Do Turtles Sneeze

Wild and captive turtles sometimes make a few different noises, and it can be essential to identify what they mean.

Do turtle seneeze?Most of the time, there’s nothing to worry about. Whether turtles sneeze (which they do), cough, or make a type of hissing noise – it’s usually just a cute little sound they make from experiencing irritation.

Here is a clip for turtle sneezing.


If they continue to make particular sounds, it should be a cause for concern.

Furthermore, if they do sneeze often, it might be a sign of an Upper Respiratory Tract Disease (URTD). Both turtles and tortoises suffer from URTDs, and a vet should be contacted right away when this is suspected.

Now we’ll look at various questions you may have about turtles sneezing and the other sounds they make…

How to Identify A Turtle Sneezing?

Given that turtles have completely different anatomy to us and other mammals, their sneezing sound is quite different. It sounds like a high-pitched squeak, which can sound rather endearing.

This noise should be easily identifiable when compared to, say, coughing or hissing. A turtle coughing is more of a guttural raspy sort of sound – lower in tone and intensity.

Plus, if you really can’t identify the cough by the sound, look at the turtle’s movement. They tend to jerk their head more when coughing when compared to sneezing.

Yet, what about if they are underwater?

It is much harder to identify whether a turtle is coughing or sneezing when it is submerged. This is because both reflexes trigger a full-body movement in the water, and you won’t be able to hear the sound they make most of the time.

Therefore, if they persistently jerk underwater, take them out, observe them, and figure out the issue where it can be observed more easily. Moreover, a turtle constantly jerking underwater clearly will need medical attention fast.

Turtles can also wheeze sometimes. The key is to identify whether they are coughing, sneezing, or wheezing – as all of these are strong signs of a URTD.

What about if they make a hissing sound, though?

Why Do Turtles Hiss?

The hissing noise turtles make isn’t associated with URTDs. It can be identified as sounding forceful and quick. And, if it’s the first time you’ve heard this strange sound, you might feel a little alarmed?

There’s no need to worry…

A Turtle hissing is extremely common, and it’s all to do with their anatomy.

You should notice that a turtle hisses when they pull their heads and legs inside their shell. With the turtle’s full anatomy withdrawn into such a compact space, turtles can feel the pressure when breathing.

The hissing sound is the turtle breathing out and air whistling or hissing through its shell. It’s a quick release of air resonating through the shell – almost like an instrument of some kind.

When Should You See A Vet?

OK, so we’ve already established that if they are always making noises, it’s a good idea to consult a vet. It’s just common sense when you see an animal in discomfort or suffering.

But, when it’s not so clear, how do you know when the time is right with turtles?

It’s all about you knowing your turtle’s common behaviors and then noticing any significant changes.

It may also be a good idea to investigate your turtle’s environment to see if anything new has been introduced unexpectedly without you previously noticing.

Turtles can make noises because of irritation from food, dust, and chemicals. They may have even developed an allergy over time and so experimenting with different foods and keeping them from going to certain places could help you identify the source of the problem on your own. 

As a general rule, if the turtle is progressively showing more signs of making noises and acting out unusual behaviors over 24 hours – contact a vet.

Additionally, you might be wondering…

How to Know When A Turtle or Tortoise Has A URTD?

Some of the best research on this has been written on the gopher tortoise.

We can derive a lot from this...

So other than sneezing and the noises we mentioned, there are different ways to help you notice if your turtle has a URTD.

And before we go on, a URTD is a serious thing – it kills a large percentage of captive animals, including turtles and tortoises. So identifying it early through good husbandry is critical.

So other indicators can include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Neck stretching
  • Breathing open-mouthed
  • Watery eyes
  • Signs of mucus
  • Awkward swimming behaviors
  • Swelling at the rear of the head
  • Slow reflexes

These are just some symptoms that suggest a turtle may have a URTD. Yet, if it isn’t one, these symptoms are still a cause for concern. Of course, you should consult a vet promptly if the symptoms are persistent over a 24-hour period.

A word of caution…

It’s not a wise idea to try and treat your turtle alone if it has a URTD. This is because this disease has multiple causes that experienced vets are trained to identify.

It may also look like you are managing the problem just fine, and improvements can be seen in the little critter. But, the nature of URTDs can be severely underestimated!

All of a sudden, a turtle can look like they’re improving, and then a sudden drop in well-being occurs, leading to such problems as pneumonia and, for many turtles – inevitable death.

“Vets know best” – should be your motto.

The Bottom Line

Yes, turtles do sneeze, and if they do it occasionally, don’t worry! The same goes for if they cough or wheeze once and a while. A hiss is absolutely nothing to worry about.

It’s just important to keep a close eye on them if they seem to be making noises more often than not. Within 24 hours, if they make noises a lot more and show other unusual behaviors – you know what to do.

Lastly, we should also reiterate not to underestimate URTDs – that’s why we’ve based most of the article on them. They are dangerous if unchecked and treated.


ALso read

Do Turtles Pee?

Do Turtle Have Fins 

Do Turtles Need Sunlight

Do Turtles Snore?

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