Why Do Turtles Open Their Mouth? Is It Normal, Or Should I Be Worried?

Why do turtles open their mouth Is it normal, or should I be worried
Written by Emma Watson

Animals show a lot of body movements. These movements can be related to their behavior. Keeping an animal as a pet demands complete knowledge of its behavior and tendencies. It is always best to keep an eye on any changes in behavior when you have a pet turtle. The sooner you notice a problem with your turtle, the healthier it will be.

One of the most interesting turtles’ behaviors is the opening and closing of their mouth. Turtles can open their mouth to give you a lot of signals, or they can do it for no reason. In some conditions, it is normal, like eating, yawning, etc. While in some situations, it is a matter of worry, as in the case of infections. In this article, we will study in detail the reasons for opening a turtle’s mouth and in which conditions you need to be worried about this.

Turtles are amphibians who spend most of their time on land or water. The mouth of a turtle is designed for feeding and biting. Unless there is an issue, your turtle’s mouth is rarely used for anything else. There are a variety of reasons that your turtle keeps his mouth open. Eating, unpleasant living conditions, hunger, hostility, and respiratory ailments are some of the most typical causes.


If your turtle merely opens its mouth for a few seconds before closing it, it is most likely fine. Your turtle may be simply stretching or yawning. It’s also possible that your turtle is drinking or eating anything. It’s crucial to keep in mind that turtles are opportunistic eaters. They might even try to eat something so minute that it is invisible to the naked eye.


Turtles are scavengers who consume whatever they can get their hands on. They will go to any length to obtain food. Turtles are smarter than you believe, and your turtle may identify you as their food provider. As a result, if they spot you walking by, they may open their mouth to beg for food. If this is the case, your turtle may produce a clicking sound. You should also feed your turtle a well-balanced diet.


Turtles opening their mouth for yawning along with shutting eyes is not a matter of concern. The primary cause of yawning is the brain’s signal that it isn’t getting enough oxygen. According to scientists, turtles yawn to extend their mouth muscles and take in more oxygen. As a result, it’s perfectly normal for your turtle to yawn now and then. While yawning can be a mechanism for turtles to get more oxygen or communicate fatigue, it isn’t always the case. When a turtle yawns excessively, it could indicate that it is suffering from any problem.

Respiratory Infection In Turtles

Last but not least, if your turtle has an open mouth, it may be having difficulty breathing due to a respiratory ailment. A turtle can also make hissy sounds which is a sign of Pneumonia. A respiratory illness in a turtle can be fatal. It could be fatal if you don’t treat it right away. The key to detecting a respiratory infection in a turtle is recognizing the signs and symptoms early on. Check out turtle cure if you think your turtle has a respiratory or bacterial infection.

Inadequate Living Conditions

If your turtle is annoyed or uncomfortable with its surroundings, it will open its mouth. This could be due to a variety of factors relating to their living situation. It could be the water temperature, insufficient lighting, or even the tank’s size. It’s vital to note that each inch of your turtle’s shell requires at least 10 gallons of water. If the tank’s water is dirty, your turtle might get irritated. Try out some products for cleaning water.

Warning Signs

Turtles, for the most part, are not aggressive animals. They could, however, be opening their mouth as a warning not to mess with them. If your turtle also makes a hissing sound, this is most likely the situation. This is a natural defense mechanism used by turtles for predators.

If you believe your turtle is trying to terrify you, the best thing you can do is leave him/her alone for a time. Your turtle may be attempting to mark their territory if you have other reptiles or fish in the tank.

Why Do Turtles Open Mouths Underwater?

Most turtles can’t breathe underwater so they’ll swim to the surface to catch a breath before diving back into the water. Turtles can hold their breath for hours, allowing them to stay underwater for long periods without needing to resurface. On the other hand, certain varieties of turtles are capable of breathing underwater.

The musk turtle is one such example. Musk turtles may stay in a body of water for months because they can absorb oxygen from it using their tongue. This is most likely the reason you see your turtle’s mouth open while it’s underwater.

A turtle with a respiratory infection will most likely have discharge coming from their eyes or nose, in addition to an open mouth and difficulty breathing. They may also develop a whitish residue on the back of their necks. A change in appetite is also common in turtles who are suffering from a respiratory ailment. Take your pet to the veterinary doctor and get a complete diagnosis and treatment.

In case of respiratory infection separate your turtle from the rest if you have more than one turtle. Increase the water temperature and basking area to help your turtle fight infections.   

Why Do Turtles Sometimes Wide Open Their Mouth?

They do it when foraging for food or simply to keep an eye on their surroundings. If your turtle is constantly opening its mouth as wide as it can without trying to consume food, it is most likely in pain or discomfort and should be checked by a veterinarian.   


You see that opening a mouth in a turtle can be very normal or indicate a change in physiological or environmental conditions.  Identify the cause in the light of above mentioned points and act accordingly. In case of any further help, you may comment below. We would be happy to help.