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Do Turtles Kiss? (5 Main Reasons Why They Kiss)

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Turtles are known for their long tongues, but did you know that they also have a unique kissing ritual?

The turtle is a reptile belonging to the order Chelonia. They are found throughout the world, from tropical climates to temperate regions.

There are over 100 species of turtles, but only two species are considered true freshwater turtles.

Turtles are very affectionate animals. In fact, they are often called the “gentle giants” because of their soft, slow movements. Their long tongues allow them to eat large amounts of food at once.

Two turtles in the water

There are several reasons why turtles may kiss. This kiss does not look like the human version of a kiss.

Turtles will merely touch each other’s mouths, making it look like a kiss.

Some reasons for this are dominance, communication, and mating, but as a turtle reaches maturity, kissing is only done during mating.

Below are 5 main reasons why turtles kiss.

Displaying Affection With One Another 

When two turtles meet, they usually make eye contact first. If there is no eye contact, one or both of the turtles may be shy.

As soon as eye contact is made, the turtles will begin to display affection by touching noses, necks, foreheads, backs, and sometimes even tails.

The more affection shown between the two, the closer they get. It can take up to 3 months before the turtles actually start to mate.

You will often see baby turtles kissing each other to show affection, but when they get older this reduces, and you will only see turtles kissing when they are mating.


Turtles mating

Turtles will kiss during their mating ritual. When a male finds a female he wants to mate with, he will move around her while bobbing his head to impress her.

She will either be impressed or will be indifferent.

If she does not respond, the male will approach her and begin to kiss her shell, slowly leading up to her head. If the female allows herself to be kissed on the lips, it means she is open to mating.

Display Of Dominance 

In some cases, when two turtles come together, one will try to dominate the other. This can happen if one turtle has been injured or is sick.

To show dominance, the dominant turtle will push its head under the other turtle’s neck.

The subordinate turtle will then lower its head so that the dominant turtle’s body covers it completely.

After this happens, the dominant turtle will move around the other turtle’s body until it finds an area where it likes to rest.

Once it rests, the dominant turtle will curl its tail underneath itself and lay on top of the other turtle.

Communicating With Each Other 

Sometimes, when two turtles meet, they do not want to communicate with each other. Instead, they just want to see what the other looks like.

This is especially common among juvenile turtles who are trying to figure out how to find mates.

These turtles will simply stand next to each other without any intention of communicating. However, after a few minutes, they will notice each other and start to interact.

Looking At Their Reflection

When turtles look at their reflection, they will often think there is another turtle staring back at them.

This may cause them to kiss their reflection, trying to communicate with the other turtle they think is there.

Now that we have covered the main reasons why turtles kiss, let’s look in a bit more detail at their behavior.

Mating Behavior in Turtles

Mating behavior in turtles is very different from humans. In humans, we use our hands to express love and affection.

We also use words to tell someone how much we care about them. But in turtles, they have to rely on physical actions to convey their feelings.

A turtle’s mating behavior starts with courtship.

Courtship involves showing affection through nose-to-nose contact, neck-to-neck contact, and head-to-head contact. During these times, the turtles will touch each other’s heads and bodies.

Once the turtles feel comfortable enough with each other, they will start to engage in the mating ritual.

Do Turtles Kiss Other Turtles Of The Same Gender? 

Yes! It is important to note that turtles will kiss each other for a number of reasons. Males will sometimes even kiss other males.

Females will also kiss other females. However, this will usually be as a sign of communication, rather than mating.

However, as mentioned earlier, the most common type of kisses between male and female turtles occur during courtship.

What Are Some Common Types of Turtle Kisses? 

Turtles kissing

There are many types of turtle kisses. Here are a few examples:

Nose-to-nose kisses – When two turtles come together, they will first make eye contact. Then, they will slowly approach each other.

As they get closer, they will begin to sniff each other. Finally, they will make contact by touching their noses. This is called a “sniffing” kiss.

Neck-to-neck kisses – Similar to nose-to-noses, but instead of noses, they will rub along with each other’s necks.

Head-to-head kisses – When two turtles are close enough to each other, they will put their heads together. They will then gently nuzzle each other’s faces. This is called a face-to-face kiss.

Is It Dangerous For A Human To Kiss A Turtle? 

Humans should not attempt to kiss their pet turtle, as they could become infected with dangerous salmonella bacteria.

If you accidentally get some salmonella into your mouth or eyes, it can result in serious health problems such as diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, headache, and muscle aches.

Many reptiles can carry salmonella in their intestinal tracts, so if there is salmonella in the turtle’s body, it can be present on their skin also.

To prevent the risk of catching it, you must always wash your hands when handling your pet turtle, and you should never attempt to give it a kiss.

How Do I Know If My Pet Turtle Is Sick? 

If your pet turtle has been acting sickly lately, you should take it to your veterinarian immediately.

Your vet will examine your pet turtle to determine what might be causing its illness.

Once they diagnose the problem, they may prescribe medicine to help your turtle recover.

If you think your pet turtle is ill, you should keep it away from any food or water until your vet arrives. Also, do not allow anyone else to handle your pet turtle while you wait for your vet.

Can I Give My Turtle A Bath? 

No. You should never bathe your pet turtle. Bathing them can cause stress and lead to more medical issues.

Furthermore, bathing them will remove essential oils that protect them against disease.

Why Should I Keep My Pet Turtle In Its Own Tank? 

Keeping your pet turtle in its own tank is very important because it allows them to have privacy and avoid being stressed out. Also, keeping them in their own tank helps them stay healthy and happy.

Are There Any Other Ways That I Can Help My Turtle Stay Healthy?

Yes. Make sure that you provide your pet turtle with adequate amounts of fresh, clean water and good quality food.

Additionally, you should monitor your pet turtle’s temperature regularly. If you notice that your pet turtle is feeling cold, you should place it under warm sunlight for about 15 minutes.

You can also use an aquarium thermometer to check your pet turtle’s temperature. Place the thermometer inside the aquarium and record the reading after 10 seconds.

What Are The Different Types Of Food Available For My Pet Turtle? 

There are many different types of foods available for your pet turtle. Some common ones include:

Live Foods: These are usually small fish, insects, worms, snails, and shrimp that are fed to your pet turtle once every week.

Dry Food: Dry food is made up of various grains and vegetables that are mixed together.

This type of food is typically used by people who want to feed their pets a diet rich in protein but low in fat.

Freeze-Dried Food: This type of food is similar to dry food except that it is freeze dried instead of dehydrated.

It comes in a variety of flavors such as beef, chicken, turkey, salmon, tuna, etc.

Final Thoughts 

To conclude, turtles will kiss for a variety of reasons, especially when they are young. Usually, they are just trying to communicate with each other and display affection.

However, as they grow older, they will only kiss when they are trying to mate. Occasionally they will press their faces together in a ‘kiss’, to show dominance.

It is very important to note that you should never give your pet turtle a kiss, and you should always wash your hands after coming into contact with it.

This will reduce your risk of catching any salmonella.

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About the author


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.