Do Turtles Pee?

Let’s admit it; turtles pee just like humans. However, due to differences in their anatomy, they have an entirely different process. This guide will show why turtles pee and how their pee can be used for scientific research. 

Yes! Turtles can pee, but they do it through their cloaca. The cloaca is an orifice that acts as a combination of gills, anus, and urethra. Since their anatomy is different from humans, this is the best way to remove waste from their bodies.  We’ll give a full explanation of this process in the next section. 

Here is video of a turtle peeing.

How Do Turtles Pee

The cloaca works similar to our lungs. When submerged in a body of water, the turtle’s cloaca will act as a pump that collects water and extracts the oxygen from it. Then, the turtle’s mouth expels the water and will start over again. Due to the turtle’s anatomy, its excretion process is less difficult than normal breathing. 

Turtles like the Olive ridley sea turtle can stay underwater for up to 10 hours. The air that comes from their cloaca helps them breathe. Based on their natural habitat, some turtles can hold more air in their cloaca than others. That’s to be expected. 

Sea turtles use this technique all the time since they live the majority of their lives underwater. On the other hand, aquatic turtles spend some time on land. Land turtles that never swim don’t need to use their cloaca’s breathing abilities. 

How Often Do Turtles Pee?

Turtles pee five times a day. This is due to them having to remove the waste that’s gathered in their body. Pee is a way for them to keep their internal organs clean.

What Does A Turtle’s Pee Mean About Their Health

With urinalysis, scientists are able to diagnose the turtle’s current state of health. In an experiment, normal turtle urine contains white urates and a liquid clear portion. The color ranges from pale yellow to colorless. Turtles that have liver disease will pee a yellow-green to yellow-brown color. 

Check the pH value of a tortoise’s urine. It is a great indicator of the turtle’s metabolic status. For instance, an acidic pH can indicate an improper diet or anorexia. In turtles that cannot perform ultrasonography or are too small to take blood tests, their chemical and physical properties are important indicators of their health. 

How Turtles Use Pee as a Defense Mechanism

Turtles can use their pee as a defense mechanism. When startled, turtles will pee on themselves. While this doesn’t seem like an effective defense, it is. Most predators have a great sense of smell, and they’ll decide if the prey is worth eating based on how they smell. 

You may have heard horror stories of where people are going to be attacked by ghosts or vampires and they pee themselves. While this is the most common horror movie trope, it’s actually true because humans possess the safe defense methods as turtles. 

A new turtle owner will eventually see their turtles pee. All you have to do is pick them up, and you’ll notice the turtle will start peeing. This will occur because your turtle will think you’re a predator attempting to eat them. 

As the turtle becomes more comfortable, they will pee less. So continue to feed your turtles and give them proper attention to reduce this. 

What Color is turtle pee?

Turtles tend to pee in a colorless or light yellow color. But there are variations to this color that could be a sign of disease or other issues present. If you notice any dark yellow color, chances are your turtle is suffering from renal disease. 

Is Turtle Pee toxic?

Bacteria was found in every turtle throughout the experiment. Turtles suffering from renal disease are more likely to have bacteria in their urine. In addition, yeast was found in the turtle’s urine samples. If there is an excessive amount of bacteria present in your turtle, chances are they have renal disease. 

The color value of a turtle’s urine ranges from 1003-1014. On average, healthy turtles have a 1008 rating for their urine. Turtles with renal disease have an average of 1013 and can reach a maximum of 1034! 

Healthy turtles who eat a strict vegetarian diet contain alkaline in their urine. Anorexic turtles (and turtles with a high protein intake) have acidic urine. Basically, all turtles have some sort of toxins in their urine, so it’s best to wash your hands if it gets onto your skin. 

Does Turtle Pee Research Help People?

If definitely can. By looking at the turtle urinalysis data, we can make comparisons and adjustments to human lifestyle. 

As Yuen K. Ip (National University of Singapore) stated, “what we learn from animal research can be used to help solve biomedical problems. A turtle with a mouthful of pee can one day help patients who’ve survived kidney failure. Patients with failed kidneys must undergo dialysis to remove water from their systems. 

This means that turtles play an important contribution to nature and science. Ip continued, “If urea mechanisms can occur through a patient’s mouth, urea excretion can still happen. It works through rinsing out the mouth with water – like the soft-shelled turtle”.

Why Don’t We See Turtles Pee?

First, most turtles are small, so their bladders are smaller than a human’s. That means that when they pee, it’s only a small amount. So there’s only a small amount of pee that comes out, making it difficult to see. 

Second, turtles live in water! This makes it even more difficult to detect their urine. You’re more likely to see land turtles excrete than their aquatic counterparts. 


Your turtle’s pee is a natural component of their lives. It allows them to breathe underwater and remove waste. Remember, turtles are still delicate pets to have. Feed them and treat them with care to reduce the number of toxins in their pee. Conclusively, turtle pee is common, but scientific research has utilized turtle urinalysis to solve complex health issues.


Why Do Turtles Pee When Picked Up?

Turtles pee due to anxiety and fear. To them, they see humans as a threat and will pee as a way to defend themselves. However, you can reduce this behavior by creating a bond with them over time. 

Can I Diagnose Diseases with my Turtle’s Urine? 

If your turtle’s urine is above 5 (acidic) pH, chances are they have renal disease. Uric acid crystals are often detectable in tortoises suffering from gout. For liver disease, tyrosine crystals and bilirubin will be detected. 

Parasites (i.e.helminths, Hexamita spp, ciliates) can also be detected in your turtle’s urine. That being said, tracking the turtle’s urine is a great way to protect it from future health issues. 

How Turtle Pee is Tracked

An experiment was made by scientists, who bought turtles from a market and kept them in water for six days. As a result, 6% urea (the main ingredient in turtle urine besides water) ended up coming from the turtle’s hind end. 

The turtles then spit out 50% more urea from their mouth discharge. The urine travels through the bloodstreams to their mouths, so it isn’t the traditional form of “urination.” After the experiment, the scientists discovered that turtles have a gene that gives a specialized protein that expels urine. This gene was located in their mouth and not their kidneys. 

If turtles were to pee like humans, they would become dehydrated quicker. They would need an excess amount of water to pee correctly. Instead, peeing out the mouth helps clean the turtle’s system without needing saltwater. 

How to Care For Your Turtle

Creating a bond with your turtle is the best way to reduce its anxiety. Over time, the turtle will detect the owner’s scent, voice, and sight. Since turtles are naturally shy animals, they will require patience to create a strong bond with them. 

First, give them a warm aquarium. Keep the temperature range between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Turtles are more lively and energetic when they are warm. Make sure your turtle gets an adequate amount of UV rays and natural sunlight. 

A great way to play with your turtle is when it’s in the sun. Check its body language before engaging with it. If your turtle hisses, snaps, or bites, it’s a clear sign that you should leave the turtle alone and work on bonding with them another time. 

How to Pick Up My Turtle?

You want to be delicate when handling your turtle. The first few times you hold your turtle, hold it up for only a few seconds. Even if they are used to you picking them up, don’t hold them for an extended period of time. 

Start by approaching the turtle slowly, and make sure they’re looking at you. Approaching your pet turtle from behind is a surefire way to startle it! Don’t hold the turtle too high off the ground, and don’t shake it. 

When picking up the turtle, make them feel secure. Imagine how horrifying it is to be held in the air! Give your turtle something to rest on. You can use your arm, hand, or any other solid surface that you can hold. 

Also read

Do Turtles Have Nipples?

Do Turtles Yawn

Do Turtles Sleep? (Do they sleep in water?)

Do Turtle Have Fins 

Can Turtles Drown?


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