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Why Does Your Turtle Open Its Mouth?

Turtles have a lot of interesting behaviors that can communicate how your pet turtle feels about its aquarium, its food, and even if it’s getting sick.

The turtle opening mouth behavior happens when your turtle holds its mouth open for extended periods of time.

Turtles hold their mouths open for a wide variety of reasons ranging from yawning to struggling with a respiratory infection.

There are plenty of harmless reasons why your turtle could be holding its mouth open. One of the most common ones that often surprise pet owners is that this could be your turtle eating food or drinking water.

It can also be the turtle letting you know that I need some alone time and it’s a little stressed from having all the people around it. This is also just simply how turtles yawn.

However, you can also be a sign of a respiratory infection. This is one of the most dangerous types of infections for turtles because they struggle to fight respiratory infections more so than other animals.

If your turtle is holding its mouth open and has other signs of illness, the best thing you can do is go to a vet right away. Here’s a closer look at this unique behavior in turtles.

What Does It Mean When My Turtle Opens Its Mouth?

It might surprise you to know that turtles have a lot of ways of communicating with the world around them.

We don’t often think of turtles as the most capable animals when it comes to communicating with us, but if you’re in the know, turtles actually have some interesting ways of letting us know what they want and what they need.

If your turtle keeps its mouth open, it could be a sign that it wants to be left alone, it could be letting you know that it’s hungry, or it could even be telling you that it has a respiratory infection.

If your turtle keeps holding its mouth open and doesn’t seem to close it, this could definitely be a sign of a respiratory infection.

It will relieve you to know that the majority of time a turtle holds his mouth open it’s not a sign for alarm.

Most people don’t know this secret about turtles, but they actually yawn a lot and holding their mouths open is how they yawn. Your turtle might also be holding its mouth open while it’s eating or drinking water.

Turtles are opportunistic predators and this means that they’re going to eat food whenever they can find it so they might be snacking on some food if that got left over in their aquarium that you didn’t clean out.

If your turtle seems to always be holding its mouth open, or it doesn’t close its mouth, that’s a strong sign that your turtle might have a respiratory infection.

These are one of the most serious types of infections for aquatic turtles because they can quickly become fatal if they’re not properly treated. If you’re concerned that your turtle might have a respiratory infection, you should see the vet right away.

What Should You Do If Your Turtle Keeps Opening Its Mouth?

There are few things you can do if your turtle keeps opening its mouth and you’re concerned about its health or its safety. The first step you should take is to start writing a journal about when your turtle keeps its mouth open.

This information will help you recognize any patterns such as your turtle holding its mouth open when the aquarium is dirty or your turtle holding its mouth open just before feeding time.

You should also look for other signs of a respiratory infection such as bubbles around the nose or your turtle looking sluggish or lacking energy.

One important thing you should do if you notice that your turtle keeps opening its mouth is to double check the setup that you have for your aquarium.

Turtles can often hold their mouths open as a way of letting you know that they don’t like how their aquarium set up.

This includes temperature, regular cleanings, and the size of your aquarium. Remember that a turtle’s aquarium should have 10 gallons for every inch of length the turtle’s shell has.

If you think that your turtle might be suffering with a respiratory infection, you should schedule a video call with a veterinarian.

A video call with a veterinarian is a great way to get some quick advice that can help you take care of a sick turtle. These video calls are also cheap and affordable which makes them a great way to get the fast information that your turtle needs to stay healthy.

Should I Be Worried If My Turtle Keeps Randomly Opening Its Mouth?

It can be hard to tell if your turtle keeping its mouth open is a reason to be worried or not. This behavior signals everything from your turtle being hungry to it having a serious medical infection.

You can tell if your turtle keeping its mouth open is something to be worried about by observing its behavior more closely and seeing why it’s keeping its mouth open.

If your turtle just opens its mouth every now and then, this isn’t probably something that you’re going to need to be worried about.

Turtles hold their mouths open for a wide variety of reasons and most of them are harmless. Your turtle could even be trying to let you know that it needs some time alone because holding its mouth open is one of a turtle’s ways of trying to scare away someone invading its territory.

If you notice any of the other signs of a respiratory infection, then it’s a good cause to worry and call a veterinarian. Other signs of a respiratory infection in a turtle include bubbles around the nose, mucus, and your turtle not being as energetic as it usually is.

Turtles who often hold their mouth open while they have respiratory infections because they have difficulty breathing through their nose. If you notice any of these behaviors, you should get in touch with your local veterinarian.


The turtle opening mouth behavior represents a lot of different potential causes. Turtles hold their mouths open when they’re hungry, trying to scare off someone invading their territory, or if they have a respiratory infection. Watching your turtle closely and getting to know its behavior is a great way to make sure that it’s not sick and just holding its mouth open for a good yawn.