. Further, sometimes, the piling on can also lead to bullying or fighting among the turtle communities which may cause severe injuries to them.

Do Turtles Pile On In Captivity?

Yes! The pet turtles are also capable of stacking in captive conditions. This is because, in captivity, the turtles do not have the proper heating system, and the basking space is congested. So, the turtles try to live in a place that is warmer and hotter and try to climb on each other to receive more heat.

How To Avoid Piling On Among Of The Pet Turtles?

To avoid piling on among the turtles, the following protocols should be followed:

  • Increase the size of the basking areas
  • Increase the heat level if the temperature is low for the turtles.
  • Use UV bulbs to provide enough heat to turtles.
  • Take them on outdoor trips to receive natural sunlight.

Final Verdict

Turtles are amphibious species that are capable of living on land as well as under the water. Whether in their natural habitat or the captive environment, the turtles are mostly found stacking on each other. They stack because they have to protect themselves from predatory animals, to receive the maximum amount of UV light, or to exhibit dominancy among each other.

This behavior may also lead to severe damage or injuries to the lower turtles in the stack. To avoid stacking, increase the basking area and provide maximum heat and light to the pet turtles.

About the author


I am a Scholar and a dedicated content writer. I am on a mission to stamp out the importance of one of the ocean's most fascinating and remarkable creatures, the sharks, and to let people know about their role in keeping the ecosystem in equilibrium.