Why Is My Turtle Hiding In His Shell?

Having a pet turtle is tons of fun.

They make fascinating pets.

It may be that your pet turtle may not chase you around or play catch with you.

But, many chelonian parents vow that the bond they feel with their pet turtle is natural.

And that they can spend hours at an end observing their little buddies. 

Now, turtles aren’t as reclusive as some may believe.

If your turtle knows you, you’ll realize that they will happily be by your side.

But, the moment you put a turtle in an unknown environment with new people around, your turtle is going to head to the safest place it knows, its shell.

Yes, all turtles have shells, also known as carapaces.

Now, the carapaces of the majority of turtles are hard, rough, and bony.

But, there are exceptions, where you will see a few species of turtles with soft and slimy shells.

Yet, the purpose of a carapace is that it protects the turtle from its predators.

So if you are wondering why is my turtle hiding in his shell it’s most likely to protect itself from predators

But that’s not the only reason

In this article we’re going to discuss the following

  • Why your turtle retreats inside it’s shell (possible reasons)
  • How far can they retract
  • How to get a turtle out of it’s hiding

So if your turtle is hiding in it’s shell and you want to know why and how you can help then you’re going to love this article

Sound good?

Let’s dive in.

Why Does My Turtle Retreat Inside Its Shell?

Turtles hide inside their shells for many reasons.

Yes, the turtle retreating into its shell is the most apparent reason when a turtle is afraid.

Any threat such as a loud noise, unknown presence, or even a very cold drought or heatwave is an excuse good enough for your tiny friend to head straight into its secret hideout. 

But, the real cause for the retraction of the head inside its shell in the modern-day turtle is to avoid any danger.

Even the remotest possibility can make a turtle hurry right into its shells.

Yet, some research of the different species of turtles and their history has shown that some turtles use the retraction of their head as a method to do some hunting.

Now, we know that some turtles keep a plant-based diet while others are carnivores.

But, the vast majority of turtles are omnivores.

So, while most adult turtles keep to a heavily plant-based diet, they occasionally enjoy a meal of meat.

And, the best way that the North American snapping turtles are to use the retraction of their necks to surprise the fish in the water and catch their prey with a burst of speed and momentum. 

How Far Can The Turtle Retract?

It’s astounding and hilarious to find a turtle without its head, hands, or feet.

Some land turtles and many species of the tortoise can quickly retract their hands, feet, and necks all the way into their shells.

But, not all turtles are so lucky as some can only retract half away with their feet and hands. 

Some turtles, such as sea turtles, do not have space inside their shell and have flatter shells to allow the turtle’s head into the shell.

Even some turtle species hold their heads all the way to their sides to be safe from danger and confuse the predators.

How Do You Get A Turtle Out Of Its Hiding?

So, if your turtle has been spooked, the best thing to do is allow your turtle some time to come out on its own.

And, you can help it along the way to place it in a spot where it feels safe.

Another technique to use is to lure your turtle out with food. 

Your buddy will indeed have some favorite treats that you can chop up and feed your friend.

However, don’t expect that your turtle will not know what you’re doing.

Yet, your turtle may be new to your family and may have been hiding in its shell for some days now.

So, it will take time to make up its mind.

If it feels that it is safe, only then will it accept the food offering.

So give your chelonian space. 

You have to get your turtle used to your presence.

Make sure that you never make any loud noise around your new companion.

And, you can use a soft and steady voice to speak to your latest family member to acquaint yourself with your turtle pet.

It’ll take a while but don’t lose hope.

Remember that turtles like to take things according to their own pace. 

Patience and persistence is key here


There is no denying that you have a fantastic pet on your hand if you adopt a turtle.

But, your pet will need time to get to know and be comfortable with you, just as you will need time to love your new companion.

So if your turtle is hiding in their shell it’s because they are not used to their surroundings.

A little time, lots of love, and an in-depth study about the needs and wants of your pet will help you and your turtle develop a long-lasting and happy bond.

And, best of luck with making up with your chelonian, and remember, if all else fails, a few bites of cool watermelon will surely help you out on a hot and sunny day – a popular treat with most turtles.

Related article – Why does my turtle like the dark?

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