Do Turtles Make Sounds?

do turtles make sounds

Turtles have been living on earth for more than a million years now. These little animals are probably the most peace-loving among other pets. Surprisingly turtles don’t have vocal cords, and so they can not produce sound like humans. But does that mean that turtles don’t make sounds at all? Then how do they communicate with each other? 

Two new research published recently in Chelonian Conservation and Biology and Herpetologica discovered that turtles could make sounds. Mostly these sounds are of low frequency, and so it is beyond our hearing range. 

Turtles vocalize in certain situations or for social interaction. These animals produce different types of noises, but only a few can be heard with human ears. Let’s find out the types of noises turtles produce and what they mean.

Related Article: Can Turtles Hear?

Do turtles make sounds?

Yes, turtles can produce sounds. Though turtles don’t have vocal cords, they can produce noises by expelling air from their lungs. 

Researchers believe that turtles create a variety of sounds and noises depending on the situation. Turtle sounds can be described as chirps, clicks, meows, and clucks. All turtles vocalize underwater. Some species of turtles are more social and thus communicate more often.

Turtles, when feeling fear, produce a hissing or high-pitched whining sounds. Similarly, they also produce sounds during mating and hatching from eggs. 

Why do turtles make sounds?

Like any other animal, turtles produce sound to express their feelings or communicate with each other. A study suggests that some species of turtles communicate more often than others. Most turtles produce low-frequency noises that our human ears can not even detect.

Turtles don’t have vocal cords, so they produce sounds by squeezing the air out from their lungs. Depending on the size of the turtle, these sounds may vary. The most commonly produced sound by turtles is the hissing sound. They create this sound when they feel scared.  

There are different scenarios when turtles produce a sound which we will discuss in the next section below. 

What sound does a turtle make?

There are a variety of sounds and noises that a turtle creates. Hissing is the most common sound which all turtles create when scared. Hissing represents a feeling of threat, and it does not mean they are warning you. The hissing sound is produced when turtles retract their body into their shell. 

Turtles are very calm animals. Except for some species like snapping turtles, it is very unlikely for a turtle to attack. 

Turtle sound when angry

Certain turtle species like snapping turtles do not like people coming close to them. They are among the most dangerous turtle species out there. These animals produce a hissing sound with heavy breathing to intimidate them before they attack.  

Territorial turtles like box turtles also create these kinds of noises to warn predators. These turtles, when left with other turtles, show aggressive behavior and may produce hissing sounds.

It is required for you to make your turtle feel safe. Avoid touching or going close to snapping turtles as they don’t like human presence and attack you anytime.

Related Article: Do Turtles Bite?

Red-eared turtle sound

Red-eared turtles create specific chirping sounds. They produce chirping sounds when they suffer from respiratory problems or when the water temperature is not optimum. There may be some more incidences when they can make low-frequency noises depending on the situation, like hatchling or mating. Red-eared turtles sometimes also make chirping sounds when they are tired.

Warming up the tank water is what you can do to help them out. Even if the water temperature does not help the turtle with its chirping sounds, it is time to visit a veterinary doctor. 

Baby turtle noise

Baby turtles, during hatching, create sounds of very low frequency. Study shows that hatchlings start making sounds in the eggs before up to 10 days when they hatch. Scientists believe that they start producing noise, so all of them synchronously start digging out of the nest. 

For turtles, survival is what matters the most. If the hatchlings leave the nest altogether, this increases their chance of survival from any predator attack. This way, at least a few will get into the sea. 

Baby turtles keep on producing sounds even after they go into the water. This is a communication signal to their peer turtles to come in a cohesive group, which increases their survival chances.  

What sound does a turtle make when mating?

Turtles produce very low-frequency sounds when mating. Male turtles do so to attract female turtles for mating. It is very difficult to tell what kind of sound they create during this time, but it resembles a crying or low grunt sound. 

Due to very low frequency, these sounds are very difficult for human ears. Younger people can hear these low-frequency sounds better than older ones. 

Do turtles make noise at night?

There is no evidence to tell if turtles produce more noise at night compared to the day. However, at night, you may hear the turtle’s sound more clearly due to less noise in the surroundings. Turtles of different species show different tendencies in producing sound. During their mating season, male sea turtles stay awake at night and produce sounds to attract females. Similarly, turtles during night come out of the sea to lay their eggs, which might be a possibility for them to produce sounds.  


Turtles produce a variety of sounds depending on the situation. Hissing is the most commonly produced sound by a turtle. They produce a hissing sound when they are scared. However, some species of turtles, like snapping turtles, produce a hissing sound when they are angry. Snapping turtles are very aggressive, and they do hissing to tell that they are about to attack. Turtles don’t have vocal cords. All the sound or noise produced by turtles comes from inhaling or exhaling the air from their lungs. As human ears are not efficient in hearing low-frequency sounds, we can not hear most of the sound turtles produce.