Why Is My Turtle Biting The Air?

Have you ever noticed your turtle biting the air? If so, you might be wondering what’s going on with your shelled friend. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind this behavior and what it could mean for your pet turtle’s health.

Turtles biting the air could be a sign of respiratory distress or simply a habit formed from trying to catch food. However, it’s important to monitor your turtle closely and seek veterinary care if the behavior persists or is accompanied by other symptoms.

But why do turtles sometimes engage in this behavior? And what can you do to help them? We’ll delve into the details and provide expert insights from leading turtle experts to give you the information you need to care for your pet. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the world of turtle behavior and find out why they might be biting the air.

Reasons Why Turtles Bite The Air

If you’re a turtle owner, you might have noticed your pet turtle biting the air. This can be a concerning behavior for many owners, as they might wonder if their turtle is suffering from some sort of health issue. However, this behavior is actually quite common among turtles, and there are many different reasons why your turtle might be biting the air.

  • Seeking Attention

One of the most common reasons why turtles bite the air is because they are seeking attention. Turtles are social animals and they enjoy interacting with their owners. If your turtle is biting the air when you’re around, it might be trying to get your attention or trying to communicate with you.

  • Exploring Their Environment

Turtles are curious animals and they like to explore their environment. If your turtle is biting the air, it might be trying to investigate something that caught its attention. Turtles have a keen sense of smell, so it’s possible that your turtle is trying to catch a scent that it finds interesting.

  • Hunger or Thirst

Another reason why turtles might bite the air is that they are hungry or thirsty. If your turtle’s diet is not well-balanced or if they haven’t had enough water, they might bite the air in an attempt to find food or water. Make sure to provide your turtle with a healthy diet and fresh water at all times to avoid this behavior.

  • Breathing Difficulties

Turtles have a unique way of breathing, and if they are having trouble breathing, they might bite the air in an attempt to get more oxygen. If you notice that your turtle is breathing heavily or seems to be struggling to breathe, it’s important to take them to a veterinarian right away.

What Does It Mean When A Turtle Bites The Air?

Turtles are not known for being particularly expressive, so it can be challenging to determine why they exhibit certain behaviors. When a turtle bites at the air, it may indicate a few different things, including:

Trying to catch prey: Turtles are natural hunters, and they may try to catch prey that is too small to see. Biting in the air could be an attempt to catch something that’s flying around, such as a bug or a piece of dust.

Exploring their environment: Turtles use their mouths to explore the world around them. They may bite in the air to investigate a new smell or to taste something they can’t see.

Indicating stress: When turtles are stressed, they may exhibit unusual behaviors, including biting at the air. Stress can be caused by a variety of factors, including a lack of proper lighting, inadequate temperature, or a dirty environment.

How To Determine The Cause Of Your Turtle’s Air Biting Behavior?

Determining the cause of your turtle’s air biting behavior can be challenging, but there are a few things you can do to help. First, observe your turtle’s behavior to see if there are any patterns or triggers that seem to be causing the behavior. You may notice that your turtle bites in the air when it’s hungry or when it’s stressed.

Second, make sure your turtle’s environment is appropriate. This includes providing the proper lighting and temperature, keeping the enclosure clean, and ensuring that your turtle has plenty of space to move around.

How To Address Your Turtle’s Air Biting Behavior?

Once you’ve determined the cause of your turtle’s air biting behavior, you can take steps to address it. If your turtle is trying to catch prey, you may need to provide additional food or adjust your feeding schedule. If your turtle is exploring its environment, you can provide new objects for it to investigate or move its enclosure to a new location.

If your turtle is stressed, you can try to identify the source of the stress and remove it from the environment. Additionally, you can provide your turtle with plenty of hiding places and a comfortable basking area to help it feel more secure.

Other Strange Turtle Behaviors And Their Causes

Biting in the air is just one of many strange behaviors that turtles can exhibit. Here are a few other behaviors and their possible causes:

  • Refusing to eat: If your turtle is refusing to eat, it may indicate that it’s not getting the proper nutrition or that it’s stressed.
  • Staying submerged: Turtles are aquatic creatures, but they also need access to air. If your turtle is staying submerged for extended periods, it may indicate a respiratory problem.
  • Staying in one spot: Turtles are known for being slow-moving creatures, but if your turtle is staying in one spot for an extended period, it may indicate an underlying health problem.


Air biting is a common behavior among turtles, and there are many different reasons why your turtle might be doing it. By understanding the reasons behind this behavior, you can better understand your pet and provide them with the care they need. Remember to provide your turtle with a well-balanced diet, fresh water, and a clean environment to ensure their overall health and well-being.


Why is my turtle hiding all the time?

Turtles are known for their reclusive nature, and hiding is a natural behavior for them. However, if you notice that your turtle is hiding more than usual, it could be a sign of stress or illness. Check that the temperature, lighting, and humidity in their enclosure are appropriate, and monitor their behavior for any other signs of distress.

What should I do if my turtle is not eating?

Loss of appetite in turtles can be a sign of illness or stress. Check the temperature, lighting, and humidity in their enclosure to make sure they are in the appropriate range and consider taking them to a veterinarian if they continue to refuse food for more than a few days.

Can turtles feel affection toward their owners?

While turtles are not typically known for being affectionate animals, some may show signs of recognition and responsiveness to their owners over time. However, it’s important to remember that turtles have very different social and emotional needs than humans, and may not respond to affection in the same way.

How often should I clean my turtle’s enclosure?

Cleaning frequency will depend on the size of your turtle and the size of its enclosure, as well as the type of filtration system you have in place. As a general rule, you should aim to clean your turtle’s enclosure thoroughly once a week, removing any uneaten food, feces, and debris from the water and substrate.

Can turtles hear?

Yes, turtles have the ability to hear, although their hearing range is not as wide as that of humans. They are also sensitive to vibrations and may respond to sounds or movement outside of their enclosure.