Turtle Yawning: What It Means?

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

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Have you ever caught your turtle stretching its mouth open? It’s possible that they were submerged in water or just basking in bright sunlight. You undoubtedly saw that they opened their lips, and you simply thought to yourself, “Was it a yawn?”

Turtles can and do yawn both while it is submerged in water and during basking in a warm place. Yawns are another sign of exhaustion or need for an additional supply of oxygen or an indicator of respiratory illness.

Therefore, there is typically no need to be concerned about a turtle that is yawning. However, if you find that your turtle is yawning more frequently than normal, it is still vital to determine what to watch out for in this situation.

Sometimes, it might be an early indicator of a wellness problem that has to be addressed until it’s too late to do anything about it. As you continue reading, you’ll learn not just this vital knowledge but also a lot more in this article.

Why Do Turtles Yawn?

To this day, there has been no research that can definitively explain the reason turtles yawn. In point of fact, yawning is still a bit puzzling in people, with the most frequent notion being that it is generally beneficial to deliver extra oxygen to our brain while it is lacking in that regard.

Biological or natural factors that cause yawning in turtles are:

Lack of oxygen:

Yawns are a way for turtles, like people, to take in more oxygen. Yawns may be seen in both us and turtles. When a turtle yawns, it permits a significant increase in the amount of air that may enter its lungs since its mouth is open wide.

This is highly useful since it enables a greater quantity of oxygen to access its system, and as a result, a greater quantity of oxygen is delivered to their bloodstream.

Yawns help turtles expel more co2 from their systems, which is beneficial to their health. Therefore, yawning may be employed as a straightforward method to more effectively support a turtle’s respiration.

Hot weather:

Recent research has shown that heat has a larger role in initiating a yawn than does a shortage of oxygen in the air.

This hypothesis is supported by the observation that our turtles yawn more often in warmer environments and fewer times in environments that are colder.

Owing to one hypothesis, yawning draws in sufficient quantities of oxygen to cool the circulation, which in turn helps to cool the brain.

This, of course, is not going to make any meaning if the turtle is now swimming in the water, but we will discuss that at a later point in this piece.

Mentally or physically tired:

Your turtle could be yawning for a number of reasons, including receiving more oxygen and cooling down after coming out of the water.

However, it might also be yawning because it is mentally or physically exhausted.

You can keep your turtle from being worn out for a number of reasons, the most important of which are providing it with a portion of nutritious food and an ambiance that is both calming and spotless.

This requires ensuring that the water is properly filtered and warmed to between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

It ought to be possible to easily ascend the basking area, which should be a permanent structure with a sloping road leading into the waters.

The temperature of the basking area, which should be between 90 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, must be increased using lamps that simulate the sunlight.

Stretch the muscle around the mouth:

Yawn is another way for a turtle to release the muscles in its mouth and jaw. It is fairly normal for turtles to extend out various sections of their bodies, particularly their mouths and necks.

They were forced to hunt and gather their own food while they resided in the wilderness, therefore this survival skill was passed down to them.

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It was highly crucial for turtles to have incredibly flexible necks and mouths because this allowed them to hit their target more swiftly.

Scared in an uncomfortable environment:

Turtles often gape, which is sometimes confused with yawning. If a turtle seems to be terrified or anxious when it approaches you or another creature with its jaws fully open, it probably is.

You might just have startled your small companion who is covered with a shell, which is why they are staring at you with wide-open mouths to warn you.

If you discover that your turtle is gaping widely after you remove it from its home and relocate it to a new area, or if you have just adopted it and taken it home, it is doing this as they’re in a strange environment and since they are adjusting to the changing situation.

If you think that your turtle is gaping because it is terrified or uncomfortable, it is imperative that you find a means to maintain a safe environment and maintain its composure at all times.

Feeding anxious turtles is the most effective approach to soothe and calm them down. it will get more used to your presence and become less wary of you If you give a turtle some lettuce leaves or insects. As a result, the turtle will feel better and will be happy.


If you see that your turtle’s mouth appears fully open when it is swimming in murky water, this could be a sign that it is having trouble seeing the supper that it can smell so vividly but cannot see.

Turtles are able to detect and taste things while they are in the water since their jaws are open, so if they are aware that there is anything nearby for them to eat, they will utilize these skills to locate it.

Is Turtle Yawning An Indication Of Sickness?

The causes of yawning in turtles that are relevant to their health are as follows:

Infections of the respiratory system:

Though a turtle has an illness in its respiratory system, it may seem as if it is yawning while, in reality, it is struggling to draw in breath.

In most cases, complications of this kind are brought on by microbes that are driven by a deficiency in vitamin A.

Infections may be treated successfully with the aid of a recommended course of antibiotics, and eating a balanced diet will contribute to the prevention of conditions and diseases.

Additional warning indications that an infection may be present include the following:

  • An excessive amount of mucous in the mouth.
  • Continual discharge of mucus from the eyes and nose,
  • Wheezing,
  • An inability to maintain hunger,
  • A posture in which one is inclined when swimming, and
  • Extremely low quantities of vitality.

Giving high-quality turtle pellets to your turtle may help prevent vitamin A deficiency and maintain a nutritious diet for your turtle as vitamin A deficiency tends to lead to bacterial infection in the respiratory system.

However, they will benefit from the added protein and appreciate the diversity if you are able to give them feeder fish, some crickets, mealworms, and other insects a fair few times a week.

This will also allow you to keep their diet interesting. The addition of one spoonful of dark, leaf-like vegetables such as collards and kale every alternate day is another excellent way to supplement the diet of your turtle with pellets.

After a few hours, you should check the tank to make sure that any uneaten food has been removed.

If turtles are solely given iceberg lettuce to eat, there is a very good chance that they may develop nutritional deficiencies.

This particular kind of lettuce is composed of 96% water and not enough else, which is not ideal for meeting the nutritional needs of a thriving turtle.

Although including this vegetable in a turtle’s diet won’t hurt it in any way, the turtle won’t be able to live off of it alone.

Mouth rot and ulcerative stomatitis:

Ulcerative stomatitis, sometimes known as “mouth rot,” may be brought on by either mental or physical strain.

There are also a great number of different diseases that may affect the mouth and throat that might give the appearance that your turtle is yawning. Two of the most common reasons for this condition are mouth rot and ulcerative stomatitis.

If you find that your turtle is resting with its mouth open for an extended period of time, it is possible that it is attempting to ease the discomfort caused by one of the disorders listed above.

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If that really is the case, then it is quite unlikely that it will consume much food, if any at all. When a turtle’s immune system is compromised, a condition is known as “mouth rot” may develop.

This condition is characterized by a red, inflammatory reaction within the mouth, as well as dead cells and puss within the mouth, as well as discharge coming out from the turtle’s snout.

If the mouth rot in the turtle is not detected in time, it might compromise not only the tissue but also the bones in the mouth of the turtle. If the condition worsens to an unacceptable level, this region may have to be excised surgically.

If you observe that your turtle is yawning more than normal or that it is resting with its mouth open for a longer period of time than is typical, it is in your best interest to take it to a veterinarian so that it may be examined.

You will be able to identify and treat any ailments that may be present earlier than they reach a life-threatening stage.

Before the ailments of your turtle might turn deadly, basic treatment of antibiotics and several other therapeutic remedies can swiftly cure the situation.

Why Is My Turtle Yawning Underwater?

Turtle Suffering From Respiratory Conditions

The majority of the time, sea turtles who are suffering from any kind of respiratory condition will yawn when they are submerged in water.

This is due to the fact that they are unable to take in oxygen from the water via their mouths, therefore there is no need for them to yawn when they are underwater in an effort to simply acquire more oxygen.

Having said that, you do not automatically need to start freaking out if you observe your turtle yawning while it is submerged in water.

Actually Not Yawning

While they are submerged, turtles do several things that cause their mouths to open, and although it may seem like they are yawning, it is actually a sign of anything else entirely.

For instance, whenever they consume water, turtles open their mouths in a manner that is extremely similar to how humans do it. It is easy to get this habit misinterpreted when talking about turtles because of how often they consume water.

Pleading For Food

When you enter the chamber, the turtles will yawn and seem to be swimming underwater in response to your presence.

They act in this manner because they have formed an association with both you and meals, and as a result, they are pleading with you to provide them with snacks. Due to the fact that turtles are opportunistic eaters, this action is rather typical.

Changing Buoyancy

There is no swim bladder in a turtle’s body, unlike in certain fish. However, they can change overall buoyancy by consuming water underwater by yawning.  

The act of consuming water causes the loss of certain air and results in the turtle losing part of its buoyancy.

Turtle Yawning While Basking

As turtles are enjoying the warmth of the sun and resting in its rays, you might observe that their mouths are wide and they may try to suppress yawns.

While on land, your turtle might be more comfortable, but this will lead to a rise in the amount of oxygen they demand, which may be met by having them yawn.

Because your turtle doesn’t move too much, it requires a greater quantity of oxygen than usual because of its inactivity.

Turtles will breathe a lot more shallowly when they are not exhausting themselves, which indicates that they are not taking in as much oxygen as their body requires since they are not taking in enough oxygen.

When a person yawns, they take a substantial breath of oxygen, which is subsequently drawn into their lungs and ultimately their bloodstream.

Another explanation for this habit is that yawning helps maintain a consistent and normal temperature throughout your turtle’s system.

It is critical to point out at this stage that Gaping is a common term used to describe the broad opening of a turtle’s mouth, which may be an indication of an array of diverse issues, from illnesses to rage.

If the yawning only happens on occasion and is not accompanied by any other illnesses or changes in mood, a turtle that sometimes yawns is probably perfectly healthy.

Turtle Yawning Too Much

Because every animal is its own unique being, it is impossible to ever impose limits on what is considered safe.

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The indicator of if an illness is progressing is whether or not there has been a shift in activity over the course.

When a turtle that seems to be in good condition yawns, it may be a sign that it is going through the early stages of a disease that affects its respiratory system or that it is suffering from ulcerative stomatitis, which causes discomfort in the mouth.

If the behavior continues, there is a possibility that it may develop into a new habit in the future.

On the other hand, if a turtle yawns at scheduled intervals throughout the day, such as when it is hungry, tired, or swimming, it is possible that it is not conveying anything.

If you want to keep the health of a turtle in good condition, you need to be aware of both its routines and be fast to respond whenever something changes.

What To Do If Turtle Yawns Too Much?

A trip to the veterinarian is really not a waste of time, despite the fact that it might become somewhat pricey if you take your pet there for the smallest inconvenience. You really need to determine once the situation requires any guidance from an expert.

You really need to evaluate when the situation demands some counsel from a professional. If you believe that your turtle is sick and yet the only symptoms that are noticeable are gaping and yawning, then it is critical to take it to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

If, on the other hand, the turtle appears to be in excellent health, is wanting to eat normally, and is usually going about its own regular activities with no noticeable shift, then you should simply stay aware to keep an eye out for any odd activity and leave things alone.

Keeping an eye out for such signs is essential if you want to determine whether or not your turtle is suffering from a respiratory disease or another kind of health problem.

For instance, you have to keep a close check on the amount of food that your turtle consumes. It is possible that they are sick if you observe that they are beginning to eat very little and yawning a lot more often than usual.

Even while respiratory infection in turtles does not often result in death, it may give the turtle severe suffering and anguish.

Therefore, you should provide the appropriate treatment to your turtle if you have any reason to believe that it is suffering from a respiratory ailment. If the symptoms do not improve, you should probably take them to a veterinarian.

It’s all going to go well as long as the atmosphere and the meal that is provided are hygienic and sufficient, the water temperature and the atmosphere is appropriate, and there are enough spots to bask.

If these conditions are met, then it’s going to be fine. The turtle requires a basking location that is firmly rooted, or even greater, a racking part of the habitat ground.

When it comes to their pet’s needs, many turtle owners overlook the need of providing their turtle with a safe basking area, or better yet, a shelf piece of the habitat floor.

Yawning and gaping may be caused by the turtle struggling to get on and off of a floating basking platform because of the exhaustion it experiences merely to get off of it.

If, on the other hand, the basking area is firmly linked to the ground, the turtle would not have any trouble climbing onto or off of it.

Think of yourself as a turtle, since the secret to a happy pet of any sort is to imitate their behavior!

Concluding Thoughts

Like other creatures, turtles yawn every now and then. When your turtle yawns, you don’t need to be concerned until you see snot bubbles coming from its nostrils or eyes, which might indicate respiratory problems.

Toxic bacteria and other oral and mouth ailments may cause a turtle’s yawns to become more frequent than normal. 

However, even if an infection does develop, treating your turtle with medicines for a few days will usually be enough.

Of course, a healthy diet should keep illnesses at bay in turtles. Underwater “yawning” turtles are not a reason for alarm.

Your turtle merely needs to rehydrate or lower its buoyancy in order to remain submerged for a longer period of time.

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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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