Hiding is a turtle’s natural defense mechanism, whether it’s inside its shell, out in nature, or at home in your tank. Fortunately, no creature can hide forever because they will eventually need to eat and drink to survive.
Having a favorite turtle snack available can help entice a reluctant pet. I’ll explain everything you need to know about how to lure a turtle out of hiding so you can see your pet.
You can lure a turtle out of hiding with food and water but be patient. Most turtle species can survive up to 2 weeks without food or water. Turtles like a calm environment where they don’t need to worry about every sound and motion. Add plants to the tank and make the room quieter so the turtle will feel safe.
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5 Ways To Get A Turtle To Come Out Of Hiding
It can be frustrating when your turtle hides in its tank and doesn’t want to come out. You certainly don’t want to get your fingers nipped, and it’s essential not to force them out before they’re ready.
So long as you’re reasonably sure your turtle isn’t hibernating or ill, it’s OK to let them hide.
New turtle owners often struggle with their pets. These unusual, shelled reptiles are easy to spook, and they don’t do well with stress.
Retreating inside their shell or sneaking away out of sight gives your turtle comfort when they are frightened or overwhelmed.
Fortunately, you can also use this behavior as a way to build trust and learn more about your pet.
Exercise patient and try out the techniques I have detailed below to help convince your reluctant turtle that it’s OK to poke their head out of their shells (or other secret spots).
With the right lure and some time, your turtle will emerge again.
Below are the top 5 ways to lure a turtle out of hiding:
1 – Bring Tasty Snacks
When your turtle is hiding and doesn’t want to come out, grabbing them is a terrible idea. This will freak them out more as turtles in the wild are prey animals and prefer to remain out of sight.
Regardless of why your turtle feels unsafe in its tank, there’s a straightforward trick that will always work eventually on a healthy turtle.
Bring them a snack. If you know your pet’s favorite food, then offer that. Some turtles love flowers or fruit best, and others have a favorite vegetable.
No matter where they’ve hidden, in time, your pet will get hungry.
2 – Get Them A Drink
Much like being hungry, your turtle is going to need a drink at some point. You should keep fresh water on the land portion of their tank regardless, but you can easily move this further away from where they’ve gone to ground.
Terrestrial turtles should have a constant source of drinking water. However, their aquatic counterparts also need a dry area to escape the water and a place to grab a drink on land.
According to Everyday Health Pet Health, “Apart from a swimming area, aquatic turtles need an additional area for their drinking water. Be sure to use natural spring water for both your pet turtle’s swimming area and drinking water. Tap water contains chlorine and fluorine, which can throw off the water’s pH balance and harm the turtle.”
You can boil water and evaporate the chlorine, but sadly this won’t change the fluoride level. If you don’t want to buy individual water bottles for your pet, I recommend getting an Epic Pure Water Filter Pitcher from Amazon.
These incredible, BPA-free, recyclable bottles will keep your turtle and you in freshwater for years. Best of all, you won’t be wasting a ton of plastic which can end up in the waterways and hut other turtles.
- Filtered water pitcher for refrigerator: This large water filtration pitcher for refrigerator is easy to pour and refill. This space efficient gravity water filter system jug fits perfectly on refrigerator shelves and is great for families. H 10"; W 6"; L 10"; Weight: 2 lbs. This solid carbon block water purifier pitcher with filter will keep your family drinking filtered water for years to come. Rigorously tested against NSF/ANSI standards 42, 53, 401, and P473 (NSF 53 Water Filter)
- Forver Chemical water filters: Proprietary formulated carbon block water filter to remove forver chemicals. Designed and tested to remove chlorine. Lead Water Filter: 6mm thick carbon block removes lead. PFAS Water Filter: Designed and tested to remove the Forever Chemical PFOA PFOS PFC. 1,4-Dioxane Water Filter: Recently tested for the removal of 1,4-Dioxane in drinking water. Haloacetic Acids (HAAs) Water Filter: Recently tested for the removal of Haloacetic acids.
- Tap water filter: Proprietary solid carbon block filter removes 2000% more contaminants than the leading water filter pitcher including Total Trihalomethanes, Chromium 6, Fluoride, Chloramines, Bromodichloromethane and much more. 6mm thick solid carbon block water filters protect you and your family from contaminants that other filters miss. Smart filter media keeps healthy trace minerals like calcium and magnesium in your water, which a reverse osmosis system will strip out.
- The Pure Pitcher also comes with a LED timer, which counts down from 90 days, integrated into the lid that reminds you when it is time to change the filter. Never again will you have to guess about your filter. Got city tap water? Want to remove both lead and fluoride? Then, this is the pitcher for you...
- Water purifier pitcher with filter: Each premium quality gravity water filter produces 150 gallons of fresh, contaminant-free drinking water (lasting 4 times longer than the leading water filter pitcher. Remove 99.99% of all tap water contaminants. 100% BPA-free, 100% Approved Food Grade Materials, 100% Recyclable, 100% Vegan. 0% Pretentious, Kids call it "Next Level" in Spanish they say, Filtros de Agua Para la Cocina,Filtros de Agua, Purificador de Agua
3 – Add Vegetation
Your turtle doesn’t understand instinctually that there are no predators to worry about in their tank. You can make them feel more comfortable hanging out in the open by providing some overhead coverage.
Plants in the tank will make them feel more like they live in a natural environment. Plus, overhead coverage can help your turtle feel less afraid.
4 – Calm Your Space
Sometimes the problem is noise, lights, and fast-moving people or other household pets—turtles like a calm environment where they don’t need to worry about every sound and motion.
Move your tank to an area that is calmer and much quieter so the turtle will feel safe. Being a good pet parent means accommodating all their needs, not just offering food and a place to live.
5 – Add Fish
When they live in the wild aquatic turtles, eat a lot of fish. You can head to the pet store and get a bag of feeder fish to add to your turtle tank to help lure them out in the open.
This ready food source is tempting to them. Moreover, it provides a challenge for your skittish pet.
Before adding fish, ensure that you are getting a species your turtle can eat. Additionally, make sure they are the right size so your pet can swallow them easily.
Better still, check with your vet or another pet specialist who knows about your turtle species and ask them what type of fish to get.
If your turtle is terrestrial and eats insects, swap out the fish for a few gut-loaded feeder bugs of an appropriate variety. The presence of tasty snacks and something interesting to do will help draw your turtle out.
Helpful Tips To Know About How To Lure A Turtle Out Of Hiding
Luring your hidden pet turtle out is time-consuming and it will require both care and patience on your part. Naturally cautious turtles aren’t the most social creatures, especially when introduced to a new environment or rapid change to a familiar place.
Here are a few more helpful tips to know about how to lure a turtle out of hiding.
- Turtles like toys. You can add new sticks and rocks or durable children’s toys like balls to help convince your pet to come out and play.
- Most aquatic turtles can only stay out of the water for somewhere between eight hours and two days. When you have a marine turtle, it will emerge to go for a swim if you are patient. However, if it doesn’t come out, you may want to check and ensure it’s alright.
- Always make sure you know where your turtle is. Since many turtles like to dig, it helps to have a clear-sided tank so you can spot where they’re hiding. Additionally, you can provide plenty of good hiding spots, so they feel protected, but you know where to find them when they retreat.
It is crucial to let your turtle be a turtle. When things change suddenly, or they feel afraid for some other reason, turtles hide. Unfortunately, trying to get them to go against their nature by forcing them will only worsen the situation.
You need to create a calm and comfortable environment where your turtle will feel safe emerging. Offering their favorite snacks will also help as long as you ensure that you clean up anything they don’t eat rather than letting it rot.
It is also vital to make sure they are not brumating or sick. Your healthy pet turtle will come out when it’s ready and it will trust you more for letting it have the extra time.