Do Turtles Hiss? (Why Do Turtles Hiss?)

Why do turtles hiss? A turtle can produce a hiss when it is frightened of something and is not a warning. Turtles can produce some noises like hissing, although they are quiet animals if you notice that the turtle is wheezing for quite a while and there is nothing wrong with it. 

The sound of hissing produced by the turtle is quite different from animals like owls, cats, snakes, etc. The turtle’s hissing sound is an involuntary action. If your turtle hiss, you need not worry about that. I will explain to you in this article how it is natural for turtles.

Can turtles Hiss?

Yes, turtles can hiss. We have mentioned above that the turtle can hiss, although it can hiss more than your expectation. They can produce a hiss when they retract their head into the shell. 

The hissing sound is usually involuntary, and sometimes the turtle is not aware of that. It is way too different from that of cats and other animals, but cats can hiss knowingly. The following are the type of turtles that can hiss:

Box Turtles – Do Snapping Turtles Hiss?

Snapping turtles are notorious for their hiss. The turtle’s hiss is a mixture of hissing and heavy breathing. The turtles can produce hiss by retreating their head into the shell. Some species like Alligator snapping and common snapping turtles are aggressive as they can easily detect any threat, while others like map turtles and cooters can warm up their owners. 

Red-Eared Sliders – Do Red-Eared Sliders Hiss?

The red-eared sliders produce hiss by rapidly escaping air from the lungs or quickly extracting it into their shell. Red-eared sliders are also famous for this as they make a hiss when they are scared of something. 

No need to be surprised when you hear the hissing sound, and it means that you are hurting it. In the wild, the red-eared sliders use hiss to frighten the predators and to get the attraction of other turtles. Red-eared sliders can produce a hiss when they are tired a lot. 

Why Do Turtles Hiss?

Turtles are display animals that do not like to be handled or touched. If a turtle hiss when you come near and wants to adopt, it will get furious, so you do not to be touched. When a turtle does not want to be adopted, indicating that it does not like your company or wants to live alone. 

Handling should always be minimum, the examples of handling are bathing or inspecting injuries. A new pet turtle can hiss a lot because this environment is unique. Their hiss should be less when it becomes accustomed to the environment and you. 

Turtles are cool-minded, and they do not misbehave at all. Using logs and aquatic plants, you can create hiding spots for turtles to feel safe and comfortable to ensure that the things you have placed in the tank must not trap your turtle. You can also change the tank’s design because a pet turtle struggles to adjust them.

What Does It Mean When A Turtle Hiss?

Turtles have no vocal cords, but they can hiss. The sound you often hear is the hissing sound, and it does not produce vocally. Turtles can make hiss when they expel air from the lungs, and turtles can not have this sound all the time because it is an involuntary action. 

They can also produce this sound by retracting the head into the shell. By doing that, the air in their lungs will expel rapidly to sound like a hiss. Whenever the turtle’s body is working and reacting, then its head retracts into the shell to produce a hiss. The turtles use this sound to defend themselves in the wild. 

There is no need to be scared of the voice, but the predator would be disturbed in the wild. Aggressive turtles can hiss more than non-aggressive turtles. For example, snapping turtles and red-eared sliders are known for their hiss.

turtle hissing

What Sounds Can Turtles Produce Other Than Hissing?

As hissing is the most common sound produced by the turtle but it can also have some other voices, such as:

Clicking Sounds:

The aquatic freshwater turtles can produce a clicking sound when they are out of the water, but this is normal. You should check the water if your turtle is basking too much. That happens when ammonia, chloride, and pH levels are unbalanced, or the water is too cold. 

Check that the environmental conditions and water temperature are typical. If you have many turtles in a tank, check that the turtle basking too much to produce a clicking sound is not a rascal.

Gurgling Noises:

Gurgling noise is a common symptom of respiratory tract disease. In this disease, if a foamy mucus is a discharge from the mouth, try to check it with your vet rapidly. The other symptoms of this disease in turtles are increased movements in front limbs, lethargy, and holding the head at some angle. At low temperatures, respiratory infections are common in turtles. 

So, always ensure the temperature of both the basking area and water is average. The turtles will feel comfortable at 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and a basking area should be 85 degrees Fahrenheit to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and a water temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Can You Stop Turtle Hiss?

We know you are disappointed here, but you also want to know that you cannot touch it. Until your fate feels it, you must wait. Let your turtle become familiar with its surroundings before bringing it home. Try to give it the most time to make it accustomed to the environment and you. 

Now, the turtle will not cause any hardship for you. They can get angry when you touch them during basking and bathing, and they hiss to show their anger. The best way to make them habitual is to feed them food by hand. After some days, the turtle will stop hissing at your touch because it considers you a food source. 

Final Words

When your pet turtle hiss, you need not be afraid that it will bite you. Turtles can produce this sound by retracting the head inside the shell because by doing this, they expel the air in their lungs quickly. Your turtle will hiss when it is too frightened by anything as it can do nothing about that because it is an involuntary action.

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Hey, I've done my Ph.D. in Marine Biology. I'm a turtle enthusiast and have been owning turtles for the last 22 years and dedicated to sharing my experience to help you in pet turtle upbringing.