Turtles do sneeze. They make a high-pitched squeaky sound resembling a sneeze when their airways are blocked or irritated. By sneezing, they try to clear their respiratory pathways. It’s normal for turtles to sneeze occasionally. However, if they sneeze continuously, it could be an infection.
Let’s delve deeper into this.
Why Do Turtles Sneeze?
We usually sneeze when something irritates our respiratory tract.
Similarly, turtles also sneeze when food, substrate, or something they ingested obstructs their respiratory tract.
Sneezing is the body’s way to remove this irritating particle from its body.
So, it’s normal for a turtle to sneeze occasionally.
When your turtle sneezes, it will make an unmistakable high-pitched and squeaky sound.
But frequent or continuous sneezing in a turtle is abnormal. If you find your turtle sneezing continuously, it is most likely ill.
It may have an infection or water in the sinus cavities. In such a situation, you should not wait for it to heal on its own.
Leaving it unattended can lead to respiratory distress.
If your turtle seems to yawn a lot, breathe through its mouth, or produce mucus from its nose, it may already be suffering from a respiratory problem.
Certain types of turtles will also continuously sneeze if they have a Vitamin A deficiency.
When Do Turtles Sneeze?
Turtles generally sneeze to dispel irritants stuck in their airways and sinus cavities.
A sneeze forces the contaminant out of their respiratory pathway and enables the animal to breathe freely.
Since turtles spend a lot of time in water and mud, it’s normal for water or debris to enter their airways.
When the turtle sneezes, it gets rid of this water or debris.
However, if your turtle sneezes frequently and shows signs of labored breathing, you should suspect URTD or Upper Respiratory Tract Disease.
It is a condition that does not resolve on its own but can quickly escalate and put your pet’s life in danger.
Now, did you know that colds and respiratory infections are some of the most common causes of turtle deaths?
So, don’t treat it lightly. Instead, take your pet to the vet if you notice these symptoms for treatment before it gets out of control.
What Causes Turtles To Sneeze?
If your turtle sneezes occasionally, it is not a cause for alarm.
It is simply a normal reaction to eliminate anything that is stuck in their respiratory tract.
However, continuous sneezing could either be caused by a respiratory illness or Vitamin A deficiency.
Let us look at both these conditions in closer detail.
1. Respiratory infections in turtles.
Respiratory infections commonly occur in turtles when their environment becomes too cold.
Turtles are ectotherms, which means they depend on external heat sources to stay warm.
If the temperature of their surroundings drops, they become vulnerable to the cold.
This can cause a cold or respiratory infection.
Turtles can also become ill when the heating bulb in their enclosure burns out, or their tank is prone to cold drafts through the window or door.
Turtles with respiratory illnesses will usually have mucus discharge from their nose and mouth. Their breathing will be labored.
Such respiratory infections are caused by bacteria. Your pet may not be able to recover on its own from these illnesses.
It will need medical treatment to overcome the condition.
2. Vitamin A deficiency or Hypovitaminosis A.
When a turtle doesn’t receive adequate nutrition, it can develop Vitamin A deficiency.
Turtles need a well-balanced diet with enough quantity of protein and leafy matter.
If you feed a turtle poor quality commercial food or leftovers that don’t meet their nutritional requirements, they may not get the Vitamin A they need.
When this happens, turtles develop Hypovitaminosis A.
This condition causes changes in the appearance of their skin and mucus glands.
They produce excess mucus that appears in their noses and eyes.
You will notice that the turtle frequently sneezes with nasal discharge.
They may also produce a wheezing sound while breathing.
Additional symptoms of Hypovitaminosis A include lethargy and swelling of the eyes and ears.
If they do not receive proper treatment at this stage, it can lead to pneumonia.
The buoyancy of the turtle will also be affected, and it will be unable to swim properly.
Do All Turtles Sneeze?
Most varieties of turtles will sneeze or cough at different times during their lifespan.
Let us look at the common types of turtles and how sneezing affects them.
Do aquatic turtles sneeze?
Yes, aquatic turtles like red-eared sliders, painted turtles, and Reeve’s turtles will sneeze.
They may sneeze inside the water as well as when they are on land.
Occasional sneezing is to eliminate any irritants or water from their breathing pathways.
Prolonged and consistent sneezing indicates a more dangerous condition like an infection of the upper respiratory tract.
Do box turtles sneeze?
Box turtles are also affected by colds and end up sneezing and having running noses.
When they are ill, their eyes and face may look swollen. There will be mucus discharge from their nose when they sneeze.
The turtles may also sneeze at times if there is an irritant in their respiratory tract.
Such infrequent sneezing is normal and not a cause for concern.
Do red-eared slider turtles sneeze?
Yes, red-eared slider turtles sneeze to get rid of obstructions in their breathing pathways.
They may sneeze inside or outside water.
While occasional sneezing is normal behavior for these animals, you should not overlook it if your red-eared slider sneezes all the time.
It could be suffering from an upper respiratory tract disorder.
Leaving it untreated for too long can lead to serious illnesses like pneumonia that can even kill your turtle.
What To Do If Your Turtle Sneezes All The Time?
Continuous and frequent sneezing accompanied by yawning, labored breathing, or discharge from the nose and mouth are tell-tale signs of an illness in a turtle.
Since it can cause significant problems, it is best to avoid the causes of such illnesses in the first place.
For this, ensure that the temperature of a turtle’s enclosure is right. It should neither be too hot nor too cold.
Use an efficient heating lamp in its basking area.
Also, monitor the water temperature and maintain it at the optimal range for your turtle.
Additionally, pay close attention to the quality of food you feed your pet. Give it healthy and well-balanced food.
Use natural foods and supplements to compensate for any lack of Protein, Vitamin A, and Calcium in its diet.
Now, if your turtle shows signs of a respiratory illness, take it to a veterinarian for suitable treatment.
The vet may suggest an X-ray to determine the extent of infection and prescribe suitable medications.
You may have to administer these medications for a few days until your turtle shows significant signs of recovery.
Since respiratory illnesses can worsen suddenly, monitor your pet while it is ill.
Look out for any signs that suggest its condition is worsening and tackle it quickly.
Meanwhile, it will also help to maintain the temperature of its enclosure in the mid to upper level of its optimal living temperature.
It will help the turtle recover faster by stimulating the immune system and enabling it to operate more efficiently.