If you’re curious about what it means when your pet turtle sticks his neck out of water, this guide is for you.
Why does my turtle stick neck of water? Your turtle sticks its neck out of water when breathing, hunting, begging for food, or stretching. Sometimes they do this just to observe their environment.
Get more details below on the possible reasons behind your pet sticking its neck out of water. You’ll also learn when to worry if your turtle stretches its head out of water.
Why does my turtle stretch his neck out of water?
A turtle can stretch its neck out for various reasons we’ve just mentioned above. This is a natural behavior for both the adult and baby turtles and nothing to make you feel worried.
Even the aquatic turtles in the wild have a tendency to stick out their heads out of water when they’re basking, observing their environment, breathing, or hunting for food.
Your box turtle, red-eared slider, or any other turtle pet will get its head out of the water for pretty much the same reasons as the wild turtles. They’ll also get their heads out to beg for food or to show you they need some food.
Let’s discuss the MAIN reasons for your turtle stretching its neck out of water:
Turtles are semi-aquatic animals and will need to breathe in air to get oxygen. Unlike aquatic animals like fish, turtles lack gills for extracting oxygen from water, hence the need to stick their neck out a little to enable them to breathe correctly.
To get some food
If you catch your pet turtle sticking its head out of the water, it could be a sign they need something to eat.
Your pet turtle may even do this whenever it sees you coming towards its tank. This is because they have learned to associate your presence with food.
That said, you should avoid overfeeding your pet turtle, even if they show this sign.
To observe their environment
Turtles generally feel safe inside the water since most of the turtle predators are on the land. That said, they still want to be fully aware of their surroundings, hence the need to stretch out their neck and see what’s going on around them.
If you have not provided your pet turtle with a good basking spot, they’d bask by floating on the water and stretching their neck out. Make sure they have a specific basking dock where they can bask comfortably. And ensure they can easily access this spot.
Natural body stretching
Your turtle retracting its neck could also mean he’s stretching his body. Remember, their neck is used for a variety of activities including swimming, eating, hunting, etc. So it won’t hurt to stretch out the neck muscles, just like we humans or other animals.
Why my turtle stretches its neck out of water with its mouth open?
If you catch your turtle stretching its neck out of water with its mouth open, it could be due to hunger. Turtles are quite smart and will try to open their mouth whenever they see you as a way of letting you know they need something to eat.
Choking hazard is also a possible cause of this turtle behavior. Turtles like feeding on small stones in the tank, which can result in a choking hazard. This will force them to stick out their neck and open their mouth as they try to gasp for air.
Uncomfortable living conditions could also be the reason behind this behavior. Instances that make their habitat uncomfortable include the water temperature being too low or too high (remember their body temperature depends on their environment), poor water quality, crowded tanks, or insufficient lighting.
Ensure the water heater or heat lamp maintains the temperature inside the tank between 75 and 85 degrees F to make your pet feel comfortable inside their enclosure. Keep the water level at the recommended level
However, it could also be a sign of a respiratory infection and they have breathing difficulties. Look for additional symptoms of this disease. If you believe your turtle has any fungal or bacterial infections, get it to the vet immediately.
Some turtles will also show aggression by sticking their necks out, opening their mouth, and producing a hissing sound. If this is the case with your pet, leave it for a moment and let it calm down. Turtles are generally not as aggressive but it won’t hurt to be cautious.
Overall, if your turtle opens and closes its mouth in seconds, it means it’s fine and you shouldn’t be worried. If it keeps its mouth open for long periods of time, you should look at it closely to ensure everything is alright.
Is my turtle stretching out its neck out of water something to be worried about?
Absolutely not. There’s no need to feel worried if you find your turtle sticking his neck out of the water in the turtle tank.
As we said earlier, this isn’t perfectly normal and natural behavior for a healthy turtle to do.
However, if your turtle shows breathing issues, you should be worried as this could be a sign of an underlying problem, mostly a respiratory infection.
In this case, your turtle friend will most likely try gasping for air when they stick their necks out.
Presence of mucus on your pet’s nose or mouth is another sign of an underlying infection.
Additional symptoms to look out for include loss of appetite, lethargy, sneezing, lopsided swimming, etc.
Your pet turtle necks sticking out of the water tank are perfectly natural and you shouldn’t be alarmed by them. The aquatic creatures mostly do this when they’re observing the environment, basking, breathing, begging for food, or simply stretching their body.
The only time you should take this behavior seriously is if your pet seems to have breathing problems as it could be a sign of a respiratory infection and needs immediate vet attention.