Can Turtles Make Noise? (Why, How, And Which Ones Are The Noisiest?)

Turtles are known for their ability to survive in some of the harshest environments on earth. They are also very intelligent creatures, capable of learning new behaviors and adapting to changing conditions.

box turtle walking

Renowned for their incredible range of abilities, you may be wondering, do turtles make noise? How can they communicate with one another? What types of noises do they make, and why do they make them?

Keep reading to learn more.

Do Turtles Make Noise?

Yes – even if you haven’t heard it with your own ears, turtles DO make noise!

In most cases, turtles will make noises to convey a current behavior. However, this knowledge is so uncommon that even most turtle owners aren’t aware that their favorite pets make sounds.

Turtles have been around for at least 215 million years. If they first appeared in the Triassic period, why have their ability to make noise only been discovered recently?

Recent technology has discovered that turtles make sounds, most often at low frequencies. Turtles may not have vocal cords but make noises by expelling air from their lungs.

Why Do Turtles Make Noises?

To understand why turtles make noises, we must first know what they’re trying to say.

The primary purpose of making noises is to communicate with other members of the same species, as well as other species’ members.

This includes other turtles, fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, insects, and even humans.

There are many different ways that turtles communicate with each other. Some common methods include:

  • Squeaking
  • Snapping
  • Flapping
  • Grunting
  • Squealing
  • Hissing
  • Whistling
  • Clicking
  • Crying
  • Barking (yes, that’s right!)

A Closer Look At Turtle Noises

2 turtles on a log

Now we’ve had a brief look at the noises turtles make, let’s see what exactly these noises mean.

Why Do Turtles Squeak?

The squeak is one of the most commonly used sounds made by turtles. Males usually produce it during mating season.

When a male turtle makes a “squeak,” he attempts to attract females. He does this by creating vibrations through his body which cause an echo effect.

These echoes are then picked up by female turtles nearby. Once she hears her mate’s call, she will respond by moving toward him.

Why Do Turtles Snap?

Another type of noise that turtles make is called a snap. Snaps are usually made when a turtle feels threatened or wants to defend itself.

A snapping turtle will produce a loud sound as soon as it senses danger. This helps to alert its prey to the threat.

Why Do Some Turtles Flap Their Wings?

Some turtles use flapping wings to fly. While flying, a turtle uses the force generated by its wings to propel itself forward. It doesn’t actually flap its wings like a bird; instead, it creates a circular motion using its tail.

Why Do Other Turtles Grunt?

Some turtles grunt because they feel threatened. Like snaps, they make a loud noise to warn off predators. Unlike snaps, however, grunts are much softer. They also tend to last longer than snaps.

Why Do Others Squeal?

Other turtles squeal to express pain, distress, or fear, often making high-pitched screeching sounds. Often, these noises can be mistaken for the cry of a baby.

Why Do Certain Turtles Hiss?

Certain turtles emit a hissing sound when they want to intimidate others. Hisses are usually very short, sharp sounds and are also extremely fast.

Why Do Turtles Whistle?

Turtles whistle to attract mates. During courtship, a male turtle will create a series of whistles. Each whistle lasts about two seconds, and after several whistles, the male will stop and wait for a response.

Why Do Turtles Click?

Turtles click to communicate with other members of their own species.

Most often, clicks occur between two individuals who are close together. However, some turtles use clicks to communicate over long distances.

Why Do Turtles Cry?

Turtles cry when they are hurt or distressed. Sometimes, they cry out when they need help from another member of their species.

Why Do All Turtles Bark?

All turtles bark to announce their presence. They do so by emitting a low-frequency rumbling noise. This noise is created by vibrating air inside their throats.

The vibration travels down their trachea into their lungs, where it causes them to bark.

Making Sounds To Represent Current Behavior

Noise is an important part of communication. It helps us to identify others, and it lets us know when someone else wants something from us.

When we hear a sound, our brains interpret it as a message that tells us about the sender. We then use that information to determine how to respond.

The sounds that turtles make are used to tell other animals about themselves. For example, snapping turtles make a loud noise when they want food or water.

When a turtle makes a noise, it’s telling other animals that it needs help.

Snapping turtles are no exception. They use their loud snarls to warn predators away and to let prey know that they’re ready to attack.

What Types Of Turtle Noises Are There?

loggerhead turtle swimming underwater

When it comes to understanding which type of noises turtles make, there are two main categories:

  • Vocalizations
  • Non-vocalizations

Let’s take a look at both of these categories.

Vocalizations

This category contains all of the sounds made by turtles that are considered “voices.”

These include squeals, growls, hisses, hoots, screeches, barks, yelps, chirps, and whistles. All of these sounds are produced through the same method: breathing out air.

Non-Vocalization

This category contains all of the other sounds made by turtles. These don’t contain any voice qualities and instead are simply sounds made by the body.

Examples of non-vocalizations include squeaks, clucks, grunts, clicks, croaks, and groans.

Which Turtles Make Noise?

Now that we’ve learned what kinds of noises turtles make, we can start looking into which ones actually do. Here are some examples of the types of noises that are made by various species of turtles.

  • American Box Turtles – Squeak, Growl, Hiss, Whistle, Bark, Grunt
  • Chinese Softshell Turtles – Squeal, Click, Croak
  • Common Snapping Turtles – Snarl, Screech, Yell, Chirp, Barksnort
  • Common Tree Frogs – Cluck, Groan, Croak, Croak, Gurgle, Moo
  • Green Sea Turtles – Hoot, Whistle, Bark
  • Leatherback Sea Turtles – Growl, Hiss
  • Loggerhead Sea Turtles – Growl
  • Mud Snakes – Squeak, Snarl, Growl, Hoot, Whistle
  • Olive Ridley Sea Turtles – Hoot
  • Painted Turtles – Growl, Squeal, Whistle, Bark

Do Turtles Have A Mating Call?

Yes, they do have a mating call! It’s called a courtship call. Courtship calls are usually given during the springtime months. They are used to attract mates.

Courtship Calls

A courtship call is a specific sound used to attract potential mates. It’s also known as a mating call.

A courtship call has three different parts. First, there’s an introductory part. Next, there’s a middle section. Finally, there’s an ending part.

Introductory Part

This part of the courtship call is very short. It lasts for only a few seconds. During this time, the male turtle will vocalize with a high pitch. He does this because he wants to get noticed.

Middle Section

The middle section of the courtship call lasts anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes. You’ll hear the male turtle making low-pitched sounds during this time.

Ending Part

The final part of the courtship calls last between 5 and 15 minutes.

This part of the courtship is where the female turtle responds. She may respond in one of several ways. Some females will answer with a long series of squeaks or clicks. Others will just grunt. Still others will whistle back.

Should I Be Worried If My Turtle Doesn’t Make Noises?

close-up shot of a snapping turtles head

There are many reasons why your turtle might not make noise. The most common reason is that they’re sick, and another possible reason is that they’re injured.

A third reason could be that they’re scared. Remember, though, it may not even be any of the above!

Turtles make noises at low frequencies. If your turtle is in a loud environment, you just might not hear the noises it’s making.

Even if your turtle isn’t making much noise, this isn’t always indicative of sickness. Some turtles are naturally quieter than others.

Unless your turtle displays other symptoms of sickness or disease, such as lethargy, a loss of appetite, sickness, or swollen eyes, you don’t need to worry.

If your turtle is displaying any of the above symptoms, immediately take them to a vet.

The Loudest Turtle Breeds

Some turtles are louder than others. Here are some of the loudest turtles in the world:

  • American Box Turtle – 75 decibels
  • Chinese Soft-Shell Turtle – 80 decibels
  • Snapping Turtle – 90 decibels
  • Tree Frogs – 100 decibels
  • Common Loggerhead Sea Turtle – 120 decibels
  • Olive Ridley Sea Turtle – 130 decibels
  • Green Sea Turtles – 140 decibels
  • Common Painted Turtle – 150 decibels

What Are The Quietest Turtles?

Here are some of the quietest turtles in the world, these turtles can produce lower frequency sounds than the ones listed above.

  • Rough Green Sea Turtle – 60 decibels
  • Leatherback Sea Turtle – 70 decibels

Why Do Domestic Turtles Make Noise?

Just like wild turtles, domestic turtles can also make noise. However, unlike their wild counterparts, domesticated turtles cannot communicate effectively through their noise-making abilities.

Domestic turtles are kept in captivity for various reasons. For example, they are kept as pets, food sources, or educational tools.

When kept as pets, they are often kept in small enclosures. In these enclosures, they have little room to move around. They also have limited access to water.

As a result, they are forced to use their noise-making ability to communicate with each other or with you, to let you know what they need.

Unlike cats and dogs, turtles don’t always like to be handled or touched. So if your domestic turtle is making noises when you try to hold it, this could be its way of letting you know that it doesn’t want to be touched.

Can Turtles Understand Humans?

Turtles are incredibly intelligent creatures. However, although they can distinguish between the tone and sounds that we make, they cannot understand and perform commands as cats and dogs do.

Although turtles make noises, they rely primarily on their sight and smell to make sense of the world around them. This means that if they see you coming toward them, they may recognize you and display excitement.

They may also let you handle them frequently, but they may hiss or make noise when strangers try to touch them.

Final Thoughts

If we asked you to think of some of the most vocal animals in the world, a turtle probably wouldn’t spring to mind.

They might not be as loud as other animals, but turtles can make various noises, and they do so to express their current feelings or behavior.

If you have a domesticated turtle, why not spend some time with it in a quiet environment and see if you can identify any of the noises mentioned above?

You may be surprised to learn just how many noises your turtle can make!

Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners. Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.

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