Why Does My Turtle Randomly Freak Out?

Turtles are surprisingly sensitive creatures and sometimes they look as though they are having a panic attack and start swimming crazily around their tank– which can be quite scary to observe.

It’s their way of demonstrating that they are not happy and as their loving human it is good to find out what is the problem as quickly as possible

Let’s get into more detail as to why your turtle is freaking out and most importantly how you can help your turtle calm down

Sound good?

Let’s get started!

Why Is My Turtle Swimming Frantically?

When your turtle starts to swim frantically, it is usually because he is scared and the most likely reason for this is that he is unhappy with his environment.

If there has been a change in his environment he can certainly react in this dramatic way.

Here’s what you need to look out for

Check That His Tank Is Good

Take a few minutes to check that his tank is in a good condition.

If you have added another turtle this could cause the problem – not only will your turtle feel nervous, he could feel threatened as the tank no longer feels large enough.

The quick way to check this is to measure the length of your turtle’s shell.

You will need 10 gallons of water in the tank for each inch of shell – a five inch (12.5cm) long turtle will need 50 gallons (190 litres) of water.

The next things to check are the temperature and quality of the water.

Is the water nice and clean?

Best to run some tests to check that it is.

If the water contains too much ammonia it could make your turtle ill very quickly.

Is the filter working effectively?

It is essential that you have a good filter that quickly disposes of your turtle’s waste.

Importantly, the water needs to be warm enough, but not too warm for your turtle. 

The ideal temperature for the water is 26.5 – 27.5ºC for a hatchling and 25.5-26.5ºC for turtles over a year in age. 

The other question to ask yourself is whether you are feeding him a really good and varied diet and whether you are giving your turtle enough food. 

The basis of your turtle’s diet should be pellets – but not too many, an equal amount to the size of your turtle’s head.

Has There Been Loud Noises Recently?

Turtles have very good hearing and are easily stressed by loud noise so have you been making extra noise with loud music or an electric drill – as soon as the noise has stopped your turtle should calm down.

Turtles can also get stressed by excessive handling as they prefer a peaceful life and most prefer not to be handled at all. 

Why Is My Turtle Restless?

If all is good with your turtle’s tank environment, there can be other reasons why your turtle seems really restless.

If your turtle is new, he will find the environment very alien and will take some time to settle down and get accustomed to the new sounds and smells.

As well as restless points with some frantic swimming in his tank, there will be other times when he is hiding in the weeds – he is being defensive and not wanting to track any attention as he does not know who his predators are – at this stage, he will be concerned that you are a predator. 

Could She Be Pregnant?

If you have a female turtle could she be pregnant?

Pregnant turtles do act quite strangely and can get a little frantic if they cannot find the ideal spot to lay her eggs. Even if the eggs have not been fertilized, she will still need to lay them.

The gestation period is about three months but does vary. 

How Do You Calm a Turtle Down?

The key to keeping your turtle happy is definitely food!

If you hold a piece of lettuce about 15cm from him and wait patiently, he should take it from you and this will act as a pleasant distraction to him.

If you want to be his hero forever you could tempt him with some fresh or freeze dried insects such as crickets as most turtles adore these!

During the day, there is no harm in feeding your turtle some little treats and it will make him feel more secure and you will be able to develop a good relationship with him. 

Here’s some related articles you’ll find interesting

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Can turtles eat watermelons?

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