Can Turtles Hear? (On Land, Underwater, And Music)

Image of a woman hearing something

Many people think that turtles are deaf because they cannot see their ears. But, turtles do have ears. However, the million-dollar question is, can turtles hear?

Turtles can hear to an extent. However, they cannot hear as clearly as humans can hear. Turtles are more responsive to loud noises. As turtles’ ears are not as sharp as other animals, they mainly rely on their other senses for survival.

Let’s now understand in detail everything about how turtles can hear the sound. But first…

Do Turtles Have Ears?

Turtles have internal ears. Unlike humans or other animals, turtle ears are not visible.

They have small holes at the side of their head.

When there is noise around them, the sound waves enter through these holes, which enables turtles to hear.

So yes, turtles do have ears, and they can hear.

Okay, now let’s see how well they can hear on land and underwater.

Related Further Reading:

How Do Turtles Hear On Land?

Turtles cannot hear clearly on land. On land, turtles use their limited hearing capacity to look out for predators and to identify their prey.

When on land, turtles cannot hear the sounds made by their prey, nor can they hear the sound of a dangerous predator. They mainly rely on the change in air pressure and vibration to identify their prey or predator.

Turtles are able to hear low frequency sounds pretty clearly as compared to high-pitched sounds.

Now that you know turtles cannot hear clearly on land, is it the same case in water too?

Let’s now understand how well turtles can hear underwater.

Can Turtles Hear Underwater?

Turtles tend to hear well underwater as compared to land. This is mainly because of the way their ears are formed.

Turtles do not have external ears. They have small holes at the side of their head. They hear through these holes.

As the skin of turtles is thick and there is excessive fat, it makes it difficult for turtles to hear well on land. But, it is just the opposite case in the water.

In water, the skin and fat of turtles become good conductors of sound. As turtles have internal ears, their sensitivity to air pressure serves them well. They are able to pick up the changes in water pressure that is caused by the fins of fish.

That is how turtles are able to dodge the predators that are coming to kill them or to track prey that is swimming nearby.

It is found that sea turtles are capable of hearing well when the sound frequency is in the range of 200 Hz and 750 Hz. On the other hand, their hearing turns poor if the frequency is above 1000 Hz.

Also, based on a scientific study done by researchers, it was found that green sea turtles can hear well if the frequency of sound is between 200 Hz to 500 Hz. Anything higher than the specified frequency, they are not able to pick up the sound.

Please note that all of the studies mentioned above were done on adult turtles. So, the same cannot be said to be true for juvenile and baby turtles.

This is all about the hearing capacity of turtles underwater. Now let’s talk about how well turtles can hear music.

Interesting Further Reading:

Can Turtles Hear Music?

Turtles can hear low-frequency music. However, if the frequency of music is high, like that of a violin, they will not be able to pick up the music.

When it comes to music, turtles are able to hear the bass or low-pitched sounds like that of a cello.

Turtles cannot experience music the way we humans enjoy. For them, music is just a change in air pressure that they feel rather than the sound of the music’s notes.

Now that we have talked about music let’s also talk about the senses in turtles.

5 Important Senses In Turtles

It is true that turtles cannot hear clearly. However, their other senses are sharp and finely developed. Turtles do see, smell, taste, and feel as well.

Let’s examine each of these turtle senses in detail:

Sight: Turtles have sharp sight. Due to their sharp vision, turtles can easily find food for themselves as well as for their little ones. Also, turtles can distinguish between colors and shapes. This helps them to detect their predators and also to determine what food they are eating. Although turtles have a well-developed vision, they do not possess peripheral vision.

Hearing: Turtles do not hear very clearly, as we discussed earlier. This is mainly because they lack the eardrum. However, they are able to hear lower sound frequencies and vibrations in the water as well as on land. That is how they become aware of any potential predators in the water to safeguard themselves.

Smell: Like sight, turtles do have a good smelling sense. They smell well on land and under the water. They have bumps under their chins instead of nostrils. These bumps have nerves that enable them to smell. The sense of smell plays an important role in turtles during the mating season. Using this sense, male turtles find the female turtles by picking up the pheromones of female turtles. Also, because they have a good sense of smell, it enables them to detect their predators and stay away from them.

Taste: All turtle species do not have taste buds. Some turtle species like Sea turtles or Chelonians do possess taste buds. They are able to taste the food that they eat. However, other species like Snapping turtles lack taste buds. Since they do not have taste buds, they tend to eat and swallow poisonous food sometimes. Other species of turtles, like the Hawksbill and Leatherback, can eat poisonous as well as non-poisonous food, like jellyfish.

Touch: Turtles have thick skin that looks just like leather. But their skin is very sensitive. So, pet turtles like it if you give them a scrub on their neck. Similarly, Sea turtles will feel you if you touch their skin.

This was all about the senses in turtles. But have you ever wondered how do turtles communicate?

How Do Turtles Communicate?

Turtles do communicate with their mates and with their younger ones. They do so in a very low sound.

It is believed that mother turtles can actually communicate with their unborn child when it is still in their shells.

Turtles actually do not talk. However, they communicate with each other by making some noise.

Now that you know how turtles communicate with each other, you must be curious to know whether turtles communicate with humans.

Interesting Further Reading:

Do Turtles Communicate With Humans?

If you have a pet turtle, you will certainly like to know their language. The way they communicate with you is a sign of how comfortable they are.

Like any other pet, you will find that your turtle communicates with you through signs. Your pet turtle will communicate its emotions through body language.

You will find your turtle withdrawing its head, tail, and legs into its shell whenever it feels threatened. On the contrary, once your turtle becomes comfortable with you, it will not retract its body parts into the shell. It will actually start playing with you.

If you find any change in its communicative behavior, it is a clear indication that your turtle is sick. It needs your immediate help.

Points To Remember

Turtles cannot hear as clearly as humans or other animals. However, they do have other strong senses like sight, smell, taste, and touch. They rely on their sharp senses for survival.

Turtles can hear the sound better in water than on land. They can hear and distinguish the low frequency sounds better.

They communicate with each other by making sounds. And with humans, they communicate through body language and signs.