Wild or domestic turtles tend to hide under rocks, logs, or around plants in the tank or yard to feel protected. If they don’t get a suitable place to hide for protection or rest, they’ll retract into the shell with their heads and legs folded.
How to get a turtle to come out of hiding? Removing stressors and offering treats or drinking water are the easiest hacks to get your turtle out of hiding. Your turtle inside the terrarium needs to feel safe to get out. So you can add some plants to the tank overhead and correct the water parameters to create a relaxing environment for him.
Be patient and only seek your vet’s help if you notice any sign of sickness. Typically it’s their natural behavior, and the hacks discussed in the article should lure them out of hiding successfully. So check them out.
How to Get A Turtle to Come Out of Hiding?
Here are some hacks to lure your pet turtle out of hiding.
1. Allow Sometime for the New Turtle to Get Comfortable
A new turtle may hide in the tank as he might find it uncomfortable. If you’ve got a new turtle in the tank, simply allow him some time to settle in. Once he’s comfy with the environment and other tank mates, he should come out of hiding by himself.
2. Ensure a Perfect Environment
You must ensure a perfect environment in the tank that will make your turtle feel safe to come out of hiding. Ensure the following things to see your turtle not hiding but roaming around the tank:
- Provide a comfortable basking surface (a large flat stone) with a ramp to let the turtle exit the water quickly.
- Place the UVB light source and heat lamps properly so the turtles get perfect exposure.
- Test water parameters using a water test kit to see the level of the ammonia, nitrate, and other substance at the right level. If there’s a misbalance in the water parameters, change the canister filter and buy a powerful one that can endure the tank load.
3. Provide Food Treats
The most common way to bring your turtle out of hiding is to offer him some treats. A hungry turtle won’t remain hidden for long.
They have a sense of smell with their barbels, which are bumps underneath the chin that helps pick up scent instead of nostrils (see the anatomy of a turtle). So they get the alert about the presence of food, which would probably bring them out when offered.
You can give them leafy greens, insects, and fruits in both cooked and raw form, but they’ll like it the most in the raw form. So offer in moderate amount and wait for him to come after these items. You can also give him some of their favorite feeder fish or bugs to lure them out of the hideout.
4. Get Him a Drink
All turtles, even aquatic turtles, need an area for drinking water apart from their swimming area. So whether it’s a terrestrial or a marine turtle, you’ve to ensure a source of drinking water in the dry place to get them out of hiding. Since tap water has fluorine and chlorine, it’s best to use natural spring water for drinking.
5. Ensure Relaxing Environment
One of the significant reasons the turtles hide is the fear of predators. A noisy and unsound environment can trigger the fear of a predator. So you must ensure a relaxing environment to get them out of hiding.
Remove if there’s any stressor like a high-volume TV or music system. Dim or switch off the unnecessary lights and restrict access to other household pets or fast-moving people.
6. Add Plants as Overhead Coverage
Turtles naturally like to hide in or behind plants. To provide overhead coverage use turtle-safe plants in their tank. It’ll let them feel like they live in a more natural atmosphere. Seeing the plant covering, he’ll feel more protected and think he no longer needs to hide.
Also read: Why Is My Turtle Not Basking?
How to Get Your Pet Turtle Out of the Shell?
If your turtle doesn’t get a suitable place to hide when he feels threatened or stressed, he might try to retract himself and fold the head & legs into the shell. It may also be because of shyness. So you can make him feel normal by putting him back in the aquarium or turtle tank, where he’ll feel comfy enough to come out of the shell.
You can also provide food and a relaxing environment to win his trust. If he trusts you and you know how to handle him carefully, he isn’t likely to hide.
How to Prevent Turtle from Hiding Unknowingly?
Finding the lost turtle or luring him out of hiding can cost you time and patience. Since hiding is a natural behavior of turtles, you can place some hiding spots for him so that he doesn’t hide without your knowledge. It could save you time and effort. Here are some ideas to prevent your turtle from hiding unknowingly.
- These reptiles are used to hiding in dark spots, so you can carve out a log in the aquarium to let them hide under.
- A terracotta pot can be another good option for your pet turtle to create a den in the tank or aquarium.
- You can also add plants with dense foliage to let them hide.
- Decorations that look like rock caves can also act as a hiding spot for your turtle in the tank.
- If you take your aquatic or box turtle outside in the backyard (during warm days), you can fence in the area to create a perimeter to stop him from escaping.
What if the Turtle not Responding After All Efforts?
Sickness could be one reason you don’t get any response from your pet reptile while hiding. You should be able to identify if they’re usually active and suddenly start hiding.
Diet deficiency, infections, or respiratory issues are some of the problems why your turtle may be feeling sick, losing appetite, and unwilling to come out of hiding. In that case, you need to get your turtle checked by the vet to rule out any medical issues.
Check out some FAQs here if you’re still left with queries.
They may be doing so to feel more protected or could just be digging around the rocks trying to eat them. A female turtle could be doing that to look for a place to lay eggs.
A young turtle, aging less than six months, can’t survive a day without eating. A slightly older turtle, aged 6 to 12 months, may stay a whole day without food, whereas an adult turtle can survive 2 to 3 days without eating.
Related: Turtle Shell Rot
If your turtle is hiding, he probably isn’t feeling safe. So don’t force him to come out of his den; instead, try convincing him and win his trust to lure him out of his hiding. You’ve to offer some blatant bribe in the form of treats and drinking water to make him come out of the hideout. Make the environment comfortable by correcting the water parameters for a pet turtle.
These include a proper basking area, heat lamp, and UVB light source that can let him normally roam without hiding. Besides, remove any stressors around him and create a relaxing environment by using some plants to cover the tank. Since they like to hide under or behind the green, it’ll make them feel natural and more protected.
If there’s a sign of sickness causing immobility and hiding, seek medical attention.