Watch Two Turtles Eat Ticks off a White Rhino

Written by Jeremiah Wright
Published: November 23, 2022
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Nothing compares to a good, hearty meal. This was probably the thought these two turtles had feasting on a lump of ticks on a white rhino’s leg. It’s not something you get to see every day — and so up close and personal!

The short video shows two turtles piled on top of each other eating a cluster of juicy, fleshy (probably) ticks. The turtles are the only moving elements in the video. In other words, the rhino is not bothered by the two guests. The animal might be appreciative of their service.

Why Did Ticks Gather in a Clump on the Rhino?

Two things ticks love — carbon dioxide and sweat. Judging from the video below, the clump of ticks is located at a joint, where two bones meet, and a lot of skin gathers. It is, in short, an area that sees a lot of sweat daily, especially when it’s extremely hot outside.

This is the only reason ticks gather in such large amounts, as ticks are not social insects. Unlike bees and ants, they don’t form communal colonies.

What Do Turtles Eat in the Wild?

Turtle About to Eat a Strawberry

Most turtles are opportunistic eaters.

©Hemant Singh/

Most turtles are known as opportunistic eaters. In short, they will feed on anything that crosses their path, from earthworms to snails, caterpillars, grubs, fruits, flowers, berries, and so on – including ticks. Thanks to their strong bite and a rather solid mouth overall, turtles can simply rip ticks off of their skin without much effort.

As you can see in the video, almost every time one of the turtles reaches out for a tick, its hunt is successful. Have a closer look; you can see the ticks coming off one by one while the skin around the infested area seems to shiver with relief.

Naturally, turtles aren’t the only animals that keep pests away from rhinos. A couple of bird species (oxpeckers, for example) are known as the rhino’s guard, as they feed on ticks, parasites, and insects that decide to bother the imposing animals.

Unfortunately, as imposing as rhinos are, they can’t keep insects and small parasites at bay and, as such, expose themselves to various diseases that the latter spread.

On the other hand, there are also birds that only seem to help rhinos. Known as tick birds, these keep the wounds of a rhino clean – again, from ticks or other parasites. However, this isn’t the only reason why they keep wounds this way. Tick birds keep these wounds open to have a steady stream of blood to drink from.

This might apply to any bird of this type. After all, the process of removing a tick can’t be completed carefully by a wild bird – there’s bound to be some rhino meat in a turtle’s diet that feeds on ticks from the former’s leg.

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jackson Photography

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About the Author

I hold seven years of professional experience in the content world, focusing on nature, and wildlife. Asides from writing, I enjoy surfing the internet and listening to music.

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