Is your turtle sneezing and making you feel worried about whether it could be sick? Are you looking for more information on why a turtle sneezes? If yes, this guide will provide you with all the information you seek.
Why is my turtle sneezing? Your turtle sneezing could be a sign of an upper respiratory tract disease and you should have him/her checked out by a vet before it can turn fatal. Your turtle may also sneeze if something is irritating its airways.
In this article, we’re going to share more information on why your turtle is sneezing, the major causes of sneezing in turtles, and what actions you should take to help your pet.
This is why your turtle is sneezing:
Your turtle usually sneezes when something it has ingested is trying to block its respiratory tract. This could be food, substrate, debris, or the water it spends most of its time in. But keep in mind that this will only happen occasionally.
Sneezing in turtles is easy to tell as it involves a high-pitched, squeaky sound.
However, if your turtle is sneezing continuously and/or more frequently, then this is abnormal and you should be concerned.
Your pet could be having an infection or water could have gotten into its sinus cavities and you’d need to intervene. Otherwise, if you leave it unattended, it could result in respiratory disease.
A turtle that is sneezing continuously could be suffering from upper tract respiratory disease (URTD), a condition that needs to be treated on time before it escalates into something more serious. Vitamin A deficiency is another likely cause of sneezing.
Let’s look at these two issues in more detail in our next section…
What causes your turtle to sneeze?
As we’ve just mentioned previously, the two main causes of sneezing in turtles include vitamin A deficiency and respiratory tract infection. Let’s discuss each of these causes below:
Respiratory tract infection
Your turtle is ectothermic, which means it depends on surrounding temperatures to stay warm. A drop in the surrounding temperature makes your pet vulnerable to cold or respiratory infection.
Additional signs of respiratory infections to look out for include mucus discharge through the mouth and nose, wheezing and labored breathing.
Bacteria is usually the culprit behind such an infection and your turtle may be unable to recover from this disease on its own, so it will require immediate medical treatment.
Vitamin A deficiency
A turtle requires you to feed it the right food including plenty of leafy matter and proteins. If you don’t give your turtle a proper diet, it may suffer from vitamin A deficiency.
And vitamin A deficiency leads to a condition known as Hypovitaminosis A. This is characterized by changes in skin appearance as well as mucus glands. Your turtle will undergo more frequent sneezing and produce nasal discharge.
Other symptoms of this condition include wheezing while breathing and swelling of ears and eyes, and lethargy.
If you don’t take action on time, Hypovitaminosis A can cause pneumonia in turtles and their buoyancy will be affected as they’re unable to swim properly in water.
What to do if your turtle is sneezing?
If you only catch your turtle sneezing occasionally, you don’t need to panic as your little friend is just trying to get something out that’s obstructing its airways. This could be food, substrate, water, etc.
However, if you catch your turtle sneezing more frequently or continuously, then you need to take action immediately as this is an indication your turtle is unwell.
If you see additional symptoms in your turtle besides sneezing, take your pet to the vet for treatment.
Hypovitaminosis A, in particular, should be treated early on before it can result in pneumonia, which is life-threatening!
Why is my turtle sneezing after eating?
If your turtle sneezes after eating, it is probably due to the food irritating its airways. Just like in humans, a turtle’s food can get into the wrong hole, the respiratory tract, and end up irritating it. This is even more likely if your pet has eaten voraciously. When this happens, your turtle will sneeze in an attempt to get out the irritant stuck in its airways.
Therefore, you shouldn’t get worried if your turtle sneezes after eating. Just observe him/her closely and make sure that the sneezing doesn’t get out of control. If the sneezing turtle doesn’t stop, you’d want to consult your vet as your turtle could be suffering from an underlying condition.
Do all turtles sneeze?
Most turtle species will sneeze at different times throughout their lifespan. They’ll do so while inside the water or on the land. For instance, aquatic turtles such as painted turtles, red-eared sliders, and Reeves turtles do sneeze. Box turtles will also sneeze especially if they get affected by a cold.
That said, you need to differentiate between normal sneezing and when to take action. A turtle’s occasional sneezing is quite normal and only helps get rid of irritants or water obstructing its pathways.
Pronged, consistent breathing is, however, an indication of a more serious condition, say an upper respiratory tract infection, and calls for a vet intervention before it can get worse. Paying attention to your turtle’s behavior and looking out for more signs of illness will help you confirm if your turtle is indeed ill.
Occasional sneezing in your turtle isn’t a cause for alarm and usually indicates something is irritating its airways. This could be food, water, or substrate ingested in its tank. Continuous sneezing is, however, an indication of a more serious issue that requires your immediate action. Your pet could be suffering from a respiratory infection or vitamin A deficiency.
When your turtle sneezes continuously and for a prolonged period of time, you need to get him to the reptile vet immediately to get him treated before the condition can turn fatal. Respiratory illnesses in turtles can lead to pneumonia if left untreated and eventually kill your turtle.