What Causes Turtles To Die?

What Causes Turtles To Die

Do you have a pet turtle? If yes, then you would know how challenging it is to keep them healthy and happy. Unfortunately, a lot of turtles die due to improper care by their owners. In this blog post, we will discuss the most common reasons why turtles die and ways to prevent it. So read on and learn how to keep your beloved turtle healthy and happy!

Related Article: How To Know If Your Turtle Is Happy?

How do turtles die?

Turtles can die due to several reasons such as drowning, incorrect feeding, improper tank setup, shell disease, respiratory infection, or naturally due to old age.

The most common cause of death in turtles is poor husbandry. Turtles need a clean and spacious tank to live a long and healthy life. A small tank will not only stunt their growth but also make them more prone to diseases. The water in the turtle’s tank should be regularly changed and filtered to remove impurities.

Let’s discuss all the reasons which can cause a turtle’s death:


Turtles can drown if they are not kept in a large enough tank. A small tank will not give them enough space to move around and they can easily drown in it. Baby or juvenile turtles often drown in even shallow water as they are not able to swim well. Land turtles such as box turtles are also very poor swimmers and can easily drown if put in a water-filled tank. It is important to confirm what kind of habitat your turtle need. If it is a baby or land turtle then do not keep them in the deep water tank, rather keep them in a shallow tank with a land area.

Incorrect Feeding

Turtles need a diet that is rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Giving them the wrong food or not providing enough food can lead to malnutrition and eventually death. Every turtle is different and so they would need food as per their species. For example, box turtles are mostly herbivores and their diet should consist of vegetables, fruits, and leafy greens. Feeding them meat can cause health problems. Similarly, red-eared sliders are mostly carnivores and their diet should mainly consist of meat such as insects, worms, chicken, etc. Not providing enough food or an incorrect diet is one of the most common reasons for a turtle’s death. It is important to understand food requirements for your turtle species, and based on that give them meat, vegetable, or turtle pellets.

Improper Tank Setup

If the turtle’s tank is not set up properly, it can lead to several health problems. The water should be at the right temperature and must be regularly changed. It should also have a powerful filter to clean off turtle waste. The turtle should also have access to UV light to bask and process calcium. Insufficient space or too many turtles in the tank would cause your turtle to be under stress and expose them to several health problems. Make sure the turtle tank has enough space and a basking area for turtles to dry themselves off.

Shell Disease

Shell diseases such as shell rot and shell pyramiding are common problems in turtles and can be caused by improper diet, lack of vitamins, or poor hygiene. Shell disease can lead to shell deformities, respiratory problems, and eventually death. It is important to provide your turtle with a diet that is rich in calcium and vitamins. It makes their shell strong and prevents shell disease. The turtle’s shell should also be regularly cleaned to prevent the build-up of bacteria.

Respiratory Infection

Turtles can get respiratory infections if they are kept in a dirty tank or if they are exposed to cold temperatures. Respiratory infections can be fatal if not treated promptly. It is important to keep the turtle’s tank clean and at the correct temperature. If your turtle has a respiratory infection, it is important to take them to the vet immediately.

Old Age

Turtles can live for many years, but eventually, they will die of old age. There is no way to prevent this and it is natural for turtles to die of old age.

How to keep your turtle healthy?

To keep your turtle healthy, it is important to provide them with the correct diet, housing, and care. A healthy diet for turtles includes proteins, vitamins, and minerals. The staple part of your turtle’s diet should be turtle pellets. These pellets have everything that your turtle needs for a healthy diet. In addition to the pellets, you can also feed your turtle vegetables and fruits.

The turtle’s tank should be set up properly with the correct temperature and a basking area. The turtle should also have access to UV light both UVA & UVB. Improper husbandry and lack of UV light are the most common causes of turtle death.

The tank should be cleaned regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria. A good quality water filter would be a good idea to keep the water clean and free from ammonia.

For land turtles, you should give them a habitat with a majority of the land area and a bowl of water. Remember land turtles are not good swimmers and they can easily drown even in shallow water. It is advised to provide them with only a shallow bowl of water to drink.

Finally, never take a chance of missing out on a vet visit if your turtle shows any unusual behavior. If your turtle is not eating or basking then it is a cause of concern. A visit to the vet will help you understand the health of your turtle and also get any treatment if required.

Turtles are a lovely pet, but it hurts the most when something bad happens to them. By following these tips, you can ensure a long and healthy life for your turtle.

How to know if your turtle is dead?

There could be various signs that would help you realize that your turtle is dead. However, not all of these signs are visible to the naked eye and may require closer inspection.

  1. Cold body temperature: A healthy turtle’s body temperature should be around 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit. If you feel that your turtle’s shell is significantly cooler than this range, it could be a sign that your turtle has passed away.
  2. No movement: If your turtle is not moving at all and is lying completely still, it is likely that it has died.
  3. No response to stimuli: Try gently prodding your turtle or making a loud noise near its tank. If there is no response whatsoever, this is another sign that your turtle is no longer alive.
  4. Loss of appetite: If your turtle stops eating or drinking, it could be a sign that it is not feeling well and may die soon.
  5. Weird body position: If you notice that your turtle’s limbs are sticking out at weird angles or its neck is twisted in an unnatural way, this could be a sign of death.
  6. Cloudy eyes: If your turtle’s eyes are cloudy or sunken in, this is another sign that it may have died.
  7. Rotten shell or skin: If there is any sign of rotting on your turtle’s shell or skin, this is a definite sign that it has passed away. However, this decomposition of turtle shells and skin occurs only after the turtle has been dead for a while. It can not be seen immediately after the demise of your lovely pet.

If you notice any of these signs, it is important to take your turtle to a vet as soon as possible. A vet will be able to determine if your turtle is truly dead or if there is still a chance to save it.

What to do with a dead turtle?

The majority of the time, when a turtle dies, it’s due to an infectious disease that could have been prevented with proper husbandry. If you have other turtles, it’s important to quarantine the sick turtle immediately to prevent the spread of disease. You should also consult a veterinarian familiar with reptile care to check your other turtles if they have been infected too.

Once your turtle has passed away, you have a few options for what to do with the body. You can bury your turtle in a backyard garden or bury them at a pet cemetery. Some people choose to cremate their turtles due to their beliefs. You can also contact your local zoo or reptile rescue to see if they will take the body for educational purposes.

No matter what you decide to do with your turtle’s body, it’s important to wash your hands thoroughly afterward and disinfect any surfaces that came into contact with the turtle. This will help prevent the spread of disease to other animals and humans.


We hope that this article has helped you understand the most common causes of turtle death and how to keep your pet healthy. Remember, turtles are a long-term commitment and require proper care to live a long and happy life. If you have any concerns about your turtle’s health, be sure to consult a qualified reptile veterinarian.