Although turtles are still a niche reptile to keep as a pet, their has definitely been a steady increase in the number of people keeping a pet turtle over the last couple of years and this trend is only becoming more and more popular with each passing year.
Due to this, we have noticed an increase in the number of questions about keeping a pet turtle that we see each month as the people getting pet turtles want to offer them the best care possible and this is great to see.
Sometimes though, we see questions about the behavior of a pet turtle rather than questions about what it should eat or what you should include in its vivarium.
For today’s article, we want to be taking a look at one of these questions because we have noticed a number of people reaching out about why turtles swim into the glass on their aquarium recently and some turtle owners are worried about their turtle doing this.
We hope that this article will be able to help you better understand what causes your pet turtle to swim into the glass of its vivarium as well as how you are able to stop the most common causes of this behavior in turtles.
Is It Normal For Turtles To Swim Into The Glass Of Their Tanks?
Although it may be normal for a pet turtle to swim into the glass of its aquarium in captivity, this is not a natural behavior and a wild turtle can just swim indefinitely in its natural habitat.
We know that this may not sound like much of an issue for many people due to how their turtle commonly having swam into the glass on its tank since they got it but there are actually risks to this behavior.
This is due to some turtles swimming against the glass of their tank indefinitely and then getting tired out.
If they are submerged when they do this then they can be drained of energy and struggle to surface again when they need to breathe.
Although this is not a large risk, it is still a risk and the older your pet turtle gets, the more risky this becomes so if possible, we would recommend that you try to discourage this behavior as soon as possible.
Thankfully, our tips and tricks in the section below should be able to help you better understand how you can counter the most common causes of your turtle swimming into its glass.
Why Do Turtles Swim Into The Glass Of Their Tanks?
We have our shortlist below of the most common reasons that your pet turtle will swim into the glass of its tank:-
- They See Their Reflection!
- They Think They Can Swim Through It!
- They Are Stressed Or Scared!
- It Associates You With Food!
- The Vivarium Is Too Small!
In some vivarium setups, your pet turtle may have multiple things from that list at play at the same time so keep that in mind.
We have seen some people try to counter a single potential issue when there has been a second issue at play at the same time that has been totally overlooked for their tank setup.
They See Their Reflection!
One of the most common reasons that your pet turtle will swim into the glass on its vivarium is because it can see its reflection in the glass.
This is most commonly seen with red eared slider turtles as they are known to be quite territorial and when they see their reflection, they think that there is another turtle trying to invade their territory.
While this may not seem like a big deal to you, it can be a big deal to your pet turtle and if left unchecked, it can result in your pet turtle damaging its shell or limbs on the glass.
In some cases, it can even cause your pet turtle to become so stressed that it stops eating which is obviously something that you will want to avoid.
If you think that this is the reason why your pet turtle has been swimming into the glass on its vivarium then there are a few things that you can do in order to try and stop it.
Cover Part Of The Glass
The first thing that we would recommend doing is covering up some of the glass on your vivarium with a sticker or something similar.
You want to make sure that your turtle cannot see its reflection in the glass and this will usually do the trick.
Move To A Different Area
If you do not want to cover up your vivarium then another option is to move your pet turtle to a different area of the room or house so it cannot see its reflection in the glass.
This is not always possible for everyone but it is definitely worth considering if you think that your pet turtle’s reflection is causing it to swim into the glass on its vivarium.
They Think They Can Swim Through It!
Another common reason that your pet turtle will swim into the glass on its vivarium is because it thinks that it can swim through the glass.
This is most commonly seen with baby turtles as they have not yet learned that they cannot swim through the glass.
As your pet turtle gets older, it will learn that it cannot swim through the glass but in the meantime, you will need to take measures to stop your pet turtle from swimming into the glass.
Just like the section above, we would usually recommend that you cover the glass on the back and sides of the tank if possible to make it obvious to your turtle that there is a solid surface there.
We know that many people don’t like the idea of doing this as it can make the tank look “ugly” but it is better to protect your turtle rather than have a pretty looking tank.
There are a number of tank wrap stickers out there now that have an aquascape design printed on them that you are able to use to avoid the ugly luck while still helping your pet turtle understand that it can’t swim through the back and sides of its tank.
They Are Stressed Or Scared!
Another potential reason that your pet turtle will swim into the glass on its vivarium is because it is either stressed or scared.
There are a number of things that can cause your pet turtle to become stressed or scared such as loud noises, bright lights, being moved to a new tank, etc.
If you think that your pet turtle is swimming into the glass on its vivarium because it is either stressed or scared then there are a few things that you can do in order to try and help.
Set The Tank Up Correctly
First of all, you will want to make sure that the tank is set up correctly and that your pet turtle has everything that it needs such as a basking spot, hiding spots, vegetation, etc.
If the tank is not set up correctly then this can definitely cause your pet turtle to become stressed so it is important to get this right.
Adjust The Lighting
You will also want to make sure that the tank is in a quiet area of the house and that there are no bright lights shining on it.
If your pet turtle is constantly being disturbed or bombarded with bright lights then this can also cause it to become stressed which is obviously something that you will want to avoid.
Check Water Parameters
It is also important to make sure that the water in the tank is clean and at the correct temperature as this can also stress your pet turtle out if it is not.
If you are unsure about anything then we would recommend speaking to a reptile vet as they will be able to give you specific advice for your pet turtle.
A simple aquarium water test kit will usually be enough to work out if there are any potential issues with your tank’s water parameters that are causing issues with your turtle and stressing it out though.
You can then take the required steps to correct the issues and in many cases, you will find that a simple partial water change of around 20-30% is all that is needed to get the water back to the optimal water parameters so this can be a quick and easy fix in many cases.
It Associates You With Food!
Although rare, some turtles will form a link between you and food so if they see you through the glass of their tank, they will try to swim to you.
This can be a problem as it is difficult to break this habit but it can be done.
Our advice would be to try and make sure that your pet turtle can’t see you adding the food to its vivarium for it.
Try to use feeding tongs or something that allows you to feed your pet turtle from the side of its tank without it being able to see you.
The Vivarium Is Too Small!
Unfortunately, some people do keep their pet turtle in a vivarium that is far too small so their pet turtle will swim into the glass of their tank as there is nothing else for it to do.
This can be due to poor advice from the pet store you purchased your pet turtle from not correctly advising you on the size of the tank that the turtle will require, especially when fully grown.
In some cases, people just forget that as their turtle grows, they will often need their tank upgrading to provide all of the space that their pet requires.
This is an easy fix though and in most cases, you can just purchase a larger tank and be done with it but not everyone has the budget or space available for this.