How Do You Know If A Turtle Is Happy?

How Do You Know If A Turtle Is Happy
Written by Mehwish Imtiaz

A happy turtle is a little creature who loves to bask, likes to attack or hunt, or is always ready to eat. Or you can say a healthy turtle is always a happy turtle.

If your turtle seems healthy and active, then your turtle is happy. Otherwise, if a turtle is unhappy, It looks tired, lethargic, and swell. Swollen eyes with white discharge is a sign of an unhealthy body resulting in a low mood.

Unhealthy and unhappy turtles signs include:

Swollen, Dirty Eyes

Swollen or dirty eyes depict that your turtle is suffering from an infection or something in the habitat is quite not right. For example, if you are using untreated tap water for your turtle’s tank, it can severely affect its eyes. So, you better treat everything properly before introducing it to your turtle’s habitat.


You must call the veterinarian if your turtle is moving less often.  Monitor your turtle’s diet and provide them with good UVB light.

Lack Of Appetite

If your turtle is losing weight and refusing to eat. This indicates a high level of stress. Lack of appetite is due to dycostia in females.

What is Dycostia..?

Dycostia in a female turtle is a condition in which she is unable to pass her eggs through her body.

Skin Problems

Skin problems include small holes in the shell or any redness in the skin of a turtle. It also includes swelling or a particular area. All these are signs of skin problems or tumours.


Discharge is either from the eyes or the nose. Eye discharge is due to vitamin A deficiency. Bubbling in the mouth or nose occurs because of the sticky mucus. This results in any infection in the respiratory system.

Breathing Problems

Breathing problems are the chief signs of respiratory infections.

Swimming Problems

Turtles are born to swim, and they love to. So, if your turtle is not swimming or is having some problem in doing so, watch closely its movement. Your turtle might have some injury, or some metabolic dysfunction. It is always the best option to take your turtle to the vet in any such case.


It includes diarrhoea pr bloody stool. Bloody stool is due to several reasons, including obstruction in the walls. Obstruction in turtles is treated with surgery to prevent your turtle from falling prey to death.

Ways To Keep Your Turtle Happy:

Following are some practical tips you can follow to keep your turtle happy.

Giving Them A Variety Of Treats:

When you are taming your turtle, there is a possibility that your turtle will feel bored. To make this step exciting and enjoyable to prove your turtle with a variety of food. So, when you train your turtle, it will act accordingly because of the tasty treats.

Remember, turtles are the biggest food beggers. They love to have food. Feed them with various leafy green veggies, insects, for example, crickets, worms or feeder fishes, and turtle food. This will make them super happy.

You may look for diet options for your turtle and include one that your turtles like based on its safety and nutritional content. Feeding the same food daily (even if your turtle likes it) can cause serious nutritional deficiencies in your turtle.

Bigger Habitat:

You must provide your turtle with a more extensive habitat. It will include a proper swimming tank as well as a good basking area. The basking area should have a good UVB light source. UVB light will improve the turtle’s health.

Your turtle will require both UVA and UVB light source for a proper healthy body. The tank must be spacious so that your turtle can explore and enjoy. By doing all this indeed, your turtle will be the happiest on the planet.


Turtles love to play with toys. You can provide your pet turtles with toys, for example, empty shells, small playing balls. One best option is to keep small rocks in the tank. Turles will jump onto them. This proves to be an excellent physical regulation for the body.

Play And Walk With Them:

Turtles love to explore. You can play with your pet turtle in your backyard. Or you can also go on a walk with them. It seems weird, but indeed it is a good option.

Avoid Picking Too Often:

Turtles are not very social creatures. They usually don’t like when someone picks them, especially when they are new and untrained.

Turtle’s usually get irritated, stressed, and act weirdly. In such circumstances, your turtle can bite you. Instead of picking them up, you can pet your turtles.

Turtles love to be petted. Their shells are sensitive to touches. They can feel touch or any scratch. Some turtles love to be patted on their heads, while other love to be scratched on their back. You can take a soft-bristled brush and gently rub it on your turtle’s back. He will love it!

However, if your turtle is new to you, be gentle in your handlings. Train your turtle for all this gradually, so it no longer considers you a threat.

Cleaner Habitat:

Keep a check on the tank of the turtle. Replace the water whenever you feel it cloudly or dusty. Skim the waste of your turtle from the water on a daily basis. A cleaner environment will have a positive effect on the cute little turtle.

Burying Treats:

You can bury the treats in the sand or the gravel. This is an alternative to their physical exercise. The turtle will dig the holes in search of food and will eat them.


You can decorate your turtle’s tank with toys and rocks or artificial plants. It will be a great site of attraction and amusement for your turtle.

Try to keep changing the decorations of the tank. This will always give your turtle a new and fresh beginning.

Mistakes That Can Seriously Affect Your Turtle:

Following are some common mistakes that reptile keepers consider harmless but can drastically affect their turtle’s health.

  1. You are overfeeding or underfeeding.
  2. You are feeding them either with too many treats or less food.
  3. You have a too-small tank for turtles.
  4. Less exposure to the environment.
  5. Improper UVB light source.
  6. You are using tap water for your turtle’s tank
  7. Use filtered water or dechlorinated water for them. Use biological filters.
  8. You are using soaps and detergents to clean turtles and their tank.
  9. Avoid feeding your turtle with the same food throughout. You can simply make a schedule of alternative days for treats and regular foods.
  10. Avoid frequent picking and handling. Turtles feel threatened and get stressed whenever you pick them. Avoid picking up your turtles too often.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most common questions we get related to turtle’s emotional behaviour

  • Do Turtles Have Feelings?

Turtles do not have feelings like humans. Their behaviours express their feelings. So you can say when your turtle is happy or feeling low, it’s its feeling.

If you keep more than one male turtle in a single tank, they will fight. So, this is a feeling of anger.

  • Do Turtles Cry?

Yes, turtles do cry. In fact, tears are shed for some particular reason. Turtles do not cry because they are sad or feeling heartbroken.

They do cry for multiple other reasons. The chief of these is trying to get rid of the excess salt in the eyes.

  • How To Know If Your Turtle Is Unhappy?

If your turtle seems lethargic, tired is hiding all the time having breathing issues. These all signs indicate that there might be something wrong with your turtle. If you are unable to handle such situations, you can call a reptile veterinarian.

Another sign is when your turtles completely ignore the fish in the tank and prioritise sitting in a corner rather than roaming.

  • How To Make Your Turtle Healthy..?

A healthy turtle requires to get excellent living conditions! And what are great living conditions..?

These include a properly balanced diet. A mixture of both living and dead insects, treats, and veggies. Tank having both a water body and a dry place. Good basking source and area.

So, it would be best if you did not feed them excessively as well as not underfeed them

  • How To Make your Turtle More Happy And Active?

You can make your turtle active by putting a dinner for them in the tank. One best option is to hide the food behind the rock. In this way, the turtle will move and search for its food. You can also keep small fish like feeder fish or snails in the tank. This will improve your turtle attacking skills and activity level.

  • Do Turtles Get Depressed?

Yes, turtles do get depressed. The depression is due to the following reasons:

  2. Loud noises or music.
  3. More interactions with strangers.
  4. Any pet from which your turtle can feel threatened.
  5. Bad food.
  6. Bad water temperature.
  7. Your turtle is pregnant.

There is nothing you can do to calm down your turtle. You have to wait for the turtle to lay its eggs. 

  • Do Turtles Smile?

Turtles do not smile. But super adorable permanent smile turtles do exists.


Turtles are not very social animals. However, that does not mean they cannot feel anything. Turtles can feel good or bad depending upon the environment you are keeping them in. If your turtle is constantly in a low mood, look closely and identify the core problem.