Why Is My Turtle Spitting Water?

Most people don’t buy a pet turtle because they want a cuddly pet to watch movies with and take on walks. They’re just not that type of animal. 

However, one of the most rewarding parts of owning a turtle is that you get to observe all of their unique behaviors!

Sometimes they comically stumble around, sometimes they headbutt their favorite foods, and sometimes they just sit there and look back at you with that quirky look in their eye. 

why is my turtle spitting water? One of the most common behaviors that some turtles exhibit, though, is spitting water. They will usually open their mouths wide open, make a gurgling or burping noise, which is quickly followed by a jet of water flying out of their mouth. They do it get rid of excess water. 

This can alarm many first-time turtle owners, but most of the time, this is completely normal. It’s just their way of getting rid of excess water in their system. 

In today’s article, we’re going to take a look at exactly why turtles spit water, what causes it, and some other behaviors and conditions that this habit can be mistaken for.

It’s important to know the difference between a harmless “spit” and a possible respiratory infection. If you want to learn more, keep on reading! 

Why Do Turtles “Spit” Water? 

When your turtle “spits” water like Squirtle from pokemon, it may do it with so much force that it can fly out of its aquarium and hit you in the face.

Your natural instinct is probably to think that your turtle is somehow angry with you or expressing his dislike of you.

After all, what would you think if a person were to spit in your face? 

Fortunately, turtles aren’t quite as judgemental or emotional as humans.

As far as they’re concerned, spitting water in your face is just a normal (if strange) behavior. 

So, why do they do it? Let’s take a look. 

  • To Expel Excess Water

One of the main reasons why turtles spit water is to get rid of excess water in their bodies.

Remember, turtles spend a lot of their time swimming underwater. During their swimming, it’s common for them to suck in water, which they will then retain until they’re ready to get rid of it. 

Also read – > Do box turtles swim

This water usually doesn’t bother them, which is why they’ll often keep it inside at first.

Then, when they randomly decide that they’re ready to get rid of it, they’ll open their mouth and spit it wherever they please. 

  • To Get Ready To Eat

When a turtle is getting ready to eat, it’s in its best interest to get rid of all of the extra stuff inside that they don’t need.

This allows them to consume more food. 

It’s the same with humans- imagine if you were to drink a gallon of water before you ate a meal.

You probably wouldn’t eat half as much as you normally would eat, would you? 

When they’re living in the wild, food can often be hard to come by, and many turtles go for days without eating.

So it makes sense that when they do come across a meal, they would want to take full advantage of it and eat as much as possible. 

  • To Smell The Area

Turtles don’t have quite as strong of a sense of smell as other mammals.

Since they spend a lot of time underwater, they instead have a strong sense of pressure difference and can also pick up on vibrations.

This is why turtle quickly jump into the water if they feel your footsteps on the ground.

They likely felt you long before they saw you. 

However, turtles do like to smell their surroundings sometimes.

Doing so requires them to empty their nasal cavity of any water that could block the scents. 

Think back to the last time you went swimming in a pool and your nose got clogged up with water.

Chances were, you probably couldn’t smell a pizza if it were 10 feet away from you! 

Why Is My Turtle Opening Its Mouth So Much?

Occasionally turtles’ normal spitting behavior can be confused for a more serious problem.

If you notice that your turtle is spending a lot of time with its mouth open, then it could be cause for concern. 

Usually, turtles only open their mouths for two reasons:

  • As a sign of aggression.
  • When they have a respiratory infection.

Signs of aggression usually involve an open mouth paired with deep hissing noises, kind of like an angry goose.

This sends a clear message- get back and stay back.

They may do this when they feel threatened by another animal or even a fellow turtle. However, they’ll rarely do this to their human companions. 

If you notice that their open mouth is paired with heavy, raspy breathing, then you’ll know without a doubt that they’re suffering from a respiratory illness. 

Does My Turtle Have A Respiratory Infection? 

If your turtle has a respiratory illness, you need to seek professional help from your veterinary professional.

The faster you treat it, the better. When left untreated, these diseases can often turn deadly.

If you have multiple turtles, they may also spread the infection to the others. So, time is of the essence. 

Your turtle’s raspy breathing will often be accompanied by excess mucus.

If your turtle is spitting thick, slimy mucus or if the mucus is dripping out of its nose, then they’ve definitely got an infection. 

These infections are usually caused by poor water conditions, lack of proper nutrients that support immune health (particularly Vitamin A), and an inability to regulate their body temperature.

This is why it’s so important to always make sure your turtle has clean, warm, filtered water and access to a heating pad so that they can bask when they need to.

The good news is that these infections are relatively easy to treat with a course of vet-prescribed antibiotics as long as you catch the infection early before it has a chance to do any real damage. 


Most of the time, if your turtle is spitting water, it’s completely harmless.

Expelling extra water out of their system is as normal as a human blowing their nose and is an important part of their biology that allows them to better smell the air around them. 

If your turtle’s spitting goes beyond simply spitting up water, though, then you may need to ask for professional help.

The best way to prevent unexpected illness is to always make sure that your turtle habitat is up to their standards.

Also, providing them with a healthy diet that’s rich in essential vitamins and minerals will ensure that they remain happy and healthy!

Also read

How To Fix Cloudy Turtle Tank Water (What Causes a Cloudy Turtle Tank)

Why is Your Turtle Upside Down?

Why Is My Turtle Floating?

Can Turtles See in the Dark?

Why Do Turtles Dig Holes?

Leave a Comment