Do Turtles Have Feelings? Do They Feel Emotions?

do turtles have feelings

Turtles are known for their peaceful nature. They are the quietest pet one could ever have. Unlike dogs and cats, turtles don’t show affection when you come home after a long day at work. They are not going to shower love on you. 

But does that mean turtles don’t have emotions? Do pet turtles feel affection for their owner? Can a turtle feel sad, happy or bored?

Turtles are an amazing pet, but we don’t know how they feel about their owner or if they even care? There are a lot of questions regarding turtles that are yet to be answered. In this article, we will try to break through every question and find out the answers. 

Related Article: Can Turtles & Tortoises Feel Their Shell?

Do turtles have feelings or emotions?

Turtles do not have emotions like humans, and they don’t feel sadness or happiness like us. Turtles are designed differently, with different capabilities. These animals don’t like living with their friends. Instead, they like living alone. 

Turtles don’t feel happiness, sadness, anger or hate. However, these little creatures do feel pain, depression and stress. Different theories are circulating over the internet regarding turtles’ emotions, but most are far from reality. 

In reality, turtles can’t feel emotions like humans. Turtles are opportunists, and the only thing they care about is their survival. Turtles usually don’t fight, but if they do, it is only for two reasons – food and mating.

Fear is another emotion that turtles can feel. The turtles have very good eyesight, and they can hear very well. They can also feel your touch. With these three abilities, turtles can identify any threats or predators around. They are pretty good at identifying dangers, and they hide in their shells in defence. 

Related Article: Can Turtles Hear?

Can turtles feel pain?

Yes, turtles can feel pain. People think of turtles as tough animals due to their hard shells. Most people think of their shells as non-living, but surprisingly, the turtle’s shell can feel your touch. It is a living thing, and turtles can feel pain if their shell gets damaged. 

Turtle shells have nerves attached to them, which enables them to feel pain. I have seen some images on the internet where people drilled in turtle shells without knowing that they were hurting them. It is so heart-breaking to see these little animals suffer. 

Painting a turtle’s shell is also a bad thing people usually do without knowing they are risking their pet’s life. Dangerous chemicals in paints, when absorbed by their shell, could damage their internal organs. Avoid doing any such wrong things to these animals. They are very sensitive and can feel pain as we do.

Do turtles get attached to their owners?

Turtles are an amazing pet to have. Many new turtle owners think if their turtles love them as much as they do. This is a wrong question in itself. 

Turtles do feel an attachment with their owners, but it has a different meaning. Turtles can sense your touch and smell. They also have good vision and hearing ability. Turtles are smart enough to identify their owner. For them, the owner is related to food. If you are giving your turtle food daily, then they acknowledge you already. 

It is always trust that makes your turtles comfortable. Once you gain their trust, they will show their excitement when you come close to their tank. 

It is also possible for your turtle to react by calling their names. They are slow learners, but they can learn things by experience.  

Related Article: Are Turtles Smart Or Dumb?

Do turtles cry?

Yes, turtles do cry more than you can imagine. As the turtles live inside water, they usually have a lot of salt content in their body. Though they have high salt content in their bodies, their kidneys are not equipped to process this much salt. To get rid of excess salt content, turtles release tears which filters out the salt. 

As turtles spend most of their time underwater, you probably won’t be able to notice when they cry. One thing to note is that they don’t have tear glands connected with their pain receptors. And this is the reason why you won’t be able to see turtles cry when in pain.

Turtles don’t cry in pain or sadness. Some theory suggests that the turtles create some sounds when in pain, but they are beyond our hearing range due to very low frequency. 

Do turtles like being touched?

Turtles are very strange animals. Having a pet turtle is all about winning trust. Turtles act differently with different people. Usually, when their owner touches them, they feel relaxed. 

Turtles’ shells are connected with nerve endings that convert your touch into mild vibration. If your turtle is comfortable with you, they will enjoy this vibration. However, if they don’t feel safe, they will hide in their shell. 

Do turtles get bored?

Yes, turtles do feel bored sometimes. To keep themself engaged, turtles navigate in their tanks or dig in the sands. This is why you need to build an artificial environment for your pet turtle where they have enough scope to navigate or play around.

Do turtles get lonely?

No, turtles don’t feel lonely. These animals love to live alone. The only time they come around with other turtles is during their mating season. It is a complete myth that turtles feel lonely. You can have a single turtle as a pet, and with a favourable environment and food, they can live a healthy life happily. 

Do turtles get depressed?

Turtles sometimes feel stress and depression. There could be several reasons for turtles to feel stressed or depressed. Environmental change or change in their habitat are the most common reasons which make turtles stressed.

The study suggests that turtles heal at a much slower rate if in depression. It is very important for the turtle to feel safe and relaxed. In depression, turtles stop eating at all. Most of the time, they hide in a corner and avoid any activity. 

It is very important to provide them with an optimum living set up so they can live happily. It is also advisable not to change their habitat often, as these little pets take too much time accepting new habitats. 


Unlike cats and dogs, turtles don’t show love the same way. Turtles don’t feel happiness or sadness. These little animals love to spend their life alone. Turtles do feel fear, threat and danger. Stress and depression are the emotions that a turtle feels the most. Change in environment or habitat could be a reason for turtles to feel stressed. Make sure the turtle has a favourable living condition, so they don’t feel depressed.