Watch Two Turtles Eat Ticks Off a White Rhino

Written by Sharon Parry
Published: October 21, 2022
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This is fast food – turtle style. In this extraordinary footage of two turtles feasting on ticks off a white rhino’s skin, we get a close-up view of the action. In fact, we only know that it is a white rhino from the video notes, we only see patches of skin. So, what does this tell us about white rhinos, turtles and ticks?

White Rhinos and Thick Skin!

white rhinoceros with mountains in the background

While the

white rhinoceros

was once close to extinction, it’s population is now thought to be over 18,000.


The white rhinoceros was once on the verge of extinction but is a conservation success story. The population is now thought to be over 18,000, although they still need protection from hunters who prize their horns. Poachers and the illegal trade in rhino body parts are still a threat to this species.

They are the second largest mammal in the world so it is strange to see them bothered by an animal as small as a tick and rescued by a pair of little turtles! Yet, this perfectly demonstrates the complex relationships between different species.

Also, white rhinos are not white at all, as we can see from this up-close shot of their grey skin. In fact, their name has been derived from ‘wide’ which describes their broad muzzle.

They are found in sub-Saharan Africa and like to live on savanna, grassland and shrubland. Rhinos are very social and live in groups but they also have animals living ON them namely the rhinoceros-specific ticks. No may people realize that should rhinos become extinct, the ticks would also disappear.

Turtles as Tick Removers

Turtles are opportunistic eaters.

© john

Africa is home to many different species of turtle. Many turtles are omnivores so they will eat both plant and animal material. Rhinos supply an abundant amount of insects for the turtles to feast on. Some turtles live in water, some are land-based and some are semi-aquatic.

Turtles are pretty opportunistic when it comes to food and will take advantage of whatever food source is presented to them. People who keep turtles as pets can feed them on special turtle pellets but they also enjoy cooked chicken and beef. They also like live prey such as crickets. When it comes to plants, they like to eat leafy greens and dandelions. But owners should avoid spinach and chives as they contain high levels of oxalates which are not good for turtles. However, turtles enjoy fruit such as apples and bananas.

The turtles are clearly not put off by the rhino’s size and are comfortable being this close. They have a protective shell and as the rhino is in the water, they are also capable of swimming away should they need to!

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © meunierd/

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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