How Do Turtles Communicate?

how do turtles communicate

We all agree that communication doesn’t mean we need to talk, right? We can even communicate through gestures. Communication is the way to connect with each other. Humans can communicate verbally, but many animals cannot communicate this way. Turtles could make sounds and show some gestures but can not communicate as we do.

Turtles produce various sounds and noises, but those are not always intended for communication. Like any other animal, turtles can make the sound out of pain, excitement, and so on, but we cannot say that it’s communication. So first, we need to understand that making sounds doesn’t necessarily mean that the turtles are communicating.

It’s very interesting to know that turtles can communicate with each other. You will get all the details in this article about how the turtles communicate?

Related Article: Can Turtles & Tortoises Feel Their Shell?

How does a turtle communicate?

There are many ways turtles communicate. Turtles usually communicate using sounds and gestures. 

Turtles don’t really socialize. If you are an introvert, then you can relate to them. So what are the sounds that they use to communicate?

The sounds made by the turtles to communicate are hissing, groaning, grunting, and so on. You can read more about the sounds made by turtles in our article: Do Turtles Make Sounds?

Previously it was believed that turtles could not communicate at all. After many years of study, researchers found out that turtles can communicate with each other. Turtles use blinking and squirting water to communicate with each other.

The turtles do not communicate much unless you start provoking them. If you try to provoke a turtle, it can get aggressive, and then it might show some resistance. Other than that, turtles communicate with each other mostly for mating purposes.

We cannot compare our communication with that of Turtles. Turtles do not have vocal cords, so they can not produce sounds for communicating. 

Can Humans communicate with turtles?

Turtles cannot directly talk to us verbally, but they can show signs that they are trying to communicate to us. For example, if they feel hungry, they might tap on the tank as a gesture that they need food.

Turtles do not like to be picked up. So if you keep touching them or picking them up, they might get frightened. Also, if you pick them and hang them upside down, they get terrified, so never do that with your turtle. They might even try to bite you as a sign that they hate being picked up. 

If you provide them with some food they don’t like, they will try to hide inside their shells. These are the signs that they don’t like the food you gave them. The same applies to toys and other things you provide them.

If the turtle feels comfortable with you, it will certainly try to communicate with you through good gestures. If you see a changed behavior in your turtle, like it’s not responding to you properly for quite a long time, you can also take that as a sign that it is sick.

Related Article: Do Turtles Have Feelings?

Can baby turtles communicate?

Few scientists conducted research on the baby turtles to find out if they could communicate or not. It was astonishing to find that the baby turtles could communicate audibly with each other through eggshells at an early age.

The sounds produced by baby turtles were recorded into four different audios: short chirps and complex “hybrid sounds,” including inflection, harmonics, frequency modulation, and short silent intervals.

The researchers say the hybrid sound is the turtles coordinating their hatching efforts for survival. The baby turtles prefer to stay in a group to have a better chance of survival from predators.

Do the turtles scream?

Before we come to this, we need to understand why animals scream. Generally, animals scream when they feel threatened. When the turtle wants to retract its head back to its shells, it blows out the air inside its lungs, creating a hissing sound. Most people call it a scream.

Many people get worried when their turtle screams, but you don’t need to worry about it. It’s completely normal when it’s retracting its head in the shell. The turtle also makes this sound to intimidate the predator and while peeing.

How do Green sea turtles communicate?

Like most aquatic and non-aquatic turtles, green turtles don’t possess vocal cords. Many scientists have claimed that sea turtles are just deaf species.

However, herpetologists have discovered that green sea turtles make certain sounds that can be detected on land and water. It’s very difficult for humans to discover whether the green turtles communicate as the sounds are infrequent and can only be heard 15 -20 times over an eight-hour span.

Green turtles communicate during mating by squirting water, blinking, and biting. They usually bite each other if they prefer to be left alone.

Does the turtle understand human language?

No, turtles do not understand human language.

Even if the turtles don’t understand the human language, they can distinguish the different sounds we produce. If you have had your turtle as a pet for several years, it would certainly recognize you and your voice tone.

Try to understand the body language of your turtle. They will try to communicate with you if it doesn’t like something. The turtle would lift its head and open its mouth or make some gestures. Although they won’t understand your language, your care and attention can keep them happy.

Many Turtle owners had experienced the turtle coming towards them when they called out for their pet turtle. So yes! They do recognize you and your voice.

Can you get a companion to your turtle?

Suppose you think that your turtle is alone and needs a companion to talk to than not necessarily. Turtles tend to stay alone, and they enjoy their own company. So if you are planning to get a companion, it wouldn’t be a good move.

If you put two turtles in the same tank, there is a possibility that they might hurt each other. If you put a different size turtle in the same tank, there is a possibility that the larger size turtle might tease the smaller size one.

When you put two turtles in the same tank, they might also fight for food. If you still wish to bring a companion for your turtle, there are a lot of things that you should be considering. 

You will need to keep an eye on the tank where you put both of these turtles and ensure they don’t get injured due to a fight. Make sure that they both get enough food and don’t hurt each other for food. However, it’s always advised not to keep two turtles in the same tank.


Turtles are anti-social and like to be alone. They can communicate with each other by making sounds and by gestures. With time you will understand your turtle better, and it will communicate with you by tapping on the tank for food and making some other gestures. Also, it will recognize your voice tone, so you need to be patient with it. Never lift your turtle or try to touch them again and again as the turtle might not like it, and there is a possibility that it might bite you.