Why is Your Turtle Upside Down?

We’ve all been there, you went into your turtle’s aquarium room and you noticed that your reptilian friend was lying on its back. You may be wondering why this is happening so we’re going to explore why you’ll sometimes find turtles on their backs and whether or not you have to worry about it.

Reasons Why Your Turtle Upside Down?

There are a few different reasons why your turtle may end up looking like it’s stuck on its back. In some cases, your turtle may have simply ended up in that position due to an accident but it can also sometimes mean that your turtle has fallen ill, so let’s take a look at the most frequent causes of this predicament.

One of the more common reasons why your turtle may keep getting stuck on its back time and time again is that it is suffering from a health condition. The most common conditions that lead to your turtle getting stuck like this include respiratory issues or vitamin and other nutrient deficiencies.

You should also take a look at your turtle’s tank and habitat to ensure that it’s not getting stuck on its back because of poorly positioned bridges and other things that your turtle can fall off of. This is often the case if you notice that your turtle’s always on its back in a specific part of your tank.

Yet another reason why you may have issues with your turtles getting stuck on their backs is when you have multiple turtles in the same habitat. When this is the case, you may have a situation where one turtle is flipping the other one over aggressively because the other turtle is weaker.

Health and Illness as the Cause

One of the most common reasons why an illness may be putting your turtle on its back is due to a lack of Vitamin A. Vitamin A is a crucial nutrient for turtles and it allows them to develop properly over time. A lack of Vitamin A can lead to your turtle suffering from respiratory sickness.

When your turtle is suffering from a respiratory ailment, then this typically means that they have a problem with their lungs. This causes issues with your turtle’s balance in the water because the air in their lungs tends to be responsible for maintaining their ballast, which keeps them in position as they swim.

This is similar to how the ballast tanks in a submarine work to keep it in trim, which means that the submarine (or turtle, in this case) is level in the water. Eventually, the turtle will begin to tip to one side and it will end up flipping over to the point that it can’t swim properly or ends up getting stuck.

(Also Read -> Do Box Turtle Swim)

If you believe that a respiratory infection is affecting your turtle’s ability to stay right side up, then you’ll want to deal with the issue ASAP to ensure that your turtle keeps living a healthy life. Please bring your pet to a vet so that this issue can be diagnosed and solved before it gets worse.

Turtle’s Habitat as a Cause

Along with your turtle’s health, a reason that should cause a lot less panic is the possibility that your turtles’ habitat is the reason why it’s running into issues. This is often the case if you end up finding your turtle upside down in the same spot of your enclosure, tank, or habitat. For example, if there’s a particular corner that your turtle gets jammed into.

Start by taking a look at the areas where your turtle tank is shallower, since these may be areas where your turtle can end up in the most trouble. If your turtle gets stuck with its head below water, it may end up drowning because it got flipped in one of these areas and didn’t have the space to get itself unstuck.

If you want to make sure that your turtle can right itself if it ends up in one of these positions, ensure that the parts of your habitat that have water in them are at least as deep as your turtle’s shell is wide. This will give them the amount of space they need to get back up in the right orientation.

Another thing that you have to make sure of is that there are no obstacles that can potentially funnel your turtle into a position where it ends up on its back. Look at where obstacles like rocks and towers are positioned in your turtle’s enclosure to ensure that they aren’t in any places where it will be difficult for your turtle to navigate.

Turtles Flipping Each Other Over

Another reason why your turtle may end up on its back is because it is stuck in an enclosure with another turtle that it doesn’t get along too well with. This is one of the main reasons why you have to be careful and pick the turtles that you’re going to keep together properly and make sure that they get along.

One of the most crucial things to consider when you’re matching up turtles in a tank is the size difference between the two of them. If one turtle is bigger and stronger than the other, then this will make it easier for that turtle to flip the other one over. This is typically how turtles demonstrate their aggression.

If your turtles don’t get along well and you’re typically finding one of them flipped over when you go and see them, then it’s a very likely possibility that one turtle’s on its back because of aggression. However, don’t make any assumptions until you see one of the turtles actually perpetrating the aggression.

Once you’ve confirmed that one of the turtles is being aggressive one, then you may have to take a few steps to rectify the bad behavior. In the worst cases, you may end up having to move one of the turtles to an entirely different habitat or water tank so that they can stop being aggressive with each other.

On the contrary, there are times when turtles help other turtles flip themselves back. You can see from video below. 

How Do Turtles Unflip Themselves?

If you’ve never seen a turtle on its back, then you may end up getting nervous and wondering whether your turtle will even be able to get back in the right position. However, you may be surprised to learn that turtles can unflip themselves with relatively few issues as long as they have enough space.

If your turtle isn’t stuck in a bad place or being affected by an illness, then it should typically have no trouble getting itself back in the right position. In fact, there are plenty of times throughout the day when your turtle may be flipped over but you didn’t notice because of how quickly the turtle ended up in the right position again.

In most cases, a turtle will use its legs or its head to move itself out of the uncomfortable flipped position and it will then roll itself gradually back over until it’s in position to right itself. Most turtles shouldn’t have any trouble doing this as long as they’re able to do so without suffering from any ailments or being stopped by a fellow enclosure mate.

Here is video of turtle flipping himself back up all by himself.

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