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Why Do Turtles Hiss? [Amazing Facts!]

Do turtles hiss? Why do turtles hiss? At times you may have heard your turtle make some strange noise like a hiss. This has happened to me a couple of times. The hissing has always left me with so many questions. Like I would wonder, what does the hiss mean, or what does the turtle want, how is the hiss produced. To answer all these questions that I had, I dived into research, and today, I will share what I found out. We will understand how the hissing sound is produced, what it means, and whether some of the turtles we have do hiss. Stay tuned and enjoy.

So, why do turtles hiss? 

From my research, I found out that turtles will hiss for a particular reason. They hiss when they are retracting their heads into their shells. This is not something they plan for. It just happens unknowingly. They cannot control the hiss, and you should not be scared of the hiss. They do not want to hurt you for something you have done to upset them.

Please check out our blog post on how to get rid of turtle smell.

What you should understand is that the turtle’s hiss is nothing like the other animal’s hiss. Animals like snakes and cats will hiss to make them seem more intimidating to predators. They do it when they feel threatened. So, unlike these animals, a turtle hiss is not always to intimidate the predator, although it is sometimes.

Do Turtles Have A Voice?

As I was doing my research, I found it interesting that turtles do not have vocal cords. This means that they cannot produce any sound. This left me with another question. How is the hissing sound produced when the turtles have no voice box? So, I dived into research. What I found out may seem so mysterious at first. I learned that it is true turtles have no vocal cords, and they seem to have no ears. The truth is they do have ears only that they are internal, and they will talk to their hatchlings immediately they hatch. This information was brought up by Vogt herpetologist from Brazil’s Institute for Amazonian Research. 

Sea turtles will make sounds in the water like the sound of a plane starting up. This is interesting because although they make sounds, we humans cannot hear them. The reason behind this is that turtles make sounds at very low frequency and this accompanied by the very short duration of the sound makes us not to perceive their sounds. With this in mind, it won’t seem impossible that semi-aquatic turtles will chirp and click. They also produce sounds when they are mating. These sounds are so quiet and not as frequent enough for us to actually hear them.

Why Do Turtles Hiss?

Now that we know the main reason behind the production of the turtle’s hissing sound, we might as well know the reason behind these turtle’s hisses. The main reason behind the hiss is a sign of fear. Although turtles are very friendly creatures, they are not the bravest animals. Whenever they feel threatened, they always retract back to their shells. They do it so rapidly that you can hear some conspicuous sound. This hiss is an indication of fear. They will also try to bite when they feel this threatened. The other reason for their hiss is just an added advantage. When they retract their heads back to their shell, the hissing sound is produced, and this also acts to make them intimidating to the predators. This is not intentional, but when they get a chance to bite, they retract quickly, and this action produces the hissing sound every time.

How The Turtle Hissing Sound Is Produced

This is probably obvious to you now. You understand how the turtle’s hissing sound is produced. It might seem bizarre at first, but when you understand how the sound is produced, you will just be amazed by this mysterious creature. It is produced when the air inside the turtle’s lungs is expelled rapidly. This air is pushed out to make room for the turtle’s head inside the shell. If this was not done, then the turtle’s lungs would suffer. To avoid this, the air must be blown out to give space for the head. The action of blowing out the air rapidly gives rise to the hissing sound. The blowing out of the air is also to make the turtle head to fit comfortably inside the shell.

What Does It Mean When Your Turtle Hisses?

When your turtle hisses, it just means that he is scared. If you were trying to pet him, you should retract. The turtle either does not appreciate the petting, or he is just not ready. If you notice him trying to avoid you, you should just let him be. This happens especially when the turtle is new. It is very normal as he is introduced to a new environment and is seeing new faces. Before he gets used to this, he will always retract to his shell when you try to interact with him, and this will lead to the production of the hissing sound. This is the reason you need a safe spot for the turtle. Something like a hiding spot where the turtle will hide when he wants to be alone and come out when he feels like socializing.

Do Snapping Turtles Hiss?

Do Snapping Turtles Hiss

Just like any other turtles, the snapping turtle will also hiss when he feels threatened. This is among their defense mechanism to protect themselves from predators. This a mechanism employed by all turtles. You should, therefore, not be surprised when you hear the sound from your snapping turtle.

Can Red Eared Slider Hiss?

Like I mentioned earlier, turtles are not the bravest animals, and they strive to avoid confrontations. For this reason and probably other we don’t know, turtles, in general, will always retract to their shells. The red-eared slider being a turtle, will tuck his head in his shell and slightly open his mouth to let out the air from the lungs. This produces the hissing sound.

Can Red Eared Slider Hiss


Why Do Turtles Scream?

There are different reasons why a turtle can scream. The first thing is when the turtle is blowing out the air inside their lungs when they retract their heads back to their shells. This will produce some sound. Others will call it a hiss, others a scream. They will also make sounds when they are peeing. The other reason that is alerting could be a respiratory infection. If the scream is produced when they are not retracting their heads, then this could be a respiratory infection.

Do Turtles Chirp?

Well, turtles to produce some sounds at very low frequencies. These sounds occur for a short time which makes us not to hear them. The truth is turtles do chirp, click, cluck, and meow you just can’t hear them.

How Do You Get A Turtle To Like You?

Scared turtles will stay hidden in their shells. To make them not to feel threatened around you, you can try making a routine with your feeding like the same time every day. Advance this gradually by feeding him with your hands. Mark the spot where he is most comfortable, and try petting. The other thing you can do is to build him a safe zone. When he feels to be alone, he will go there and come out when he feels social. Check also this post Turtle as a pet! Do turtles make a good pet?

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