Do Turtles Yawn? – All Turtle Yawning Facts

Many turtle keepers think that their turtles are yawning when they see their pet breathing with a wide open mouth. Do turtles yawn? Yes, they yawn, and it is pretty normal to do so. A turtle can yawn both inside and outside the water. Turtles are usually seen yawning when they are basking.

The yawning of the turtle is not a cause of concern but something that can indicate a health issue. Turtle yawning can be to show their tiredness to owners, or they want to intake extra oxygen by doing so. If your turtle is yawning excessively, it may be due to an infection in the respiratory tract.

Do Turtles Yawn?

Yes, turtles can yawn. So far, no study has discovered why turtles yawn, even though the reason behind yawning is not still identified. Many scientists believe that yawning happens to provide extra oxygen to the brain. Recent research revealed that temptation is the culprit behind yawning rather than oxygen deficiency.

I somewhat believe this research because turtles yawn more while basking in a warm sport than in freshwater. By yawning, turtles bring in additional oxygen to the blood vessels to cool the flowing blood. Turtles in the aquarium do not need to yawn to maintain their blood temperature because it is already regular in the water.

Why Do Turtles Yawn?

There are various reasons for turtle yawning, including intake of additional oxygen, respiratory infection, and stretching of mouth muscles. I am going to explain all these in detail below. 

To Intake More Oxygen

Like humans, turtles yawn to get more oxygen. When they yawn, they open their mouth wide and take a breath, and by doing so, they can easily inhale extra oxygen than normal breathing. In this way, more oxygen enters the blood allowing proper circulation to the brain for relaxation. The whole process helps them exhale more CO2 from their body. For turtles, it can be a simple technique to improve their breathing.

Respiratory Infection

Unfortunately, excessive yawning is one of the symptoms of respiratory illness. To confirm it, you can check if your turtle is discharging from its mouth, eyes, and nose or not. With respiratory infection, turtles find it difficult to breathe due to illness. Turtles with respiratory problems try to yawn excessively because they are desperate to inhale more oxygen.

Following are the cause why your turtle gets respiratory infection:

  • Cold Temperature
  • Dirty Aquarium
  • Improper Basking
  • Poor Diet

Stretching Mouth Muscles

Due to swimming and basking all the time, turtles’ mouths get jammed, so they yawn to stretch their mouth muscles for relief. Other than the mouth, turtles stretch muscles from all around their body, especially the neck. In the wild, turtles stretch their body parts to get active in catching food. They cannot snap at their prey without flexibility in their mouth and neck.

why do turtles yawn

Why Do Turtles Yawn Under The Water?

Every pet owner has their theory of why turtles yawn underwater, but the following two are logically correct:

For Drinking Water

Seeing your turtle yawning inside the water shows that the turtle is taking a sip of water to drink. Even though turtles do not get dehydrated in the water, they still need to drink water.

For Decreasing Buoyancy

Maybe the turtle wants to enjoy more time underwater, so it is yawning for this purpose. With yawning, a turtle releases air bubbles into the water to reduce its buoyancy to remain for a longer period inside the water. 

Do Box Turtles Yawn?

Yes, box turtles yawn the same as other turtle species. Their yawning can be due to the following reasons: 

  • Take more oxygen
  • Problem in respiration
  • Tiredness

As we know, box turtles do not like to swim, so they spend minimal time underwater. If you notice your box turtle yawning under the water, it indicates your pet is having difficulty breathing.

Is It Dangerous If Turtles Yawn Excessively?

Occasional excessive yawning is pretty safe, but if your turtle is yawning overly regularly, then it is an indication of a hidden health problem. Mostly these health issues are related to the digestive and respiratory systems. Just look at other symptoms to understand what problems your turtle is facing. 

You can check out the eating routine of your turtle. If a turtle yawns unduly and eats less than usual, then it can be a clear indication of illness. Respiratory infection is lethal to turtles but can make your turtle uncomfortable. Go to the vet if the problem persists for a few days.

Final Words

As you can see, it is pretty normal for turtles to yawn. While turtle yawning can signify trouble or fatigue, it is usually just a normal thing for any turtle. Yawing is a sight to behold, but if it is excessive, there might be something wrong with your turtle. Hopefully, I have explained everything in detail about turtle yawning in this post. 

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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.