Do Turtles Make Noise? [Meaning Explained]

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

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Everyone knows turtles for being quiet and docile reptiles. But it does not mean they do not make any noise at all. If you are a new turtle owner, you may have heard your turtles hissing or making some other noises. You might be concerned and wonder, “Do Turtles Make Noise?” 

Turtles can make noise. But the noises they make are often so low-pitched that people cannot hear them. However, you may sometimes hear them hissing, clicking, shrieking, and honking. The type of sounds turtles make depends on their health and mood.

In this article, I will tell you how turtles make sounds and what noises they make. After this, you will understand what your pet turtle is trying to express. 

How Do Turtles Make Noise?

If you know a bit of zoology, you should know that turtles do not have any vocal cords. So, how can they make noises? Well, they create these sounds using their lungs and throat. When a turtle wants to make a sound, it squeezes out air from its lungs and lets it out through its throat. 

Turtles communicate with each other through low-frequency and low-pitched sounds that are often inaudible to humans. However, turtles can make audible noises as if they feel nervous, stressed, and aggressive. They also make noises during the time of mating. 

To produce sounds, a turtle will rapidly duck its head into the shell and then pull out its head. Thus, the air is forced out from its lungs making hissing sounds. 

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What Kind Of Sounds Do Turtles Make?

New turtle owners often think that turtles make sounds when they are sick. Turtles may produce hissing sounds when they have respiratory issues, But there can be many other reasons. Depending on their health and moods, turtles can make hissing, chirping, barking, screeching, and grunting or honking noises. 

Sounds Made By Nervous or Stressed Turtles

For example, when a turtle gets scared or nervous, it may hiss or shriek. You may hear it when you try to hold your turtle, especially when you have just got it. Just because you keep it as a pet does not mean it will allow you to touch it like a dog or cat.  

It will see you as a threat, at least at the beginning. So, turtles make this sound either in fear or to scare off their threats. When your turtles get used to you, they will stop hissing. However, avoid holding or touching your turtles unnecessarily. Even if they do not make audible sounds, they can still feel stressed. 

Sounds Turtles Make When They Are Nesting

Adult turtles may make hissing or belching sounds near their nests. This tendency is quite common among leatherback sea turtles. It is a tactic to scare off other animals and insects from the nesting grounds. 

According to research, sea turtle hatchlings make a special sound when they hatch. The sound is not audible to humans. The hatchlings communicate with each other through this sound to emerge together from the sand. 

Thus, they require less energy to dig out from the sand. The hatchlings also try to help each other reach the sea by warning about the dangers ahead. Also, 

Sounds Made By Aggressive Turtles

If you have multiple male turtles in a single turtle enclosure, you may hear them making noise. Many turtle species like the male snapping turtles breathe heavily and hiss when they become aggressive. 

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Male turtles are often hostile to other male turtles. They become territorial and try to intimidate each other by making aggressive gestures and sounds. 

If you do not want your turtle to be aggressive to each other, make a large turtle enclosure. This way, the male turtles can keep their distance from each other. 

Sounds Made By Mating Turtles

Turtles make unique sounds during their mating process. In fact, the sound is hard to explain. But it is a kind of continuous grunting or crying sound. The sound is common for large size turtles and land tortoises. 

Now, here is a fun fact for you. Have you seen the 1993’s “Jurassic Park” movie? The sounds that the Velociraptors make in the movie are actually recorded tortoise mating sounds! 

Some turtle species, such as the male red-eared sliders, make sounds to attract female turtles. So, you may hear your red-eared slider clicking or chirping when they are ready to reproduce. 

Sounds Made By Sick Turtles

If you find your turtle making a hissing sound without any reasons mentioned above, check if it has breathing problems. Turtles make hissing sounds when they have a respiratory problem. They have difficulty in breathing, thus they make such noise. 

Turtles can catch a cold. Your pet turtle gets sick when the water temperature is low for too long. So, keep the turtle tank temperature the same as your turtle’s natural habitat. 

Can Turtles Scream?

No, turtles cannot scream. As mentioned before, turtles do not have vocal cords. Hence, they are not capable of making loud noises like screaming.

You may sometimes see turtles opening their mouth wide open, but no sound coming out. Yes, they make some sounds. However, those sounds are low, like hissing or growling. Turtles are silent reptiles and use non-vocal signs or body language to communicate. Turtle making sound is usually not a good sign. It often means a turtle is in pain or distress.

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Do Turtles Make Noise When They Get Hurt?

Turtles have hard shells to protect themselves from harm. But they can get hurt. They can be attacked by predators, or they might get scratched by rocks. When they feel pain, they become agitated and make a hissing sound. 

If you find your turtle making continuous noise, check them for any physical injury. Take it to the vet as soon as possible if they are injured. 

Is It Normal For Turtles To Make Noise?

As you can see, there are many situations when turtles make noise. Even if turtles make noise, most of the time the sound is inaudible. You may hear turtles making noise, but these are rare moments. 

It is normal for your turtles to make hissing sounds when they are new. But if they continue to make the sounds, check their physical condition. Make sure the turtle is not sick. Also, check the turtle enclosure for any apparent threats. 

Do Turtles Make Crying Noises?

Turtles can produce crying sounds in various situations. Most turtles make crying sounds during matting. Turtles may also make crying sounds under stress or in pain. 

Moreover, crying noises can mean a serious respiratory infection. Mucus can block the airway of the turtles, which causes the crying sound.

What Does Turtle Cry Sound Like?

Turtles do not have any vocal cords. So, they cannot cry or scream like other animals. But they can create noise through their airway. Their crying often sounds like groaning or short screams of pain. 


So, do turtles make noise? By now, you know they can make noise. Turtles can produce different sounds in different situations. If your turtle is making noise, do not get panicked. Consider their situation first. 

However, continuous loud noise from your turtles may indicate a distress call. So, you should not ignore them for too long. 

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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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