Why Do Red Eared Slider Turtle Hiss? | The Turtle Hub (2023)

You may have noticed that sometimes your red eared slider tucks his head a bit in its shell and hissing sound comes out. Your turtle will open its mouth a little to make a hissing noise. It may seem wired to you but it’s completely normal for a red eared slider to hiss.

Why do red eared slider turtle hiss? Hissing in most animals indicates certain emotions such as anxiety, fear, and anger. In the case of the red eared slider, the hissing sound indicates fear. It is not actually a sound that it makes. It’s just air coming out of its lungs.

In this article you will get to know more about the hissing behavior of the red eared slider and if you should do anything about it. Just don’t get worried! Follow the article and you’ll know everything you should.

Table of Contents

Red Eared Sliders Make Hissing Noise for These Reasons

The hissing of red eared slider basically means that it is scared of something. But the purpose of its hissing sound is not to only showing fright. It serves other purposes such as intimidating any threats.

If you pick up your red eared slider or if you are hurting it in any way it will hide in its shell and hiss at you. This can either mean your red eared slider is afraid of you or that you are hurting it in any way.

They also make hissing sound to express vulnerabilities. If a red eared slider doesn’t feel safe it will hiss to grab other’s attention. So In front of a predator, it can either make a sound to scare off the attacker or to call for help. In either case, it is for the purpose of safety.

But apart from these facts, red eared slider hisses when they are tired. Red eared sliders tend to tuck their head in the shell while sleeping or taking rest. When they do this a hissing sound exhausts from their lungs.

Strangely enough, this hissing sound is not the “voice” of a turtle. Turtles don’t have a vocal cord. So how is this hissing sound produced?

How Do Red Eared Slider Hiss?

All the animal that screeches or screams or even make slight noise has a vocal cord. Without a vocal cord, it’s impossible to produce any sound. But turtles don’t have a vocal cord yet they make hissing noises.

How do they do that? When red eared slider retreats back into its shell, their lung gushes out air to shrink and make room for other limbs. The expanded lungs take up a lot of space. So an air-filled lung doesn’t allow the whole body to contract.

If the turtle can’t fit other limbs in its shell the part that is exposed becomes vulnerable to damage. The air they exhaust makes the hissing sound.

If a red eared slider is in any danger or anything it retreats back into its shell in order to protect itself. The same thing happens when they put their head in the shell whenever they are tired.

So this is basically how red eared slider hisses without having a vocal cord.

Why Is My Turtle Making Wired Noises?

You may notice your turtle making wired noises. They won’t do this regularly but you may hear them making unusual sounds.

Most aquatic and semi-aquatic turtles make noises that indicate something. Though it’s not always necessarily indicating something important or worth noticing. But there are reasons for different types of noise. If you can identify the sound that they make you can take the further steps needed.

The different noises that they make are:

  1. Hissing sound: Turtles make a hissing sound when they are afraid or anxious about something. As discussed earlier, the hissing sound that the turtle makes is actually the sound of air gushing out of its lungs.
  2. Clicking noise: Semi-aquatic turtles such as red eared sliders make clicking noise usually when they are out of water. Red eared sliders get out of the water to bask. If they are out of water for too long they will make a clicking sound with their tongue. They do this when they get dehydrated.
  3. Gurgle noise: If you hold your turtle close to you and hear gurgling noise it can indicate to the presence of mucus. If the water temperature and the basking light temperature are less than required your turtle will have mucus.

The different noises made by your turtle means different things. Sometimes it can mean something serious and sometimes it can mean nothing at all. But it’s better to take some measures to ensure your turtle stays healthy and happy.

If you are concerned with your turtle making noises you can:

Check If Your Turtle Is Afraid Of Anything

If your turtle is sharing its habitat with another animal make sure no one is being bullied. And also check if your turtle is afraid of anything. If you notice something then take steps to remove the stuff that is scaring your turtle.

If your turtle is being bullied by another animal then try to separate the bully from others. You can place it in another tank or divide the tank by putting a divider in it.

Do These If You Hear Clicking Noises

If you hear your semi-aquatic turtle making clicking noises when it’s out of water for too long you have nothing to worry about. It’s completely normal. They are just dehydrated. But if you notice that it’s been doing this noise for too long you need to check the water.

There can be something that causes the turtle to be afraid of the water. Imbalanced pH level, dirty water, the threat of being bullied and other such causes can keep your turtle away from going back into the water. Keep the water clean and maintain the pH level. It must be between 6.0-8.0

If you want to travel with your turtle where will you put it? I have a small tip for you. As you will be on a trip your turtle will have to be out of water for a long time. If you hear it making clicking noises what do you do then?

You have to somehow manage to get it in some freshwater. You can’t possibly take the turtle tank with you on the trip. So what can you do is you can carry a portable turtle tank with you.

Tom Kreature Kingdom Habitat is a good portable tank for both turtle and fish. The plastic is durable and is made of non-toxic material. It’s completely safe for your turtle and you can carry it to where ever you want. It’s easily portable.

Click here to check out the latest price on Amazon.

Do These If You Hear Gurgling Noises

If you hear your turtle making gurgling noises you have to be aware of certain things. Check the water temperature and basking area temperature. The water must be 26 to 28 degrees Celsius while the basking area should be no more than 32 to 35 degrees Celsius.

But if even after setting the perfect habitat you notice your turtle making gurgling noises and see bubbles around its mouth, consult a vet as soon as possible. Gurgling sounds and bubbles around the mount can be the effect of respiratory disease. You need to address this problem as soon as you can. If you don’t take the necessary steps your turtle can suffer from serious health damages. It can even die.


If you ever notice your turtle making any kind of wired noise try to relate it with the above-mentioned facts. If your turtle is really suffering from any problem take adequate measures as soon as possible.

Making hissing noise is normal for red eared sliders. They don’t do it deliberately. It is something that happens when they tuck their heads in their shells. They can’t control it. But it happens to indicate a lot of factors. So keep an eye on your red eared slider and notice the noise it makes.

I hope this article has helped you and your turtle to breathe easy.

This site is owned and operated by Muntaseer Rahman. Muntaseer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, Tortoise Town, MyFahlo, Just Answer and few other sites. These affiliate advertising programs are designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to the specific sites. This site does not constitute pet medical advice, please consult a licensed veterinarian in your area for pet medical advice.

Muntaseer Rahman

I have been keeping turtles as a pet for many years now. I’ve fallen in love with these cute pets from the moment I saw them. That’s why I am writing articles to share my turtle keeping knowledge with you.

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Do female turtles hiss? ›

Conversation. You can tell a turtle's gender by the noise it makes. Male turtles grunt and females hiss.

Are turtles supposed to hiss? ›

Myth 6: Turtles hiss like snakes when they are mad. While it is true that the sound a turtle makes sounds like it is hissing, it is not. When a turtle is afraid or picked up quickly, it pulls its head in really quickly and this action forces the air out. It is biological, not deliberate.

How do I know if my red-eared slider loves me? ›

Like other pets, they never run towards you or give you a warm hug. Turtles usually show affection to their owner by following them around with their eyes or head. If you walk in the room, an affectionate turtle will immediately start to follow you with their eyes.

Are red-eared sliders sensitive to sound? ›

Yes, they may not hear like most other animals or humans, but a tortoise does have quite sensitive hearing. If there are loud noises near them, for example, they will most likely show signs of extreme stress. It would be best to keep louder sounds away from tortoises or at least lower the volume.

Can turtles feel you petting them? ›

Yes, sea turtles can feel it when you touch their shell. Sea turtle shells consist of bones, which are covered by a layer of so-called scutes (plates). These scutes are made of keratin, the same material that human fingernails are made of. There are nerve endings enervating even the bones of the shell.

Why does my turtle keep hissing at me? ›

Turtles generally hiss because they are scared. Since turtles do not have vocal cords, the hissing sound is produced when air is expelled rapidly from their lungs when they tuck their head into their shell. If your turtle hisses a lot, it may mean that it isn't comfortable.

How do you know when a turtle is mad? ›

Most living turtles will move, close their shells, or hiss in response to being disturbed. You can also pull a turtle's legs or tail very gently because living turtles typically respond to this by withdrawing into their shells or wiggling their legs to free them.

How do you play with a turtle? ›

Give your turtle toys.
  1. Consider providing your turtle with an empty shell that they can slide across the floor with or place a small toy raft in their water that they can push along for fun.
  2. Train your turtle to eat from your hand. ...
  3. Try building an obstacle course.

How do I make my red eared slider friendly? ›

Petting Turtles

Many turtles enjoy physical petting but they will not accept the action without acclimation to humans. Work on the hand-feeding process until the turtle is comfortable with your presence. After the turtle accepts regular feeding, lightly pet his neck and head while he eats.

What are signs of a stressed turtle? ›

Identifying stress, distress and pain
AnorexiaAtaxiaClosed eyes
Dragging limbs or bodyWithdrawal of head or limb(s)Neck stretching
Failure to raise body from surfaceRapid rocking of front limbs (due to respiratory distress)Vocalisations — screaming in extreme pain
Raising body abnormallyLamenessGaping
1 more row
Jun 2, 2017

How often should I feel my red-eared slider? ›

How often should I feed my red-eared slider? The frequency of feeding depends on the age and size of your red-eared slider. Smaller or juvenile turtles will eat heartily every day. As they get older, adult turtles may be offered a good-sized portion of food every two or three days.

Is it OK to hold a red-eared slider? ›

They will pace back and forth at the front of their enclosure in anticipation whenever you walk by. However, don't mistake that frantic pacing with begging for affection — they're just hoping for a treat. Generally speaking, red-eared sliders dislike handling and prefer to be left alone.

Do red-eared sliders have feelings? ›

This is called Anthropomorphism. In reality, turtles and tortoises do not feel the range of emotions that humans do. Anger - Turtles can and do fight with other turtles, not out of animosity, but rather as a means to an end. For instance, they will fight other turtles that are competition for a mate or for food.

Do red-eared sliders like deep or shallow water? ›

Red-eared sliders need an adequate amount of water in which to swim. At a minimum, the water should be about twice as deep as your turtle is long—a 4-inch turtle should have a minimum water depth of 6-8 inches.

Do turtles like their shell rubbed? ›

In fact, turtles do have nerve endings in their shells and a scratch seems to feel good. Our big sea turtles are no exception! So the next time you visit and you see one of the turtles shimmying their shell under a finger of coral, now you'll know they're just enjoying a good back scratch.

Do red-eared sliders recognize their owner? ›

Turtles Know Their Owners! Most people don't realize this, but many turtles recognize the sight and sounds of their owners! In fact, many owners comment how their pets swim right up to the water surface to greet them when they walk in the room.

Do turtles like having their belly rubbed? ›

Known as the plastron, the "belly" of a turtle, like the rest of their shells is made up of scutes - bony bony external plates. Scratching or rubbing helps them shed old scutes. They also have nerve ending that reach up to just under the carapace - so it's not just good for them, it feels good too!

Why does my red eared slider try to bite me? ›

Turtles tend to bite under these conditions: Reaching your hand or putting your fingers around or close to their mouth in a quick manner. Mistaking your fingers for food during feedings. Being stressed after being moved into a new environment or; being stressed due to improper living conditions.

How do you bond with your turtle? ›

Enjoy some turtle lap time.

As an alternative to petting the turtle, you can enjoy bonding with it by allowing it crawl on you or sit in your lap. Just make sure it doesn't fall off. Turtles will urinate when you pick them up, so use caution when putting them on your body.

Do turtles make noise when scared? ›

Similar to other creatures, turtles make noises when they are stressed, angry, and aggressive. In these instances, turtles have been found to make hissing noises to warn predators and bystanders when they feel threatened.

What is the most aggressive turtle? ›

The Alligator Snapping Turtle is the world's largest freshwater turtle, and by far the most dangerous.

Is it OK to kiss a turtle? ›

Don't kiss or snuggle turtles, because this can spread Salmonella germs to your face and mouth and make you sick. Don't let turtles roam freely in areas where food is prepared or stored, such as kitchens.

Can you kiss your turtle? ›

Don't kiss or snuggle your turtle, and don't eat or drink around it. This can spread Salmonella germs to your mouth and make you sick. Keep your turtle out of your kitchen and other areas where you eat, store, or prepare food.

Can I give my turtle to Petco? ›

Though the CDC warning applies to the smallest turtles, Petco will accept turtles of any size, Burch said.

What do red-eared sliders love? ›

Prey Items: Earthworms, crickets, waxworms, silkworms, aquatic snails, bloodworms, daphnia, shrimp, krill, and mealworms. For very small turtles, prey may have to be cut into smaller pieces.

How deep should red-eared slider water be? ›

Ten gallons of water is recommended per 1 inch (2.54 cm) of shell length. As a general rule, the water depth should be at least 2 times the turtle's carapace length to prevent drowning if the turtle should flip over and not be able to right itself.

What is normal red-eared slider behavior? ›

Social Behavior

Red-eared sliders are a solitary species, but they do “socialize” during mating season. Most turtles do not venture too far from their established fresh water habitat unless searching for a mate or nest site. In the wild, mating is seasonal, and in most areas, takes place between March and June.

What makes a turtle cry? ›

As reptilian kidneys are unable to excrete large volumes of salt via urine, sea turtles evolved specialised secretory glands (lachrymal glands) located in the corner of each eye to remove excess salt. The liquid secreted gives the appearance of tears, hence why turtles are often reported to “cry” .

What is normal turtle behavior? ›

Turtles are not social creatures. While they typically don't mind if there are other turtles around them, they don't interact or socialize, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Most turtles are active during the day, spending their time foraging for food. Turtles are not silent creatures.

How long can red eared sliders stay out of water? ›

Turtles can usually stay out of water for around 8 hours. However, this depends on the environment of the land they are on. If the area has a cool temperature, a turtle can stay out of the water for a couple days. That being said, a turtle will run into serious digestion issues if they stay out of water too long.

Should you move a turtle closer to water? ›

Turtles should always be moved across roadways in as direct a line as possible. You might be tempted to "help" the turtle by moving it to a wooded area or water body, but the correct solution is to quickly move the turtle the shortest distance possible.

Should red-eared sliders sleep in water? ›

At night they sleep underwater, usually resting on the bottom or floating on the surface, using their inflated throat as a flotation aid. Diet: These turtles are omnivorous – eating a variety of aquatic plants, insects, snails, fish, carrion and other small aquatic prey.

What does a healthy red-eared slider look like? ›

Their shells should be intact and smooth. Look at the skin and shell more closely. The skin should be supple and free of bites and scratches (these could form abscesses later on). While a bit of loose skin may hang off during shedding, the skin should look normal and not irritated where it shed.

How often should I clean my red-eared sliders tank? ›

At least once a week: Replace some of the water in the tank with clean water. Even if your turtles' swimming water looks fine, it could be high in ammonia or nitrite. Every two to three weeks: Clean out the whole tank and refresh the filter.

What is a red-eared slider favorite food? ›

Pet red-eared sliders will feed on just about anything you give them, but I recommend feeding them a commercial turtle food or pellet to benefit proper growth and health. On occasion, you can offer them leafy greens, freeze-dried shrimp or krill, crickets, superworms or earthworms.

Do red-eared sliders prefer land or water? ›

In their natural habitat, red-eared sliders are freshwater turtles that prefer ponds, marshes, and slow-moving water, even though they are strong underwater swimmers.

Do red-eared sliders get angry? ›

Hissing. Although red-eared sliders don't have any vocal cords, they do hiss and huff when they are angry or upset. This often happens if you try to pick it up suddenly or if they are trying to escape from danger.

How intelligent are red-eared sliders? ›

Red-Eared Slider Behavior

They have shown levels of intelligence and owner recognition, and will frequently greet their keeper during feeding time, sometimes even eating out of the palm of their hand.

Can turtles recognize their name? ›

Tortoises are very smart and can actually learn their name. Turtles will also recognize their keepers, but mostly because they are excited you're bringing them food.

How cold is too cold for red-eared sliders? ›

When the temperatures fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the turtles become nearly motionless, do not eat or defecate, and their breathing rate slows. They do still need to drink water (unlike hibernating animals). “In warmer winter climates, they can become active and come to the surface for basking.

How old is a 2 inch red-eared slider? ›

They usually grow up to 1.1 to 1.6 inches within their first year. In their second year, they can attain a length of about 2.3 inches, then 4 inches in their third year, and 4.5 inches in their fourth year. Generally, female red-eared sliders reach sexual maturity at 6 inches and 4 inches for their male counterparts.

Can I take my red-eared slider outside? ›

They tend to prefer warmer seasons, but they are hardy and can do fine in cooler temperatures. That being said, it's always recommended to bring your turtles indoors for the winter. Red-eared sliders and other aquatic turtles will likely try to brumate for winter. In nature, it's a part of their breeding cycle.

What noise does a female turtle make? ›

Turtles do not have vocal cords. Nonetheless, they do produce various sounds like hisses and shrieks by expelling air from their lungs. Big turtles produce loud roaring sounds by using the exact mechanism. Aquatic turtles and baby turtles also vocalize at low frequencies that we cannot easily hear.

When can you tell if a turtle is male or female? ›

In most species, gender is determined during fertilization. However, the sex of most turtles, alligators, and crocodiles is determined after fertilization. The temperature of the developing eggs is what decides whether the offspring will be male or female. This is called temperature-dependent sex determination, or TSD.

How do you tell a boy turtle from a girl? ›

Female turtles have a short tail, which generally doesn't extend more than 10 cm (4 inches) past the edge of the carapace. Male sea turtles (except leatherbacks) have elongated, curved claws on their front flippers to help them grasp the female when mating.

Can turtles hear human voice? ›

They have thin flaps of skin covering internal ear bones. The skin flaps allow vibrations and low-frequency sounds in the ear canal -- so the turtles can hear to some extent, but their hearing isn't sensitive.

Can turtle hear our voice? ›

Turtles do not hear well above 1,000 Hz or below 100Hz. Most sea turtles hear best between 200 and 700 Hz depending on the species and age of the turtle. From Ketten and Bartol (2005). Sea turtles appear to hear best between 200 and 750 Hz and do not respond well to sounds above 1,000 Hz.

What sound do turtles make when scared? ›

The most common noise a pet turtle makes is the hissing sound. Hissing is generally an indication of fear and not of hostility. This involuntary sound is produced when the turtle is scared.

Does my turtle know his name? ›

Tortoises are very smart and can actually learn their name. Turtles will also recognize their keepers, but mostly because they are excited you're bringing them food.

How do you tell if a turtle is meant for water? ›

Because aquatic turtles have to swim, most species have webbed claws. To tell whether you have an aquatic turtle, move its claws apart slightly. Aquatic turtles have a flap of skin between the claws that helps them swim more efficiently.

What do girl turtles look like? ›

Using Tails to Determine Gender

The most common way to determine gender in a turtle is to look at the length of its tail. 3 Female turtles have short and skinny tails while males sport long, thick tails, with their vent (cloaca) positioned closer to the end of the tail when compared to a female.

What month do turtles give birth? ›

Every year, from about May to September, nesting female sea turtles emerge from the Gulf of Mexico to use the beaches of the Gulf Islands to lay their eggs. Once a site is chosen, the turtle uses her hind flippers to dig a vase-shaped hole about two feet deep, and then lays her eggs.

How long is a turtle pregnant? ›

The sea turtle lays up to 100 eggs, which incubate in the warm sand for about 60 days.

Can I put my turtle in the bathtub? ›

Turtles can harbor salmonella bacteria, which can make humans very ill, so it is important that you not bathe your turtle in the sink or bathtub. Salmonella is very resistant to disinfectants, so the best course of action is to buy or find a special tub for bathing your turtle, and use it only for that purpose.

Do red-eared sliders need to be in water all the time? ›

The answer is, yes.

For starters, red-eared sliders lack saliva and need water to swallow their food. They can eat without water, it's just a lot more difficult. What is this? They also need to be in the water to stay hydrated and be as healthy as possible.

Do male turtles get bigger than females? ›

Males typically grow larger than females. (2) In semiaquatic and "bottom-walking" aquatic species, male combat is less common, but males often forcibly inseminate females. As in terrestrial species, males are usually larger than females.


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