Turtles are famous for being the quietest pets in the reptilian world. Unlike other pets, they do not possess vocal cords. So, we generally expect that they do not talk or communicate by making sounds. However, recently multiple types of research are conducted that reported how loud turtles can be!
In this article, we are going to discuss all the sounds produced by turtles. Moreover, how and why these sound effects are produced.
If you have a turtle pet, you can now know where these mysterious sounds are coming from. So, let’s begin.
No, turtles do not make noise. They do produce sounds, but these are primarily low-pitched, which do not become noise in an enclosure.
Mainly turtles produce low-frequency sounds that are not audible for human beings. They are not loud as your other furry fellows like dogs cats. Also, they do not make sounds like other amphibian and reptile pets that possess vocal cords. Sounds by turtles usually result from exhaling air from the lungs at varying speeds, patterns, and intensities. So, practically they have different sounds for another type of communication with their fellow species.
However, you can hear turtle sounds if you stay close to them. Even if they produce audible sounds to humans, they are for short moments, so we hardly notice.
Therefore, we classify pet turtles as one of the quietest animals that are best for people who love peace and a calm noise-free environment.
What Noises Do Turtles Produce?
Turtles do not produce much noise. However, when they do, it is pretty unexpected and shocking for their owners and other observers. Well, it can be funny too.
Let’s know about the most common noises turtles make.
Hissing By Turtles
Turtles hiss to intimidate and warn their predators or anyone who is intruding on their comfort. Mainly the hiss by adult turtles is quite loud and alarming. One of the most popular hisses is by an adult snapping turtle.
A snapping turtle in its bulky, adult form hisses and snap. It is large and a bit violent in their nature. Even they might bite you if you are not continuously refraining from the things they dislike.
Usually, they are quiet like other turtles. However, when the hiss, it is pretty loud and intimidating. The dramatic sound of a snapping turtle snapping its jaws tight is one of the most popular noises in the turtle world.
Mostly the turtle’s hiss is scary and difficult to forget.
The sound of mating turtles often becomes noises. Giant turtles often create a lot of fuss during the whole process. It is so famous among herpetologists and pet lovers that every time the video footage of these animals doing the deed is uploaded on the internet, it goes viral.
And it deserves so. These sounds sound very happy and exciting and sometimes funny for humans too. And above all, they are much louder than you would expect for a turtle.
Turtles also produce a loud clacking sound during the process. It is somewhat a ritual that the male turtle has to ram its shell into the female one. The process adds to the sound effects.
Different turtles produce different sounds. Some sound like chickens clucking in their nests. Some are soft and comical. Whichever sound the turtle makes during the mating process it is super adorable and pleasing.
Other Sounds Turtles Produce
As I said earlier, turtles are not very loud. Humans hear most of the hissing sounds of turtles. There are also some sounds that are audible to only children. It is because they have more sensitive hearing skills.
Following are the different sounds turtles usually produce
When the turtle pushes itself back into its shell, it hisses. You might be surprised to know that there is not much room in the turtle’s shell. And it is not as big as it seems. So, to fit in it correctly, the lungs must collapse. As a result of which air flows out of the lungs with high pressure.
The sound of the giant turtle retracting into its shell is quite loud and may sound like a hiss. Also, the turtles with respiratory disorders hiss when they breathe. It is because their air cavity is blocked or infected, and they struggle with their breathing.
Sometimes large giant turtles produce the gurgling sound that is very audible to humans. Most of the time, it is for communicating their stress to their fellow turtles or their owners. It can also be an indicator of their hunger.
Turtles usually grunt to escape and hide from large animals. In the case of pet turtles, they grunt in an effort to escape from the dog or other large feral creature. Grunts are usually louder but shorter and more resounding than hisses.
However, they are produced in the same way as hissing, i.e., rapid expulsion of air from the lungs.
Giant adult turtles, when agitated, produce such sounds. These are more terrifying and intimidating than general hissing.
The large lungs and airways help giant turtles produce such deep scary sounds. These sounds also help them protect themselves from potential predators.
As you see, most of the turtles’ sounds result from the possible stress in the surroundings or due to some pathophysiological reason.
Squeaking or chirping is another sound produce as a result of stress. It is due to increased respiratory rate as a result of stress. Mainly, baby turtles create such sounds that are also audible to humans. Similar sounds are also produced in excitement, especially the joy of getting lots of food.
When the turtle periodically emits air from its lungs, it seems like a piece of music. Turtle’s singing is recorded and analyzed a lot. However, most of the time, it is relatively low and sad instead of happy songs.
Usually, a respiratory disorder produces such an effect. When excessive mucus blocks the airways in the turtles, it making wheezing and crying sounds. The cries of the turtles are most commonly known as Little Mellows
When it comes to vocalization, we have massive data on the Arrau river turtle. Echolocation is one of its characteristics too. Scientists have monitored this turtle for years and have claimed that the Arrau river turtle produces special sound effects to find direction in the bottom of the muddy river. This unique type of behaviour is known as echolocation.
Purpose Of Turtle Sounds
Every animal produces the sound or shows gestures for different reasons. Most of the time, it is to communicate their feelings and warnings not only to the members of the same species but also to others.
Likewise, turtle sounds also have different reasons:
While we discuss earlier that turtles make a lot of noise and fuss while mating, however, the reason behind this is still unknown. One of the closest speculations is that the sounds are produced due to extensive stress in muscles, making breathing harder.
Sounds are also known to develop male dominance and to attract females for the job.
Turtles may also produce sound to scare away the potential predators. If your pet turtle is gurgling or roaring in front of you, there is a high chance that it considers you a threat to its survival.
There can be another case. If a turtle is scared of you, it may start hissing as it tries to retract speedily into its shell. So, either way round, the turtle sounds are the signs that it is uncomfortable in its surroundings.
Some turtles produce sounds while eating. Mainly these sounds are indicative of their joy and excitement at the sight of the food. So, while eating, they sound grunts, squeaks, and sighs mostly while moving to reach the food.
Some turtles also belch and burp as they ingest food. It is because of swallowing air along with the food. Mainly this sound is emitted by giant turtles.
One of the unique behaviour shown by pet turtles and tortoise is fart sounds. They are pretty unpleasant, by the way.
As I discussed earlier that most of the turtles do not produce sounds regularly. Anytime they make them, it indicates the specific type of happening in their surroundings or due to some illness.
Most of the time, turtle sounds are due to some kind of airway infection that is making it difficult to breathe.
Other than hissing, shell clacking against each other or the terrarium wall, or mating sounds, different sounds may call for a respiratory infection.
So, if you hear or observe any abnormal sound coming from your pet, we strongly advise you to see your vet as your priority.
Well, there is a chance that a healthy turtle starts producing some new sounds. However, it is good to play safe and do not compromise on the health of your turtle.
While some turtles live happily with each other and are social, many giant ones are pretty territorial. So, any time they indulge in such disputes, they start emitting hissing and roaring sounds. On the one hand, this sound exhibits animal supremacy and, on the other hand, indicates a change in breathing pattern and rate as a result of active motion.
However, such noises are seldom audible as most of the territorial fights are underwater.
Some species of turtles are frequently involved in social nesting, feeding and thermoregulation. So, they also emit multiple different types of sounds to communicate with each other.
Female turtles, especially sea turtles, emit multiple sounds when they lay eggs. It is because that egg-laying is a hectic process that drains all of the female’s energy.
Nesting sound behaviours also helps all the females to lay together, which ensures the survival and safety of both mother and fetus at the same time.
One of the compelling reasons for turtle’s sounds is their hatchling’s communication. The baby turtles synchronize their sounds to synchronize their hatching time. This increases their survival and helps more individuals to reach the sea by ditching predators.
Synchronized hatching helps with energy-saving for digging the nest and supports teamwork, all increasing the chance of survival.
If you want to listen to these sounds, you have to make a setting in a quiet place. It is because high shore sounds make this baby turtle sounds nearly inaudible for humans and other creatures.
Baby turtles start vocalizing to each other as early as ten days before hatching.
Baby Turtle start communicating with each other ten days before hatching!
Frequently Askes Questions
- Do Turtles Have Vocal Cords?
Turtles do not have vocal cords like humans or like any other animal. However, scientist now has discovered two elastic fibrous tissues that have the capability of vibrating or resonating to produce sounds.
- Do Pet Turtles Communicate With Their Owner?
Turtles are not known to produce sounds to communicate with their human friends. However, they may hiss if they feel threatened by them. However, as discussed before, this sound is primarily due to turtles retraction into the shell.
However, some pets also exhibit their needs and desires, especially hunger by loud sounds. Also, some turtles learn to know their names and respond to them by producing a bit of sound or their intention.
- Why Is My Turtle Producing Abnormally Loud Sounds?
Respiratory infections in turtles are the best answer to this question. While some turtles may also start producing abnormally loud sounds, it is primarily due to some pathophysiology. Respiratory infections cause airway obstruction and narrowing making breathing difficult. Therefore, turtles have wheezing and other loud sounds.
So, contact your vet as soon as possible if you hear any abnormally loud sounds from your turtle.
Turtles are known to be the quietest pets in the reptilian world. However, they may produce sounds from time to time. Some sounds are entirely normal. However, some depict the situation your pet is facing. Never ignore abnormally loud or different sounds from your pet turtle. Contact your vet as soon as possible in this case.
I hope this article cleared all your queries. In case of further questions, you may drop down the comment or contact us. We would be happy to help.
Hey, I live in the countryside with lots of pets including dogs, cats, horses and turtles. Yeah, I love pets and know how to keep this variety happy under the same shelter. I took my diploma in veterinary nursing and have been serving at a pet centre in my hometown since then. Pets make your life beautiful, enlighten a part of your soul and make you see far beyond what you have experienced before. I am here to make the relation between you and your pet much more strong. I will help you know how to deal with them in the best possible way, understand them and make them love you. Nothing will be more beautiful than your pet running in your lap when you step in after a hectic day, right. Moreover, I will also talk about all the grooming techniques and how you can manage everyday problems with your pets easily. Let us make our homes a better place for our pets to live in!