Do Turtles Sneeze?

Do Turtles Sneeze

Turtles are very quiet and innocent pets. They always like to be alone and rarely make any noise. You may hear some clucks and hisses, but they never make loud noises.

If you are a turtle owner, you must have heard some sneezing sound from your turtle. But do you wonder if it is a sneeze or not? Many turtle owners have reported that their turtles pull their heads inward while making this sound, and it looks really funny. Most turtle owners find their turtle making this sound occasionally.

Do we consider these strange sounds as sneezes? Do turtles sneeze? Read the article to know more about whether the turtle can sneeze or not.

Related Article: Do Turtles Sleep?

Do turtles sneeze?

Yes, turtles do sneeze. Turtle makes these sounds by pulling its head into the shell. When their airways are tickled or blocked by food or substrate, they do it. They usually sneeze to clear their airways.

If your turtle sneezes occasionally, it is nothing to worry about, but if it keeps sneezing, it’s a matter of concern because it can be a respiratory infection. Do check on your turtle if it keeps making the sneezing sound.

When do turtles sneeze?

The turtle sneezes when the food or substrate gets stuck into its respiratory pathways. A sneeze clears out their airways and facilitates proper breathing of the turtle. Turtles often sneeze the irritants out whenever they feel that something is blocking their respiratory pathway.

Sometimes when the turtle is swimming, the water or debris present in the water enters their airways, and the turtle’s airways are tickled. The turtle then tries to clear these irritants by making sounds which we call sneezing.

However, very frequent sneezing in turtles is a sign of a respiratory infection called URTDs, an Upper Respiratory Tract disease. This infection needs immediate treatment. This infection is most common in captive turtles. Hence the veterinarian can easily treat them. So you need to consult a veterinarian if you find frequent sneezing symptoms in your turtle.

What does it mean when the turtle sneezes?

Persistent sneezing in the turtles is a major cause of concern because it can be due to respiratory infection or vitamin A deficiency.

Turtles tend to develop vitamin A deficiency if they do not get enough nutrients from the food that you provide them. A well-balanced diet is crucial for a turtle. The turtle needs to be provided with good quality commercial food to fulfill its nutritional requirements.

When turtle does not get enough vitamin A from their food, there is a possibility that they might suffer from Hypovitaminosis A. Turtles that are fed a meat diet, iceberg lettuce, or poor quality commercial food are most likely to develop hypervitaminosis A.

Lack of Vitamin A produces changes in the epidermis and the mucus-producing glands, membranes lining the mouth, kidneys, eyes, and upper respiratory tract.

The symptoms include:

  • Respiratory infection.
  • Swelling in the eyes and ear.
  • Swelling of eyelids.
  • Kidney failure.

In turtles, most respiratory tract infections are caused by bacterias and are often secondary to vitamin A deficiency. The turtles with respiratory infections have nasal discharge, lethargy, mucus in their mouths, or open-mouth breathing/gasping. The infection can get severe, leading to pneumonia.

When the environment in the turtle habitat is too cold, respiratory infections tend to happen in turtles. The cold temperature in a turtle enclosure is often due to a drafty window or door, a fan blowing on the enclosure, a burned-out heat bulb, or a drastic temperature change. Your turtle may contract the infection as the sick turtle if it is contagious, so any sick turtle should always be kept in quarantine to avoid spreading germs.

Do Aquatic turtles sneeze?

Yes, all aquatic turtles sneeze. They sneeze both on water and land to clear their respiratory tract. They try to remove the irritants or water from their airways by sneezing. However, like for any other turtle, continuous or persistent sneezing in aquatic turtles may be due to respiratory infections like URTDs and hence needs to be kept an eye on.

Do Map turtles sneeze?

Yes, Map turtles do sneeze. However, if the map turtle is sneezing continuously, it might be suffering from a respiratory infection. A map turtle suffering from respiratory infection symptoms include mouth breathing, stretching its neck out for breathing, or gaping its mouth.

The map turtles float unevenly in the water if they suffer from a respiratory infection. If the map turtle list to one side, that is a sign of infection in the lung or air sacs. If you find any of such symptoms in your map turtle, you should immediately consult a veterinarian.

Do Box turtles sneeze?

Yes, Box turtles do sneeze. They sneeze to get rid of the barrier in their respiratory passage. The occasional sneezing of Box turtle is not a cause of concern.

Box turtles also sneeze when they catch a cold and struggle to breathe. You need to provide heat bulbs or heat lamps in their enclosure to warm them up. Also, you can increase the temperature a bit to make them feel comfortable. Doing these simple steps when they feel cold can make them feel better.

What to do if your turtle is continuously sneezing?

If your turtle is persistently sneezing, do not avoid it; instead, do something that helps the turtle feel better or show it to the veterinarian before it’s too late.

First, check the temperature in the turtle enclosure during the day and night. Check whether the basking area temperature is too cold or too hot for the turtle. If the temperature is incorrect or the light bulbs have blown inside the turtle enclosure, make sure you warm up your turtle.

Sometimes just increasing the temperature can make the turtle feel better instead of showing him to the veterinarian. You can also increase the humidity to loosen up any debris in your turtle’s respiratory tract.

If the turtle still does not feel better, then consult a veterinarian. X-rays may be recommended to see any visible change in the lungs to explain the breathing difficulties. Cytology of any discharge may be performed to look for an infection, and other diagnostic tests may be discussed. Depending on the severity of the infection, the veterinarian may want to run these and other tests.


Turtles sneeze if their airways are blocked or tickled by food or substrate. They do it to clear their respiratory pathway, allowing them to breathe properly. However, persistent sneezing in the turtles is a cause of concern and needs to be treated. The persistent sneezing is due to vitamin A deficiency /Hypovitaminosis A or respiratory illness. Vitamin A deficiency occurs due to an unbalanced diet provided to the turtle. Respiratory illness occurs when the temperature in the enclosure is too cold. You need to check if the turtle’s temperature is not too cold to get sick. Also, check for the temperature in the basking area. If the turtle is still not recovering and sneezing continuously after taking all the precautions, you need to consult a veterinarian. The veterinarian provides the antibiotics or recommends X-rays or other tests depending on the turtle’s condition.