Do Turtles Cry When They Are Sad? [Or Something Else?]

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Generally speaking, humans associate weeping with a range of different feelings. Typically, tears flow in response to feelings of sadness or loss. Does this mean the same is true for turtles? If a turtle is harmed or sad, do they cry? Is there not any other explanation for this? To what end do these reptiles cry?

The turtles can cry which helps flush their systems of any extra salt. The tears of a turtle help keep their salt levels stable in the body. Some turtles cry not just to expel excess salt but also to wash the dust from their eyes and maintain moisture in them.

People show their emotions by grinning when they are joyful and perhaps crying when they are upset. However, this does not hold true for turtles as well.

In this post, we have assembled some intriguing facts about turtles and their capacity to let out tears. Then, let’s investigate the causes of such action.

What Causes Sea Turtles To Cry?

Turtles, unlike humans and most other creatures, do not cry when they are hurt. They also do not cry when they are harmed, unhappy, or emotionally affected by anything.

But there is a rational explanation for their cries based on scientific research.

The majority of turtles who live in the ocean have spent most of their lives underwater. As a result of the salty water, their bodies gradually get more and more saturated with salt as they continue to consume the water.

The kidneys of reptiles are not as functional as those of humans. Therefore, turtles are not able to rid their bodies of the surplus salt via their urine. This task is completed by their eyes.

They have specific glands in the outer corners of each of their eyes. These glands produce a secretion.

The eyes of turtles have ducts that produce secretions.  The overabundance of salt in a turtle’s body is eliminated via its tears.

Salt ions are pumped into their tears by these glands, which are responsible for the process.  They have to keep these glands active all the time in order to keep the salt levels in their bodies at the appropriate level.

Tears are the means by which sea turtles rid their bodies of excess salt. This process occurs via the eyes. They need to do this on a regular basis because the salt that is ingested from the salty ocean builds up in their bodies.

You should know by now that sea turtles only cry in order to expel the extra salt, which may be fatal if it is not expelled.

Therefore, in order to cleanse their bodies of excess salt, turtles often shed their tears when submerged in water.

But what happens to turtles that live on land? Turtles that are found only on land do not inhabit salty conditions or the ocean. But why do they weep then?

What Causes Land Turtles To Cry?

Unlike their marine counterparts, land turtles spend the vast majority of their lives on dry ground.

As a result, compared to their aquatic cousins that live their whole lives in the water, their bodies contain less salt.

Nonetheless, this doesn’t imply that land turtles can never shed a tear. In fact, these reptiles can indeed do so under precise conditions.

The fact that land turtles make their homes on land means that they are often subjected to a wide range of hostile habitats and situations. They could, for instance, come across arid regions, wasteland areas, or swampy regions.

Land turtles that live in dusty environments use their own tears to retain their eyes wet since this not only enables them to see but also shields their eyes from debris in the atmosphere.

Land turtles must produce tears in order to safeguard their eyes from the damaging effects of rain in environments with higher levels of humidity.

If not properly cared for, the turtle’s eyes may get irritated because of the significant quantity of salt that is found in raindrops.

As a result of this, the reptiles will cry in order to flush out any extra salt and safeguard their eyes at the same time.

On the other hand, it’s possible that you’ve seen a female turtle weeping when she laid her eggs. Is the procedure of laying eggs an uncomfortable one?

Why Do Sea Turtles Cry When They Lay Eggs?

You will see turtles crying as they are about to deposit their eggs. Does this indicate that the process of laying eggs is difficult for them?

To tell you the truth, the explanation why you will observe them weeping at that period is that they are attempting to maintain a healthy balance of salt in their bodies by crying.

This reaction starts much more often than any of us could ever fathom, but this is one of the few occasions that a sea turtle will invest a lot of time on shore, you will only see this while they are laying eggs.

In point of fact, they continue to do this even when they’re out at sea. Because their bodies contain an excessive amount of salt, this is the only method for them to get rid of it.

They have to take the salt out of it because, as we all know, too much of anything can be harmful, so in order to keep things in check, they have to do that.

Do Turtles Cry When Killed?

Since ancient times, people have held the misconception that sea turtles are unable to feel pain due to their lack of developed emotional capabilities.

Recent research, on the other hand, has proven that marine turtles, like humans and other creatures, are able to sense pain.

After discovering that particular molecules known as enkephalins were produced from the brains of the turtles whenever they were subjected to painful stimuli, researchers were able to make this finding.

The presence of these molecules led to the discharge of endorphin hormones, and that are structurally analogous to morphine.

As a consequence of this, it would seem that marine turtles are fully able to experience both pleasure and pain.

The fact that they are crying does not, however, indicate that they are in a state of emotional discomfort.

The majority of the time, sea turtles will utilize their own tears to both clean their eyes and maintain a healthy level of salt in their bodies.

If marine turtles are murdered for their flesh, they often cry while they are being butchered. It would look as though the turtles are wailing out in agony as they are being murdered.

On the other hand, it is yet unknown if this is a response to the discomfort or just a byproduct of the method itself.

In spite of this, it is generally forbidden to kill sea turtles since the species is in danger as a consequence of global warming and contamination.

Do Turtles Produce Sound While Crying?

Turtles do not produce a sound when they are in distress or when they are crying. However, they do emit noises when they are mating and engaging in other social behaviors.

Some species of turtle are able to hiss, cluck, and produce other high-pitched noises. These noises serve as a kind of communication with other turtles as well as an indication of the emotions that they are feeling.

 Even though they lack vocal cords, they are nonetheless able to make noises that humans are unable to pick up.

You may be asking how they are able to do that given that they do not possess voice chords. They do this by expelling air from their lungs, which results in the production of sound.

Do Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears?

The fact that individuals were able to take pictures of butterflies sipping the tears of turtles was a very remarkable discovery. Lachryphagy is the term given to this process, which may also be referred to as mud-puddling.

Butterflies and other bugs engage in the behavior known as “mud-puddling” in order to extract nutrition from moist things like wet soil, urine, dung, perspiration, or even carrion. In contrast to obtaining nutrition from sources like pollen and nectar, mud-puddling is a whole distinct activity.

Butterflies sip the tears of turtles because turtle tears are high in sodium, and sodium is a nutrient that butterflies are lacking in their bodies.

Final Thoughts

When they are upset or injured, turtles do not let forth tears as other animals do. Nevertheless, there is a rational explanation for their cries based on scientific research.

The extra salt that builds up in a sea turtle’s body is expelled via its tears. Because they spend their whole lives in salty water, their bodies get saltier as a result of the ocean’s influence.

Tears are responsible for ridding the body of excess salt as well as regulating the appropriate level of salt in the system. Instead, land turtles use their tears as a kind of eye protection against unsafe conditions.

They are able to eliminate extra salt from their bodies and keep their eyes moistened by crying, both of which are benefits of crying.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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