Do Turtles Yawn?

do turtles yawn

A yawn is a reflex where the mouth is opened widely, and the lungs absorb a lot of air. Yawning occurs in most animals when they feel drowsy, and it’s also considered a sign of tiredness.

There is no definite reason for a yawn known yet for animals. Many theories have been studied, and they provide clues such as yawning occurs when you are bored to do a certain task or when you are just about to take a nap, and so on.

In this article, we are going to discuss turtles yawning. Keep reading to get your answers.

Related Article: Can Turtles Run?

Do turtles yawn?

Yes, Turtles do yawn. It’s not a big concern when the turtle is yawning because it’s normal for them, just like humans. Turtles usually yawn when they are tired or need an extra oxygen boost. Turtles also yawn when they are basking in a warm area.

You must have noticed your pet turtle yawning in a tank or during basking. Although it looks like they are yawning, it is not always the case. There can be multiple factors for which they are opening their mouth. Now how to know whether they are yawning or not? Let’s find out.

Why do turtles yawn?

Sometimes, when the turtle is yawning, it does not mean anything, but it can be a matter of concern if it’s yawning too much. If the turtle is yawning too much, it can mean that it is suffering from some disease or illness.

When a turtle widely opens its mouth, it is referred to as gapping. Gapping can occur due to injuries, anger, or multiple other things. If the turtle keeps gapping, you need to keep an eye on it.

When predators chase turtles, they get scared. They open their mouth and start hissing at their predators. They get aggressive when they are scared, so you might consider the turtle’s open mouth as yawning, but it is not necessarily yawning.

If you find your turtle yawning, you should make them feel comfortable. The good way to do that is by feeding them. There can also be other reasons for turtles yawning, such as if you have moved them to a new place and they don’t like it, etc.

Turtles often yawn if they are hungry. They smell the food easily, and whenever they smell it, they make their mouth wide open, especially when they are hungry. You cannot consider this as yawning, but it looks as if they are yawning.

The turtle requires an increase in the need for oxygen while they are basking under the sun. You must have often noticed their mouth open while they are basking. They do this to absorb more oxygen in their bloodstream. When the turtle exerts, they will not bring as much oxygen as their body needs. After they yawn, they can absorb enough oxygen in their body, which helps them maintain their body temperature.

Do Turtles yawn underwater?

Yes, turtles yawn underwater.

Turtles spend most of their lives underwater. You must have seen a turtle yawning underwater. Turtles usually yawn or open their mouth widely to release oxygen to allow their bodies to stay underwater for an extended period.

Sometimes the turtle opens its mouth wide to drink water, and people usually mistake it for a yawn. So if the turtle is sometimes yawning in the water, it is normal.

However, if the turtle is yawning too much underwater, it is a concern. Yawning stretches the lungs and redistributes the surfactant on the lining of the lungs, making the air sacs in the lung tissue less likely to collapse and become incapable of reinflation. A part of the problem for a turtle with a respiratory tract infection is that the lungs fill with water and cannot replace it with oxygen.

Do box turtles yawn?

Yes, Box turtles yawn just like other turtles.

Box turtles don’t spend more time in the water. So if they are yawning on land occasionally, it’s very normal. They usually yawn to absorb more oxygen in their bloodstream or if they are tired. If you see your box turtle yawning too much, then there is a possibility that he is suffering from some health issues, and you need to consult a veterinarian.

Why is the turtle yawning too much?

It is not always possible to track how many times your turtle is yawning. If the turtle looks healthy, eats well, and swims normally but still keeps yawning, it can be a sign of respiratory tract infection. If the behavior continues with no further deterioration, you need to visit a veterinarian.

If your turtle is yawning too much and the temperature seems very hot or humid, you may consider turning down the temperature a bit.

Below are the possible reasons why your turtle is yawning too much.

1. Respiratory infection

If the turtle is struggling to breathe and opens the mouth frequently, it might be suffering from respiratory infections. The signs of respiratory infections are opening the mouth wide open frequently, swimming sideways, wheezing, signs of blowing bubbles, etc. In that case, you can keep your turtle in a warm and dry place which can help them get rid of the respiratory infection.

If the infection gets worse, you need to consult a veterinarian to provide proper medication to your turtle.

2. Mouth rot

Mouth rot is often caused when a turtle’s immune system is weakened. If your turtle is opening its mouth widely, again and again, there can be a possibility of mouth rot. It is an infection caused to reptiles and needs to be treated immediately.

The symptoms of mouth rot include Irritated tissue inside the mouth, redness inside the mouth, bacterial build-up inside the mouth, dead tissue and puss inside the mouth, etc. If you find these symptoms in your turtle, you need to take it to the veterinarian and treat it as soon as possible.

If this disease is not treated on time, it can affect the tissue and bones of the turtle. If it gets severe, it can affect the digestive tract and lungs of the turtle.

3. Injury

Sometimes when your turtle is opening its mouth more frequently, then it’s a cause of concern, and as a turtle owner, you need to keep a check on your turtle. You need to check if there are any behavioral changes in your turtle. Check for the signs of lethargy, aggression, pain, or loss of appetite.

Check the opening skin of the mouth, check if there is any injury or illness due to which the turtle is opening its mouth trying to relieve the pain.


Turtle yawn to absorb more oxygen in their bloodstream. Turtle may also yawn if they are tired or don’t like the habitat they are placed in or because of health issues. Turtle yawns underwater as well. Turtles yawn underwater to release oxygen so that their body can stay underwater for a longer time. If the turtle is yawning more frequently, there is a possibility that he is suffering from respiratory infection, injury, or mouth rot. As a turtle owner, you need to keep a check on your turtle’s health and, if needed, take him to the veterinarian for proper medication before it gets worse.