Why Do Red Eared Slider Turtle Hiss?

Why Do Red Eared Slider Turtle Hiss

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

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You may have noticed that sometimes your red eared slider tucks his head a bit in its shell and hissing sound comes out. Your turtle will open its mouth a little to make a hissing noise. It may seem wired to you but it’s completely normal for a red eared slider to hiss.

Why do red eared slider turtle hiss? Hissing in most animals indicates certain emotions such as anxiety, fear, and anger. In the case of the red eared slider, the hissing sound indicates fear. It is not actually a sound that it makes. It’s just air coming out of its lungs.

In this article you will get to know more about the hissing behavior of the red eared slider and if you should do anything about it. Just don’t get worried! Follow the article and you’ll know everything you should.

Red Eared Sliders Make Hissing Noise for These Reasons

The hissing of red eared slider basically means that it is scared of something. But the purpose of its hissing sound is not to only showing fright. It serves other purposes such as intimidating any threats.

If you pick up your red eared slider or if you are hurting it in any way it will hide in its shell and hiss at you. This can either mean your red eared slider is afraid of you or that you are hurting it in any way.

They also make hissing sound to express vulnerabilities. If a red eared slider doesn’t feel safe it will hiss to grab other’s attention. So In front of a predator, it can either make a sound to scare off the attacker or to call for help. In either case, it is for the purpose of safety.

But apart from these facts, red eared slider hisses when they are tired. Red eared sliders tend to tuck their head in the shell while sleeping or taking rest. When they do this a hissing sound exhausts from their lungs.

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Strangely enough, this hissing sound is not the “voice” of a turtle. Turtles don’t have a vocal cord. So how is this hissing sound produced?

How Do Red Eared Slider Hiss?

All the animal that screeches or screams or even make slight noise has a vocal cord. Without a vocal cord, it’s impossible to produce any sound. But turtles don’t have a vocal cord yet they make hissing noises.

How do they do that? When red eared slider retreats back into its shell, their lung gushes out air to shrink and make room for other limbs. The expanded lungs take up a lot of space. So an air-filled lung doesn’t allow the whole body to contract.

If the turtle can’t fit other limbs in its shell the part that is exposed becomes vulnerable to damage. The air they exhaust makes the hissing sound.

If a red eared slider is in any danger or anything it retreats back into its shell in order to protect itself. The same thing happens when they put their head in the shell whenever they are tired.

So this is basically how red eared slider hisses without having a vocal cord.

Why Is My Turtle Making Wired Noises?

You may notice your turtle making wired noises. They won’t do this regularly but you may hear them making unusual sounds.

Most aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles make noises that indicate something. Though it’s not always necessarily indicating something important or worth noticing. But there are reasons for different types of noise. If you can identify the sound that they make you can take the further steps needed.

The different noises that they make are:

  1. Hissing sound: Turtles make a hissing sound when they are afraid or anxious about something. As discussed earlier, the hissing sound that the turtle makes is actually the sound of air gushing out of its lungs.
  2. Clicking noise: Semi-aquatic turtles such as red eared sliders make clicking noise usually when they are out of water. Red eared sliders get out of the water to bask. If they are out of water for too long they will make a clicking sound with their tongue. They do this when they get dehydrated.
  3. Gurgle noise: If you hold your turtle close to you and hear gurgling noise it can indicate to the presence of mucus. If the water temperature and the basking light temperature are less than required your turtle will have mucus.
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The different noises made by your turtle means different things. Sometimes it can mean something serious and sometimes it can mean nothing at all. But it’s better to take some measures to ensure your turtle stays healthy and happy.

If you are concerned with your turtle making noises you can:

Check If Your Turtle Is Afraid Of Anything

If your turtle is sharing its habitat with another animal make sure no one is being bullied. And also check if your turtle is afraid of anything. If you notice something then take steps to remove the stuff that is scaring your turtle.

If your turtle is being bullied by another animal then try to separate the bully from others. You can place it in another tank or divide the tank by putting a divider in it.

Do These If You Hear Clicking Noises

If you hear your semi-aquatic turtle making clicking noises when it’s out of water for too long you have nothing to worry about. It’s completely normal. They are just dehydrated. But if you notice that it’s been doing this noise for too long you need to check the water.

There can be something that causes the turtle to be afraid of the water. Imbalanced pH level, dirty water, the threat of being bullied and other such causes can keep your turtle away from going back into the water. Keep the water clean and maintain the pH level. It must be between 6.0-8.0

If you want to travel with your turtle where will you put it? I have a small tip for you. As you will be on a trip your turtle will have to be out of water for a long time. If you hear it making clicking noises what do you do then?

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You have to somehow manage to get it in some freshwater. You can’t possibly take the turtle tank with you on the trip. So what can you do is you can carry a portable turtle tank with you.

Tom Kreature Kingdom Habitat is a good portable tank for both turtle and fish. The plastic is durable and is made of non-toxic material. It’s completely safe for your turtle and you can carry it to where ever you want. It’s easily portable.

Click here to check out the latest price on Amazon.

Do These If You Hear Gurgling Noises

If you hear your turtle making gurgling noises you have to be aware of certain things. Check the water temperature and basking area temperature. The water must be 26 to 28 degrees Celsius while the basking area should be no more than 32 to 35 degrees Celsius.

But if even after setting the perfect habitat you notice your turtle making gurgling noises and see bubbles around its mouth, consult a vet as soon as possible. Gurgling sounds and bubbles around the mount can be the effect of respiratory disease. You need to address this problem as soon as you can. If you don’t take the necessary steps your turtle can suffer from serious health damages. It can even die.


If you ever notice your turtle making any kind of wired noise try to relate it with the above-mentioned facts. If your turtle is really suffering from any problem take adequate measures as soon as possible.      

Making hissing noise is normal for red eared sliders. They don’t do it deliberately. It is something that happens when they tuck their heads in their shells. They can’t control it. But it happens to indicate a lot of factors. So keep an eye on your red eared slider and notice the noise it makes.

I hope this article has helped you and your turtle to breathe easy.


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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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