Turtles are so different from us but they share so many similarities that make them easy to relate to that it’s easy to sometimes forget that they’re reptiles and not mammals.
Have you ever wondered how turtles express that they’re tired?
In this short article, we’re going to take a look at whether turtles yawn.
Do Turtles Yawn?
If you see your turtle repeatedly opening its mouth and looking like it’s mildly upset, you may be a little weirded out by it, but there’s a chance that your turtle is simply yawning. Just like human beings, turtles sometimes get the urge to yawn so that they can refresh themselves, and it’s mostly just an urge that they fulfill.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that your turtle is yawning every time it opens its mouth, because it’s entirely possible that it’s doing something else.
Us humans have a habit of anthropomorphizing animals, which means that we assign human traits to them, so seeing a turtle open its mouth may naturally result in us thinking it’s yawning.
One of the weird things about turtles is that they can yawn whether they’re inside of the water or outside of it.
Since you’re pretty likely to notice your turtle yawning when it’s underwater because of how strange it looks, it may seem like it’s more frequent, but the truth is that turtles yawn just as frequently out of the water as they do in it.
Just like human beings, turtles yawn for a wide range of reasons, and some of them can be as mundane as needing a little bit of extra oxygen while others may be a little more nefarious.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why you may find your turtle yawning.
Why Do Turtles Yawn?
One of the weird things about yawning is that we don’t fully understand why we do it, even if you take a look at human beings.
While you may have heard that yawning is a way of providing more oxygen to the brain, there’s no conclusive evidence that that’s the real reason why living beings tend to yawn.
One of the most interesting things about yawning that has been discovered recently is that your body cares more about temperature than the amount of oxygen that it’s receiving when you yawn.
People have been noted as yawning more frequently in warmer environments than in cooler ones.
Another interesting thing about yawning is that hearing others yawn can trigger beings like humans or turtles to yawn as well.
All of this may point towards yawning being a mutual defense mechanism, but there have been no studies that have definitively confirmed the purpose of yawning.
So why do turtles tend to yawn in hotter environments?
The theory is that adding oxygen to blood cools it down, and as a turtle’s blood flows through its system, if it’s cooler, it will pick up more heat and make the turtle more comfortable. In simpler terms, cooler blood means a cooler turtle.
However, more important than cooling the body is cooling the brain, which tends to take a large amount of blood flow.
Recent studies have shown that yawning plays a crucial role in maintaining the temperature of turtle brains, ensuring that they don’t end up overheating gradually over time.
As you may expect, this doesn’t do quite as much for a turtle when it’s underwater because of the natural temperature regulation caused by the water surrounding the turtle’s head.
One thing to consider is that turtles don’t necessarily yawn for this reason every time you catch them in the middle of a yawn.
Just like human beings, turtles may yawn when they’re in a situation where they’re feeling mentally or physically fatigued.
This is a way for them to express their fatigue levels and it helps them get over that feeling. Think about the last time that you were at the end of a long day and how good it felt to enjoy a big yawn.
If you want to make sure that your turtle doesn’t end up getting tired too often, make sure that its water is properly filtered and that its environment doesn’t make it feel uncomfortable.
Another thing to ensure is that your turtle isn’t overheating, which means that you’ll have to check the ambient temperature in the enclosure.
Why Do Turtles Yawn Underwater?
Yawning is a way of bringing oxygen into the lungs, and a turtle yawning underwater does not mean that it’s taking in additional oxygen because they can’t gather it from the water.
Since turtles have lungs and not gills, yawning underwater doesn’t accomplish what it usually would for turtles.
So what’s your turtle doing when you see it opening its mouth underwater repeatedly, looking like it’s yawning for all intents and purposes?
No one really knows why turtles do this, but there are a couple of hypotheses why turtles open their mouths and look like they’re yawning while they’re below the water.
One of the most common explanations why turtles may often look like they’re yawning underwater is that they’re simply drinking water.
Just like me and you, turtles need to drink water to ensure that their bodies are functioning optimally, and what better chance to do it than when they’re underwater?
When turtles are underwater, they act kind of like submarines, meaning they need to maintain their internal air supply.
By yawning, turtles are able to reduce the amount of air they have in their systems, which helps trim them out, decreasing their buoyancy and allowing them to dive deeper.
Do Box Turtles Yawn
Box turtles are relatively unique members of the turtle family that tend to behave and look like tortoises, which is a surprise when you compare them to more aquatic turtle types.
Most box turtles have a relatively tall, dome-like shell which is known as a hinged shell.
Box turtle shells are hinged which allows them to close up when the turtle retracts into it. This ensures that the shell protects the turtle from insistent predators that try to make their way into it.
These turtles tend to be relatively common as pets because of how widely they’re distributed throughout the United States.
Just like other kinds of turtles, box turtles have a tendency to yawn and there’s nothing that stops them from doing so every bit as frequently as their sibling species.
You can find box turtles yawning above the water or below it, though if they yawn underwater, it’s probably for one of the reasons we mentioned above.
If you find your box turtle yawning excessively, then it may be suffering from an illness of some sort.
Turtles commonly yawn when they’re experiencing some kind of infection, especially if it is affecting their lungs.
Respiratory infections in box turtles are usually caused by a lack of Vitamin A in their diet.
If you’re not used to seeing your turtle yawn all the frequently, you may have a question about why it’s started doing so.
Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about turtles yawning, including whether or not they spread germs when they do so and whether red sliders yawn.
Does a Turtle Yawning Spread Germs?
One of the concerning things about owning a pet turtle is that they can often carry salmonella on them, which is one of the major causes of food poisoning.
This is why you always have to be careful about washing yourself thoroughly after you come into physical contact with a pet turtle.
This may be a cause of concern if your turtle is frequently yawning, but the good thing is that you don’t typically have to worry about your turtle spreading germs when it yawns.
Turtles are typically taking in breath when they yawn instead of expelling it, making them a lot less likely to spread any germs around.
Do Red Sliders Yawn?
Red eared sliders are the most popular turtles as pets in the United States due to how widespread they are, and much like other turtles, they tend to yawn relatively frequently.
Just like other species, they are inclined to yawn when the temperature of their brain increases or when they’re feeling tired.
As with other turtles, you won’t have to worry about anything being wrong with your red eared slider unless you notice that it’s yawning far more frequently than it usually would.
This is typically caused by a respiratory infection, as it would be with box turtles, but it may also be caused by an ulcer.
If you’re worried that your red eared slider’s excessive yawning is caused by health problems, then you should take it to the vet immediately to make sure that there’s nothing wrong with it.
If you don’t take action early on, you may give the issue time to take root, which can lessen your turtle’s chances of getting away from the condition unharmed in the long run.